Parent Talk: Dealing with Other People's Kids In Public

What do you think when you see kids with their parents at restaurants or coffee shops with their parents?

Most Friday mornings I meet a couple friends–joined by some of our children–at a coffee shop. We bring crayons and coloring books for our kids, and set them up with a snack and a drink. Meanwhile, the moms sit nearby catching up.

It's quickly becoming one of the favorite parts of my week.

That was until this past Friday at a coffee shop outside of St. Michael-Albertville.

When my kids and I arrived the coffeeshop was empty, and we walked towards the designated kids section just at the same time a couple walked in and plopped down their work bags.

I kindly explained that I was meeting some others with kids and that they may want to switch to another table since the kids are likely to play in the children's area.

While the husband quickly and quietly moved his stuff to another table without even speaking, the wife wasn't pleased.

"You mean it's going to be loud?"

I opened my mouth to respond, but before I could she spewed out lots of anger about how rude this was and how she needs quiet and then, "some of us have to work!"

I stood with my mouth wide open, not sure how to react, as she gave me the evil eye and stormed across the coffee shop.

Later, when our friends arrived it turned out that one of the mom's knew this woman–who was also a mom of three.

As a writer, I do a lot of working in coffee shops. It's rarely quiet. There are always kids, and sometimes even adults, who are disruptive. However, it's a coffee shop. Not a library (which in Rogers is right across the freeway, by the way).

We didn't say anything. We spent time making sure our kids were at their best behavior, and in the children's section only. Fortunately, the store manager made light of the woman's innapropriate reaction. However, it left me feeling puzzled and disheartened.

My experience begs the question: What do you think of kids in public places? When you're out and about with or without your own kids, do other people's children bother you at coffee shops or restaurants?

Willow March 28, 2012 at 05:59 PM
Kids make noise. Period. Even when they are on their best behavior, pleasant, and chatting. That being said, adults sitting over coffee (especially women, if I may say so myself) are far from quiet. Nothing like a little sugar and caffeine to get the guffaws going. A coffee shop is NOT the place to go for peace and quiet. That lady was obviously having a bad day. Perhaps she thought the coffee shop WOULD be the place to go in search of quiet and was frusturated to find that she might be wrong in that. Well behaved, polite, and respectful children are welcome any place I go and my husband and I strive to teach our kids to be those types of kids. Some people however, aren't ok with even that. Shrug them off and say a prayer for them that their perspective will change.
Michelle R March 28, 2012 at 06:22 PM
I think when a coffee shop has a kid designated area they have clearly said children are welcome. My only consideration is that sometimes Moms are much more tolerent of their own childrens screams then someone else might be. I have often been frustrated in restaurants when a couple ignores their child running through the restaurant tossing saltine confetti. It sounds like you were all very considerate and handled the situation gracefully
Laura Nielsen March 28, 2012 at 07:22 PM
I brought a group of 7 children to Target the other day. Usually, people look at how many kids I have with me and say "Wow, they're so well-behaved!" and I always have a talk with them beforehand and tell them how I need them to stay out of everyone's way and to be quiet and listen. I ran into an old friend and we chatted by the dollar spot for a minute. The kids were being SO good...up until that point. I heard a mom yelling at them and quickly tried to get them to stop running around and acting...well, like normal kids who didn't want to be in Target anymore. Anyway, I usually pride myself on my ability to keep a lot of kids under control but this wasn't one of those moments. I don't blame the mom at all for trying to get the kids in line when it was obvious (to her) that their own guardian should have been on the ball (which I wasn't at that moment). I didn't even get a chance to apologize to the angry lady with two, well behaved children IN her cart. :) I will try to never let that happen again. It was not one of my prouder moments but it was a lesson learned. :)
Shirley Groth Hardesty March 29, 2012 at 02:51 PM
We teach our kids to look both ways before crossing a street...how do we know that they have learned if we don't let them cross? (with us hiding behind a bush to make sure they looked!). We teach our kids to be polite and behave well while in public...how do we know that they have learned if we don't allow them to be in public places where they can practice their skills? My children are older now but when they were young, I took them everywhere appropriate so that they could see appropriate behavior and practice it themselves.
Lisa April 06, 2012 at 04:48 PM
I agree with Shirley. We need to give children the opportunity to grow and develop the skills necessary needed to become responsible adults. That said, I have also learned since becoming a parent not to judge other parents and their methods of dealing with their children. As an onlooker, you have no idea what has transpired throughout the day. There have been plenty of shopping trips that have ended with me looking like the crazy person rushing through Target trying to get those last two items with a screaming two year old in the cart and a whining five year old following closely behind. Normally, I am pretty good at timing shopping trips so this does not happen and when it does I am usually pretty good at defusing situations such as these. However, there are those times when my survival skills take over and, in an effort to save my sanity, the only choice I can make it to not react and finish my errand as fast as possible. I appear as the lazy parent who is choosing not to react. On the other side of the spectrum, I have also been the parent who has raised her voice and could easily be labeled as the mean mom with a temper. I think Motherhood (could probably be replaced with 'parenthood') can be a very lonely place where we lack compassion for one another and instead judge. Before I became a mom, I had visions of a special camaraderie that existed between moms - even as strangers. However, I think we are really, really hard on one another and very quick to judge.


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