Banning Kids Is Really About Banning Bad Parents

by admin on August 22, 2011

Starting July 16, McDain’s, a Pittsburgh-area restaurant, will ban children under the age of 6 from its dining area. Restaurant owner Mike Vuick said the policy came in response to complaints he’d received from older customers about kids causing a ruckus. In an email to his clientele, Vuick wrote, “We feel that McDain’s is a not a place for young children … and many, many times they have disturbed other customers.”

A few weeks ago, Malaysia Airlines announced that it would ban infants from flying in the first-class cabin because other passengers had complained about squalling babies. And last February it was rumored that Virgin Atlantic and British Airways had been pressured to consider child-free zones and even child-free planes to appease business travelers who, according to a travel survey, listed unruly children as their No. 1 travel-related complaint.

To read the rest of the article, click here.

I’ve been asked to weigh in as to whether it is rude to restrict children from public places such as restaurants and airplanes. In short, no, I don’t think it is rude.

In these cases, children are being restricted from certain locations and areas due to perceived problems with behavior and not because they happen to be nascent adult humans.  Actually, it’s their parents who are being banned due to an inability to keep the child under control or to take decisive action to eliminate the source of irritation to others.  For example, when a baby or toddler begins to get fussy and cry in a restaurant, a parent should remove him/herself from the table with the child, retreat either outside or to a more distant area to attempt to soothe the child.  In the event the child cannot be calmed to a more suitable emotional level,  that means one or both parents needs to hastily get their dinner “to go” so as to not annoy other patrons.

My children are all adults now but many years ago we routinely dined out at least once a week with an infant, toddler and pre-schooler.  My youngest daughter made her public debut at a Chinese restaurant Christmas Eve at only five days old.   My son’s first attempted word was the name of the now defunct restaurant called “La Gringada” and his first sentence (“Food coming!”) was said in the same restaurant.  Suffice it say we ate out a lot.   I’m sure other patrons cringed seeing a young family with three children under the age of six being seated near them, expecting to be unwitting witnesses to a juvenile three ring circus.

But restaurant manners are taught at home first.  Our kids were expected to come to the table clean, to sit without squirming (and that means no kneeling on the chair or sitting Indian style…parents, get proper boosters seats), to eat their food, to not yell, to remain seated at the table even though they are finished, and to engage in talking and to ask for permission to get down from the table.   Dinnertime was a cherished, quiet time for everyone to enjoy the meal and talk with mom and dad.    So,  these same manners were easily transferred to being seated around a restaurant table.   My husband and I received many compliments on the behavior of our children from other diners but that did come with a price.  It takes time and energy to repeatedly train children to behave properly and sometimes that means sacrifice on the rare instances that my husband needed to take an unhappy child out to the car.  I can only recall once incident of needed to cut short our meal due to the unhappiness of what turned out to be a sick child.   I can attest that neither my husband or I are scarred from the obligations of parenting.

So, when I see ill-mannered children in restaurants, and by ill-mannered, I mean the ones who screech during dinner for no apparent reason other than vocalization, run around the tables, throw food, etc., I see parents who do not take the time to properly disciple their children at home. Those children undoubtedly act this way at home, too.  Mom and Dad are too tired to expend the effort to train them or they simply don’t care.  We were recently eating at a restaurant where a 4 year old girl was methodically issuing forth with a very high pitched, ear-splittingly loud  squeals merely out of happiness and because she could.   Mom and Dad may have been used to it but it was extremely unpleasant.  *Those* are the types of parents whose kids make people want to ban kid everywhere and ruin it for those who do behave.

Is it rude for businesses to ban children?   No.  A business owner is in business to make money, to support his family and provide employment that supports the families of others.  That owner has every right to ban a segment of clientele whose behavior has a negative effect on his earning potential due to deterring good paying customers.    It’s an extension of “my house, my rules” only it’s “my business, my rules”.   Customers vote with their dollars and if someone decides that an anti-kid policy is not congruent with their own beliefs, they can vote with their dollars at another restaurant.   The business owner who bans kids and their permissive parents is making a bet that more clients will vote to spend their dollars in support of his/her business than those who will not.

“Tis such fools as you that makes the world full of ill-favoured children.

As You Like It, Act 3, Scene 5

{ 50 comments… read them below or add one }

Hemi Halliwell August 22, 2011 at 9:08 am

I’m sure this may not be a popular viewpoint but:
Amen and hallelujah. I don’t dislike children, in fact, I have two of my own. Like admin, we taught our children proper dining behavior at home. We did have an occasional squeal or squirmy child but we immediately dealt with it and other patrons did not have to suffer through their meals.
I don’t see anything wrong with making “child-free” restaurants, airplanes, etc. Some people simply want to have a meal, or take a flight w/o unruly children making it less enjoyable. I know sometimes, when a child is sick or something or that sort, parents can not soothe them no matter what. It’s the parents that do not even try that make it hard on other parents.


badkitty August 22, 2011 at 9:11 am

I’m absolutely in favor of these policies, and I’ve often wondered why restaurants are so reluctant to ask parties with noisy children to leave. Rowdy drunks get the boot, why not rowdy children? There have been times where I and my party have made it known that we are leaving because of some obnoxious children and the parents who refuse to quiet them, and while the staff are always very apologetic they seem to quietly accept that these selfish individuals have the power to cost the restaurant money and business.


me August 22, 2011 at 9:12 am

what if the business owner bans overweight people because his customers complain they dont like to ‘watch fat people eat” (I have seen these complaints happen) is it still rude ?


