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Where The Wild Things Aren’t

My daughter is getting married this month, and we’re having a formal evening reception featuring champagne and dancing. On the invitation, we stated “Adult Reception.” You cannot imagine the trauma this has caused. We don’t have the budget to have lots of children at the reception, but more importantly, my daughter, her fiancé, and I feel a formal evening event is not appropriate for children. Were we out of line, and do we need to apologize?

--Mother Of The Bride-To-Be

Well, excuse you if the last two words you want to hear at your daughter’s wedding are “FOOOOD FIGHT!” And maybe, just maybe you’d like to avoid having some parent pull you aside at the reception and whisper, “You don’t think the bridesmaids’ dresses are flammable, do you? My 8-year-old’s in her arson phase again.”

Who says America isn’t a monarchy? It’s ruled by millions of tiny tyrants named Cody and Madison, presiding over adult-sized serfs called parents whose single greatest fear is not being liked by their children. Such parents have their uses. No, not setting boundaries, but filling toy orders, nodding submissively at their children’s self-revised bedtimes, and sweeping up meatloaf and peas hurled on the floor and replacing them with Cocoa Krispies with a side of Snickers in chocolate sauce.

Parents like these are convinced that the world revolves around their children, and they can’t understand why your wedding should be any different: A little cake, a little champagne, and little Amber yelling out in the middle of the father of the bride’s toast, “Mommy, Jason cut one!” “Did not!” “Did too!” The truth is, even well-behaved kids are still kids: at times, whiney, ornery, fidgety attention-piggies. The bottom line is that this event is not being catered by Ronald McDonald, and will not feature kiddie karaoke, games of Super Soak The Groom, or Pin The Tail On The Bride. Accordingly, you tactfully informed your guests that you’re having an “Adult Reception” instead of getting more to the point: “Leave your loud, underparented brats at home.”

Quite frankly, you’re doing the rest of us a favor by setting limits for the savages. Because people get tweaked about it doesn’t mean they’re right and you’re wrong. (It’s your party, you can ban crying babies if you want to -- and shy, angelic 13-year-olds, too.) Think about what these people are asking; essentially, “Hey! Where’s my kid’s free dinner and entertainment?!” It’s the height of rudeness. And now, ask yourself something: What kind of person goes through “trauma” over a subtly worded hint that an elegant champagne formal is no place for children? Who else? The parents who are last to understand that having their particular kids in attendance means you’ll not only need monogrammed napkins and place cards, but precut strips of monogrammed duct tape to bind and gag the little darlings when they act out.

As for any parents who get indignant at the need to hire a sitter, if this was going to be an issue, they should’ve used protection. That said, if some of your guests are coming from afar and bringing their children, you might want to provide a list of baby-sitters, or even set up a baby-sitting service in a hotel room or at somebody’s house. But apologize? Please. You may as well send out revised invitations that say, “Why stop at the kids? Why not bring your Saint Bernard? And, hey…while you’re at it, truck over your daughter’s life-sized robotic pony so she can gallop circles around the bride and her father while they share the first dance.”

Posted by aalkon at January 14, 2007 7:34 AM

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Thank you, thank you thank you. I seriously considered having an adults-only reception at my wedding last year but lacked the guts to upset my large, catholic, many-child having family. My reception ended up being child-trauma free, but I've heard horror stories and been witness to many that haven't. If your column helps prevent even one tantrum it will be worth it. Weddings are for the bride and groom and guests the WANT present, after all.

Posted by: Jamie at January 14, 2007 9:53 AM

My brother had a formal wedding reception - children were allowed at the ceremony, but there was a babysitter provided in a hotel room for the reception and I, for one, loved it. My husband and I booked a hotel room in the same resort, and felt free to dance and drink without worrying about having to drive to pick up the kids. The sitter was a volunteer, but of course we tipped her and were thrilled to do so. Our kids had a dozen other children to play with, and we enjoyed the band and open bar!

Posted by: Angela at January 14, 2007 12:48 PM

First of all, there is no problem at all with an 'adult-only' evening reception. Children, especially young children, simply cannot be trusted in this type of social setting.
That being said, the concern that I have comes from invited guests who come from far-away distances that have small children. I don't think that it would be fair for someone with a 1-year-old to leave them with a relative or sitter for 3 to 4 days while they fly off to a wedding.
In hindsight, it would have been better to set up some kind of one-night child care arrangement for guests to drop off their kids before the reception and pick them up afterwards. There are many 'play area' locations out there that cater to this.

Posted by: rick at January 14, 2007 1:54 PM

Thanks so much...you wouldn't believe the hate mail I've gotten for this column!

Posted by: Amy Alkon at January 14, 2007 2:48 PM

I don't quite see the point of having children at the ceremony, but not the reception. Ceremonies are very boring, even for adults. I'm not sure a child would be able to sit through one. I know I barely can.

That said, why not have a seperate "kids party" in a room in the same building where parents can go check on them? It could be cheap... just serve 'em spaghetti and they will be fine.

Posted by: Nicole at January 14, 2007 8:12 PM

Nothing to add except I agree with you, Amy!

Posted by: Mia at January 14, 2007 8:13 PM

Hit the nail right on the head with this one, getting married in about 6 months and this column described one of my fiancee's bridesmaids to a T, her attitude and even the way her 'little angel' acts. It's like you looked into her home and then desribed what you observed inside. MANY people need to read this!!

Posted by: amax at January 15, 2007 7:27 AM

Thank you. Please spread the word. And, if you're so inclined, to a daily paper features editor or alt weekly editor near you, and ask them to carry my column. Views like those expressed above are part of the reason I'm not in more papers than I currently am.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at January 15, 2007 7:34 AM

I don't have children, so when I see badly-behaved little hellions at a restaurant, movie theater, or wherever, at least I can escape them when I get home. The people I feel sorry for are the parents who had the courtesy and common sense to get a sitter for those kinds of things. Sheesh, they shelled out money to avoid the inappropriate public behavior of their own kids, only to be subjected to someone else's!

Posted by: Pirate Jo at January 15, 2007 8:38 AM

The children-centric-ness of our society is one my hot-button issues. Do you notice how many parents seem to be deaf and blind to their screaming children when they're out in public, like at restaurants, airports, and stores? For the childless, do you often feel that because you have no children, that at work, you being sick or needing some time off is not as valid a reason as having a sick child to take care of, or the kids are off from school? Or am I just bitter because I haven't squeezed out a few of my own, and so have no right to complain?

I am really resentful of the mentality that having children makes one somehow more selfless and generous, more fully realized and mature, superior to those who are childless and willfully so. A co-worker of mine once said being a parent is the hardest job in the world, but it's also the greatest. What about a nun ministering to the sick and dying? What about a teacher who may be childless but devote endless time, energy, and money towards her class?

This is just anecdotal "data" and observations I've made in my time, but it seems to me that many parents expressed their envy to me that I'm single (or was; I'm engaged now) and free, that children are lots and lots of work--and costly, of course. It seems that many people didn't realize what they were in for, when the newborn's waking up every two hours and then the toddler won't go to bed, and so on and so forth.

