I love children! They are wonderful little darlings that give us all peace and joy. But one of the things that I have a difficult time tolerating is children whose parents allow them to run in public places like restaurants without any supervision.
We recently spent some time in Phoenix, Arizona, where Joanne and I went to dinner with my little brother who lives there. The restaurant is a popular Mexican restaurant in Scottsdale that serves wonderful food. We have been there numerous times with my colleagues from Mountain States Association of Community Colleges. This isn’t a fast food place like McDonald’s with an enclosed play area for children. It is a restaurant where people come to enjoy a meal without interruptions from children running wild and unsupervised.
The food was still wonderful, but two families were there with their children. They had just come from a San Francisco spring training camp event. All of their children were sporting some Giant paraphernalia. The parents were eating, and their children were running wild in the larger dining area. A large screen TV was on, and a basketball game was playing. Soon, one of the children began playing with the buttons. I am not talking about a two-or three-year old. This kid was probably nine- or ten-years old, surely old enough to know that you don’t mess with someone else’s TV. The parents did nothing to stop the young man. Finally, one of the waiters went over and fixed the TV.
Then, the kids continued to run around the room, shouting, screaming, and climbing on and off a mini-stage in the middle of the room. The family next to us, comprised of an older couple and a teenage son, said to us, “This is ridiculous! Why aren’t their parents taking care of them?” They asked their waiter to move them somewhere “far away from the children and the noise.” I don’t think she didn’t like children; rather, she didn’t like the way the children ran wild without supervision. Finally, one of the waiters approached the tables and asked the parents to control their children.
Now, I don’t understand why parents cannot control their children. Are they afraid of what others might say? Or are they afraid of telling their children “no”? My parents did not allow us to misbehave in public—or in private, for that matter. It was simple. You misbehaved, and you went to the car or you sat quietly by yourself. We didn’t allow our children to get down and run around, screaming and yelling, in a public place. In fact, it was embarrassing to me if the girls misbehaved anywhere. We attempted to teach them the appropriate boundaries.
Yet, parents of today—some, not all—it seems, allow their children to run rampart in public places and misbehave. Some think it is funny when kids do what they do. In fact, some of the parents I have witnessed in public WATCH their children run unsupervised throughout buildings and areas where children should not be running around. I am not talking about parks and playgrounds. I am talking about restaurants, church buildings, and other public buildings.
Young children need to learn that there are boundaries. And parents have the responsibility to teach them. I can tell you that they will not turned into emotional-disturbed children if you tell them “you cannot run in here.” Sit them down, and let them know what the boundaries are. If they do not adhere to the rules you set forth, let them know what the consequences will be and then follow through. Follow through is the key. You cannot say, “This will happen to you if you do this,” and then watch them do what you told them not to do and do nothing about it. Kids are smart. They quickly learn that you are full of idle threats, and they will not be punished.
Yes, it is easier to let your children run and not ever discipline them. Discipline needs to be taught. It is not learned by osmosis, unfortunately. They need to be disciplined so they know what they can and what they cannot do. You cannot expect others to discipline your children although some of us would like to help you. You are the parent. You have the hard job. But you will like yourself more if you know that you have taught your children correct principles and followed through. I promise.
Parents, please take responsibility for your children and their behavior in public places. Most of us love children and enjoy their antics but not in public places when we are trying to enjoy a meal with our family and friends.