Q: Our four-year-old daughter, adopted at 10 months of age, loves to snuggle with me whenever she can, including when we’re waiting to be served at a restaurant. My husband says that it’s inappropriate because she’s too old, but I disagree.
A: It seems that your lap is a comfort zone for your daughter. I wouldn’t expect her to sit there without any adult support, so I would ask her if there is another way Mom and/or Dad could help her feel comfortable while waiting for her food (or in similar situations). Develop ways she can feel connected to you without sitting on your lap – for instance, when you go out, take along a piece of yarn that’s long enough for your daughter to hold one end of while you hold the other; touch your legs together under the table; or drink from two straws in the same water glass. Tell her that, while you know it’s hard to wait, you are going to do it differently now.
There are lots of situations in which parents have different opinions about how manners and behaviors should be managed. Parents should discuss their differences (but not at the moment of conflict) to determine what’s negotiable and what’s not. Sometimes just talking about a problem or explaining why it is important can ease the tension a bit.