The No Kids Allowed Movement

 

Headlines scream, The No Kids Allowed Movement is Spreading!

The subject seemed to pop up everywhere last week, from newscasts, to blogs and social media.

Ironically, my week started last week a little on this theme. Last Sunday, while Dale and I were enjoying a breakfast at our favorite country café, we heard someone do something that took us both aback.

As a large group of family members sat squeezed into this small eatery, a child, probably age 4 or 5 began to whine. An older man (presumably grandpa) leaned over and said quietly, but in a firm voice, “You’re going to stop that because no one else in here wants to listen to that while they eat.”

No threatening with violence, jerking him up and storming out of the place or threat of a “time out.” Everyone in the cozy café enjoyed their meals, including Mom and Dad.

It was a refreshing thing to see a parent/grandparent actually parent. The boy obviously knew grandpa meant business. More importantly, the boy knew what was expected of him in a restaurant.

I couldn’t tell you the last time I saw that happen.

When I read that restaurants are banning kids under the age of 6, my DINC (Double Income no Children) inner self is raising a fist to the sky and saying, “Finally! Enough is enough.”

I mean, really, how many times is the public in general supposed to tolerate unruly children who kick the booth seat behind you while you eat, or worse, those who are allowed to stand up on the seat behind you staring at your meal – or yes, it’s happened to me – have one sneeze all over the back of your head? Or how many flights can one take with kids running up and down the aisles, or screaming at pitches that break the sound barrier if they’re not allowed to do whatever they please while their parents stare off into the distance, acting as if nothing is wrong, or worse yet, continuing a conversation on their cell phone?

Internet comments regarding this subject follow a predictable pattern, with the exception of Mommy Blogger, Jen Singer, at Mammasaid.net, who agrees with certain child bans.

Most DINCs cited these types of incidents, and worse, of why businesses are feeling forced into making this decision. Of course, most Moms unite, in general, writing that banning kids is horrible and discriminatory. One poster even suggested that in order to have a “kid friendly society,” grocery stores should even give up prime selling space for play areas in their stores.

While my DINC self may rally behind a place of business that shields society not from bad children, but bad parents, my empty-nester-member-of-society-self feels we’re all mostly missing the point.

Every second of every day as a parent is an opportunity to teach our children age appropriate lessons and yes, making it fun is a bonus. That would include how to act on outings in public and even to the grocery store, where nutritional experts say should be a place for kids to learn. Everyone of them I’ve ever interviewed for a story tells me that creating adventurous, healthy eaters begins with including children in the meal process, from planning and shopping (picking colorful fruits and veggies is one way to make it fun) to preparation. Not shoving them off in a store sponsored daycare or leaving them in a play area.

I remember when I was 3 or 4 and with my dad in a local store named Sav-On, which had these great clear balloons with a colorful Mickey Mouse type balloon shape inside. Each time we went to Sav-On, I begged my parents and on this day, I finally got one.

Most likely feeling emboldened by my score, I asked for some candy when we got to the register. My dad told me no and I responded with a whine and stamp of my foot. I got “the look” and that’s as far as it went. As soon as we reached the door and stepped into the sunlight, my dad turned and untied the balloon from my wrist (they always tied the balloons to our wrists so we wouldn’t lose them) and let it go.

He said something to the effect that when given something, we need to learn to appreciate, instead of always expecting – and crying when we don’t receive – more. I’ll never forget the feeling of seeing my prized balloon float to the sky, and I never whined (openly) again when I didn’t get what I wanted. It taught me what was expected of me in public and also to appreciate the extras in life.

I wasn’t a perfect child; I fidgeted on long plane rides and wondered when my parents would ever finish their coffee so we could leave a restaurant. But I knew that being in public was not a license to run amok and let go of my pent up energy as I would on a summer day in our neighborhood.

Nor were my parents perfect parents. But they understood their responsibility to me as teachers.

It’s just sad that more parents don’t understand that as parent, you are a teacher; responsible for instilling expectations of their behavior in your children that will help them grow into the adults they will become.

