Dear Margo: Changed Friendships

Margo-Howard_tall10Margo Howard’s advice

Changed Friendships

Dear Margo: I am wondering what to do about a situation with a friend. We met early on in college and quickly became besties. She was the person I could talk to about anything, and I was that for her. Though we have remained close and have kept in touch since college, our relationship has changed. She got married about three years ago and had her first child six months ago. I am happy for her, but the problem is that while she continues to call me to vent or talk, she never seems to have time for my issues. She is always the one to end the call, and it is rare that she picks up the phone when I call her.

I still consider her a close friend, but it hurts to feel that the relationship is so one-sided. I have some close friends where I live now, but I have no one “best friend,” and I really miss that. I want to have someone I can talk to about anything and everything again. Is there something I could do so I don’t feel like I’m the one putting all of the effort into the relationship? — Frustrated in the Midwest

Dear Frus: For one thing, the two of you no longer share the same life. One of you is married, with a child, and the other is not. It’s hard to imagine, though, that her circumstances have changed what kind of a friend she is, so I’m wondering whether she was a me-me-me kind of girl during college, but you somehow didn’t feel it so keenly. The one-sidedness is definitely not doing anything for you.

I think the only thing to do is recognize that your good pal has morphed into a narcissistic housewife for whom her former best friend has become a wailing wall. I would give up being the one who’s propping up the relationship and put her in your memory file under “College.” — Margo, pragmatically

Noise Abatement  

Dear Margo: My husband and I have happily raised our children and love being empty nesters. We often go out to eat. The problem is that often other diners bring their children, and they’re not all, um, restaurant-trained. It not only annoys us, but it also must annoy other people when children are running around, screaming and whining. Forget about our tolerance for noisy kids, it can’t make the job of the waitstaff any easier. Do you think it would be all right for my husband or me to approach the parents of an unruly child? — Ticked

Dear Tick: Approach them and say what? People are touchy when you criticize their children. And in the situation you are talking about, you’re really criticizing the parents. Just for the record, I am with you about being annoyed by raucous children, but you are talking about public places. And if you’re at Wendy’s, or a similar place, kids are par for the course. A loose rule of thumb is that the more expensive the restaurant the fewer young children you will encounter. If you like places that have family-friendly menus, perhaps try going at a later hour. — Margo, acceptingly

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Dear Margo is written by Margo Howard, Ann Landers’ daughter. All letters must be sent via the online form at Due to a high volume of e-mail, not all letters will be answered.


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91 Responses so far.

  1. avatar Dee Langtree says:

    Anyone who decides that they have a right to approach the parent of an unruly child in this day and age is just asking to end up on youtube. As much as it’s annoying, dreadful, and disrespectful to the other guests it is no one else’s job to police the parenting skills, or lack thereof, of another.

    The best you can do is call over a server or manager and ask for a different table, or just leave. They have as much right to be there as you do, but if you do not wish to sit through two hours of child induced mayhem I’d just think about changing a night out to a quiet night ordering in.

    • avatar Jay Gentile says:

      Most parents are raising ferel animals these days. With so many children raised in daycare warehouses, parents spend relatively little time with their own children. And then it seems like parents are more interested in being indulgent friends than parents. Their little hellion’s self esteem is all that matters. I can’t imagine ever being allowed to misbehave in public. But I had real parents who taught their children things like manners.

    • avatar JC Dill says:

      You don’t approach the parents, you approach the manager. This will result in 1 of 2 outcomes:

      1) The manager was also unhappy with the unruly child, but without another customer complaint they risked the wrath of the parents of the unruly child and risked losing their custom, without gaining support from other patrons. They will take your complaint seriously, and speak with the parents of the unruly child, and resolve the situation. This is what will happen in the majority of cases.

      2) The manager blows you off. You know that this is a restaurant that prefers unruly children to quiet diners, and you can make your future dining reservations appropriately. (This is unlikely to happen at any better dining establishment but may happen at a kid-friendly joint.)

      • avatar Helen Donovan says:

        AGREE. Some noise is one thing but that running about, banging into me and trying to touch me/my food is way beyond normal Unless I’m at a place with a playground, there is no reason that I should have to go bankrupt or dine after 8:00 to avoid kids running about like feral dogs.
        Another benefit about getting the manger (not the poor server) is that you may get a free meal or at least drink for putting up with these clueless jerks.

  2. avatar kseeley says:

    OMG i hate it when people bring their children into public places and then fail to control them. i do not go to a restaurant to entertain your kid, who feels the need to come to my table and ask me all sorts of questions, or have them peek over the back of the seat to watch me eat, or make so much noise that i can’t hear the person i’m with. i remember when i was a kid, if i didn’t behave i was removed. i sincerely wish parents could be parents, instead of insisting that just because they have kids doesn’t mean they can’t go out – it doesn’t. but it does mean your kids remain your responsibility. and yes, you CAN get them to be quiet, particularly if you actually do something other than sit there and ignore them. it’s called raising children. they do not magically learn good behavior, it must be taught. geez. parenting. try it sometime.

    • avatar Ariana says:

      “parenting. try it sometime”

      Haha, no thanks 🙂 My partner and I are happily child-free, and since we both work 45+/week, we also tend to go out to eat all the time, because I want to spend my little free-time socializing with my partner and not standing in the kitchen cooking (he hates cooking too). If we don’t want to be bothered by screaming kids, we also choose less child-friendly and/or more upscale restaurants to eat at. Eating out after 8PM is also a good tip.

