A mother has faced backlash after revealing that she packs her toddler a meal to eat out at a restaurant.
Karlie Smith, a 21-year-old mother from Ohio, went viral on TikTok this week when she shared how she gets her two-year-old son to eat at a restaurant. “Call me cheap, call me whatever, but if we’re going out to a restaurant, I’m packing my kid a meal,” she began the TikTok, which has since been viewed more than 55k times.
Smith, who goes by @unbreakablemomma on the app, shared with her followers that her family gets together for dinner on Friday nights, but this time was different because they were going to a restaurant.
“My son is not getting food out,” she said, before explaining why she prefers to pack her son a meal ahead of time. “For one, you want me to pay $6.99 for chicken tenders and fries that my son is going to throw half of it on the floor, you’re crazy. Also, whatever I pack is probably gonna be healthier than what the restaurant has anyways.”
The mom then showed the meal she had packed for her toddler, which included a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, cut-up banana, mild cheddar cheese cubes, and a chocolate Lara bar stored in a plastic container.
“Also, when we get to a restaurant, my child is not waiting for anyone to take his order – he wants to eat now,” she said. “I can just hand him this and let him go to town. Also, my child is not opinionated. He does not care what he eats; he just wants to eat.”
However, Smith added that if her son wants restaurant food, she’ll order it. “Also, I usually get him chocolate milk because that’s his little takeout treat,” she said. “And after he finishes his food, he’s usually eating off my plate.”
While Karlie Smith’s parenting hack may work for her family, many people in the comments section were outraged that she would deprive her son of restaurant food. Some TikTok users went so far as to claim it was a form of “abuse” to pack her toddler a pre-made meal.
“My brother-in-law’s step-father used to do this to him as abuse,” read the top comment under Smith’s video. In response, the mother of two wrote back: “No one said I’d do this forever, I even said if he wanted something off the menu I would give it to him and share my meal, but he’s happy.”
Others chimed in, “Stop throwing the word abuse around,” and, “At that age they don’t know the difference between restaurant food or a home-cooked meal. It’s far from abuse.”
Some people also claimed that eating out at a restaurant should be a special occasion for everyone, including their young ones. “I just bring a snack for the wait but I think going out to eat is special for everyone, not just the adults,” said one TikToker.
“In my house everyone eats out or no one eats out! My parents had the same rules!” another wrote.
When one parent shared that they tried pre-packing their daughter’s meal once but they felt “so much mom guilt” for “leaving her out,” Smith replied: “I get it! Sometimes I take my son out for special mommy and me meals!”
Despite the negative comments, many people still praised Smith’s parenting tip and told her to block out the haters. “This is actually genius. My son is so picky and I always end up paying for something he doesn’t eat,” said one TikToker.
“Love this! My kid is autistic and doesn’t want to wait for the order to come,” another person said. “Go momma!!”
“I thought everyone did this!!” said someone else. “Literally common sense to bring toddlers snacks while eating out!!? It’s like a parent hack.”
However, it was Karlie Smith who had the last laugh when she poked fun at some of the backlash in a follow-up video. “What people think I do because I said I pack a meal for my two-year-old at restaurants,” she wrote over a separate TikTok video, which saw Smith act out outlandish scenarios, such as feeding her child a can of green beans and a raw onion.
“You clap back at those haters, girlfriend,” said one fan.
The Independent has contacted Karlie Smith for comment.