What’s even sadder is that the parents who do not parent by teaching these expected behaviors are forcing business owners into these bans, stripping those learning moments from the children of the parents that do.

Have you heard of this No Kids Allowed Movement and what do you make of it?

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65 Responses

  1. Just Me says:

    I fully support the No Kids Allowed movement. These so called parents do not know how to control their brats and it is very disrespectful to other people. One reason I don’t have kids is because I don’t want to have to deal with their tantrums and I shouldn’t be inconvenienced when another person’s kids acts out.People without kids have rights too and just because it’s a kid doesn’t give them a free pass for bad behavior. Kids are NOT to b e worshiped. Yes, kids should be protected and treated kindly and NO I do not support abortion, but it’s the parents own fault for being terrible “parents” and I use the word parent loosely with those types.

  2. Donna Hull says:

    I’ve experienced poor kid behavior many times on airplanes. Unfortunately, most of the time the parents either ignore it, are so used to it that they don’t notice or mostly they think it’s cute. No, it is not funny when a small child incessantly kicks the back of your seat. I’m sympathetic to children when they’re having a hard time but it’s a parent’s job to know their child and be prepared for trying circumstances.

    Last year, my husband and I took our 3-year-old granddaughter out for breakfast. When she started whining and acting out, I quietly picked her up and walked outside with her, gently whispering in her ear that we were going outside until she could calm down. Removing her from the situation distracted her. Within two minutes, we were back inside enjoying breakfast.

    • Kerri says:

      Oh, yes, the kicking the back of the seat. Hate that. I hate it too, when you’re in a booth in a restaurant and have a kid continually kicking the seat.

  3. Susan says:

    Interesting take on this. I think there are certainly places where it’s not appropriate to bring children (like a bar or a super-fancy restaurant). But I do think that kids need to learn how to behave in public, so excluding them entirely isn’t helpful either. I’ve seen store signs that say, “unattended children will be given coffee and a free puppy.” It’s humorous but it also reminds parents to keep an eye on their kids.

  4. I don’t mean to brag. I’m torn on this issue. We didn’t do restaurants with the kids for a long while because I did not want others subjected to my kids not behaving the way I’d like. (They were babies). Now that the youngest is 5 we go out at least once a month and they’re learning how to eat out. Of course–we hit family friendly restaurants AND not when they’re most packed (long waits etc are NOT a good idea). We never stay for dessert and hang out. It’s not easy for little kids to just SIT at a table for hours. It’s unrealistic. So we leave before things get antsy.

    We were recently in Quebec city. I went into a booth where it was FULL of hand blown glass. GORGEOUS stuff. I bought a few things and talked with the woman behind the counter. My 3 children (ages 5, 8, 13) were with me and I warned them through clenched teeth to touch NOTHING. As she wrapped my items she told me that she had 17 grandchildren. She said, “You have very well-behaved children. So calm and polite. Congratulations.” I was taken aback. She explained that she doesn’t see that very often.

    What’s interesting to me is that most of the time I’m afraid I’m raising a pack of animals. But when I get a comment like that one–I’m relieved. At least all my work is paying off. 😉

    • Kerri says:

      What a wonderful compliment to you, Claudine! I’m sure that shop keeper doesn’t see that often. And I bet she’s biting nails everytime a child walks through the door.

  5. Kim says:

    How about a ban on negligent parenting instead? 🙂

  6. Such an interesting discussion, with well-placed comments on both sides. The one point I’d make that I don’t see addressed is that some kids have a much easier time behaving than others and some of our expectations for kids are unrealistic. Take for example a toddler; it’s not age appropriate for him to be cooped up on a plane, so he’s not going to be able to sit still no matter how firm the parents’ discipline is. And saying the parents shouldn’t fly with a toddler; well, they have a right to go visit their family as much as anyone, and the grandparents are eager to see that toddler. The solution to so many of these situations is patience, tolerance, and compassion, since so often we can’t know what went into another person’s choices. Although I have a dog myself, I am not a “dog person” per se, and am often very offended by the way many people let their dogs behave. (Running across other people’s blankets at the beach, for example, without any apology.) Of course it’s not the dog’s fault (any more than the toddler’s) it’s the owner’s fault for not controlling the dog. A live and let live policy is probably best since we can’t change the fact that we have different priorities and sympathies.

