I believe parents should be parents and not glorified children, themselves.
Everyone has their own parenting style, and that’s something that should be unique to the individual. However, when a parenting style can be visually confused with neglect, or dismissal – then that, my friend, is not a “parenting style” at all.
Last week I was enjoying a meal at one of my favorite restaurants when my party noticed something that I have personally noticed so many times before. While this might have been the most-brazen example of poor parenting in a public place – which I have ever personally witnessed – it was one of the many similar situations I have seen play out in a restaurant.
And before I go any further, let me just say that everyone noticed. People scattered around the restaurant were staring in disbelief, waiters, waitresses, and even kitchen staff (runners) were noticing the neglect that was unfolding at a table (which was literally) in the middle of the dining room.
That being said, I wasn’t the first person to notice it – but within a few moments of a large party coming in, and sitting at a table directly behind us – we all began noticing the bizarre behavior that was occurring. Two couples had joined each other for dinner – and they brought their collective children. To my count, we’re talking about maybe four or five kids, and one baby. The kids looked to range between seven and fourteen. The infant, which the hostess brought a high seat for was just that – an infant. I’m not going to guess what the age of this child might have been. It didn’t really matter, apparently, because it didn’t seem like the parents of this infant cared much about it.
A few moments after being seated the child (who was largely silent) began to move around. Nothing drastic, and certainly nothing that was even remotely disruptive. The mother of the child immediately took her, and placed her in a seat on the floor. That might not have been the worst thing in the world – if the next 30 minutes didn’t happen. The child moved around a little bit, drank from its bottle, and then threw its pacifier on the floor.
None of that seemed out of the ordinary for a child, but the fact that throughout the course of the next 30 minutes – the mother did not bat a single eye at her own child – was a little unnerving. I thought to myself, “Maybe there’s a legitimate reason – or perhaps she just didn’t notice?”
You know the situation is sad when ignorance seems like a justifiable reason to forget that you have a child when you’re at a restaurant. Over those 30 minutes, the infant’s sibling – likely to be no more than 8 years old – was the individual at the table picking up after the child, giving the child its bottle, and generally speaking – giving it any attention it was receiving.
The parents (both mother and father) seemed as though they couldn’t care any less about their child, and as if they couldn’t care any more about their drinks that they were certain to not miss out on ordering. Overall, it seemed like the parents had a great meal with another couple, but in this situation – they should have left their kids at home – so other people wouldn’t have to witness them ignoring their kids, or witness other individuals (including staff members – on a busy Friday Evening) nearly kick this child, who was crammed in a seat, on the floor, in the middle of a restaurant.
I am not a parent – but the number of awful things that could have happened in the time when the parents were completely missing in action, seemed too great to overlook as a parent. The only individual that would have known – if someone walked up to the table and took the child – was the sister – who seemed to have the whole “parenting” thing down a lot better than her own parents.
Maybe this is just a reminder that despite how many examples there are out there of it, bad parenting and young parents – are not mutually exclusive. In fact, that 8-year-old girl deserves some credit – I think she’s ready to be a Mom. She’s certainly better than her own, that much is for sure.
If you’re not ready to be a parent – don’t be a parent. This was just one specific example of something people see far too often when they’re out in public. In this situation, no one would have said the child needed to be placed on the table and held up like a showpiece. But, to at least show that child some respect – instead of just tossing it on the floor like a toy the 8-year-old was sick of, back at home – probably wasn’t the best way to handle a mildly squirming child.
Besides that, the kid didn’t even yell or cry, once before the mother packaged it up – and put it away. So really, for those who are contemplating becoming parents – at least wait until you don’t feel the need to go out to a bar and have drinks with your friends on Friday night. If nothing else, wait until you can at least shore up a reliable sitter.