Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Aren't Children Being Taught Manners Anymore?

I titled this post the way I did because I couldn't think of a better one.  Seriously.  This all came about because of a dinner my family and I went on to our neighborhood restaurant.  We patronize this place frequently because it is reasonably priced, close to home, and the kids eat free on Wednesdays.  I am totally not ashamed to admit this.  And also admittedly, the frequency and locale pales in comparison to the free Weds thing.  Sorry, the books aren't paying the bills just yet.  Anyway, I digress.

We were there recently, on the aforementioned kid night and the place was packed with families.  Seems we aren't the only ones being frugal with a buck these days.  Now, my husband and I have been bringing the kids out to dinner since they were born.  In the beginning we used to put the oldest in his car carrier and shove him under the table to sleep.  We would eat happily, alone or with friends, then get up at the end of the meal and pull our baby out from under the table.  So fun to see the other people's reactions, especially the ones that were seated AFTER we were and never saw us stash him.  But I give you the back story so you can share in my incredulity.

What the hell has happened to children's restaurant manners?  

My husband and I are proud that we can take our kids to nearly (and I mean NEARLY) any restaurant designed for families and they have great manners.  Can order, say please and thank you, and use a napkin.  Not rocket science, I know, but come on.  When they do it, I glow.  But this last outing was amazing.  Kids were running around the tables and aisles, babies were screaming with no adult attention, and one kid kept pulling my hair in the booth behind us.  I tried "The Glare" aimed at the parents, but they obviously didn't get the memo.  Crayons were thrown, rude bodily noises were overheard and  kids acted up, unheeded by anyone in authority.  I may not be a model mom, but if one of my kids acted that way, he or she would find themselves, as my Mum calls it, "scurffed and removed" from the table.  I have said, "Do you want to eat your dinner in the van?" more times than I care to remember.  But generally, they have great table manners in a restaurant and they make us both beam with pride.

So, I bitched about the other kid's behavior to my hubs all the way home.  Were we too strict with the kids?  Were we not allowing them to act like kids and have fun?  He looked at me like I'd gone insane and said, "Not in a &^%*& restaurant!"  I snapped to and realized I agreed with him.  But I am, as always, interested in your thoughts.

Have you experienced this yourself?  Have you addressed it?  Are you one of those people who should be on "What Would You Do?"  My husband is not a boat-rocker as I am and gets embarrassed to the gills when I speak up, so I don't when he is around.  But I really want to know:  Are you seeing the same thing as us....namely that children are not being taught core values of respect and decorum?  Please post here.  I'm totally dying to know!


  1. The next time it happens I'd complain to the manager. If that didn't work and someone was pulling your hair then I'd tell the parent that if it didn't stop now you'd call the police and have them charged with assault. Either that or pull the kids hair and see what they think of it

  2. You've hit one of my buttons with this post, Samantha. There's nothing that annoys me more than parents who don't take responsibility for their kids. Many parents ignore the behaviour for the 'quiet life.' They don't like confrontation or simply don't know how to discipline their children, and the rest of us suffer.
    When I go to a restaurant with my daughter, I expect exemplary manners. But I plan ahead. I always bring paper and colouring pens so she can draw, and believe it or not I actually talk to her (yes parents you can talk to your children) to keep her occupied. We always have a great time.

  3. My situation is slightly different.

    My kids have been taught to respect their elders, in particular their Grandparents. My siter-in-laws kids have not.
    When we all get together for family functions my well behaved kids are just that, and my s-i-l's kids run amuck and have filthy mouths and the parents and grandparents say nothing...but when one of mine on a rare occasion, acts up they are hawled over the coals by their grandparents...totally unfair and whats worse my kids know they are singled out :(

    Kids will be kids but parents NEED to be parents!!

  4. I can recall being taught, and asking, "May I leave the table," as a child, and thought nothing of it. Try that nowadays and you'll probably be accused of breaching a child's human rights. Incidentally, can I shamelessly plug a book written by a friend of mine. It's called Mommies' Priceless Moments, by Amanda E Johnson, and it includes all kinds of parental confessions, anecdotes and horror stories.

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    2. Thanks Derek!
      I think this post is a great idea. I have a 2 year old and let me tell you even though I have tried to teach him some manners (he can say please and thank you) he is still very active. Getting him to behave in a restaurant has been one of my biggest battles. He is finally getting it! It has been a very long process of getting up and down with him so he does not disturb others.

  5. My twenty-one year old still says excuse me and "thank you for supper, Mom." He never acted up - unless he wanted to go to the play area at a certain fast food restaurant! No, I believe the buck stops with the parents - the role models. Boundaries, rules and yes, manners need to be put in place, else how would the kid know any different? Great post, Samantha!

  6. My daughter was a brat until daddy packed us all up and left before the meal was served: ONE TIME. That's all it took to teach her what bad behavior earns. My son is perfect. Often he's the only child in the place, and he's the first to order duck or quail or sushi. He's rapt as the specials are being read (Old Soul). Kids behave the way you let them--unless they have special needs, of course. Fun post!

  7. I know exactly what you're saying, but I have to admit I get a certain smug glee out of watching other people's kids misbehave. At least it's not mine!

  8. What bothers me more than the misbehaving children are the parents who totally tune them out. I can't recall the number of times I've been in a family restaurant and observed a toddler in a highchair, and the floor around the table resembles the remains of an exploded refrigerator. Then the parents pick up and leave it all behind without apparently noticing the mess. Ugh!

  9. These are terrific comments! I, too, believe the true criminal is the inattentive of self-absorbed parents. And like Kathy, I am secretly thrilled when my children;s manners are complimented.
    Derek - I will ck out the book and you must know, my kids are required to ask permission to leave the table even at home.
    Book Chatter Cath - I hope your kids continue to be the ones that behave and chances are when they need money from the Granparents later in life, and they will, a child who behaves is likely to be the one that repays! Funny saying from my grandfather from a long time ago! He played favorites too! (luckily I was on the receiving end!)
    Glad and surprised the nerve my post made. Lindsay, I have taken your advise before in the form of asking for another table....pointedly.
    Thanks all for the fun comments!