By Laura LaVoie
Restaurants banning screaming babies are getting a lot of press these days. The childfree population is praising these policies, while families with babies are angry about their exclusion. There are deeper issues than just what we see on the surface of the conversations, so let’s have a look at the implications.
I’ve recently been a part of two conversations about restaurants that don’t allow children. Let me recap them for you.
First, a family member, who also has no kids, posted to Facebook this article about a California restaurant that decided to ban children. Since he has no kids, my relative also has a lot of friends with no kids, and they all quickly jumped into the conversation. To be honest, some of the comments were quite insulting, such as referring to people as “breeders”, or kids as “crotch fruit.” They even made me uncomfortable, and I don’t have or like kids.
Soon, the negative Facebook chatter attracted parents’ attention. My relative’s recently married cousin (who is now expecting her first child) was very upset by the article,and the way she interpreted it as well as the commentary. She was angry that she and her soon-to-be-baby would be excluded from public places. She lashed out that she hoped that people had to deal with screaming babies and that it served them right. She eventually rage-quit the conversation while letting the non-parents know that they were mean, horrible, awful people.
Her reaction to the article may have been a bit extreme. I attempted to point out that the California restaurant wasn’t trying to make it personal about her or her baby. I also pointed out that there would never be a shortage of family-friendly establishments available to her and her kid. However, her reaction to the hateful, hurtful, and unnecessary comments on Facebook was not extreme at all.
Unruly kids at restaurants who invade my space and are way too loud, have frustrated me, too. I’ve said something to parents or to servers when it was necessary. I’ve glared at kids and gotten dirty looks back from the parents. I often get so distracted by misbehaving kids that I can’t enjoy my time out because they make me so anxious.
I don’t really like being around kids at all. So if I can, I go places where they won’t be. I also know that it isn’t constructive to lash out at all parents just because a few kids are annoying in public. Heck, even if the majority of kids in public are unruly, I still wouldn’t think insulting parents is the right solution.
The second conversation, however, was initiated by a parent about a restaurant’s no-kid policy. This happened on a message board for a big event happening in Atlanta over Labor Day Weekend 2014.
A Mom started a thread to complain that a local restaurant limited patrons to age 18+ because they thought it was “more important to allow smoking” than kids. She had wanted to take her 13-year-old with her to that restaurant. She even went so far as to say that the website seemed “rude” about it.
Well, it turns out that general snarkiness is kind of a hallmark of this place. Their wait staff is actually trained to be rude, which is part of the charm, and patrons seem to love it.
In response to the woman’s reference to smoking laws in her state, and her conclusion that they are more fair to families, I was quick to point out that the restaurant in question was not in her home state. And, in Georgia, restaurants are permitted to allow smoking if there are no customers younger than 18.
Her attitude smacked to me of entitlement. There are plenty of family-friendly establishments around downtown Atlanta. Complaining about the one place that won’t allow kids under the age of 18 seems counterproductive.
While childfree restaurants were the catalyst for these conversations, what I really want to know is what you think about the parent-non-parent attitudes they display. Is it ever OK to insult a parent for their choices? Is it OK for parents to feel their kids should be able to accompany them anywhere they want?