Have we lost the art of parenting?

I read the news this week about how Blanford Manor in North Riding have decided to ban children from their establishment and initially the snarky tone of their release put my back up but I have spent sometime thinking about this and honestly, I’ve come to the conclusion that as parents, some of us seem to have lost the art of parenting our children.

I remember being a child and being taken to Spur. I was probably 8 or 9 when Spur first opened in Cape Town, it was not the Spur we know today, with sprawling play areas and where one expects to go and be surrounded by running and screaming children high on a sugar rush for the Chico the Clown they just inhaled. No. I was expected to sit at the table, mind my manners and keep my voice at a reasonable decibel  level. I was expected to sit still and behave myself. I would not have, in my wildest dreams, imagined running through the restaurant, annoying other guests and getting under the feet of the waitering staff.

Have we gone mad in our modern society?

Most of us born in the 70’s and raised in the 80’s and parenting children now, were raised under the ethos of “children should be seen not heard”. Have we taken that to a whole new extreme, have we swung the parenting pendulum to the other side where we now think it’s ok for our children to run wild and to be an annoyance and irritation to others enjoying the same venue as them because hey, they’re just kids and that’s what kids do? Hell NO!

I get we live in a different time now. Kids cannot run free in the streets, forming biker gangs with the neighborhood kids or pitching tents and having camp outs in each others gardens, unsupervised. I get that our children don’t have the same freedoms we did. Hell, I won’t even let my kids ride their bikes unsupervised…. in the driveway, never mind the street.

But still….

Does that give our children free reign to run riot when we do go to a “child” friendly venue (that’s not Spur). When did “child friendly” venues equate to parents sitting on their arses and allowing their kids to do whatever the hell they want, without consequence? And seriously, I’m not just talking about Blanford Manor here. I’ve witnessed this first hand at other establishments too. Parents arrive, crack the first bottle of wine and stop caring about where their kids are or what they are up to. Not only is this hugely disrespectful to the establishment but it’s also bloody annoying for other customers.

I was shocked when I read some of the examples that Blanford Manor cited as reasons for this decision:

So what have children done that upsets us:

