How Do People Feel About Kids?

What do people in the host country think about kids? Not everybody sees kids the way you do, including your neighbors back home.

In some countries/cultures, children are not welcome in some venues while being welcomed in others. In some places your kids trying to chat with some local children will be cute to both sets of parents, while in others it may be unwelcome. Patting a child on the head in some places earns you smiles from his nearby parents while in Thailand it would be considered a crude insult.

Try and find out how things look for kids in the places you want to visit. We found, for example, that some mid-level restaurants in London were positively hostile toward any children eating there (presumably because they might disturb the other diners) while in Paris and Beijing people went out of their way to welcome our kids and treat them special.

In one Chinese restaurant we couldn't get out of the place until our oldest was given ice cream (which by the way was not on the menu and for which the owner would not accept payment). While we are sorry for the dark, cold place the London maitre d' who told us to our face “No children, please dine elsewhere” seems to scurry back to after work, reality is that knowing of such attitudes ahead of time would have made the trip more pleasant.

In some parts of Asia, especially Japan and Korea, blond-haired, blue-eyed children are an amazing curiosity to some folks, especially outside of the big cities. Don't be surprised if your children fit this description to have people stop you to take pictures. Sometimes this is cute and opens doors toward meeting people, and sometimes you might feel a little too much on display and under pressure to smile and perform.

We think that most people with kids in most instances can tell the difference between an intended kind gesture perhaps out of place and a purposeful attempt to be rude.

Like a lot of things, do some homework, watch what is going on around you and if in doubt, ask and if you can't ask, tread gently.

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