Child Bans: Acceptable Bigotry?

Eat At McDains.

Waiting at a sandwich joint for a magazine interview, I was looking over my notes as a young mother with little blond twins – probably two years or less – took up residence at an adjacent table. Their two-seated stroller, piled high with jackets, provisions and blankets, only lacked a team of huskies to be ready for the Iditarod.

Ensconced in two high-chairs, the girls got to work. A small plush Elmo hit the floor under the table, along with a tiny pink plaid pillow, a Sesame Street board book, and a minute plastic toy bottle. A baby doll in its own pink plaid bed and miniature pacifier presided on the tabletop.

Mom left the table to pick up a salad, a bag of chips, and a piping-hot bowl of macaroni. She divided the chips and macaroni between the girls on two plates, and left again to grab a wad of napkins. My feature notes forgotten, I wondered what responsibility I bore as an adult bystander as one of the girls plunged a utensil into the macaroni and slowly maneuvered a massive, steaming spoonful toward her mouth.

The little girl spat out the scalding macaroni with remarkable calm, a soft splutter sending the creamy pasta rolling down her shirt and onto the restaurant carpet, where they splatted to rest beside Elmo. As Mom seated herself and dug into her salad, the girls scattered potato chips into a table-top archipelago. Soon, Mom produced a huge, candy-studded cookie and broke it in half. Instead of taking bites of the cookies, the girls pressed them vertically into their faces, the better to gnaw the embedded M&Ms off the tops. Crumbs peppered the table-top, the carpet, and the long-suffering Elmo.

It was all over surprisingly fast. Mom lifted the girls, who began to wail at the injustice, back into the stroller. As she strapped them in despite the protest and gathered their toys, a small, heretofore unseen black-and-white plush monkey hit the floor. I picked it up and handed it to her as she passed. She took it wordlessly, pushed the stroller through the door, and was gone.

I assume parents are still human, despite their responsibility for little beings who, while not noisome, are certainly noisy. I’m sure parents like to go out and have a tasty salad for lunch like anyone else. No doubt their children gain valuable socialization as well as sub-par nutrition through visiting restaurants.

We could have gone on indefinitely, quietly tolerating the noisy presence of youngsters almost everywhere, but for a stalwart restaurant owner near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  Fed up with parents who will not remove their screaming kids, owner Mike Vuick of McDains restaurant and golf club banned all children under six. There are some who appreciated it: one article reports that his business has risen 20% since he instituted the rule. But he’s also raised a veritable firestorm in the world of parents, children and consumers who want to enjoy what they’ve purchased in peace.

I participated in a recent debate over the public presence of children when my former employer, Philadelphia’s Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site, considered reversing its policy banning all children under seven from the premises. The original policy was in place because the city apparently declared that the site would be hazardous to anyone under five, and museum staffers assumed many parents would disregard this warning and dissemble about their five and six-year-olds’ age. (The staffers were right: if they had set the policy at five years old, there would undoubtedly have been an epidemic of unusually small five-year-olds, instead of suspiciously young-looking seven-year-olds.)

I thought the original policy was nothing short of brilliant. As a tour guide, not only was I relatively free from questions on murder, incarceration, abuse or the death penalty from the under-five set, I also experienced remarkable peace of mind knowing that absent-minded parents’ toddlers did not have access to the broken windows, crumbling walls, rusty metal protrusions and flaking lead paint of the dilapidated 19th-century prison.

But then, possibly motivated by a desire to educate the world’s preschoolers on American penal history, or a growing sensitivity to the potential loss of revenue and visitor traffic occasioned by families who went elsewhere upon learning of the child ban,  or parents’ general convenience, Eastern State Penitentiary reversed the policy to welcome all ages, even offering free admission to the littlest ones.

Some employees thought we were on the brink of an unprecedented form of workplace hell, with strollers, diaper bins and wailing babies added to the tours we gave in the dusty, un-climate-controlled, centipede-ridden prison, which was already crammed with avid fans of TV shows like “Ghost Adventures.”

Sure, I had the frequent joy of delivering midsummer tours about architecture over a chorus of sweaty three-year-olds’ miserable howls. And once young children were admitted to the site, I witnessed more explosive vomiting in a few months than I had in my entire previous life. But in truth, life went on with far fewer child-related crises than some of us had anticipated. I often skipped the death row segment on my elementary school tours, and we all seemed to adapt pretty well.

So I feel qualified to discuss the effects of barring or admitting children. I’ve recently spent time on a few progressive mommies’ blogs which denounce what they deem “child-hate” or “child-bigotry”. These writers claim that many traditional manners required of children, as well as complaints against the public presence of children, are the last bastion of a socially acceptable apartheid: innocent children, to whom we should strive to be friends as well as parents, suffer from adults’ intolerance.

I’m not on board with the children’s civil rights movement. Children are the only marginalized group I know of whose suffering is invariably solved simply by letting a few years go by (sometimes even less time than that, with good behavior).

A public service message I recently watched while waiting at an Amtrak station also comes to mind. In the film, spunky, authoritative canines sniffed suitcases, and upright citizens phoned security to report abandoned bags.

“Remember,” counseled the voice-over, “there are NO suspicious people. Only suspicious behaviors.” No racial profiling, I think Amtrak means to say: for someone to be considered a security risk, one must observe specific troublesome actions, not the rider’s apparent race, age, sex, nationality or religion.

Same goes for children. They’re not barred from certain establishments because of who they are, the way African Americans were barred from many businesses for decades. Children are barred because of how they often behave.

Child-free areas remind me of local efforts to control destructive non-native species. Do we bemoan the proliferation of stink bugs, European starlings or pine beetles because we bear natural hatred against these species? No.  It’s because these and other imported species, having gotten in where they don’t belong, cause expensive crop damage, crowd out ecologically crucial native species, and can even destroy the landscape. I know, it’s probably a poor analogy, since the poor bugs, birds and beetles can’t improve their behavior, while growing children can, with time. And no squalling child ever felled the pine forests of the Rockies. But the fact still stands that some creatures aren’t welcome in some places, because of what they habitually do. Reporter Jim Durkin, for, quotes Vuick: there’s “nothing wrong with babies, but the fact is you can’t control their volume.”

I don’t resent children for their lack of ability to modulate their voices or stand still for thirty seconds at a time, or their penchant for wailing loudly without warning or apparent provocation (I was a child once, and so were you). I just want to be able to spend occasional leisure time out of earshot of children, if I so choose. I think that establishments – especially those with a bar, like McDains – have the right to delay the welcome for a few years, in order to cater to adults, their targeted customers. In the meantime, there are plenty of places which cater happily to young families. Parents who think their bundle of joy should be entitled to go anywhere, at any time, despite the amount of noise the kid is making, are being as childish as their poor screaming toddler.

Of course children should be able to act like children, and be loved prodigiously. But I think a few calm and quiet child-free spaces should be a privilege of adulthood, especially when customers pay a lot of money to enjoy a movie, a play or concert, or a nice dinner. Honestly, in some cases, a ban on young children is a favor to the child as much as the adults. Eastern State Penitentiary was well within its rights to exclude the youngsters – both for safety reasons and for the reason of catering to the customers who are most interested in architecture, penal history, and “hauntings”: adults. Are there really any Pennsylvania four-year-olds who are stricken by their inability to eat at McDain’s for two more years, when Chuck E. Cheese’s is open for business?



Add yours →

  1. This growing trend towards “child-free” places is continuing evidence of the gradual slide our nation is taking.

    The word is clear, “Having children is not good.”

    • Oh come on! When all the McDonald’s playplaces, Chuck E. Cheese’s, Toys R Us’s and baby registries close, and all children’s cartoons go off the air, I’ll believe that the world is telling us that children are not good. For the last century, American culture at least has been on a steady march to catering more and more to teenagers and children as a distinct and valuable group of people. Granted, that probably has to do with the dollars available in selling kids’ products, but I think there are still plenty of messages out there which promote children.

    • I disagree; the gradual slide you’re talking about is several generations of parents who don’t see their children as their own responsibility, and don’t bother to teach them about manners or acceptable behavior. Having children is just fine; having hellions is another matter.

      I think age bans are acceptable in some contexts — we’re not allowed in bars when we’re under 21 either — but for the most part, instead of a general age ban I’d love to just see business owners feeling more free to kick people out of their establishments for bad behavior without fear of being sued. I really don’t generally enjoy being around children, but I’ve run into just as many adults who are remarkably obnoxious in public places, while I’ve also met kids who are delightful to be around. They just really have to be properly looked after. I recently spent an entire dinner in a fancy restaurant — with a friend I hadn’t seen in years — fending off a young girl who was intent on making us a part of her playtime. Her parents were on stage, providing the evening’s music. What they needed that night was a babysitter, not a booster seat.

      • good point about the downside of our modern litigious tendencies.

      • Hi, wanted to chime in here as a child of the ’50’s born into a loving but highly discipling family. We were not allowed to talk back and wherever we were foolish enough to act up is where we were reprimanded. Embarassment was a good punishment, too. It kept us on our p’s & q’s for the next outing. We were so well-behaved (in public) that we could accompany our parents to the movies as little people. However, if they couldn’t get a babysitter and, say the movie was, “Whatever Happened to Baby Jane,” we were forced to an early respite in the back of the station wagon where occasionally, Poppy’s eyes would wander to make certain we weren’t sneaking peaks. We did, but luckily, didn’t get caught.
        That was during the days when drive-ins had little playgrounds. I remember the swings and the other little children we’d meet. Then, the screen would light up with the cartoons, “Mr. Magoo” or something entertaining.

        Parents were expected to control their children, and as children of Color, my parents were even more conscious because they were about exposing us to the world around us. And, if we were out and made a mess, we didn’t leave with it still messy. They taught us to be mindful. (or else)

        Sadly, as stated in the article & comments above, many parents teach their children to feel entitled to run recklessly about, disturb others, and make a mess without taking any responsibility for either their behavior or their messes. I’m a child person. I LOVE them and melt when I see babies. However, I’m not obilvious to out of control children and I find it disappointing and highly annoying that some parents are so underskilled and inconsiderate where their children’s behavior is concerned.

        If your child is well-behaved, there’s no place, save one that is explicitly adult, where the child cannot be taken. Years ago, I had taken my son out for dinner at a very nice restaurant. At a table not too far from ours was a mother with rowdy but adorable twins. She came over to our table and asked me how I managed to have such a well-behaved child. I didn’t want to hurt her feelings, so, I simply thanked her. However, the rules had been set up and reinforced. Children need discipline, and it can be achieved with kind firmness. However, you don’t need your child’s permission to do so. Let children be children but parents must learn to parent! Period.

      • We keep talking about discipline as something that makes life livable for adults, but I think the truth is also that children thrive on appropriate discipline and clear boundaries.

    • My parents’ generation was encouraged to have children in the 1950s and 1960s — but they also seemed to know enough where children should be taken.
      I did not accompany my folks to most restaurants, to movies theaters (other than a matinee of a Disney flick with mom), and on those rare occasions we were with grown-ups, I was expected to behave.
      I probably took my own kids, now 16 and 19, to more places than my parents took us, but when they misbehaved, got noisy or disturbed others, we paid and left. I didn’t inflict my children on others. And I’m pretty tired of restaurants, movie theaters and other public places enabling self-centered adults to ignore their children and allow their bad behavior to bother other patrons. And it’s not just the occasional squeak, squeal or food fling. It’s full-out tantrums, whining, talking, screaming.
      The message is not “having children is not good.”
      It’s “Parent your children. Set standards you expect them to follow so they can be tolerated by society. And if they can’t, they’re too young to be out.”

      • I agree with those who say there are plenty of pro-child messages out there as well as places where children are more than welcome. Sadly I also agree that — at least it would seem — a growing number of parents are self-centered and choose to ignore their children’s lack of “inside voices”, public manners, etc.

        “Your freedom ends where someone else’s begins…” not a bad lesson for even young kids to learn! I learned it several times as a kid — it’s part of growing up, it doesn’t necessarily mean a certain child is “bad”. Children are egocentric and self-focused by nature, it’s up to parents (and other adults) to introduce these children to the adult world they’ll someday be taking part in — a world in which they will be expected to be polite and considerate.

    • wadingacross – I don’t agree that child bans at restaurants (or other public spaces which are either privately or publicly owned) send the message that having children isn’t good, but I’d rather engage with the underlying assumptions behind your objection. Culturally, especially for women, in the US there is a huge pressure to have children in order to be considered successful (among other factors, of course, like having a job, owning a home, etc.). This cultural discourse to multiply can be traced back to harsher times, before pregnancy became medicalized, before general medicinal advances of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and before the general economic uplift that placed more people in the middle class due to further industrialization (and many other factors) in the early twentieth century. Previously, many more women died in childbirth, thus ending their capacity to produce offspring, and many more children died in general due to disease. And since most parents needed to have adult children around to care for them in their dotage (as they didn’t have the funds to pay for nurses,etc.), young heterosexual couples needed to make sure they had enough children that the odds were in their favor. Now that infant and child mortality rates, as well as rates of death during childbirth, have decreased, the population has increased significantly, and there is no longer a need for everyone to have children. Ecologically speaking, having children is NOT good. Not at the current time, at least. Our species has overpopulated our habitat, and that overpopulation is putting stress on ourselves, our food supplies, and our environment. Having children could actually be seen as detrimental to the species at this point. Certainly, not everyone should stop having children, and I acknowledge that the picture of history I paint is somewhat incomplete (mainly since this is a blog comment, not a history tome). Also, my remarks are about the US specifically (there are, after all, still plenty of nations with substandard healthcare for women and children, with high infant and child mortality rates, high rates of death during childbirth, etc.). But the dominant cultural discourse about having children is still predominately one that requires people to have children, even though the reasons supporting that discourse are now non-existent for the majority of people in the US.

      • You touch on a lot of interesting things here. One thing that jumps into my mind is that mother/child mortality rates in the US, I’ve learned, are actually significantly higher than those in many other developed countries, because, in part, of the medicalization of birth, and the needless interventions that have become commonplace. Thanks for chiming in with interesting ideas.

      • That’s interesting – from what I’ve read, the infant mortality rates have plateaued in the US (while other countries continue to reduce their rates) not because of medicalization, but because of the growing lack of access to prenatal care and inability to pay for hospital stays after birth that is felt most by those in the lower and lower middle classes and for those with less education. Other countries with lower IM rates tend to have healthcare systems that are more easily accessed by mothers of all classes and education levels. Certainly some aspects of maternal healthcare may be leading to increased risk for mother and child (such as the fact that it is often commonplace now for doctors of middle and upper class women to automatically set a time to induce labor to make sure the birth fits into both the doctor’s and mother’s schedules rather than allowing the labor to occur naturally), but I would be very interested to hear how medicalization has had a significantly negative effect on IM and maternal mortality rates.

      • I think part of it has to do with skyrocketing c-section rates. We’ve come to see the c-section as almost routine, when in fact it’s major surgery with major long-term risks. And from what I’ve learned, the inductions that are so popular nowadays are associated with much higher levels of other kinds of potentially risky medical interventions that would not have been necessary otherwise. It’s also true that lack of access to prenatal care is a huge issue. It’s a complicated topic with many sides to it, I’m sure.

    • Just wondering why it is that–with six billion people in the world–some people assume that childbearing is a gift to the general public.

    • I think you should think about good side of having children 🙂

    • That’s exactly right. The world is overpopulated and the most responsible thing anyone can do is not have children.

  2. I think you have a valid point. My husband and I once went to a very expensive, high end movie theater on a date and there were two children–both old enough to know better–talking throughout the entire film. It was very frustrating to encounter this type of behavior and I couldn’t help wishing that the theater folks either asked the parents to quiet their kids or just set an age limit on who could attend this theater.

    • I recently went to a heinously scary late-night movie, and upon exiting, I saw a family who had brought two kids under five. I just about lost it and may have said something along the lines of urging them to get a babysitter and then questioning their sanity…it was the rare Public Harpy side of me – perhaps I was overwrought by the movie and the late hour, but I felt so sorry for the kids (the movie was about a young child kidnapped in the dead of night by a horrible demon). I agree you should have been able to enjoy your movie in peace.

      • I saw Hangover II with my wife, and there were kids under ten in the theater. I wish I’d had the balls to say something to their parents (I didn’t) but I did at least say something to the theater owner. I am no ratings harpy, and my parents took me to R-rated movies as a young TEEN within reason, but there’s no reason a 10-year-old should see Hangover II, no matter what the peer pressure.

  3. Im sure that the more I know adults and the more I read these posts and attitudes that are enforced in real life, that humanity is doomed to end their petty silly existence. I hope its sooner rather than later.

    Disgusting, I dont have children mysekf but I take a child anyday over a handfull of adults.

    • Depends on the adults for me…As far as I know, people continue to reproduce even though a few establishments ban kids under a certain age. I think the human drive to procreate is stronger than a few policies banning children. Thanks for your comment.

  4. Parents are responsible for their kids’ behavior, so I would want to see parents banned from the public places, the ones who pick their noses, sneeze and cough on everybody around,talk so loudly that nobody else can hear themselves think and so on.
    Kids do not know any better because they are not taught any better.
    My husband would probably want to send babies and kids under the age of 8 to an island, so he does not have to share planes, movies, restaurants with them. Of course it is easy for him to have this view since he has not had a baby 🙂

  5. It would be hard enough for an adult to take in an uncensored historic prison tour without having nightmares!

  6. I tend to agree that there are some places children would be better off not having to go. I know of several places I would not want to take my kids to that I have seen children. And they were not happy either.
    I also think that if a establishment is too dangerous or is not condusive to having kids run around, spill and break then it should be okay not to allow them.
    What a provocative post for Freshly Pressed. Congrats!

  7. Amen sister!!! I’m not a fan of the “children’s civil rights movement” either. I don’t blame the kids for acting like kids. I blame the parents for not acting like responsible, considerate adults.

  8. I am a mother of two girls. Both of my kids were less than meek and mild. In fact my five year old is still in the process of learning self control. My ten year old has grown into a a wonderful young lady we can take anywhere. Do we take the ten year old anywhere? NO. I as a parent and a person that considers my husband and myself individuals think we need space in a reasonable way. My solution has always been we take our children to fine dining establishments for lunch to give them a chance to learn manners and proper behavior. I think practical hands on experience is always best with kids. We tell them what we expect before we ever enter the establishment. If my five year old begins to yell or jump around at the table, we take a break and wait in the lobby or outside area. Now, dinner is for my husband and myself, without distractions and a time for us connect. In short when I take my children out, the last thing I want to do is disturb the party next to us. The problem is restaurants, removing the chance for parents like me to teach my children how to behave in all social situations. I hope other restaurants will be willing to see some parents that walk through their doors have children that are not throwing forks at the table next to them and all parties can eat in piece. It just takes work.

