A couple of weeks ago, a story ran on BBC News about a woman who was asked to leave a John Lewis store in Manchester because her 16-month-old daughter was having a tantrum.
Previously, I felt disqualified to talk on such matters because I didn’t have kids but now as a parent of 2 I think I get to have my say.
Frankly, my position hasn’t much changed since before I had kids. If you have children, my first position if that you should avoid taking them anywhere where they can be disruptive in the first place. In general, Martina and I avoid going to restaurants with the kids unless we have a good degree of certainty that they’ll be well-behaved.
My next position is that if you take your kids somewhere and they start being disruptive you don’t hang around and wait to be asked to leave – you do that yourself. Following my previous example if we’re out to dinner and the kids start acting up, we’re heading outside as soon as we can to address the matter without disrupting everyone else especially at dinner when people are trying to enjoy a meal in peace.
I acknowledge that in this scenario I’m with Martina so one of us can take the kids outside without us abandoning our table and meal. And for that there definitely has to be some leeway where some people may not be so fortunate. But by and large I don’t think it’s fair to people to take your kids somewhere and allow them to throw a tantrum without addressing it. This is especially true if you’re just shopping and leaving the store or even finding a quiet corner is not hugely disruptive.
The ensuing discussion brought up some great points and I think that we as a society definitely need to be a bit more lenient and understanding with parents who are already doing everything they can to keep their kids happy while doing everything that needs doing but similarly parents need to acknowledge that they have a responsibility to handle their children appropriately and not disturb an entire restaurant or shop. No one enjoys being around screaming kids and it’s insensitive to go about your business while your child is wailing.