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NANCY FITZPATRICK’s QUERY ON HOW TO DEAL WITH OUT-OF-CONTROL LITTLE BRATS SETS OFF GREAT DEBATE ON PARENTING

BY DAN VALENTI

One of The Planet’s favorite venues is the Red Lion Inn. It’s a place of history that keeps on top of today. The Inn presents the solidity of tradition with the excitement of discovery. The Inn stands as a living, vibrant symbol to a time, not long ago in America, when parents accepted their responsibilities to raise their children with values within the accepted norms of society’s conventions. The Inn occupies one of the most famous corners on earth, made that way by Rockwell’s memorable painting of downtown Stockbridge in 1957.

Stockbridge: Comfortable with Who and What It Is

People come to Stockbridge from all over the world. The town has no traffic lights, no fast food restaurants, and no neon. It’s a town that has healthy measure of itself. Stockbridge finds comfort in its own skin, and people who visit there absorb by osmosis the feelings of security and comfort. In Stockbridge, the world slows down. You’ll have trouble with your (not so) Smart Phone, maybe, but your psyche will be ravished for it.

Stockbridge didn’t destroy much of its past, the way Pittsfield did. It didn’t sell out to commercialization, the way Lenox did. To get Tennysonesque on you, Stockbridge is still a place where flowers ripen in place — ripen and fade, ripen and fade — without toil, fast-rooted in fruitful soil. The architectural heart and soul of Stockbridge is the Red Lion Inn.

Parents with Children Take Note: This is  An Adult Town

The Inn is, primarily, an adult venue. It should have cause to assume, and the right to insist, that adults who bring children with them have given the kids their lessons. In Stockbridge, children must “raise their game,” within reasonable limits, of course. It may be the last place on earth, soon, where adults are expected to lower theirs in appeasement to The Child Dictator.

Recently Nancy Fitzpatrick, the Inn’s owner, posed this question on her Facebook page: “Advice please. If your child is behaving in an unacceptable way in a place like The Red Lion Inn, how should the management address it?”

The existence of her great and reasonable (though sadly necessary) question provides another shred of evidence of a society in the throes of madness: of a set of younger adults who do not know how to handle their adult responsibilities. They are the “my children are my trophies” moms and dads, and they are The Planet’s targets. Moms and dad who do the right thing, who raise their children properly, will love these remarks, since — while they are not outnumbered and in fact represent the solid majority — they consistently find themselves out-shouted and out-litigated by the deadbeats.

‘Enough, already: Parents, Get the Brats Under Control of Leave!”

Nancy’s prompt set off an avalanche of responses, most basically saying: “Enough, already, parents. Let your little monsters know that when they are in an adult place, with higher standards, they have to behave with respect and with self-control. Period. Peer Ree Ud.”

The Planet became an eager participant in the discussion, which, in the end, became moderated by Simon, the saint of a house cat at the Inn. Here are a few samplings of what we said (keep in mind that these are responses to previous posters):

Our Facebook Missives

* “How about keep the dining room off limits to families with kids? The RLI, which we love and frequent OFTEN, should be for adults, by adults, and of adults when it comes to the formal dining room during the evening.”

* “[We] Love the ‘old school’ waitresses, too. And I’m raising my glass at this very moment to more disciplining. Love Betsy Berg Myers take, above. [go to Nancy’s FB page to read Betsy’s post]. Someone’s got to tell the little monsters that they are not the center of the universe.”

* “We ate in the dining room Sunday night. Nice quiet table in the corner, in the front section of the room. The back section, past the dividers, was for families. They were traipsing in, kids in tow, with the kids loud and out of control. My guest said, “I thought this was a place for adults”? [Out-of-control children represent] a serious issue, and it falls back on the parents who have let their ‘chitlins’ do whatever they want, irrespective of the setting or circumstances.”

* “We might ask, why aren’t families dining together at home, but that too is off topic. So targeting in, the question isn’t to show “respect, tolerance, and assistance,” since that implies people — who expect a certain standard of behavior at a high-end, adult venue such as the formal dining room, Red Lion Inn, in the evening — do not have such for children. Don’t blame us, man. Blame the parents who have told their kids they are all great, all geniuses, and that they can act like little monsters. Out-of-control doesn’t describe a kid in the magic uniqueness that is childhood. It described a kid who needs a good swat on the butt. Don’t be their “friends.” Be their PARENTS.”