  1. Damage the plants:
    • As a botanical garden we have a wide variety of trees, approximately 120 varieties. Many of these trees are carefully selected for their shape and cost a great deal (often several thousand of Rands each). It is pretty disheartening when children break branches and the parents response is “they’re just trees”. We have even had cases where trees have been broken at the base and completely lost, of course parents have never offered to pay for a replacement.
    • We also spend a lot of time and money growing a wide variety of plants so that we have a display of flowers for people to see. Many children then pick the flowers as posies for Mom or Granny. We also get children that pick up sticks (or break them off the trees) and then use them to hit the flowers. We have lost complete beds of flowers in this way.
    • Children love to run through the flower beds, they don’t care how many plants get trampled in the process, and apparently nor do the parents as they can often be heard encouraging the children.
    1. Injure the animals:
      • Almost every day we have children chasing the ducks. This makes them very nervous and scared of humans and also chases away the wild birds.
      • Chase the rabbit with sticks trying to hit it.
      • Trying to catch the Koi or alternatively hit them with sticks and stones – frequently in the presence of their parents.
      • Throw stones at the ducklings resulting in several being killed – this has traumatised some of our best clients who have said they will not return as a result.
      • Bring in catties and air rifles with the express intention of shooting birds and any other animals they can find.
      • Search for and find crabs, turtles, lizards etc and then pick them up and intentionally hurt or kill them.
      • Search for and raid the birds and ducks nests for eggs then throw them around, including against the walls of the buildings
      • Hitting and chasing the cats – these are our domestic cats
      1. Interfere directly with the enjoyment of other guests.
        • We have had children use sticks to break the Chinese lanterns other people have brought in for their functions
        • Entering the Spa and peeping through the widows
        • Scream and shout and play catch or hide and seek around the tables of other guests.
        • Play with balls, frisbees, model planes etc and throw, hit or kick them onto the tables of other guests. We have had glasses full of wine broken in this way, many upset clients in the process and in some cases clients actually injured by hard balls.
        • Before we banned bicycles we had toddlers run over by older children on bikes – the parents response, “oh the kids must get used to this, that’s just part of growing up”.
        • Hit or throw sand over the heads of other children.
        1. Damage our property:
          • Using the wine buckets as toys to fill with sand and throw or float in the river.
          • Throw the salt and pepper cellars in the dam and river
          • Break windows, no, not just by accident but intentionally. Of course parents never own up and offer to pay for the damage.
          • Intentionally break the jungly Jym – yes we have had older kids kicking the side panels off the jungle Jym and jumping on the bridge, trying as hard as they can to break the slats. It’s been an almost daily chore to make repairs.
          • Playing with and breaking the perimeter alarm system, this may be fun for the kids but it leaves us without security and costs us a lot to effect repairs.
          • Play a game with ice where one throws the ice and another tries to catch it, in a glass. Inevitably the glass gets broken and the parents just laugh it off.
          • A favourite for some kids – carve their names etc into the tops of our Saligna tables.
          • Drawing on the walls and pots
          • Playing in the conference centre resulting in the breakage of pots and vases
          • Visiting the Conference centre and entering the conference rooms when conferences are taking place.
          • Running around the venue tripping up the waiters who are carrying trays of food
          • Playing hide and seek in the main venue, hiding behind the curtains with dirty hands etc, resulting in dirty walls and curtains.
          • Emptying all the salt and pepper cellars, breaking all the sugar tubes.
          • Entering the conference toilets (clearly marked NO CHILDREN) and leaving mud and sand everywhere – this, not surprisingly, upsets our conference clients.
          • And a final favourite of mums with babies – try and flush the dirty nappies down the drain resulting in blocked drains, toilets etc.
          1. Simply being extremely rude
            • I just love children that shout at me, make rude signs and blow raspberries, don’t you?.

            • Changing the (very dirty and smelly) nappies of children right next to tables where people are having a meal

            What the hell guys! Are we raising the future generation to be a bunch of cruel, callous, disrespectful thugs? Thugs with no regard for anyone but themselves, who think they are entitled to do whatever the hell they want without consequence? No man! What hell is going to happen to our society if this is what we’re raising as our future leaders, movers and shakers?

            Killing ducklings and being rude to adults…. these are children we’re talking about, imagine how delightful they’ll be as self entitled adult sociopaths who think can do whatever they want to whoever they want without consequence!

            Maybe it’s because I spent a large percentage of my adult life being childless that I take exception to this behavior because on numerous occasions before we had kids, I recall going to nice venues, looking forward to a pleasant dinner or lunch and having it ruined by other people’s out of control kids. And I blame the parents. I recall once going to a dinner where we got into a huge argument with the table seated next to us because their kids were playing a game of chase, AROUND OUR TABLE and bashing my chair constantly while the parents looked on dispassionatley. I eventually called the child over myself and told them to stop it and go play somewhere else, to which the parents proceeded to lambaste me verbally because how dare I? No dear, HOW DARE YOU!

            Even now as a parent, I am conscious of this when we go out. If it’s not Spur, there are rules. You do not do whatever you want. You stay where I can see you. You do not run through the restaurant. You do not scream, shout or play a game of catch around a table. You do not get to annoy other paying customers. And you do not ever ever ever get to heart an animal, EVER!

            We are doomed if we don’t raise our children to be respectful, compassionate adults and by allowing them to run riot without consequence, well, we’re setting them up for a bleak future.

            I am appalled!


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          • Reply Emy Clarke

            I read that article to, and all I could think was ‘I don’t blame them’. Working in the hospitality industry we often have parents that are cross that our 4 star accommodation doesn’t allow kids under 16. We get told time and time again about how worldly travelled and well behaved they are. The reason for our no under 16 rule is simple. We are tired of replacing things that kids have broken or cleaning up the filth that some parents leave behind for us. The problem – Parents – Not kids.

