Dear Ms. Plaid:

Although I am a parent myself, it absolutely drives me crazy when I see unruly children in a restaurant. It is frustrating when I am trying to enjoy a meal in a nice restaurant and all I hear are screaming kids. When is it okay to politely ask the parent(s) to please control their children?

– I Don’t Want to be Rude, But……

Dear, I Don’t Want to be Rude, But…..

First, I want to acknowledge your frustration. I too have experienced one too many restaurant outings with unplanned distractions of other people’s children acting loud and out of control. It is not a pleasant experience for anyone, INCLUDING (most of the time) the parents of the unruly child. However, none of us like to be told when we may or may not be demonstrating good parenting, so this is a fine line to walk with not only strangers, but with friends alike. Here are a few suggestions:

1. If you can clearly see that the parent(s) are struggling to maintain control of their children, give them some grace –

Most of us who are parents have been in this situation and no matter how hard we try, sometimes our children will have meltdowns we just can’t control. If this is the situation, maybe offer the parent(s) some help by being friendly to the child and offering a distraction. With older children for example, you can offer a pen and paper for the child to use, or for a younger toddler, just talking directly at the child and getting them to smile might ease their meltdown.

2. However, if you can clearly see that the parent(s) don’t seem to mind that their child is acting disrespectful to the other patrons in the restaurant…

you can go and ask the restaurant staff and management to kindly ask the parent(s) to please get control of their children. This way the management of the restaurant takes the responsibility of confronting the unruly child’s parent(s) and you don’t look like the “bad guy”.

3. Go to restaurants that offer “child free” dining.

There are more and more restaurants offering this option, and although it can be quite debatable on if this practice is acceptable or not, plenty of restaurants are going in this direction. You can google restaurants in your area that offer “child free” dining and enjoy a meal with no unruly child distractions.

4. Lastly, if YOU are the parent who doesn’t mind your child acting unruly in a restaurant…

on behalf of all of us not wanting to be rude to you, please see these helpful tips on keeping your child respectful and happy while dining out.

What are some other tips that you might have for our frustrated diner?

Ms. Plaid