Dad Gets Upset After Waitress Chastises His 4-Year-old Son

Every parent is going to have their own style of parenting. Some will be more strict, while others may set looser boundaries. Either way, a parent’s responsibility is to teach their children right from wrong, so they can function in society. One thing that’s universal among most parents is dealing with their children’s behavior in public, especially if they are making a scene. We’ve all seen it. Parents who are at their wits end trying to calm a crying child in a public place. For the parent in this position, the guilt, shame, and humiliation can feel unbearable. It’s a position of helplessness because no matter what you do, you will likely be judged harshly by complete strangers. However, there are also those parents who choose to ignore their child’s behavior, allowing them to behave and act as they see fit. Recently, a father decided to send an anonymous letter to Nicole Cliffe,  who writes for the advice column, Slate’s Care and Feeding advice column. In the letter, he said:
“My wife and I and our 4-year-old son were out to dinner last week,” he wrote. “It was a medium-nice restaurant, not fast food, but not super fancy either.”
According to the dad, his son is a normal, but very active little boy who doesn’t like to sit still through a meal.  “We let him explore the restaurant a little,” the dad wrote. “I noticed our waitress giving him the hairy eyeball, so we asked him to stop running.”
“He was pretty good about it after that, but he did get underfoot when she was carrying a tray, and she spoke to him pretty sharply to go back to our table and sit down,” he added. “I felt it was completely uncalled for, and she should have come and spoken to us personally instead of disciplining someone else’s child.”
In retaliation, he gave the waitress a 5 percent tip and spoke with the manager, who, according to the dad, “gave noncommittal replies.”
“My wife agrees with me, but when we posted about it on Facebook, we got a lot of judgy responses,” he continued.
However, the dad said that after he posted his story online, people started judging them as parents.
“A 4-year-old is capable of sitting at a table to eat a meal if they are taught to,” one woman wrote. “It’s only the parents who think the kids can’t manage it [and] just don’t bother to teach their kids to sit still.”
Another commenter felt the waitress was well within her right and had a duty to tell the child to return to his seat. “When you bring your child out into the world, the child becomes everyone’s responsibility,” the commenter wrote. “This is effected when there is an absence of parental oversight or the presence of obvious abuse. Your child becomes my child if I see it about to step into traffic because you are momentarily distracted.”
“It is absolutely possible to take a 4-year-old to a restaurant (even a medium-fancy restaurant), and have him sit and eat quietly, amuse himself, and leave only crumbs on the floor,” another woman wrote. “Your kid is not ready to go to a restaurant if they are incapable of sitting still. If you don’t have the foresight to let them tire themselves out first, and then sit down for dinner, then you have no business getting nasty with the waitress for doing your job for you.”
However, the columnist was not the least bit sympathetic to the dad’s plight.

Image via Cafe Mom

“A kid ‘exploring’ a restaurant is not a thing,” Cliffe explained. “When you did intervene, it wasn’t to get him back in his seat. It was just to instruct him to ‘stop running.’ You weren’t parenting, so a server did it for you. She was right. You were wrong.”
She also said that they should probably not take their son to a “medium-nice” restaurant until they can teach him how to conduct himself better.
“You can practice at home. You can practice at McDonald’s. You can try a real restaurant again with the understanding that one of you may need to take him out when he starts getting the urge to run an obstacle course,” she added. “I doubt that you will do this, but I encourage you to return the restaurant, apologize to the manager for complaining about your server, and leave her a proper tip,” she continued.
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