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Children, parents, restaurants, manners, etiquette...

post #1 of 200
Thread Starter 

I'm sure you know where this is going.  This has, I'm sure, been discussed before, but I can't find old threads (heck, I can't find anything here anymore!).  I hope to keep this civil.

 

I'm wondering about dining out and what is expected, not just from the children, but the parents, as well, in different situations.  I'm speaking specifically of different types of sit-down restaurants.  From the one-step-up-from-fast-food places like Outback Steakhouse and Red Lobster to the fine dining restaurants that have a tasting menu and wine pairings that are $250/person.  What should the expectation of manners from children of various ages be in these places?  Beyond manners, I think that there is a set of dining etiquette rules that is necessary for these different situations and I wonder what kids are, in general, being taught these days.  I'm also thinking of what parents are or are not doing in various situations where parenting *needs* to take place because of disruption.

 

Had an interesting experience last night and it got me thinking about this again.

post #2 of 200

I taught my dd to use her silverware and napkin, chew with her mouth closed, stay in our booth and not disturb other people around us, use manner words when talking to the waitress, and use an inside voice.  These are the manners I expect no matter where we are at and I have expected them for years, though of course they weren't always 100% met when dd was younger because she was still learning. 

 

We don't go to places that cost $250 a plate because we don't have any places like that around (and I can't imagine food being worth that much).  The higher end restaurants in town aren't typically considered places to bring kids so just doing that would be a breach of the expected etiquette.  If I did bring my dd to somewhere like that I would get a video about really fancy manners for her and we would practice together for a while before going so she isn't glared at too much.

post #3 of 200

 

1. Stay at the table- don't run around the restaurant. Most definitely do not touch other people, their table, or their food. 

 

2. Do not turn in your seat to observe other diners.

 

3. Inside voices - any child who is incontrollably hollering needs to be removed by their parents. Parents can take shifts standing outside while the other parent and kids eat, or they can pack up and leave their half-eaten meal. I don't care, so long as the source of the hollering is promptly removed.

 

... it looks so obvious when I type it out, and so minimal in terms of social expectations, and yet I run into people again and again who will not adhere to this baseline. 

post #4 of 200

I think it depends on the place and the timing.  We always took our daughter with us to restaurants. If she couldn't sit still or was crying (infant), one of us got the food packed up and paid, the other took said babe outside to go home. It is rude to let a child run around and bother other diners. Parents should be gracious to everyone, their kids, other diners, etc. Its also rude to expect a small child to sit still and like an adult in a fancy 100 dollar a plate restaurant. Older kids, sure..toddlers um no.

 

So to me its about expectations. If a small child is tired and cranky and just can't do it, don't yell at them, don't let them run crazy, just suck it up and be the adult and go.  You can eat out another time. If an older child is being cranky, explain the expectations and follow through.  Again, leave if needed. 

 

just my two cents.

post #5 of 200
We only eat at really casual places. I've never been to Red Lobster but that type of place would probably be as 'fancy' as it gets. I have never & will never pay $250 for a meal, so I can't say much about high-end dining!!

I don't really care what other people do, as long as their kids aren't actually climbing under my table or something. I don't mind if they're loud, as long as they are happy and not being obnoxious. (Loud laughing & telling jokes & playing wouldn't be annoying, but crying/screaming at someone/etc. would be to me. And I can't stand hearing parents scream at their kids.)

For my own DS (2.5yo), we expect him to sit calmly. That's about it. He can play with most items on the table (a straw, a sugar packet, but not the communal salt shaker 'cause he might lick it!) He can peek over the back of the booth once or twice but can't stare or anything and can't annoy anyone on the other side. He can't run around but if he's really restless we might take him to the lobby to walk around and look at the decor. I do expect him to be pretty quiet, and if he's crying or fussy, we take him for a walk. I've only actually left a restaurant once, and that was because he was throwing things, broke a plate, and was screaming. We were practically the only ones in the restaurant (off-hours), otherwise we would have left even sooner.

