Hey, You With the Smart Phone and the Glass of Wine — How About Teaching Your Kids Some Restaurant Manners?

Great blog post recently, over on Consumerist.com, by a waiter who feels that parents of bratty, messy kids should tip more because the server has to clean up the mess the family leaves behind. I’d love to know what you all think of this post. (Personally? My husband and I always cleaned up the mess ourselves when our son was a baby and a toddler. No bragging here. Just seemed like the right thing to do.)

My opinion? It is WORK for a parent  to teach a young child how to behave in a restaurant. It requires attention, repetition, teaching and modeling good behavior. (How many parents don’t look the waiter in the eye, say please and thank you, etc?) It also involves not assuming that the waitstaff is supposed to pick up all those crackers and all that pasta on the floor when you leave.

Is it easier to ignore the little darlings, talk to the adults at the table (or check your email on your iPhone — I see that all the time), while tortilla chips sail through the air? Of course. In fact, I won’t go to our favorite local Mexican restaurant at the dinner hour because it seems to attract too many families with young children who receive precious little instruction from their parents on how to behave in a restaurant. It’s a shame.

I asked the staff of the restaurant about this and they say it’s appalling how few manners some kids (and some parents) have and how kids are allowed to stand on chairs and yell, run around the restaurant (rude and also dangerous, given that servers with hot plates are walking by), and just generally show a lack of concern for both the servers and other diners.

Am I off base here? I’m starting to feel like the lone voice in the wilderness on this issue. And when I read some of the comments on the Consumerist post, it makes me sad.

When I see parents who are really making an effort with their young kids at a restaurant, I’ll often just stop by the table with a big smile as I leave and say to the child, in front of the parents, “what great restaurant manners you have!” Every time, the parents beam with pride, and they usually acknowledge how much effort it takes to teach, to repeat, to clean up, and to teach some more.

If you have young kids and you’re making the effort, trust me: other diners are noticing, and appreciating, what you do. And you are raising a child that people will want to have in their home, take on outings, and hire some day. Because manners aren’t just about not throwing tortilla chips at your little brother at a restaurant and leaving them for the staff to clean up. They’re about caring about other people.

Does this Consumerist post just reflect the way things are now? Am I hopelessly out of touch?

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2 Responses to “Hey, You With the Smart Phone and the Glass of Wine — How About Teaching Your Kids Some Restaurant Manners?”

  1. Melanie says:

    I believe its absolutely the parent’s responsibility. If the child is old enough, then the parent should engage the child in helping to pick up the mess. The wait staff is there to serve you food and make your dining experience enjoyable, not to be your maid. Don’t make their experience serving you miserable, by your lack of manners!!

  2. Kathy says:

    Exactly! And this is a great opportunity to teach your young child how to behave toward others in public. Modeling thoughtful behavior can start really young. As can “please” and “thank you.”

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