Every family has its own ideas about where and when screen time is appropriate. Some kids have their own phones and iPads as toddlers. Others aren’t allowed to watch TV at all. A lot of people get very judgmental about seeing kids on screens, but one mother recently wrote a whole article about the bad mom she saw letting her kids watch YouTube at the pub, and now a lot of parents are furious with her.
“If you need a break then take it. But please don’t drag my kids down with you,” she moaned.
The “open letter” is a tiresome format, and over at Kidspot, Donné Restom published one entitled “To the Mum at the Pub Whose Daughters Were Watching Their iPads.”
“Our local pub is a bit of a haven for families. It has a kids room and plenty of toys and a big, heated outdoor beer garden that means families can kinda just sit around and let their kids run wild. It’s awesome.”
Restom particularly likes that her three-year-old “is able to hop up and down at leisure, going off to play and then joining us again when he’s ready.”
But then Restom’s son and his friend spy another table, where two little girls were quietly watching videos on their iPads. Restom’s kids stop what they’re doing and start crowding over to that table, looking over one girl’s shoulder to see what she’s watching.
Restom is appropriately embarrassed that the kids are invading a table full of strangers, so she tries to take them away. They go back and start lurking again.
“A minute later they’re back there and the mum is looking around as if to say, “who does these children belong to and will you get them away from our table?” Restom writes.
The kids wouldn’t leave the other family alone, and Restom says it turned into a fight and tantrums, so she took the kids and left. She was furious that this other mother–whose kids were quietly eating their own dinners–had ruined her night out.
So, to summarize: Her three-year-old was wandering around the restaurant during dinner, crowding other tables. The other mother’s children were sitting quietly at their table watching YouTube videos.
In defiance of all logic, Restom blames the other mother for the fact that Restom can’t get her children to sit down at the table and eat their food.
“Maybe it’s all my fault and I should be able to control my kid better, but geez, you try pulling a three-year-old away,” Restom moans.
Quick poll: Who here has had to pull a three-year-old away from something?
Most parents have. Trying to get a small child to stop doing one thing and do another is about 90 percent of small-child parenting. Grocery stores are full of balloons, toys, and cereal boxes with cartoons on them. Somehow, we survive. I can’t exactly call Kroger and tell them to stop carrying Frosted Flakes because my three-year-old whines when I say she can’t have them.
Screens in restaurants can be a disruption, but as long as they are quiet and headphones are being used, other parents can’t really complain. Especially when the cause of their complaint is that their children are misbehaving.
It’s not someone else’s job to control your kids.
Restom can’t figure out how to explain to her kids that they are not allowed to watch screens at restaurants, but other kids are. Boy, she’s going to have a difficult few years in front of her. Different families have different rules, and every parent is going to have to deal with that.
When I was a child, I whined for 10 solid years about not being able to get my ears pierced. Literally every time I saw a baby or small child with its ears pierced, I’d re-start the whining: “That BABY has its ears pierced! Why am I too young for pierced ears if that baby isn’t!?”
But I still wasn’t allowed to get my ears pierced, and as far as I know my mother never told my friends’ mothers to take out their kids’ earrings to stop me from whining about it.
My kid does not use screens at restaurants, mostly because I appear to have gotten lucky and she’s fine without them. But there are many reasons a family might want to allow screen use at a restaurant.
According to The Sun, a lot of parents were offended by Restom’s rant. One mother said her child had autism and the screen helped him stay calm and focused in an unfamiliar space. Another pointed out that Restom didn’t know the other mother’s story, or why she allowed iPads. Another said her kids used iPads just because they were quieter that way so she and her husband could enjoy themselves. That’s her choice, not Restom’s, and a lot of people said Restom should mind her own business and concentrate on parenting her own kid.
What do you think of screens at restaurants? Let us know in the comments.
(Image: iStockPhoto / dolgachov)