I'm anticipating these remarks won't be well-received by some (many?), but I've often thought that sex is nature's trick, something that feels so incredibly good but then oops--here's the bill for that fun, to be paid off over an 18-year plan (and for some enabling parents, years longer). Of course, in our modern age, we've put one over Mother Nature with birth control; yet, it looks like there's still some people who haven't mastered the art of preventing uwanted pregnancy.

To make this post more relevant to the letter (I did say this letter touched on a nerve, didn't I?), the LW and the bride and groom have every right to politely say that children are not invited. I wonder if people even realize how EXPENSIVE a wedding is, and how much caterers charge per person. To grumble over being inconvenienced for one night displays the lack of support and consideration towards the bride and groom.

Posted by: Wendy at January 15, 2007 9:28 AM

Right on the mark, Wendy. And Pirate Jo.

As I posted on the entry with the hate mail about this column (http://www.advicegoddess.com/mt/mt-comments.cgi?entry_id=3617):

Fran Lebowitz is my child philosopher of choice:
All God's children are not beautiful. Most of God's children are, in fact, barely presentable.

I think many people who have children are secretly very sorry they did. There's no reason fucking needs to lead to that kind of end.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at January 15, 2007 9:48 AM

The babysitter option for very young children worked well for my wife and me at our wedding reception. One of my groomsmen had very young twins, and I just paid for a sitter in their hotel room as a gift to him and his wife. We all had a great time, and they were happy to be able to enjoy an adult evening.

Posted by: justin case at January 15, 2007 12:35 PM

Lol, I want kids someday (far FAR from now) and I hope I would never be selfish enough to expect the bride and groom to endure my child's behavior on their special day- or expect my child to suffer being forced to sit still and shut up for the better part of several hours, distracting me from my good time because I'd be forced to regulate theirs! Babysitter, adjacent room with sitter, hell, whatever works, but how dare someone be that bad a parent or friend OR relative.

Posted by: Julie at January 15, 2007 10:39 PM

You bring up a good point: It's really rough for the kids to be in places where they aren't old enough to sit and behave for the appropriate amount of time.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at January 15, 2007 11:20 PM

"A co-worker of mine once said being a parent is the hardest job in the world, but it's also the greatest."

Blech. I've heard that same vacuous pap before, and it's always from someone who is miserable and stressed out by parenthood. I think it's their last defense mechanism before slitting their own wrists.

I don't think being a parent has to be the hardest job in the world - but there are some overly-doting parents who make it that way. Like those dim bulbs who think it's their job (as a parent) to follow their kids around, picking up after them, as opposed to TEACHING their kids to clean up after themselves. If you quit following your 7-year-old slob around cleaning up after him and made him do it himself, parenting would become an easier job right quick.

And I'm sorry, but the greatest job? There are millions of mouth-breathing dullards squeezing out more of the same every day, same as monkeys. Big friggin' deal. They'd really be doing us a favor to get a Depo shot. I think Wendy and Amy hit the nail on the head that a lot of people who had kids find it dull and life-sucking. They bred because it was the next thing on "the checklist" and never thought about parenthood as being optional. It sure does piss them off when they realize there are those of us "getting away with" avoiding it. So they churn up this self-righteous garbage about parenting being so hard and so great, and aren't they the noble martyrs for carrying the torch on behalf of our lazy, non-reproducing selves. More like, they just made a dumb mistake, and it sucks to be them.

Posted by: Pirate Jo at January 16, 2007 6:48 AM

I'm with you, Pirate Joe. And boy, am I ever glad that I figured it out before I extruded any beings.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at January 16, 2007 7:03 AM

I have four kids. Fortunately for me, I like children. Although I agree with you wholehearedly about not having children at a reception, some of the comments posted are a little scary. Amy, you surprised me a little with what seems to be an intense dislike for procreation and childhood. I don't know if "MANY" people secretly wish they didn't have thier children. I would say a small minority may, but it simply doesn't work that way for most parents. Some people may find parts of parenting hard/annoying/almost unbearable. But there are so many other parts that generally outweigh the downside. Children really do change one's perception of life; and, it is a change you will never know, can never conceptualize, until you produce offspring. For example, having your own children makes you more sensitive and compassionate to, really, all aspects of the world. Yes, I agree there are a lot of parents who need to learn to parent better. I don't see the problem with telling people what they often know but don't want to hear. The trick is to say it politely. "Excuse me, I am trying to have a conversation with my friend, but your child is screaming so loudly we can't hear each other." Usually people will get the picture and deal with the issue appropriately. Of course they roll their eyes sometimes, but rarely do they argue because they know they should be doing better. I also have no problem telling adults to stop cursing at the fun park for children and don't smoke in this no smoking zone. I will simply say something like, "My little Isabella is allegic to smoke, which is why we are in this no smoking area. Do you mind smoking somewhere else?" I think the real problem is that people are not able to say what they feel politely. Many people think you have to be "bitchy" or "tough" to speak honestly with strangers. Kindness and courtesy is a two-way street.

Rick made the comment about leaving a 1 year old with a sitter for a couple of days. For a thoughtful parent, that is not even a choice. If your kid is too young or if he or she doesn't do well with sitters or if you don't leave your child with people you don't know, then you don't get to go to the reception. You can still participate by sending a nice gift and viewing the video later.

My children are fun, interesting people to be with. I have a lot of them, so generally I enjoy doing what they are doing: soccer games, homecoming parades, FFA banquets, one-act play performances, ballet recitals. Maybe as a result of my perfect attendance with them, they respect me when I take an evening to myself. Although it may not be often, it is never a problem.

Posted by: k.g at January 16, 2007 7:37 AM

YOU WROTE: I don't see the problem with telling people what they often know but don't want to hear. The trick is to say it politely. "Excuse me, I am trying to have a conversation with my friend, but your child is screaming so loudly we can't hear each other." Usually people will get the picture and deal with the issue appropriately.

I hope you aren't smoking crack around your children.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at January 16, 2007 7:45 AM

I went through the same problem with my wedding reception. While I agree that providing a babysitter during the reception is a wonderful idea...if you're trying to keep the wedding small (and also the cost of it!!), it can be an expensive addition.

Since when is it the responsibility of the bride and groom to provide daycare for all invited guests. Perhaps next, the bride and groom should be responsible for transportation to and from the reception for all of those people who don't feel that its their responsibility to pay for a cab to take their drunk asses home.

The focus of a wedding and reception is to witness and celebrate the beginning of a new chapter in a couple's life, not have the bride and groom responsible for your entire evening's needs. It's getting out of control, really.

Posted by: Renee at January 16, 2007 7:46 AM

Only at the wedding receptions I bring them to.

Posted by: kg at January 16, 2007 8:03 AM

"For example, having your own children makes you more sensitive and compassionate to, really, all aspects of the world."

Obviously this rather saccharine-y stereotype does not apply to the parents described in the original letter. Seems parenthood only gave them a couple more people they think the rest of the world should bow down to. Maybe their self-envisioned center of the universe now encompasses their children instead of just themselves. But if anything parenthood has just made them LESS sensitive and compassionate toward the rest of the world, since now they have the Almighty Goldenchildren as an excuse.

