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Dirty looks while eating out with kids...

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I can't say how many times I have been out to some chain/franchise restaurant and gotten the WORST dirty looks from older people or people with no kids. Normally at Olive Garden or Red Lobster, but also at Outback or even Ruby Tuesday... I mean puh-lease- it's a chain that serves mediocre (at best) food. Not fine dining.

Maybe I am way off base, but as far as I'm concerned, if there is a children's menu, children are welcome. My kids might be a little loud or a little messy, but certainly aren't screaming or running around the table or anything. I wouldn't take them to a linen tablecloth type of place, or be out with them at 10 or 11 at night... but it seriously bugs me when people give me or DH the look, or exchange an eye roll when we are seated near them. We can't be expected to eat McDonalds every time we want a meal out.

Anyone else with kids that have the same experience? Or kid-free CH's that want to chime in?

(NOTE: While we recognize that some interesting perpectives were shared here, for reasons pretty clearly shown in this thread, hot button issues (such as children in restaurants) are off the table for this site. We've locked this thread and encourage everyone to take a breath, calm down and enjoy what we're all here for- great chow tips, not angry debate. -- THE CHOWHOUND TEAM)

  1. I don't have kids yet. Whenever my husband and I go to eat at a casual restaurant we know there's a possibility there will be kids there. I have NO problem with small children in restaurants (I actually think it's a great way to teach kids how to act in social settings), but I take great offense when parents allow their kids to roam free around the restaurant, scream or cry for minutes on end and just basically ignore them while ruining our meal in the process.

    I think kids in restaurants have gotten a bad rap lately and people are overly sensitive whenever they see small children. I think they assume the kids will misbehave just because they're kids.

    1. This post is sure to have lots of opinions. I will say- and not meaning to be snarky- could it be that your idea of "a little loud" may be different than the surrounding diners? If it has happened to you more than one time, I would take a look at the kids behavior. Anyone going to the type of restaurant you described should expect to have kids sitting near them. But their dinner should not be impacted by the kids.

      Our teen was able to go to restaurants from a young age- just was really well behaved ( and still is). I have some neices and nephews, however, who did not ( or do not!) eat out that often as they did not always use their "indoor" voices.Each kid is different.

      Next time you get the eye roll or dirty look, stop and see exactly what the kids are doing. I know that, as parents, we sometimes are a bit immune to our kids behavior.

      3 Replies
      1. re: macca

        I also think sometimes parents build up an immunity. There is a woman with two kids who frequents our favorite coffee house, and she ignores them while they scream and bounce, etc... One day, she and her kids came in with a friend and her kids, who were very well-behaved. We watched as her friend attempted to rein in the noisy kids, obviously thinking their behavior was inappropriate.

        1. re: macca

          I agree with you. Many parents simply tune out, or have learnt to live with, their children's behavior. I'm less tolerant than most when it comes to rudeness in public, whether it's from adults or children, so I avoid loud restaurants because I want to eat in a peaceful atmosphere. I stopped inviting parents who bring their children to all social gatherings. I also don't invite adults who have no manners so I guess that makes me an equal-opportunity curmudgeon.

          1. re: cheryl_h

            Parents who must bring their children EVERYWHERE are another issue.

            I generally don't mind kids if it's a casual place. However, I still think it is inappropriate for them to be inordinately messy or disruptive.

        2. I'm very vocally against bringing kids to upscale places, no matter how well behaved they are. But I see absolutely no problem bringing them to a chain restaurant, where people aren't paying a premium for a certain experience.

          That said, if people are repeatedly rolling their eyes, it's probably a sign that your kids are unusually disruptive. Unless, of course, it happens preemptively (i.e., before your kids even have a chance to misbehave) in which case your gripe is totally legit.

          10 Replies
          1. re: a_and_w

            Why are you against well-behaved kids in upscale places? I haven't seen it much -maybe two or three times- but when they're good kids, I find it kind of charming..

            1. re: spigot

              My feeling is that when patrons are paying extra for a special experience, it's really rude even to risk ruining it. Yes, your kids may behave well, but even the best kids occasionally misbehave. If they do, you will cost someone else their fairly significant investment. Think of how angry you'd be if you saved all year for one special dinner (maybe even away from your own kids) only to have it ruined by someone else. That's just not fair...

              1. re: a_and_w

                hmmm. I"ve seen loads of adults misbehave when overimbibing...I think well-behaved children should be welcome wherever their folks want to take em. I don't have kids and I when i waitressed my biggest pet peeve was parents who'd let their children roam underfoot. Hello? I have HOT food and drinks here. I hated that.

                1. re: nummanumma

                  I don't follow you. When did I say it was appropriate for adults to drink to excess at an upscale restaurant? The difference (and why your comparison is apples to oranges) is that you can't ban alcohol at an upscale restaurant. The reason is that people are paying a premium for a meal that includes booze and doesn't include kids.

                  1. re: a_and_w

                    Yes, any infringement on an evening that the money was saved for many months is wrong. But it is a public place, and with that goes certain risks. Is it right that others, whether children or overimbiding adults, ruin others' evening? Nope. But I have seen waaaay many more drunks over the top than kids at upscale resto. Does the patron have the right to overindulge in booze, nope, and should the resto cut him/her off? yup, but never never never does..

                    As I say below rude is rude. Manners are manners. I would much rather have two children well behaved at a resto than the drunken table.

                    And NO "paying a premium", being upscale and expensive does not mean as much as your liver can handle.

                2. re: a_and_w

                  Playing devils advocate here, but isn't this a double standard? Why are the people sans kids more entitled to a nice meal out than the people dining with a child? I'm not talking about a crying baby or a rambunctous toddler...but what about a nice meal out for a 7-year-old's birthday? Are you saying that child isn't entitled to a special meal out simply because they *might* act up?

                  1. re: SarahEats

                    I guess I don't believe children have any "entitlement" to special meals. There are, after all, plenty of other places to take a 7-year old for a nice meal that aren't what I'd call "upscale."

                    By contrast, when I pay for my "upscale" dinner, I think I'm entitled to get my money's worth. In practice, that means management and diners alike should refrain from conduct that risks ruining my meal.

                    Besides, let's be real. Bringing kids to an upscale restaurant is rarely about their preference or entitlement. It's about educating your kids at the possible expense of other patrons. Again, I don't think that's fair when we're talking about a significant investment of cash...

                  2. re: a_and_w

                    I guess I have had more special meals ruined by obnoxious adults than by kids.

                    1. re: thinaar

                      I totally agree with you. I am sorry but I know that I might offend some people here, but I rather have a screaming child any day than an adult that can’t hold their liquor or a very loud one!!! We have all been there, you are eating quietly with some friends or family and you have this group in the same restaurant that you can literally hear what they are talking about or they laugh so hard that you jump up every time with freight thinking a chicken was killed or something.

                      1. re: thinaar

                        I have no problem saying that obnoxious adults have no place at an upscale restaurant. The difference is you can't ban all adults and stay in business.

                3. as long as you go outside if the kid is crying, I'm OK with it. I've seen mothers just ignore the screaming kidlets and as a server, I'm always tempted to ask them to step outside for a few.

                  1. It's actually a pleasure to see kids who are well behaved in a restaurant. I hope I am not one of the eye rollers, because I do resent it when people don't control their kids, but hey, they are children and not entirely controllable. Now I'm going to consciously try not to roll my eyes in these situations! SarahEats is right, it's a good way for them to learn, as long as they are not spoiling it for those around them.