Badly behaved…

Rudeness and bad behaviour just isn't necessary
Recently we visited a restaurant on our holidays. It was about 7pm, and after a long drive, we were looking for some great pub food, as recommended by our hotel. As we walked through the bar area en route to the restaurant, we got a glare from the barman. Odd, but not unusual – sometimes pubs don’t allow children in the bar, and that’s fine. But what happened next left us speechless. “Oh, we can’t have children in the restaurant. Or the bar. We do have this table in the lobby, but unfortunately it’s taken at the moment.”

The Rising Sun in Lymouth is credited with being the oldest, and most famous pub in the village, having survived the massive floods of 1952, that wreaked havoc on other buildings and lives. The proprietors can also now lay claim to having service values that match the era of that catastrophic night, maintaining the archaic notion that restaurants are no place for children.

I can only assume that they fear childish behaviour. Perhaps they worry about their guests playing with knives or sucking the sugar sachets. Do children talk too loudly? Or maybe fidgeting at the table causes angst to other guests? I wonder what their cutoff age is? When do potential customers stop being an irritation, and reach the age where their money is acceptable currency?

Myself and my brother know how to use a knife and fork. We butter our own bread rolls, we ask for our lemonade with a please, and receive our meals with a thank you. We have been known to fiddle with our cutlery, and make craft dolls with our serviettes, but a quick look from a parent will contain us. We have never been allowed to empty sugar sachets into our mouths, or play with the salt.

It’s true that some parents do allow poor behaviour at the table. But on our many family visits to restaurants such children have been in the minority. If the service is good enough, and food comes quickly, there is never any reason for a child to be bored enough to act up. And any manager worth the title knows how to politely ask a party to tone it down on the odd occasion that behaviour is becoming an issue.

We left, and took our by now extensive need to spend money on food to the Rock House Hotel, which we’ve mentioned here. But Mummy wasn’t in the mood to let it go, and we got to thinking about how children get a bad rap. Children are naturally unconfined in their behaviour, but they’re the best learners in the world, and largely they want approval. Unlike a lot of adults, who seem to go through life thinking only of themselves.

Like the elderly couple in our hotel, who needed some parents to tell them to pipe down at 7am when children were sleeping in the next room. I can’t imagine that the people they phoned, to recount the beauty of the place they were staying in, were very impressed to be woken for such narcissism at the crack of dawn either.

It’s also the man who didn’t raise a hand of thanks when you waited for him to drive between the parked cars, before taking your turn. And the lady who breezed on by without a glance, as you held the shop door open for her to enter. Even I know that when I’ve ‘accidentally’ barged the Bug out of the way I have to say sorry and give him a cuddle.

It’s the marketing girl you’ve never met, who wants  you to advertise her product free of charge, but who hasn’t done her research, doesn’t know your name, and therefore chooses to call you ‘Hun.’ It’s the telesales boy who makes an assessment of your age from your voice, and chooses to call you luvvie.

It’s the men who sit behind a young Arsenal fan, at his first game with his Dad, and don’t see fit to modify their language. C**t and f**k are not words that need to pepper every sentence, and they don’t need to be heard by a 6 year old.

It’s the woman who calls the police when she sees 3 teenagers sitting on a park bench enjoying the sun, you know, just in case…

Coincidentally, we visited Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen in Cornwall a few days later. They have a policy stated on their website and menus, that children are welcome at seatings beginning before 6.45pm. We enjoyed our arancini, griddled pork with broad beans and spinach, and chocolate fondant immensely, whilst chatting about the view, our holiday, and the surfers catching the evening waves. Then we said thank you to our waiter and left for a run and a bit of shrieking on the beach. Children know how to behave, and when not to. The same can’t be said about some adults.

What’s your view? Should children be allowed to learn good behaviour through guided experience in restaurants? Or should we ban all under 16’s from polite society? And what do we do about the ignorant adults in the world?

‘Rude’ image courtesy of Shutterstock.

25 thoughts on “Badly behaved…”

  1. Oh, that is so lame. I feel that families are disciminated against here in the UK in many places (hotels, restaurants, renting a house), as opposed to Greece where kids are welcomed everywhere.
    I understand there should be child-free places, but this is crossing the line.
    And I don’t suppose the drunk men shouting at the pub are more well behaved that children having dinner with their parents.