Posted by: Pirate Jo at January 16, 2007 8:04 AM

You are probably right, Pirate Jo. The world is full of egocentric, self-absorbed people. I couldn't imagine demanding my children to be included at someone else's event, but I also don't see whats-the-big-deal about saying "NO" to a bunch of inconsiderate people who happen to be parents. It seems to me, the person writing in is too worried about hurting peoples' feelings. Chances are the people who are complaining are not the ones who the couple will end up wanting to spend the majority of their time with after the lovely wedding, so who cares if they don't like it. I bet next time the demanding parents will think twice about assuming their little angels are welcome everywhere just because they are breathing.

Posted by: kg at January 16, 2007 8:31 AM

I agree, kg, and it's nice to hear from a parent who understands this. As a childfree person, I have been called "selfish" more than once by sanctimonious parents, which really ticks me off because I don't really see where having kids or not has anything to do with whether a person is selfish. Saying 'no' to those people is just what the letter-writer needs to do. Will it pop their 'I-am-the-center-of-the-universe' bubbles? Probably not. But as you said, at least it gets them away from the wedding. ;-)

Posted by: Pirate Jo at January 16, 2007 10:04 AM

I have two stepsons (teens) who've lived with me for a few years. They are good boys, but they are also a big pain in the rear sometimes. Like most kids. Why can't some people face it that yes, their kid is sometimes a rude pain in the butt?? Both my husband and I really hate it when parents don't watch their kids and don't even address bad behavior. We see this all the time in public, especially restaurants - my husband calls it "absentee parenting". That's when you assume the restaurant staff or the grace of God will parent for you since you're busy having a meal out and cannot be bothered. Remember when restaurants were a nice treat where people were supposed to behave? I think that was 20 years ago. If our kids are out with us and act up, they get one warning and then they have to go to the car, and sit and wait for us - however long we take. If we cannot leave the offender alone in the car (for safety reasons), then we all have to leave immediately and there may be punishment when we get home. I won't subject people to a kid behaving badly. There was a time when other parents knew it was rude to have their kid shouting out whatever, banging spoon and running circles around the other patrons. Apparently that time is long gone. Why would the bride & groom want that at their wedding? Shoot, I don't blame them for saying 'no kids'. No apology would be necessary for me if I were a guest. A provided babysitter is awfully nice if you expect out-of-town guests with little ones, but it isn't a requirement.

That said, it's a shame that children today don't have the opportunity to learn good manners by being allowed to try behaving well. The more that kids are shut out of restaurants and receptions, the less likely they are to behave well as adults when they do get to attend. And the less likely they will learn that there is a time and place for shouting, but tan bark is usually involved. Seems like more and more adults are going with the "I can do whatever I want wherever" thing also. The structure of nice outing=nice grooming and good behavior seems to be getting lost. Maybe if children saw how it was really supposed to work, they might do better as adults. But how can children learn about society's rules if their own parents won't teach them and won't allow others to do so?

Posted by: Jennifer at January 16, 2007 1:27 PM

I say bring back corporal punishment... for bad parents!

Posted by: Little Shiva at January 16, 2007 7:13 PM

It's hard to watch the kids who have the crappy parents who didn't raise them how to act outside of their homes- you just know what kind of adults they might end up being. I was as reined in as possible for a hyper kid because I learned quick that the consequences for misbehavior weren't worth a fit. I saw a little girl acting a fool in the library and her mom is standing there "reasoning" with her while we all have to listen to her screech- what happened to real parents? What happened to a child is a child so you are the adult?

I understood "because I said so" as an answer for most things until I was like 11- and even then I learned to be careful when I questioned. I treat my little cousins the same way and they listen to me more then their own parents- that's sad. If you can't trust your child to behave, then stay home with them, teach them, until they learn how.

Posted by: Julie at January 16, 2007 8:00 PM

it's a shame that children today don't have the opportunity to learn good manners by being allowed to try behaving well.

To try behaving well? Sorry, but real parenting doesn't involve giving kids options.

The more that kids are shut out of restaurants and receptions, the less likely they are to behave well as adults when they do get to attend.

It isn't a bride's job to provide remedial parenting in the place of those who should've used contraceptives instead of procreating.

It's a parent's job to teach a kid boundaries. I did it with my dog. It takes being completely firm and not indulging bad behavior. And you aren't a friend to your kid by being a "friend" to your kid -- any more than I'd be good to my dog by allowing her "people food." Except if a piece of food falls on the floor and she's faster than I am, she NEVER gets anything but her kibble and tiny dog treats (if she's verrrrry good, and comes immediately when called in from outside). By being lax with a dog or a kid, you're doing none of us any favors.

Oh yeah...and I'm with little Shiva.

I also fantasize about taking kids away from bad parents, and handing them out to those standing in line at fertility clinics interviewed and approved by a team of people like Pirate Joe, Little Shiva, and Me.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at January 16, 2007 8:40 PM

We had a "no kids" daytime wedding, because we didn't think it was fair for us to pick and choose the good kids from the brats. Our friends were happy to have an afternoon of couple time, and told us so. Some went home at night, others got a room and made a little getaway out of it. One couple bailed on the day because their sitter flaked. You always get a couple of "day of" cancellations. Sadly, another friend's mother died the night before. Don't sweat a couple of plates.

We are now expecting our first child, and there are weddings coming up this summer that I won't be able to go to. I'll send a gift and my warmest wishes.

I do think there should be more "formal" opportunities for kids to practice their manners, and it starts at home. Everyone should sit at the big table for holiday meals. The Kids' Table may be fun, but how are you going to learn how to tell a joke or a story, and carry on a conversation with the grown ups?

Posted by: Robyn at January 16, 2007 9:59 PM

Parenting is hard because (a) 50% of parents have an IQ less than 100, and (b) you aren't required to do a parenting course and pass a test before you get your licence. Flying an airliner would be just as hard without training.

Posted by: Norman at January 17, 2007 1:26 AM

I just wanted to add my two cents, too.

When I got married, I asked for no kids, primarily because my niece is spoiled rotten and (forgive me) I detest her. A child who thinks hitting grownups is funny, and who's automatic reaction to being asked to behave is to talk back; nope didn't want her. My brother got upset, and his wife refused to come. I offered to get them a babysitter (not pay for one, just find them one) and it was like I had asked them to donate a kidney for artistic purposes. I wasn't that broken up; if it was that big a deal to them, then obviously my wedding wasn't as important as Sweetums. A sibling relationship made clear.

That being said, I will say that not all parents need to be insulted. Quite a few commentators have made it sound like all parents are evil, and that people who decide to have children need be mocked and cursed at. Parenting is hard, but there are folks out there who do a good job and really, we notice the bad more than the good. There's nothing wrong with having kids anymore than there is with NOT having kids. I don't have any munchkins and I'm not sure if I want any, but I don't like hearing all the parents in the world being screamed at just because we are constantly barraged with comments like "so when are you going to have kids" and "not having children is so selfish!". Those are just foolish people, who have forgotten that the world is over-populated and that sometimes having children isn't the best thing in the world you can do.

One last comment: kg said "Children really do change one's perception of life; and, it is a change you will never know, can never conceptualize, until you produce offspring. For example, having your own children makes you more sensitive and compassionate to, really, all aspects of the world." I'm sorry kg, but this comment really upset me. There are too many kids being abused, neglected, and otherwise mistreated for this blanket statement to be made. On top of the fact that in your statement, you make it sound like giving birth is the only valid way to have children. No, and no again for emphasis. There is always adoption - that doesn't make you any less of a parent and it doesn't make you less sensitive or compassionate. I would love to see less people at fertility clinics and more people adopting. And in addition, you are completely leaving out fatherhood as a form of parenting. Guys can never "give birth" the way a lady does, but I've seen a lot of dads do a better job with their kids than some moms. Please keep that in mind when extolling the values of parenthood.

