Is This Cafe Owner Right To Step In?
A seafront café owner has warned parents she will step in to address bad behaviour and tantrums if customer do not discipline their kids themselves.
Kim Christofi posted a warning on her Facebook page which read:
"Can we make ourselves perfectly clear to all parents who are too scared to discipline their children about tantrum screaming? We will give you five lenient minutes to ask the child to stop screaming and then we will ask the child ourselves. If that means you too having a tantrum about our having to speak to your child and hurling threats about not returning – that's really okay with us. We have a duty of care to the rest of our customers."
Unsurprisingly, the warning provoked the ire of many parents - and thousands shared the post or added forthright comments online.
The Daily Mail reports:
"The Facebook page – which normally features photos of mouth-watering cakes, sausage rolls and other home-made food, or shots of smiling customers braving the elements – had been taken down yesterday to end the onslaught."
Unsurprisingly, opinion is divided over whether Christofi was right to take such assertive action to address tantrums on her turf or if she was being insensitive or even discriminatory.
One commenter wrote: "Thank you for your kind and understanding post. I'll make sure my family (including our autistic daughter) never darken your doorway."
But another added on the Mail's comments section:
"Am in complete agreement with the Cafe Owner. The comment was not aimed at autistic or disabled children, it is aimed at those who think they can do what the hell they want! If your child cannot behave appropriately in a public place then don't go out. I have 2 boys and they are boisterous (not naughty or rude), they play together etc, but they are never ever rude, disobedient or naughty whilst in a public place because they know I will frog march them home with consequences to follow!!"
The paper also reports that social media users deliberately left one-star reviews on the cafe's Facebook page in a bid to voice their disdain for Christofi's approach - yet many of those who did so had never visited the cafe.
Christofi reportedly told the paper:
'The situations I am describing are not children having a bad day. We are talking about children smashing up the toy box, throwing things around and, in this situation, we expect parents to step in. We have a duty to all our customers and we are in a public place.'
Ordinarily I am strongly of the opinion that anyone wishing to address my child's behaviour should first address the matter with me. In a different scenario - nothing to do with bad behaviour in a public place, I hasten to add - I've been on the receiving end of another parent seeing fit to talk directly to my child about her feelings on his behaviour without first raising the issue with me, and I'm firmly of the view that that crosses a line which isn't acceptable.
But I also feel huge sympathy for the cafe owner and am continually surprised by how little some parents do in order to tackle disruptive behaviour which might affect other people in public places. I stood in a queue waiting to board an airline last week while a toddler threw an almighty, ear-splitting tantrum while her parents stared into space and largely ignored her. I don't think there's any excuse for that.
Aside from the fact that the other customers around them were growing visibly distressed by the intensity of the noise in a confined space and the apparent disinterest on the part of the parents to step in, I found myself feeling awful for the little girl. I had to resist the urge to scoop her up and try to calm her down myself. But I didn't because that's not my role and to do so, no matter how well-intentioned, would have been to step on the toes of the parents and that's inappropriate.
So yes, I think Christofi was rash to write that post but I also think her anger is justified.
But what's your view? Do you think the cafe owner is right to warn parents that she'll step in to address disruptive behaviour if they don't? Has anyone ever done this with your child and if so, how did you respond?