      • avatar Carib Island Girl says:

        “parenting. try it sometime” Lamest excuse ever. Yep, you chose it, now embrace the responsibility. I got snipped at 21, never regretted it. And there is no reason we should pay more because people don’t control their kids.

    • avatar Dianka93 says:

      I have two young children and I’m amazed how people let their children behave in public. We went to dinner the other evening and even my 7 year old was watching in disbelief as three boys ran around, yelling and jumping all over the place with the parents sat at a table in the corner and made out. These weren’t some teen parents, but rather in their mid to late 30’s. My 9 year old is a little more outspoken and asked why their parents weren’t paying any attention to them. The waitress just started laughing as told her it was a good question – and then thanked my kids for behaving.

      • avatar dcarpend says:

        Exactly. When I was 6, my family went to Washington DC, and we ate in the dining room of the hotel every evening. I already knew how to sit in my chair, use cutlery, not run around or scream — I’ll admit to blowing bubbles in my milk with my straw.

        I also have a vivid memory of being at a nicer-than-average burger joint — I would have been maybe 8 — and being really weirded out by how badly some kids at another table were behaving. My mom wouldn’t have put up with that nonsense for a second — we would have been summarily taken home. I found it disturbing and embarrassing to see those kids yelling, throwing food, getting up and tearing around.

    • avatar judgingamy says:

      I have a one year old. I wouldn’t let her run around the restaurant and I would take her out if she was throwing a tantrum (which she has done, and I have had to box up my meal and beat a hasty retreat), but regarding the staring- what do you want me to do, put a blindfold on my kid? Kids stare sometimes.

      • avatar Ariana says:

        Staring itself isn’t the problem. It’s when kids climb over the back of the booth seats in order to stare down at the next table – waving, talking, interrupting, etc. to get attention.

        If they are allowed to run around the restaurant, they will even stop and hang off the end of strangers’ tables doing the same thing.

    • avatar Lila says:

      Ha, I once had a kid, about two to three years old, standing on the booth seat behind me and leaning into our booth. His head was almost right next to mine. Daddy said and did nothing, so I said directly to the kid: “Please go away.” He turned around and sat down, problem solved. My friend who was with me just gaped and said, “I can’t believe you just did that.” But why? There is no reason to ever tolerate bad behavior because of age. Something that is not cute when a teen or adult does it is also not cute just because a child does it. When young kids misbehave, it is not okay or excusable; it is the opportunity to teach them otherwise.

      • avatar JC Dill says:

        It’s surprising how easy it is to tell someone else’s kid to stop misbehaving. I’ve stopped many temper tantrums in a store simply by staring at the child. (Note: I don’t have a scary face.) Once the child realizes that others – strangers – are paying attention to their tantrum it often cuts it off cold.

    • avatar bobkat says:

      Agreed 100%! I wish restaurants would get more pro-active about unruly kids.

  3. avatar Belinda Joy says:

    Letter #2 – Short of children being physically or verbally abused in public, I am from the school of thought let them be. True, when children are out of control and unruly it does mean 100% that they have terribly parents. But, it isn’t everyone else’s responsibility to raise them as they see fit.

    Margo brings up a valid point, the more expensive the venue, the fewer the children. It’s wise to choose wisely when picking a place to eat when you don’t want rug rats running around. Parents that don’t control their children (and instill proper manners) is a major irritation for me.

    Letter #1 – Another letter from someone oblivious. How sad.

    This letter writer sounds like such a sweet person. She deserves a friend that will respect and care for her as much as she does for others. Sometimes friendships run their course and die on the vine because they weren’t cultivated and cared for. The mistake this letter writer made was not speaking up and being direct early on about cues that there was a chasm growing in how she was being treated vs. treating her friend.

    I’m not one for playing games so I wouldn’t suggest avoiding phone calls from her friend as she implies her friend does to her. But instead I would suggest the next time they speak she assert herself and say “Have you ever noticed we only speak when YOU have something to discuss?” and allow the conversation to unfold from there. She’ll be on notice to either step up and start being more equal in the relationship or decide she has been busted and move on to someone else. The bottom line is to be honest and stand in your truth, speak your truth and let the chips fall where they may.

    There are millions of women out there looking for a “bestie” why waste time with someone that doesn’t want that title. 🙂

    • avatar Carib Island Girl says:

      Um LW2, just why should I pay more because you don’t control your kids? Please give me a logical response for that. Also, I don’t patronize McD’s.

  4. avatar Dianka93 says:

    LW #1 – Lighten up a little. Chances are, with a six month old, your friend hasn’t had a full night’s sleep in at least 9 months. She probably isn’t answering the phone when you call because the ringer is off so it doesn’t wake the baby. And when she calls you, you may be the only adult she’s talked to all day that isn’t as stressed out as she is. That’s not to say you can’t leave her a message saying you’d really like to talk to her about what’s going on in your life, too. But don’t expect her to read your mind. She may not realize how she’s behaving. If she does, then shame on her. But before giving her the heave ho, find out if she’s just exhausted or really self centered.

    • avatar Kathleen Hein says:

      That’s my take on it too. Maybe she doesn’t pick up the phone because she’s BUSY. Is she supposed to take your call in the middle of the baby’s bath so she can hear about the latest guy you’re dating? Really? Margo was harsh to call her a narcissistic housewife (She likely is neither of those things!) but she was correct in that friendships change- and you were incredibly naive and selfish yourself. So leave the poor frazzled new mother alone, and make some new friends. Maybe you and she will reconnect when you have a partner and children of your own, and have more in common again.