Posted by: CornerDemon at January 17, 2007 2:19 PM

Having worked at a venue which catered to the wedding trade, I was always shocked by the parents who assume that not only is it acceptable to bring the little darlings along, but also that it is the job of the waiters, busboys, chefs, i.e. anyone-but-themselves to supervise aforementioned little darlings.

RK Jones

Posted by: RK Jones at January 17, 2007 3:46 PM

Amy, you wrote: "Sorry, but real parenting doesn't involve giving kids options."

Yes it does. Hang on - keep reading. Options like "do what I say or die trying". Or "behave appropriately and be accepted, or you'll be thrown out" which should be followed by specifics about is what is appropriate (and discipline when needed). Just like real life. If you pitch a fit on the playground swing, nobody's gonna talk to you either, right?

I never said otherwise.

What bothers me is that people on the whole seem to have lost their sense of decorum.

Maybe because they are being so indulged as kids? I don't know. What I do know is I am sick of seeing, say, a 250lb hairy woman with 20 tattoos in a teeny tank top and tight leggings at a mid-range restaurant. If she were taught social rules as a kid, and sometimes particpated in them, maybe I wouldn't have to see that in all its fleshy glory while I am trying to eat supper!

I agree that it's not the bride's responsibility to provide remedial parenting.

I think it's sad that we are at a point, socially, where it really is a foregone conclusion kids will behave badly and their parents won't do anything about it. And sad that fat tattoo chick is allowed in a restaurant dressed in her underwear. Same problem, different occasion: giving a darn and backing it up became politically incorrect somewhere along the line.

Posted by: Jennifer at January 17, 2007 4:02 PM

I want to respond to CornerDemon. I am sorry I have offended you, but I think you misunderstood my words. I said "produce offspring." Obviously, one cannot produce offspring alone. When I said parenting, what made you assume I was leaving out men? Furthermore, one of my children is adopted. I adopted him as a pre-teen after his mother overdosed on cocaine and died in jail. I certainly understand about neglect and abuse. I taught public high school for nearly ten years, and the things you see in that realm can be frightening. Furthermore, my comment was speaking to some of the others who had also responded to the initial column. These are people who I consider often times intelligent, entertaining, and interesting to read. I was surprised and somewhat saddened that so many of these people look upon parenting and children in such a dismal light. It had also bothered me, as it did you, that most responders (with the exception of Pirate Jo) assume all parents are horrific and should die a slow and painful death along with their evil little tadpoles. I was merely trying to say that for many people, having children (and I don't mean birthing; I simply mean having them in your life and in your charge legally and lovingly) changes one's life drastically; and, it is a transformation you will never know if you never parent. In closing, I constantly applaud people who decide not to have children. It is annoying and ignorant and rude to hear someone ask a newly married couple, "When are you going to make babies?" ...As if life could not be complete without procreation? People who are self-aware and confident enough not to follow the herd just because the herd is moving are people I respect. Conversely, there are many people who have jumped in the gene pool, are working hard at the backstroke (ha ha), and are loving it. That choice should be respected as well.

Posted by: kg at January 18, 2007 7:31 AM

Honestly, I wouldn't provide the babysitting for the kids. Paying for childcare is the responsibility of the parents. When mom and dad want a night out to dinner or a movie, is the restaurant or theater owner expected to pay the babysitter? Why should this be any different?

Posted by: Chris at January 18, 2007 12:36 PM

Amy, you could not be more correct, even if your directness offends some. This is an advice column, not a personal letter, and the fact that some people want to interpret it as though you're talking about *them* is rather confusing.

I often wonder what happened to old-fashioned manners and common sense when it comes to responding to a wedding invitation or any formal invitation. It used to be well-known and accepted that the invited were only those explicitly addressed on the invitation. No "and guest" [which still makes me shudder] or "and children" was assumed or implied.

No one has the right to presume that their children are invited to any sort of adult-oriented event (and weddings certainly are one of these) unless they are explicitly included on the invitation. No one has the right to presume that their current girlfriend/boyfriend/companion is or should be invited if that person has no acquaintance with the person(s) issuing the invitation. If this makes them unhappy, they should exercise their prerogative to decline instead of whining and demanding like children throwing a tantrum.

Posted by: guyslp at January 19, 2007 1:30 PM

I love this! My husband and I CANNOT go ANYWHERE without hearing someone else's little "angel" whining or screaming. This irritates us so much that we've actually concluded that we don't want to have children. Not if it means that this is the type of behavior that is acceptable in public. And we can't say anything to the parents because then we're the ones with the problem! I think it's a good idea to have an adult-only reception. I also think it would be a good idea to have an adult only restaurant, movie theater, and grocery store.

Posted by: Christy at January 19, 2007 9:03 PM

Just had to say...Too funny and you are on POINT!Just caught your website on nightline...had to check it out...will share this site with friends!!

Posted by: Midiah at January 19, 2007 9:11 PM

Wow, when I saw your profile on NightLine tonight, I thought you were a self-righteous, sanctimonious super-bitch. However, I gained a whole new respect for you after reading this entry. You're completely right, you know... events like wedding receptions are precisely why the world has babysitters.


Posted by: ArugulaZ at January 19, 2007 9:18 PM

I think it's great having an "Adult reception" but not all kids are little demons, it's a parent problem. I'm a father of three and raise my kids with an equal amount of love and discipline, and my Wife and I are both involved in their lives. It seems like most people are jumping all over the kids when really parents aren't parents anymore.

Posted by: Mike at January 19, 2007 9:23 PM

I have one son and helped to raise three step-children. My husband and I now have a 15 month old granddaughter. My family is, has been, and always will be my life. I adore these people and have always planned everything that I do around them. My children have always been, for the most part, very well behaved (we were pretty strict with them) and I actually enjoyed being around them. That being said, I agree with.......all of you.

Let's face it. Rude is rude. It's rude to tell childless people that they are selfish. How are they being selfish? Someone please explain this to me. The right to live our lives seems to be slowly slipping away from us. What right does anyone have to tell someone else how many children they should have and when?

It's also very rude to assume that people want to be around your children. There is a time and place for everything. Even children. It never occurred to me in all these years that my children would automatically be welcome or wanted at a formal event like a wedding. I must live in a bubble because reading all of these posts was a complete shock to me. Why would anyone want to bring their children to such an event? If you can't find a sitter, that means that you must pass on the invitation. And the world will keep turning. I missed many events because I couldn't find a suitable sitter. And I never resented it. It was just a fact of my life.

Lastly, it's very rude to expect the bride and/or groom to provide sitters for your children. If you just HAVE to attend, make your own arrangements. These people most probably had absolutely nothing to do with your procreation. Why should they have anything to do with caring for them?

I had these children. I took responsibility for them. I never asked anyone to put themselves out on my children's behalf. But, I've always expected others to act the same way. Why can't they?

