Weekly Writing Challenge: Children in Restaurants

This week as part of Daily Post’s ‘Weekly Writing Challenge’ there is a poll going around asking people to think about their view on whether children should be allowed in adult-orientated spaces or not and then to explain their position in a post. I hate to say it but at first I was decidedly on-the-fence in regards to this topic and I think this is in due to being caught in a sense between child and parent phases of life.

The two options given in the poll are (results for poll are here):

a) Part of why I go to a nice restaurant is for the ambiance and to spend time with other adults. Get a baby-sitter.

b) Kids are people too. They should be welcome where an adult is welcome.

Firstly I would like to say that this poll will initially be answered by either your emotional opinion of the majority of children who are respectable and well controlled by their parents when at restaurants or the minority who make us all wish from time to time that children would not be allowed within 100 miles of the premise. Which ever you seem to come in contact with on a more regular basis as well as who has made a more impressionable memory for you upon your dining out experiences. And secondly it will depend upon what you define as your average dining out experience – ie. Fine Dining, a small family-run restaurant, Mc Donalds, etc.

Let me share with you my dining experiences as a child. I was first introduced to five star dining at the age of 12 (thanks to a very nice uncle who treated us while we were travelling – this is not something that my parents could have afforded on a regular basis with 3 kids). I know looking back that I was likely not the best behaved child (think elbows on the table and probably talked too loud – things I’ve realised I still do as an adult) but it was an experience of a lifetime to try such well made and presented food and to be exposed to a different level of dining to what many children of my generation are used to – the good old McDonalds, smaller restaurants and other forms of take-away dining. To have been denied such an opportunity may have denied me the chance to discover my love of good food and wine, as well as some hopefully decent table manners!

While I cannot comment from a parents perspective having never been one I do think that the onus is on them to make sure that their child behaves and does not disrupt the dining experience of other patrons within the restaurant. However in the more informal family-run restaurants, often the atmosphere created by large families and all the children and the ‘toeing-and-froing’ between the generations can really make the dining experience more enjoyable for me when I see others enjoying their food and company around me.

I guess from having spoken to a few university friends over the last day in regards to this topic I would have to lean more towards responding with let the children have a chance to dine out, whether for the food, to learn dining etiquette or even just to have a nice family meal/gathering (restaurant depending of course – I would not say a 5 star dining experience would be the best location for their first meal dining out). In the end I guess I have come to the decisions that children in general should be allowed into restaurants, which is the losing category of the poll (at the time of writing ~60% were in favour of leaving the children at home while the other ~40% said bring them along). Also I would like to note that there are plenty of adults that I have seen while dining out that could probably do with a night in with the baby-sitter from their lack of etiquette in both eating and dealing with the waitstaff. Perhaps that can be a topic for the following poll?

Obviously with such a generic question, as well as a quite biased response for saying no to children being in restaurants the general trend for the results to be leaning towards letting them stay home with the baby-sitter is to be expected. Again I would like to reiterate that many answers for this question will depend also on the ‘dining experience’ people had in mind. Let me know what you’re oppinion is but overall I would say that for a medium-priced restaurant, let the next generation of foodies who dream of more than a big mac be born!

Until next time!

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