Learned something about kids in public

iVillage Member
Registered: 12-12-2002
Learned something about kids in public
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Sat, 08-09-2003 - 1:22am
So, DH and I spent 6 days alone on vacation this week. I guess from recent discussions, these things kind of jumped out at me, but I learned a little something about kids in public on this vacation.

To refresh your memory, I take my kids pretty much everywhere with me. I have no issues with taking them to the doctor with me, out to nice restaurants with me, to weddings, funerals, etc. Anytime we have "dinner parties", children are included. Children are a HUGE part of our lives and we just include them in most everything.

Over the coarse of the weekend, I witnessed several things that made me think of these recent discussions here.

1) First night away, we stop for dinner in a really nice steak restaurant. We are seated next to a table of 6 people, two children and 4 adults. The kids are about 3 and 5. Thank GOD they were finishing their meals as we came into the restaurant, but the kids were HORRIBLE. The younger one got up and actually ran across the room! So, mom picks him up, saying nothing to him, and sits down, with him in her lap. All the while he is SCREAMING (as only a 3 year old can) this squealing "wanna gooooooo" "wanna gooooooo". So, mom wraps one arm around him, including his arms, so he CANNOT move, and he continues to squeal, so mom puts a hand over his mouth. the ENTIRE time, she NEVER says a WORD to him. They ALL ignored these two kids the entire time we were there, which was about 40 minutes. It is no WONDER the kids were miserable and misbehaving in the restaurant!!! It wasn't the kids, it was the ADULTS not parenting, and not paying ANY attention to the kids!

2) ONe of the mornings we were gone (don't remember which), we went to a Cracker Barral for "brunch". The restaurant was broken into three "areas" within one large room. We were in the center "area", and in the middle of eating when two boys start RUNNING through the (pretty crowded) restaurant, from their "area", around the partition separating our area from theirs, through our area, in a circular pattern. These kids were like 6 and 8! And the parents LET THEM!!! It was INSANE!

3) We were at Sea World this week, and it was HOT HOT HOT out! WE were hot, and we spent most of our time in the water and/or shade. We had taken a seat on a bench, in the shade to rest a little and eat some ice cream, and here comes a lady (about 3pm) with her 4 year old (approximately) in a stroller (fine, no problem with this), and a baby who couldn't have been even 2 months old in her arms. The babys face was RED, he was SCREAMING. The baby was obviously hot and tired, and he did NOT need to be out in that. Now, this was a kids place, but not for an infant, not in those temps. The baby was reacting to the heat the way he knew how...the mother was just an IDIOT for having him out there!

So, my point in this...I'm still working on it. ;-P

My kids have been in all kinds of public situations like these (excluding the baby in the HEAT). They behave in doctors offices and restaurants and stores, at weddings and funerals, etc because they are EXPECTED to, they have been taught to, and because we include them in whatever the "event" is.

While we were gone, my girlfriend went in to the military immunization clinic to get a tetnus (how DO you spell that) shot for her and her oldest daughter, and took all 6 kids 2 mine, 4 hers). They had to wait over 45 minutes, and all 6 kids sat quietly and never moved, because they have been taught, from day one, how to behave in public. My girlfriend had each of them take a book with them to look at/read while there, and there was no problems (never is).

I guess what I'm trying to say is that I can understand the frustrations people have with children in public who are just not taught to mind and/or are in a position where they are forced to act out. Even the most formal occasions can be made child-friendly by the parents/adults. But many parents don't seem to want to discipline their kids or teach their kids or deal with it. I don't understand it myself...any thoughts?

Okmrsmommy-36, CPmom to DD-16 and DS-14

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Avatar for bobcatkathi
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Sat, 08-09-2003 - 2:20am
I think a lot of parent are just too lazy to spend the energy to discipline their children. Mine never ran around in a restaraunt or anywhere else. They have been almost everywhere I went as I never hired a babysitter. I just never left my children with anyone except my mother. They knew that I would spank them good if they misbehaved in public. Now I don't care not one bit if anyone thinks spanking is abuse. I think it is abuse not to discipline children. I think young parents tend to do better and older parents are just too tired to discipline small children. Start when they are little like age 2 with good strict discipline and they might not give you so much trouble. I know one thing mine don't back talk me. I made them know that I was the boss and I mean business. Poorly behaved children is another modern thing I don't care for.
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Sat, 08-09-2003 - 8:17am
My children also never ran around in public (had many a comment made over how well behaved they were) but I did not need the threat of a spanking. You can discipline without spanking, and discipline does not have to be strict to be effective it just has to be consistant with consequencess that are followed through.