    • Your approach sounds great – kudos! Going out for lunch is a good compromise. When I was a kid, I learned a lot about manners because my parents did take me out to eat, with clear expectations about polite behavior. And I think you’re right – temporarily removing a whiny child from the situation, if possible, will make life happier for everyone, child included. I’m not a parent yet, but I’d take your advice when I do have kids!

    • I hadn’t thought of the lunch idea; that’s a FABULOUS idea! I, too, am a careful parent and have always tried to take my son to appropriate places – for everyone’s sake. However, several respondents are correct, there is no substitute for experience when learning things like “appropriate public behaviour.” This idea will be implemented in my home beginning now!

  9. Awesome. I agree with your views on this completely. There are definitely places where babies and toddlers just do not belong.
    I wish we could ban them from buses sometimes, along with the people who hold outrageously loud and long conversations on their cellphones.

    • I would ban a cell phone caller in a minute. I always want to sing at the top of my lungs when I am held hostage by a conversation I don’t want to know. Then ask if I am bothering them.

    • Death to outrageously loud and long public cell-phone talkers!! Ok, not death, but some kind of suitable deterrent.

    • Hmmm, ban babies and toddlers from public transport??? During the first year of my childs life, that was the only way I could get around..and I would have gone quite literally mad if I’d had to stay at home for fear of creating a little noise in public.
      Before becoming a Mum, I had little patience for little people, but now appreciate that kids aren’t always capable of being silent and unseen. Having said that, I always made a real effort to keep my daughter comfortable and entertained, so as to avoid any unruly behaviour. I agree 100% with all of you who say parents need to take responsibility for teaching thier kids what is acceptable behaviour. If you’re not interested in taking the time and effort to raise your kids, don’t have ’em! Simple!

      • My heart always goes out to moms with tots on public transit! What a challenge! I always try to be tolerant as I can of kids on trains/buses (I practically live on public transit), because I know what it’s like to rely on public to get around. Some kids will always use the seats on the bus as their own jungle gym.

  10. I apologize if this gets a little long because this bothers me to no end! I have disdain for both noisy toddlers and irresponsible parents who can’t figure out why everyone is giving them weird looks. I have taken up talking in a moderate volume about the embarrassing and inappropriate screaming/behavior and back talking and I don’t care who hears! Your kids do not have the inherent right to be wherever they please, they are not paying customers! Some parents need to learn to parent a little better and not take their kid to a bar and since they can’t figure that out on their own we must have brave owners and outspoken adults do a little parenting for them. It seems perfectly ok for the parents to say they won’t go to an establishment that won’t allow their screaming infant inside but why can’t they just do that in the first place and be quiet about it like their kids should, they could serve as a good example! This may sound harsh but I’m sick of this argument, no one is burning crosses in front of your child’s crib or calling them derogatory names, well I might…but come to think of it they do sometimes have their own drinking fountains, guess we better do away with those because they should be treated EXACTLY the same as adults…

    Give me a break! When I was little we hardly ever went out and when we did we didn’t get whatever we wanted and if we acted up we were taken outside. You have to teach children how to behave early on or they turn into even bigger monsters as teens. When did parenting become indulging your chubby little carbon copy with all their desires? Have a little backbone and LEARN HOW TO PARENT PLEASE and then rest of us can resume sanity in peace.

    ::WHEW:: Hopefully, I have not made any enemies with this comment, obviously your post touched me and possessed me to rant about all those irresponsible lunes I was forced to deal with when I was a waitress! 😀

    • I never mind when folks write their own novels in the comment section…I usually write blog posts because I hope there’s something worthwhile to think about in the content, so I’m glad when folks have in-depth responses. Thanks for sharing. I hope you’ll visit again, if you’re not too worked up ( :

    • Here. Here. It shows a shocking lack of common sense to bring young children who aren’t old enough to sit still and pay attention to a movie or to a restaurant. If we could only do something about the screaming airplane travelling child. Actually, this is a true story, I was standing in the security line and a man was holding a boy of about 4 or 5 who was intermittently screaming at the top of his lungs. Twenty minutes we listened to this and the father did nothing. Not a shush. Nothing. If parents can’t discipline, you’re going to get more and more bans and angry people butting in to provide the parenting you will not.

      • Poor little kids-on-airplanes. And poor everyone else who must listen to them.

      • For airplanes: because they cannot easily release ear pressure the way adults can, they are often in pain, esp. during take-off and landing. A wet washcloth given to them to suck on can alleviate this issue.
        Why flight attendants do not hand these out to mothers I do not know. This info should be widely spread.
        Personally, I go to great lengths to stay away from children on airplanes. Heaven forbid they ever start allowing cell phone conversations!

      • Poor kiddies! I never considered that they can’t equalize their ears like I can.

    • I AGGREE! I have two kids and if they can’t behave they don’t get treated as if they have earned the time they are getting out. Eating out is costs more than it does to eat at home. When my husband and I do it, it is to socialize our children. I expect MANNERS!! I want them to learn in the process it is not eating out for the sake of eating out. I do that on my private time.

  11. I don’t think that I would ban the children, rather the parents who have raised such ill-behaved children. Kids will act like kids until they are told otherwise, so we should blame the parents involved and ban them from the restaurants!

    Great post and very thought-provoking! Congrats on being Freshly Pressed…well-deserved! 🙂

  12. I think it’s a fabulous idea, and I’m a parent with a kiddo! If I get a rare kid-free night out, the LAST thing I want to do is go to an expensive restaurant and listen to someone else’s kid cry/whine/complain, etc. If there was no where else that catered to kids, it would be different. But there’s plenty of places that are totally kid-friendly. When you have your kids with you, go to McDonald’s! It’s not rocket science, people.

    • Point well-taken. I have a gazillion nieces and nephews and I do not object to them being noisy or fretful when I’m visiting in their homes. However, when I go out without them, I do not want to hear other people’s kids shrieking either.

  13. Co’mon. We ban kids from all sorts of things they’re not ready for. And I would say, if you can’t control your impulses and you scream and cry in a public place where people are expected to use inside voices, sit still and use advanced table manners, then you’re not ready for that environment. I love children so I’m probably more tolerant than most, but the people in that restaurant didn’t have your kid and they shouldn’t have to put up with that kid when they’re trying to relax and have a nice meal. There are restaurants for kids and families, chuck e. cheese, Mickey Ds as an example. Do yourself a favor parents, get a sitter when you want to go somewhere a little more upscale. It’ll be good for you. It’ll be good for junior.

  14. Excellent post. McDains’ ban is simply the result of a lack of respect for others on the part of parents who refuse to remove their misbehaving children from public places.

    Furthermore, why do parents insist on bringing small children to restaurants that cater to adults? Parents should go to those restaurants on “date nights” when they have a sitter for the children. There are plenty of family friendly restaurants to take the little ones to.

  15. i’m a mother of a 2-year-old, and i still fully support child bans. wedding receptions, movie theaters, nice restaurants…any grocery store or walmart after 9pm (shouldn’t they be in bed anyway??). so thanks for sharing, and i’m all over this band wagon.

  16. I think I should also say, it is not bigotry. If a child is being loud and unruly an owner should be allowed to ask the party to leave. Just as they would a silly drunk couple carrying on.

  17. Wadingacross, I wholly disagree with that. This is an adult world. We make accommodations for children and we want this to be a world they can enjoy, but they don’t need to nor do they want to be everywhere. Why take a child to somewhere they’re not developmentally ready to be? They’ll be bored, cranky and miserable. There are plenty of child and family-centric places for children. This is the grown up world and some of us who love children to death like room to enjoy it without the pitter patter of little feet.

    • “Why take a child to somewhere they’re not developmentally ready to be? ”

      Because the parents want to go, and they will be damned if they are going to let the fact that they are parents, responsible for a small child, keep them from acting like selfish brats. If they want to go to that restaurant or movie, and their poor kid has to be rendered bored, cranky, and miserable — and every adult within earshot severely inconvenienced — then too bad.

      Seriously. It’s pure selfishness on the parts of the parents, who had a kid and still want to act like they did in their responsibility-free days.

      • That’s a narrow view. Sometimes you’re right, but sometimes parents just need to get out because they’ll go insane if they don’t. And it doesn’t always work out to have a sitter. I don’t think the point is child bans, but parenting education.

  18. Couldn’t have said it any better…and I think child bans (at least on the small and squirmy ones) are certainly not bigoted. I love the accompanying drawings as well. Congrats on being FP! I also recommend a funny little book on this subject entitled “I Hate Other People’s Kids.”

    • Oh my goodness I think I read that in a bookstore once…tears were rolling down my cheeks, I was laughing so hard. I’m glad you enjoy the drawings – they’re so fun to do!

  19. I have dogs, I love dogs, but I don’t bring my dogs every where I go, because not every other individual feels the same way about dogs as I do. Sure, parents can get mad at me for comparing their children to pets, but until they reach a certain age, that’s exactly what they are: fancy small creatures which require your attention and devotion to survive. I’m reminded of a friend who went to see the most recent SAW movie, where another patron had brought their toddler and infant. The children, obviously, cried and cried throughout the whole thing and when the friend’s husband complained to theatre owners about it, they informed him that since the babies were accompanied by adults, there was nothing they could do.

    So yes, I think establishments should have the right to deny children because apparently some parents don’t have the capacity to understand what is and isn’t appropriate for certain age groups.

  20. I am a mother of two and soon to be three. There are many restaurants where I dare take my children and many restaurants where I would never even consider taking them. Children move, they require attention, the sometimes spill stuff and talk loudly. Sometimes, they are not patient with the wait for the food.
    I continue bringing my children to places who have a small playroom for them. Or a place where there is already alot of noise.. but a fancy-smootsy quiet restaurant is out of the question… not only for respect of the other people who go there for a quiet supper, but also for the respect of my children, who have needs that must be met. It is unimaginable to ask children to sit and be quiet while waiting for three servings and a dessert.
    So I am a strong believer that it should not be necessary to ban children from restaurants, it should be necessary for parents to be respectful of others and their children.
    Anyways, good blog! very interesting and good writing. Thank you for sharing!

  21. I love it!! There is a time and a place for everyone. I don’t think banning children from some establishments is wrong. Hell, why do children need to be in a bar in the first place? They can’t drink.

    However, I think parents need to exercise caution when taking their children places. If you know your child is destructive, correct his behavior or leave him home. I do this with my own children. There are certain places I refuse to take them because of how they behave.

  22. As a father of five sons I tend to agree with fornormalstepfathers and Kim. I’ve been around parents who have lots of kids who behave themselves in public, are respectful and have good manners. Then there are parents like the mother you describe here, who quite possibly has not taken the time to teach her daughters that some behavior is not acceptable in public (or in private if you ask me). ‘Kids’ can be 20-somethings with their pants down to their ankles, headphones blasting music loud enough to start a block party and talking at the top of their lungs. Again, a product of loose parenting. Teach them correct principles and they’ll learn to govern themselves.

  23. It seems to me that this could go both ways… on the one hand, some places necessarily should have children banned from them- places too dangerous or inappropriate for children to go. However, there is also the pitfall of the “me generation”– this seems to follow along the lines of self-importance, and more value placed on personal comfort and “individuality” than on benefit to the community at large. To increasingly legislate and ban this or that because it is just too inconvenient for you to deal with insulates one away from reality. So many people supposedly don’t like children (not to say the author is one), or can’t handle being around them.( I personally cannot stand badly behaved children whose parents will not discipline them, but that is something entirely different). This seems to me to be a juvenile attitude, the one of a teenager wishing only for their own comfort.
    As trite as the phrase may be, it takes a village- children are valuable, they will teach you as you teach them. You need each other… it is not only parents who raise them.
    In this society where mothers, children, and the elderly are becoming increasingly devalued, it is important for us to revitalize the atmosphere of community again. We cannot hide from loud noises, dirt, heat, cold, or reality forever.

    • you’re right, nobody can go wrong with a strong, positive community.

      • Agree. I would like to think that my child could benefit from the “village raising a child” environment…a couple months ago I came across a group of teenage girls harassing another. I stopped and asked what was going on, tried to encourage the offending kids on thier way, and when they wouldn’t go I hung around till one of the girls Mums turned up to collect them. Some folks would say that I was interfering, but I couldn’t just leave them to the bullies. People who whine about the state of society, but do nothing to help create a better one appear to have missed the point. We are in this together, for better or worse. Personally I prefer the “better” option 🙂

      • I’m sure the bullied girls’ parents would appreciate what you did.

    • “This seems to me to be a juvenile attitude, the one of a teenager wishing only for their own comfort.”

      I’d say that the parents of kids who bring them to inappropriate places are the juveniles. They want to see that movie, or go to that restaurant, and they don’t give a damn that their kids will be bored, up too late, or otherwise miserable, to say nothing of the inconvenience to others. Behind every person who screams about anti-child bigotry because they can’t take their kid on the tour of the glassblower’s workshop is a parent who is secretly having a mental tantrum along the lines of, “WHY DO I HAVE TO MISS OUT ON THE TOUR JUST BECAUSE I HAD A BABY?!”

      I’d call that more of a “me generation” symptom than any attempts made by businesses to defend their own peace and quiet and security against groundless litigation.

      • Certainly they have the right to ban whatever they’d like in their stores… however, the glass blower’s also falls under inappropriate. This is the United States of the Offended, where it is now also inappropriate to reprimand other’s children (no matter what they are doing), or even to gently nudge the parent in the right direction. I know this seems like a natural way of being, but it wasn’t (and isn’t) always so, here and everywhere. We have lost our sense of community- those that would school their children and allow them to be schooled, and those that would tolerate a little extra noise in the name of our future. I have definitely seen some posts on here from “child-free” touting anti-mothers who are convinced they must be either rich or perfect to have children. Word to the aware: The middle class is disappearing. Parenting is about more than procreating. It is about the betterment of our future. It is people like those you discuss with poor parenting skills, not the children. Remember that any business in the US still retains the right to eject anyone, anytime, for very nearly any reason… perhaps they merely need to exercise that right more often. It is not only the toddlers that need schooling.

      • Well said. Other commenters have also raised the issue of kids with special needs. All kids do need a chance to learn and experience life in public, whatever their challenges are.

  24. When I go to a fine resturant and spend a lot of money I want to be able to enjoy the dining experience without crying, screaming, children. This isn’t a matter of banning children from establishments rather a ban against parents who are too stupid to know that maybe bringing a 2 year old who didn’t take a nap that day to a fine resturant.

  25. I have no problem with kid-free restaurants. Even if a place only banned children for dinner service or something, then everyone could be happy.
    Until we could behave, my brother and I accompanied my mother on as few excursions from the house as possible, including grocery shopping. We’d either be stuck with a sitter (the kind where the kids are dropped off at the sitter’s house), or left at home (I think my brother was 10 or so, old enough to be in charge). When we were taken to a sit down restaurant, we were allowed to play quietly beneath the table if we were finished eating. If we got rowdy, my mum would point out the nearest person in a uniform, and explain that if we continued to be loud, that person would kick us out of the restaurant, and we’d have to wait in the car for her and dad to finish eating. Also, I grew up during a time when you’d be hard-pressed to find a second drinking fountain at kid height.
    I say, enough with the spoiling of kids and their parents. 20 years ago, this wouldn’t be an argument.

  26. I, too, have read a few of the mommy blogs that rail on this issue and call it discrimination. To that I say poppy cock. Excellent points about children not being children forever and that establishments have the right to prevent destruction of their property. Don’t get me started on sticky fingers.

    I do think crappy parents are the real problem. And none of them get it. They certainly aren’t the majority but they stick out like a sore thumb. And they are constantly bringing their kids along to places that are really inappropriate. I went to a special screening of “Step into liquid” – my favorite flick EVAR – and I groaned when a woman came in with her toddler. And sure enough the child was bored out of his mind, wailing 10 minutes in. Cut to me trying to restrain myself from yelling “WHY are you bringing your 3 year old to a SURFING documentary??? GHA!!!” She finally gave up and left the movie.

    The first time I read one of these mommy blogs I was disgusted by the utter lack of acknowledgment that in many parts of the world, including here, children are SUFFERING. Badly. Abandoned at birth, crippling abuse, one of 6 kids and mom works all the time and dad’s dead, living in utter poverty, being forced into labor too young, never getting a chance to go to school, being forced into street gangs to sell drugs, human trafficking…I could literally go on and on. And these women have the NERVE to question whether or not their children actually have any rights? Disgusting. Most of us have it so good, even if they’re scraping by people can often say they are wealthy in love. And that is a product of a culture that LOVES children and families. We should be proud of that. We should not take it for granted by having a false sense of entitlement and an insistence that toddlers call the shots. Adults call the shots and children desperately need that healthy, educational guidance.

    Great post – thank you!

    • Thank you for making the point that compared to some of the horrific conditions children in this world are living in, your kid’s being banned from a restaurant is small potatoes.

  27. Where were these bans when I was
    being draged through the clothing store
    at five years old? Sure you can say it was
    a children’s clothing store – but the bordom
    nearly killed me.

    • When my father was a child and my grandmother took him to the store, he called it “the desert”. The term lives on in my family, that’s still how I think of the mall sometimes.

  28. As much as I love children, I agree with Alaina. There must be places that children are not welcomed. Great blog – love the analogies.

  29. Yes, there are loads of places that cater to children, and yes, adults do deserve to have calm, quiet places, but some adults have children and they don’t always want to be in those child-centric spaces. Hiring a sitter every single time you want to go somewhere just isn’t financially possible for most people.

    At the same time, it’s completely unfair to expect other patrons to put up with your kid screaming or throwing toys at them. Some parents have learned to tune out the child-noises too well, for their own sanity, some are just worn out, and some are plain inconsiderate. But if the kid is just chattering at a normal volume or throwing (quiet) things in their own area and everything’s picked up after, then I don’t see the problem.

