Restaurant Gives Discount for “Good” Kids - Here’s Why I Have a Problem With It
As someone who has been very vocal about her annoyance with the topic of whether there should be a separate section on planes and trains and restaurants for families with children, I got to thinking about how I felt about a family of 5 - a husband, wife and their three children (ages 2, 3, and 8 year old) – who received a discount on their check at a restaurant because their children were so well-behaved.
My immediate response was that I wouldn’t have appreciated it, and quite frankly, I wouldn’t have known how to react to the gesture.
I have given it some more thought since then and here is my thinking on this: any parent receiving a compliment of any kind from anyone about how wonderful their children are will certainly feel extremely flattered and grateful. I know that the family receiving the discount appreciated it, and I am sure that they will use this incident as a teaching moment for years to come.
However, I can’t help but think about all of the other families out there with equally wonderful children. Parents who have also taken the time to teach their kids proper behavior while in public places and whose children often do in fact behave very well. But every now and then, for various reasons, even the most well behaved children might cry or complain or throw a tantrum. And as wonderful as a compliment is, the judgment of not only your child, but of you as a parent, based on one single moment, is gut wrenching and hurtful.
I think about all the times I traveled with my children on planes when they were babies. I remember how often, after a good flight, people would smile at my children and comment on how well behaved they were, as if giving me their approval on my parenting skills. All the while, I was left feeling exhausted, tense, and stressed because while others quietly watched movies, ordered cocktails, and slept, I was working so very hard to keep a small child from losing his freaking mind for several hours, in one position, in an enclosed space – and I could have just as easily failed at it. The idea that I would get a reward by a stranger for succeeding seems more insulting to me than not.
The truth is, sh*t happens. Your kid could have been happy just minutes before you sat down at that same restaurant, then suddenly end up projectile vomiting across the table only seconds after sitting down. One just never knows, thus is life with kids. Thus is life, period.
I don’t want your discounts or gifts or compliments when my children behave in a way that meets with YOUR approval. They know what they have to do, or at least they are learning. Their father and I make sure to give our children the constant messages and tools to help them identify the proper time and place for things.
However, when my children do act like little monsters, when they have me at wit’s end, and you see me struggling to reel them in and regain control of the situation, I would really love your empathy, your patience, your tolerance, your silence, your support, and your kindness. I would love it if you didn’t judge me, or my child, or criticize me as a person or human being, or label me as a failure, an annoyance who shouldn’t be allowed to be there, or my child a potential criminal or worse.
I don’t need to be financially rewarded for doing my job as a parent, nor my children for putting into practice the lessons we’ve taught them. I just need some understanding for when they don’t.