Before I started my professional career, I was working in a restaurant trying to get myself through college. When I worked there, I saw thousands of families who did not have proper etiquette when it came to managing their children during their dining experience. Below is a brief list of things parents should take into consideration when dining out with their children.
- Safety – As a parent we always want to keep our children safe. Unfortunately, families do not consider restaurants to be an unsafe environment, but they do have their dangers. One of the biggest mistakes I see parents make is placing the child at the end of the table. The end of the table is the most unsafe place for a child to sit because this is where the server often stands when tending to the table. Servers often bring hot food and beverages to the table and routinely carry them over children when placing them on the table. These hot foods and drinks can cause burns to the child, not to mention the weight of the plates causing injury to a smaller child. My advice to parents of younger children is to have an adult or older child sit at the end of the table or remove a chair when adding a high chair.
- The server is not your maid – When dining out, I often see parents leaving a complete mess, caused by their child, when exiting the restaurant. Yes, the server is there to meet your needs and provide excellent customer service, but they are not there to pick up the cracker crumbs and mashed up french-fries off the floor and smothered across the table. All to often, parents walk away from their tables and leave behind a complete mess for the server to clean up. My advice is to clean up the area where your child was sitting because the server is not your maid and chances are you would not leave that mess at your own dinner table.
- You are not the only family in the restaurant – When dining out, I always see families with their children being disrespectful to other restaurant goers. When visiting a sit-down style restaurant, it is not appropriate to let your children run around, yell at the top of their lungs, or otherwise be disruptive to others. As a parent who lets this happen, you either need to do a better job of controlling your children or be willing to take the child and step out of the dining room. I know children act up, but ignoring the situation and letting it continue is not the answer.
- Eating out is a family event – Eating out should be a family event and once children are of age, they should be taught how to conduct themselves when visiting a restaurant. Children should be taught how to order their food, use the appropriate utensils, and overall appropriate behaviors. I often saw families eating out and their children would be secluded from the adults at the table. This would mostly be for larger families, but the same can be said for smaller families as well. All to often, the kids would have to resort to entertaining themselves while the adults partake in their own conversations. Meal time is a great time to engage in family conversation and a restaurant is a perfect place as any to converse.
Do you have any tips for eating out as a family? What kind of restaurants does your family frequent? Did you ever think a restaurant could be such a dangerous place?