    • You’re SO right Melanie. Some kids are naturally quiet and easy to take in public. Some are NOT. Sometimes it’s not a parents fault (unless we’re saying genetics is fault too..) I have one son that freezes from panic if a person he doesn’t know speaks to him. We stood in a rollercoaster line once and the attendant kept asking my son a question (that I’ve now forgotten) and my son just stayed tight lipped. The guy kept pushing and saying he wouldn’t let him through if he didn’t answer–making like this was a fun game. I finally said, “Sir.. let’s not do this ok? He always wins the game. He will not speak to you.” That guy probably thought my son was rude because he didn’t respond. Whatever. It is what it is.

      • Kerri says:

        And I’ve often wondered if I was so well behaved on planes because I was given Dramamine before each long flight or car trip because of a nasty case of motion sickness I had on a long train ride as an 18 month old. It’s not the age appropriate behavior, I think, Melanie, that people have a problem with. It’s the older children who scream that ear splitting tantrum scream and the parents who just ignore it. Or, the children running amok all over the store, tearing apart displays and merchandise as they go.

  7. Christopher says:

    Lets create kid free zones, elderly free zones, autism free zones and any other zones where a group of society wishes to isolate themselves from one or more other groups…what a miserable prospect. We can do better than pushing people away because they burst our expectation bubbles.

    • Kerri says:

      I agree, Christopher, banning is not the answer. But there has to be a better way to create a society where people aren’t afraid to go places because of unruly children too.

  8. Jane Boursaw says:

    Ultimately, it’s the parents who are responsible for their kids. Seems like some higher-end restaurants *should be able to ban kids, while other family-oriented restaurants should anticipate that kids will be part of the package. If parents want to have a nice dinner out at a nice restaurant, then leave the kids with a sitter.

    • Kerri says:

      It seems to me that people would *want* to get out without the kids. Spas, nice restaurants both qualify. But that leaves the judgement for “appropriate places” up to the parents, something some are evidently not making.

  9. V Schoenwald says:

    I am afraid here I am for the no child ban. My mother and I owned a needlework and quilt shop in town here. Mother was in business for close to 40 years. The last 15 years, were pure hell with the public, ever since a Super Wal-mart move here, then the parents who came into the shop let their kids, tear up fabric, notions, and a horrid number of things that were beyond anyone’s imagination, including pee-ing in a fake tree we had in the shop and pooping in the corner of the shop.
    The worst one was a bimbo who brought in 2 kids with her while she looked at fabric. We had a beautiful antique chair that was by the office and we just had a needlepoint canvas put on it, it was not ours but a client in NYC. We did a lot of custom needlework for churches and clients all over. We were very busy that day and I was with customers also, and the brats found the chair and started fighting over who was going to sit on it and bang, it hit the floor and broke the back of the chair on the cement floor. The woman ran out the door with the brats in tow, and I hauled butt to get a car plate number, and called the cops, the cops found her, and we ended up putting her in jail because the cost was way over $1000 for the chair and the damage, and she fled the scene. After that happened, people in town were po-ed at us for putting her in jail, (its a small town). We also ended up with a lawsuit with the client in NYC and attorney’s fees. Not too long after that we closed the shop, too many hassles, too much problems with people destroying things, and between this and closing, we were broken into, the the shop totally distroyed and we definitly quit, it wasn’t worth it, period.
    It seems that parents today, think that you are supposed to like their kid, well, some people don’t like kids, including me, and I won’t defend myself, I never liked kids even when I was little. I don’t mind them if they behave, but in general, they are monsters. But parents just let them tear up everything, and tear up stores, and I am horrified of this, and the parents just space off and don’t seem to care or worry about it. And if you tell the parents to tame their kid down, they get po-ed and you are the bad guy.