    In cases such as your workplace, where there’s higher risk of bodily harm, I can’t say I’d object too strongly to an age rule. I believe there’s nearly always a better option than an outright ban, though. For example, I don’t know how liability laws might work, but can we get waivers signed for personal injury and give strong warning to parents as well as directly to their children, point out specific dangers, advise that this activity may be disturbing/boring/dangerous for children and how they might be so…

    Of course, it is more work, but I believe it’s worth it. Telling children to stick with kiddy restaurants and casual affairs tends to affect their choices long-term. I’d rather have a child who knows he can enjoy anything from Chuck E. Cheese to an opera, and knows that he is expected to adjust his behaviour appropriately. If a parent is unable or unwilling to help them adjust, or if they aren’t cooperating, then yeah, out you go. A lot of it is up to the parent – too many times I see a parent snap at a kid or ignore the whining instead of taking them outside for a quick word.

    And by the way, I do know a young kid who’d be interested in the tour. She’s six years old and absolutely fascinated with prisons. Not the prisoners or the punishment or anything but the buildings. Personally I don’t get it. But you’d find a ton of those types of kids, the ones with the weird ‘adult’ interests, in the unschooling crowd – homeschoolers without schoolbooks, basically – and these are the kids, generally speaking, that adore historical sites and museums and libraries, as well as the ones who may need them more, given they don’t have school field trips and all that jazz. For their sake, I hope we can find a way around child-banning that still protects adult environments from disruptive children.

    • yes, actually some of the best questions I’d get occasionally came from kids – they have a way of getting right to the heart of issues. I love it when kids are interested in the world around them!

      • p.s. My two favorite kid questions from giving tours at the prison. About parole: “How do you know that the person is going to stop being bad?” About crime by authority figures: “What happens when a policeman does something bad?” How many issues of our society boil down to these questions?

  30. I have really mixed feelings on this topic…I am also the mother of a two year old, who frankly, is pretty darn good most of the time in public spaces. And I consider myself to be one of those “responsible” parents everyone refers to (though I find it is usually people who are not parents who say these things). The thing that irritates me about this conversation is that “kids” spaces are usually defined by crappy fried food, plastic and obnoxious behavior. I don’t WANT my child to learn that running around and screaming is acceptable behavior in a place one eats, ie. McDonalds playplaces or Chuckee Cheese. It is then confusing when I want to go a nice place with salads and hummus on the menu to ask him to sit nicely and not pretend to be Cookie Monster with his food. I often use the line, “Does this look like a playground to you?” He understands that and will tone it down, but if it DOES look like a playground, then I’ve got nothing. I like information- not bans. So as businesses consider whether to “ban” children I would suggest an alternative. In advertising, websites, brochures, etc. place a line or two about your “atmosphere” so parents, like me who don’t want to piss off the whole world can make a good decision about whether to bring the kid, and what time of day to do it. A local “tea room” that I love has done this, and makes everyone quite happy. They say something like, “our space is small and intimate, so though we love children, we ask that they come in the afternoons when our outdoor seating is available, rather than evenings when it is reserved.” Simple. I can bring the kid for lunch knowing that other moms might be doing the same. As for weddings, a ban seems a bit much. Checking with the bride and groom seems more reasonable.
    I just feel that culturally, “bans” are a bit of a slippery slope, because the rest of the U.S. is not as “child-friendly” as everyone thinks. In the parts of Japan and Korea where I have traveled, there are changing tables everywhere, curbs are cut out for strollers, nursing & family rooms are practically everywhere and airlines provide bassinets for babies. And yes, there are some bars/restaurants who do not allow children. But there is a balance- the culture generally values children and the mothers (typically) who are caring for them. Back home, Starbucks has removed changing tables from all their remodeled bathrooms. About half of restaurants don’t have high chairs, or only one for the entire place. The only place I see nursing rooms are in maternity stores! And strollers are not allowed on public transportation. I can’t go jogging in my neighborhood with a stroller because the curbs are too high and the one or two places in my area that advertise as “family friendly” for eating and play that are not McDonalds, are not open past 3pm. The message seems to be: Stay home moms and kids. We don’t want to see you.
    I agree with the basic premise of your post, though, that it is about behavior, not age. However, I don’t see the practical application of this, with signs on the doors of coffee shops that say, “Under 6 Welcome if Well-Behaved.” I’m thinking that would be bad for business…

    • Really good point about what kids are learning if the only places that welcome them are plastic playgrounds serving fried food. Bans are a slippery slope, you’re right. We all need a modicum of courtesy and tolerance, and hopefully we’ll get along more often than not, without banning everything under the sun.

  31. Thanks, I just made an appointment to get a vasectomy. Doing my part. 🙂 I share your same feelings and don’t want to contribute to the problem.

    Congrats on Being Freshly Annoyed..oops, my Bad, I mean Freshly Pressed.


  32. I like that you wrote about this topic, it is something that a lot of people feel very strongly about and is definately worth discussion!.
    I feel that it is the parents responsability to gage the maturity level of their children. They know their children best, if the timing of the event is during nap time, or the kid is going through a rough spot in their development (age 2 for example), or the kid just simply has not learned the skills to be able to be managed in an appropriate manner, then that child should not be in an adult setting! It is the parents responsability to manage them, no matter the age! It is the fault of irresponsible parents that these “rules” are having to come into play.
    For myself, I have 2 children under the age of 4. We regularly attend events at our local revolving restaurant. The average plate in this restaurant is $35 so it is getting up there. I WILL bring my children to this restaurant for mothers day brunch as it is aimed at a family atmosphere. BUT I will leave them at home for any supper engagements unless we have a private dinner room! Why? Because I want to enjoy the cocktails, the appetizers, the entree, the wine and the coffee with dessert. A meal in this restaurant can take up to 2 hours and when all is said and done cost about $100 per person!
    I would be INSANE to expect my children to sit quietly and appropriately through all those courses. I would be INSANE to expect myself to not raise my voice in that amount of time and I would be INSANE to expect the rest of the restaurant guests to not grind their teeth every time my child released a screech.
    The more I pay for services the higher I expect the standard for those services to be. It would enrage me to pay $100 per person for an evening out without the kids and to have to deal with child noise in that time.
    Responsible parents know the boundaries, irresponsible parents push those boundaries, those of us who love our children, but love our nights off are not offended by these developments.
    But always remember that there is always going to be an exception to every rule. Children who have practiced proper behavior in their homes and are regularly exposed to fine dining may suprise you with their stamina at behaving well in public places!
    However, my children are NOT that exception! ;P

  33. Why can’t kids come with instruction manuals? “These children ain’t got no behavior!” – harry belafonte

  34. I do side with those wanting to ban children from certain places. I am not anti-child. I am more anti-bad parenting. I spent several years working in a museum gift shop, where parents seemed to think that the gift shop employees doubled as nannies and baby-sitters. Once a woman told her children to run along and “just play in the gift shop” while she made a phone call. I think some people want to be part-time parents with frequent vacations. It’s as if when they see another grown up in the vicinity, that person suddenly becomes the second mommy or daddy. Once a woman came up to me with a desk globe her 3 year old child had broken. I made her pay for it, and she was none too happy. Obviously, it wasn’t a toy, but she let the kid play with it until he broke it. Then it became a problem. She was also heavily pregnant at the time of the incident. No common sense and another child on the way. How sad. This is why we need these rules. The ones who lack common sense need to wake up.

    • Yes, one of my hugest pet peeves is parents who assume other adults are there to watch their kids. Stresses me out to no end, because I WILL keep an eye on the kids for their own safety, while seething that the parents won’t do their job.

  35. Remember the saying at the entrance to most businesses ‘No shirt, no shoes, no service’?

    Businesses have the right to deny service. For years businesses have removed grown adults for their unruly ways because the unruly customer is disturbing other customers. Children can be very disruptive, and cause chaos in an otherwise nice place.

    I am a parent of 2. I like this ban, support it, and understand that it is NOT a new concept to ban undesirable persons from a certain location. Children do NOT belong everywhere.

  36. Ive actually heard of a restuarant in the states that wont allow any children in their place. Not even a baby. A family that was making a stop in that town, and wanted to eat there, was asked to eat outside, because of the baby. Lol. ouch!
    I work in a fast food place.
    unfortunately many parents have dropped their children in our playplace and left, to do shopping, and other things. (one left to go to work)
    we notice these unattended children, and call their parents, their folks actually have the nerve to get mad at us.
    I have a job, its not looking after their children. (the woman who went to work had an absolute fit!)
    Then there are the parents who are in Playplace who talk too much their friends, too busy gossiping too notice that their children have wander off. We get a lot of flack for that too!
    I love that its our fault.

  37. A difference I’ve noticed between crappy parents and good ones is that the crappy ones tend to focus largely on their children’s rights while the good ones focus on their responsibilities as well. The two kind of go hand in hand. Which is what I’m reading in most of the comments. If your kid is well-behaved, great, go to a restaurant. If not and you don’t want to take responsibility for them — or cook — order in.

    And I’ll add that I’ve raised three children in a very child-centred environment. Almost everyone in my family works with children in some capacity — youth worker, social worker, teacher. We all feel the same way — child-rearing is all about helping children become productive, contributing adults and the biggest part of that is understanding that every right is balanced by a responsibility. No better time to teach that than right from the beginning.

  38. Children learn acceptable ways to behave in public by going into public places. Unfortunately we’ve brainwashed our society into thinking that children are to be seen and not heard, but children learn the right thing to do by doing the wrong thing and not getting away with it. I blame parents that don’t take that opportunity for creating little monsters. But I also blame society for not making it socially acceptable for them to do so.

  39. aspiringtobesomeone September 1, 2011 — 6:31 pm

    I think the main problem is the parents of these children. If people watched their children they wouldn’t be acting up. I know how terribly hard it is to watch kids in public places at times, having had been a nanny, but parents did the deed and they should do the time. Having kids isn’t all rainbows and sunshine, people need to realize that.

    I’ve met many children who weren’t really a problem when properly dealt with. Many parents nowadays don’t deny their kids anything if they throw a fit. Unruly kids can only be the result of bad parenting or handicaps.

    I wish parents would be more polite, while I can understand the exhaustion that comes from chasing around a 3 year old all day.

    But I am pro-child rights. I’ve had plenty of bad things happen just because cops can’t trust a kid (who has no reason to lie because they are sure to be punished either way) over an adult.

  40. Loved this: “No doubt their children gain valuable socialization as well as sub-par nutrition through visiting restaurants.”

    I think any establishment should be able to ban children. If you have children that are well behaved, that’s great, congratulations on raising a child correctly. But there are plenty of parents who simply let their child do whatever they want to do. I do not want to hear your child scream while I’m having dinner with a friend. I do not want your child running around where others might trip over them.

    If it’s for adults only–leave your child at home. They will be miserable at a place that caters to adults. Hire a sitter or take them somewhere they will like too.

  41. Urf… this is one of those slippery slope arguments where no matter what side you’re on, you may be afraid to say it out loud for fear of being branded a certain way.

    Personally, I do like the idea of restaurants (and wherever else) having a no-child area, only because I don’t have children myself and I really don’t want my experience ruined by screaming, barfing and pooping children.

    From what I’ve seen, unless you’re a parent, you can’t possibly understand what it’s like to have a child. I find that parents have a strongly developed ability to tune out screams, and are more patient and understanding than the rest of us. That’s great, but for those of us that haven’t developed these traits, being around children who are acting can be difficult to stomach.

  42. As a Pittsburgh native and a patron of this restaurant, I would clarify it more as a ban on poor or marginal parenting skills, rather than children’s behavior. As you mentioned, parents are concerned about parenting AND “friending” their kids. I don’t think that can happen simultaneously with young children. As a mom of three adult children, I can say that I am now a mom and a friend of each of my kids and a few of their friends. Young children require consistent parenting from a caring, but clear-minded adult until they become responsible adults – and that’s more a behavior than an age!

    • Yes, the “friends with my child” issue is key. Now late in my twenties, I treasure my friendship with my own mother, but that friendship was not in place in the same way when I was a child. But my mother’s raising of me laid the groundwork for our adult relationship to be a good one.

  43. It’s really a parental thing. They aren’t complaining that their kids’ rights are being infringed, not really. They’re whining that THEY will miss out on things because they had kids and now can’t bring them with them. It’s not “Why can’t my little darling come to my karate class?” so much as “Why do I have to miss out on karate just because I had a kid?”

    You had that kid, and you honestly thought it wouldn’t impact your life in any way? Were you daft? Kids will turn your life entirely topsy turvy. if you were so clueless and stupid that you thought you were going to have one and it wasn’t going to change your life in any way … man, you’re the wrong person to be sending your DNA into the future.

    It’s the selfishness of the parents that’s the problem — who had kids and want to still act like they are responsibility-free college students. Grow up, people. You’re a parent now. Your life has changed. DEAL. I’m not a child-hater. I’m an immature idiot parent hater. Now go bang your heels on the ground and scream, and then put yourself into time out until you think about what you’re doing.

    • I suppose there might be some truth in the idea that parents complaining about child bans are really upset that it’s now more difficult for them to do things they want to do, because they have a child in tow. But I imagine this isn’t true of everyone.

  44. I am a firm believer in bringing my four-year-old daughter to interesting places, whether they be museums, restaurants, or national parks.

    Of course, there are places children shouldn’t go. However, I have no guilt about taking my daughter out to dinner at 5 pm. The grown-ups can have the place to themselves later in the evening when most children are in bed.

    What would our society be like if parents attempted to please people who don’t like kids? Do we really want a generation of people entering the work force who think that fast food is good food? Do we really want our future citizens to have traveled only to amuseument parks? To never have visited an art museum? To never have checked out a library book? I’ll do what’s best for my daughter, and I’ll try not to disturb others in the process. But hiding in my house isn’t going to happen anytime soon.

    • If my mother hadn’t made regular trips to the library with me when I was a kid, I would be a very different person today! You’re right, we all need a balance between people’s comfort and the next generation’s education.

  45. I think there’s a middle ground. Children don’t need to be locked away in closets, but I think there is a certain entitlement attitude among some parents who believe The Little Darlings should be allowed everywhere. Should young kids be allowed in diners, PG-rated movies, and history museums? Yes. But yoga classes, nice restaurants, and art galleries? No. It’s about limits.

    Honestly, I’m surprised more parents don’t practice what mine did: if the kid misbehaved, one parent went outside with them until it stopped. If it kept happening, they left. Common sense and courtesy.

  46. It’s not as much a matter of children couldn’t behave themselves or parents couldn’t and wouldn’t supervise their toddler.
    Though, I can imagine a mum, who is bringing two under-three kiddos to a bit more up a dinnerplace than mcdonald’s, to meet their dad, who doesn’t show up eventually, and the mum is ever so worn off allready, she couldn’t even care about the strangers hissing all around… But that is not the case most of the times.
    The real problem lays where a parent, who’s child acts inappropriate, not only does nothing about it (other customers usually feel supportive, seeing an appologying blush and real efforts to take control of the situation) BUT usually this parent also does not appreciate other adults trying to say something educational to their child. “It takes a village”, as someone already said. We have lost our village. We try to protect our children against stranger adults, but we ourselves lack suffiscent self-esteem to teach our children, and therefore, we lack authority. Grandparents also live apart from main family and when they meet youngsters, they tend to compete for popularity, rather than share this burdain of parenting. But it is normal for a few-years old to question every rule. When there is only 1-3 adults to stay in positions with ALL those rules, which are to be learned, before a child can feel free in public, it is only normal, that those 1-3 adults get tired and break down and may even stay down eventually (depends on how hard is their other everyday-puzzle).

    If whole society feels, it is still normal for other adults to get involved in a misbehaviour-situations, then those others dare to adress directly to a child.Now we do not dare to speak to a child, we try and speak to parent, who feels ashamed and threatens to sue us! Andpoor childlearns, that the way she or he just acted, was a proper way! Because mom just said so! Only, actually, moms hear too much about how uncaring they must be, if they allow strangers to adress their children. Or, worse, they hear about what else they do wrong when trying to solve a tantrum-case in some supermarket.

    I’m a mother of a little one and a baby, and I rather don’t go out with them too much, so I get a lot of “you are affraid of socializing them”. but when I sometimes need to plan a town-trip with BOTH of them via public trantsportation or public lunch-places (I live in a country with cold winters and rainy weather all the other time) without a second adult in help… It’s a real drainer for me. I am allways thankful, if we get to destination without ruining someone else’s day, and when other adults do need to point something out, it really shouldn’t be “why are you rising your voice at your children, don’t you have MONEY to buy this chocolate for her?”

    This kind of authority-kill is also something, that eventually produces more children-terrorized restaurants.

    • the chocolate-bar comment is SO out of line, what a drag that people would talk to parents that way!

    • You make some really good points. Parenting is a huge job. No one can do it in a vacuum. There’s nothing wrong with saying something directly to a child or a parent as long as you’re polite and reasonable about it and understand that it’s not always about the parent’s lack of responsibility. The only parents I find who over-react to strangers’ comments are parents who aren’t doing a very good job, maybe because they were really poorly parented themselves and simply don’t know good parenting, and are defensive about it.

      I know a woman who’s been teaching parenting skills for years. One time during Christmas shopping season, she was in a department store where a young kid was having a huge temper tantrum. The mother was clearly at her wit’s end but there she was, needing to do her shopping, unable to even leave the store until the child calmed down enough to be taken on public transit. My friend watched this for about 30 seconds and then approached the woman, said “I work with children, here’s my card. Would you like some help?”

      Not everyone can do that, but finding some way to be supportive is usually a better route than just being rude and judgmental.

      • Certainly parents to children with in-progress tantrums are not in need of any ire from passersby. Dealing with the kid must be stressful enough, and I’m sure the vast majority of parents do everything they can to calm their kids down, though of course it doesn’t always work. Thanks for visiting and thanks for your comments!

  47. I agree that restaurant owners and other types of establishments should have that right . . . to ban children. Especially if the place is set up more for adults. If the common sense isn’t there for parents to understand their kids aren’t appropriate everywhere, then it takes someone with authority to deal with it . . . so it is enjoyable to those that are being catered to.

    Now, what I don’t agree with. I have two boys. Buses, trains and planes are my way of getting from point A to point B. Transportation should NOT be looped into the above comment. Perhaps child free areas of these vehicles, but not the whole thing. Parents can’t be stuck at home, or away from relatives, business and friends because the intolerant few. It is a much different argument.

    That said. I put it on the parent to discipline the kids involved. They shouldn’t be kicking the seat in front of them and making a lot of noise. There should be a level of control that the parents have. This doesn’t start when they load the plane. This starts at home, dealing with the tantrums there. Whatever the kids are getting away with at home, you can count on that same crap coming out in public, times 10. My kids aren’t perfect, but they know that line that I’ve drawn and they rarely will push past that, and if they do, there is discipline involved. I’ve had my dirty looks from passengers, just for having the kids with me though, and that’s not fair. I’ve also had the sweetest people help me and make me feel welcome and that makes a world of difference, especially when traveling with kids.

