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Europeans, Child-Raising and Beer

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Now I know why people say Europe is a very family-friendly place -- there is beer at every event.

Katie Wisdom Weinstein: My husband and I lived in Germany for three years with our young kids. Now I know why people say Europe is a very family-friendly place -- there is beer at every event. Every German beerfest and most restaurants have a great playground that bordered the fence of the outdoor picnic tables. We raised our steins and "prosted" the kids while they climbed and showed us all their antics. It was so ... civilized. It demystified the whole idea of drinking beer and why it was consumed.

Couple drinking beer and kids playing in the background

The kids had us, we had our beer. Peace! Why do Americans live in such a puritanical state? I can hear the responses to this blog now. Don't bother. Once you experience beer with your meatballs at IKEA, call me and tell me you think I am evil. We were lucky to get an IKEA here, a year or so ago.

After getting meatballs with the kids, I asked the IKEA staff person, "When is the liquor license coming?" She looked at me like I was a deranged alcoholic. "No!" I said. "All IKEAs in Europe serve beer and wine!" She did not believe me.

Seriously, when one is sitting at a café, whether it is in Italy, France, or Germany, and the kids want to play nearby, you order your second glass of the local wine and gaze lovingly in their direction. My kids were just friggin cuter in Europe. I was relaxed and ready to listen to their incessant need for me to watch them swing around the bars, climb the ropes, and play tag.

We came home to the harsh reality of America. My meatballs at IKEA are a little dry without the beer. My husband and I are a little impatient at festivals and outdoor markets. We do not have the luxury to sit and enjoy our beers while the kids play at a safe distance. I suppose I am just asking for life to be a little like it was when I was a kid. Yes, perhaps my parents chose to ignore the lot of us while they licked clean their wine glasses and we drove shopping carts past the restaurant windows after begging to be released from the table. They just needed a little peace. I merely ask for the same. Give me a picnic table and a civilized glass of wine at the park. Let's let kids be kids and adults be adults, in public!

12 comments so far | Post a comment now
Kristen May 12, 2009, 7:39 AM

Loved this article and understand completely:) We lived in Germany for 3years as well and oh how I wish we could go back. I think european countries are VERY family friendly, much more so than the U.S.

Tina  May 12, 2009, 9:45 AM

I agree theres nothing better than having a beer at a pub while the kids play outside!

Stacy May 12, 2009, 7:08 PM

Family, friends, good adult beverages and live music when available are essential to this Mommy’s happiness!

AM  May 12, 2009, 7:35 PM

I’ve often wondered why it was that when I was kid there were adults drinking beer, wine, and wine cooler at every BBQ, picnic and camping trip and yet for some reason I and my fellow adults have to be sequestered or wait till the kids go to sleep in order to be allowed to enjoy… This summer I will be enjoying my beer and margaritas in plain sight. Like a grown woman…. and I refuse to feel guilty about it. :O)

David Wisdom May 12, 2009, 9:01 PM

Katie, is it nature or nurture? When you were an infant in New Orleans we would go shopping at Schwegman’s Grocery and walk around with the store with a draft bought in the bar area. But that’s the big easy. Dad

Jim Price May 13, 2009, 3:45 AM

What about the pints of beer at the Red Lion in Wales Katie ?
We have a child friendly seven foot wall to separate us in case they want some.
Take care

Anonymous May 13, 2009, 4:39 AM

I now have the urge to put a cold one in the bottle holder on the stroller - just to see the looks.

nana linda May 13, 2009, 10:19 AM

crap I just threw out a bag of Ikea meatball from the frigs in Utah. I guess it has been to long since your last visit. The beer is still there.

samuel welsh July 9, 2010, 10:40 AM

beer is bad for teens

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Katie March 7, 2011, 6:38 PM

america is not europe. idont think the same rules and norms apply.
Ikea arm chairs

Jimmie Rade March 16, 2011, 12:29 PM

amazing register you’ve enjoy

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