    By the way, when I drove truck to NYC into Hunt’s Point Market, the cops that patroled that area warned us about the kids, that were around 6 yrs old running in gangs and jumping onto the backs of the semi’s going into the market and breaking the locks on the load and dumping the load onto the street for the gang to pickup, these “kids” would cut your throat for a dollar. That was in 1979. Just think what it is now.

    • Kerri says:

      Thank you, V, for giving your perspective from a former shop owner who had things destroyed because of bad parents. When my mother had a shop, she would follow the kids around and if she saw them start to handle something, she would say in her sweetest voice possible, “Oh, honey, don’t touch that. I don’t think your mommy would want to pay for it if you broke it.” That usually got the parents attention! 🙂

  10. Merr says:

    Very thought provoking post, Kerri – and quite a discussion. I can’t speak from experience with having younger kids (as ours were older when we got them). But there is a difference, I believe, with “kids being kids,” and kids being given no boundaries by their parents under the guise of parents saying in a million different ways that kids are just being kids and others are intolerant.

    • Kerri says:

      I agree completely, Merr. I think many times it is a cop out to say “kids are being kids…” Our two girls were older when they came to us as well. But I did have nephews and I spent many a summer with them and my sisters. I saw the way they acted and interacted in public when they were with their parents and the way they acted when they were out with mine. Two totally different worlds. It all came down to expectations and boundaries and they knew mine (their grandparents) had them.

  11. I believe strongly that children should be taught to behave in public and to show respect for others. We made sure our daughters knew that in a restaurant or other public place, they were expected to have manners, use “inside” voices and generally behave. I would never knowingly inflict unruly, loud or obnoxious kids on people out to have a nice dinner.

    Having said that, I also understand when a normally well behaved child throws a random tantrum or suddenly melts down because the bread on their plate is touching the spaghetti. I remember being a young mother at home all day with small children, and what a wonderful break it was when we went out to eat, so I try to have some tolerance for kids who aren’t perfect in public. Of course, there is a limit and absolutely no excuse for people allowing kids to be completely out of control in a nice restaurant.

    I see nothing wrong with restaurants who wish to serve adults only, but I probably still will take my chances at places where kids are welcome. I like children and enjoy seeing families out to dinner and enjoying themselves, reminds me of my younger days and how much fun it was to go out together as a family.

    • Kerri says:

      The other day at the library, I wanted to ask this child so badly if he had heard of an “inside voice.” 🙂 You and are of the same mind, Kathleen. Random tantrums happen. But I think what most people are seeing are much more than that.

      • I agree Kerri. The worst experience I’ve had with a “child of oblivious parents” was on an airplane. This kid was fidgeting so much that he was bumping the back of my seat about every two minutes, including once while I was drinking coffee. I kept waiting for the parents to do something but they never did, in fact the dad was listening to music, paying no attention to his restless little boy.

        Finally I turned around and glared at him over the back of my seat. I used the expression that to this day will stop my twenty-something daughters in their tracks and render them speechless. Every mother has one and if used judiciously, it’s extremely effective. It’s the look that says, “if you keep that up something bad is going to happen and while I don’t know exactly what form the badness will take, trust me you won’t like it so you best STOP what you’re doing NOW.”

        At that point, the oblivious parents who hadn’t noticed their son kicking the back of my seat for the previous 30 minutes, did take note of a stranger snarling at their little boy over the back of an airplane seat. They told him to be still and took out some books and toys for him to occupy himself with. While I don’t know that I’d take advantage of “adults only” restaurants, I know for sure I would travel on an adults only airplane! 🙂

        • Kerri says:

          Well, at least “the look” worked, it doesn’t most times. Last time we were in Kansas City, we were at Starbucks on the Plaza. Early on a Sunday morning and there were these kids just running everywhere. The father was switching from playing with his phone to reading the paper, oblivious to his 2 children climbing in the flower garden (while the poor caretaker was trying to water), sliding down the railing on the stairs and just being annoying to everyone there (you can imagine, mostly young singles and middle agers such as us from the surrounding lofts). I would say the boy was maybe 4 and the girl 5. He didn’t take notice until someone said, “Hey, Buddy, your kid is about to run into the street.” He finally left. On the other hand, there was another man with a perfectly well behaved little girl sitting behind us. She was maybe 2-3 and acted better than those two put together.

