Are thoseYOUR Children?

Jun 19, 2000

Ok folks, we have been hearing ( reading ) the ongoing debate of whether or not to designate a section in restaurants for Children and Families. While this seems feasible, to those who don't wish to be annoyed by uncontrollable children, it is but one more form of discrimination. Hmmm, we don't like that word, do we? Have we all become so intolerable of the world around us that we want to cordon ourselves off from the rest of society? The debate rages on!

There was a time in our society when the rule of the day was "children should be seen and not heard". This is not, in my opinion, a custom that needs to be reinstated. There has to be some kind of middle ground here. To follow this beaten path, would set us back instead of careening us forward. The children that lived under that rule, grew up to be less opinionated and unsure of themselves. If you close the mouths' and minds' of children, you stunt their emotional growth.

The middle ground I am suggesting, has to come from the parenting skills. Children should be allowed to express themselves. AT HOME. They should be taught that rowdiness and rude behavior are unacceptable in public places.

Children between the ages of 0-to 3 years old, do not enjoy being around large crowds of strangers. This is not just in restaurants, but also in grocery stores and shopping malls. Very young children are unpredictable. They get tired and fussy. The best place for them is at home with the baby-sitter, until they are old enough to handle these stressful situations.

At the age of 4 or 5, a child is intelligent enough to follow rules. Keyword: Rules. the problem here lies with the parents. You start training your child when they are old enough to respond to certain words and gestures. They learn how to hold their bottle. They learn how to open their mouth to accept a spoon of food. They learn not to touch certain things that will harm them. These things are taught.

I can't imagine that someone would allow their child to jump up from the dinner table and run through the house, while the rest of the family sits politely at the table. Why, then, would you allow them to do this in public? These activities should only be allowed at functions like picnics or bar-b-ques. Outside activities. I am amazed that some parents find it so hard to teach acceptable behavior. As with any rule, you have to be consistent. Children should adhere to the same set of rules in public, that are expected of them at home, or school. This is not an impossible task.

Is it really so easy for you to tune out your children when they misbehave? Is this what you do at home? Probably not. You can't set a standard of rules by asking your children to behave. When you ask, you are giving the option of a yes or no answer. There is a way of being firm, without being harsh. If children are not given certain standards to go by, they will do whatever their little active minds what to do.

Good behavior is something that has been put on the back burner of parenting and social acceptance in the last twenty years. A lot of this seems to stem from the ridgid seen and not heard rule of yesterday. People don't want to be that hard on their own children. However, children cannot function in an atmosphere of chaos. Set the standards of how you expect them to act and let them know the consequences of misbehaving. Let them know that they will stay home with the baby-sitter the next time that you go out. Let's be realistic, if you can teach them how to use the potty, you can teach them good manners!

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Member: Louise Smith
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