      • avatar Helen Donovan says:

        Apparently you were too busy wadding your knickers to read that the new mom still calls and vents. Sure, I’d suggest writer wait until the first year is over before giving up. And maybe the writer is a bit naive, but is it so “incredible” since she does not have a kid? That is why she is seeking advice. She certainly isn’t selfish, she is trying to keep the friendship. That was really a rude, ignorant comment, as is the “when you have a partner and children.” I have friends who don’t have a partners or children, and if this new mother, or judgmental people like you, can’t deal with people who are different from them, she should be dumped.

    • avatar animelily says:

      Same here. I think Ms. Margo forgot just how difficult it is dealing with a young child. It’s exhausting and LONELY and you can’t exactly vent to your own child or even your partner because often times they’re knee deep in the same, often literal, shit too. Give her a break. Be the sort of friend you would want if/when you have a small child of your own too.

      Speaking of kids, the second letter writer made me laugh. Before kids, I felt the same way. Now that I have a young child myself, if I go to a restaurant that has some unruly children, then I breathe a sign of relief. Yay! I can eat here without nasty looks for my vocal toddler!

      I remember a while back, John Stewart was trying to make a point about how the lives of Republicans and Democrats aren’t all that different. Just see the difference between people with kids or without kids and THERE’S the real difference! I think both letters are firm proof of that.

    • avatar misskaty says:

      Seconded. 6 months is too early to end a long friendship over. I barely get 5 mins on the phone these days since my sister popped one out. The litmus test, of course, is what your friend says when you bring it up. If you feel ignored, or patronized (or worse, get an angry defensive reaction) then just let it peter off naturally.

  5. avatar susan hiland says:

    LW1: Your friend’s life has completly changed from the way it was a year ago. She doesn’t have the time she used to have for chit chatting. She isn’t sleeping, and I bet she doesn’t even get anytime to go to the bathroom alone! Give her a break. How about next time you call, ask her when is a good time to talk with her? Maybe she has a better time to talk when things are going nuts in her house. Life with a baby is so not the same as life single.

    • avatar JC Dill says:

      Even simpler, the next time the friend calls, say “oh, I’m so glad you called, I just have to tell you about….” and start the conversation about something you want to talk about. If she’s a good friend she’s going to be happy to hear about your story, and NOW is a good time (for her) to talk, so spill it! If she cuts off your story to tell you her own woes, THEN you know that she really doesn’t want to talk about your stuff, only her stuff, and you can make your next step accordingly.

  6. avatar bobkat says:

    Margo’s answer to LW1 stinks! Her (soon-to-be-former?) best friend has a baby now, and that changes everything. A baby is a lot of work! LW’s problems probably seem trivial to the new mother now. I don’t see anything ‘narcissistic’ about not wanting to talk on the phone with an old friend about silly (to her) problems. My suggestion to LW would be to turn one of her other ‘close’ friends into a ‘bestie’, if she absolutly can’t live without one. Also, she needs to accept the fact that people just grow apart.

    • avatar Ariana says:

      I disagree. Having a baby is not an excuse to dump all your own problems on your friends and then write off their problems as silly when they want to share their lives too.

      Having a career is also hard work. I personally don’t find it trivial to have to work with impossible deadlines, stick within budget and deal with BS office politics and processes. But when I’m on the phone to my friends, I don’t just whine and moan how it’s so hard, and tell them: You have it easy! You just have to be home with the baby all day!

      What you describe is the very definition of narcissm. “Only my problems are interesting and matter to me, and everyone else’s are silly and trivial.”

      • avatar K Coldiron says:

        Right on, Ariana.

      • avatar fallinginplace says:

        Ariana – I’m guessing you don’t have kids, otherwise you’d know that it’s not narcissism as much as it is just trying to survive those early months. I have a professional career with lots of challenges, but dealing with newborns is probably the toughest thing I’ve ever had to do.

        • avatar Helen Donovan says:

          Falling – I’m guessing your are a sanctimommy. They love to start a sentence with “I guess you don’t have kids” If friend still has time to call and vent HER problem then she should reciprocate. No, they might not always understand each others situation but real friend have empathy.

  7. avatar Pat Lang says:

    On the subject of parents who don’t control their kids, Years upon years ago I was with my sister-in-law and my maybe one year old daughter at a fast food restaurant. The space between booths was wide enough for us to have my daughter’s high chair pulled up as close as it would go to the table and have ample room for anyone to pass by. Two women with four or five kids sat in the booth catty-corner, the kids in the booth opposite us. A three year old boy had to jump up and run to Mommy every minute or so, and EVERY time, coming and going, he plowed into the highchair. My daughter was beginning to get upset and I passed the annoyance stage. The fourth time, I think it was, he ran to Mommy I stood up in the aisle and asked him – nicely! – to please be careful and not run into my daughter’s highchair. Mommy jumped up to shield her precious child from this horrid monster and informed me he was ONLY three years old. I responded he’s old enough to watch where he’s going. I had a vision of kid standing before the judge being sentenced for all sorts of heinous crimes and Mommy wailing, “But Judge! He’s ONLY 16!”

    • avatar L T says:

      I think I might have had to mention that since he was “only three” and not capable of walking around without bumping into people and other things, perhaps he should be sitting with her instead of unsupervised.

  8. avatar Ariana says:

    Before you write off the friendship indefinitely, give her time to react. Many new mothers don’t realize that the majority of what comes out of their mouth is: Baby, Baby, Me Me Me, Baby Baby Baby.