* Sally [a former waitress at the Red Lion Inn], having worked at the RLI, can testify that of late [last couple of years], there has been a marked increase, dramatic in some ways, in the inability of children to behave respectfully in public. The formal dining room at the RLI isn’t Chuck E. Cheese. What is acceptable at the latter SHOULD NOT BE and NEVER BE at the former. @John L: You are quick to brand common sense as “reactionary” and acceptable discipline (e.g., a firm but harmless tap on the butt when required [not willy-nilly]) “physical violence.” You brand those who expect more from a place like the RLI as lacking empathy to parents and anti-kids. You are wrong on all accounts, and it’s obvious that the methods you advocate do not work, or my good friend Nancy and the lovely folks at the RLI wouldn’t have this problem in the first place. I am a frequent flyer at the inn (dining room, tavern, and den), and dread this vacation week because there are too many parents who want the world to revolve around their spoiled brats. Children and adults are not equal. There must be discrimination. The “everything goes” parents who are afraid of the responsibilities and want to be “friends” with the six year olds” have made these terms incendiary. Too bad, but when adults are spending good money to enjoy a place like the RLI, we don’t want to deal with Playland at McDonalds.”

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There you have it. The majority of us want to have the Red Lion Inn, and similar venues, free from the Chuck E. Cheese Effect. If children can’t adjust their behaviors, then they shouldn’t be allowed in the in the dining room, tavern, or den.

What do you think, folks? Tell us why we are right or wrong. … or … Can you (and dare you try to) defend the indefensible?

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That’s all, folks. Remember, tomorrow is Sunday, The Planet’s day of rest. New content on Monday. LOVE TO ALL!

20 Responses to “NANCY FITZPATRICK’s QUERY ON HOW TO DEAL WITH OUT-OF-CONTROL LITTLE BRATS SETS OFF GREAT DEBATE ON PARENTING”

  1. GMHeller
    February 19, 2011 at 5:00 pm #

    Advice to Nancy Fitzpatrick:
    Serve the children.

  2. John David Sottile
    February 19, 2011 at 6:52 pm #

    Adult dining out is about more than food; it better be, for the food is only 1/3 the cost. It’s also about more than not having to do the dishes. It is about buying an event. Therefore, 2/3 of the meal and 100% of the tax and tip are all about the event: Service / Ambiance / Experience / Memories. If the Red Lion Inn fails to control unruly children and oblivious parents, the Inn also fails to deliver on all other persons’ events for which they bargained $$$. This the Inn does at its peril.

    Remember!

    Long before the ban on smoking in restaurants, bars and functions halls, there was the “Please, No Pipes or Cigar Smoking” sign posted by many establishments which enforced the prohibition — to the point of “eating” the tab while dismissing the diner(s). Regarding unruly kids in an adult restaurant, Ms. Fitzpatrick’s choice is clear: Eat one tab started by the unruly, or slowly eat many tabs over time as the adults head for the Berkshire Hills, some without paying in full, or at all.

    Finally, if very successful restaurants (too numerous to mention) can cram adult males into a bus-boys jacket to comply with “Jackets Required” policy, then very successful restaurants can likewise cram unruly kids and their numb entourage into a separate room with a closed door. If they fail to comply, bid them a farewell.

  3. DJ
    February 19, 2011 at 9:52 pm #

    Advice to Nancy Fitzpatrick:
    Worry more about your behavior in public.

  4. Paulson
    February 19, 2011 at 10:10 pm #

    Having been to the RLI, we expect that when we go there, we are going to get a big step up from “family dining” (read: no children OR if children, only well behaved). This is a must for great establishments like the RLI. Thank you for this timely topic, since we will be dining out there again.

  5. No Reply
    February 19, 2011 at 10:14 pm #

    Advice to RLI: “I love children, especially when they’re well done” — WC Fields.

    • danvalenti
      February 21, 2011 at 12:39 pm #

      No Reply
      W.C. Fields wins an Orbit Award for best post on this topic. Thanks.

  6. Been There
    February 20, 2011 at 6:00 am #

    If you are looking for a tourist trap with mediocre food and spotty service, the Red Lion Inn is for you. It’s exactly the kind of place that Berkshire Living loves to highlight for the right price.