    I know this is getting long . . . but another side thought. Kids with Autism and other disorders are harder to discipline and definitely have a different volume control. They look normal, but be patient . . . have some grace with people that you don’t know the background or child. And, for heaven’s sake, dirty looks don’t help.

    • Thanks for the perspective on kids who might have special needs – very true that it’s impossible to always know what’s going on. It’s true that dirty looks rarely get us anywhere.

  48. Wow. Very well written. Nicely argued. Timely. Something’s definitely going on with child rearing. I was thinking about it just this afternoon. Here’s my latest theory: There’s no support from extended family (grandma’s and grandpa’s) with everyone moving all over the country for jobs.

    When I was young, if my siblings or myself misbehaved in public there was always the threat of: next time I won’t take you out with me. We could be shunted to one of two groups of grandparents. Now it’s babysitter or bust. And that just isn’t enough support for parent’s.

    I really wish it was societally acceptable to give some encouraging words to parent’s who are having difficulty with their kids in public and even address the kids that are screaming right next to me. But I feel awkward about it.

    In my apartment complex, there’s a young girl that practices her screaming at least once a day. Once I went outside to see if she was okay. Her mom pushed her by in a stroller and just smiled at me…? These are serious screams–everyday! I’ve begun to wonder if the child is suffering from some form of anguish.

  49. Because, isn’t it obvious: when a parent DOES rise voice, she or he is already on the thin end of authority. In this case, it really is better not to push her or him off entirely. A child doesn’t need to hear from a strange lady, that mother truely might not be correct to decline this… chocolate bar or something. A child is testing borders and must be ensured: the borders are there, they will stand.

  50. I agree with the many people who have said, in different ways, that the problem lies in the parenting. I don’t have children, so perhaps I shouldn’t talk, but I know that I was raised with rules…reasonable but firm rules. I was raised to have manners and to be considerate of others. I’ve seen the end result of today’s lax parenting style: the local movie theater on a Friday evening. I’ve only experienced this one time, but I will not, will not, will NOT attend a movie on a Friday evening ever again. The one time I did, the theater was packed with teenagers–YOUNG teenagers–nearly all of whom were talking right out loud, playing with their cell phones…and completely ignoring the movie they (or, more likely, their permissive parents) had paid for! Their loud talking was beyond distracting. Why were they there? My guess would be, their parents jumped at the opportunity to get their adolescent monsters away from them! Well, I didn’t appreciate their parents’ dumping them on me, that’s for sure. If I wanted to be around unruly teens, I’d be a high school teacher. I will never teach, because I don’t think I’d be able to keep my cool in front of a classroom full of rude, sneering, cell-phone-addicted teenagers. The way they act is just so foreign to me. Are there still good teens out there, teens who know what sort of behavior is appropriate in what setting? Sure. They’re probably just too nerdy to be seen in public! 🙂

    • My mom is a career teacher, and junior-high homeroom teacher. She’s an amazing woman – don’t know how she handles all those teenagers day after day! Thank God there are good people out there who are willing to do this because I NEVER WOULD!

  51. My husband refused to eat in restaurants until our son was two, and even then we would pay and leave if our son would not listen and behave.

    If I realize I’ve taken my son somewhere when he’s really too tired, hungry, or sick to be in public, I feel it’s my responsibility to him to cancel my plans and reschedule them when I’ve set him up for a successful outing. It’s one of those inconveniences I took on when I let my husband knock me up. That’s life.

    Parents who selfishly refuse to acknowledge they are in a short season of life that requires a high level of self-sacrifice harm themselves and their children.

    A business owner should be allowed to choose the loss of some patrons with children if they feel it is in the best interest of their business.

  52. Very interesting article! Good food for thought!

  53. love the article!! GO for child ban, for i myself do not like children!!! lol… i hate it when you are doing something and they would just run around you, bothering you. grr! they just go into my nerves!! lol!!! :p

  54. I don’t have kids and don’t plan on having them. Mainly because everyone else’s kids get on my nerves. I know, everyone says it’s different when they’re your own…so why do a lot of the people I know who have kids gripe about them all the time and are always dying to get away from them? When my husband and I go out to eat or to the movies, we try to position ourselves as far away from little kids as possible. It’s rare that kids are well behaved in public places anymore because parents just don’t seem to care. It’s sad that I have to turn around a shush a kid who’s talking non-stop through a movie, and then the parent kinda wakes up to whats going on and THEN tells their kid to be quiet. Why bring them if you know they’re not going to pay attention, and how have you trained yourself to just tune them out so well? Bad parents!!! And the parents who allow their kids to stand up in booths at restaurants and look over and bug other patrons who are trying to eat in peace…shame on you! I really see a lot of this as selfishness on the parents’ part. When you have kids, your life changes and you have this big responsibility now. Don’t try to live your life the same as you did when you were childless and expect the rest of the world to just have to put up with it. Stay at home and spend more quality time with your children while they’re young. I don’t think it’s a ban on kids as much as it is on the bad parents. But you can’t very well say that the only young children that are allowed are the well behaved ones.

    Yep. 😉

  55. I loved your blog, I do not have any children so I dont know how I will feel if I ever have them. However I am a huge advocate for keeping children out of adult activities. I do not want to sit next to a toddler at the bar!

  56. As a mother of two-year old twins, I can identify with the mother who desperately needed a salad. I have two words for this post: TO GO. Even though I am a mother and child advocate – I do not appreciate screaming, wriggling, messy children when I go out. Leave your kids at home, people, or order take away. Kids play by their own set of rules (as dictated by their developmental stage) so they don’t belong nor do they have a right to be everywhere. It is just disrespectful.

  57. And, by the way, on what planet do chips, mac-n-cheese, and a cookie qualify as a meal??? Aaaagggghhhhh.

  58. I would suggest that some restaurants post warnings near the entrance and on the menus, saying that any disruptive patrons will be asked to leave.
    I have seen restaurants with signs banning cell phone conversations, and I think this would work under the same principle.
    When our children were younger, I was surprised to find that their behavior was often worse in a restaurant than at home. I think they automatically went into “school cafeteria mode”, no matter how many times we explained the rules. We didn’t take them anywhere nice until they grew out of that phase.

  59. The biggest problem that i see, is the parents. I hate to say it, but in so many cases it is the parents that didn’t show an example of what is right and what’s wrong, what’s acceptable and what’s not. Children, after all learn based on what they see right? anyways, that’s just my two cents on that 🙂

  60. All children need these days is discipline! I so wish I lived in the 50s!

  61. First and foremost, thank you Alaina for sharing an honest, non-aggressive, and educated post. It definitely deserved FP. Secondly, thank you to all the commentators for sharing your perspectives as well. I feel I learned something from reading the entirety of this post (Cheesy… I know!).

    Like rastelly, I remember my mother dragging me into KMart. While my mother had no problem shooting me “the look”, spending 45+ minutes in a clothing store was exciting to me for all of 5 minutes. Once I realized I wasn’t getting a Polly Pocket, I was doing all I could to entertain myself. In my case, that was running up and down the isles, hiding in cloth racks, and climbing on shelves. The beauty of it was that, again, my mother had no problem giving me “the look” and when necessary giving me “the calm voice”. Was I a pain? Yes. Did my parents figure a way to temper it? Yes.

    I sadly don’t see enough parents exhibiting the same level of diligence my parents did when I was growing up. The few I do see, I have the urge to run up to and thank for doing their part.

    Like many people have said, it boils down to the parents inability to take responsibility for the child’s actions. Too many parents think a child is only allowed to fully express him/herself when they’re allowed to be “themselves” (ie. do whatever the heck they want in public, at home, at get togethers, etc). It’s attitudes like this that lead to the self centered generation/people Seti Matua and B referenced.

    Thank you again for sharing, everyone!

    ~ Lady

    • Thanks for your comments on the quality of post. I’m glad you found it valuable, and I certainly have gained a lot as well, seeing everyone’s stories and perspectives. I think the discussion is great, and I hope you’ll visit again!

  62. Being of the Boomer generation I was rarely taken out when I was a little kid, this despite the fact my mother owned a restaurant. Little kids generally can’t control themselves long enough to sit through an entire meal without jumping up and down, screaming, crying, or throwing food on the floor – or their siblings. It is not that children are bad, it is that they are not little adults – they are little kids! We grow into more adult behaviors as we age and are socialized.

    Places like Chuck E. Cheese and various fast food places with play areas are appropriate for young children. Nice restaurants are not, generally. My daughter was rarely taken to anything other than a fast food place until I knew she was developmentally ready to occupy herself and wait. She was an exceptionally good kid in public and there were still times she was carried out of a grocery store or KMart kicking and screaming until she could manage to get control of herself. Overstimulation is the bane of all little kids.

    Her children were not dragged into public places where they had to act like little adults when they were too young. In fact, when her exceptionally well behaved oldest daughter was about 4 years old we went to very nice restaurant for a large family dinner and were stunned when suddenly my quiet, soft spoken, “Silent Sally” grandchild emitted a piercing scream that decalcified spines throughout the entire restaurant – and we’re probably lucky the fish tank didn’t explode. Mom was not amused.

    Parents need to get a clue about where kids belong and where they do not. Even the best of kids – as my granddaughter proved – can throw you a curve from time to time. Let us not expect little children to be little adults. They are at the developmental age where attention is short, frustration happens quickly, and social skills are not deeply engrained.

    I love little children too much to see them in venues where they’re acting in age appropriate ways and yet their behavior is not acceptable for the venue.

  63. Yes, there definitely should be some places free of children. I’m continually surprised at parents who are continually surprised at how their lives change forever once they reproduce. Yes, having kids means there are some places you can’t take them, whether there’s an explicit ban or just common sense saying it.

  64. having recently been on a plane surrounded by disruptive children (one beside me, one behind me and one in front of me) I would pay the airlines extra money for a child free flight.

  65. Years ago, on a Father’s Day, I took my father to a baseball game (I was in my 40s; Dad was in his 70s). There were kids everywhere, being loud and annoying. They were stepping on people without apologizing, cutting in line, shrieking in ear-splitting tones, etc. I asked my father to be 100% honest with me — did my brother or I ever behave like that in public? He said no, and that if they knew we were even considering it, we’d be slammed into next week.

    I’m not advocating beatings, but I do think a swat on the behind goes a long way.

    The nicest restaurant we ever went to when I was growing up in the 1960s was HoJo’s, and even then Mom and Dad took us home if we misbehaved. In short, I don’t hate children, but I do hate their parents.

  66. I’m from a family of 6 children and am the eldest. My parents were too poor or too tired to take us out to lots of genteel restaurants, shows, etc.

    But 1-2 times per year we all went to a Chinese restaurant where my father worked to annual banquet, etc. Or a huge wedding banquet. In some cultures, children are welcomed as part of the family…which I like. It gave me the fondest memories…and exposure to culinary food heritage. I’ve watched very young nephews and nieces enjoy themselves at such functions.

    I do remember my parents never interested in dragging in very young children into the store for extended shopping, meaning a child under 2 yrs.

    Yes, a child does have to be taught once they learn to understand words, language, etc.

    • It’s great for children to feel part of their larger culture, and weddings/banquets can be an important part of that. As a future parent (I hope) of multi-racial kids with family on both sides of the Atlantic, I hope family gatherings will have a lot to teach them.

  67. Common sense should dictate where it is appropriate for children to be (NOT BARS). There is a vast difference in parenting by generation. My kids were raised like I was: behave yourself in public and do not embarrass me or the ride home will royally suck. My mother would never have tolerated so much as a peep from us kids. My kids (11 and 8) have gone places with us for years and they know if they act up in public Mama gets ugly really quickly. It has happened once with each kid and they learned that it was a bad idea. A lot of parents my age and younger are beyond permissive with their kids. I think kids should be allowed to behave as kids, but some parents take that way too far. I don’t think of it as bigotry or a violation of children’s rights. It is, very simply, evidence that our parenting skills leave a bit to be desired. No kid is an angel, but as a parent I have a responsibility to teach my kids how to behave in public. If they are bothering other patrons, I’m not doing my job.

    • parenting is a very important job!

    • I totally agree. I worked in group homes when I was a young woman and my husband, sister, and daughter still work with kids. The rule I/we learned in that milieu and always used with our children is that it’s okay for them to act out — we all do it sometimes. But you do your acting out at home, with your family — not in a public place, not when you’re at a friend’s house, not in school with your teachers, and not even at home if you’re being cared for by a sitter. If our children ever broke that rule, they paid a price. We never hit our kids, but it’s amazing how creative and effective parenting can be when you simply take away a few privileges for a while. “You can watch TV again next week, and then only after you’ve written a letter to apologize [to whomever was impacted] for your poor choices.” Words wonders, not only in the moment, but in helping children learn what it means to be considerate of others, and what kind of consequences they may have to face if they choose not to be considerate. Parenting is hard, constant work, but it’s not rocket science — just common sense.

  68. It’s OK to say someone can’t go somewhere based on who they are, everywhere I go there’s a discriminatory room in the building which I’m not allowed to go in – just because I’m male!

    Yes, that’s right it’s the women’s toilets.

    As far as the children ban goes, I’m OK with that – it’s nice to be able to go somewhere and have a meal without someone’s child screaming down the place. It doesn’t mean that I hate children, it does mean I like a little peace and quiet everynow and again.

  69. So here’s my take on the subject.

    I am not a “breeder,” nor will I ever be unless I suddenly become fabulously wealthy. (I’m not raising a child in anything less than upper-middle-class because I am NOT going without food or anything else just to perpetuate the species.)

    I know we have all been children at one point, but that doesn’t excuse parents who lack the ability to, well, PARENT. Parents are not supposed to be “friends” to their children. They are there to provide a decent home, food, and raise them to be law-abiding citizens. Too many parents I have seen in movie theatres, restaurants, and the like seem to simper around their children. “Oh, hush, hush now… mommy is right here, PLEASE don’t scream…”

    Where is the stern gaze, the wordless warning?
    I was marched out of church service and into the atrium for a spanking if I even whispered a tad too loudly to my mom during service. Why should children be allowed to run all over the place screaming? I might have been a child but I was never THAT unruly.

    Bars, adult restaurants and the like SHOULD ban children! Actually, it shouldn’t even be necessary to ban them, it should just be universally accepted. I mean, honestly. I had to wait until I was old enough before I even got to go to the Olive Garden. What are CHILDREN doing in a restaurant they won’t even be able to enjoy?

  70. Honestly, I think that it depends on the child, the age, the parents, and the place in question.
    There are places (bars, casinos, prisons, glass factories/stores) that are inappropriate for kids. It could be dangerous to their health, mental or physical, or to the displays/merchandise. For example, my mum avoided Antique Stores like the plague because she was afraid that we’d break something.
    There are kids who don’t mature, EVER. I’ve noticed that High School and College guys don’t get much more mature than they are when they’re 5 or 6. In fact, 5 or 6 year olds are more fun than the guys closer to my age. On the other end of the spectrum, there’s a rare kiddo who listens and learns and is quiet and respectful.
    The parents ought to know their kids, and work around them. The role of the parent is to be one who teaches, cares for and protects their child, preparing them as they see fit for the adult work world. Right?
    Idk. My thoughts on the subject. Congrats on being FP!

  71. When I was a museum docent, I LOVED it when small children came into the place. They asked a ton of questions and were usually quite interested. You know which visitors I HATED to see? The elderly. They often smelled like a mixture of colostomy bags and musty sweaters. And they bitch about *everything* — the lights are too dim or too bright, the type on the placards is too small or too large, the video presentations are too loud or not loud enough, blah, blah, blah.

    The moral? Just because you’re an adult doesn’t mean everybody loves you. I’d rather hear a screaming kid than a complaining adult (which includes bloggers).

    Crap post. You don’t like kids? Stay the hell home.

    • ’tis true, in my own museum days, I could always smell it as soon as the senior-citizen tours arrived…Maybe it’s that they all wear the same abominable fragrance, or maybe it’s the mothballs…but generally I like old people.

      If you don’t like complaining adults, I don’t think the blogosphere is the place for you.

  72. I think parents should learn how to discipline their children.

  73. I know that when I was a kid I was never allowed to have a fit, and soon learned that doing this was definitely going to get me in serious trouble. I think one of the hardest situations for me and having kids is an airplane. They’re cranky, I’m cranky, and if they continue to kick my seat throughout the entire flight my head is going to spin!

    • I don’t know what I’m going to do when I have children! My in-laws live across the ocean, and a 17-hour plane right puts me over the edge. Don’t want to imagine what my children will do….

      • I have nothing but sympathy for parents on airplanes. I have travelled with young children. You read stories, you colour, you play with dinky cars and dollies, you have snacks and more snacks and more snacks, you go to the bathroom eighty-three million times … and still you get people angry at you for not having your child bound and gagged through the flight. There are places where children shouldn’t go, and places they should leave if they misbehave, but, seriously, on a plane trip to make the occasional visit to relatives, what do you want the parents to do? Step outside?

      • I’m a grownup and I still go to the bathroom eighty-three million times. As a woman whose future children will have grandparents across the ocean, I’m sure I’ll be grateful to anyone who’s tolerant of kids on planes, and I’ll be on the lookout for tips from seasoned parents for easy traveling!

  74. I love the idea/implementation of child free locations! Especially restaurants! I don’t mean McDonalds or other kid friendly places should be child free but I recently had lunch with a friend at a small (15 tables or less) Italian restaurant with good food. There was a table of 4, two parents and two children…aka screamers! One child screamed for over 10 minutes before her father took her outside. Many customers (including me) asked the waiter to say something or do something in addition to loudly commenting which the parents ignored.
    Now, maybe your child shouldn’t be banned but if I wanted a lunch where I had to deal with a screaming toddler I would go have lunch with one of my cousin’s children instead of with an old friend or better yet I would have one myself.
    If your child is going to ruin someone else’s meal, your behavior is unacceptable. That’s right, your behavior. My largest complaint in this situation is the parent who brought the child and not the child.

  75. I worked in a preschool. What I experienced in a preschool is that as time goes by, that parents are more stressed than ever. It takes two people working in a home “to make it” and often at the end of the day, grown-ups are too tired to discipline their children and simply ignore their bad behavior. I’ve discussed this in another blog featured on Freshly Pressed a few months ago, but in the state that I worked in, if you were a star-rated daycare then you were actually forbidden to tell children, “no” but had to instead, “redirect” them. This was per state guidelines. What I think I’m experiencing in this country is the age of entitlement. And now, in addition to that, we are raising children who do not know boundaries. I don’t mind having well or moderately well-behaved children in any establishment that I frequent as long as they themselves are not in any physical or emotional danger. And children will be children. But I do cringe when I see poor parenting, and I’ve had many dining experiences ruined because people would not attend to their childrens needs, be it physical, emotional, or disciplinary in nature. When do we say enough is enough? If you can’t be a better parent than that then get the hell out of here!