Posted by: Janna at January 19, 2007 9:40 PM

You know, I am the mother of a very well-behaved (in public) 10 year old and I would never even consider bringing her to a wedding unless it was a small, informal affair where I knew other children would be present. I would not be offended by the "adult reception" comment. Hell, they could even include a "NO CHILDREN" comment and it wouldn't bother me. Why? Because I have friends that I refuse to invite to my home because I would honestly prefer to have a herd of goats living inside my house than to have their children here for even 5 minutes. Chances are that the "adult" comment on the invitation was there BECAUSE of the parents that complained about it. It has been my experience that the parents yelling the loudest over the fact that they can't take their children somewhere are the ones with the worst kids anyway.

Posted by: Angel F. at January 19, 2007 9:40 PM

As a general response to those who feel someone qualifies as an idiot because they choose to have children, I say this: I made a conscious decision to have children, I knew beforehand that doing so would change my life in many ways, and I knew that I would raise my children with respect and love and discipline. I respect others, whether they are parents or not. I respect the rights of others to make their own choices. But it is no more fair for me to assume childless people are selfish than it is for them to assume that people with kids are automatically bad parents. Why this animosity against children? Is every single child in the universe so very repulsive?

Posted by: Micha at January 19, 2007 10:08 PM

I have to say a loud thank you to you! I had the guts to say "NO KIDS" with my invitation and yet someone who thinks the world revolves around their kid.... still brought their kid. Can you believe it? Additionally they brought along the baby sitter and needed an additional room. Guess who was paying for the guests rooms? It was a small ceremony. Some people have not a clue do they?
Someday ....someday... UGH!

Posted by: j at January 20, 2007 12:13 AM

I am so glad you brought this to the attention to the parents that only need read something to validate they are fed up with their own bratty kids (we hope).

We had a large wedding and had no qualms about inviting children. Reason? All family and friends are not slaves to their offsprings whims. There was only one point where a 3 year old started to have a bit of a fit. My first cousin came up to me, apologized profusely saying "We are leaving but had a wonderful time. Our daughter will be thinking of the fairy tale fun she is missing the drive home - and I will remind her of that repeatedly."

Those that did bring their children (most hired babysitters) left at the appropriate time. It allowed for the rest of us to finish the cordial "thank you" then party like you should at a wedding reception. That being said, there are only two wedding invitations I have accepted in the 13 years since. It was because the invitation were from like-minded individuals so I knew we would enjoy ourselves.

The rest I did not RSVP to save a spot were those where the parents invited were slaves to their offspring and I most likely would have gone around the room asking if they belived "after birth control".

I am just not a Politically Correct person so there is that to consider.

Posted by: GenXMom at January 20, 2007 2:52 AM

Thank god I am gay! My wedding had 300 Adults and not a brat in sight.

Posted by: Pinky Bear at January 20, 2007 5:27 AM

I would just like to say, I agree with not having children at a wedding. I got married to a man whom already had a child from a previous relationship..she was 3 years old. I put "adult only" on my reception card...and I meant it. My step daughter was the flower girl and was there for pictures...and then taken home before the reception even started. People at my wedding had the balls to tell me that was RUDE..to send our own kid home from our own reception? I also had someone call me and ask me to elaborate on the "adult only" part. You know, being that THEIR child was only a newborn, and would that be different for THEM? Because they are small and won't be eating...I said no. No kids means no kids. They did not come to the wedding, send a card or even RSVP at all...how incredibly rude.

I have a HUGE issues with some parents, not all, don't get me wrong. But sadly, the majority of parents it seems nowadays, do think that the world revolves around their children and that they should be allowed everywhere and behave how they want. I feel like I can not leave my house without encountering NUMEROUS parents allowing their children to do whatever they feel like. In the grocery stores..why are parents letting 2 year olds run through the isles irritating everyone and grabbing crap off shelves? In restaurant you look around and MOST of the kids are misbehaving, yelling and arguing. As a former waitress I can tell you that I almost NEVER had a child say thank you to me after delivering food, crayons, ect. All of them demanding more of this, more of that...parents completely ignoring them. Its not an option for my step child to behave in restaurant, not an option to say please and thank you and not an option to respect the people eating around her. If she doesn't we leave IMMEDIATELY.

As a newly wed with a step child...I will more than likely not have my own children. As far back as I remembered I knew that having kids was no game. They are not dolls...they are small humans and it is a parents responsibilty to TEACH them...manners, respect, boundries, limits, rules and how to treat others...and that some places are NOT for them and thats the way it is. And it is HARD, it is 24/7 with no time for breaks. The reason I will not have my own is because I see the little friends my step child has, the monsters she is in daycare with, I deal with other parents allowing their kids to act like animals in front of mine...making it that much harder for me to do MY job of helping nurture a resposible human.

As a step parent I can say, my step daughter stays home when we go out to adult affairs and I think it is a good lesson to teach. When she asks where we are going we say..."a place for big people, little kids have to stay home." And she understands that. She gets NOTHING in stores. If I feel she deserves a new toy/candy treat I go and get it without her with me, that way she doesnt think everytime we set foot into a store she gets to take something home. I take her to restaurants frequently, family oriented ones, mind you, where she says please and thank you and plays ONLY with crayons and paper (not the sugar packets and napkins and silverware). I have left plenty of restaurants, birthday parties, parks ect on account of bad behavior and didn't feel bad about it.

People need to learn that having children doesn't mean that rules/etiquette suddenly do not apply to you OR your child. People need to learn that their children need to be TAUGHT things and not ignored or humored or indulged constantly. People need to understand being a parent is HARD, it is sometimes thankless and it is not for everyone. That the point is not have a "friend" in 18 years...but to look at your adult child and say, "I had part in creating a decent, kind, hard working adult...". That is the pay off.

Posted by: Cathy at January 20, 2007 7:49 AM

I read this whole thread and, leaving aside the whole issue of whether or not certain people should procreate, I have to comment on the basic lack of understanding of wedding ettiquitte that many people seem to have.

A wedding invitation is extended to the person / couple whose name is on the invitation. If the invitation is for a single person and it's okay to bring a guest, the invitation should say so. If it's okay to bring children, the inviations should be addressed to the whole family, including each person's name. In polite circles, both the bride and groom and the recipients understand this implicitly, and it is bad form to say anything else like "no children" or "adults only," just as it is bad form to include information on gift preferences (either where a couple is registered or even that they request that people don't bring gifts).

As far as babysitting goes, the original comment wasn't that the wedding couple should provide babysitting for everyone; it was that they might consider it for out of town guests. I don't think that this is out of line, when out of town guests are expected to pay for airfare, hotel accomodations, meals outside of the wedding dinner, and a gift, not to mention tux rentals or a bridesmaid dress for people in the wedding party. With what couples are willing to pay for wedding dresses, photographers, flowers, etc., a babysitter to help accomodate out of town guests seems like a small concession to facilitate things for families.

I think that in general, wedding couples are exhibiting an enomous amount of entitlement these days. Many couples register at two or three places and place few limits on what they are willing to ask for. In addition, they often expect friends, many whom are straight out of college and saddled with student loan debt while working entry level jobs, to travel great distances to share in their big day. My partner and I are attending an out of state wedding this summer and will probably spend about $1500 on travel, hotel, rental car and a gift, all for what is basically a vanity showcase for the couple. We don't require a babysitter, but if we did I think it would be a rather modest gesture, considering the huge financial outlay that we are making to eat an overpriced rubber chicken dinner and drink watered down cocktails while listening to a DJ for four hours.