  12. Sandy says:

    While I am the mother of three, I never tolerated bad behavior in my children while in public. If whiney or inappropriate behavior started in public I very firmly said to drop the behavior and they did. Only 1 time when my dgt was 3 did it not work and she preceded to “throw a tantrum of epic proportions”. I removed the toy from her hands, put it back and left with a screaming and kicking child. When we go home I explained her behavior would not be tolerated and the next time I went shopping, she was left at home much to her surprise. She would ask to go shopping with me and I would not let her go…for several weeks she was left at home. Finally I allowed her to accompany me and she never pulled that crap on me again. Many times strangers told us how well hehaved our children were. We just expected better and we got best. I have experienced the same thing in restaurants with unruly, spoiled, left to run loose kids and I have left the restaurant because of kids. I am all for banning badly behaved children.

    • Kerri says:

      Sandy, Good for you for sticking with a consistent message, that bad behavior isn’t tolerated while out in public. Thanks for your comments.

  13. Christine says:

    I agree with Alexandra.Kids see this type of behavior on TV. It really bothers me. And as someone who has lived/traveled abroad a great deal, it is quite striking to me that these norms are not cultural norms in other places.

  14. Frugal Kiwi says:

    I don’t know WHAT the answer is, but I doubt that banning kids is it. As a former health professional who had a lot of pediatric patients, I was positively shocked the later exhausted and depressed by the non-parenting that went on. The way that children were simply allowed to run wild both in the waiting areas and during appointments. It shouldn’t be up to the health professional to tell a child to sit down and behave. The parents should do that, but often, it was up to me.

    • Kerri says:

      Surprisingly, here, at my dentists office, the kids that have been in that waiting room have been really good. But, they do have a big box of toys that usually occupies the kids, too. I agree, Frugal, I don’t know the answers, but don’t think bans are good.

  15. Diane says:

    Kids can’t learn in a vacuum. They need to go places and be taught how to behave.

    We would explain to our kids how we expected them to behave and if they didn’t, we would leave.

    That said, we did try to plan outings that we felt they could handle. And to not bring them to events, such as weddings, that they were too young to handle. With the exception of my sister’s wedding, where they were the flower girls.

    I feel our culture is growing ever more intolerant, and this “no kids” idea is just one more example.

    Of course kids will misbehave in public. They are kids. Every adult who complains about it, believe me, was once a child who had tantrums, whined, or begged inappropriately for treats. At least once.

  16. Heather L. says:

    There are so many kids I’d rather be around than badly-behaved adults. When you take a child into a restaurant, you never know what is going to happen. Little ones certainly don’t “get” adults sitting around talking and that they should sit quietly and wait. They need something to do. I always come armed with sticker books or other activities in my purse when I go out with my 3-year old granddaughter.

    • Kerri says:

      It’s good you take activities for your granddaughter, Heather. I get toddlers being toddlers, but they shouldn’t be allowed to disturb other people in the restaurant either y running around or screaming. And if they are in that frame of mind, I believe it is the parent’s responsibility to take them to the rest room or outside until they calm down. That’s all I’m saying. 🙂 I agree, there are some adults that behave just as badly, or worse than the kids!

      • Kerri says:

        But I also think that 3 & 4 is the perfect time to start teaching these lessons, as many of the parents here said they have done with their kids.

  17. This whole discussion makes me sad. In so many ways we live in a culture that is unkind to children. We expect parents to parent well but we are the only country in the industrialized world to offer NO maternity or paternity leave. We tell moms to breastfeed but then we allow formula companies to hand out free formula and write breastfeeding manuals and sponsor pediatrician events. We tell parents to feed their children healthy food and then we market Froot Loops to babies in the form of board books and direct advertising to children.

    It’s no wonder America’s children are sometimes a badly behaved mess. What is surprising is that some are doing so well in spite of all of this.