    The next time your friend tries to end the call, tell her that you still have some exciting news that you didn’t get a chance to share. When you talk next time, see if she seems interested in what you have to say, or whether she even gives you a chance before launching into her own problems. Then you can mention the fact that you understand that her baby has the center stage, but that friendship is still a two-way street. Suggest catching up again in a few months or so.

    I’ve even gotten up and left after a few minutes from a planned visit with friends who have a young child because they are so unaware of how rude they are acting. More than a few times, the child kept interuppting to get attention every two seconds, and every single time my friend would turn away while I was in mid-sentence and focus her attention on kid. Of course, not remembering that I was in the middle of saying something, she would turn back and start talking about her kid again.

    I realize that child-rearing is hard, but if I feel like the person is totally focussed on themselves, then I usually let it die off naturally. After several months or in some cases years, you can give them another call and see if there is any connection work saving.

    • avatar Ariana says:

      I just wanted to add, its clear that when one of my friends has a new baby or small child that the friendship is much more likely to be 8020 about her for awhile since there is so much going on in her life. That balance should even back out at some point though when Im going thru exciting or hard times. But when new parents dont give anything back like in the LWs case, its time to pull back and check whether its worth it to pursue a dead end friendship.

  9. avatar Chris Glass` says:

    We had a rule in our family of our child or any with us couldn’t sit still and behave in a restaurant we all left and went home without our meals. The offending kid went to bed if he was ours because he was too tired to behave in public. The kids with us went home because we were not putting on a circus act for the general public. Our children learned not to be problems and our rules made them thoughtful about their choice of friends.

  10. avatar Artemesia says:

    this ‘they have as much right to be there’ ‘it is a public place’ is one of the major things wrong with our society today.

    when I was growing up we were told ‘you need to be considerate of others, because this is a public place and we are sharing it.’ now people proclaim ‘this is a public place so I can do whatever I want and F you.’ the ‘commons’ should be treated as a shared resource in which everyone should be considered. it is fine for kids to run and whine at home if their parents are good with that; it is not fine in a public place where it affects others.

    I have no illusions about this generation of careless parents heeding this, of course.

  11. avatar Artemesia says:

    the LW should know that the poor parenting s/he is observing will have its consequences. we spent a lot of time when the kids were toddlers teaching them restaurant manners and gradually increasing the sophistication of the restaurants we took them to. the result is decades of joy in dining out with our kids. they were a pure pleasure from pre-school to today. even during teen years when they were difficult to live with, we could still go out to a restaurant and enjoy them and a nice conversation on that neutral turf. my daughter is raising her kids the same way and have a toddler who can manage quite well.

    in both families the key was leaving if the child didn’t behave and making expectations clear each time before entering a restaurant. we only had to leave once with each child. the work you put in on parenting pays off with a happier family life.

    • avatar Ariana says:

      I kind of wish my parents had raised us that way. I am almost 100% sure I was one of those kids that was allowed to run rampant in restaurants and everywhere else too.

      Only very basic table manners were taught. Not much beyond don’t eat with your fingers or wipe your hands on your jeans. It made me very nervous later as a teenager when I ate at friend’s house, because I was so unsure about how to act.

  12. avatar bethan7 says:

    If kids are running around a restaurant the management should be informed. If a kid has a tray of hot food spilt on him (or another guest) it would result in lawsuits. if the parents wont control thier kids they should be asked to leavw. I manage to keep my 3&1 yo respectful and quite, so can everyone else.

  13. avatar L T says:

    LW#2 — I’m irritated by unruly kids as much as the next person. Problem is, not a person among us is in any way entitled to go out in public and never be annoyed. You want to go out, you’re going to be around people. People will occasionally annoy you, no matter their age. I would think at *your* age that would probably already be obvious.

    Also, I find it odd that you mention running around, screaming, AND whining. Running around and screaming are one thing, whining is quite another. Kids aren’t grown up enough to always communicate in a mature manner. I figure if the parent keeps the noise level reasonable, keeps the kids at their own table, and makes an effort to clean up any mess, most anything else is excusable.

    • avatar Carib Island Girl says:

      NO. If your kids can’t act well in public DON’T take them out. I pay for my dinner, not for having to put up with this. It was your choice to have them, now take responsibility and don’t inflict it on the rest of us.

  14. avatar Lisa Bonnice says:

    My dad was always very vocal about kids misbehaving in restaurants. When we were little, we sat our happy asses in our seats, ate our meals and behaved. We did the same at home, too. Manners were very important to him.

    So when he saw kids running amok at restaurants he would come unglued. One time our family was at a nice restaurant and someone else’s kid was underneath his table, he said, in a very loud voice, “There is a child under my table. WHY IS THERE A CHILD UNDER MY TABLE???” That kid’s parents hurried over and got him. 😀

  15. avatar kathleeno says:

    LW1- New moms are a little self-absorbed, but I tend to agree with Margo. She was probably always self-centered, but back in their college days, when she vented about a guy, LW1 could relate. Now, she can’t. Time to move on.

    LW2- My husband and I – long past the little kid stage – are rarely if ever bothered by youngsters in restaurants running around like savages. Maybe it’s because we wouldn’t dream of going to a family restaurant at 6 p.m. If we do encounter this, it’s almost always large groups who use the restaurant as a substitute for someone’s kitchen, sitting and mindlessly gabbing for an hour after they’ve finished their meal, while their bored, squirmy children do what bored squirmy children do. I always feel more sorry for the servers. They have two or three tables held hostage, while their other patrons get increasingly annoyed.