Historically, weddings were an opporunity for communities to welcome a new couple into the fold. They were family oriented and often loud an raucous. In recent years, they have become increasingly ostentatious and are based more on conceit than community. It's sad that young couples feel the need to spend what essentially is a down payment on a house for a boorish display that is over in a night and soon forgotton by many who attend.

Posted by: Jenny at January 20, 2007 8:59 AM

Oh, my! I experienced both sides of the coin! I must say that my children have grown into smart, self-sufficient grown-ups. However, they did a good job at driving me nuts! Gotta love them! :) A couple of years ago I was visiting family I had not seen in over 30 years. We were at a restaurant quietly talking when this family brought in about 10 little kids and although the restaurant was empty, the waiter sat them next to us! They were so outrageously loud that we decided to move outside (in the middle of winter, no less!) Lo' and behold! This family followed us outside and sat next to us again, on their own! The waiter didn't sit them there. They just decided to sit next to us AGAIN. We figured we couldn't possibly move again (we were in the middle of our meal already). We had to sit there quietly because we couldn't hear each other, in the cold nasty weather. Needless to say, we left NO TIP!!! On the other side of the coin, we baptized one of our boys when he was two years old because we had to wait for family to arrange flying in from another country. Have you guys ever seen the original OMEN movie? You remember how Damien 'freaks out' everytime they go near a church? Well, my little angel turned into Damien X 10!! He sounded like he was being tortured throughout the ceremony until the poor priest gave up and said he couldn't finish the ceremony! He issued a baptismal certificate but I wonder... was he truly baptized since the ceremony was stopped by the priest???? I have two video tapes of the ceremony and can honestly say I've never been so embarrassed in my life! It's too bad I couldn't baptize him without him being there physically!!!!

Posted by: Ziggie (Karina) at January 20, 2007 11:57 AM

When my sister was planning her reception, she specified "adults only" on her invitations. It caused some bitching and moaning in our large Catholic family as our 6 year old sister would be there - but she was the FLOWER GIRL, so they gave up that argument. None of the underage cousins showed, much to the bride's relief. However, one guest showed up with her 5-month-old daughter in her arms, refusing to leave the baby in anyone else's care for the evening. Of course, this caused more fussing in the family, but for the most part it went much more smoothly than it would have if the family hooligans showed up.

Posted by: Rose at January 20, 2007 12:39 PM

the hate mail you've gotten must be from some snotty parent whose kids you describe up there. I for one speak right up about rude, out of control children in public places, I'm just glad you put my thoughts into print

Posted by: Cassie at January 20, 2007 1:32 PM

Hello Amy, I saw you on the news last night and I wanted to check out your page...and the very first thing I see is this fabulous article. Too true! Parents have no leash on their kids nowadays - and coming from me, a 23 year old, that says something. Anyway your site is great and I look forward to future articles.

Posted by: Patrick at January 20, 2007 1:59 PM

I had a double whammy, on my neices 1st wedding my oldest was to be her flower girl, then a decision was made that a girl on the grooms side was a better fit for the part in this catholic wedding, she may do a better job. Then, her second marriage to this millionaire realtor, was held in Minnetonka,MN., We weren't formally invited but my sister insisted we attend, we couldn't of been told enough that kids weren't allowed, we walked in and of course the brides 3 kids would be in the wedding,and then at least 10 kids attended running wild amongst the adults at the reception,my other 2 girls aren't angels but know enough when and when not to act up, especially if dads there,the only comment my sister would say was that there wasn't suppose to be any kids, I wouldn't of minded, but to know I was lied to? I can't even remember a wedding in the past where kids weren't involved,receptions are nicer when kids aren't acting up though.

Posted by: Cheryl S. at January 20, 2007 2:08 PM

I wish I had set up a seperate kids area for my wedding. I had 2 young girls who latched onto me. I couldn't dance or turn around without bumping into or tripping over one of them. The mother did nothing to pull them off of me. They were well behaved, but they would not leave me alone. It became very tiring after an hour. And now having a child of my own, I would not feel offended if invited to a "child" free wedding.

Posted by: Michele at January 21, 2007 5:24 AM

Just for the record, I have eaten out literally thousands of times. I travel a lot, so I've been out in lots of both big cities and small towns. I've eaten at all kinds of different restaurants, and I can honestly say I have never had my meal disturbed by a child, not even once. I'm not saying this because I like or have children. I don't, and I don't. I just can't recall one being obnoxious in a restaurant.

I did have to fly with a crying baby on a plane a couple times. I guess you could say it interfered with my enjoyment of the trail mix and plastic cup of soda.

Now I don't doubt any individual person's crazy child horror story, but either these aren't very common, or I am one of those 3 in 100,000 people that appear in every normal distribution.

Posted by: Lisa at January 21, 2007 7:33 AM

i saw your web site on t.v. and i totally agree with you. i to am sick and tired of listenning to other peoples conversasions in public places. i think that that is so rude to stant in a grocery line ,and to be talking on the phone.

Posted by: MS. TRENT NICOLE at January 21, 2007 9:20 AM

aaaah, somebody said it. attention piggie! as a childcare professional for many years i have to tell you. the attention hawgs are those parents. children who are forced to share the responsibilities of parenting are overworked and frustrated so are trying to tell it to everyone they see. the woman in the store who is saying ," if you dont do such and so im going to take you home !" dont believe it- she is going to have her way on the child and she is going to keep shoping because she is big and selfish evough to get her way. the thought of taking them to a wedding is just like sharing a cold. i have it so you are not my friend if you dont want it. oh this felt good it might cause some tantrums . what a shame.

Posted by: gran nita at January 21, 2007 11:49 AM

Jenny's point about the change in weddings is good to remember. I personally would rather attend a less formal wedding with WELL-BEHAVED children than a super-formal wedding where, say, you can't dance until after midnight. :) Weddings for love generally used to be community events that included everyone from eight weeks to eighty years (as opposed to weddings among the wealthy, which were formal and stylized). That having been said, one of THE laws of etiquette is that only the people named on the envelope are invited. If you can't respect that, then you're setting a TERRIBLE example for your children...who almost definitely would rather be home playing Nintendo and eating hot dogs than sitting through a long, boring wedding.

"I love this! My husband and I CANNOT go ANYWHERE without hearing someone else's little "angel" whining or screaming. This irritates us so much that we've actually concluded that we don't want to have children. Not if it means that this is the type of behavior that is acceptable in public."

Christy, if that's the only reason you've concluded you don't want children, let me assure you, YOU don't have to put up with that behavior in public. I know plenty of well-behaved kids who look in horror as other children act like banshees. Don't have kids if you don't want kids...but (I say selfishly) I do think the world could use a few more people who believe in discipline for kids procreating, to help balance out the rest.