I am curious, how old are your children?

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Sat, 08-09-2003 - 8:29am
Though I would consider my kids well-behaved in public, I would not deny they have had still had their moments.

I am not perfect, and so I cannot expect perfection out of my small kids. I've made honest mistakes... taking them out to dinner when they should have been at home getting on pjs ready for bed. I've dragged them to one more store against my better judgement and found disaster. Have they ever ran around a table after or during a meal? Yes. Do they do this 99% of the time? No. Was it really the end of the world the time they did it? Not really. They ran off. They learned it wasn't acceptable. They were not born with this knowledge, you know.

Funny thing about being a witness to strangers; you simply don't know if they are having an 'off' day with their kids. I've gotten that, "You are a horrible mother" look more than on one occasion. I think to assume though, that a large part of society is adverse to taking their kids in public in the name of, 'needing adult time' as a facade for 'my children won't behave in any way, shape or sort' kind of arrogant, don't you think? Not everytime you witness a meltdown in public is an indication of bad parenting.

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-27-2003
Sat, 08-09-2003 - 8:55am
Your first example contains an internal contradiction. You say the kids were ignored and the parents allowed them to run wild while the parents paid no attention. AND you also say the 3 yo was physically restrained by his mom, with his arms pinned to his sides so he couldn't run around, and her hand over his mouth to quiet him. How is that not discipline? Because she didn't yell at him? Other types of discipline don't count?

When people say their children NEVER act up in public I figure they are either 1)lying 2)conveniently forgetting the times it happened or 3)have silent, shy kids. Thething I never assume is that the parents are superior disciplinarians who have found the secret discipline technique that will prevent all outbursts, even from a 3 year old.

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Sat, 08-09-2003 - 9:17am
I agree about forgetting the times that it happened. I stated in an earlier post that my kids never ran around in public and then I remembered one afternoon in the commissary when all three were out of control. They were not disciplined that day any different from any other but that day the best I could do was to get my shopping done as quick as possible and get out of there.
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-27-2000
Sat, 08-09-2003 - 9:40am
You know, sometimes kids are just full of energy and taking them to a place that requires them to sit still is *against* their nature IMO. My kids are generally well-behaved even though they are still young - 4 y/o and 2.5 y/o. When we go to a restaurant, they sit at the table and don't run around. At church, they sit quietly in the pews as they know that is expected. However, to say that they have NEVER acted out in public is a laugh. Mine are not prone to temper tantrums in public, b/c I can judge whether or not it is appropriate to take them out. If they are tired or hungry, the last thing I want to do is drag them along on errands.

All that being said, I had to go to wholesale flooring store this week. I HAVE to pick out flooring for an addition *this week* and I needed to return a sample to the store. While there, I decided to look at some tile. The only person on the floor area was a manufacturer's rep. My kids were running wild. I was very stern with them, telling them they had to sit at the table. They'd sit for a minute, then get up and roam around. WHile they were not disrupting anyone, I did not want them roaming free. I was very embarrassed that they were not listening, esp since they typically will follow directions. However, it was late afternoon, they were tired from swimming all day and hungry. i should never have brought them with me, but did anyway. Anyone could have looked at my kids that day and thought that I was a lazy parent who didn't discipline her kids and let them do whatever they want. Had there been more than this one guy there, I would have just left, but after apologizing to him, he said it was no problem (I actually think I was more concerned about *appearances* b/c they really weren't that bad).

Witnessing ONE incident does not allow one to make assumptions about a person's parenting. We all have rough days once in a while. Personally, I often sympathize when I see a parent at the grocery store trying to contain her kids. Not everyone is blessed with a child who is going to sit quietly the entire time, regardless of their discipline technique. Ever heard of spirited children??

Maureen

iVillage Member
Registered: 12-12-2002
Sat, 08-09-2003 - 10:56am
No, I don't believe that restraining a 3 year old so that they cannot move, and placing your hand over their mouth is discipline. She never said a WORD to that child in the 40+ minutes that we were there at the same time they were. The children were completely shut out of the "event" of dinner out. That is what I meant by being ignored. And the hand over the mouth and the restraining the child just made to further upset him, and he screamed louder. And she allowed EVERYONE in that restaurant to sit though it. Sure, my kids tried that a time or two, and they promptly found themselves outside, sitting in the car, in their car seat where they could squeal all they wanted and not affect others in public. But I can count on one hand the number of times I had to do that with either child.

