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Thursday, 14 February 2013 08:12

Children in Restaurants

Random food for thought - especially in light of it being Valentine's Day... I've over heard a few conversations about this recently, and even come across some articles on discounts given for well behaved children in restaurants, so I thought I'd pose the question...

What do you think of younger children, and toddlers - who may be unable to behave appropriately - dining in restaurants? Particularly higher end restaurants, where people around them may be out on dates or business meetings, etc. 

This week is Valentine's Day, as well as my Birthday.  Earlier in the week, we were trying to make a plan to have supper with my family sometime this week - for my Birthday, and because all of my Birthday/Valentine's Day plans with Brian are being pushed into the long weekend, the fact that today is actually Valentine's Day didn't really cross my mind.  Thursday night was the first evening that worked for all of us to get together, so we were about to make a reservation for supper. 

As Brian and I were discussing how Clara might behave for a late supper out (I teach piano until 6:30, so we wouldn't get there until at least 7), we realized that it was Valentine's Day, and that the restaurant would probably be filled with people hoping to have a quiet romantic evening - and that it might not be the kindest thing to bring our toddler daughter, who may be unable to behave at that time of day. So, we changed our plans and will have supper with my family on another evening.

This, to me, is just common courtesy. If I don't think my child can necessarily behave in a certain situation, I should not bring my child into that situation if it will probably ruin a nice experience for other people. 

However, I know that not everyone would make this particular call, and sometimes there are children in restaurants who are causing all sorts of disturbances to other customers.

There are also parents and families who go to great lengths to teach their children how to behave properly in restaurants, and children who are naturally gifted at sitting quietly...

Years ago, Brian and I went out on a date of some kind at a relatively high-end restaurant in our city and ended up at a table next to a family with a young daughter and a baby.  The girl was probably about 3 - maybe 4 - years old. Despite the longish wait for their food, the little girl sat beautifully and if we hadn't specifically looked over at their family, we would never have known that there was a young child at the table at all. 

My opinion? I think that restaurants should have and stick to the policies that say 'Disruptive persons will be asked to leave'. End of story. No age particulars, because although children are more likely to act out because they may not yet understand the social norms, it is not ALWAYS children who misbehave in public.  Families should expect that if they or their child is disruptive in a restaurant, the restaurant is within their rights to ask them to leave - without causing offense. 

I think it's great when children know what is expected of them in 'fancier' restuarants, and hope to teach our children how to behave in them. In the meantime, we will attempt to teach them at more family-friendly restaurants, at family-friendly times.  I hope also that I will understand if we have a bad day and an attempt at someplace nicer ends in us being asked to leave.

Those are my two cents. What are yours? Do you think kids should be allowed in fancy restaurants, or not? Does it ruin an evening for you if the family sitting next to you on a 'night out' has a bunch of rambunctious toddlers? 

Read 1250 times Last modified on Wednesday, 13 February 2013 09:57

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