19 Dec
Dinner With Friends? Check Please!

Dear Mouthy Housewives,

I need help. My 3 year old is pretty well behaved when we are out to dinner. My wife and I are pretty quick to dispense justice…err… gently discipline him….when he is acting up. And when we are out to dinner as just a family it is very enjoyable. But, here is my problem, it gets incredibly stressful and downright exhausting when we are out with friends with kids his age and those friends don’t set the same…or ANY…boundaries.

I find myself correcting my son’s behavior while my friends do nothing to their child. I just want to yell at my friend, “hey bozo, you want to put the drink down for two seconds, step in here and tell your kid to stop screaming like a wild banshee and running around the restaurant?”

I don’t feel comfortable disciplining their child, and biting my tongue is growing increasingly annoying…and painful.”¨”¨ I know every parent has their own boundaries. But how do you deal with the situation when the boundaries are so very different….or worse yet, nonexistent?

Signed,

Trying To Enjoy My Dinner

————————————————————

Dear  Trying To Enjoy My Dinner,

There is nothing more exciting than children running freely around hot food and trays weighted down with ice-cold drinks! Instead of worrying about your child or your parenting responsibilities perhaps you should begin a betting pool to see which kid does the most damage? Or which waiter will bite the dust? It’s really fun for the whole family!!

Sure, there is a strong possibility your child may grow up to act like a total douchebag in public, but, really, you can look at this as just another fun family opportunity. One where you can bet on how big of a jerk your child can be by the age of 35? How many friends he will lose in a week? Or how many complaints he can get at work before getting fired? Fun! Fun! And more fun!

Of course, if you abhor joy and merriment and would prefer to take the Debbie-Downer approach, here are a few quick-fix options:

1)     The Duct Tape Solution: Simply duct tape offending child to his/her chair and, for absolute efficiency, duct tape mouth shut as well. Enjoy meal. This one is extremely effective although it may not allow you to keep your friends. Can also be used on rowdy frat boys.

2)     The Spike The Punch Solution: Nothing gets a child to behave faster than a slight sedative in his apple juice. This one is probably illegal but perhaps worth the punishment?   This one is used by rowdy frat boys.

3)     The Passive/Aggressive Solution: This one relies on constant comments like: “Wow, little Timmy sure is energetic. I bet you have to check your food for spit a lot when you go out.” Or “Little Timmy sure can yell. There’s nothing like a damaged eardrum to make me realize I should see my doctor for my annual checkup.” This one will probably make you hate yourself.

4)     The Craigslist Solution: Place an ad looking for new, better friends. This one may require several strange and awkward dinners with pervs, freaks, and a possible serial killer or two before you find a family with whom you click.

Of course, you can always forget the quick-fix options and try talking to your friend. Although, most people are not very receptive to hearing that they lack parenting skills. I think this depends on the friendship and the personalities of the people involved.

The best option, and one with the least chance of getting you arrested or tackled by rowdy frat boys, is to stick to just going out to dinner with your immediate family. If you want to meet up with your friends and their children, try and plan some time at a playground where all of the children can run off their energy. You may be dining alone now but you should remember that the consistent parenting you are doing will make for one fine young man down the road!

Good Luck,

Tonya, TMH

14 Responses to “Dinner With Friends? Check Please!”

12.19.11#1

Comment by StephanieG.

I would rather dine alone than put up with children who don’t behave properly. Our 8-year old has been taught to sit still, use an inside voice, say please and thank you, and to keep herself entertained during meals out. I won’t tolerate poor behavior from my own child, and I damn sure won’t tolerate it from someone else’s children.

I personally wouldn’t comment on your friends’ parenting skills, but I would decline future dinners out with them. If the subject ever comes up, you could say something along the lines of “it’s very stressful for us to be out amongst all the noise and craziness” or something along those lines.

Hang out with your friends in a kid-friendly environment if you want time together, but my advice is that if you want a grown-up night out, everyone in attendance should act like a grownup.

But I’m kind of bitchy like that…..

VG Reply:

You sound like my kind of Mom-Friend 🙂

Emily Reply:

this is me. I just would decline the restaurant invites or suggest a more kid-friendly environment for their little monsters.

People parent differently and no one needs to be told that their way isn’t the best, etc. So, try a subtle approach if you want, but if you get nowhere, just let it go.

We had lovely friends with a child who tore my house apart. We stopped inviting them over.

VG Reply:

Totally agree with the different parenting styles, but when your kids are in a public place like a restaurant that isn’t Chuck E. Cheese, then that disruptive behavior shouldn’t be “tolerated” by those who are there trying to have a decent meal.

12.19.11#2

Comment by TTEMD.

Thanks for the advice. I guess that’s what I’m going to have to doto keep my sanity intact. Great advice.

12.19.11#3

Comment by Plano Mom.

Thank you so much for being a parent not a friend. All parents who encounter your child will love you for it.

Plano is a pretty kid-friendly city, so when our son was young, we had a few places where we knew we could be a little more casual with our expectations. We made it very clear to our son that these restaurants were different but that basic manners were still expected. And we were always very generous with staff that were accommodating when our son wanted to talk to them or get up and walk around the restaurant.

As for correcting other children, I still have limits-loud screaming and running needs to be addressed regardless of the child or the circumstances. I’ve found that a simple “Sweetie, I know you’re excited but that hurt my ears” or “Honey, you’re running so fast I’m afraid you’re going to fall” often prompts the parent to step in without being defensive.

12.19.11#4

Comment by Danielle.

You think friends kids are bad. At least you can ditch bad friends. I have a nephew that satan would be proud to call his own!

12.19.11#5

Comment by Lisa.

I would try saying something to the kids when they act up. I’ve found kids respond to other adults much better than their own parents. If it rubs the parents the wrong way, you can back off, but it seems worth a try.

12.20.11#6

Comment by Regina.

we face this kind of problem all the time. it’s awkward any way you slice it. i like tonya’s advice, though i think she might have offended some frat boys…

Regina Reply:

then again, do you want your kid turning out to be one of those frat boys?

12.20.11#7

Comment by I'm a big ol' b with a captial B!.

Best idea yet, hire a sitter, go out–just adults for dinner. Kids don’t need to be taken EVERYWHERE, just sayin.

VG Reply:

Word!

12.20.11#8

Comment by Poker Chick.

Wonder if those friends are sitting with their families saying “you know those guys we go out to dinner with? They are always disciplining that poor kid! I cringe every time they don’t let him roam free!”

You see the point.

Everyone has something that bothers them about the way someone else parents. We actually had the same problem but still wanted to be friends with our friends. What helped was finding a restaurant with other rowdy kids with a play area so the kids could run and they wouldn’t be yelling in my ear, and if they did yell no one would care either. The lack of social judgment from strangers made it easier to tolerate.

Good luck!

VG Reply:

Good idea, though not all people think as you or I do. I do the same, go to family joints where there’s families with young kids, it’s loud, and no one cares what going on at the next table.
There are people who bring their small child(ren) to nice places where rowdiness is seen as off-kilter. My husband’s friend *Cough Cough*

Consider Checking Out...