I have spent the past few days thinking about this topic and keep going back and forth in mind trying to decide whether my opinion on this scenario is accurate or I’m just be judgmental. Help me decide and let me know what you think because I am sure most of you have a strong opinion either way.
Should children (those without special needs) be allowed to play on their electronic devices at the dinner table, either in public or at home?
This is the story. Friday night my parents, Lou and I went to Fleming’s for dinner to celebrate my Dad’s birthday. All week long everyone made fun of me because the dinner started at 6:45 p.m. and I am usually in my pajamas by that time and they all know it. I psyched myself up all week to get my butt out of the house at night and enjoy a wonderful dinner out. I offered to be the nondrinker/designated driver for the night since Tabitha our normal driver wasn’t in the mood to hang with the old people, plus I am more fun when I don’t drink because I tend to get really hyper and funny. Truth be told if I didn’t volunteer, we would have to take a cab because no one else in the group would offer and I feel trapped having to depend on a cab, so I went without my wine for once. I actually had tons of fun!
At the restaurant we were seated next to a table consisting of 2 Moms and 3 daughters (don’t know who belonged to whom). The Moms spent the whole dinner only talking to each other and the 3 girls never spoke to the adults or anyone else, they all had their heads buried in an iphone. I kept watching them and felt sad. Why wasn’t anyone talking to them?
As a child my parents took us to long fancy, dinners at least several times a month. We would get all dressed up and go to dinner at some place that would take hours. We didn’t have any electronic devices to distract us so we had to talk or sit quietly. My parents were really proud of the fact that they exposed us to all different types of food and cultures through travel and dining and I am grateful they did because it has made me the person I am today. I wasn’t always in the mood to sit at a table from 7pm until 9:30, eating course after course, but I learned the art of fine dining, which was a gift. I learned that escargot, mussels, caviar, sushi and raw oysters are my favorite foods. Lots of times my sister and I would be so exhausted we would dream of laying down in the booth and falling asleep, I think we actually did once in a while, which turned out to be fine. Better than the time we both fell asleep at the opera in Sydney and our arms were hanging over the balcony and my parents who were seated across the way, were worried we may fall over the edge.
Back to the point of my story.
So when I watched the girls at Fleming’s I felt sorry for them, which is ridiculous. It reminded me of all the wonderful dinners I experienced with my parents. They were out to dinner with their Mom’s, eating fabulous food and yet I felt sad watching them. No one was talking to them and it seemed “normal”. I understand that Moms need a break and love to chat it up with each other, but shouldn’t they at least try and talk to their children during a meal? I know the electronics keep them quiet but why even bring your kids to the restaurant if you are going to ignore them? These girls appeared to nice, well behaved girls who seemed perfectly content to sit and stare at their mini computers, so why did it make me sad?
I guess because so many parents and children seemed disconnected in our society today. If you are going to drag your kids out to a restaurant at least learn about their day, talk about the food, the weekend plans, anything, JUST TALK TO ONE ANOTHER and PUT DOWN THE PHONES. And I am not just talking to the kids, PARENTS PUT DOWN YOUR PHONE AT MEALS.
It breaks my heart when I see a mother or father and their child sitting in a restaurant while the child eats and the parent talks on the phone to someone else. I have seen this so many times, and each time I see it I am shocked. I am not perfect and let me tell you if a doctor calls and I am eating with my girls I will pick up the phone, but other than a doctor or an emergency, I ignore it.
I don’t allow my girls to use electronic devices at the table, except Tiara if we are out in public at a restaurant. My girls don’t care much about playing games or texting at the table so this rule has always been really easy for me to enforce, so I am lucky. I know some children are extremely restless and are rather obsessed with their devices so I imagine this may be a really difficult rule for some parents to enforce. Kids need to learn how to eat a meal without a device and parents need to learn how to deal with their own children instead of relying on electronics to pacify them.
So I guess my point is, show your kids you love them, by talking to them. Whether you take them out to an expensive restaurant or McDonald’s put down the electronics during your meal and enjoy one another. Life is short, kids grow up too fast and you don’t want to have regrets.
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