    If my children misbehave when we are shopping, I make them leave the store and wait outside. Or I stop shopping and take them home. Same with in a restaurant. We so seldom go out to eat that they behave beautifully close to 100 percent of the time. We have a fun game where we look for “BBKs” (Badly Behaved Kids) and we talk about why we don’t want to act the way they do.

    So, yes, of course, I think that parents are responsible for making sure their children act appropriately. At the same time, children are children. In cultures where that is understood (Niger for example) children behave better and adults feel sympathy instead of judgment for a mom or dad whose child is acting up.

    It’s not that parents can do better. It’s that AS A SOCIETY we all need to do better.

    • Kerri says:

      I just want to be clear, I don’t have a problem with kids being kids. Babies will cry. Toddlers will act out. I have a problem with parents who take NO action, or simply ignore what their children are doing. Yes, we live in a very consumer oriented society, where choosing Fruit Loops might be easier than fixing a healthy breakfast, but parents have the choices to not expose their children to the barrage of advertising, too. I’ve seen parents plop their kids down in front of the tube and spend hours on the phone. That’s the parents choice and I don’t think we can blame society on that. I think the other question too, becomes, why don’t people feel comfortable confronting bad behavior, even in a helpful manner? When that little girl sneezed all over the back of my head at that booth in a restaurant, which of course, ruined my meal, I was afraid to confront the parents. They didn’t offer an apology, either, just finally told her to sit down. I have a feeling too, that in Niger, children behaving badly is the exception, rather than the rule, as it used to be here.

    • Christopher says:

      Well said.

  18. The only place an adults-only scenario makes any real sense to me is at a resort. In everyday situations, I get frustrated and annoyed, but I don’t think you can just ban kids outright. BUT, if I’d saved my pennies for a vacation at some sort of resort or perhaps a cruise, then … yes … an adults-only option would appeal to me.

  19. mat says:

    I’ll admit it. For the 5-10 minutes that mom’s checking out, I’m guilty of letting my son run in the cosmetics aisles at the grocery store. BUT! Only if there’s nobody over there…which is pretty frequent. If someone’s shopping there, we go find something else to do. And if he’s been good, most of that time is spent trying to pick out a Hot Wheels car that he doesn’t have.
    I’d say that’s our one child-vice. Otherwise, he’s well-behaved and polite when we go out. Whining is met with a tickle, apathy, and up to 2 warnings. And sometimes, a spank in the name of safety.
    Kids need instruction. If they are shown that being a royal PITA is going to get them what they want, then that’s what they learn to do. If they are shown that good behavior is going to get them what they want, they’ll learn to do that. We believe that non-violent diffusion of a bad attitude is the best policy, but not always the only one. I myself like tickling or counting to 3 (in the “Dad Voice”, of course), but sometimes, a hand smack or butt smack is in order. Your mileage may vary.

    • Kerri says:

      I personally think grocery stores need more of those 25 cent rides in front of the store, as they did back in the old days, Mat. 🙂 That would be a very productive use of time while Mom is checking out. 🙂

      • mat says:

        Yeah…those are all $.75 now and last 30 seconds.
        The way I figure it, nothing gets harmed, nobody is inconvenienced, and he has a little fun. The store manager gives us a smile–and even tossed him a ball once or twice.

        • Kerri says:

          Sounds like a very nice store, Mat. Probably locally owned?

          • mat says:

            No, surprisingly, it’s a national chain (Giant)…a new store, even. Everyone there older than 25 is actually really nice and helpful, which is one of the reasons we keep going back. That and the positively giant parking spaces. Such luxury!

  20. Alisa Bowman says:

    I have stayed at Alexandra’s B&B with my kid! (I think she was well behaved?) I think we need to remember that we tend to suffer from a negativity bias–we tend to remember the one or two negative events and forget all the positive ones. So, for instance, I’ve probably flown on well over 100 flights in the past 10 years. I can only think of one flight with a kid from hell on it. One out of 100. There were children on all of the other flights–and they were perfectly well behaved and their parents watched out for them. It’s the same with grocery stores, hotels, restaurants and so on. Yes some children are annoying, but so are plenty of grown ups. Businesses have the right to do what they want, but by banning huge groups of people (ie families), they will probably just hurt themselves in the end. It seems to me that it would be smarter for restaurants etc to give loud, obnoxious families a warning and then just kick them out rather than ban all families. Similarly, they might kick out people who talk loudly on their cell phones, etc.

