Thoughtful Thursday: Parent Shaming?

Thoughtful Thursday

I actually have another tirade-style Thoughtful Thursday post in the wings, but I’m waiting to tweak it so that it isn’t so inflammatory.

Recently, on Facebook, I read a story about a restaurant in Canada that wanted to ban “screaming children” from its environs.  I mistakenly read the comments.  And felt my blood pressure kick it up a notch…several hundred notches, in fact.

I have a child that is energetic.  No, I don’t believe he has ADD, ADHD, spectrum disorder, or any of the alphabet soup of disorders.  Therefore, he is not a medicated walking zombie.

At times, we will go to restaurants and Muffin will behave really well.  P.S. At those restaurants, he usually behaves well because the waitstaff and patrons treat him well.  P.P.S.  I tend to behave well at those, as well.

And…other times…he doesn’t.

We try to mitigate those times.  We go to Chick-Fil-A, a “family restaurant.”  We try to eat at restaurants with booths and that will seat us in booths because, as we explained to one local restaurant that had booths that WOULDN’T seat us in a booth for reasons of their own, it’s easier to corral Muffin in a booth by keeping him trapped inside.

We try not to go at a busy time.

We try to pick restaurants with a children’s menu.  To me, by definition, restaurants with a children’s menu are “family restaurants.”  Don’t tease parents by having a children’s menu and then not welcoming children…all children.

According to the “individuals” who commented, children’s misbehavior in a restaurant is the sole fault of the parents.  It is not the fault of other patrons staring rudely and condescendingly (and glaringly) at children.  It is not slow, incompetent waitstaff who bring the wrong menu item to a child (or wait forever to wait on a family with children).

Even before becoming a parent, I never looked askance or rudely at parents struggling to maintain some sense of composure while addressing their child’s misbehavior.  I would never have rudely suggested that a parent walk out of the restaurant with the child to “calm the child down” (by the way, that doesn’t work).

Now, to be fair, Muffin usually doesn’t scream.  He whines.  He pouts.  He cries.  But he doesn’t scream.

Ultimately, some of the commentators cheered the manager of the restaurant for his policy, saying they would be glad to go there because it would be child-free.

I have the opposite opinion.  A restaurant where my child is not welcome is not a restaurant where I would feel welcome.

I understand that there are some restaurant patrons who feel as if children ruin their meal.  I also feel as if my meal is ruined by their scrutiny and judgmental stares.  I feel as if my meal is ruined by people who talk loudly into their cell phones or use inappropriate language at the table, but I’ve yet to be at a restaurant where those individuals are banned.  I feel as if my meal is ruined when a drunk bumps drunkenly into my table and spills my food and drink.

And to those who suggested that the parents just take their meal to-go?  Um, while I do enjoy the second meal a to go box provides, it never is as appetizing as it arrives on the plate in the restaurant.  I am a food blogger (as well as a mommy blogger).  When I eat out, it’s research a lot of the time.  And that research isn’t the same if it’s “to go.”

It goes back to:  if you want my business (and by that I mean all of my family’s business), you will make me feel welcome.  Otherwise, I will go somewhere that will.  We’ve discovered some real gems as a result of leaving restaurants where we don’t feel welcome, such as the local “Asian Cafe” after the aforementioned restaurant refused to seat us in a booth.  (We haven’t really frequented that restaurant ever since.)

How about this:  to restaurant owners, managers, waitstaff, and patrons:  If you see a parent struggling with an unruly child, how about show a bit of compassion and understanding?  Because I promise you, it is already a humiliating, frustrating, appetite-ending experience for the parents, let me tell you.

Oh, and to the waitstaff, managers, and owners of restaurants, I tend to tip better at locations that treat me and mine with respect and dignity.  I tend to be not-so-kind to locations that make us feel unwelcome off the bat.

In somewhat related news, I am planning on divorcing Facebook.  I find myself angry every time I go on to read posts.  And, people be bullying, yo!  People feel they have the right to attack everything you say and believe.  And not politely.  And, have you ever considered how much SPAM there is on Facebook?  All the chain-mail-style posts?  I’m on Facebook to look at new posts of blogs I read and try to catch up on what family and friends are doing (and enjoying the odd Minion meme).  I really don’t need anything else, thanks.

What is your opinion of restaurant policies concerning children?


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