    • God bless you for working in a preschool. It’s people like you who help to ensure the survival of our species, because there’s no way I’m taking a job where I have to take care of other people’s kids. I think “redirecting” is a principle which applies to most situations in life. Adults also do a lot better with redirecting than “no”, I find.

  76. If someone who is mentally handicap or deaf and lack the capacity to control their volume (much like young children), are they banned too?
    Sounds like if it is a kid who cannot control their volume, they are banned. If it is an adult who cannot control their volume, they are being discriminated against.
    Sounds like there is no difference to me, both are wrong.
    Give me a break.

  77. Interesting article. I’m all for the age ban. We have gender bans, e.g. gyms purely for woman, why not age bans? At least you know where’s a good spot to go to be surrounded by people of your own age.

  78. In general, I’m against banning children. However, as you point out, some places are just not safe for young children, not to mention the fact that a three-year-old probably won’t remember a trip to a prison museum next year. Draw the line at noise? Perhaps injury and property damage are easier to measure. I’ve been in restaurants where adults are talking about inappropriate personal topics very loudly. Personally, I’d rather hear the screaming baby and clean up the macaroni.

  79. I personally love kids, but I agree that there are places where small children just don’t belong. I’m only 17 myself (and hope my opinion is as valuable as everyone else’s), but I too would like to go some places with my family without hearing a toddler screaming his or her lungs out.

    That said, I don’t think the hate should be directed towards the kids. Even if they are old enough to know better, it can’t be expected they won’t take a chance to act out if they know their parents will say nothing. I think the parents are at fault for not controlling their children.

    Also, I’ve seen adults (parents and non-parents) who were just as aggravating as an out-of-control child, possibly even more so. This afternoon, two friends and I went out to an Applebee’s for lunch. At the table next to us were three adults and four children. The whole time we were there, the adults were talking and laughing loudly and even blasting tunes and pounding the table. The children were covering their ears, trying to block out the noise. They couldn’t even eat! The youngest one, who looked like she could’ve been no older than 3, had her little arms thrown over her head. My friends and I still ate our lunch, but you can probably imagine it wasn’t pleasurable.

    In short, my anger is directed towards the parents’ of misbehaving kids, not the kids themselves. And really? How can I be mad at the 1-year-old baby who’s crying his lungs out because he’s exhausted, but his parents couldn’t be bothered to hire a babysitter and dragged him out anyway?

    • Wait until you’re eighteen, and then come back and comment on my blog!! Just kidding. Teenagers’ opinions are welcome too. Sorry the Applebee’s trip turned out so un-enjoyable. So true that adults can be badly-behaved, as well.

    • I agree Kae Lily, in some cases their parents are responsible for their children behavior, but when children are very small they dont understand things about how to behave in particular situation 🙂 in that case, they cant do anything, thats why.. I like this ban and support it.

  80. Solid post. I think people should be allowed to make whatever rules they want where children are concerned, because the children involved are not under a business owner’s control – they’re under the parents’ control (or lack of control). The problem is anyone can be a parent, but not everyone should – and those people who shouldn’t be parents are all to obvious by how their children behave.

  81. This is a heated discussion… I personally agree with a few child-free spaces…. I have been in situations where parents failed to control their child and in turn the bystanders had to pay. There is nothing worse than going to dinner or to catch a movie and having a child have a tantrum and their parent sitting there ignoring it while everyone else is clearly annoyed…. It is an unpleasant atmosphere. I understand children need to be children. But as adults we can use a few places where they are child-free.

  82. I spent the last year on a leave of absence from work, caring for my two year old son almost all the time while my husband was deployed in Afghanistan. Some days I was so lonely and starved for the bustle of a public space that I ignored people’s looks when he did something “bad”–sometimes it was obnoxious behavior; sometimes they were overly sensitive.

    I don’t think kids should be allowed to disrupt other patrons for an extended period of time–they might be disruptive for a minute or two, but it’s not fair when parents don’t moderate the behavior or take them outside. But I’ve broken my own rule several times in the last year from sheer exhaustion and because I was too emotional to be a “good” parent.

    What I would like from many of the people who have posted is for them to realize how moralistic and black-and-white they sound. Life is not easy; neither is parenting. People have good days and bad days, and we should all try to be empathetic and help each other.

    While it may be true that there is a widespread trend toward letting children misbehave and not teaching manners, each of the people you encounter who have trouble with their kids or don’t seem to be taking responsibility for their children has a unique, individual situation. It’s not very helpful to generalize them into one group of those who are “bad at parenting.”

    {And this is a topic for another time–but I would venture to suggest that 50’s models of parenting that require strict adherence to culturally accepted manners perhaps shouldn’t be the gold standard for child rearing.}

  83. My kids are 1 and 3. Can I get the address of that restaurant? Until I can find the volume switch or the on/off button for meltdowns, I would WELCOME a place where I could have dinner with my husband without the glorious din of whines and wails.

    PS – I love my children, and probably even yours, but you have to admit, time away from sippies and nooks is GOOD. Seriously parents, just admit it.

    Great post!

    • It’s near Pittsburgh. Now I want to visit and see for myself. I think all parents should be sure to take some time for themselves! Babysitters are waiting to earn some money.

  84. Oh, I do love this post. I am very sensitive to loud and misbehaving children in public. I am also a parent. When there is a screaming or fussy child in a restaurant it’s unnerving. I empathize as a parent, but also think it is inexcusable to allow a child to stay on the premises. If my 18mos old acts up I immediately take him out of the restaurant because it’s just rude and disruptive toward the other guests.

    Some will say kids will be kids. Whatever, Just get your screaming kid out of the restaurant so I can eat. When I want a night away from my kids I would love to go to a child-free place. I know. I know I am callus, but in a modern of world of choices I would like the option to not be interrupted by a noisy child just like I do the same when my children are being noisy too.

  85. I have two children under six years old, and I also happen to look after other people’s children for a living. I love kids. I love working with kids, and enjoy being around them about 99% of the time.
    But I also think child-free restaurants are a FANTASTIC idea! While I make a point of getting my kids the hell of out there if they can’t keep it together, I have been in restaurants with parents who were so committed to either (a) giving their child the restaurant experience or (b) finally eating a hot meal cooked by someone else that they decided to stay. Even while their beloved toddler screamed the house down, or ran freely around the tables.
    Give us restaurants that refuse children under age six. Or, give us restaurants who don’t permit children at all after 8pm. Date nights with the husband, or ladies’ nights with the girlfriends would be MUCH better as a result.

  86. nice post – thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  87. I have two children under 6 and I understand “bans” for the greater good:). Believe me, I’d ban them from my house on some days if I could! We travel a lot and are out in the community so often, but one of the things I’ve tried to incorporate is that you practice at home what is peaceful and appropriate behavior. My oldest is learning time and place….playgrounds, parks, jumping castles…let your warrior beast out! Restaurants, church, homes, grocery stores…the beast is tamed! And there are serious consequences otherwise. I think children, just like adults, need to know that they are value added, but it is our responsibility to teach them their responsibility to contribute to their little society and not hurt it….focus on being a blessing to other people. One good way that’s worked for us is when they have had to be corrected in a public place, after being disciplined, I make them verbally go and apologize to either the owner or people around. You would be amazed how it doesn’t happen again and is nipped in the bud. And they’ve been traveling on planes since birth so they either sleep or sit there with books and snacks relaxing like everyone else. My son was on a dozen flights before the age of 2 so I think that one was just practice. We all need a little situational awareness sometimes in order to make life more enjoyable!

  88. Hopefully this topic is not too dead, but as a mother of four children, I gotta get my two bits in. I absolutely believe there are MANY places that are not appropriate for children. I don’t like it when I go to a movie for a night away and it is filled with little kids up way past a reasonable bedtime watching inappropriate material. I got a babysitter for mine, then have to sit through someone else’s kids? Not fun.

    But at the same time, I also believe that children need to be given opportunities to behave and act reasonably in public. They can’t do that if they were home all the time. I have taken children as young as six to concerts and ballets because I was confident in their ability to sit still and be quiet. In general, they were often better behaved than the “grown-ups” around them.

    But let’s also be fair. There is a lot of parent bashing going on. Believe me, I do it a lot myself, as I consider myself to be one who expects my children to behave; indeed, I require it. But at the same time, there are good parents everywhere who get blind-sided by normally well-behaved children. Good parents cannot always ensure perfect behavior because kids are not perfect. So onlookers need to sometimes reserve judgement. For instance, there was no possible way that I would have known, ten years ago, that my two year old son would pitch a three hour fit because he decided he wanted to pet a real live buffalo while in Yellowstone. Perhaps it might be nicer to offer a helping hand and a sympathetic gaze rather than jump to conclusions. Not all parents with misbehaving children are bad parents.

    Thought provoking post…good job!

  89. I would like to introduce another side to this question. Is it acceptable to ban children, young people, or even adults because of a condition that they have had since birth which might affect their behaviour? Is it acceptable to put a sign on your door saying, “The Management regrets that it cannot admit people with Down’s Syndrome” for example?

    Would it be acceptable to put a sign on your door saying, “The Management does not exclude any type of person, but you may be asked to leave if the Management or a significant number of patrons considers your behaviour, or that of someone under your charge, to be disruptive.”?

    ‘Behaviour’ is not simply a personal matter, it is a social matter. Community and individual impact on each other and the only way to get around that is to move to a desert island. Conversely capitalism/business is not (necessarily) driven by what is socially acceptable but by what makes profit.

    Having read a post above which runs “…anyone can be a parent, but not everyone should – and those people who shouldn’t are all too obvious by how their children behave”, I’m going to pose a further philosophical question: should we start controlling who can and who cannot breed? Sort THAT one out!

    Marie Marshall

    • Yes, I dare not touch the question of just how we decide just who can reproduce and who can’t, though we’re always complaining that “some people” should never have kids. Thanks for your response. Other responders have also raised the issue of people with special needs and their unique challenges, and the need for our tolerance. I don’t think banning kids of a certain age is the same as banning someone with Down Syndrome, for example (which would be unconscionable), because, as I said in the blog, kids will grow up within a few years.

      And it’s true, even with all my complaining, I’ll take society over the desert island.

  90. In South Korea, I can’t count the amount of times I’ve pretty much seen parents beat the crap out of their screaming kids. Since the parents are so hard on their kids, they tend to act out in my class (which gets them hit by the Korean teachers again). There’s gotta be a balance somewhere.

  91. As the mother of a child with behavioural problems and ADHD I am particularly cognisant of the disruption that children can cause, and in my son’s case, through no real fault of his own. However, I do believe that it is my responsibility not to inflict the behaviours my child exhibits on other around me. We do take him to restaurants and places to socialise and learn the correct behaviour out in public. We do this at the right time and to the right kinds of places though. I don’t mean we only take him to McDonalds etc, that place is just asking for him to start behaving crazy with all the noise and uncontrolled kids! If we are in a restaurant and he starts behaving in a way which disturbs other patrons, we leave immediately and either go home, or take him for a walk until he’s ready to sit nicely and eat sensibly. Someone commented about the lack of responsibility parents take these days and I agree. Your children do NOT have the ‘right’ to disturb other people. They have the right to be taken out and socialise and have fun. That’s it. You are responsible for how they behave when they are out.

  92. First time reader, have to say that while I love kids and have no issues being around them, you can’t take them everywhere.

    Its like adult swim time at the swimming pool or not letting kids into pubs/bars and the like. Have restaurants and places where everyones allowed and no problems as such, but adults should also have the option of going out and having a nice time – meeting friends, socialising and relaxing briefly amid that grind and rat-race which we have to go through for ourselves and then for our kids.
    Is that too much to ask?

    And for all the people who blog and denounce this or what have you – You should be ashamed! Get off your fat arses and go protest something genuine that needs to be dealt with like REAL child abuse where kids are beaten and scarred for life. Stop those parents and do something worthwhile instead of this garbage that just feeds your ego and satisfies your coward side that doesn’t have the guts to do something of consequence and so rabble rouses for nonsense.

    • Yes – as a kid, I didn’t like having to get out of the pool for adult swim, but the truth was, we all probably needed a rest! Adults have to tell you that, and it’s perfectly fine.

      And “genuine” issues are a subjective question, I think…some people might fight to the death for one thing that other people wouldn’t care much about. Within courtesy and reason, we all should be able to express ourselves on topics that matter to us.

  93. Some kids are the most glaring examples (and evidence) that some people should NOT be encouraged (or for that matter, allowed) to spawn.

    The face of a child says so much…especially the MOUTH part!

  94. We have 2 kids but nevertheless the thing that annoys me the most when we are out is other peoples kids! Well, not the kids, it is just the lack of discipline. I had a woman in a queue ask me once how I managed to get my kids to be so polite. I had spent the last 5 mins listening to the way she spoke to her kids so my only answer could be a smile and a shrug while I bit my tongue. They are polite because they are expected to be. Her kids were shouty brats because that is how she behaved toward them. We talk to our kids politely and treat them as though they are reasonable and intelligent humans. They are well behaved when we are out because that is how it is. You misbehave, you miss out. No exceptions.
    I also think that so many parents threaten the ‘if you don’t be good we are leaving’ but never follow through. We don’t want to miss out on whatever it is we are doing, but if they are not behaving appropriately one parent will leave with the offending child while the other child gets to still enjoy the benefit of their good behaviour. Once they realize you will carry out your threat you rarely have to do it again. If they know you will threaten and threaten but not follow through you are wasting your breath. We don’t take the kids out at night as they are not able to maintain good behaviour when they are overtired. Pick your battles and know that if you are beaten before you start don’t enter the arena!
    Great post and congrats on being fresh pressed.:)

  95. This is a very interesting and important article for women, mothers of children who they love so much that they refuse to make any attempt to teach them the difference between out-door voices and inside voices. They can learn those behaviors very early in life not like African-American children who was told by bigot teachers in the classroom that they “can’t” learn thereby causing the little ones to be forever damaged by adult bigots. Now, the reference ” They’re not barred from certain establishments because of who they are, the way African Americans were barred from many businesses for decades. Children are barred because of how they often behave.”

    It is September 1, 2011, and African-American mothers are the target for every level of bigotry that exist in America having to do with human beings being “barred”. These mothers now have over 2.3 million of their children incarcerated in jails that are not fit for any human presence, and the writer is addressing bigotry in the same vain as a crying child with few taught manners. Each African-American women in the United States who bare a male child will love and grieve at the same time. Why? Because each time there is a policy change that address any so-called “social” issue, the first human being that comes to the mind of a bigot is to punish woman, African-American women specifically. Her male child is now the target for the American Prison system. Let not forget what the bigot said to him inside the class-room and other places in the world of “education”. In 2011, the complex prison system is now the new “Gold Mine” for groups of bigots. There is being barred and being barred. The degree and circumstances are light years apart and the good people in the United States of America are complaining about their children becoming a product of bigotry, and all forms of (isms) because their mothers only have to worry about why people want to them to speak lower.

    Human Rights violations of African-American women’s children is a subject matter that other mothers wish to never speak about because many are creating unjust laws that create the money flow into their million dollar homes, and the best education that this money can buy.

    No other group of woman in American will experience such a phenomenon of having her male child “barred” inside bars, targeted to become a “Gold Mine”, and have their Human Rights violated as “good” people” say nothing and do nothing to stop the war against African-American women and children.

    • Your point is right on about the danger of comparing so-called “child bigotry” against the racial bigotry that, unfortunately, so often still exists. In my work giving tours at the prison historic site, I did a lot of reading about the state of American prisons, and what you say about the proportion of black males who are incarcerated in America is truly a major issue, a massive blot on our society. As a white woman, I can’t directly empathize with the discrimination that many African-American women receive, but my husband is African, and I’ve seen him go through many things because of his race, including clients who call the police when he shows up for work at their house (he is a project manager for a contractor). And I’ve had a taste of racial ugliness through my husband’s last name, which I took when we got married. Once, while job seeking, I got the advice that I should change the “Mabaso” on my resume, because the hiring manager will think I’m black and won’t hire me. I was dumbstruck. I said that if that’s how that manager operates, I would never want to work for him anyway.

  96. I am somewhat surprised that parents themselves don’t think things through. I’ve noticed this in America particularly, when whole families come along to some places that have absolutely no entertainment value for children. I mean…poor things, what would kids do in a bar while their parents are chatting? No wonder, they raise hell.

    And a prison musuem? What on earth would kids below the age of 5 understand?

    When we travel with our tot, we know she is excitable, loud, and hyperactive, so we take her to places where there is some way she can work out some of her excess energy. And where she won’t be a menace to other people or herself.

  97. I do believe that the problems with kids today are discipline based, however the issue of banning is a sticky one from it’s history if nothing else. African-American history can tell you that much.

    I was raised in a family that believed if you weren’t old enough to join the military, you weren’t old enough to have rights. You did what mom and dad said or else. My brothers are still being raised that way.

    The problem then becomes where the line is between discipline and abuse. As the case of the so-called “Hot Sauce Mom” shows, even things several parents would deem as minor punishments can be seen as abusive in the right circle. However, the other extreme toes the line between being permissive and practicing child worship (or being neglectful, or careless, or…).

    All my experience shows that tougher parents typically have better behaved children than their permissive to the extreme counterparts. Granted, quite a bit is dependent on the child themselves as different children have different temperaments and different tendencies. Children who are “lawful” by nature don’t need as much controlling as children who are naturally “chaotic”.

    I suppose this all boils down to this: I don’t believe bans are the way to go. I do believe that on a case-by-case basis the management of public establishments should be allowed to issue warnings, and if said warnings are not heeded they should be allowed to have the disruptive family (or party, as I know kids aren’t the only disruptive members of society) escorted off the premises. I also believe attractions (anywhere from theme parks to restaurants to old, closed down prisons) should have ratings just as movies do. If your child is not old enough to handle it, they’re not old enough to enter.

    • Who gets to decide the ratings? Irate bloggers like me? I hope so.

