Originally Posted by Storm Bride
I guess I'm still not getting why people are assuming she wasn't being ignored. The mom didn't specifically say "you get ignored in adult restaurants", no. She specifically mentioned the colouring. That doesn't actually mean she was trying to avoid getting sidetracked.
I'm not going to say whether she was ignored. That's impossible for any of us to know. But I tend to find it very plausible that she was not being ignored. The reasons for this are:
1. In my mind, ignoring someone means that if they speak, you don't listen or respond to them. I have never seen that happen in a restaurant between a kid and parent. I have
seen adults very engaged in conversation with one another (and it sounds like this mom told
her child ahead of time
that this was what it was going to be like and that the child chose
to come even though she could have stayed home with someone or gone to a babysitter or something), while the kids aren't participating actively, but that's not the same as ignoring (in my mind).
In restaurants, I've never seen a child shushed or a parent just go on talking over the child or something when a kid speaks. I don't think its that common
, especially with a parent who seems to otherwise be very reasonably talking to her child about the child's situation later on. When I was a kid, we bounced in and out of adult conversations. Because we were socialized to be conversationalists, that was what was expected. Often we would just listen, but occassionally we would jump in. I don't feel that we were being ignored in either scenario
. Rather, we were being socialized/taught to develop our interests in the adult world and to be able to hold conversations with adults about both things of greater and lesser interest to us. We were being socialized/taught by the provision of opportunity and the refusal of my parents to see being our entertainers as part of their job description. This is not the same as ignoring, though I can easily see how an emotional eight year old in a moment of frustration might take that position.
2. The mom really sounds like she was keeping a focus in the conversation. She is repeating herself/being very focused on the issue at hand, no matter what her kid says. It sounds like conversations I
have had in which I was trying not to be sidetracked. In my personal experiences, not responding to claims like that is not an admission of guilt. It is an avoidance of an unecessary power struggle. I read it that way because it fits most closely with my own experiences. You clearly have different experiences informing your own conclusions.
I guess also, if the child was really being ignored, I still don't see that the parent necessarily has to suddenly focus on that. I can understand why some folks may feel that way, and I might even as a parent realize my child reasonably felt ignored and then try to make ammends...but then again...the parent made it clear that the child had a choice to come or not come to the restaurant (so I am assuming she had the option to stay home with another parent or with a sitter), and that the parent had emphasized in advance that this was an *adult* restaurant and that she would be meeting with another adult to talk with that adult.
My kids know that after church during "coffee hour" I (who work in ministry) need to mingle/do work/talk with people/etc. They know in advance that I am not going to be able to pay much attention to them. Sometimes my dw will give them the option to stay or for her to take them home. They know if they choose to stay that they won't get my undivided attention. They also know that once we all get home they will get 100% of my attention. So when they have chosen to stay, and then come and interupt my conversations every two minutes, I do get firm with them. If they say, "But you are ignoring us!" I am not going to suddenly make that my focus. No, I am going to say, "You had the choice to go home and wait until I could give you my undivided attention. You chose to stay, which means that you will be sharing me for another hour."
I can see a similar situation resulting from me deciding to go out to eat with a friend. My child might request to go, and I might think, "I can live with that, and my kid is old enough to come along without being entertained." And then I might say, "Kido, I am going out to eat with ______. She and I really want to talk about ______. This isn't a kid's restaurant, and I am not going to provide you with entertainment. Do you think you can manage?" And my kid might say, "Yes, I think I can do that." Then we meet up with my friend, and as we are getting out of the car, friend says to my kid, "Do you want to bring your doll in? You might get bored." And my kid might say, "No."
Now (since it has come up a few times on this thread) with this kind of thing, I don't make it my practice to go, "Are you sure? Are you really, really sure? Think about this carefully." I think that is patronizing, and my kids know that when I ask them a question I want them to give me a thoughtful answer. I trust that they will, and I communicate this trust and confidence in their decision-making by a cheerful, "Okay!" If I then shut the car door, and my kid goes, "Oh, wait...I change my mind," that is usually cool with me. Sometimes it takes me a while to process information, and I change my mind after an initial decision. But let's say that doesn't happen. I'm not going to stand there trying to convince my child to change his or her mind by saying, "Are you sure you are sure?" That's not how I roll.
Okay, so when we get into the restaurant, my kid is welcome to jump in to converse with myself and my friend, but I am not going to sit there trying to think of ways to keep her entertained because she said she wanted to come but knew that was conditional on (1) me being able to have a conversation with my friend, and (2) her keeping herself entertained.
So there are several ways this might go. One way is that my kid does great and everything goes as planned. Another way is that my kid decides it really is
boring. This might be because she had gone in thinking that there were going to be crayons, and there aren't, or whatever. But whatever reason, that doesn't make my filling my child's desires a sudden top priority. My kid knew this trip out to eat wasn't about her from the get go. I told her ahead of time where I was going and what I was going to do, and then she had options along the way about whether to participate and whether to bring something in to keep herself entertained. My family values include creativity, and my kids are resourceful. I expect them to keep themselves entertained in a variety of ways, many of which are perfectly appropriate for an adult restaurant.