I don't care about table manners or anything. Even at home, it's just not a priority for us for multiple reasons. As long as it's not affecting anyone else (and if you're randomly staring at my table, that doesn't count as 'affecting' you!!) then I'm OK with most things.
post #6 of 200

We do what one_girl and Smithie do.  Inside voices, no laying down/turning around in the booth, you sit and eat and make polite conversation.  DD is 3.5 now, but even at a very young age I did not tolerate screaming or running or pestering others.  I DO bring an arsenal of crayons and games to keep her occupied.  If we go to a fancy place with DD we try to go at an off-peak time.  I was raised eating everywhere from Denny's to tea at the Plaza, so I think it is very important to have good etiquette.  To me, there's no such thing as "too polite". 

 

Right now we're working on "things that are not nice to talk about while we eat."  ROTFLMAO.gif

post #7 of 200
Quote:
Originally Posted by One_Girl View Post

I taught my dd to use her silverware and napkin, chew with her mouth closed, stay in our booth and not disturb other people around us, use manner words when talking to the waitress, and use an inside voice.  These are the manners I expect no matter where we are at and I have expected them for years, though of course they weren't always 100% met when dd was younger because she was still learning. 

 


Quote:
Originally Posted by Smithie View Post

 

1. Stay at the table- don't run around the restaurant. Most definitely do not touch other people, their table, or their food. 

 

2. Do not turn in your seat to observe other diners.

 

3. Inside voices - any child who is incontrollably hollering needs to be removed by their parents. Parents can take shifts standing outside while the other parent and kids eat, or they can pack up and leave their half-eaten meal. I don't care, so long as the source of the hollering is promptly removed.

 

... it looks so obvious when I type it out, and so minimal in terms of social expectations, and yet I run into people again and again who will not adhere to this baseline. 


All of that. We don't have money for fine dining, so my kids have never been in a high-end restaurant like the OP described, but basic manners are necessary anywhere.

 

Also, on an aside....as someone who has worked in restaurants off and on for a decade, the "not running around" rule is as much for safety as it is for courtesy. I have personally witnessed a child splitting his forehead open when he ran into a very heavy stoneware plate that a waitress was carrying. Servers are transporting things that are hot, heavy, or sharp. I find it baffling when people allow their kids to play tag in the aisles, run back and forth to the bathrooms, or think that a crowded restaurant on a Saturday night is a great place to teach their toddler how to walk. If your kid runs under a server's feet and a pot of coffee gets spilled on the little darling, who is to blame?

 

Putting your baby carrier on the floor (with the baby in it) next to your table is dangerous, as well.

 

post #8 of 200

 

  Alice Walker is quoted as having said that, "The most

important question in the world is, "Why is the child crying?""

 

  Perhaps that also applies in "Why is the child disruptive?"

 

  When dining out children should be encouraged to understand

the general feeling of the social situation and meet it. The adults,

as the ones with more social intelligence, should model what is

best in that social context and respond constructively to any

children having difficulty. The meal is an event, the child is the

future.

post #9 of 200

We have mostly the same rules as at home... sit properly and use your manners. 

 

Our kids are 9 and 7, and still have a limit to how long they want to sit still in a noisy restaurant. If DH orders soup to start he asks that it comes to the table with our meal, otherwise they hold the meal for another 15 minutes and the kids get restless. We only rarely get dessert at a restaurant, because that draws things out, too. Sometimes I ask for the cheque halfway through eating, while the waitress is filling our drinks or something, so we won't have to wait for that! It important to me that the kids have fun when we go out. If we feel like chit-chatting more when the meal is over or want dessert, we can go through a Horton's drive through for donuts, and have a coffee and much more relaxing conversation in the park while the kids run around.

 

Someone told me once that when kids are being 'bad', to look at whether there's a behaviour problem, or an expectations problem. Quite often, I've found it's the latter.

post #10 of 200
I don't take my 2-year-old to fancy restaurants because they take longer than she can handle. She is really good for a quick meal, and she's an easy easy kid, but she can't handle sitting in one place as long as a really nice restaurant meal goes.