"I also think it would be a good idea to have an adult only restaurant, movie theater, and grocery store."
Restaurants and movie theaters I can understand (though I will say that I have no sympathy for someone who attends a matinee of a Disney or Harry Potter movie and expects a quiet audience). As for grocery stores, keep in mind that, given the choice, almost no parents would willingly bring their kids to grocery stores. That doesn't excuse bad behavior, obviously, but people go to grocery stores because they need food and there aren't good alternatives. I've looked into food delivery, because I hate shopping, but have found that it's both limited and extremely expensive in my area. Plus, it's impossible to get things very quickly. Now there's a business for those who want quieter grocery stores - set up an affordable delivery service that can respond quickly to requests, and market it to parents. I bet you'd do spectacular business.

Posted by: marion at January 21, 2007 2:56 PM

Hey Amy,

Well, I just discovered your blog, courtesy of that Steve Harvey piece in the Sunday Times. I was planning on giving you a Right On comment about your response to the rude cell phone user mentioned in the article, and then go on to rant about parents who refuse to assert any disciplinary authority over their children. So I visit your blog for the first time, and what's the first article I see! Talk about serendipity...

This whole topic reminds me of a friend who recently moved to France, where he married a woman with two small kids from a previous marriage. About a year after he moved there, he came back for a couple of weeks to handle some business stuff.

Over dinner one evening we caught up on his family life. He explained that he's had to become the family disciplinarian. The kids are never allowed to yell or scream anywhere. If they ever yell or scream at home, they're sent to their room for a time out, where they are expected to stay until they can last for 30 minutes without yelling or screaming. He says it's been very effective.

After complimenting him on being the adult of the household, I told him that he should probably never bring his kids to the US. Because, in this country today, parents today are never supposed to make the slightest effort to stop their kids from screaming as loudly as they possibly can, especially in public places that adults have to pay to get into, like hotels, restaurants, movie theaters, airplanes, bookstores, and symphony concerts, and that everybody else is supposed to just act like they don't even notice.

If you think you're getting flack just for bringing this up, just try to imagine what public school teachers have to deal with. There is no amount of money in the world that would get me to do that job.

...wow, looks like Da Bears are about to go to the Super Bowl...

Posted by: Fester Bestertester at January 21, 2007 2:59 PM

Thanks so much for dropping by, Fester. A friend (Czech, with an American husband) just moved to France to raise her children so they'd grow up in an environment that fostered less indulged children. I never see kids acting out in public there. If a child does, somebody will say something -- if the parent doesn't, a stranger will. Here, people go psycho if you say something to their screaming brat -- even if they're not saying a word, just letting the kid scream.

Unfortunately, my column is banned from the Los Angeles Times' features sections (in fact, they once sent me a note telling me to never send them anything ever again!), but if enough of their readers request it, maybe they'll feel compelled to carry it.

Sherry.Stern@latimes.com is the person who picks the syndicated stuff for anyone who'd like to request it.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at January 21, 2007 3:18 PM

I totally agree that anyone can make certain mandates for their wedding. We have been invited to a few weddings that did not want children present. It is their day and their wedding and they can ask for anything they want (as long as they can afford it). No offense taken, we had to miss out because we have a child and thus could not go, we still contributed to a group gift at work but the fact is RULES are RULES. People just need to get over that the are not some special little butterfly that can look coy and get what they want.


Posted by: cyberpunk1 at January 21, 2007 7:07 PM

You're right on the money, as usual! My fiance's cousin had an "adults only" wedding last year and it was wonderful to not have to dodge children tossing cake around like a football. Plus, it was very cost effective, as his cousin and her fiance had a lot of family (I think he had six brothers and sisters), even without all their godforsaken children. Who can afford to feed 50 adults and 100 children? We plan to marry within 2 years, and at this point, we plan to elope and marry in a very quiet ceremony somewhere very far away, with no family or friends in attendance, not only because we don't have a lot of money to toss around, but because we just don't want to handle the diplomatic bs between family and friends that just can't get along, and the millions of details that come along with having to think about the needs of all the guests! We're talking about a huge potluck reception after we get back so that everyone can mingle, bring a small gift if they want to, and we don't have to pony up $10k for food and decorations and dresses and flowers.
Personally, I am still on the fence about having children, and if I do, it's a long way in the future. I want to go back to school, travel through Europe, and have time to enjoy setting up a house with my husband with something other than hand-me-down college furniture before I have to give up a lot of time and freedom to raise a kid for 18 years. At this point, seeing all the ill-behaved children and indulgent parents that are everywhere I go are a very effective method of birth control. My parents pushed me to work hard and appreciate everything that we had, material and immaterial, and I think it's a shame that so many parents, and society at large, feel that children are entitled to get whatever they want, and have it NOW! We have a huge society of spoiled brats, which makes me weep for the future.

Posted by: SunnySideUp at January 23, 2007 10:56 AM

Wow, what a topic to address considering how many parents out there really do believe that their child is an angel.....that is until the child publicly humiliates them!!! I am childless, my fiance is not he has a little girl who is 3 years old and he like many other blind parents believe his child is a princess who could never do any wrong. I think he finally woke up from his little dream, especially with me sitting on the side line saying you can't reason with her because then she will expect reasoning every time she wants something....A take take situation for the little "tyrants of the world" parents tell them if you stop doing that then you can have this!!! Now with me she knows when I say no I mean no and there is no way she is going to change my mind, granted that she is only 3. Another thing is parents actually don't give enough credit to how intelligent there child is, kid's even at 3 know right from wrong and they know they can convince mommy and daddy that they dont know any better. I don't think that people who have children are more mature and more intellegent than those of us who decide it would not be in our best interest to have children. If fact I think parents are actually wrapped with blindness the second the water breaks on that first child. I have never had a problem getting a child to listen to me, I don't go down to their level I don't give in to them as soon as that first little tear arrives and I don't baby the ones that aren't babies. I talk to them as if they are adults especially if we are in an "adult" situation. I explain the consequences of their actions to them and stick to my guns. No, I don't spank, not that I don't believe in it I just don't put myself in the position to where spanking is my only string to pull. For my fiances little girl she gets a 3 minute time out whether she is screaming the entire time or not, and I am not talking about a sit in the chair timeout, I am talking about a You stand up with your finger on your lips timeout. In that three minutes she calms herself realizes she has to apologize and realizes I do believe that her little reign in my kingdom is not law!!! What ever happened to the "If you don't stop right now you will wish you had" (that's how my daddy-o always laid down the law.....And guess what it worked) Parents are so afraid to tap their child on the bottom when they are doing something wrong shit forget about spanking, parents don't even use time-out anymore. Let me ask all these parents who have a problem with this situation one question....If you and your sweet heart not child spouse were enjoying a nice evening together at a restraunt and someone else's little tike was screaming at the top of their lungs would you be inclined to ask the waiter to have them removed or hushed? I bet you would especially if your signifigant other was telling you how much they love you and how beautiful you are. People don't want to face the fact that their little angel is someday going to need to be disiplined. And for those little angels who don't get disciplined in the correct way turn out to be the next AXE Murderer because they turn into the most selfish humans you will ever Know because that is the way mommy and daddy raised them.

Posted by: Alta at January 25, 2007 10:11 AM

I planned my wedding in less than a month and it was a wonderful experience. We do not have a lot of money. What I did is hired a chapel. The only thing I had to worry about was the color of the frosting on the cake! Everything is already set up for you...everything. We rented a nice white Cadillac, paid the minister (the chapel provided the minister, we didn't have to find him). The chapel provided the music and we had a three hour time limit which avoided all the problems related to loud children. After the short reception my husband and out went out to dinner (no... I didn't have time to eat at the reception, of course) and went on to see a magic show. We had a blast... from there we went on to a bed & breakfast where we spend the night every anniversary since. Lovely, absolutely lovely... and cheap!

