This past weekend, my husband and I went to dinner with the kiddos to one of our favorite restaurants. This isn’t something that we get to do a lot with my husbands work schedule, and we are very fortunate to have fairly well-behaved kiddos when we do eat out. But, something has irked me the last few times that we have went, and I can’t help but feel like I can’t be the only one.
We are somewhat old fashioned when it comes to our kids and technology. With 3 kids ages 5 and under, technology isn’t a necessity at this point. Our oldest does have a Kindle Fire, but it’s typically only used on road trips, and even then, the only apps on her Kindle are educational. She’s never watched YouTube videos or played pointless games on her tablet. Now, this post isn’t to shame those parents who choose to parent differently, but to just explain how we parent and why we parent the way that we do. One of my biggest pet peeves is to see kids out to dinner (who are old enough to dine out without requiring entertainment) with their noses stuck in a phone or tablet. It infuriates me. What happened to having dinner and just talking? Enjoying each others company? Talking about school and life and interests? Why is it now socially acceptable for our children to snub, not only, the restaurant employees, but also their parents and family at dinner?
Nope. No. Notta. Not happening. We do not subscribe. We do not conform. To each their own, and this is not our own.
So, that’s our viewpoint on the topic. While other kids around us are typically enthralled in technology at the dinner table, we are talking to our kids and *trying* to teach them basic table manners and how to dine out. That’s part of our job and to see other parents doing differently, is not an issue.
But, what is an issue, is when we intentionally leave all devices at home, only to have a shiny, kid-friendly tablet sitting on our table, enticing them to do the opposite of what dining out was intended to be.
Now, I’m all for the convenience of paying quickly through the tablet. I’m all for the rolling shots of the yummy appetizers and drink specials. But, what I’m not okay with is the unnecessary games flashing across the screen for my 5 year old to see, want and cry over.
“Why does that little boy get to play on the game?” she whined last night.
Not only do I now have to deal with the whining of my kids (because once the 5 year old started crying over it, the 2 year old did, too), but now, our dinner has completely lost focus and consists of me repeatedly telling my 5 year old to quit asking about it.
What is supposed to be a simple, nice dinner out, is now, not-so-nice due to the unnecessary addition of technology sitting at our table and while it’s not the end of the world, it definitely takes from our experience.
We bring our kids out to eat to eat- not to play games.
I’m trying to teach my kids about proper dining etiquette and you’re intentionally creating a distraction.
We want to teach our kids to look up. To look around. To talk. To engage.
And, while my husband and I are guilty of being on our phones quite a bit, we also hardly glance at our phones while we’re out, because dining out is an experience. I want the experience of eating out with my husband, not scrolling on Facebook while eating good food. What if Ryan Reynolds is sitting in the same room as me?
It’s my job as a parent to teach my kids how to dine out. It’s my job to teach them how to have a conversation; how to order their own food and drinks; how to ask politely for napkins or another piece of silverware. Dining out with children, is not about the best experience for the parents. It’s a teaching moment.
It’s not always enjoyable, which is why we don’t do it all that often. But, that’s part of our job- to teach them and to also make sure that my kids are the best they can possibly be when interacting with our server. It would be much easier to throw an iPad down in their faces and not do those things.
So, for now, I’ll just request the tablet to be removed from the table and I challenge you to do the same.
I challenge these restaurants to reel it back in.
We’re here to eat.