Why oh why don't more parents teach their kids how to behave in Restaurants????
There, I have said it...and I'm glad. What has brought about this ranting? Well, last night we decided to have a quiet family evening and went out to eat at one of K's favorite eateries located in a small town near our house.
A young couple--but not too young--and a slightly older lady were sitting on the other side of our chairs (they had a corner booth surrounded on two sides by windows and blinds). J and K had their backs to them but I was sitting opposite them and could see it all. The couple had a little girl (3 years old) with them....and the entire time we were there she crawled all over the adults' backs and under the blinds, ran around on the floor, stood in the booth peering over at us, and at one point actually stood on the window ledge. Her father told her several times "sit down" and "stop that"....to no avail....she did what she wanted to. He gave up and continued eating (with open mouth I might add). Nothing else was done!
Why do some parents think that the rest of us would have incomplete lives if their child did not behave as a fool while we are eating? That we cannot possibly live without having a child interrupt our conversations or our meals? Where is the discipline? Where is the structure? Where is the parenting??? Her parents are supposed to be the adults. This is a role that entails more than just nurturing. This means they are supposed to set the rules and boundaries. They are supposed to make sure their child behaves as a human while out in public....not like a monkey at the zoo (climbing on everything and everyone). So why is this not done? Who knows? Various reasons can be found....
Now I am not intolerant of children, but if I can get 23 first graders to behave (yup last year I had 23 of 'em) then surely parents can handle their own kids. I set their boundaries and the consequences.....after that I implement a "follow-up" for infractions. The "follow-up" is not the same for all my students....a variety of factors are considered (for example: is the child a repeat offender--and if that is the case then is there something different I can do?) I have had parents tell me "I cannot believe _______ does that for you and not for me! How do you get him/her to do that?" My reply: "I dare him/her not to do it". The end.
I have also been to restaurants where the children were well-behaved. Oh sure, they had their moments....a yell here....some running there....but the parents were able to control them....they gave them a choice and then followed through with it....even if it meant an interruption to the meal (permanent or temporary). The boundaries had been set by the party with the experience...by the party that was supposed to set them.
This discussion also brings me to my other peeve.....loud children in stores....what is the deal with that? I have seen this happening and parents either doing nothing or (worse) trying to bribe their child....whaaat??? bribe???? And guess what! None of it is working!!! The child continues on the rampage! Well, duh! These kids are smart...they can figure out how far they can push a parent and get away with it....so they can manipulate many things....who is setting the boundaries now? Who is in charge now? Who has taken on some of the parenting role now?
Once again, I have been to stores where there are some well-behaved kiddos. Yeah, they may have some crying here and there, or may play with some balls in the isles...but parents arrive and take care of the situation....
Please don't get me wrong, I am not a fan of child beating (although I do believe that an old-fashioned whupping is sometimes needed.....I had my share of them and I can safely say that they have not harmed me in any way) but I am in strong favor of setting boundaries....of having meaningful consequences....of actual implementation of said consequences....of children knowing their place...and of adults assuming the responsibility of training the child they have brought into the world.
I once read in Dear Abby that there was an obnoxious child at a restaurant. His parents were there and were doing nothing about his behavior. Other patrons complained to the parents but their negligent parenting continued. The manager finally came up to them and told them that if they could not get their child under control they would have to leave. To make this story short, the ended up leaving--to the sound of applause as they exited. I have told this to countless parents. "Do you want your child to be the one who is cheered for leaving or for entering a room?" In all my years of teaching, I have had one parent say "I don't care. It is the other people's problem". My response: "Then you are c o n d e m n i n g your child to a life of low-paying jobs because studies have shown that over 80% of job firings happen because of poor social skills....skills that can and should be taught everywhere. This is not to mention the effects their behavior will have on their social/personal lives."
I know good parenting is hard....there were many times when it would have been so much easier for J or I to let things slide....to just ignore.....to stay put and let things go on..... to not take the time to teach either by modeling, or by correction and redirection....but I cannot help but think that if one takes the moment to make the child and have it, then one must spend the time to raise it.
Bravo to those parents who take the time to be the first and best teacher in their kids' lives...to take the hard road and provide boundaries and discipline....to see beyond the here and now with regards to their child's behavior....it is these wonderful parents make this world a better place....there is a special place in heaven for them.
Thanks for listening to me vent.