Kids at dinner parties

Need advice for the future. We have had a lovely evening with friends and a couple who have been helpful over the past few months. Sent an invite out for supper, us (48 and 60) other older friends and the local farmer also in his forties. Set a very formal table, catered according to numbers and then the farmer turned up with children (and Harry Potter) in tow. OH says he has never come across this (been here for 22 years), the others said they should have warned me - I am a newbie. All went well, fed the kids in front of the film - but conversation was a little stifled because of the background noise. Any advice on what to expect with future invites to other local couples. I am so used to the UK protocol of anything after 7pm being adult only unless specified but do not want to rub people up the wrong way by saying do not bring children. What has been your expirence, is this the norm?

Have to agree, over here, kids come too, although we tend to say to any invitation from someone we don't know very well 'oh, I'm not sure we can get a babysitter????' then leave the response up to the host. If we get an 'oh well' we assume the kids aren't welcome and decline anyway - as we don't have any baby sitters.

For me an invitation is for the family. I could type a lot more on the subject but I think it's all been said by Andrew.

We go everywhere with ours. In fact next year our friends are getting married & it's a 'no kids' wedding in Southern Spain which we totally understand BUT we can't leave our kids with anyone for a weekend - they are too young and too many! So we have booked a village house in the village where the hotel is situated and we have arranged for some of our other friends to come out with us and babysit whilst we attend the weekend wedding intermittantly. We'll be going back & fro over the weekend between the hotel and our village house so the kids will stay away from the wedding but we will not be away from them for too long at a time.

As for dinner dates - I guess the key thing is to know if your invitees have children or not and expect they will bring them - I've not been to a dinner party in France or hosted one (when the invitees have children) that has not involved the children. Often the smaller children will go to sleep in a spare bedroom after they've enjoyed the meal but it's common for them to be playing into the late hours in Summer. We go with the flow and they have a long afternoon siesta the next day to make up for the loss of sleep.

If you prefer it to be a an adult only affair then I would suggest before making the invite - asking if it is possible for them to get a babysitter so they could come over for an adult evening and what dates could they do? You can then judge from their reaction whether they are open to this or not. Personally, unless it was for a special occassion like our best friends wedding we would make our apologies and suggest lunch rather than dinner as we don't leave our kids with babysitters at their current ages.

We wouldn't go anywhere without our kids and would always expect friends to bring theirs (but that's a very French viewpoint as OH is French and we only have French family and friends). No harm in asking to clarify next time to avoid any misunderstandings. Our kids and their cousins don't go to bed until 9 so the 7 threshold doesn't mean much. They'll also happily stay up to midnight or so with family and friends (they're only 5 and 3!). I know this would be a bit odd in the UK but it's normal here. The kids also take as much importance as the adults at times!

Brian and other's advice is good - standards vary a lot, I'm sure it's not the same in other parts of France. Also he's right about times, dinner often not starting until 9 or 10, especially if it's an all nighter, one new years eve we still hadn't got past the main course when we stopped to see in the new year, then moved on to cheese, then pudding, then coffee, etc...!

Last new year with friends who don't have kids - they got in some videos, a present each for the kids etc and wouldn't ever dream of us coming without the kids, it's assumed that they'll be coming with us, whereas that might be the case in the UK

When we have our grandson staying (2) we either have friends over so we can use the intercom, or if we ate invited out, we make it a lunch!

You are quite welcome. However, if you are not already in, join the Franglais Kids group and some will be good advice and some very amusing - but usually useful.

Thank you Brian. Ithought as much. OH not used to kids but my tribe used to be pooled if an adult only supper was taking place. Will know for the future and cater accordingly.

This belongs, probably, under Franglais kids, but here goes anyway. I think I am taking it on the basis of what a large part of the world do, most certainly not what is a 'British' way of doing things and some French people do. I say 'some' because there are vastly different standards between individuals. I am also influenced by having a Latin OH and they always include children and often dinner does not start until nine of an evening anyway.

We watch and learn. All of the people we socialise with are French, however that does not mean they all come from hereabouts. Amongst those of us with children we naturally include them and have more than once had to go to find where our kids are sleeping, pick them up and put in car at one in the morning (or later a couple of times). People without children who do not know (not so likely if they know you well enough to invite you) that you have children should normally try to make provision for them. If that involves taking your own dvd (s), toys or something, then that is what we have grown used to. Hosts try to make provision for children and if that means that in a single room the TV is so quiet they have to sit all but in it, then so be it.

If, on the other hand, it is an entirely adult dinner or similar, then the hosts will say just that. People are generally happy to pool baby sitting, so perhaps one takes one's kids to the home of other guests. We once left our two as part of 12 to 14 in the care of a 18 year old who just took it in her stride, whereas in the UK it would be met with abject horror. If the only couple with children going, or indeed the only couple for a foursome dinner, then it is not rude to ask whether children can come and have something in place for them, find a babysitter or decline because neither of those two is possible. It is much more flexible than the UK where we got looks of surprise and even shock when we allowed our children to stay up until guests left. In fact, I suspect it hastened some departures. On the other hand, people said how good it was, but could not bring themselves to do the same. Vive la difference, perhaps.