Where not to take your kids

February 26, 1997|By KATE COLEMAN

There are people who believe children should be seen and not heard. There are people who believe children shouldn't even be seen.

But even those who love children - their own and others - have to admit there are places and occasions that are more enjoyable without the pitter-patter of little feet and the unexpected noises that come out of the mouths of babes.

Evelyn Petersen is an educator, consultant and author on early childhood and parenting education. Where should you take young children? "It so much depends on the kid," she says. For some events, such as weddings and funerals, it also depends on the culture and traditions of the family, she adds. For example, young children were expected to attend and even dance at weddings in the Polish-American family in which Petersen grew up.

Joyce Hill of Williamsport owns Conceptual Designs, a wedding consulting business. She says etiquette is the bottom line. If the children aren't invited, they shouldn't go to the wedding.


Some parents think it's OK to take babes in arms, because they'll be held and won't take up space. But it's impossible to control one so young. Guests come to the wedding to share in a momentous, reverent occasion. They don't want to be distracted by children's chatter or parents' shushing. "That's not what you came to hear," Hill says.

Hill also points out that many wedding ceremonies are videotaped. A child's innocent question or an infant's unexpected outburst can be picked up by microphones and preserved for all eternity - right along with the wedding vows.

Weddings really are not a place for children, Hill says. They're boring for children. Sometimes bridal couples hire sitters to entertain children during the wedding. As a paid consultant, Hill will ask parents to take a disruptive child out or to the back of the church. "There is a time and place for everything," Hill says.

Time for church

The family that prays together stays together, but parents undistracted by young children most likely can have a better church experience. So can their neighboring worshippers. That is why many churches provide nurseries.

Rev. Bill Snook is Minister for Christian Education at Bethel Assembly of God on Wilson Boulevard in Hagerstown. Snook says his church has a nursery available for infants to two-year-olds for all services. Snook says the 77-year-old church views its nursery as a ministry. He cites a USA Today survey that found 40 percent more people attend church after they have children. For couples looking for a church home, the quality of the nursery ranks with the quality of the message, the speaking and the music, Snook says. The goal of his church is to provide a secure, warm, loving place for the children so the parents can relax and enjoy the worship service.

At the movies

All parents should know that they should take a disruptive child from the movie theater, says Elden Kinna, manager of Valley Mall Cinemas. Most parents do, but occasionally, he has to ask people to remove a child. It's not fair to the other people who have paid to see the film. "Most people are very, very nice about it," Kinna adds.

"We are not baby sitters," says Kinna. He finds that couples sometimes bring children to the theater because it's cheaper than paying a sitter. Most bring a fussy child to the lobby and miss the movie. Kinna often will give them a ticket so they can come back another time.

Out to eat

Petersen advises parents to ease children into going to restaurants. "Make very sure they know exactly what's expected," she says.

Parents should think through, follow through and model the behavior they want in their children. She recommends practice and role playing. And if children misbehave, you can't let them get away with inappropriate behavior, Petersen says. "Just pick them up and out of there!"

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