Since becoming a mom in 2017, I vowed that I would never shame another parent. Before having kids, I remember when I would go out to dinner and see children on tablets or using their parent’s phone and thinking to myself, “Why is their kid having screen time while at a restaurant?” Well, now I know the answer to that question…
The parents more than likely wanted a nice quiet dinner out and were doing the best that they could.
I could not begin to tell all of you the countless times that my husband and I have taken our boys out somewhere because we were just wanting to go sit down and have a meal that we did not have to prepare. Fast forward to after you order food, and you are just patiently waiting. The kids are hungry, and they have exhausted all the space to color on the kid’s menu. Now there is crying, crayons being thrown on the floor (I know that you all can picture exactly what I am saying), the sounds of the kids saying, “I’M HUNGRY” “When is our food coming”?
Cue the tablet/phone – your lifeline of making it through the rest of the experience. Now this is where I normally start to see some people closely watching with what appears to look like judgment strewn on their faces. In my own head, I can just hear them saying, “Really, electronics while out to eat?” The answer for us is yes, Disney+ and Blippi get us calm kids. Certainly, we exhaust all options prior by using the toys that are packed and the coloring on the menus. We are just trying to re-energize our bodies and get prepared for the days ahead (you know – work, kids’ school, and, of course, the abundance of activities).
What these observers do not know is that we have just spent hours of time doing family bonding in the backyard, maybe at the park, a trip to Boonshoft, or at the pool. For my family, we love spending time together as a whole. Just because you catch a glimpse of a family in public does not mean you get a true look into their parenting style and family unit.
So why do people feel it necessary to insert their opinions so quickly?
The hours spent prior with the mentality of “lets get them to burn energy so that they will be calm” just to be sitting in the booth having to come up with the best solution that works for all. Yes, “all” includes those onlookers who do not realize that all that we want is for them (being the diners) to not be annoyed by having their meals interrupted with loud kids, and, in turn, judge us for using said technology.
Our common goal that we as parents share is doing the best that we can for our children. We are always developing, and technology is constantly evolving (both needing to meet the standard of their times). As parents, we all already have an abundance of pressure and obligations with parental duties. Why does society feel compelled to quickly judge what they observe? Is there a way to mend the divide between opinions? I, for one, respect the families who think that screen time is not the answer. If that works for you, then I think that is great! If my kids are eating their meals and enjoying themselves, then I believe there is no harm. I think we should just accept what works for each family and realize that we all are on the same team.
Let me now turn to you, the readers, and ask what you do to make your family’s dining experience peaceful for all?