  2. There was a delivery driver shouting ‘f**k’ at the top of his voice, repeatedly, on my high street the other morning, I was so incensed I nearly rang his company to complain- but the rush of the school run hindered me! I can swear like a trooper, but never in public, in broad daylight with kids all about! I am always amazed when I come across hotels with an anti-kid policy. I like Jamie Olivers restaurants approach, where there is a clear cut off- giving adults the option to go later if they dont want to eat with kids (weirdos!) but meaning kids arent excluded from good food! Speaking of which, kids menus drive me potty – all sausage and chips – I usually share an adult main and a side with Syd – he much prefers tasty proper food!

    • I like you Sonya. My order of choice is always a rib-eye steak, medium to well (I’ll save rare for when I’m older), with green beans and new potatoes. There’s a place for chicken nuggets, and it’s called McDonald’s.

  3. It’s odd that STILL in the UK this old fashioned notion of ‘Seen and not heard’ exists. Luckily the places who prefer this style of parenting are few and far between and you are very right to bring them to families notice after all as GG so eloquently puts it, there are adults out there who behave atrociously.

  4. I hate it when companies treat children as if they’re spreading rabies. Do they forget that they are often those that influence family decisions and decide over custom or not? We’ve been taking Amy to restaurants from a very early age and I think that it’s important for children to eat out in public and learn what is acceptable or not.

  5. I can sympathise, though IMHO bad behaviour is becoming more common and more readily accepted from children? Two or three bad experiences by the hotel/restaurant owner and he/she gets wary. How they tell you no is another matter. Good manners cost nothing.
    Another case of the few spoiling it for the many?

    • I wouldn’t say more so. I guess maybe more parents are choosing to take their children out to eat, which may account for more incidences, but in my opinion, restaurants need to deal with this properly. We were once asked if we could keep our children a little quieter in France as a couple dining had complained. It was embarrassing, and they weren’t misbehaving, but their talk was louder than the adults, but I actually think the staff handled it well. We ate as quickly as we could, and left. I think this is much better than being judged on meeting, and told that our children aren’t up to the job of eating in a restaurant.

      • This is a reply to Helen who was told that their kids were too loud in a restaurant in France. I live in France now, and we have had a house here for 10 years. My partner and I have now stopped, or nearly stopped, going out for meals in the evening during the summer because of one reason only; the appalling behaviour of kids and the total lack of discipline by their parents in trying to keep them quiet.

        Helen, you are used to your kids’ voices and often this level is way above the ambient noise of a restaurant, especially in France. Try this experiment. Next time you are in France, go out for a meal with your husband only, and try as best you can to go to a restaurant on one night where there are no kids, only adults. Then, on another occasion, again just you and your husband, go out for a meal to a restaurant where there are families, especially British. On both occasions, try and be aware of noise levels. Compare the two. I need not say more.

        Remember, that when you are in France on holiday, say the south coast or between Nantes or Bordeaux, there are thousands of hard-working French people on holiday as well, many older, like ourselves, whose kids have flown the roost or, like us, are child-free. The last thing we want sitting next to us is the typical British family of two adults and three children under 8. Everyone is tired because you’ve been doing stuff all day and now the parents want to experience a meal out in a nice wee restaurant at the height of the summer holidays. You should know that you will be in that restaurant for at least two hours.

        Your kids will get restless after 5 minutes. They will start winging and complaining. They will start to shout at each other, then they will all shout at you. Meanwhile, the people around you are gritting their teeth and wishing you would bloody go away.

        Your kids will have the attention span of a nano-second. So, once they start moaning and winging, it’s one warning that they have to behave and use quiet voices, or else you all go home. They go to bed without dinner and you get a take-away. For the rest of the holiday, go to McDonalds.

        Once your kids start their nonsense and someone complains, then that should be it. You get up and leave. Pay what you have eaten and go. One of you get the kids to the car a.s.a.p. to prevent tantrums spoiling things even more, the other one pays, then go home. You give the kids the silent treatment on the way home, you put them to bed (no food), and you make damn sure that they know you are furious with them for spoiling the night out.

        This advice is free!

  6. Oh my goodness. What century are we living in? I can’t believe places still have this view – especially in tourist areas, you would think they would welcome the business! I have no objection to clear-cut rules like the 6.45pm cut-off, but just to turn families away is so rude.
    And there are many, many badly behaved adults out there! Who would welcome adults getting drunk and swearing in a restaurant? How are they better than well behaved children?

