Drinking While Parenting: What Would You Do?

PHOTO: Drinking While Parenting: What Would You Do?
Kid Protests While Parent Gets Drunk. Will Restaurant Patrons Confront Tipsy Dad or Mom?
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You're out for a nice meal at a restaurant when you can't help but notice someone at the next table has had too much to drink. It's only lunchtime, but he's downing shot after shot, joking around and talking a bit too loud. And that person isn't alone -- he's out with a young child.

Do you say something to the inebriated dad? Tell the restaurant manager? Call the police? What about when he heads to the parking lot and gets ready to drive away with the child in the car?

We took our hidden cameras to the Black Bear Saloon in Norwalk, Conn., to see how restaurant patrons would react to a visibly drunk parent.

Our scenario was played out by actors, but the problem is very real.

A three-year-old boy in California was recently missing for a full day after his father got drunk at a wedding and forgot where he left the child. Fortunately, that story had a happy ending, when the boy was found safe.

But other cases have ended tragically. In July 2009, police say a 36-year-old New York mom downed at least ten drinks before getting behind the wheel of her minivan with five kids on board. She headed the wrong way down a highway and struck an SUV head-on; eight people were killed.

So what would you do, if you saw a parent getting drunk while out with his child?

"What Would You Do" sent in actors to play a father and his grade-school-age son at the Black Bear Saloon. Scott, the father, raises a toast to his "liquid lunch," while young Nick pleads with him to stop drinking.

"Dad, we need to go to soccer right now," the boy says. "You're too drunk to drive!"

A couple at the next table looks on, distraught. "I'm afraid he's getting wasted," the woman says. They ask to move tables because it's too upsetting to watch and ask the manager to tell the bartender to stop serving him.

Another woman sitting nearby notices Scott's behavior too, and remarks that he seems too drunk to drive.

But no one says anything directly to Scott.

Click here to watch the latest episode of "What Would You Do?"

Patrons Worried It Might Escalate

But when Scott heads to the car do restaurant patrons leap into action. They alert the restaurant manager, who is actually another actor working with us. Several patrons then follow Scott into the parking lot to get his license number.

When we told them Scott and Nick were really actors hired by "What Would You Do?" one woman relieved, broke into tears. "I was concerned for the boy's safety," she said.

Why, then, did no one confront the tipsy father? "I worried it might escalate and make it worse for the boy," one of the women told us.

'Mom, Stop Drinking!'

But what would happen if instead of a father, it's a mother getting drunk in front of her child?

We sent young Nick back into the Black Bear Saloon -- this time with his mother, played by actress Traci. As Traci started knocking back drinks, Nick pleaded with her to stop. "Mom, stop drinking!" Nick protested. "You always do this and it makes me so upset."

What will restaurant patrons do when confronted by an apparently drunk and belligerent mother?

Click here to watch the latest episode of "What Would You Do?"

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