Man chewing nails and looking scared

It’s often frowned upon to discipline other people’s children, especially strangers’ children. But, when children are acting out of control in public, and the parents don’t seem to be interested in putting a stop to the behavior, is it okay to step in?

He asks users on a popular online forum if he’s the a**hole for yelling at a kid that crawled under his table at a restaurant.

The Restaurant

Young man and woman eating outside and she looks annoyed by him
Antonio Guillem / Shutterstock.

The OP (original poster) explains how he and his friend have a routine of meeting up for a meal at a local pizza restaurant at the end of the work week. The OP says, “After a long stressful week, my friend and I like to go to the local pizza place. It’s not fine dining by any stretch of the imagination, but there are booths and tables of people sitting down.”

On this outing, the OP doesn’t enjoy a relaxing hang-out with his friend like he is looking forward to. The OP says how, right away, there is a table that he can’t help but notice due to all the commotion around it.

“I saw a large table near us of about ten people, a few couples and a bunch of small kids between like 4 and 8, and the kids were running around the restaurant being loud while the adults were drinking wine and eating their pizza,” says the OP.

Knowing there isn’t much that can be done about loud restaurant patrons, the OP finds a table and ignores the large table. It’s not very long until the OP is made to acknowledge them again, though. “I ignored the commotion for like 20 minutes when suddenly, I felt a hand on my leg and saw one of the little kids crawling under my table,” states the OP.

Startled and reacting on instinct, the OP demands that the child go back to their own table. The OP adds, “I wasn’t thinking, snapped at the kid, and said, “Get away from our table!”

This reaction only adds to the drama, though, as the OP’s scolding sends the stray kid away in tears. The OP explains, “The kid ran away and burst into tears. One of the parents at the other table came over and started tearing into me about “how cranky and mean I was and how dare I yell at her kid, who was just playing.”

Already agitated by having to deal with the disruptive group for the entirety of his dinner, the OP is only further annoyed by the mother of the kid yelling at him.

“She and the other middle-aged forty-something parents with her were letting their kids run amok and be loud and obnoxious while my friend and I are trying to enjoy a night out,” remarks the OP.

So the OP snaps back at the woman. He says, “I ripped her a new one and said, “How entitled do you need to be to think it’s ok to let your kids just crawl under other people’s tables?” She called me an a**hole and walked away in a huff.”

So who was actually in the wrong here? The OP looks to a popular online forum to help him decide.

Supportive Feedback

Man looking frustrated and rubbing his eyes
UfaBizPhoto / Shutterstock.

The comments left on the OP’s post were overwhelmingly in support of the OP. One person states simply, “NTA (not the a**hole). You are not a jungle gym, and your table is not a play place.”

A second user says, “NTA. People who don’t scold their kids shouldn’t be surprised when their kids get scolded by strangers, especially if they are just letting their kids go around and invade people’s personal space. You didn’t do anything wrong, and the mom and all the rest of those parents are all major a**holes.”

“NTA. Someone’s gotta teach the kid they can’t do whatever they want, and it apparently won’t be their parents. Invading a stranger’s personal space and touching them is a big enough deal to warrant being told off immediately and harshly,” a third agrees.

Some people still gently discouraged yelling at kids, but even those were understanding of the OP’s reaction given the circumstances. One person says, “Yell at the parents, not the kid. But I understand being startled by being touched under the table.”

“It’s not ideal that you snapped at the kid, but you were well within your rights to expect the parents to have more control. A little bit of noise and boisterousness in a casual restaurant is fine. Crawling under someone else’s table is certainly not,” supports another commenter.

What are your thoughts on the scenario? Was the OP too harsh for yelling at the child? Or were the parents of the child wrong for not managing to keep the kid at their own table?

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Inspired by this thread – photos for illustrative purposes only.

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