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I hate to answer questions by saying "it depends," but that's my answer here. I can't imagine my toddler sitting through a plated dinner, but older children might do just fine. I'd base my decision on the age and temperaments of the children. Better yet, you could give the parents a heads-up that you're going to do a plated dinner, and tell them that their children are welcome at the same table or at a kids' table. This would provide the parents an opportunity to prepare their kids for how to behave if sitting through a longer meal with adults.
We certainly do, but we do not seat the kids next to each other. The adults enjoy the kids and the kids have an opportunity to further develop their social skills.
Suzanne is a trusted source on General Cooking.
If it's a plated dinner I like to make a separate table for the children. Teens can sit with adults but the younger ones I seat separately. I always try to set it in a fun and interesting way to make it special.
I would not sit the children at the table with the adults. I think it is best if they have their own table and one of the older (teenage) children can take care of them. It is a rite of passage that children graduate to the big table when they are able to handle a conversation without being the center of attention. and that older children can help out and learn responsibility. From a practical standpoint the small children usually have different food likes and having their own table can solve make that easier.
Kids are a part of our family just as much as adults. There are certainly adult dinner parties, but for holidays particularly everyone is part of the family. The four year old isn't required to sit through a 2 hour dinner, but she enjoys participating in the conversation, lap hopping, and generally charming everyone in sight. Eating at the table with the grownups is good practice for less kid-friendly environments, like eating in restaurants.
I would say it depends on your guests. If everyone at the table has chosen to have children and likes being around them and they aren't viewing this as a "night to spend more adult time with adult friends," then go for it! If some of the people at the table aren't kid-lovers, maybe not.
At holiday time, we seat children with adults because people we are with are family and close friends. It is the time to be together and learn from each other. We also include the children in table setting and helping cook if it is enjoyable for them. Children are interspersed with adults and as adults we are actively work to keep them included in the conversations - which also means talking about what they are interested in. Formal dinner parties are another topic.
Cynthia is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.
Yes, we always seated children with adults. It was my terribly constipated brother-in-law who I wanted to seat at another table. Preferably in another room, but I digress. We wanted to all be together, and also felt it was great for them to learn "special dinner" manners. At the same time, we also excused them as soon as they were done.
Rachael is a trusted home cook.
Boulangere, you crack me up! I also serve dinner to the whole family - children included. However, I always let them excuse themselves when they are done and the whole roudy lot of them are dispatched to the play room to watch movies and play while the adults eat at a more leasurly pace.... I've found it's a good idea to have a new movie or a special play item like a new board game to keep them entertained. The odds of the grown-ups having a peaceful dinner go up considerably in that case!
Absolutely - with ground rules! No elbows on the table, please and thank you, may I, don't interrupt, DO join in the conversation, no texting, no whining. Now, for the kids' rules .... (just kidding). Like boulangere and Niknud, they are excused as soon as they are done!
AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.
All of our dinners from the time my boys still needed booster seats have been, every night, whether company is there or not, served in the dining room with sterling and nice china, lit candles after dark, cloth napkins, and everyone pleasant and well-mannered, with no exceptions. We required our boys, as soon as they were old enough to read, to go through the New York Times every day and to find an article to discuss. Their conversation became very interesting, immediately. In fact, at age 9 and 10 they were considerably more interesting that most adults I know. (They still are.) That said, not all children are raised this way, so I tend to deal with it on a case-by-case basis, with no hard and fast rules, following the principles previously stated by the others here. ;o)
My parents were sticklers for manners, but I remember deeply resenting the kids' table. I ate dinner with my parents at home every night, so why wasn't I allowed to at other people's? And I'm afraid I have to disagree with dymnyno - the only thing worse than being a kid at the kids' table was the teenager who had to look after them (unless, of course, money was involved). Unless the children have truly atrocious manners or want to sit together so they have their own private meal, put them at the big table. If it's a special occasion, a lot of kids will rise to the fanciness of it and be on their best behavior.
I agree with "depends" - depends on the number of kids and their ages. But if they are old enough to sit at the table, and if they are invited, then they are guests, too. How can our children learn how to dine at the table if they are relegated to a children's corner? Sure, they will make mistakes, but their parents can gently provide appropriate feedback. Plenty of adults make mistakes, too, probably because they never learned to do these things as kids. I assume when children are invited, the delicate crystal will be left in the cabinet. I'd choose place settings and a menu that will have wide appeal - without resorting to mac 'n cheese.
Children who are miserable and misbehave, don't want to be there - so don't make them. But I think most kids can be engaged to enjoy the event if they have a an opportunity to participate. Is there something the child can do? Fold the napkins? Set out the bread? Plate the salad or dessert? they will feel invested in the outcome if they feel they contributed to the party's success.
Growing up, I was the only child at family gathering - no cousins lived nearby either. Those dinners were deadly for me and I would have given anything to be with other kids while we enjoyed holiday feasts and family celebrations - ok, I would sit at the big table for birthday cake ;)
Growing up, I hated when people had a "kids table." Children should be well enough mannered to sit at a table with adults. When they are done eating the main course, they can be excused to go off and play with each other. I think it's important for kids to learn how to behave at a dinner party as much as it's important for them to eat food that adults eat. I don;t believe in kinds food.
hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.
I'm in the "it depends" category. One of the most painful holiday dinners I ever attended was at a friend's house. There were 6 adults and 2 kids at the same table. The entire meal was spent with one parent arguing with one child, and the other parent arguing with the other. The kids were complaining about eating EVERYTHING (including the marshmallows and whipped cream from the Ambrosia!) The rest of us essentially sat in silence trying to enjoy our meals. Needless to say, I have not returned to that particular friend's for dinner.
June is a trusted source on General Cooking.
I haven't had to deal with this in quite a few years, but I'm also in the "it depends" camp. I remember resenting being seated at the Kids table as an older kid, but for the younger ones, if there are a number of them, it can be much better for the whole group. And what's wrong with paying a teenager to oversee the kids table?
For large dinners at holidays such as Thanksgiving, Christmas, Passover, etc., I'm in the camp that mixes it up at the table if there's room. That said, I've found that randomly interspersing the kids can make for an awkward table makeup (and conversation) once they are excused. We had one dinner at which once the kids were finished and excused, the remaining adults/teens were all at one end of the table with just one person at the head at the other end. We now take that into account and assign seats so that when the kids get up en masse, there are no awkward gaps at table.
On the other hand, over the years as our children have grown up, we have often had informal dinner parties with anywhere from one to three or four additional families with kids the same general ages as our kids. In that case, we have preferred letting the kids/teens sit in the kitchen and socialize as a group, with only the adults in the dining room.
If we had a dinner at which my own children were the only young ones, then they were expected to sit with the adults.
If it's a dinner party, that usually is for adults guests only. Children of the host are usually fed before guests arrive, and can easily have their mac & cheese. If it's a family holiday, we need to remember, "Kids are people too." and treat them accordingly. You wouldn't think of sticking the grandparents in the kitchen at the "old folks" table because they might spill on the tablecloth would you? Use common sense about where to seat children, but do include them. We pull up the high chair, booster seats and stack phone books if necessary. Sippy cups are side by side with adult beverages in stemware. and the kids always feel like they are equally important, but younger & smaller members of the family.
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