    • Kerri says:

      I definitely agree with you on loud cell phone use and other rudeness in public places, but it all comes down to why are these managers afraid to say anything? And one can hardly kick a family off a plane in mid flight. I want to be clear that it is not the parents of babies and toddlers I have issues with. Babies will cry (especially on planes when their ears may hurt), I can block that out. It is that loud, ear blowing screaming that you can hear all over Wal-Mart and the parents just pushing their cart along staring off into space. I think you’re right about the negative experiences, but I think it comes down to what we dreamed of that experience to be. We saved up for years for our once in a lifetime trip to Europe. I certainly didn’t expect to be kept awake all night by a child running up and down the aisles. Of course, there were the rude adults in front of us that leaned their seats back the whole time, including at meal time and refused to set them up, even when we asked. A flight I would not want to take again, much less pay thousands of dollars for.

  21. This is such a tough issue. Like Sheryl, I’ve gotten ‘looks’ when I’ve gone with my kids to a restaurant, but also like her we tried to teach them early on what kind of behavior is and isn’t appropriate. I do think you have a point that kids are missing out on learning moments when kids aren’t allowed in. We’ve done several things at home to help our kids learn how to behave at restaurants. And when my kids were young and we weren’t sure how they’d behave while dining we’d go for lunch or an early dinner to avoid crowds. Along with disciplining, there are some no-brainer helps for parents, like going at less crowded times and even taking young children for a walk while you wait for your dinner to arrive.

    • Kerri says:

      I think as a foodie writer, too, you are more in tune with these learning experiences and that is reflected in your teaching your children how to act, especially in a restaurant. Babies and toddlers will be, well, babies and toddlers. Those are not parents I personally have a beef with (unless of course, they’re allowed to stand up and sneeze in my hair), but you can tell someone who is trying to parent vs. someone who is just ignoring the screaming as if nothing is going on.

  22. Sheryl says:

    when my kids were little and we would walk into a restaurant with them, we’d get the “look” from couples there w/out children. By the end of the meal, these same couples would walk over to us, smiling, telling us how sorry they were to think the kids would misbehave; that they were so quiet and polite. dWe were so pleased. We taught them, early on, that they were expected to act a certain way or else they would not come with us. As a result we were always able to take them to appropriate places. There are no bad kids; just bad parents. It’s really up to them to set up the expectations. Of course, there ARE some kids who cannot adhere to the rules and I do think the parents have to leave them behind for the sake of other people. But I’ve come across situations where parents think their kids’ loud singing or hanging over people’s shoulders at a restaurant is “cute.” Give me a break.

    • Kerri says:

      That’s what my parents always said, Sheryl, they could take any of us anywhere and not have to worry. It goes along with consistent parenting. Nope, I didn’t think it was cute the night I had to go wash a lugie out of the back of my hair, not to mention, it ruined the dinner for me. The parents never did apologize. Some people, I think, are just clueless.

  23. I actually think that if a restaurant set a clear age limit it might be helpful. There wouldn’t be any question then about what they welcome and what they don’t. None of those dirty looks from patrons if you bring your child if it is clear children are welcome.

    • Kerri says:

      Oh, I think there would still be the dirty looks if the parents weren’t controlling their kids.

      • chris says:

        If the restaurants want to do this then so be it, but they will be loosing a lot of business (and quite possibly cutting your throat in the process). Like it or not, parents are a huge customer base. I have 2 kids who are well behaved and I would not darken the doors of such a restaurant.

        Over 1/2 of all restaurants shut down within their first year, severely limiting your customer base will more than likely put you in that category. Now if (as a restaurant) you can promote yourself in that niche (and stay in business) then by all means have a blast.

