In Spain it is completely normal to bring children of all ages to a restaurant and if a baby cries or a toddler whines a little no one scowls or moans. Traditionally in Spain on a Sunday there are large family gatherings of all ages at local restaurants, parks, beaches and children take centre stage. The waiters take it all in their stride, often playing a part in the general merriment and acting as unpaid child entertainers and restaurants geared for families and children are celebrated.
In a recent blog in the telegraph, entitled – a recent visit to Spain, total surprise was had by an English family, “Sitting in a busy Majorcan restaurant recently I watched as a waitress spontaneously picked up a wailing toddler, planted a smacker on his cheek and proceeded to take him off to the kitchen to meet the chef leaving his parents, in some relief, to dine in peace. It made me smile because the very same thing had happened to me some fourteen years ago when I first visited Majorca with my husband and young son” By annanicholas March 21st, 2013 9:12 http://my.telegraph.co.uk
Would this scene ever have been played out in the UK? With current health & safety legislation and parental fears of child abduction, I very much doubt it.
Their experience was compared to a typical English seaside resort, “It seemed that on a summer seaside holiday in England, aside from lousy weather, there had been a veiled hostility to her bringing a baby and twin toddlers into any of the local restaurants that she and her husband visited. They didn’t want to go to a ‘kid-themed’ pub or a fast food dive and yet that is where they ended up feeling most accepted”
Spain, like some other Latin countries, has always had the reputation of being child-friendly as this comes from a sense of community, where children and families are readily accepted at any time of the day or night. Often, many families with young children are seen late at night, being involved and accepted, as it is an inclusive country of shared celebrations, fiestas and feasts and everyone is invited to participate regardless of age.
Thankfully in Spain the idiom ‘children should be seen and not heard’ does not apply.
There was a Child Friendly Cities initiative in Spain that was launched in 2004 by the UNICEF Spanish Committee, jointly with the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, the Spanish Federation of Municipalities and Provinces and the Local Network for Children’s Rights. It is a certification strategy in which cities and towns engaged in the process of becoming child friendly receive an award based on the assessment of actions implemented in favour of children’s rights.
To obtain the “Child Friendly Cities” recognition, the city/town needs to have met the following requirements:
- existence of a city-wide children´s strategy,
- action plan or coordinated action;
- the creation of a council for children and youths or similar mechanisms
In addition to the CFC award, there is a special recognition for cities and towns that have implemented good practices in one of the following 8 specific categories:
- Right to participation;
- Right to health;
- Right to education;
- Right to enjoy a healthy environment;
- Right to leisure and free time;
- Right to living in a family environment;Right to live in a tolerant and multicultural society;
- Innovative cross-cutting actions.
For more information : www.ciudadesamigas.org
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