Book Worm: Am I setting a bad example by letting my son read while at a family gathering?

Q: My husband and I have a very shy 10-year-old boy who loves to read.  Sometimes we go out to dinner with our children for extended family gathering because I have a very close family.  At the gatherings there are no boys my son’s age.  My son often asks if he can bring his book when we go out to dinner or get together at my cousin’s house for a family holiday.  In general, we say no because it’s rude to read while you are having dinner with, or visiting, other people.  Once in a while, however, if we know we will be occupied with other people and my son will be bored, we let him bring his book to read.  Are we setting a bad example by letting him read only sometimes during these family gatherings ?



A: You are correct that it is inappropriate for your son to read a book at the table.  However, after he has made an effort to socialize with the other family members, it would be all right for him to read a book as long as it doesn’t appear he’s ignoring other family members trying to involve him in the festivities.



  1. Jody

    I have to disagree with the second part of the EPI advice here, and I’m speaking as someone who was much like the OP’s son. 10 years old is old enough to learn that not every family dinner or gathering will be something you enjoy. If it’s an adult-only family gathering, maybe your son would be better off at home (with adult supervision). If it’s an “all generations” family gathering, I don’t think he should bring his book with him “just in case he’ll be bored.” At some point you need to get along with people/situations that aren’t very interesting and a family gathering is a good place to start. Who knows, with a little effort your son might find that it’s not so boring after all.

  2. Vanna Keiler

    On the grounds of compassion, I have to agree with the EPI response. As an only child, if there are no similar-aged children as him when they go out to dine, it could be excruciatingly boring (read: torture) for a child to have to sit through the lengthy chit-chat post meal. I feel sorry for that child and think if he is reading discreetly and the discussion is not something he can contribute to, the least the parents can do, if they choose to bring him to these funless dinners is to give him something he can occupy his time with. Leaving him at home may be the best solution in my opinion.

    • Elizabeth

      I agree. And what with all the concern about screen time for children, I think it is wise to encourage reading!

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