  16. avatar misskaty says:

    LW2: If the kids start invading your space or directly impacting you, then set the limit for them (since their parents aren’t doing it!). Sure it won’t fix their upbringing, but you’ll feel good about keeping the social line, and the kid will “respect” you. If you can ignore the parent’s dirty looks.

    • avatar Carib Island Girl says:

      I don’t give a damn about the parents dirty looks. Teach your kids some manners!

  17. avatar KDM says:

    Letter #2 , the other option is to go to places that have “Early Bird Special” or as someone suggested more upscale restaurant. I have 2 girls they were taught from an early age of what was expected behavior wise in a restaurant ,store I as a parent chose to be proactive if one of them started to act up it was swiftly put to an end either by leaving or taking to the bathroom for a swat on the behind as they got older in a checkout line if this started it didn’t matter which one started they both had sit on their knees until we finished checking out didn’t matter how long the line was had one woman try to tell me I was wrong for this “public shaming” to which I replied would you rather I let them continue until they get physical with each other futher irritating others in the checkout line as well ….To those that feel the need to say something “Don’t” you have no idea what kind of day that parent has had .I’m not talking about those parents who are letting their children run a round while they are making out in booth either ,restaurant managers should be the ones telling them to leave because those children are creating a hazardous situation for the establishment, for staff and children as well as other patrons.

    • avatar Eileen Heath says:

      Oh I like that resolution! Making them sit on their knees until you’re done! It isn’t public shaming anymore than yelling at them. It’s making them sit still. I’ll try to remember suggesting this for my friends that are new mothers.

  18. avatar Eileen Heath says:

    — Ticked : We’re not smokers but we have begun eating at the bar or smoking section to cut down on the incidents. I run into this a lot. What’s worse, children appear to be fascinated with my husband. They will stare, run up and stare, rotate their heads as they are being dragged away and in a more than a few instances – stand up in their booth to stare. There really isn’t anything wrong with my husband’s features or the way he talks – this puzzles everyone including the parents. Outgoing children become quite the handful (much to the parents dismay) and try to engage him – usually by poking. I remember once seeing a small tennis shoe come up over the booth and nudge him on the shoulder.
    They never speak. It’s almost creepy. No, not almost. It IS creepy. One little boy climbed over his grandmother (actually hurting her twice!) to peek through the barrier at us.

    • avatar Helen Donovan says:

      Is he tall? My brother is 6’4″ and kids are fascinated by him, and he is not a kid person – no anti, just not a parent. Once he had to catch a kid who literally leap out of its mom’s arms at my brother. Very odd.

  19. avatar sdpooh says:

    I too have tolerance issues with restaurant brats. But, I temper it with common sense. Fast food places, I put up with it, because it’s a kind of kid place anyway. Family style restaurants and highway type diners, I scan the room for a table away from the corner booth or the long table. These are the places where families sit. Nice dining establishments, I glare at the parents and if the child is running around I ask them to go sit down in my firmest granny voice. My husband says I have “the look” and the children always go sit down. LOL. Screamers….I discuss it with the waitress and ask her to have someone speak to the offenders. But, usually I see sweet little kids who are getting bored because mommy and daddy linger and gab. They get bored and fidget. It’s the parents who need to be controlled.

  20. avatar Jean B says:

    I can’t stand it when people bring their kids out to eat and let them run around. When my child was little I could take her anywhere and never had a problem. We got compliments all the time from staff and fellow diners about how cute she was and how well behaved. Even in McDonald’s, where there was a playground, she sat at the table and ate her meal (such as it was). She understood that it was a place to eat a meal, not to play. We always had things to occupy her at the table, though. Whether it was coloring book and crayons (brought from home) or we would give her bread to chew on as soon as it was brought out. We also included her in the conversation, or so she thought. At points during conversation, although speaking to an adult at the table, we would look at her and speak. This lets the child know they are not being ignored. Which, if you ask me, is the biggest problem today; children are ignored so they can do whatever they want.

  21. avatar mac13 says:

    I guess I just don’t understand why you go out to a public place where you know other people will be and then get angry if there is any interaction. I go to a restaurant and there are noisy kids, I tune them out. If they bump my table I ask if they are ok. The whole no tolerance for kids has me befuddled. Noisy bored kids are nothing new. I remember as a kid in the early 60’s kids ran and played and were noisy. It just seems today everyone is so concerned with their “rights”. I find it hard to believe that you can’t find a restaurant to eat where the managment wouldn’t speak to the parents if the children were actually that unruly.

    • avatar susan says:

      I agree with you 100%!

    • avatar Carib Island Girl says:

      It’s called teaching them what is acceptable in pubic. Why should my dinner be ruined by those kids? I pay the same money.

    • avatar Helen Donovan says:

      Not everyone has a good “tune out” mechanism, at least not for shrieking and tantrums. I too was a kid in the 60s. I have ZERO recollection or running and playing in a restaurant. Going out to dinner was a privilege that you earned (or lost) by your behavior.

      • avatar mac13 says:

        I’ll take shrieking kids over intolerance any day, any week. Maybe that’s just me. But dirty looks and glaring bother Me more.

        • avatar Carib Island Girl says:

          Um….so intolerance is wanting to have a peaceful meal? There is something really wrong in your thinking.

        • avatar Carib Island Girl says:

          Oh and please take your kids and entitled attitude to Chuck-E-Cheese and quit annoying the rest of us with your “little darlings”. We don’t think they are cute.

