Timeout with Nanny Robina: Dinner Party Etiquette for Children



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We invited our neighbours for an adult dinner and they brought their 10-year old son. He was invited to watch a movie in the basement with our kids. We supplied hot dogs and snacks, but this boy stayed upstairs, helped himself to anything he fancied in the fridge – even taking a spoon and dipping into my carefully prepared adult dessert. His parents said nothing. We are close to ending this relationship because of the child, although we are fond of the parents. Should we speak to the boy?


Yes, you can speak to the boy. It’s your home, your party, your rules! When he helps himself to food, point out that it’s good to see he enjoys your food, but your house rules are that he asks first. Next time you invite your neighbours to an adult-only dinner party, make it clear beforehand what’s expected of them: “We would love you to come for dinner and if you don’t have a sitter, your son will be expected to join the other children downstairs. Adult-only time is so limited we have to grab it while we can!” They now have a choice to accept or decline. If, upon arrival, he does not comply, take matters into your own hands and say, in a firm tone, “The other children are waiting for you downstairs. Tonight, upstairs is for adults only.” Note to invited guests: ask if kids are welcome before you bring your child to a party. If they are, offer to bring snacks or games and DVDs. Some hosts hire a babysitter to keep children entertained and a good guest will contribute to the payment.

Published March 2010

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