    • There’s a new approach to parenting emerging that falls between the authoritarian model of the 50s and earlier and the excessively permissive model that emerged in the 60s and later. It’s been called authoritative parenting and it basically combines the best of both models to produce an environment that focuses on the child’s developmental needs while also providing non-violent authority and discipline. Anyone who is a parent of young children should look into it.

      BTW, it’s good to remember that attributes like ADD happen on a continuum. There’s strong research these days showing a genetic basis for an individual’s (child or adult) ability to cope with and respond to stress, and for a child stress can include being in an environment where s/he’s expected to sit quietly and behave while also feeling tired, hungry, nervous, frightened, or just curious. Not surprisingly, those children who are least genetically adapted to responding calmly to stressors are the ones who respond best to authoritative parenting methods.

  98. Writer with ‘no fence’ to sit on! Parents should consider not only themselves but others and I rarely took my kids to places where adults might object. That is responsibility. But people make mistakes and kids are unpredictable. That is life. Businesses can choose to ban kids because that is a business choice which will no doubt register in the ‘cash till’. However, a degree of personal satisfaction can be gained if you offer to help a struggling parent with some feisty kids … the worst reply would be ‘no thanks’ but at least you offered, and no doubt one can then sit smuggly with your coffee and watch events unfold. Was going to vote but the criteria was not balanced.

  99. I believe that children at younger age should not be brought to business places/center.

  100. Not sure I would have sat back and watched a parent struggle with their coffee but that’s your choice. I agree that society has to make decisions in certain instances and whilst I don’t know your museum, I am perfectly content with age restrictions and would expect them as for example on roller coaster rides. Restaurants are always tricky but it is a choice and no doubt ‘money talks’.

  101. In the UK there are already adult-only screenings of some films rated PG, 12, and 15 later at night. This probably works better at cinemas as they have general showings as well as restricted ones. But restaurants might be able to have some nights child free.

    It’s a simlar problem on trains and planes in club and first class. You don’t mind kids having a bit of a vocal moment, or running up and down for a bit. But when that happens for hours it gets really annoying.

  102. I can see why this was FPd – you’ve summed up the situation very reasonably. I’m 46 and although I have been in a relationship for over 20 years we have no children. The reason? We’re too selfish! We both knew that we would resent the impact that they’d have had on our lives and couldn’t afford them anyway. I think we came to that conclusion because we saw so many other people (who really were selfish) do such a bad job with their own little darlings and felt we would be terrible at it. I could bore you with all the instances of selfish parenting that I’ve come across over the years (including some that verged on neglect) but the placing of the parents’ priorities over those of their children by expecting them to endure adult environments is the one that stands out. I was raised by strict parents and accompanied them to every event, from operas to funerals, because my manners were perfect. Today I am shocked at how many children can barely use cutlery at an age where I knew that I had to use the set on the outside first and work inwards for the other courses. I now believe that my parents expected too much of me and their legacy has been a life filled with anxiety disorders including OCD but I now see children who will suffer just as badly because they have not been taught how to behave properly in public. I think it is very unfair to young children and the strangers around them to expect them to be angels in restaurants, cinemas and similar places so a ban on young children is acceptable. However I feel for any child who has been raised to the standard I was and wonders why they are being tarred with the same brush. There is quite a debate over parenting in the UK at the moment as children were involved in the riots and the general consensus seems to be that they get their own way too often. I would argue that this is because it is easier to given in to Junior, whether it is good or for them or not, than to exercise parental control. If I’m ever in the States I’ll be sure to visit the Eastern State Penitentiary – sounds fascinating.

    • If you’re from the UK, you might like to know that Eastern State was designed by a British architect – one more reason for you to check it out! It’s a very cool museum, despite the kiddies that now populate its halls… thanks for visiting the blog, I’ll hope to see you again!

  103. As a parent, I choose what places are appropriate to take my children and what are not. Unfortunately not all parents seem to be able to make that distinction. There are plenty of child friendly places to dine, and those I still don’t want to hear the child next to me throwing a fit, but will tolerate it if I have too. However, on the rare occasions my husband and I find a babysitter, and go out to a nice restaurant that is not geared towards kids, the last thing I want to hear is someone else’s “little angel” throwing a fit and creating a huge ruckus. I didn’t want to listen to my kids during dinner, I definitely don’t want to listen to someone else’s. That being said, a well behaved child in those places doesn’t bother me. I think that there could be exceptions to the age policy, but since so many parents believe that discipline is a dirty word, I don’t know what the alternative is.

    I have heard people want to ban children from all sorts of places, including parts of airplanes including first class. This I would have a greater difficulty with, but know that there is that feeling out there. I have flown with my children in first class, and gotten all sorts of dirty looks when we sit down. However, rarely do you hear a peep out of my children on an airplane, rather than the occasional need to go to the bathroom.

    So maybe the answer isn’t an all out ban on children, but rather the place of business reserving the right to ask you to leave should your child act up. I understand that children need to learn how to behave in public, and early in their lives my husband and I took turns eating at times, but there do need to be limits. If the parents won’t set them, the eating establishment sometimes is forced into doing so

  104. Hi,

    It’s a catch22 situation with kids. If you don’t take them out to public places, how are they going to learn how to behave with others? We were on vacation just these past few days and stayed at a nice hotel, which was busy with older generation of people, wanting a peaceful weekend. I have two boys, youngest is 3 and he insisted on playing the drums on the table and chair, but by about day 3 he started understanding why it was important to remain quite when eating and letting others enjoy their food. I agree they don’t create havoc like other kids might, but we went through all this and persisted with it, even when we got “dirty looks”. Now I can say they are better and will enjoy future trips to public places…the library is always a good challenging place to test progress.

    Congrats on being FP.

    • Hmm…I do feel sorry for everyone who had to listen to the “drumming” in a “nice hotel” for three days until your son started to catch on. But I hope they can realize, somehow, that they have participated in a lesson which will help turn your son into an upright citizen for many years to come.

  105. I tended bar on a beach down here in Key West and we had to post a large sign banning children. Parents would frequently come in, sit their children at the bar, request the Cartoon Network and take their own drinks out on the beach leaving their kids behind at the bar. It’s a bar, not a daycare!

  106. Every business establishment has the right to (and should regardless of the offender’s age) eject unruly customers. If more restaurants, movie theatres and other entertainment and dining establishments actually exercised this right, and people knew they would be kicked out for disruptive behavior, many of those parents dropping the ball on discipline would quickly pick it up.

  107. Whew! I was so afraid, based on the title, that you’d be arguing against the bans. It turns out that this was an incredibly insightful and very well-written piece, made even better because you happen to agree with me. 🙂

    You could also look at the situation like this: they’re not banning children per se, but rather banning irresponsible parents who don’t know the difference among places where it is acceptable to take children and where it is not. If I wanted kids screaming during my movie, I’d go see a PG film at 3 in the afternoon. If I wanted kids making messes in front of me while I eat, I’d go to McDonald’s or a family-friendly restaurant with a children’s menu. You would think “adults” would realize — no children’s menu, no children.

    But sadly, no. Many parents have a strange sense of entitlement when it comes to their children, still thinking it’s acceptable to take them places they frequented before they had kids. And the sad fact that any of them who happen to read my comment will immediately become defensive, rather than realizing that perhaps it is a little inconsiderate to people who actually paid a babysitter for a quiet evening out.

    P.S. I loved the analogy to non-indigenous species. Clever!

  108. I’m torn here. Having spawned three of the little creatures myself, I am nervous about businesses having the ability to say kids aren’t allowed. I have a modicum of sense, and I won’t take my kids to restaurants that don’t offer paper place mats and crayons until they are at least 8.

    The dining out experiences that have been ruined for me were not the fault of someone else’s kids, but rather the parents because they failed to remove the unhappy child or simply allowed them to roam around the restaurant unfettered.

    If parents would extend courtesy to their fellow diners/servers/theatre-goers,etc, there would be no need for a blanket ban.

  109. Congrats on freshly pressed and it’s an interesting subject. Before I had kids I got annoyed while trying to eat and kids were whining, etc. I have a 10 month old boy now and can say I understand.

    We are tired and just want to get out of the damn house. If they seem like zombies it’s because we are exhausted. Imagine that instead of those few minutes you have to deal with her kids, she gets to deal with it ALL the TIME.

    You got off easy! Anyway, I do think though most people are stupid and so they let their kids be noisy. Anytime I go to a place (which isn’t often, I don’t like crappy restaurant food) if he starts complaining I immediately take him outside to calm him down.

    What annoys me is gas stations and places when you go on a trip have a lack of changing tables. They are always in some crappy place too where it’s by the door so it will annoy everyone coming into the bathroom.

    There really are more pet friendly places than kid friendly places. Wtf. But yes, most parents are idiots because most people are idiots. Sounds pessimistic but it’s true.

  110. Well,

    I must say as a parent of a soon to be 20-month-old, I have become one of “those parents”. Oy!

  111. I don’t think it’s child bigotry but I feel most kid-friendly restaurants set a negative standard for dining out.

  112. I began reading your post even as I began forming my comment in my head. As a parent of three young children, I get really tired of hearing other “adults” complain about the presence of children in any number of public places. I get tired of being dumped into the “parent” or “Mom” category as if I’m not a 37 year old grown woman who has other interests, obligations and responsibilities outside of that particular role. In these discussions, “parent” takes on the tone of a dirty word or a derogatory phrase– becoming almost slang-like in nature. In fact, it makes me want to defensively point out all the disgusting and annoying behaviours I’ve encountered in other creatures– like loud-talkers, nonbathers, and New Yorkers.

    Instead, I found your conversation on this topic civil and insightful. So civil in fact that I was able to identify my one pet peeve with these discussions: language. You used the terms creatures, species, banned, child-free, barred, and even chose bugs as your neat little metaphor. Phrases such as “I assume parents are still human” are inciteful and immediately create a sense of defensiveness in that human that you “assumed was still human” after they went through the process of procreation.

    As a writer, one should never underestimate the power of their word selection. Perhaps if all the non-parents would choose language that is both respectful and accepting when addressing parents, parents might be more inclined to listen. It is, after all, much easier listen when you don’t feel the need to defend yourself and the creatures that sprung unceremoniously from your loins.

    Had your word selection been more gentle, more empathetic, more universally accepting of me as a woman with a life that happens to include the daily responsibility of raising individuals who will one day take care of both you and me, it would have been easier for me to listen to your otherwise very well-put points.

    And one thing I can’t help but add: I HATE Chuck E. Cheese, McDonald’s, and Mall Play areas. I find them to be disgusting germ-infested establishments that make a business out of poor health and poor diet. I teach my children that if they want to live a healthy and peaceful life they will avoid these and any places like them like the plague. My question to you, fellow female human, would you spend five to seven years of your life relegated to lunch at Chuck E. Cheese? (My apologies for the long comment– hot topic was an understatement.)`

    • No worries about the long comment – yours ain’t the longest, or the maddest, by a long shot. Thanks for responding. I agree with you about the horrors of Chuck E. Cheese, et al…come to think of it, I didn’t even like Chuck E. Cheese’s as a kid – I thought the dude in the mouse suit was scary.

      You’re right that word choice is of paramount importance. But I still stand by my choices – they’re meant to be humorous, not derogatory. What you you say about respecting parents as individuals is key – as a younger person, I used to believe that people’s identities disappeared into their children as soon as they had them, and this was a big reason I was afraid to have kids myself. But then, as I watched many of my good friends joyfully begin their own families, and continued to socialize with them (when they could spare the time), I realized that moms don’t lose their identities – they’re still the same lovely people they always were, just, in most cases, enriched by the their love and responsibility for their children. It made me realize that when I have kids, I won’t be losing myself.

      • I enjoyed your humor (though that may not have come through in my comment), I also admired your ability to take on this topic (I’ve yet to address it on my own blog though it’s been on my mind), and I even empathize with how it must feel to post a controversial topic on your blog expecting your regular readers to read it and getting Freshly Pressed (I did the same thing on the topic of plastic surgery and women’s insecurities).

        I did leave off that I exercise a great deal of discretion in where I take my kids. On some level, I think we should began to assume that a parent is doing their best and occasionally gets caught between a rock and hard place. I have a 10 year old who had been promised the new Harry Potter movie the weekend it came out– and no sitter for the baby. I juggled. It wasn’t perfect or pretty but I kept my promise and stood for the entirety of the movie with a sleeping baby on my shoulder, in the corner where he wouldn’t disturb anyone.

        My 7-year old son hates the Chuck E. Cheese characters. They make him cry. My 10-year old daughter loves sushi at a rather swanky restaurant in town. She sips jasmine tea and makes conversation about Mesopotamian societies. The baby had Thai Red Curry for dinner last week. Maybe, somewhere in these conversations, non-parents could start giving parents and even children the benefit of the doubt.

        This isn’t a country whose inhabitants take kindly to words such as banned and barred. We’ve started wars and written historical documents over our right to exist as we please.

        I’ve read many articles on this subject and I think it says alot about how well you write that I was able to finally figure out what was getting my defenses up when reading them– the words. You can’t ban my children from anyplace I decide I want to go, it’s unconstitutional and goes against my very American blood. However, you can offer me the peace and sanctity of an establishment that caters to adults. I will gladly leave my children at home if it’s put that way.

        And please don’t call my little ones creatures or species, my son is going to be a great adventurer and my daughter very likely the president someday. And the baby… well that one is a bit like a creature. 😉

      • Sometimes I think of my own self as a creature. But in the future, I’ll refrain from referring to your urbane children as such. I wish your daughter all the best as she enters politics. And I’m glad I wasn’t the only one terrified by people in costumes: Chuck E. Cheese, Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, you name it. All I saw was a strange grown-up in a furry suit.

        Thanks for your comments on this piece – both the topic and they way it’s written. I’m glad it helped you come to grips with your own views. If you ever do write about this topic on your own blog, please post a link over here so we can check it out! I hope you’ll visit again.

      • PS: Should you ever enter the mommy world, you will lose yourself. And then you’ll find yourself again. In the finding, you’ll be amazed at what you discover.

      • oh and here’s the irony. I’ve been so engaged in your blog this morning that I’ve missed the baby’s “happy” window. As a result, I’m about to head out on errands with a cranky baby who’ll probably annoy somebody at the grocery store.

      • well don’t lay his grocery-store shenanigans on my door! Good luck.

  113. Do you write professionally? And if not, why? I was very impressed with your piece/article. Can I ask how long it took you to put this together? And, how often do you post? I have a blog, here on WordPress, that I had originally envisioned as a quasi-political rant and rave launchpad, but have settled into a daily word game spoiler service. I throw in a varying amount of commentary, but I’ve never put together anything as good as your piece. I’ve always been more of a stream of consciousness kind of writer, but I really admire your structure.

    • Thanks for your comments. I do write professionally, and keep this blog for fun, because I do not have word counts, assignments, or editors hanging over me (many of my editors are great, though). This piece took a little longer than average to write – most of my blog posts are written in about an hour or two (drawings take longer, I often do them on the train/in waiting rooms, etc). For this piece, a lot of this was floating around in my head for awhile, and it suddenly crystallized into its present form. I appreciate your visit, and hope you’ll come back if you enjoyed this piece. You can also subscribe!

  114. i think there should be an option for child-free zones. whether it be at a restaurant, air plane, grocery store, doctors office, etc. i think of it as the same as smoke-free zones, and an all vegetarian restaurant. as for traveling, i am sure there are plenty of people who would pay extra to not be stuck with a screaming and/or obnoxious child or children.

  115. Personally i’m not a child friendly chap, here in the uk there seems to be a rather unsettling trend for having children as young as possible. It is seen as easy way to avoid having to work and unfortunately our government seems hellbent on encouraging them by giving every young slapper who can’t keep their legs shut accommodation and benefits without limit or question.
    Many people agree that the old adage children should be seen and not heard has gone forever thanks to many politically correct bleeding hearts spouting peace and love all over the place. I do believe though that a well behaved child can be a joy to behold with an innocence unrivalled by any other being, and should be cherished as the future of our race. However with parents who are nothing but children themselves what hope have the new generations got of learning anything about discipline,morals or behavioural standards. Society needs to accept that we created our own monsters by not instilling core values into our children years ago and maintaing such education throughout the generations.

    Yours sincerely, a grumpy old man. (well i was 40 last month and i’m not dealing with it very well.)

    • 40!?!? And you’re still alive!?!? Do people really think having children is a good way to avoid work? The way I see it, work sounds much easier than raising kids.

      • Well alive is a term i’d use lightly at the moment, Remember how everyone says life begins at 40? Well i’m still waiting.
        In the uk thanks to our ridiculous welfare system many young girls already have the application forms filled out before they leave school and 2 months before leaving they find some random guy to knock them up. Then the state keeps them until the child is of school age, so before the kid turns 4 they get themselves pregnant again and the cycle continues. Then as their children grow up they teach them to read and write not so they can progress in life but so they in turn can fill out the welfare forms.
        If you look on Facebook at any 14- 18 yr old girls page, you may notice how many male followers they have, this is not due to their immense popularity but because they really have no idea who the father was, so they keep in touch with all of them in case one day the kid needs a kidney. Not that the father will ever come forward thanks to a little thing called the child support agency which will take 90% of his earnings if it’s proven that he’s the father.But hey were british right, we know best about everything. God help us.

      • Yikes. I don’t know a whole lot about the British welfare system versus America’s, but if what you say is true, why the heck was everybody rioting a few weeks back? Sounds like life is pretty cushy in the UK….But I’m sure having children for the sake of the welfare, if that is indeed what people do, has its own personal punishments.

  116. I am a parent of 3 children, now teenagers. I always expected the best behavior from my kids while we were out in public, keeping in mind the other people around us. And because of my high expectations I rarely received complaints or dirty looks. Instead I was frequently complimented on how well behaved my children were.

    Parents need to try their best to teach their children appropriate behavior. After all, we are teaching our kids to be adults. If a parent doesn’t teach their kids society’s rules when they are young, who will? It is not fair to put that off on teachers, other parents, strangers…

  117. The riots were stupid despite what some of the media may say they were nothing to do with welfare or any cuts made by the government, it was just a small section of society that saw an opportunity to loot stores and generally annoy people, many of whom are now behind bars.
    Anyways can i just say how much i’ve enjoyed your blog i only discovered it thanks to freshly pressed and have already read several posts and will continue to do so from now on. Your talent as a writer shines through with every word, as someone who is trying to embark on a writing career myself i can only hope to aspire to your level and skill. Thank you and keep up the good work.

    • I didn’t know how accurate much of the coverage of the riots was this side of the pond – from what I could tell, American news outlets seemed to be scratching their heads as to the riots’ real cause. No doubt there were many causes.

