If you’re going out to a restaurant with other adults, do yourselves, your friends, and other patrons a huge courtesy and hire a sitter. Speaking from experience, I can tell you that no one appreciates paying for a meal that is disrupted by unruly children of any age. Your friends may smile through the chaos and reassure you that everything is OK and they understand, but they’re just trying to put on a game face and be as polite as possible.
All of this leads me to another issue, which is the apparent reluctance of today’s parents to obtain babysitters. This is something that people of my generation and older frequently comment on (to one another) and scratch our heads over. My conversations with the “our kids have gone everywhere with us since they were born” crowd lead me to conclude that this rather inconvenient practice is driven by one part fear (generally unfounded), one part the need – on the part of the mother – to live up to the new “Good Mommy” standard, and one part lack of responsible teens who are willing to babysit. The latter is simple to deal with: if you can’t find a sitter, then don’t go out.
I’ll deal with parts one and two in an upcoming column. Stay tuned.
Family psychologist John Rosemond answers parents’ questions at www.rosemond.com.