When Is It Appropriate To Bring Children To An Event?

When is it appropriate to bring children to an event? It depends on the event. With weddings especially, the price per guest for a dinner can run $50-100 easily and say a couple has four children, they could cost the host an additional $200-$400.

Robin Thompson, owner of Etiquette Network and the Robin Thompson Charm School, says, "It depends on the event. With weddings, especially, the price per guest for a dinner can run fifty to one hundred dollars easily. Say a couple has four children. They could cost the host an additional two hundred to four hundred dollars. The person planning the event has to determine his or her price range, and how close you are to the family. People should not take offense if their children are not invited to certain events, because usually cost is the big factor. Another consideration is younger children or babies who may cry. Children should not be taken to events such as live theatrical events until they are old enough and have learned to sit quietly and not disrupt those around them. If they are five or six years old, and they can sit through a two-hour event, then that's great, but if they are having a bad day or they are just a little tired, don't take them, and if they are not invited, don't take offense. To say I am not coming to your wedding if my children are not invited is unthoughtful."

If you are going to a formal event, such as a wedding, for which you have received a written invitation, don't bring your children unless they have specifically been invited. An invitation addressed to adults does not extend to their children. Unless the children have received their own invitations, or their names appear on their parents' invitation, they have not been invited.

Judith Martin, in Miss Manners' Guide to Excruciatingly Correct Behavior, says that hosts should stand firm, and not let their guests pressure them into allowing uninvited children to attend. "Miss Manners feels like weeping when she hears of how rudely people attempt to impose on those whose only crime is to invite them to a wedding." Miss Manners is funny. She says, "Do not listen to the pleas of parents claiming that umbilical cords have not yet been broken at any social event; these are the very parents who will permit their children to whine during the ceremony."

When it comes to public events, Peggy Post, the great-granddaughter-in-law of the famous Emily Post, writes in Emily Post's Etiquette, 17th Edition that it's important for children to learn about the world by experiencing a wide variety of events. But she notes that not all events are appropriate for children, and that it's up to the parents or guardians to determine which are appropriate and which aren't. "If you aren't sure whether children are welcome, check with someone who knows rather than risk inconveniencing others."

Post says that if you do bring a small child to a formal religious ceremony or worship service, sit where you can make a quick exit if the child should start crying. She says use common sense when deciding whether to bring a young child to a performance event. Performances that are planned especially for children are good places to begin teaching them how to behave as part of an audience. Shopping trips with small children should be kept short, since children are likely to get tired quickly. As for restaurants, Post says "be cautious." Consider how your children's behavior will effect the other patrons.

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