Dining Out With Gran
Eating with our sweeties is one of the great pleasures in life. But, in honesty, dining out with children can be a challenge.
The thing about taking on a 'challenge' is that the experience can result in some extremely gratifying, long-term outcomes for all involved.
Since Grans are among the family members with the least amount of time left with which to instill the largest amount of accrued wisdom and love, gathering to eat together in a restaurant might be as close as most of us come to a'formal' passing-down of all that we value and hold dear.
Here are a few of the principles-- or "virtues"-- that I can see potential for highlighting in the experience of dining out:
COMMUNICATING RULES AND EXPECTATIONS:I believe that it is important to choose a "child-friendly" place to commune because otherwise you might find either unhappy, restless, overlooked children or adults who are disturbed by their presence. As much as possible, let the child know what the expectations are: what can s/he do until the food comes? Is there a play area? Is it okay to walk about if the place is not busy? Are there certain foods that will be ordered and certain foods that will not? Are there consequences for inappropriate behaviours and what are they? Just like "child-proofing", laying out the rules ahead of time might sound quite gruelling, but the opportunities for enjoyment truly increase when everyone is apprized of the law. In our society we waste a great deal of breath bewailing our "inability to communicate"-- here is a superb opportunity to do just that.RESPECT:
Is everyone given the same opportunity for comfort and expression, dignity and fellowship? SERVICE:
Most of us enjoy 'being served'-- it rouses up all those old primitive feudal feelings (I'm kidding). Being "waited upon" is a good chance to demonstrate our part of that service-served contract. Good will, friendliness, respect, courtesy, good manners, compassion, patience, gratitude, and appreciation can all be demonstrated from the time we enter the facility until we rise to leave. CHOICES:
A democratic parenting style focuses on promoting a child's thinking/problem-solving skills-- making choices begins early with simple decisions around the colour of pyjamas they will wear to bed and expands to making more complex choices based on understanding the link between personal freedoms and responsibilities. Family values around nutrition can be modeled by Gran and the child's parents, and choices around what to order can be left up to the child pretty early on. Parents are still may choose to exercise their skilled judgement and greater experience around whether particular foods are ordered or not. GREAT COMPANY:
Good manners and great conversation will make up for any shortfall in the quality of the food and ambiance. Really enjoying each other-- listening, encouraging, practicing grace-- will stay in the memory years beyond what you actually ate at that meal together.
Your Questions, Comments, and Experiences are Welcome!