By Laura M. LaVoie
Here’s a thought for you. Are these childfree places that are popping up all over the country a result of, or a reaction to, the very baby-centric culture that is an ingrained part of our social structure?
It seems like every day I read about a new place that’s banned children under a certain age. The year 2017 is still young and it has already happened in my home state of North Carolina. In the town of Mooresville near the Charlotte metropolitan area, a place called Caruso’s announced a new policy banning children under age 5 from the upscale restaurant. And while some news outlets suggested the restaurant is “under fire,” the owner and manager say that reservations are up.
Of course, this isn’t the first time a restaurant has been in the national news for banning children, or even just reacting to them.
But, I have noticed something in just the last few years. Maybe I am more sensitive to it, or maybe there is something happening in our culture. Babies and small children seem to be everywhere. In all spaces. Spaces that were once looked at as adult-centric.
In Asheville where I live, I see it at the many breweries and bars that are the backbone of our economy. Some of these spaces actually encourage parents to bring their kids. One local bar has hosted a “Babies and Beer” promotion in the past, which alerted me to know when not to go.
Let’s not even talk about the implications of drinking around small children or driving them home after a few drinks.
It might just be coincidental, but I started noticing upswing in baby patrons when cities began to ban smoking in restaurants and bars. In Asheville, there is no
indoor smoking allowed pretty much anywhere, but babies seem to be allowed everywhere. I have even seen parents try to take their little one who was about 3 (I’m bad with ages) to a popular music venue in town to see a rock concert. A bona fide rock concert with all the trappings, speakers, and sound equipment. They were turned away at the door because the show was 21 and over. I don’t even know if they bought 3 tickets or just thought bringing a tiny child would be fine. But they did not seem amused that they were told they couldn’t enter.
In a standing-room only venue, letting your kid join the group means they could be lost forever in a sea of tightly packed bodies. What could make this decision okay? The kid would, at the very least, have beer spilled on them. I have had beer spilled on me no less than five or six times.
A little kid doesn’t belong at a rock concert, but we’ve tweaked the culture over the years to the point that many believe tiny children should be allowed in any and all spaces.
I have been told that not wanting children in places like bars, breweries, upscale restaurants, and even rock concerts, is discriminatory.
Let’s not cry wolf here. There is far too much real discrimination happening in the world that we don’t need to invent it because parents feel it is their right to bring children in every private business they want to walk into. The kind of discrimination that parents claim doesn’t specifically apply to kids from a legal standpoint. The only thing a business has to determine is whether or not the loss of revenue from these parents will affect their bottom line.
The truth is, there are plenty of child-friendly places in most communities.
In very simple terms, baby-on board-everywhere appears to me to be a cycle. Bars and restaurants adopt no smoking policies, making their spaces more attractive to parents of young children. When these young children become disruptive to the patrons of a bar or restaurant, the ownership needs to determine their policy. And when the policy is to not allow children, parents get angry.
So, that brings me back to the question. Are these policies barring children from businesses a result of our baby- and child-centric culture?
(Image Credit: Red Tricycle)