      Thanks so much for your comments and support. It’s so nice to know that people are enjoying the blog, since I enjoy writing it so much. I’ll look forward to hearing from you again in the future!

  118. I honestly think that these child bans are coming about… not because children can’t be controlled, but moreso because parents are not doing their job.

    I recently went to a movie that started at 10PM and witnessed a family that came in with their infant, a 2 year old, and a 4 year old. The movie was not something a child would have wanted to see (True Grit). The infant cried through the movie, and the children ran up and down the stairs with their hot wheels playing. I wanted to turn around and shout to the parents “THIS IS NOT YOUR LIVING ROOM, TAKE YOUR KIDS AND GO HOME!” I don’t blame the kids I blame the parents. I have seen parents bring their kids out to restaurants at 9 and 10 at night, once I saw a mom with a double wide stroller (kids passed out) playing mini golf at midnight! These are all examples of poor parenting, and it’s unbelievable to me!

    I don’t have a problem with banning kids from certain areas, we adults like our time alone. It would be inappropriate for someone to bring their 4 year old into a club or a bar, why would it also be not appropriate for that same person to bring their 4 year old into a fancy dining establishment. So long as there are kid friendly restaurants then it’s fine by me. How come the ‘adult swim’ option doesn’t get this much critisism?

    While it’s hard not to feel some compassion for the child bigotry advocates, it’s equally hard to defend them when there are very good reasons we should support child banning.

    1 – Romance! Romance cannot be had when there is a child present… after all how do you think those children came about?
    2 – Divorce Prevention! Marriages have been saved due to adult alone time.
    3 – Communication! It is essential and also it improves with adult alone time.

    These are just a few, I’m sure you all can think of more.

  119. The bans that I hate are – “No under 16s allowed in this store.” There’s one of those signs in the Asda’s near my school. Excuse me, but there are kids out there who have to do the shopping for their family on their way home, and you’re saying they can’t come in? Just because there are some morons in hoodies, doesn’t mean all of us are going to trash the place. We might just want to buy some chocolate.

  120. How can you teach a child to behave properly in the right arena if the are not subject to the area. Obviously in this case the adult needed the conditioning instead of turning a blind eye.

    Rule of thumb: when a child misbehaves you immediately remove them from the scene of the crime…..that’s the way the cookie crumbles…..that was in my case………

    I was an older mom in NYC…we dined in some of the finest places and my children learned how to behave. Observing actions and experiencing actions can differ.

    Interesting angle, but, please, do a follow up after you have children…..

    • I already feel a little bit sorry for my future children, because given the way I have an uncontrollable urge to write about what happens in my life, I’m sure they’ll be fodder for many articles to come. I’m sure my perspective will go through worlds of change when I am a parent myself!

  121. I think I would be down with banning the crappy parents. I can handle the kids.

    By the way, I find your writing to be fun and refreshing!

  122. I am the parent of 5 children, and i can definitely see the merits of BOTH sides of the issue. When my two oldest children(now 17 and 16) were small, we would often get that “oh God, no!” look from waiters/waitresses when they saw small children at their tables, but would always compliment us on how well behaved they were by the time the meal was over. Our three youngest(4,6, and 9) are very well behaved, too, but now days it costs an arm and a leg to eat out with a family of seven, so we don’t do it that often. Far too many parents are more focused on themselves and not what their children are doing, and have skimped on basic etiquette for their kids.
    On the other hand, I have been in places where my quiet children have been subjected to X-rated cellphone conversations of drunken, loud obnoxious patrons and management has seemed much more focused on intermittently crying babies at other tables than obnoxious cellphone yappers and violators of the non-smoking sections. Sometimes I would rather put up with obnoxious kids than obnoxious adults.
    In the end, parents need to remember……YOU are required to love your kids. The general public – not so much.

  123. I read your blogpost with a lot of interest because of 2 reasons:
    1) I agree completely that when you take a child with you to a restaurant, it should be able to behave. But in a lot of blogs I’ve read and a forum I’m on, you also get critised for giving your child something to occupy itself with. Especially it that something it a nintento DS or an iPad or so. Why are crayons and paper acceptable but electronics (when muted) not? My children (age 6 and 3) will behave if they have crayons and paper, or when they draw and play on our iPad. Sometimes you feel like you can never do good for everybody.
    (same goes for a misbehaving child in public: you get dirty looks when it screams and you get dirty looks when you discipline it, I’ve noticed. And no, I don’t slap my kid around, but I have put them in time out in a corner of the grocery shop. Or when breastfeeding in public -in Belgium the reactions are pretty good most of the time I must say- people stare at you when your newborn is screaming because he/she is hungry (and as a new mum, you don’t always know when your baby is going to be hungry) and then they give you strange looks when you sit down and breastfeed. Would you really rather listen to a crying baby?)

    2) we have a somewhat similar public debate going on in Belgium. We’ve had some complaints from neighbours of large daycare centers in residential areas (think 50 kids, daycare from 7 am til 7 pm, sometimes weekends included). Now, some people want to get it into the constitution that childrens’ noise it a right, to make it impossible to lay down such claims. Their point is that children have a right to play and make noise, apparently an un-challengable right, and that all such claims are made by bitter, selfish people.

    It seems to me that a lot of the time all common sense is thrown out of the window, on both the not-in-my-back-yard side as well as on the my-kid-is-the-best-thing-that-ever-happened-to-the-world side. (and on the I-have-kids-but-I-still-want-to-do-all-that-I-want side).

  124. It’s a tough call, and age limits are arbitrary. I’ve seen fourteen-year-olds act like morons while younger kids played quietly coloring a menu. BUT. I want to be able to eat without someone’s kid screaming in my ear, and I doubt I’m the only one. If some parents won’t even try to calm their kids, they should be asked to leave the premises.

    I read somewhere that it’s up to each of us to keep civility. Manners are not legislated. That sometimes means being the bad guy and telling another person when he or she is out of line. Toleration goes so far, but like everything else, there’s a limit to what we should be willing to tolerate from other people. If a baby’s crying and the parent is trying to calm the child, that’s one thing. But when kids are screaming and the parents are ignoring the behavior, that’s a problem. Both parents and their kiddies need some feedback that this is unacceptable behavior in public.

    Frankly, it makes me very angry when parents just assume that everyone else should accept, carte blanche, anything that their little precious deals out. Then these same folks always want to hit me up for donations to some playground or education fund. If you want me to respect you, you need to give me respect, too. It’s not a one-way street, and the universe doesn’t revolve around your kids.

  125. Very, very well stated. It’s also interesting to note how people can get their hackles up pretty quickly about certain subjects like this one. This topic may have to be added to the others not acceptable for conversation: religion and politics. Congratulations of FP.

  126. I agree with what you’re highlighting. It is not children I don’t care for, it is the selfish, rude, entitled attitudes that are coming with kids these days. Parents are no better. To expect me to live through your child’s temper tantrum or disrespect people/items simply because you (the parent) wishe to go about your day is selfish, rude & disrespectful and teaches your child to continue in poor behavior. Parents are the problem ultimately, not the children which is why I imagine parents are in an uproar over it. They don’t want to accept blame.

    I appreciate places where children are not permitted; there are many places where they are, and many, many more that cater directly to young people/young families. So, to balance the score there is a demand & an appreciation for places that do not permit those under certain ages. I don’t lash out against McDonald’s play places, so parents can just bite it if/when a restaurant decides to go the way of banning those under a certain age. If you have young ones, and you want to go to McDain’s, get a babysitter…problem solved. I’m sure there are teens just waiting to take the job.

  127. There are certainly places that kids need not be…clubs, bars etc. But outside of that… seriously people. I guess sipping coffee at a joint that “x’s” kids but allows a dog…would be just fine? We must elevate families and children…not encourage them to stop existing…or our amazing blog posts will go unread……

  128. Brilliant post! When parents don’t know enough to restrain their little ones in public, it just shows they weren’t taught good manners themselves. The slippery slope here is parenting skills, not poorly behaved kids!

  129. 272 comments so far! You have obviously hit a nerve with your post.
    Adults are entitled to time away from children and finding that space is becoming more and more challenging all the time. If parents would just use common sense, restaurants wouldn’t have to impose age restrictions. When a child gets fussy, how about asking for your meals to go so the rest of the patrons who are paying good money for night out (and perhaps a babysitter) can enjoy themselves.
    I am a member of a recreation club where there are areas designated for women over the age of 18. Youngsters, many old enough to read, ignore the designation consistently and when taken to task, become rude and indignant. If a parent does get involved it is often only to defend the rule-breaking child.
    Don’t get me wrong I love my children and I would probably like yours very much but…..
    We were raised with no child zones and guess what? We weren’t scarred by it and actually learned some respect for others.

  130. Yes, it is a touchy subject and tends to get emotional all around. But I think that makes it even more important that we do discuss it so that we can come up with a sensible way of handling problems when they inevitably arise. Avoiding the issue isn’t going to make it go away; like cancer, you have to face it in order to be able to start treating it.

  131. I’m a parent now of two teenagers. When my son was young he was a nightmare due to ADHD. We never went anywhere till he had time to learn how to control himself and then we picked obviously family-oriented places so he could practice. I cannot stand parents who put their own needs for entertainment or not to cook or [name the reason] above their kids very real need for structure, routine and more time at home than anywhere else and insist on dragging their kids out to places they don’t want to be and need not be but for their very selfish parents. The same parents who don’t teach AND require “an inside voice” or teach “personal space.” The kids ARE only doing what they are allowed to by their often totally unconcerned parents (who wanted a “baby” like celebrities have but not a “child” who has to be taught things apparently).

    I cannot believe how horrible it is to fly with today’s parents. A kid kicking your seat? Don’t even dare ask them to stop! A kid over the age to know better babbling ceaselessly? Make sure you have headphones no one will stop the little princess. I had to fly with my kids once. WIth my pediatricians help I knocked them out–only my son became (even more) hyper. I asked for and was immediately moved to an emptier area. I’ve never seen a newer parent do that–ever.

    The grocery store is a necessity so I try to cut a lot of slack there. Everyone is at their worst. But parents, you are not helping anything by ignoring screaming or by giving in to tears or tantrums. I know you can’t always grab the kid and flee–dinner has to be bought or an Rx paid for or something. But when possible leave the cart and take the kid out. It works. The store will GLADLY hold your cart and may even give you preferential check out when you come back in with your calmed kid. (Been there, done that, got the thank yous!). No matter how tired, before you go in nicely ask if the kids if they need to go to the restroom. Start there. On the walk into the store remind them to use “indoor voices” and that Mommy is not buying treats or looking at toys. We are buying pork chops and a gallon of milk and going home. Then ask them to help you look for the pork chops or look for any of your neighbors or something to keep them occupied. Do NOT EVER give them something you can buy and let them hold it and then cause a tantrum when you go to put it back That is stupid. If you bribe, you have to bribe every single time and that’s stupid too! Keep something stupid in your purse like a Halloween sized candy so that OCCASIONALLY (rarely) you can pull it out in the car afterwards and say “Wow! I’m impressed with the SUPER job you did staying calm in there! You are so grown up!” then hand it over. They’ll learn.

    Sometime the answers are “No” and “stay home.” Grow up and be parents and accept this! You kid is so stressed by your life–give in and just stay home on the weekend and use the time to kindly teach them real life manners., NOT the so-called manners that are ok when it’s just the family!

    We need many more such bans! Now don’t get me started on people who give parenting advice who have no kids!!!!!

  132. I think the real issue isn’t banning children but that by banning children you are essentially banning people who don’t have the money to pay for a babysitter and a night out at the same time. Sure, it is put out there as “banning children” but when you ban children, in some cases, you also ban their parents. I don’t think it is appropriate to bring your child to places where their behavior will be a huge disruption, parents need to teach their kids manners etc. But honestly, you can’t teach a 9 month old manners, it’s just not possible. And I think that society in general is getting so separated from each other it feels like an inconvenience to talk to, listen to, walk around any one. The idea that because kids *might* bother someone they shouldn’t be in public is kind of scary and to me indicates a very self-centered, and increasingly self righteous culture- “how dare you force me to recognize your existence!”

    • All fair points. Thanks.

    • There is definitely an element of what is age-appropriate and what is not. Infants obviously cannot be expected to be quiet all the time or not to fuss- infants do make noise -and that is normal and expected. Sometimes it is difficult to calm a fussy infant and anyone who has ever dealt with infants is aware of that reality.

      However, older children (let’s say three and older) can be expected to be learning manners and to have parents enforce rules of behavior. My son (now age 20) was expected to behave in public as soon as he could learn and understand the rules- but parents have to enforce the rules. I had to cut trips short and remove him from situations (sometimes for a few minutes, sometimes completely!) but he had to learn what was acceptable and what was not. It only took a few lapses for him to learn that I expected him to behave and that bad behavior had negative consequences.

      My problem is not with fussy infants, but with parents of older children who should know proper behavior. These kids misbehave with impunity because there are no consequences- and that is on the parents as well as on the culture that seems to say that discipline = abuse. It’s one thing to give a miscreant child a swat on the rear for being obnoxious in public and quite another to beat the kid. The bottom line (pun intended) is that PARENTS as well as kids need to know bad behavior has consequences and that it won’t be tolerated in polite society. Perhaps child bans might wake some parents up out of their apathy – and help some bleeding hearts see that kids just can’t be left to roam like wild animals with no expectations and no rules.

      • I totally agree! Disciplining children is part of raising children and teaching them manners. And if someone has an upset infant they can take them out of the restaurant (unless they are alone, a single mother at a sandwich place for example). Parents need to be more responsible for their kids, but to be fair, the one’s who are being responsible probably are going unnoticed because of the very fact that they are being responsible! Basically, I totally agree, and never disagreed with children having manners and parents doing their job.

  133. I really enjoyed your post, loved the drawings and the writing–loved your point about the Children’s Civil Rights Movement!

  134. This is such a great controversial subject! I have to say I have been on both sides of the fence . . . I have two grown boys and I am all for the ban if that is what people choose their establishment – afterall isn’t this America? People should have the freedom to choose the rules for their establishment – and there are times and places young children do not need to be. If it upsets the parent, why would they want to go there anyway if not wanted? I personally would be one of the first there, as been there done that, hate unruly children and their shenanigans!
    I, as a stay-at-home-Mom, needed time away from my little boys as they were growing up, and a nice dinner would be the way to go. I did not consider a night out with them at a fancy place relaxing by any stretch of the imagination. For all the reasons people have mentioned. . . just the pressure of wondering if they would be well behaved was too daunting. The wait for the food, that I knew they as young people would not understand, all this was just too much pressure . . .I would rather stay home and order in and let my children be children as I taught them manners, correct use of silverware. etc.
    As they matured and aged, we enjoyed going out to eat as a family and I am proud of their manners and behavior, but why stress when they are young and torture others? Congrats on being FP’d!!

    • Thanks! And thanks for chiming in.

    • I know the feeling. I was delighted when my son started to learn how to eat with silverware, and not to make a spitwad with the paper on his straw. I looked forward to taking him to places other than McD’s and Taco Bell. 🙂

      There are kid-friendly restaurants and then there are restaurants and other places that should be places for adults only. Personally I think any place that serves alcohol should automatically be kid-free.

  135. interesting points on all sides. When I was a wee one, my parents didn’t take my brother and I to sit-down restaurants because we just didn’t have the ability to sit still and be quiet. We kept the rare family outings to family-friendly locations. I don’t think this is bigotry, but just a business owner trying to set boundaries around their target market. Some restaurants owners are not trying to appeal to families. Hey, it’s their restaurant. Bring your kids when they’re old enough or just go somewhere else. Or, big idea – eat a healthy meal at home.

  136. Unfortunately many parents fail to discipline their children for inappropriate behavior in public. Every time I go to Target or Kroger’s I am treated to children who are old enough to know and act better running, screaming, breaking things, and terrorizing the entire store. In my opinion it is shameful that it’s now socially acceptable for parents to stand by and do nothing while their children behave like the unholy terrors they are.

    When I was growing up (1970’s and in a very rural location) it was perfectly acceptable for a parent- or any other close-by adult- to discipline miscreant children (up to and including spanking) and bad manners were not tolerated anywhere. Now the kids- sometimes as old as seven or eight- run about in stores like wild banchees while the parents helplessly look on.

    The kids learn in school that they can turn their parents in for “child abuse” if they get a well deserved swat on the hiney for being total brats in public, so I can understand a parent’s reticence to discipline, but this attitude has got to change. As long as it’s socially acceptable for the inmates to run the asylum, and for children to behave horribly with impunity, free from fear of retribution, I can’t blame business owners from banning children. I wish they’d start with the Target down the road.

    My dogs behave better in public than most people’s kids do. I don’t expect to be allowed to traipse through the grocery with my dogs- but I would appreciate it if the kids in the store could behave at least as well as my dogs do!

    • I love dogs! I am always more interested in puppies than babies…

      It’s been great hearing from people who were raised in different eras and places, thanks for contributing.

  137. One of the best posts I’ve seen on Freshly Pressed in a while. I agree wholeheartedly with your post, and I’m glad someone’s saying something about – because something needed to be said! Congrats on being Freshly Pressed and good luck keeping up w/ all the comments 🙂

  138. Mixed feelings. There are places that children do not belong, but I have also taken my oldest son to places that were perfectly appropriate, had him behave beautifully, and still been subjected to what I could only call anti-child hostility.

    The “obnoxious” “disruptive” thing he did? Speak to me. In his child’s voice. Which is high pitched…because he is a child (and I DO mean high pitched as in alto, not loud).

    So while kids have no business in a bar or an R (or late night) movie, the way a lot of this is often discussed and approached leaves a lot of people thinking that they shouldn’t have to be around children – ever – until the chidlren are 7 or older – and also thinking that outright hostility is perfectly acceptable.

    Sometimes I might need to fly with my child (and have). Only one person ever complained. And his complaining was INCESSANT. My son did not cry, kick, or holler – he TALKED to ME. That’s it.

    I have more sons now and make different choices than I did when I had one (we don’t fly anymore, for instance, both due to costs and due to some airlines insistance that they seat us far from our toddlers (?)), but if I want them to understand how to behave in certain venue, they need to get to BE in those venues. And the expectation that thier primary care-giver (my husband, though in many families, the Mom) not go out in public until they’re grown is unfair and hardly progressive.