        The best way to take care of it is to simply confront the parents. If parents are letting their kids go nuts, then the establishment should address it (as they would with any other unruly customer).

        When i was younger, if I was throwing a fit in a store or other public place, it was not unheard of for the shopkeeper to come out and TALK TO ME. It is an amazing thing when this happens as the kid usually listens. If that didn’t work then the shopkeeper would talk to my parents and tell them that they needed to leave until their kid (me) was better behaved. Now I was a good kid but there are times when even good kids get ticked off.

        • Kerri says:

          Chris, you’ve made some very good points. From what I’ve read, I believe these restaurants – and I believe there are only a few – believe they are losing more customers than gaining by allowing the bad parents. I’ve also wondered why managers and owners simply do not feel comfortable confronting these parents. Is it fear of physical confrontation? Lawsuits? I don’t know, but our society has gotten so strange, nothing would surprise me.

  24. Allie Johnson says:

    Interesting, Kerri. I haven’t come across any of these places that don’t allow kids, so I wasn’t aware of this supposedly becoming a trend.

    I was a quiet, bookish kid and I remember being annoyed with other kids my own age due to their unruly behavior. I still get annoyed by loud/obnoxious behavior from kids. On the other hand, banning kids in general is a slap in the face to quiet, well-behaved kids and their parents. But I do think it’s the prerogative of each business owner. Judging from the parents’ comments on some of those articles, it seems many parents are fed up with other parents who don’t teach their kids manners and see the bans as a good solution.

    I do think there are a few places kids don’t belong unless they are perfectly behaved and old enough to control themselves, and that would be fancy restaurants, day spas, etc. When you don’t have a lot of money and you save up for a special occasion to go splurge and have a romantic evening or whatever, it’s a lot worse to be subjected to an ill-behaved kid than if you were standing in line at Target or whatever.

    • Kerri says:

      Thanks for commenting, Allie. I think this is more of a trend on the east coast right now, than in the Midwest and South where we’re at. I agree completely about the day spa situation. I have to save up quite a while for a massage and I’ve been to places where I’ve heard kids running around in other areas because mom brought them along for their pedicure. My dogs are ill mannered, they should be better behaved, but they are not. I don’t take them to the dog park where they would annoy other dogs and their people. But that’s just me. 🙂

      • Allie Johnson says:

        Yep, you’d think it would be common sense/common courtesy to leave the unruly/energetic kids at home when you’re going to the fancy restaurant or day spa. Sadly, that’s not the case – which I think is a big part of what has brought about some of these bans.

    • Kaylan says:

      Way to use the internet to help people solve prbmoles!

  25. Rhonda Mock says:

    When my youngest son, actually my step-son, (labeled only for the benefit of this statement) came into my life, he whined and pitched fits for everything. It was maddening and got to the point where I wanted to leave him at home. It caused many, many problems the first year of my marriage. I felt like MY son was being ignored and left out….Finally, one day when it was just me and the boys out, I told Joshua that I was the one person that would not reward his bad behavior. He pushed a little further, but didn’t win. I put my foot down with my husband and his family. I was done. The situation finally turned around once Joshua learned I meant business. I was the parent, not the friend. It wasn’t that hard, once Joshua understood the ramifications.

    I’m in retail now. I see the interaction of parents and children all day long. I WANT to tell the parents to STOP yelling, quit threatening, put their foot down and be consistant. You only get one chance to raise your children; there are no do-overs.

    I don’t go out that often. I would rather not have the rare occasion ruined by bad parenting.

    BTW, Joshua has been in my life for 20 years now. His father may be gone, but Joshua and I have a very close, very loving,relationship…and he gives me credit for how well he turned out. I’m good with that.

    • Kerri says:

      Wow, Rhonda, another testament to consistency. That is the one thing my mom always said was a key to parenting success. You can’t say “no” and not mean it. I’m so happy things turned around with Joshua and you still have a great, loving relationship!

  26. Alexandra says:

    Yes! It’s the parents who are responsible. And the culture. Kids see this type of behavior on TV, talking back to elders, etc. Excluding kids is not the solution.