        • avatar mac13 says:

          Carib, my little darlings are in their late 20’s and early 30’s. they take kids to chucky cheese. I realize you have your own opinion but I would point to that as one of our great societal problems. YOU DO NOT HAVE UNLIMITED RIGHTS not to be disturbed in public places. Repeat as necessary and you will be a better person for it.

      • avatar Lila says:

        Helen, I am with you. In the 60s our parents very rarely took us to restaurants but we moved a lot and it was sometimes necessary. I hated it because we had to dress up, had to sit still, and had to be quiet. I have a very strong recollection of one restaurant where there was no booster seat and the table was about at my chin level. I was probably about four, certainly no more than five. I was not allowed to kneel on the chair (no feet on furniture!) so I had to put up with the awkward ergonomics. My mother took enough pity on my situation to cut my meat for me but that was the ONLY slack I got.

        Dinners out amounted to a couple of hours of forced boredom. The thought of running around the restaurant never even entered our heads. While I hated it, it did instill discipline and self-control…. And total intolerance for the “he’s only (insert age here)” excuse for bad behavior in public.

        As for others advising the “intolerant” to go to upscale places to avoid the whole thing? Even that is not foolproof! Hubby and I went to a fancy place for one of our early anniversaries only to be seated with a really good view of an infant spitting up. That’s about as appetizing as watching someone take a dump. But of course the new parents had EVERY RIGHT to share their little bundle’s bodily functions with us on our (expensive) special occasion.

        • avatar Patato says:

          Years ago, the hubby and I went to an expensive restaurant and were seated next to a gentleman dining alone. We failed to notice, until we had been served, that the man was drunk, and he became loud and obnoxious. We were young, and didn’t realize we should have spoken to the manager. We asked the waiter if we could move, but he said, no, this is my section (!) So we never went there again. If that happened now, you can be sure we would not tolerate it. Unruly toddlers would have been WAY less obnoxious than that drunk.

    • avatar Ariana says:

      Its not about not wanting interaction, but seeing the blatant way that some people dont respect others right to share the same space. I realize kids will be kids and will be noisy, but when I dont see parents taking any actions to remedy the situation when their kids are clearly out of line-thats what irks me. They are disrespecting everyone else by ignoring their kids behavior and expecting everyone to tolerate it as if it was normal and okay to act that way.

      • avatar Ariana says:

        I meant to add, its the same disrespect that pet owners show if they take them to a park and then dont clean up after them or let their pets jump all over people and just laugh it off without trying to make them stop. Sure some dogs are young and get excited and will try to jump up and I understand that. What I dont tolerate is when the owners let it go on without doing anything about it. Everyone needs to respect everyones right to be there. I dont want to have to only go to the park at night just so I wont meet dogs running loose trying to jump on me.

        If you want to call that intolerance, that’s prolly even true. I have a healthy intolerance for people who have no respect for others.

  22. avatar JCF4612 says:

    1) For shame, Margo. How do we know she’s become a me,me,me housewife? Could be she’s only on maternity leave, is sleep deprived, and is stretching herself to even call her old friend. As for the apparently still single, child-free friend, count your blessings, develop new relationships, and accept that the nature of friendships can change. Someday you may be married with squalling kids, and you’ll find renewed life to your friendshipwith the former bestie.

    2) Stay away from the Tuesday night “kids eat free” joints, do your dining after 8 p.m., or learn to order carryout to take home or to a park.

    • avatar Carib Island Girl says:

      #2: There is no reason I should have to do this.

      • avatar JCF4612 says:

        Yes there is … if you want a pleasant dining experience. If all you want to do is court misery, then by all means head for eateries that cater to kids.

        • avatar Carib Island Girl says:

          No there isn’t, it’s not on me, it’s on the parents. And no, I don’t go to places that cater to kids. It’s the others I object to.

  23. avatar Allaroundtheworld says:

    To the new empty nesters, unless you want to start world war three in the restaurant, don’t even try and correct another family child. What you need to learn is what every other childless couple or long term empty nester has figured out. You are no longer tied to a time scheduled to go eat that is the same as when families eat. We go out to eat during the day when children are in school and late at night when they are at home in bed. My husband and I no longer take vacation time during school breaks anymore. We go during January thru April and September thru November when children are at school. These time blocks tend to be less expensive and not so crowed and no children. I have no problem with children. I love my nieces and nephews and often take them with me on vacation during the times I’ve mentions above, but they are home schooled so it’s easier to take them whenever we want. Even my nieces and nephews prefer to go on vacation and eat at these off time just for the fact that that there are no children, but they have been raised with very good manner. It’s all in how you raise the children to be in public and I’ve worked hard to make sure that my brothers and sister-in-law children have manners when they stay with me. I have told my family that when their children stay with me that they will follow my rules and that will include manners, and their parents have no problem with that, and now they have very well behaved children.

    • avatar Carib Island Girl says:

      News flash, just because you don’t have the kids does not mean you can or want to eat out anytime. WW3 is not necessary if the parents control their kids.