  7. andie
    February 20, 2011 at 7:29 am #

    I used to work at the RLI and I am also mom to 5 girls. I dread taking the entire family (that’d be me AND my husband, so two adults in charge) out to eat, unless it is to McDonalds or Chick-Fil-A or anywhere that has a play place.
    Now, I could easily take our 8 and 10 year-olds to eat at the RLI and have no issue. But under age 8, not a chance, not my girls. It would be horrible.
    The RLI is a venue for older children and above. While there are youngsters who do behave very well and would be a delight to have visit the dining areas at the RLI, most little kids are not wired to sit still and be quiet for 10 minutes, forget an hour or more.

    • danvalenti
      February 21, 2011 at 12:41 pm #

      Andie
      Thank you for your contribution. You make EMINENT sense. We love adults who aren’t afraid to be parents by teaching their children ethics, values, and behaviors.

  8. editor
    February 20, 2011 at 9:43 am #

    I wish I could hob nob with the elite of Stockbridge….

    • GMHeller
      February 20, 2011 at 12:18 pm #

      @Editor:
      You can!
      Go to one of the local cocktail parties and get-togethers associated with the many Berkshire cultural events — BIFF (to the uninitiated “The Berkshire INTERNATIONAL Film Festival!) is the next one coming up (Feb 27th @Beacon Cinema) — and you too can hobnob with the local ‘glitterati’.
      In order to be immediately accepted as one of “the enlightened”, make sure you burnish your Liberal credentials by saying positive reinforcing things about all that Barack Obama is facing.
      Be ready with the derogatory jokes about Sarah Palin.
      Be sure to stress though that you, of course, are registered as an Independent.
      Mention that you were scheduled originally to be in Europe (or New York City or Cape Cod) on business that day but your plans got altered and by serendipity you just happened to end up at the party.
      Dress code: Men: Wear either jeans and a chic hat, or alternatively, black tie.
      Women: Super casual, or little black dress.
      You’re in, baby!

      • danvalenti
        February 21, 2011 at 12:41 pm #

        @ editor and Glenn: Black tie is usually optional!

  9. Joetaxpayer
    February 20, 2011 at 7:10 pm #

    Please how dare the owner decide how to treat the rude people that enter her resturant,This is U.S.A we love to be rude we are known for this.It is time for this to stop,time to take account for are actions and are childrens actions.If you and your family cannot act civil in public,time for you to go.Really dont care if is Mc Donalds or red lion inn.

  10. ambrose bearse
    February 21, 2011 at 5:38 am #

    great article, you scooped the eagle again – read twice to check – not one word about disruptive children at the rli

    • Mike
      February 21, 2011 at 12:17 pm #

      that was funny

  11. Liz Arrington
    February 21, 2011 at 12:11 pm #

    I am sympathetic to the needs of parents, but I must decide in favor of the Red Lion Inn when it comes to dealing with disruptive children. We would never take our children to upscale dining. We went to family restaurants, though I am proud to say that as a mom, I made plenty of family dinners. When we would go to upscale dining such as the RLI, the kids were with babysitters, and hubby and I enjoyed our adult “date.” Please, RLI, we are occasional diners. Consider who you are as the RLI. We want to dine there and feel the elegance not the disruption from inconsiderate parents and their children.

    • Mike
      February 21, 2011 at 12:21 pm #

      Do they still assign you a coat if you’re not wearing one? They pulled that crap with me about ten years ago and I never went back.

      • Nancy
        February 24, 2011 at 3:19 pm #

        Mike, for the past few years there haven’t been any dress rules at The Red Lion. We think almost everyone knows not to wear their gym clothes in the Dining Room.

  12. Son of Samantha
    February 21, 2011 at 12:26 pm #

    No, Mike, they got rid of that rule a couple years ago. It was a concession to the times. Informal, casual, and even work attire will get you a seat. Usually, people are presentable there, but it’s rare now to see the guys with jackets. I like it the new way.

  13. just saying
    February 21, 2011 at 4:59 pm #

    RLI wins this one.
    Never been there, most likely never will go there.
    That said there is huge problem with the way children behave today.
    Parents stop being your brats best friend and establish and ENFORCE some damn bounderies. Your kid is no better than any other.
    Parents try acting like an adult, an authority figure.