            January 19, 2016 at 9:34 am
          • Reply Caroline

            Such a good article… just exactly what I was thinking when I heard the story. Parents need to take responsibility for raising respectful kids… and NO its not what the teachers are paid to do (as I have heard)!!

            January 19, 2016 at 9:52 am
          • Reply cath

            In so many ways, I agree with you. I think their snarky tone was borne out of frustration, and I also understand where they’re coming from, in that respect.

            January 19, 2016 at 9:52 am
            • Reply Sharon

              Totally. And I understand their frustration, I just think when one creates business communication, you do need to tone down the emotion. But I fully support their decision to ban kids.

              January 19, 2016 at 9:55 am
          • Reply nunu5

            I was amazed at what they have experienced. Maybe people are different in North Riding? I take my kids to kiddie friendly places all the time and there are certain things they know they are not allowed to do – hurting animals is one. But there are sometimes accidents spilled juice and such and more noise than others may like.

            But some of that behavior I have not witnessed not in my kids or others? I can understand their frustration but it does close the place to me as I go everywhere with my kids (except for the once in a blue moon date night – specifically once last year) maybe they needed to be tougher and put in clauses on entry such as broken property will be charged for? and maybe in the case of killing duckings call in the spca?

            I know of people who view violence to animals as signs of future sociopaths – some country overseas has decided to investigate and intervene in these cases with the aim of treating these individuals as young as possible.

            January 19, 2016 at 10:00 am
          • Reply MamaZombieZA

            YES! This exact thing! I am a terrible helicopter parent and Cliff is VERY old school with his rules and views on kids. We expect our kids to be polite and generally not revolting little shitheads when we are out. My children would never be allowed out the house again if they behaved like that.

            January 19, 2016 at 10:07 am
          • Reply laurakim

            I honestly do not blame them and I do not feel offended. I am generalising here but parents are LAZY! They expect society in general to parent their kids! Its creating a huge problem for the next generation.

            January 19, 2016 at 10:30 am
          • Reply Rene

            I totally agree with them, and don’t mind at all that they made the decision. And what I got from their tone was people who are fed up and just couldn’t take it anymore.

            Whenever we go out I am always shocked at how kids behave. Mine are by far not angels, but there are limits to what they are allowed to do, and they must always respect other people and other people’s property.

            We had a party at a children friendly restaurant. My girl was riding on on of those plastic bikes, and a small little boy grabbed her around the throat (she had blue marks), pulled her off, and bit her ear that she was bleeding. Instead of giving the boy a hiding like I wanted to we walked through the entire restaurant asking for his parents. They were either not there, or they refused to admit it was their child.

            Also had a party where I bought two of those big foil balloons. A brother and sister that was invited to the party tried to break the balloons. The parents were watching, smiling at them. I asked them a few times to stop, but they didn’t listen to me. After destroying the decorations they proceeded on opening some of the presents and playing with it.

            January 19, 2016 at 10:33 am
          • Reply lindasjournal

            I 00% agree with the place\s decision to ban children. People do not take responsibility for their children’s actions and it is actually quite shocking what some kids get up to (and get away with). I have raised 2 busy boys (now 9 and 11) and they know (through strict parenting) how to behave in a restaurant. It can be done.

            January 19, 2016 at 11:39 am
          • Reply catjuggles

            Firstly I think they made a mistake with the tone in the release. Stated differently the reactions may have been very different. I fully agree with you Sharon – we have started about a year ago to avoid any child friendly restaurants (apart from one where we love the food – it is just by chance child friendly) and we take our kids to normal restaurants where we expect them to behave and keep busy at the table or even to have a proper conversation with us. At 7 and 10 I guess it was a bit late – but then we have done this before for year – but just doing the kid friendly places in between others.