      • avatar Allaroundtheworld says:

        You are so right Carib Island Girl, you shouldn’t have to rearrange your schedule to avoid unruly kids. We were brought up to enjoy high end restaurants and theatres so we knew how to act. So many parents don’t know proper etiquette any more. Has anyone heard of Miss Manners anymore? I try to teach my SIL kids proper manners but it’s really hard but my niece is starting to learn and is actually getting complements now. She is going to be 13 this year, but her mom was only 16 when she had her so it was children teaching children. We are 31 years older than her. My in laws are, how shall I say it, Nascar beer drinking fast food eating country folk, whom I love with all my heart because they accept me and their son when my own family didn’t. While my own family were world traveling, museum going, high end restaurants eating, proper etiquette following snobs. My niece is a pleasure to go out in public with but I took a personal hand in teaching her in proper behavior, which more parents should do. My nephew on the other hand is a total monster and I will not take him to any place nice because he refuses to act his age and I have told him this and until he starts to behave he stays home while his sister and her two uncles gets to go on specials outings. But until the rest of the world starts to quit spoiling their children and letting them run around like monsters, we will still enjoy knowing that we can go out at the times when these kids are either at school and enjoy those times without having to listen to those parents who ignore their children.

  24. avatar susan says:

    I was a working mother with 2 little boys, we took them out to dinner many a week night for dinner. However, they were taught to behave, they were never allowed to run around the restaurant or throw a tantrum at the table. If such a thing happened we simply paid for the meal and left as not to disturb other diners. I disagree with the person that wrote children these days are like ferel animals, I also agree with Margo, go to different restaurants or eat later in the evening when little ones are home in bed.

    • avatar Carib Island Girl says:

      WRONG. You should be making the alterations to your schedule, NOT me. But I am glad you are teaching them proper behavior.

  25. avatar fallinginplace says:

    LW #1’s friend has “morphed into a narcissistic housewife”? She has a six month old baby, for crying out loud. Has Margo forgotten what life is like with a newborn? And unless there’s additional information that wasn’t printed, no one said the new mom is staying at home. If she’s like me, she works full-time, races home to take care of the kid, make dinner, do laundry, and fall asleep the second her head hits the pillow. If she makes time for a phone call to a friend she should be forgiven for being a little self-involved. This stage will pass. Don’t throw her under the bus just yet.

  26. avatar martina says:

    LW1 – I have to agree with Margo on this. Everyone is going on about how difficult and tiring it is to take care of a baby and I don’t get it. Maybe my memory has blurred over 19 years but I don’t remember it ever being that exhausting and running around and not finding time. Granted, mine slept pretty much through the night almost right away but we used to have to get up at 5 a.m. to go to work – I was fortunate enough to be able to take her with me. I was always thrilled to have my friend call and talk to me about non baby related things . LW could try and call later in the evening when the baby would be in bed and if she’s not responding – it’s a done deal.

    As for kids in restaurants – since she was a baby, we took our daughter to restaurants and we ate out often. She is well versed in restaurant etiquette and is comfortable in the better restaurants. We always made sure that she was occupied and everyone loved having her. If she became loud and unruly it was generally towards the end of the meal when she was getting bored and we then got going. Since it has been a while since I have had to deal with a screaming child, I don’t have much patience for it but keep my mouth shut and give the parents the opportunity to quiet the child down. I haven’t really had to deal with kids running around restaurants but then I don’t patronize “family” restaurants, if any, too often. Now kids in church – that’s another story…

  27. avatar Carib Island Girl says:

    Totally disagree with Margo on the unruly kids. Sorry, but parents instill some manners! It should not be up to the rest of us to have to leave. It should be you.

    • avatar Ariana says:

      In a perfect world Id agree, but if I want a nice dinner its easier to choose my venue than try to single-handedly try to stare other people into being better parents.

  28. avatar OhNo says:

    I once had a date take me to a small romantic restaurant where there was a classical guitarist for entertainment. It was late in the evening. A couple with a young child sat behind us and the kid proceeded to scream throughout the entire meal and ruined the evening for everyone–and there was no other table to move to in such a small place. They should have left, but didn’t, and we had just gotten our food, so we suffered through it and left the minute we finished it. That was over thirty years ago, and I’ll never forget how awful it was!

    • avatar JCF4612 says:

      OhNo — A memory maker for sure.

      I am reminded of a time twenty five years or so ago when spouse and I took our daughter and my parents out to a steak and barbecue rib dinner place. Not Tony Roma’s but close. Toddler in a high chair nearby started throwing bones at us, and the floor was littered. We were near enough to the end of the meal that we just got up and left. Had we been mid-meal, I think we would have asked to be moved to another table.
      In retrospect, I don’t recall that we ever returned to that place. Management should have stepped in.

  29. avatar Cindy M says:

    L #1: I agree with Margo. Also, I’m surprised your (ex-) friend doesn’t seem to understand that you cannot possibly relate to her current issues (marriage and infant). She is *using you* to vent; that’s it. Margo’s 100% right; file it under “College.” She likely will not change either; your lives are now on entirely different tracks. Also: I have a hunch she’s jealous of you (single and free). If that is so, then definitely you don’t have to “take it” from her; she made her decisions, you’ve made yours.

    L #2: We’re childless, so I’m always a bit surprised to read of people who’ve been parents getting very annoyed at other peoples’. Apparently it’s a disdain/annoyance of different parenting styles (or lack thereof). You’ll just have to deal with it or seek places which are more expensive/less “family oriented.” The only deliberate avoidance I make are child-oriented pizza places with games and all that; pizza’s already trending towards heartburn.

  30. avatar OrlGal says:

    Another great place to eat without kids are at the bars of restaurants, same great meal but no kids there. Also look for wine bars and/or coffee shops that cater to the college crowd. I didn’t think about this till now, but I rarely find myself eating someplace where there are children, and I don’t even do it intentionally.