My expectation for the 9-year-old is that she be quiet and polite and all that. At 9, she has no trouble at all behaving in a restaurant. My expectation for the 2-year-old is that she stay seated, not make loud noises, and not be disruptive to others in any other way. If it gets to be a problem, either dh or I take her outside and the other packs up and pays. I will take her to Outback or whatever, but she isn't up for a really nice place yet. It's just too quiet, and toddlers seem to like to fill up silence with noise, and it takes longer htan she can handle. I don't consider her to be poorly behaved, just not old enough to handle that kind of restaurant.
post #11 of 200

Mine are 4 and 6, and I expect that they can sit at the table and wait for their food, not run around, not shout. If they raise their voices I tell them to be more quiet. 

As far as waiting time, I think that is cultural. I just went out to dinner tonight with friends, and it was over 4 hours. This is normal. If I go out with kids, we might choose something quicker, but "quicker" is still likely to be 2 hours. When we were in the states and went out to eat everything came so quick, it seemed almost instantaneous. It was a piece of cake for my kids. Also, since we don't eat out much, it is an experience for them, which is somewhat entertaining in itself, which I think makes it easier. If it is going to be a really long wait, I will often break it up myself, but asking the kids if they want to take a short walk outside and look in some shop windows or whatever, while we wait for the appetizer. Then they burn off a little fuel but I stay close by and we go back in as soon as the appetizer comes out. I will also bring a little scrap paper, or a book, so they can draw or look at pictures, while we are waiting. But mostly we talk. Really expensive meals we don't do with the kids, because in that case I want to really enjoy the food and wine, and some good talk, which my kids will not appreciate or be interested in. When they are older, sure, but it will be a few years. 

post #12 of 200

velochic i am curious what ages you are talking about. 

 

it so varies with age group as you are aware. 

 

dd is a whole different story now at almost 9. 

 

also we really have fancy manners for fancy restaurants and looser manners for family style places. so at family places she doesnt try to use the right fork or have to figure out what the water glass is. 

 

dd gets it now. also she knows and is expected to know not to interrupt adult's conversation with her two bits. when she is included in the conversation she can have her say..

 

interestingly she has picked up more about manners from watching period pieces than actually me teaching her. 

 

of course dd is not allowed to run around, but at 2 and 3 i could never have that expectation from her. which is why i chose where i went to eat and what time we went. 

 

it is interesting others expectations of dd. now that she is older i notice they include her in many of the conversations which she really enjoys. so when she is ignored she is ok and finds ways to entertain herself. 

 

i will say being a mother i enjoy other children at the restaurants, esp. the smiling giggling running toddlers. they always make me smile. 

post #13 of 200
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by meemee View Post

velochic i am curious what ages you are talking about. 


As I said in the OP, really I'm asking about all ages.

 

When you talk of "fancy manners" and "loose manners", what does that mean?  Manners are manners.  You should use them anywhere, IMO.  However, different dining environments, I think, require different dining ETIQUETTE and that was kind of what I was thinking about.

post #14 of 200

The manners listed are basic expectations of adults and children alike in public places, and restaurants especially. No disagreement there. Who would argue with this? Noone believes a person should run around,  use loud obnoxious  voices etc etc.

 

The question is-getting your children to adhere to these guidelines. My children for eg, behave very well at the table at  home. But in a restaurant, there  are no guarantees. I contend this is less an issue of discipline, or lack of consideration for others on the part of the parent, than differences in temperment on the part of the child. Good for you (and lucky for you) that you have children  who readily behave well in a restaurant.  if you have more than one child, who together with their sibling/s, behaves well in a restaurant, then a gold star is what you deserve. My kids are not especially interested in crayons. But if the food is served quickly,  they behave very well whilst eating.