            The owner at the little Italian restaurant we used to frequent (the owner has retired now and closed it down) used to love it when we brought the kids. He said that in general modern parents are doing an injustice to their children not to teach them that eating is associated with good conversation and bonding and not with running around and a play areas. I actually somewhere wrote a blogpost about this and it is so true.

            January 19, 2016 at 11:57 am
            • Reply Nisey

              I agree, taking your child to a restaurant is an opportunity to talk to them (no technology at the table), spend quality time together! We always take an activity book and drawing pad for Jaden to keep him busy if the restaurant doesn’t have a play area. If its late at night we’ll sometimes take the iPad but generally an activity book and some family time does the trick. Kids need to learn how to communicate with other humans!

              January 27, 2016 at 11:09 am
          • Reply cupcakemummy

            so totally agree with you! Fysh has known what table manners are from the very beginning. I feel like he needs to know how to respect everything, especially things that don’t belong to him. Treat people the way you want them to treat you and always speak kindly else don’t say anything at all.

            I am not beyond a good smack or time out if he’s out of line, which I am grateful to say he rarely is x

            January 19, 2016 at 12:53 pm
          • Reply Lise

            My hand is itching to give those dreadful kids and their appaling parents a good old fashioned hiding! I can’t believe parents allow their children to behave like that. I would also ban them! How are kids to be expected to sit quietly and listen to a teacher if they can’t sit quietly through a meal?

            January 19, 2016 at 1:16 pm
          • Reply Jenny

            I am sorry but I just find this terribly hard to believe. I have been parenting for ten years and have never seen behaviour like this. It sounds like they had busloads of juvenile delinquents and seemed to not do much to manage any of it. The establishment can do what it likes but to me it smacks of a cheap publicity stunt. Did they really let things get to that level without addressing it? I find the snarky tone very disturbing and the backlash against children all over their Facebook page even more so – never a healthy attitude in a country where our children are already vulnerable, maligned and abused. Yes I do think there are parents too interested in their glass of wine to pay much attention to their kids but I think the majority of SA parents are all doing a mighty fine job. Compare our kids to those in the UK where you are too scared to get on a bus with a group of ten year olds. We are very hard on ourselves and each other.

            January 19, 2016 at 3:00 pm
            • Reply Sharon

              I can only operate under the assumption that what they have shared in their statement is true. While I was horrified at some of the examples they gave, I did find it believable having witness behaviour like this before at a few country venues. Kids chasing/kicking rabbits, chickens, poking fish with sticks, mostly because their parents were not supervising them and the thing I take the biggest exception too is that some parents use these types of venues as baby sitters for their children, when in fact they are the ones responsible for their children
              behavior. I haven’t been on the Face Book page so I can’t comment on what’s being said there.

              January 19, 2016 at 3:09 pm
          • Reply hilaryjgreen

            Such mixed feelings on this. I honestly can’t imagine my kids ever misbehaving to that extent, not even when they were very little people – but I have seen other kids behaving like terrors and I can well imagine a venue like Blanford not wanting such impossible kids around. Like others have said, I think it’s the tone of the release that sets me off.

            January 19, 2016 at 7:26 pm
          • Reply Nisey

            Oh, my, word! Really? This happens? Maybe living in Lowveld with a largely afrikaans population things are different here but I have to say its definitely the exception and not the norm to see this kind of behaviour!

            I believe in strong discipline and most of my friends do too. Having said that my child is guilty of a lot mentioned above BUT he would never get away without facing severe consequences.

            Kids will be kids. And Adults will also be kids if their parents don’t point them in the right direction! As a parent it is my responsibility to ensure that when my child behaves in an irresponsible manner he is shown that there are consequences and hopefully he will become a responsible adult.

            How are these kids meant to grow up knowing how to behave?

            I don’t blame the restaurant at all, a child friendly venue is not an excuse to act like a savage it is an opportunity to teach your kids how to behave in public.

            January 27, 2016 at 11:04 am
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