Now someone mentioned that refusing to get the doll for the bored daughter teaches the daughter to be inflexible. I disagree. I think by enabling the child's belief that only one
thing could save her from boredom teaches the daughter to be inflexible. It is by giving her the message that I trust her ability to keep herself entertained with or without her doll that I teach her a flexibility of the mind. Counter-intuitive, but I firmly believe it to be the case.
In any case, let's say my daughter says, "I'm bored. I want my doll." Well, I don't get to control my daughter's behavior. She had a choice, and she made it. Her choice was to leave the doll in the car. The natural consequence of the choice is that her doll is in the car. That's not parent imposed.
The only thing I can control is my own behavior. So when someone asks me to get something for them (and because I think most folks try to be reasonable most of the time...I am choosing to believe this mom had some reason she didn't send the girl to the car...either the girl was younger than thought by the OP or the car was further or whatever), I get to decide whether to do it. There are times I might decide to do it. Let's say we ordered only a minute or two ago, I know it's going to be a long wait, my friend and I are just warming up to our conversation, and I know from experience that when my child says she wants her doll, that's what she really wants and that she will then entertain herself with it. Yeah, no problem, I will get the doll.
On the other hand, let's say I know that the food should arrive at the table in another five or maybe even ten minutes (any time period I know my child can handle without her doll), my friend and I are really into our conversation, and I know from experience that my child is likely to get her doll, and then want something else two minutes later, and then something else two minutes after that, and that I am about to spiral into making the whole restaurant experience about her and not about a balance of needs, then no, I wouldn't get the doll. I'd say to her, "I know you can last another ten minutes. Hang in there kido!"
If then she spiraled into a fit, crying etc., if my child was over the age of 3 or 4, I wouldn't reward the fit by getting the doll. By that age, kids are smart. They put it together. Throw a fit=get whatever I want. I made that mistake with one of my kids. No way will I make the same mistake again. It leads to lots of trouble over the long haul. Plus, as someone here already astutely noted, most of us as parents can tell the difference in our own children when they are throwing a fit to get their way and when they are truly
upset about something. We respond accordingly. I would be very reluctant to question another parent's judgement in this regard.
I can choose to intervene or not intervene in the natural consequence, but that doesn't change whether it is a natural consequence. Children can be saved from most of the natural consequences of their choices and behavior, but that doesn't mean that a parent is imposing a logical consequence (which also can have value) by chosing not to intervene. It just means the parent is stepping back and letting the natural consequence be experienced by the child. The idea that if a parent can intervene and choses not to, it is a parent-imposed consequence is really a twisted perception of what a natural consequence it is.
Now since some people are saying, "hey, would you treat an adult this way?" I would say, if I leave for work and realize I forgot my lunch, not having my lunch is the natural consequence of my action. So then I might call dw to see if she'll intervene. She might say, "No problem. I am available and can run it over to you." If so, great! But she also can make the valid choice to say, "Honey, I have the kids' doctor appointments, and then we have playgroup, and I just don't think I am going to have the time." There might be any number of contributing factors to which way she'll lean, not only including her schedule on that day and what else she is engaged in, but also whether she feels she is enabling me by bringing me my lunch (do I call her like this almost every other day?), and what other options she thinks I have. If she says yes, I am glad. If she says no, I can count on her to say it with compassion and empathy because she's very kind and loving. I might feel a little put-out anyway, but I also know I was the person responsible for my lunch. So I buck up, and I get resourceful. I see what there is up for grabs in the fridge, I grab something to eat if I have a few bucks, I decide to come home a little early and skip lunch, or I decide to live with the hunger. Or whatever. But I take responsibility and I experience the natural consequences of my actions. That's the way it works in my family.
Sadly, this is a lesson I had to learn as an adult. One of my parents always said, "The world is hard enough. Let's do everything we can to make it easier on each other." Which sounds great, right? Well. It is and it isn't. My mom would rescue me from all kinds of choices. Forget my lunch? No problem, if she can't bring it to me, she'll call a friend and ask the friend to bring it to me. If her friend can't bring it, she'll figure out a way to leave work and get it to me even if it puts her job at risk and makes her resentful and angry. It wasn't until adulthood that I realized that the world didn't revolve around me, and that not all my wants were needs, and that not everyone was as forgiving as my mom, and that I wasn't always going to have people to rescue me. (And paradoxically, I also needed to learn that I
didn't have to be a doormat when it came to other people either and that I didn't have to bear the burden of everyone else's unfortunate choices). It's a MUCH harder lesson, with MUCH bigger consequences when you are an adult than when you are a kid. I'm just glad (and lucky) I survived. Personally, having lived through it as an adult, I want my kids to have a chance to learn that particular lesson as kids when there is less to lose.
By the way, on a more positive note about things I learned in my childhood, my mother used to tell myself and my siblings -- when we would whine to her about being bored -- "only boring people get bored." She was right. Interesting people choose to be interested in the world around them.