To Ban or Not to Ban?

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Growing up, my brother, sister and I were relatively well behaved out in public. We fought like cats and dogs in the car or at home. But in public we did pretty well.

I always think it’s sad when I read a story about a restaurant banning children. I don’t always think it’s the child’s fault for misbehaving. If Supernanny has taught me anything, it’s that if you aren’t going to teach your children manners and that there are consequences for misbehaving, then they aren’t exactly going to behave when it’s expected.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen parents playing or talking on their phones while their children are throwing food or running around a restaurant unsupervised. Or parents who refuse to take their child outside when they start screaming. This is frustrating to see even as a parent. I really think it’s these types of parents who should be banned, not their children. I feel that, in most cases, if the parents disciplined and engaged with their children appropriately, then restaurants would not have a desire to try and ban them altogether.

I guess some airlines are trying to ban children as well. I don’t think it’s fair to ban them from air planes either. There are times when parents don’t have a choice; they have to take their children on a plane. However, for parents who have a choice, I think they need to take an honest look at their children. If they don’t usually behave in public or long car rides, it might be best to look at another mode of transportation. You can’t exactly remove your child from a plane mid-flight when they decide running up and down the aisle is a grand idea. Everyone is confined in a small space and it’s a happier flight for all when everyone is well behaved and even tempered.

Hubby claims he didn’t get to eat at a sit-down restaurant until he was 16 years old. He says his parents would take them to fast food restaurants, his dad would go in and get the food, and everyone would sit in the parking lot to eat. I have yet to figure out if this was because his parents did not want to attempt eating at a restaurant with four kids or if it was because they usually fought when they were out. Either way, this was going out to eat as a child for Hubby.

I hope our kids are more like my siblings and I were: well behaved outside the confines of our home or parent’s cars. I see now that part of my parents’ trick to getting us to behave nicely when we were out was distraction.

My mom would bring along scrap paper and pens, or activity books. She’d let us bring a toy or a walkman to listen to on car rides. My dad used to carry pens and mechanical pencils in his shirt pocket and we’d beg to use them to doodle on the backs of our paper place mats in restaurants.

My parents also engaged with us. If we wanted to play tick-tac-toe with them they did. We had their attention and they kept us busy. This meant we could go places like restaurants and even take a 7 hour plane ride to England.

I started taking notice of children in public places when Hubby and I decided when we were going to have children. I’ve noticed there is a difference between the parents with their noses stuck to their smart phones and the parents who engage in conversation and activities with their children when they are out. I think the more attention you can shower your children with when you’re out in public, the less likely they are to be a disturbance to those around them who may not understand how difficult it can be to keep a child entertained and quiet for everyone else’s enjoyment.

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