As far as my kids misbehaving in public now...I cannot remember the last time they did. I'm not saying they never have, but I have taken steps to assure that their misbehaving does not affect others, and to teach them properly how to handle themselves in public.

And again, we are not talking about an outburst from a child...we are talking about on-going behavior through a meal, or over the coarse of whatever event it is that is not handled by their parents.



Okmrsmommy-36, CPmom to DD-16 and DS-14

iVillage Member
Registered: 12-12-2002
Sat, 08-09-2003 - 11:05am
Oh yes, I have a very spirited little boy...lol. He is his daddy made over, and it will kill me someday. ;) But I have never kept him in a situation where he was misbehaving. If I was at the grocery store, we left immediately if he didn't calm down. If we were at dinner, I would take him out to the car to sit, etc.

I greatly feel for parents trying to correct their children. You obviously were with yours. The difference in these situations is the parents weren't. The parents of the two boys running through the restaurant (WAY old enough to know better) IGNORED it. They never said a word. The mother of the 3 year old restrained him, but what is she teaching him about disrupting everyone in the restaurants meal by screaming?

Okmrsmommy-36, CPmom to DD-16 and DS-14

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-28-2003
Sat, 08-09-2003 - 11:57am
But you don't know that. The kids running in the restaurant, how can you be so sure the parents ignored it? Perhaps when they got out to the car the mother or father said, "Do you think it is appropriate to run in a restaurant? Didn't we talk about that?" And then perhaps the parents took away a priviledge or said they wouldn't be going to anymore restaurants for a long time. If they were old enough to know better, they are old enough to be held accountable for their actions after the fact (not like younger children where immediate action is necessary for them to get the connection.) Some people chose to do their disciplining in private and as long as the children were not endangering anyone or themselves, it can wait. Would you have rather been witness to a big blowout where a parent starts shouting her bloody head off and then publicly spanks a child?
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-28-2003
Sat, 08-09-2003 - 12:35pm
Wow, give yourself a medal, why dontcha? Your children are perfect and everyone else's are going to hell in a handbasket. Do you feel better having had this chance to say what a superior person you are?

Your little scenarios are worthless. You can't possibly know what led to each of those situations. Here are my quick three explanations that would negate your whole diatribe:

1. Family reunion, people getting together after years of not seeing one another. Patriarch is the kind of guy who believes children should be seen and not heard, has no time for children whatsoever and everyone knows it. Mother decides to do Whatever She Has To to make the peace. She does not have the option of leaving or taking the kids out of the restaurant bevcause this is a command peformance. This is not the time for her to quick-spot psychoanalyze her child and talk it out. She does what she does to get through the evening. Wishes Great Aunt Ethel would have let her hire a babysitter like she originally suggested.

2. Family has traveled 600 miles in a day and a half on their way home from a funeral. Exhausted. They stop at a CASUAL restaurant to get food. Kids start getting antsy. They start to run around. Mom and Dad can't really see what is going on. Waiters look at them with amusing, isn't-that-cute looks. Kids push the limit. Mom and Dad in their own private funks decide to see how far they will go without bringing attention to it as long as no one is in danger. Should have gone to the Playland. When they get to the car, very serious discussion about proper behavior in restaurants, priviledges revoked once they get home. Mom and Dad's emotional reserves are completely spent.

3. Mom and kids are kicked out of their hotel room so the maid can clean. No where really to go, Mom doesn't know how fast it gets hot here. Four year old falls asleep in the stroller because she was complaining about sore legs. Baby was happy back then but is now fussy. Mom has miscalculated the timing and left bottles up at the hotel room and is mortified by the idea of breastfeeding in public. She has fifteen more minutes to kill. Decides to hang out at the bench and just get through it. Chooses not to make a spectacle of herself in the cooler hotel lobby. Figures she is going to take a quick walk to distract the children.



You were merely an observer, an observer with an agenda. You saw what you wanted to see. Remember back when you wanted everyone to have an open mind about how not having a formal education wasn't holding you back as a person? How about having an open mind about other people's children and their attitudes about parenting in public? How about giving the benefit of the doubt? And if all else fails, why not just be grateful you have obedient little Stepford children and leave the unruly ruffians to the loser parents who undoubtably deserve them?

I believe parents have an obligation to teach their children to behave appropriately in public. And I think most parents try in some way or another. Maybe some don't employ your perfect-results method and have your compliant children to work with. Then again, I think the world would be in trouble if all children were the kind who never questioned authority, who never pushed the boundaries, who never got in trouble in public.

Having said all that, if your real point is that other people are idiots, I would be inclined to agree.

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