    As for all these rowdy undisciplined kids I hear about on the ‘net, I don’t see them often in real life. Sure, I see kids crying, having meltdowns and tantrums. Mots kids do that sometimes and note very parent has the options of ending their trip to get groceries right then and there. I also see adults doing similar things, and well, while I am all for some establishments being “adults only”, simply barring unacceptable behavior from ANYONE should address the issue in most venues.

    Your post has a measured approach and tone – and YOUR approach, I would support. The whole emotionally adolescent “I hate kids and should never ever (ever ever) have to see or hear them” attitude – not so much. Like you said, we were all kids once. And kids are people, not toys. They have a will and attitude of their own, and most parents are trying to teach their kids how to get along in the world. If the parent has some odd, aggressive, or over-entitled idea of what that means, it’s hardly the kids’ fault.

  139. I am one who welcomes the child ban. While your scenario of the twin scene seems fairly reasonable, I have experienced dining in a nicer restaurant where children are present (running amok and parents unabashed). I do not think we are to feel sorry. Children get enough socialization in school and school-orchestrated field trips. Isn’t that how our own childhoods commenced?

    When were we at 5 years old–dining at some hip sushi joint–or were we at home enjoying family meals around the dinner table? I think there are child-appropriate places children should be; just as dogs are not allowed in certain places neither should children since both need to be trained and kept on a leash. Metaphorically speaking, of course.

    • I have run into many instances recently, in blog comments and otherwise, of people talking about how their kids like sushi. I guess it’s the new litmus test for sophisticated children: do they enjoy sushi restaurants? Thanks for your comment!

  140. I completely agree with you. There are a LOT of places that are kid and family friendly. Why is it considered some form of bigotry for there to be some adult-friendly places? Not everyone appreciates the wail of children while they are having dinner or trying to relax after work. I’ve also noticed that more and more parents seem to tolerate, and not correct, rude and disruptive behaviors. This is as much the fault of some parents as some children. But adults that want to just enjoy themselves without having to struggle to hear each other over screaming and loud laughter should have a place or two that is safe from such invasion. That’s not intolerance, it’s respect. You don’t seem adults barging into places meant for children and complaining about the noise. Some people would just like a few quiet places. Kids will get older and gain access, but even adults can get kicked out if they’re not behaving accordingly.

  141. While I can understand banning children from places that pose a hazard or from establishments that cater to a more civilized set, I worry that the child free movement assumes too much and will be taken too far.

    I consider myself a responsible parent. At the very least, I know when I have made an irresponsible decision, and I usually end up paying for it later. As such, I do not want to walk into an establishment and automatically be labeled as “that woman with the two kids that will probably end up destroying the place before they leave.” That is not me. I keep my kids reined in, and when they do break free, we leave.

    I have heard talk that even grocery stores might begin offering child free hours. To me, this is ludicrous. (Of course, I do not frequent high-end shops with exotic and expensive items, so I see no reason to keep the kids out.) My fear is that the child bans will someday find their way to my local store. Then, when I’m out of milk, I will have to check the schedule to make sure that I am not heading out during a child free time. Meanwhile, my kid has no milk for her cereal. This leaves me with two choices. Hire a babysitter so I can run a quick errand, or listen to the kid whine about there being no milk.

    I guess my point is that I fear the movement. I fear what it will mean as it expands. I fear the assumptions it seems to validate. I fear that I will have to eat at Chuck E Cheese for the next ten years.

  142. I’d love for there to be adults-only hours at the grocery store. Just once I’d like to be able to shop without having to hear kids scream the whole time I’m in the store.

  143. I haven’t been able to read all the comments, but very wonderful post! I enjoyed reading it.
    I don’t think the issue is so much where kids are appropriate, but whether the parents are responsible. And to be honest, I see more and more irresponsible parents who expect others to take care of them–such as the grandparents and aunts and uncles of the child, even teachers.
    Yes, there are places where children should not be brought—(you mentioned that McDains had a bar… not exactly kid friendly) but it seems that many people just don’t like kids in general. I think we’ve lost our respect and wonder for our next generation. Children are a gift. It’s nice to see something innocent in this world–and see so much potential in their eyes.
    So… Go kids! 😛

  144. To me, the problem isn’t so much the kids as it is the parents who won’t make their kids behave. I’m 36 and let me tell you, my mom would have blistered my & my brother’s butts if we started acting up in a restaurant. We weren’t allowed to get away with behaving badly and we knew it. Needless to say, we didn’t act up.

    If parents would actually make their kids behave in public, maybe places like McDain’s wouldn’t feel it necessary to ban young children from their establishments.

  145. By the way, I love the way you have established your qualification to speak on this subject. With your permission, I would love to share this piece with my composition classes as an example of ethos.

  146. Just wait a few years until the kid grows up a bit. That is the general idea with child bans, yes? So we can say these bans are against children, exclusively, yes? No. I would like to point out that they are against large families and families in general (forgive me if someone has already mentioned this). My parents, for example, had their first child (of five) 20 years ago, and for the next 18 years they had at least one child under the age of six. Certainly, parents may hire a babysitter and take the elder members of the family out. My parents have done that. When I have children, I will not plan to take my babies and toddlers with me to the movies or the theatre. I will not take young children to fancy restaurants (I do not want to pay to be embarrased, thank you). I think the main problem with these child bans is the very fact that parents feel shunned and punished simply because they have young children. You mentioned that these bans are put in place because of the behaviors of children, not because of the children themselves. Well, the behaviors are a result of the children’s age; the children’s age is a result of their time of birth; their time of birth is a result of their parents’ decisions/actions. So, we are banning children, but we are punishing parents.

    • I don’t think hiring a babysitter occasionally so they can go out to a nice restaurant sans kids is a “punishment” for parents. But maybe I’ll understand better when I have kids.

  147. Well written, and well said. Really want to rip the lid off Pandora’s box and cause an uproar? Explore child-free weddings. Why is it that some parents just don’t get it: You SHOULD think your child is the greatest thing ever, but *I* don’t have to. Whether I am shelling out for a quiet glass of wine with dinner or trying to say “I do,” I shouldn’t be forced to hear your “little darling” sing, yell, scream, cry, or announce that they have to use the restroom. If ever I feel compelled to be in the company of children, I will make a bee-line for Carl’s Junior and/or the playground. Blog on!

  148. There you go the poll says it all! The problem with people with children is they think everyone else needs to make allowances. My mother would have given me a severe talking to if i had misbehaved in public. Apparently I had a tantrum in the isle of woolworths supermarket so she warned me then walked off and left me there. She tells me I shut up quick smart but then got quite upset that in mt hysterics, I had been left alone. Of course she was watching from behind a display of Smiths Crisps and when she reappeared I grabbed her skirt and shut my mouth for the rest of the shopping trip. The problem these days is mothers ant discipline their children so as far as the kids are concerned there are no consequences for their bad manners. Life has changed and moved on, but good manners is as important as ever.

    • Part of the problem (as I see it) is that today’s parents must operate within a culture that accuses them when they do discipline their children. If, for example, I slap my daughter’s hand as she tries to take an item off the shelf at the grocery store, I have to worry that someone else will interpret this as abuse and report me. (Does this mean that I don’t slap her hand? No. I do so without hesitation.) So, in a sense, you are right that mothers can’t discipline their children. Sadly, we are damned if we do and damned if we don’t.

  149. I don’t even have children, but I was treated badly by people who hated children when I was a kid and it always bothered me, and it stuck with me.

    Especially when those people ended up apologizing because I was so well behaved. This happened even before I was cognitively aware – a guy preemptively complained that my mom brought me on a plane when I was 6 months old, only to have to apologize later when I didn’t even cry.

    Child bans do, in fact, punish children for who they are without considering not all children are alike. I never even cried as a baby and I was always polite in public places as a child. Everyone who complained about my behavior only did so beforehand, and if they weren’t a horrible person, would apologize after.

    A well-behaved child, no matter how old, shouldn’t be treated horribly just because they’re children. And some child-haters are just vile. I agree, there are some places, such as R-rated movies, that very young children don’t belong. However, for the most part, a parent also shouldn’t be made to feel like they’re bad people when they have a good kid.

    In fact, I’m more resentful to the people who say “you can take your kid to McDonalds” like McDonald’s doesn’t kill people or the environment. I’m sure parents could take their kid down into the sewage system, too, but that doesn’t mean that they particularly want to.

    • Of course no children should be treated horribly – even if they’re misbehaving. All children should be treated kindly. It’s too bad you got so many preemptive complaints when you were a nice little kid! Thanks for your comment.

  150. This is a hot topic in my mind. It frustrates me that our society is allowing this to happening. The bottom line is, discriminating children because of their age is unconstitutional. It is happening at businesses and in the school systems. Children are citizens of this country and deserve the rights of any other citizen. You say the harm is done once they get older. How do you know that? As a child I learned most of my public behavior as a result of being in the public as a child. The only reason this is happening in this country is that the children do not have a voice in our political system. They shouldn’t have to, because their parents, their teachers, their neighbors should be their voice.

    • Some people say, this is America, I should be able to eat in a restaurant without kids. Others say, this is America, my kid should be able to go wherever he wants. Thanks for your comment- valid points.

  151. Thank You for this! I sometimes feel like I’m the bad one for wanting peace & quiet. I don’t dislike all children, just the naughty ones 😉

  152. Loved your post. As a performing singer-songwriter I have seen my share of out-of-control children and others who were simply being kids. At one concert, parents of toddlers set up a play area right at my feet. That lasted about one song before I politely asked them to be moved to the back of the room.

    At several shows I’ve had kids dance next to the stage. I’m a solo performer, not a foot-tapping band. With a kiddie dance floor in high gear no one hears the music because they’re busy watching the goofy three year old. Parents, I am not a CD player and this is not your living room.

    I’ve also been surprised by a seven year old who sat attentively through my whole show. I don’t do cover tunes they would recognize and my originals are lyric intensive but still, they stayed in their seat and seemed to enjoy the music. Children like that are more than welcome at my concerts.

    I also don’t object to parents who want to experiment and see if Junior would like my show. At the first wail, they take him out of the room. Things happen during a show. I can’t be a diva every time someone has a coughing fit. Likewise, I can’t be bothered with a kid’s brief cry. If it continues and disrupts the show, that’s another thing.

    I love kids. I also teach and look forward to seeing my pint sized students. But if I’m in a nice restaurant and there’s one constantly kicking the back of my chair, I’m going to have a little chat with mom and dad.

    You’ve given me an idea for my next blog. Thanks.

    • Thanks for sharing the perspective of a performer – I think this is the only comment so far coming from an entertainer, rather than a fellow patron.

      I can’t agree with everything you say, though. I understand your frustration with a wailing kid during a set or an impromptu playground right in front of the mic, but is it really so bad to have three-year-olds dancing to your music? It’s great that some kids absorb the music by listening quietly, but why should that be the only acceptable way for kids to enjoy the concert? Just like adults, kids express themselves in a range of ways. When I see toddlers dancing with abandon, it always warms my heart a little to see the next generation of artists/singers/musicians/dancers discovering the joy of expressing themselves. As a professional arts writer (among other topics), I see a lot of performances in the course of my work (and know a LOT of performers), so I think on this a lot. My dad heads a band (maybe different, as you say, from a solo artist), but he loves it when people of any age are up on their feet. I don’t think eyes have to be glued on the singer for the audience to enjoy the music – but I’m sure not everyone would agree with me on that.

      Since, as you say, you’re also a teacher, I’m sure you do love and appreciate cultivating the next generation of artists. Maybe if I was up there singing, I would feel the same way you do about the three-year-old wrigglers. If you do end up writing about this on your own blog, please stop by to leave a link. I (and other readers, I’m sure) would be interested to see your perspective.

  153. There are PLENTY of child-friendly places for parents to take their kids. There are also plenty of adult-only places (would you take kids to a strip club? A casino? A tobacco shop?). I think it is up to the establishment which type of place they want to be.

    Personally I do not think very small children belong in bars and gastro-pub, sports bar type eating establishments. It is pure selfishness on the parents to insist on bringing them in—then the same parents complain if the kid overhears cursing or crude talk. Duh! you brought you kid into a BAR! What did you expect?

    • When my brother and I were kids, I remember many times waiting on the edge of the casino floor while our parents slipped in for a little fun. They were never gone for long. Should they not have brought us? It’s tough to find a babysitter while you’re on vacation, I guess. I don’t think we were damaged by it – my brother loves the casino as an adult, but my husband and I couldn’t care less about gambling. We just go along sometimes for the quality time with the family (see my original blog post “The Glorious Fourth” for our family casino adventures).

      Thanks for your comment!

  154. This is not whether or not establishments should ban children.

    The bigger picture is, if it bothers anyone so much they should walk out, making less fuss then any child. And be done.

    These people should then procede to jump off a cliff, ridding the world of snob jack off’s who are too good to allow a child in same room, just because they become noisy.

    The matter of child education is another thing. Many parents haven’t a clue how to educate children, rich and poor alike, resulting in spoilt brats which then grow up to moan and groan, and further moan about petty disgusting, vomit inducing, verbal diarrhea which is seen in many posts and replies here.

    • My goodness – I hope that none of these comments, or my blog post itself, caused you to vomit too much. Personally, I hate throwing up, so I would be very sad to hear that anyone had lost his cookies after visiting my blog. I can see that you got through it well enough to write this (mostly coherent) comment, so I’ll take it as a good sign that you weren’t too incapacitated by this vile discussion. Thanks for visiting!

  155. You have gotten into light a very observed topic to discuss. Personally I think its the responsibility of the parents to teach ethics and some minimum codes of behaviour to their kids. Kids will react instantly without paying much attention to the environment around neither their actions. Hence its the parent’s duty to mold them right. Little leverage is definitely acceptable i’m sure.

  156. While child bans are a bit drastic, responsibility falls fair and square on parents to ensure their offspring keep a basic level of good behaviour. And restaurant staff (or staff in any outlet really!) should not be scared to point this out if the kids become pests. Well done for tackling this topic it’s one of those that fosters a never-ending discussion 🙂

    • Yes – it does seem that everyone has something to say about child-raising. Even those without children (like me) have strong opinions. Thanks for visiting and thanks for your comment!

  157. Businesses should have the right to cater to whoever they want to. They should be able to classify themselves as family friendly, or for adults only. If they are family friendly, all there should accept it.

    In public places, we all should be patient with whoever is there; after all, we were all busy, messy, and noisy little children at one time.

    Parents should, however, be considerate of those around them. If their children need to be removed from an area because their unruly behavior is disturbing others, they should do so.

    Thanks for sharing. Connie

  158. enjoyed reading 🙂 nice blog!

  159. To Alaina,

    Thank you for visiting after my comments on your Freshly Pressed article.

    It jogged my memory so I searched back in my blog and below are my own thoughts which I posted back in July this year in response to a similar article that appeared in TIME U.S

  160. realanonymousgirl2011 September 13, 2011 — 4:21 pm

    You know there’s really 2 sides to this and I hate to say it, but you’ll never know till you have children of your own. I have a 1 year old and I do have to agree with you on most points. Hey, there are times I’d like to go places without my child and enjoy some adult time. But it’s true, there are parents out there that don’t respect others and think their children should be allowed anywhere. And it’s often those parents that fail to reprimand their offspring or leave the institution. If my child is being rowdy, I will step outside to calm her down. I don’t let my daughter chuck food all over the restaurant. If she throws things on the floor, I put it away so she can’t do it again. And we go somewhere nice, I call ahead if children are allowed or for my own sanity and personal pleasure look for a babysitter. As a parent, I really want to do yoga in peace. Whether there are children involved or not, there are really just inconsiderate people out there in the world.

  161. I have a six year old. If he causes a scene or becomes too loud it’s an embarrassment and the behavior is stopped immediately. Nothing is more annoying than trying to enjoy something and having screaming children interrupting the entire room. I’m tired of parents thinking their children are special. They aren’t. You have the same whiny snot faced monsters as everyone else. Either control and discipline them with proper behavior and manners, or else leave them at home. Don’t expect anyone to be kind to you for disrupting their day. I wouldn’t expect someone to tolerate my child being unruly. It doesn’t matter if you do or don’t have kids, everyone deserves the right to go out and enjoy themselves without having to ask their company to speak up because some four year old wanted french fries instead of apple slices and is screaming too loud to allow anyone to have a normal conversations. I am a parent, and I’ll be the first to say it: if your kids are brats, keep them at home. Period. If a restaurant owner feels the need to ban small aged children from his establishment there is probably good cause for it. Plus, it’s his place, he can run it anyway he chooses. I say good for him, and I can only hope it catches on and more places ban against bad behaved children who have never been properly parented. It’s your job as a parent to raise your child with some manners, but it is not, nor has it ever been, society’s responsibility to cater to your child.

  162. That’s a pity. Children often provide the cutest and most memorable moments at weddings.

  163. I have to say, I’m impressed with you Alaina. I don’t usually leave comments on blogs and then receive the follow-up comments, but this is a topic near and dear to my heart, so I did this time. This morning, I should be working but, what the heck, it’s Friday and I’m tired so I’m procrastinating by reading all the comments and all your responses. And I’ve very impressed with you ability to remain so level-headed and open to the wide variety of comments people have made. Kudos you, not only on being a talented writer, on being FP, and I hope on having lots of new, regular readers, but on keeping up with all the comments and keeping sane in the way you respond to them. Admirable.

    And now I have to pay attention to my puppy (my substitute for young children until my grown kids present me with grandchildren, which I’m not rushing because they’re not ready) and then get down to work.

    • LOVE PUPPIES!! I’m jealous. Thanks for all the good thoughts you left, and thanks for your compliments to my style in particular. It’s been quite a blessing, to have so many different people’s perspectives in response to my essay – I never knew it would get so many readers! I’ll look forward to hearing from you again.

  164. I think allot of the negative response is because of wording. For example: If I say “We need to ban children from expensive restaurants” everyone would call me a cold a jerk. If I say “I think we should ban bad, self-involved parents from high end restaurants” then people would be okay with it. So I would just put a sign in the restaurant that said “All self-involved parents that display a general lack of respect for others will be removed” So when it gets out of hand you just point to the sign and kick the offenders out.

  165. Some of these children you’re whining about can probably draw better than you.

    In case that went over your head, you can’t draw. Your drawings are awful. Either try harder or stop trying.

    Actually, your writing is also terrible, your attitude is so self-congratulatory and smug it almost defies belief. Get off the internet and as far away from the rest of the human race as you can manage. We don’t want you and we sure as hell don’t need you.

    • As of this moment, I officially withdraw from public life. Thanks, Anonymous, for your astute assessment. May your courtesies and your literary sense continue to radiate across the internet.

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