What mom can’t relate to another woman struggling in public with a child screaming like a banshee? One gets disapproving looks from annoyed men and women who have either never “been there” or who went through their own meltdown moment too long ago to remember the experience correctly. Having two children, both of whom have had their moments, helps me see two sides of the story.
However, a restaurant owner in North Carolina has had enough of screaming kids interrupting dinners for other patrons and has put up a sign outside her place that reads "screaming children will not be tolerated." To her surprise, perhaps, the sign has attracted more patrons than it has turned away.
Nothing puts a damper on a night out without the kids like someone else’s kid making a ruckus. No kidding! I would be the first one to order at this woman’s establishment even though I have had my own experience of screaming children in restaurants.
Years ago I was having brunch at a nice place with my kids (the youngest under two and the oldest only five), when my normally calm littlest one decided to have a tantrum. Sweating bullets, I had to take him outside to calm him down -- several times -- until the chef took pity on me and brought him out an entire chocolate bar to devour in blessed silence. At that point I would have let my son eat just about anything despite being hyper-vigilant about my kids' diet. In retrospect, maybe I should have just left the restaurant.
Regardless, it would have been extremely rude of me to just let my child scream and yell to his heart’s content and ignore the fact that other diners are trying to enjoy their meals.
At dinner time, the problem is even more pronounced since there is a good chance that couples who have diligently paid for a babysitter or have taken a family friend’s offer up to watch the children, are finally enjoying some time together. Their date night could be ruined by a parent who refuses to discipline their own child.
I applaud the restaurant owner in North Carolina. She acted out of concern for her customers, her business and even the screaming kids. Children are just children and yes, they act out and scream and yell sometimes, but it is the job of the parents to discipline and educate their kids, especially when in a public setting where their child’s behavior affects more people than just their immediate family.
As a culture we certainly should be welcoming of children but in the same right, kids aren’t running the show, nor should they. What happened to parental responsibility? Not only are children often less disciplined these days, or so it seems, but the parents are right along with them.
Today, I’ve seen parents who are so laissez-faire about disciplining their kids that they allow them to destroy the peace of everyone around them whether in church, the library or any other public venue.
As a society we need to make allowances for kids to be kids but we need to do the same for parents to act as parents, which involves actively dealing with their own kid’s bad behavior. Others may not agree with my “old school” beliefs on discipline but the moment a parent loses control and allow their child to ruin everyone’s peace, we all lose. And no one loses more than the little one who has missed out on an important life lesson regarding respect for others.
Penny Nance is CEO of Concerned Women for America, the nation’s largest public policy women’s group.
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