 

My childrens behavior (they behave well on their own but not always when they are together) is not something i can predict, despite the guidelines i lay down for them. For this reason, we are less likely to dine in restaurants, and as a consequence, they get less experience.

 

However, i am sure that with a bit of maturity, things will improve. 

 

I suppose we all just need to be considerate of each other, and tolerant when things arent perfect. That goes for  other customers in the restaurant when it comes to a crying child (or whatever the situation may be-if my child cries, i take him out, but they still hear it), as well as parents with children. A bit of give and take i say.

 

When it comes to extremely expensive restaurants...a person who can afford that, can either afford a babysitter, or someone to come along who can effectively keep children entertained to ensure they are quiet and seated. One reason i go to a restaurant is so i can relax. getting anxious because of my childs behavior is not relaxing. Sometimes though, it might be to hot or too cold outside to take out, so we are forced to stay in or starve (depends on the situation)

 

I wouldnt spend 250 bux on a meal even if i could afford it, although i have been invited many a time to  these types of establishments before i had children. 

 

 

post #15 of 200


I'd have to agree with most of what the posters before have to say. We don't take our kids anywhere they have proven to be disruptive unless one of us is willing to go out or home with the child. That said, there are a number of places I would never take a babe or small child even if it could be counted on to "behave" in that situation. A really really fancy restaurant would be one of them- hell I won't even take my 20 year old to expensive dinners, let alone the babe.

 

I have to admit I am bothered by other people's children when they are disrupting me almost anywhere- movie, out to dinner, bookstore, library etc- that has an expectation for being calm or at least quiet.
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by velochic View Post

I'm sure you know where this is going.  This has, I'm sure, been discussed before, but I can't find old threads (heck, I can't find anything here anymore!).  I hope to keep this civil.

 

I'm wondering about dining out and what is expected, not just from the children, but the parents, as well, in different situations.  I'm speaking specifically of different types of sit-down restaurants.  From the one-step-up-from-fast-food places like Outback Steakhouse and Red Lobster to the fine dining restaurants that have a tasting menu and wine pairings that are $250/person.  What should the expectation of manners from children of various ages be in these places?  Beyond manners, I think that there is a set of dining etiquette rules that is necessary for these different situations and I wonder what kids are, in general, being taught these days.  I'm also thinking of what parents are or are not doing in various situations where parenting *needs* to take place because of disruption.

 

Had an interesting experience last night and it got me thinking about this again.



Time to tell, what was your experience and your reaction?

 

 

post #16 of 200

On the ages question, again, i think temperament and other factors is also an issue. For eg, i could take my now 6yo into a restaurant when his brother was a baby, and he was 2-3. At the time, he was often content to play with cars. Now at 6, if alone, he can be very well behaved, but not always when his brother is with him. Cars definitely wont keep him entertained though. His 3yo brother, is less well behaved, but again, when alone, can be more mature. I think by the age of 5 or 6, all things being equal, a child is capable of good behavior in a restaurant. i dont know, i just get a headache thinking about it, because it usually is a headache when i take them :-)

 

Oh, and having a partner, or other adults with you is obviously a huge help, since one of them can take out 'offending' child, or keep them otherwise entertained, while other adults get food eaten. Such a tool is usually not in my arsenal as a single mother.

post #17 of 200
Quote:
Originally Posted by velochic View Post




As I said in the OP, really I'm asking about all ages.

 

When you talk of "fancy manners" and "loose manners", what does that mean?  Manners are manners.  You should use them anywhere, IMO.  However, different dining environments, I think, require different dining ETIQUETTE and that was kind of what I was thinking about.


I think of fancy as taking extra care to always sit up, using the napkin a little more frequently, using the right silverware for the right job, and just being on your best behavior in general.  Loose manners are still manners but they aren't as vigilantly and absolutely enforced.  It is probably more accurate to say that manners are more loosely enforced at some times than other times because some dining situations are more casual than others. 

