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Should you tip more as a parent dining with children?

Should you tip more as a parent dining with children?

As an average suburban dad of three (3) children under the age of eight, I feel like I am starting to figure out the world “parenting”. When the house is “quiet, too quiet,” I know my children are up to something that requires a surprise inspection. I know there is no such thing as a good hiding place for candy or gaming devices. And I know going out to eat pretty much limits us to pizza or a Mexican restaurant.

Part of the wisdom coming from daily parenting practice is the skillset of forecasting. I can predict at least one (1) fork will be dropped on the floor under the table. The paper sleeve that covers straws will be blown across the table. None of the kids will eat the meal they ordered. A glass of water will spill across the table and typically overflow on to dad’s lap resulting in an embarrassing walk to the exit.

As both parents survey the table, which looks like a tornado plowed through town, two thoughts arise. The first thought is an internal feeling of achievement for not screaming at your children in public. The second thought is… how much more should we tip?

My analytical brain tends to overthink most variables and muddy up the water of “easy math”. I think the 16 year old waitress that was texting while she took our order – may not truly feel the financial ramifications between a $10 and $14 tip. I try to remember the number of water refills and marry a value to the frequency of hydration. Should I penalize the waitress for never bringing the 5th set of silverware by lessening the tip total by $1?

At the end of the day, the rules are simple. You paid for a service, which comes with an experience. shows a community average tip of 21% for dining in a restaurant. So the extraordinary mess left by my children should be at least 25%.

Pay the tab, navigate through the tables of peers wondering if that adult man wet himself… and forecast a re-activation of authoritarian screams in public while your kids run haphazardly through a parking lot of cars.

How much to tip editor

Matthew McCoy

Editor and Writer

Matthew McCoy is a author, blog contributor, and editor for

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