HOME > Chowhound > Not About Food >
Brewing beer, curing meat, or making cheese? Get great advice

Another kids in restaurants...but about self-sufficiency when they're older

chowser Jul 30, 2011 07:45 AM

My children are old enough to go to casual restaurants by themselves w/ their friends now. Not getting into the children in restaurants debates but they're good at this point about knowing how to order, how to behave, tip and how to pay (last part used to be transparent to them), especially my son who's older--I've taught him about using a credit card, how to sign and add tip, take the right copy, etc. (can't be clueless on a date).

So, as they go out w/ their friends, I'm realizing it's not that common to teach kids about the end part of the meal. My daughter has been going to a Chinese restaurant next to her dance studio w/ friends and while some tip, a few don't. And, from talking to the server, many girls commonly don't. Did you all make a point to teach your children about the last part of eating out--the paying and tipping? At what age and how?

  1. e
    escondido123 Jul 30, 2011 09:23 AM

    I think you should talk about it when they go out with you once they can understand what it is about and certainly they should understand that tipping is part of the eating out process, not an afterthought. It might also be good for them to understand that the people who wait on them don't get paid very much, and that could lead to a discussion on minimum wage--and that's a whole other subject. Good luck.

    1. i
      Isolda Jul 30, 2011 09:29 AM

      This is a very important point. We have had discussions about tipping, even asking them to figure out the tip when they were younger, but I know there are times when my daughter has been out with her friends and if they don't have enough, they just think a skimpy tip is fine. So thanks for the reminder that parents need to revisit this topic many times with their teens/older kids.

      1. v
        velochic Jul 30, 2011 09:48 AM

        Our dd is only 9 right now, but I do think it's important for parents to teach this at even an early age... long before they will be going out on their own. I don't think it's exclusively a dining lesson, but also a financial lesson (e.g. don't eat somewhere if you can't afford the tip). We talk to dd about this already and have done for a long time. She's involved in evaluating service to determine how much tip we give... and we consider how she is treated by the server when figuring our tip. There have been times that she is never addressed (they look to us to get her order, never ask if she needs a refill on her water, etc.) and we talk about treating people of all ages with respect. Likewise, we talk about how the servers rely on the tips as income... and, as we've lived in Europe, traveled all over the world with her and dh is not American, we talk about the cultural differences of dining/paying/tipping in the US and elsewhere (where servers are paid a living wage). I think at any age, kids can start learning about this part of dining out, as long as they are old enough to understand. You can't start too young, IMO.

        1. tcamp Jul 30, 2011 09:54 AM

          Really good point. My kids aren't quite flying solo in restaurants although they have ordered and paid at mall food courts. When we are paying for a restaurant meal, we usually hand the bill to them and let them verify the charges, then discuss the service and how to figure out tip. Sometimes, they do the math on the bill with parental oversight.

          Perhaps this is something restauranteurs might consider before blanket banning families. As with driving, dining out and tipping is a skill that is best perfected through practice.

          Maybe get your daughter one of those handy dandy tip calculating cards that are wallet sized?

          1. h
            hazelhurst Jul 30, 2011 09:57 AM

            My father started showing me the ropes at about ten and then let me in in slipping the maitre d'hotel his ten spot in the handshake at about age 14. In New Orleans, the traditional approach has been to send your kid(s) on a date at a favorite restaurant and let the waiter know when they'll be there. the waiter then guides the kid along. If there is a tip issue, Mom and Dad will find out but the waiter won't hold it against the young'un cause (a) they gotta learn sometime and (b) the parental units will "make it right."

            1. c
              CanadaGirl Jul 30, 2011 01:14 PM

              My sons are 5 and 8, but they order for themselves and ask questions themselves, as we have encouraged this. I do not think we ever made a conscious decision to teach them about the "end of the meal" routine, but they know about tipping and paying and often ask to put the tip out. The oldest sometimes brings $1 of his own to add.

              2 Replies
              1. re: CanadaGirl
                invinotheresverde Aug 1, 2011 01:08 PM

                That's super cute.

                1. re: invinotheresverde
                  CanadaGirl Aug 1, 2011 03:45 PM

                  I think so too :)

              2. j
                jcattles Jul 30, 2011 02:46 PM

                We play a game at the end of the meal when we eat out. My youngest daughter grabs the check & we all guess what the total is. It doesn't really matter who is closest, it's taught them what they order can accumulate at the end. We also have them figure out the tip either in their head or on their phone. We discuss the service & the food before we leave the tip. They are 10 & 13 & we've been doing this for many years. I'm sure they will be be prepared once they start dining out with their friends.

                1. m
                  mountaincachers Jul 31, 2011 04:54 AM

                  This is an interesting topic, and definitely different than the usual "kids in restaurants" debate. We have been taking our son to restaurants his whole life, advancing from casual to fine dining as his age/behavior have allowed. I have proud of both his palate and behavior, but I realize I have been totally remiss in teaching him about the finances of eating out. Thanks for pointing this out. He is 11 now, and we really should be preparing him for the day that he is picking up the tab. It begins the next time we go out to dinner.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: mountaincachers
                    chowser Jul 31, 2011 07:19 AM

                    That's a great age to start. I'm surprised at the number of parents who've let their daughters from the studio go to the restaurant by themselves at as young as 9 when they have no idea what to do. I thought that was too young to be unsupervised for mine but maybe not.