Posted by: ZIGGIE at January 27, 2007 8:39 PM

This is for kg (sorry it took me so long to respond):

YOU WROTE: "Children really do change one's perception of life; and, it is a change you will never know, can never conceptualize, until you produce offspring. For example, having your own children makes you more sensitive and compassionate to, really, all aspects of the world."

When you wrote that, I took "producing offspring" as it sounded; like the literal production of offspring. I'm sorry if I misunderstood your intent, but the wording does make it sound (to me) like the actual physical act of having a child. You also said "having your own child" and I though that kind of reinforced the previous "it has to be your DNA" stance. I got really sad when I read that, because I know too many couples who are unable to have their own children, and it to me it just backed up this idea that in order to be a parent, you need to have gone into labor. That just makes me so sad, because its stories like the one you told about raising this kid when his drug-addled parents couldn't that makes people parents.
Also, I get really, really angry at how many mothers out there think the father doesn't get to participate in being a parent. Too many mothers don't ALLOW the father to take part. Whether that's fallout from gender stereotyping or whether its a personal thing to these women, too many guys get left out of parenting because these women who think they have to be SuperMom. My older brother isn't allowed to take his little girl to ballet, only my sister-in-law can! So that was probably (again) my fault for misinterpreting your post as it related to my own "hot button" issues.

-CornerDemon (belatedly)

I took the implication of these words to mean that

Posted by: CornerDemon at January 30, 2007 11:15 AM

If I attend a "Adult Reception," there'd better be strippers. And attractive ones -- not the toothless kind.

Posted by: eff at February 2, 2007 7:33 PM

The solution is simple and unavoidable, really. Simply provide an alternate child-care option for guests who have traveled to attend the function. It can be done inexpensively and is a must.

Posted by: KDW at February 14, 2007 2:06 PM

I posted earlier about my brother's reception and I've read some of these about why should the bride and groom provide a sitter, and many comments about the supposed joys of parenting.
First, many "happy couples" have people from all over coming to their wedding. I traveled over 400 miles for my brother's and I wasn't the only one.
As for parenting being hard work, being a good parent is. The disconnect comes from what makes a good parent. It's not catering to your kid's every whim, or scheduling every minute of their day (which I think is a horrible thing to do to a child). The hard work is more a statement on the time effort involved. Do you like to sit quietly with a book after work, or play on your computer? Well, if you want to be a good parent you won't do that any longer, because kids need time more than money or toys or any of that crap. Kids need structure, routine, rules that are consistently applied. The little terrors out there don't have this. I see them every day and I feel sorry for them because their parents are ruining them. People tell me all the time how wonderful my kids are, how well behaved, how polite, how well spoken. And they are - I'm truly lucky in the kid department. But it took a hell of a lot of work to get them that way, and it still takes work. If you want kids that you're proud to take in public, that people come up to you and say, "Whoa, I didn't even realize there were any children here!" then this is what you have to do: (1) establish rules and enforce them. Yes, it sucks to work all day and then come home to argue about eating vegetables, but that's what you gotta do. And no threatening something you'll never follow through with! Ex: if you don't stop we won't go to Grandma's tomorrow (you know damn well you're going to grandma's - that's a horrible threat because you and your kid know it will never happen). (2) bedtimes - otherwise you never get a moment of quiet, and kids need that structure and routine. (3) talk to them!! I give my kids 10-15 min each night before bed of uninterrupted time, just the two of us, where they can tell me anything that's going on. That's about it - structure and rules and lots of love and kisses.

Posted by: Angela at February 16, 2007 10:51 AM

As a little girl, from the moment I first saw a bride all dressed up, I was in love with the idea of weddings.

That said, I remember one time when I was maybe six years old. My parents were invited to a wedding and I was given the option of going with them or staying at my friend's house. I don't know whether I really had an option, or if they said anything else to sway my opinion, but I chose to go play with my friend!

Posted by: Beth at February 16, 2007 11:39 AM


Posted by: MAGGIE at March 21, 2007 9:14 PM

Maggie, you can call me "Intentionally Barren, And Thrilled."

P.S. If you won't go for birth control, at least try a little caps control. (Hint: caps are not the province of the sane and balanced.)

Posted by: Amy Alkon at March 21, 2007 9:16 PM

Amy who says everyone that has kids thinks it was a mistake? Who have you been talking to? No wonder nobody will print our articles. Your arguments are so one sided. Next time try getting some insight before ou type. Just saying.

Posted by: Maggie at March 28, 2007 1:28 PM

Maggie, it's hard to understand what you're saying. Once more, please, with grammar, logic, and spelling?

Posted by: Amy Alkon at March 28, 2007 5:42 PM

Amy, you know exactly what I'm saying. By the way I don't need your advice. The way you give advice, I don't think anyone does.

Posted by: Maggie at March 31, 2007 7:57 PM

Maggie, you're angry and incoherent. The two usually go together. What you aren't is specific.

YOU WRITE: "By the way I don't need your advice. The way you give advice, I don't think anyone does."

What, exactly, do you take issue with? P.S. Comma after "By the way."

"The way I give advice"? Oh, you mean, using reason, data, values, and judgment? You might try it sometime.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at March 31, 2007 11:23 PM

Parents that insist on bringing their screaming children EVERYWHERE, even to extremely innappropriate places has always been a bone of contention with me. Last week, I took a good friend out for a birthday dinner at our favorite French restaurant, and the couple behind us had two screaming toddlers that completely ruined the experience for both of us. Some parents can be so inconsiderate! And then, people like us are villified for our 'child-hating' ways if we so much as squeak about it. The parents overheard us asking the waiter (discretely, of course) if there was another table available, and sent us eye-death-daggers. There wasn't, so we had to endure what should have been an enjoyable evening, with melting glares from the people next to us. I don't understand why people are expected to endure other people's badly behaved screaming brats.

Posted by: Jessi at April 7, 2007 8:23 PM

I'm with you!

Posted by: Amy Alkon at April 7, 2007 8:32 PM

Jessi and Amy I know how you feel.But as a mother of three who doesn't allow her children to rule the world, I feel a little put out. I know what you mean about the screaming children but when you teach your kids how to behave properly in public, I see nothing wrong with taking them out to eat or such things. What bothers me is that why do you assume all kids are the same? Yes there are a lot of parents that overindulge their kids, but I am not one of them. There is a two diffrent ways to look at this Amy and I think you are being so unfair and one-sided to parents who really act like parents not just try to be the childs friend.

Posted by: Helen at April 10, 2007 3:33 PM

While I agree with people who plan their wedding receptions for adults, and ask that children not attend, I think that an exception for babies under 3 months or so might be in order...very few parents of a newborn want to leave their baby in someone else's care so soon. They just have to be sensible and leave the room if the baby fusses.

Posted by: crella at April 25, 2007 8:28 PM

Then in a case like that they simply should not attend. End of story!

Posted by: Pussnboots [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 16, 2008 2:00 PM

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