    • Agreed, I’ve often seen drunk adults in a restaurant, and that’s just as offputting as a badly behaved child, if not more so.

  7. I think it is a difficult one, and I can see why some restaurants do a blanket ‘ban’ on children after a certain time. Whilst some 6 year olds can behave well and understand that they need to use little voices in a restaurant you will get others that will run riot.

  8. Great post! And kids should be allowed in restaurants even after 6.45 pm. If their parents choose to take them to the restaurant to eat then that should be their choice not anybody else’s. On the same note I do not agree with parents that do keep their kids awake and stay late in restaurants , bars and terraces until midnight. That happens a lot in Romania but again is people choice.
    It happened to us too to want to go and eat after 7 pm in a pub with our 7 week old baby and not be allowed inside because of it. I mean that 7 week old baby do besides sleeping in her pushchair? And we were only out at that time because we were away from home and drove all day. Things should change!

  9. To me it seems daft on so many levels banning kids form restaurants – from a business angle alone surely it’s a lucrative market?! I hate the way many places still assume that every child will lose it’s mind for some fried fish/chicken/burger and chips – we ask for half portions of adult dishes for Kit and Ozzy a lot of the time!

    • Exactly what we do. I wrote about banning the pizza and chicken nuggets cop out a while ago – I feel so strongly that restaurants should be appealing to entire families with their menus, and not fobbing off the kids with deep fried crap

  10. No that’s terrible! To be fair i would ban my boys from most restaurants most of the time but as the parent i think it’s up to me to decide really. As long as your kids are old enough to behave appropriately (which yours are) and not run around like total loons (which mine are) then i don’t see a problem at all. x

  11. Ridiculous policy – I guess their restaurant is for ‘adult entertainment’ only. I remember taking my children when they were 4 years old to a michelin star restaurant in a hotel in the French countryside we were staying at – the waiters were brilliant with them and my children’s behaviour was impeccable as we told them this was a very special dinner for them. (My son also politely asked the maitre d’ to show me how to make the same chicken at home).

    • That’s brilliant! It’s the kind of thing my kids might do too – and that’s what’s so lovely about dining out with them. A whole new raft of great experiences.

  12. At least you had a nice meal in the end. My youngest can throw a tantrum at whim. Loves dancing and signing and laughing really loudly anywhere. Will scold you if you scold her openly or privately 🙁 We went backwards and allowed our kids the independence and are now working on the discipline. It’s worked for our 7 and is working for her, our 3 year old. And so, on those relatively fewer now, occasions where it’s difficult to control her, I pay little mind to the opinions of others

    • Brilliant. I think it’s totally up to the parent to decide how best to manage their children – I don’t think I’ve ever seen a family not deal with bad behaviour if it’s occurred in a restaurant. But if they did, then the restaurant staff would be in their rights to talk to the parents about it. Far better than a blanket ban!

  13. I think the UK really needs to change its attitude towards children. Sausage has NEVER needed to be told not to misbehave, yet because she’s 5 she’d automatically be assumed to be a nuisance. How are children ever expected to learn how to behave in a restaurant if they aren’t actually allowed IN them?! Mediterranean countries seem to have it right, kids are usually always welcome and not treated like some lurgy-carrying inconvenience like they seem to be here.

    • And actually, although I’ve looked after some Mediterranean kids who knew how to misbehave, I’ve never seen them act up when out for dinner – that’s telling.

  14. This post reminds me of a meme I saw recently about a restaurant giving out discounts to parents whose kids they had decided had behaved well. At the time my newsfeed was full of people agreeing and going on about badly behaved children… but is a child who is fidgity because the food is taking ages being bad behaved? I don’t think so. I think people often have too higher expectations of children and forget their age and development. You are right adults can be worse behaved a lot of the time then many children. I get that some restaurants may be more adult orientated but I wont eat anywhere that doesn’t welcome my boy in the daytime.

    Surely the first pub is loosing alot of custom banning children?

    • I’m in agreement. I think Lynmouth is such a traditional place that perhaps the culture change hasn’t reached them yet. There was another restaurant that stated it “wasn’t appropriate for children.” It’s somewhat archaic, and certainly, they lost a good £150 from us over the course of our stay. In fact our children were complimented by other guests in the restaurant we did eat in.


Leave a comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

error: Content is protected !!