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I'm wondering whether it is acceptable to have older kids (I mean girls between 11 and 18 yr old) wear an apron at meals. I used to think that by 10 yr old, they would be able to eat perfectly cleanly but it seems that accidents still happen quite often. I don't mean they are doing a full mess of the meal, but still they may often end up with one or two little stains on their clothes. When my oldest was like 10 or 11, it was her idea to switch from the traditional child napkin tucked around the neck to a big cooking apron.

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    Welcome to Parenting.SE! I'm all grown up with kids of my own and I still end up with one or two little stains on my clothes occasionally -- I sympathize ;) – Acire Nov 18 '15 at 15:53
  • Can you define "acceptable"? I doubt it would be considered normal at a black tie restaurant, for example, but at home, who exactly defines acceptable other than, well, you? Are you asking if there is a drawback to allowing this? – Joe Nov 18 '15 at 18:50
  • Obviously if they're eating lobster they have to have the little bib with a lobster picture on it no matter what age they are. Otherwise I'd just say let it happen. I'm 36 and just today I managed to get some bits of food on my dress shirt I'm currently wearing in a professional environment. I doubt anyone will notice. But undoubtedly someone would notice an apron and that could lead to mockery which could lead to them turning into Dexter. – Kai Qing Nov 19 '15 at 17:16
  • two good words: Tide pen. Think about it - a product marketed primarily to business professionals engineered around quickly removing food stains from work clothes without a wash. commercial – EngrStudent - Reinstate Monica Nov 22 '15 at 14:18
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If it's the kid's idea to wear an apron at the table, then there's no reason why not. Moreover, if your oldest initiated the practice herself, then younger children may naturally follow suit. However, at some point, any child is going to bridle at an imposed restriction like this. (When a sixteen-year-old has a friend over for dinner, are they going to be willing to wear an apron at the table?)

If an older child objects, feeling that wearing something to keep their clothes from getting stained is infantilizing, I would not try to force it on them. Older children need to assert their independence, and they should be allowed a measure of personal responsibility. If you are worried about a teenager making a mess of their clothes, make the teen do their own laundry; a few times scrubbing out stains can convince them pretty quickly to be more careful.

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    Agreed. If a child that age is being careless and getting food on their clothes, then it's time for them to start helping with the laundry. That is the route I would go before trying to force them to wear an apron. – Kevin Nov 18 '15 at 18:39
  • Agreed. One addition - teaching a kid proper posture at the table will do wonders for this. A lot of times kids spill food on their clothes because they are slouching back in their chair. Teaching them to sit up and approach their plate will help, but you need to explain why, not just say "sit up." – user16557 Nov 20 '15 at 18:22

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