  31. avatar Dori says:

    From the very beginning my children were taught how to act in public, in addition how NOT to act in public. Subsequently, they watched other childrens’ temper tamtrums and out of control behavior, and were completely embarrassed for them. My children were taught to place their own orders with the waitstaff, and to say please and thank you to them. Many, many times my children were given a special treat by the greatful waitstaff at restaurants and were praised for their respectful behavior. They were also taught to speak directly with/apologize to those they offended or had conflicts.

    In addition, it appears that young adults now days were also never taught to dress appropriately for events such as church, weddings, funerals, or social gatherings. On one particular wedding, the bride/groom’s friend was wearing cut-off jean shorts, tennis shoes, and a t-shirt. Several of the other 20-something’s behavior was absolutely appalling, of which my kids also commented. My kids were absolutely stunned, to say the least, how disrespectful this was to the bride and groom on their special day. I couldn’t have agreed with them more.

    It is the responsibility of the parents, particularly the mothers (who generally spends the most time with her children), to teach them and insist upon proper behavior at home and in public. If not, then the mother deserves to be slapped for not teaching her children better! My kids have thanked me on numerous occasions for teaching them manners, conflict resolution, and to dress properly. After all, isn’t that part of the process of feeding, clothing, and educating them???

    • avatar Patato says:

      I agree. We always ate Sunday lunch in our dining room with the good dishes so that our children would know what to do with cutlery and cloth napkins. Before I took them into a store or restaurant, I briefed them on what I expected from them. I would offer a small reward i.e., if you are quiet and cooperative in the grocery store, I will let you pick out one box of cereal. And if they were unable to behave (it didn’t happen often) we left immediately, and they got nothing. And I made sure that I did not take them into a store or restaurant when they were exhausted or starving.

  32. avatar Jill says:

    To LW1: Oh my! I COMPLETELY understand how you feel! My best friend in college (we met 28 years ago) is the same way. When we first met, it was an equal friendship. She got married about 6 years before I did, named her first child after me too. And over time, the relationship has moved into the sounding board status you have described. I only hear from her when she wants to dump all her feelings. I’m usually allowed only about 3 minutes to say what’s going on with me (less if I’m having a problem) and then she will interrupt to tell me her stuff. It happens no matter who makes the call. It has even happened when I’ve gone through things like the death of my son, heart surgery, cancer, etc. And then the rest of it is all about her and how awful it is that I’m going through whatever it is that I’m going through since that means I’m not really available for her. It’s actually rather funny, in a sad way.

    What I’ve done is given myself permission to not answer the phone if I don’t have the energy or time to be a sounding board. I let it go to voice mail and don’t usually call her back. Friendships change over time and equal friendships — where both are treated fairly by the other — will change together. Margo is right, your friend has become “… a narcissistic housewife for whom her former best friend has become a wailing wall.” Yours has become so one-sided that it’s time to let it move to good friend status and find someone else to be your bestie. And really, it’s better if you do because right now, there IS no real friendship.

  33. avatar jerseyrose says:

    Having taken my children to restaurants since they were born, i will tell you that the problem lies with bad parenting. I have never allowed my children to act this way in public and they are extremely well behaved in restaurants.
    I do however have friends who aren’t aware of discipline and what it means to enjoy a family meal in public. Rest assured I have corrected them and their children many a time.
    I am also the type of person who if the child is acting unruly, asks the server to pack it all up and we leave.
    If the family we are dining with refuses to control their child – I HAVE LEFT AS WELL.
    And left a generous tip for the server on the way out.
    WHen? 4.13.2004
    Where? Max n Erma’s
    Plymouth MI
    Why? child of friend kept getting up and touching everyone’s food at the table.
    After I corrected her and mom just kept letting it go, I finished my appetizer and told them all see ya later.
    Had the server pack up my meal as a to go.
    Gave server a $30 tip, paid for my $30 dinner, and off me, my 6 yo son, and 2 yo daughter went. IN the car my son asked what was that all about?

  34. avatar jbm says:

    I didn’t grow up with money and we never went to expensive restaurants, but we were taught manners. Even in buger joints we were expected to behave. My son was expected to behave and if he didn’t, we left. He knew that bad behavior was not ok. Kids fussing some is age appropriate, but using the restaurant as a running track, screaming, throwing food etc is not ok.

  35. avatar Wryle says:

    After church one Sunday, my husband and I took our kids to a local restaurant for lunch. I felt like I spent the entire meal shushing and correcting the boys. At the end of the meal, a lady from a nearby table approached. I was all set to apologize when she said “May I compliment you on your children’s behavior?” I said “You can, but I may not believe you!” She continued “When the hostess seated you, I turned to my husband and said ‘There goes our pleasant, quiet lunch.’ But your children were so well behaved! We didn’t even notice you were there.” Stunned, I said “Thank you so much! It didn’t feel that way from our side of the table.” She then asked, “Are they home-schooled?” I laughed, “No, ma’am.” “Ummm, private school, then?” “No, ma’am, they attend public school.” She shook her head, “Amazing. Kudos to you and your husband!”

    I don’t mean this to brag about how well-behaved my children are (well, maybe a little, lol), but to point out that children don’t have to sit completely still and quiet to avoid disturbing or disrupting others. My kids talked, giggled, and fussed a little; but we corrected them and tried to keep it to a dull roar. Teaching our children how to behave in public is one of our most important jobs as a parent. That well-behaved children are now the exception, rather than the rule, is just sad.