 

As far as just etiquette I think not disturbing your fellow diners, keeping your noise and behavior geared to the level of where you are eating, and not having an odor that can be smelled by others is a basic guideline that applies to anywhere you eat.  Parents should be expected to help their kids live up to that expectation by redirecting, distraction, and picking appropriate dining places for their children's abilities, no matter what their age, until they master doing these things on their own.  As I mentioned previously, there are also some dining situations in which bringing a child is going against the dining etiquette for the restaurant and in those situations I think it is unfair to parents and other diners for a person to go against that. 

 

I think it would be easier to gauge the response (and it would satisfy a lot of curious people) if we knew what actually happened to make you wonder about this.

 

post #18 of 200
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Buzzer Beater View Post


Time to tell, what was your experience and your reaction?

 

 

 

It was a loud chain restaurant.

 

So what happened, didn't actually happen to us, it was something I observed across the aisle.  There was a boy, close to my dd's age...more than 7, no older than 9 and he was turning around trying to talk to the people in the next booth... except he had a BBQ rib in his hand every time and was smearing BBQ sauce all over the back of the booth.  The gentleman was trying to gently get the kid to turn back around, but the parents were so busy texting (they weren't even talking to each other!!!) that they didn't even bother to talk to the child. I think the people ended up just leaving before their meal was finished.

 

We don't go to these loud chains usually, and never really have (it happened to be equidistant for meeting in this particular case, which is why we ended up there).  When dd was a toddler, we lived in Germany.  We ate out mostly at our local biergarten if we wanted to spend a good amount of time dining out.  These had good, fresh food, but also play equipment for kids.  Very informal. However, buy age 3 or 4, we were serious about teaching manners, even fine dining etiquette at home and it translated to restaurants.  It took years of talking and teaching and *always* we taught that the other diners were to be respected in all situations.  I am simply tired of parents either ignoring the situation or thinking that their little angels have a right to disturb everyone else.  NO, they don't!!  Etiquette is one thing, but manners is just basic.  And overall, the manners don't change.  You just respect the other diners.  For some people, eating out may be the highlight of their month or year and having a loud kid (or loud drunk adult or loud adult on the cellphone) can ruin what is a special occasion for them.  It seemed like this was a first date or important date and these people were trying to talk... but the parents were OBLIVIOUS and this kid RUINED their meal.  I felt so sorry for them.

 

ETA: My reaction???  This thread.
 

 

post #19 of 200

I  think there are a lot of parents out there who cannot/will not control their children... that's too bad. If that happened to me I would ask the waitress to intervene. I wouldn't let someone else's child ruin my night. No wonder restaurants and airlines are making child free zones. I don't blame them!

post #20 of 200

In cheaper, run of the mill places it bothers me but not overally if children are disruptive, poorly behaved. At a nice place, quite frankly it makes my blood boil. We teach & mentor good table manners at home & while out 'cause I do think it is important & I've seen people as teenagers/young adults end up really embarrassed the first time they end up at a "fancy" event with no idea how to conduct themselves.

 

I do think at all restaurants children & adults should be keeping their voices low enough that they are not bothering other diners, shouldn't be running around the restaurant, staring, throwing things, etc. I totally get that it's a learning process for young children & as long as it seems the parents are trying to teach the skills/manners than it's all fine imo at family/busy places. But when I see a child running amok & the parents are just ignoring it I think that is totally inappropriate. Children obviously cannot behave perfectly at all times & need chances to practice.

 

As for higher end places I think the difficulty lies in a couple different areas. There are times that children will be at these places & I'm not for not allowing them but I think the parents do need to make a MUCH higher effort to not disturb others. But I also think that the restaurants themselves sometimes need to be more mindful of how they are seating patrons in relation to each other. When dh & I were on our honeymoon we went out for a very fancy dinner one night. We were seated immediately beside a family with a 2 year old who spent the entire meal crawling under the tables, running around, screaming, etc. The restaurant wasn't busy & the parents & the staff did nothing. It was a pretty big splurge for us to go to this place & it really did ruin our romantic dinner.

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