We’ve all seen those children. You know the ones, they’re throwing fits during the invocation at a change of command or running around during a promotion ceremony, and, yes, even the ones crawling under the general’s chair. These are the children who make you think, “Why would you bring kids to events like this?“
But you’ve also seen those other children — the ones reading the program diligently during the speech, the ones getting upset when Alpha Company is declared the best, but their parent is part of Bravo Company, or the ones you don’t even realize are there until they cut in line for some cake.
Children are a part of our military community, and, as a general rule, we adore them. But, they aren’t expected to be a part of everything. Just as you probably wouldn’t consider taking your toddler to the birthday ball, you probably wouldn’t hesitate to bring a school-age child with you to the change of command.
Gone are the days when children were banished from the commissary and appointments at the clinic. But, before we get too ahead of ourselves, they still aren’t welcome at every, single event.
- Timing — Is it during the day? Events taking place during the day, are more likely to have other children present. If it’s at night, get a sitter.
- Dress code — If this is a formal event, then no kids. If it’s semi-formal, then older kids may be appropriate. If it’s business casual, or an event like a unit picnic, bring the kids!
- Location — Outdoor events are generally more family friendly. There may be some open space for kids to sit and play, and these events are usually more relaxed. If it’s indoor, then you will want to consider finding a sitter. If it is in someone’s home, ask them.
- Invitation — Here’s a hard-and-fast rule. If the invitation says no kids, it means no kids! (You can always ask the host or the host’s spouse if you are unsure.)
- Purpose — If this is an event where your service member or your family is being honored, then your children should absolutely be there! The same probably goes for events honoring a family friend. However, if it’s a general officer’s retirement, you may not want a toddler there.
- What is being served — Food and drinks can sometimes tell you a lot about who is expected at an event. Hot dogs and burgers sound pretty kid-friendly. Two kegs and an open bar should tip you off on an adults-only situation.
- Other peoples’ kids — Are your friends taking their kids or getting a sitter? Ask around if you aren’t sure or you aren’t comfortable asking the host.
- Your children — You know your children best. Can they handle sitting through an hour-long ceremony?
Photo Credits: Eastern Sky Photography NC