Are you debating whether or not to seat the kids at their own table this Thanksgiving? While seating children at a special “children’s table” might seem like a practical way to arrange a roomful of Thanksgiving dinner guests, this timeworn maneuver can also backfire if not done right. Having been on both sides of the Thanksgiving table (so to speak) here’s some points you should consider before breaking up your dinner guests by age.
The pros or positive points of a Thanksgiving children’s table.
1. Kids get to sit with other kids.
This is probably the more popular reason why parents prefer seating children at a special table away from the adults. When kids are seated with other children close to their age, they tend to enjoy dinner much more than if seated with Mom, Dad, and the rest of the adults. If your children are sociable and want to visit with friends during dinner, a children’s table can make that possible.
2. A natural way to break up seating arrangements.
Many of us at best have dining room tables that can accommodate 8-12 adults. For large gatherings, one logical way to break up the seating is by age. Putting the kids at the children’s table in the kitchen leaves the larger, more comfortable chairs for the adults.
3. Adults may feel more free to talk.
There’s certain conversations that kids don’t need to be a party to, which is another excellent reason why separating the adults from the kids at Thanksgiving is a sensible move. Seating the adults together gives them an opportunity to discuss financial problems, career options, and other topics that the kids don’t need to hear.
4. Less interruptions.
As a mother, Thanksgiving meals usually see me correcting manners, shushing an over talkative child, or trying to coax a kiddo into eating Aunt June’s ghastly molded 10 bean jello salad. With the kids seating elsewhere, parents don’t have to constantly break off in mid sentence to deal with spills and other interruptions. It also means that Aunt June won’t see the kids making faces at her Thanksgiving contribution.
The cons or negative points of a Thanksgiving children’s table.
1. Parents can’t help their kids with meals or be there to supervise.
Childless couples and singles often don’t realize that many kids require some adult supervision when eating. Young toddlers will need to have their food ground up, while the under 5 set will need help cutting up meat. Even the older ones need a little supervision to make sure that they are eating a balanced meal and not just chugging down cupfuls of Thanksgiving gravy. Without a responsible older sibling or adult around, a children’s table can quickly turn into a free for all.
2. Dinner guests will be excusing themselves frequently to check on the children.
I once attended a Thanksgiving where the hostess insisted that the infants and toddlers join the kids for dinner at the children’s table in another part of the house. As she put it, she didn’t want the kids to “spoil the adult’s meal”. What ended up happening is that the toddler’s moms (which was pretty much all of us) ended up in the kitchen with the kids, while the husbands kept ducking out of the dining room to bring us wine and dinner plates.
3. Families aren’t together.
To me, Thanksgiving is a time for families to get together, pray together, recall old memories and create new traditions. I think it’s a shame to put the kids elsewhere in the house when they’d rather be with everyone else. Seating the kids at a table in the kitchen means that families aren’t able to enjoy this family celebration together.
There’s no arguing that there are many good reasons why older kids might enjoy having their own table during a Thanksgiving celebration. However for parents of kids 5 and younger, it would be prudent to inform your dinner guests how you intend to seat the children before they show up for dinner. Letting your guests know that the youngsters won’t be joining them at the Thanksgiving table will give them the option of declining the invitation.