Dining Out with Kids: We Deserve Kindness

Alice Seuffert

“You know what’s funny? The food could be okay at some places but I would totally go back knowing the service was great, and they were kind to my son,” my sister said as we sat together and traded vacation stories.

And it’s true, I go to places with my kids where I know all of us will be treated well and that we are given expectations that we can meet. As parents, we do the following when we go out to a restaurant:

  • We bring snacks and activities for the kids.
  • We leave if one of the children cannot behave or we go sit somewhere away from others and give the child a time out.
  • We require our kids to sit down, not crawl around the floor or seats and they can’t run around in the restaurant.
  • We go to really nice places on date night. We take the kids out to burger places, ice cream shops, seafood shacks and breakfast diners—kid friendly, loud places.
  • We practice. As in we go out often and they learn the behaviors we expect.

But. Yes there’s a but, things aren’t always perfect. The kids aren’t always well behaved.

We as parents aren’t perfect and our kids aren’t perfect; we forget the toys, we are eating too late, they are tired and hungry. We are also faced with unpredictable dining situations: vacation, trying to make our parents and in-laws happy by going out, or celebrating a big life event with friends. Or life is really hard right now and we need a break from cooking and being in our house.

I’ve watched recently as people jump to comment on the latest in a restaurant versus family debacle – both sides pointing out the proper behavior and actions when dining out with your children. I admit, I’ve been on the stink-eye receiving end at restaurants, grocery stores, airplane flights and sporting events for bad kid behavior. In those times, the last thing I needed was a stink-eye to make me feel worse about an already bad situation.

What would happen if the person who takes the time to shoot stink-eyes, says something kind or comforting instead?

What if, as observing families and diners, we passed some uneaten pancake, a snack or offered a toy to the young child having a hard time?

What if instead of sitting behind our computers and spewing unkind things online about the hows and whys parents take their children out to dinner, we consider that parents need and deserve time out at restaurants with their children.

I asked my readers about how restaurants have been kind to them. Do you know what they said? Simple kindness. They mentioned extra napkins, cups of ice, ketchup packets, and pickles. They told me about waitresses telling them they didn’t have to pick up the food off the floor.

Kindness is what parents want when they dine out with their families.

Restaurant owners and fellow patrons, I don’t expect you to have buckets of toys to entertain my kids, but when we go out as a family, I do expect kindness.

We are good parents. We hope for extra ketchup and napkins. We pick up our kids food off the ground because we can’t help ourselves. We too, want to be kind. We aren’t looking for anything special when we dine out with our kids, and not even the greatest food, just kindness.


Head to the Front Porch


Dining Out With Kids: We Deserve Kindness

 This post was written by Alice Seuffert exclusively for BonBon Break Media, LLC.

Alice Seuffert is a Minnesota mom, wife, education researcher, and blogger at Dining with Alice, where she shares her food and family adventures. She works full-time as an education researcher for a Twin Cities nonprofit organization. On her blog, she shares her adventures making creative comfort food, experiences as a mom, and fun activities like enjoying craft beer. Alice is the Kitchen Star on the Twin Cities television show, Twin Cities Live and is known for her creative comfort food recipes and tips for busy parents.