                    1. re: chowser
                      mountaincachers Jul 31, 2011 09:30 AM

                      OK, as follow up...I asked my son today what he knows about tipping. It turns out that he knows more than I thought about appropriate amounts to tip, so I guess some discussion must have happened. Nevertheless, I did take the opportunity to explain that tipping represents the bulk of the servers' income and that it is part of the cost of going out to eat, not an "extra." I think he has learned this by observing us, but I still think it's good to have a direct discussion about it, and I appreciate your bringing up a less emphasized part of restaurant manners. As an aside, tipping and payment issues are probably the least of why I wouldn't let a 9 year old go solo to a restaurant, but I also acknowledge being a wee bit overprotective.

                  2. chowser Jul 31, 2011 07:13 AM

                    I'm not surprised so many CH have already done this. As I think about it, my parents never did this with us. I have no idea how I knew what to tip (I'm guessing I must have read it somewhere) but it was a long time ago. I do remember going out w/ friends in high school but can't remember any details. Did your parents all teach you? If not, how did you learn?

                    One thing I haven't taught my children, and probably won't for now, is to judge how much to leave. I base it on service. I don't know that they know enough to do so so I'll leave it to the same way for them, regardless, unless someone goes up and above the call of duty.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: chowser
                      Nanzi Jul 31, 2011 08:26 AM

                      An easy way to figure tip is to take 10% of the bill, and, for a 20% tip double it, and for 15% ad half of the 10% to the 10%. The kids have had that kind of math in school, so it won't be hard to teach.
                      Our grandsons do all the rest themselves, and it really floors servers that they can read the menu, know what they want and order it properly. I will have to check and see if they've been taught to either estimate the check amount, or figure the tip, and know how to use credit cards.
                      Good Topic.

                    2. Glencora Jul 31, 2011 08:25 AM

                      My son got a bank account, a debit card, and a job the summer he turned 16 and he's gone out to casual restaurants with his friends many times since and has taken care of everything. He knew how to tip several years before that, because he used to do it when he went out with me. (He's better at the math :) )

                      I also made sure that he knew to treat the servers with respect. Unfortunately, he learned partly by bad example, since one of his grandmothers can be difficult. He's seen my discomfort when that happens.

                      I don't remember how I learned, but I do remembering my parents bickering in the car after meals, because my mom thought my dad over-tipped. I also remember watching my dad put the credit card in the little folder with a tiny bit showing and thinking, "Ah, that's how you do it."

                      1. thew Jul 31, 2011 08:29 AM

                        my son is 6. i let him fill out the customer copy of the CC receipt - although i let him put any numbers he wants in there, for now. he usually tips about 2000% but does do the addition quite nicely.

                        1. j
                          jlhinwa Jul 31, 2011 06:21 PM

                          What a great topic. I have never thought about what my daughter may or may not understand about tipping but at age 10, it definitely is something she should be learning. She understands about cash tipping (bellhops, hotel maids, doormen, etc.) from vacations, and we have also discussed tipping hairdressers and the cash tip jars that are everywhere.

                          I would guess because we pay for most meals with a debit card (or credit), the tip has been invisible to her and I need to get her trained, especially on the philosophy. I really like the idea of having her do the math, and I really want her to understand that the tip is part of the price of a meal. If a person doesn't feel like they can afford the cost of the meal plus 20% (give or take, not debating the actual number), they can't afford the meal period and need to scale back.

                          Thanks for the great reminder. I really appreciate it!

                          1. e
                            escondido123 Jul 31, 2011 11:03 PM

                            I do hope that people are teaching their children that tips are not totally at their whim about whether service was good, bad or in between but rather that very good service should be rewarded. In my opinion, if you can afford to go out for dinner in the US, you should be giving a tip of 10% minimum unless something very peculiar occurs. That is just my opinion of course.

                            6 Replies
                            1. re: escondido123
                              thew Aug 1, 2011 04:09 AM


                              thats a pretty low minimum

                              1. re: thew
                                escondido123 Aug 1, 2011 01:41 PM

                                I totally agree. I guess I said 10% because if I said 20% (what I usually tip) I would have heard from the folks who thought that was too much....shall we agree on 15%?

                              2. re: escondido123
                                CanadaGirl Aug 1, 2011 06:25 AM

                                I assume you have no problem when no tip is left because there was really nothing approaching an acceptable level of service. It takes a lot, but I have left no tip on occasion.

                                1. re: CanadaGirl
                                  escondido123 Aug 1, 2011 01:44 PM

                                  I have no problem with no tip if there truly was horrendous service--and it would have to be purposefully horrendous service and not a problem the waiter had no control over. I assume we're not talking about people who look for something to complain about so they can cut their tip, I've dined with a couple of those folks but only once.

                                  1. re: escondido123
                                    CanadaGirl Aug 1, 2011 03:49 PM

                                    I agree that a server shouldn't be penalized for circumstances beyond his or her control. I recall going out to dinner with a bunch of people from work once and the power going off just after we ordered. It was back on in about 15 minutes, but it obviously threw a huge wrench into the busy kitchen. One coworker tried to convince the rest of us the delay in service meant no tip. The rational among us didn't fall for it b

                                  2. re: CanadaGirl
                                    jlhinwa Aug 1, 2011 02:59 PM

                                    I agree that there will be the very rare occasion where no tip is warranted, and agree that warrants education, right along with how to assert oneself mid-meal to try and put things back on track before they get to the zero tip point.

                                2. r
                                  RedTop Aug 1, 2011 01:20 PM

                                  I have five (now adult) kids who's first jobs were all in food service. Never had to teach them about the back end of the meal. They picked it up on the fly. They're all good tippers.

                                  Show Hidden Posts