Sarah W. August 22, 2011 at 9:15 am

My parents had a great tactic for teaching us manners. They would go on date nights every once in a while to this Really Fancy Restaurant, and when they came home they would tell us all about their meal, the delicious food, the beautiful decorations, the waiter, etc. We would beg to be allowed to go along but they would always say “When we think your manners are good enough, you can go.” To prove ourselves worthy of this awesome treat, we practiced our table manners (please, thank you, don’t talk with your mouth full, don’t drink when your mouth is full of food, ask to be excused, keep quiet, don’t pound your sister in the head with your plate…) at home constantly. My brother was older than me, so he was deemed ready before I was and it was the same spiel when they got home, the restaurant was lovely, the food was amazing, etc. I was SO JEALOUS that I made it my goal to be younger than he was when he was allowed to go somewhere fancy. A real reward is something you work to earn, not something that is given to a child for being cute. Going to a nice restaurant should be a real reward.


Tiffany August 22, 2011 at 9:18 am

I’m definitely okay with child-free restaurants. I am not a parent yet, but I do love children. That doesn’t mean I enjoy them when they’re shouting, running around a crowded restaurant like maniacs, or banging on the table.

I think one of the worst examples I ever saw was at a fairly nice restaurant with my boyfriend back in high school. At a table not too far from us sat two young women (probably both twenty-something) with a very young child, under two for sure. Both women were giggling, and blowing air into the baby’s face. The baby seemed to enjoy it, but after a few puffs, would understandably make a loud squawk or squeal, because, you know, she was a baby. As soon as she shrieked, the two women would flap their arms and go, “Shhhhh, shh, shhhhhh!” And then start blowing in the baby’s face again immediately. That’s not just neglectful parenting, that’s being plain mean to your child.


Lisa Marie August 22, 2011 at 9:21 am

BRAVO! for your opinion. I also had 3 children close together and we ate out frequently. As a working parents it was a weekly treat for us to go out to dinner and my children did behave. They were taught there were consequences for misbehavior such as going to bed early or sitting in the corner. Our children are now grown and as customers my husband and I resent spending money for a dinner out and being seated practically next to other’s misbehaving children. I want to say something to the parents who seem oblivious to how their child’s behavior is affecting others but just can’t. So bravo to the restaurants who have that policy.


Princess Buttercup August 22, 2011 at 9:25 am

I used to looove little kids, but more and more there is less and less parenting going on. That leads to obnoxious kids that are just an annoying drain to everyone around them. If parents actually raised and trained kids in prep for life instead of popping them out then ignoring them, there would be no need for banning kids.
My husband has started visibly tensing up when we are enjoying a nice evening then someone brings their little kids, because he knows odds are now days that the parents haven’t bothered to raise their kids and in a moment we will be seeing behavior that makes even animals embarrassed.


Saucygirl August 22, 2011 at 9:30 am

I agree 100% with admin. In college I worked as a server at mid-level restaurants and the behavior of some kids (and by extension, their parents) was astonishing. I used to always say that instead of smoking and nonsmoking sections they should have children and nonchildren sections.


Just Laura August 22, 2011 at 9:30 am

I am not the biggest fan of children. Planes, restaurants, stores, theatres, the subway, my house – doesn’t seem to matter, parents allow them to scream, throw objects, climb all over everything, kick the back of my chair, etc. I’ve had to ask people visiting my house to stop letting their kid beat on the flat screen tv. (“But Junior likes the sound things make when he hits them.”) Is it no wonder we ask parents to leave their kids at home when they visit?

Having been to Disney World countless times, I’ve encountered very polite children and children that helped me arrive at the personal decision not to procreate (yes, I’m married and we both agree on this one). One child of about 6 suddenly stopped for no reason in the middle of a busy thoroughfare at Epcot. My mother (who adores children), accidentally tripped over her, but apologized and moved along. The child hopped up, ran up behind my mother and kicked her. I wish I were exaggerating. I looked at the child’s mother and said that if her kid had kicked me, I’d kick it back. The mother quickly retreated. Yes, my response was not the kindest, but I will not stand by while my mother is kicked and disrespected in public.


NooraK August 22, 2011 at 9:31 am

While I agree with this in regards to restaurants, I’m hesitant to agree with the airplane portion. There are plenty of alternatives to choose from if a particular restaurant bans children, but the same can’t always be said of air travel.

I recently traveled to Europe with my family, and our total travel time was around 20 hours one way, which included about 12 hours of air travel. On our return flight there was a child, probably around the age of one, who cried the *entire* flight. I could see the parents trying desparately to soothe the child, but nothing was working. They couldn’t remove the child from the plane, as we were over the Atlantic.

What would be the alternative? Not traveling? Would we keep people from being able to visit their families until their children are of a certain age? On shorter, more frequent routes a child-free option might be possible, but I can’t see it being plausible on longer jaunts.


majuba August 22, 2011 at 9:33 am

far as I can tell banning children isnt covered under the anti-discrimination laws; so a business owner would have the right to actively ban children under a certain age from entering their premises or using their services.
Personally I’d used a business like a restaurant or airline that was child-free; that doesn’t make me a child-hater, I just like being able to chose when and where we meet.


Michelle P August 22, 2011 at 9:39 am

Amen, Admin. I have a nine year old, and I taught her early on. I detest it when I’m in a restaurant or worse, a movie theater, and the experience is ruined due to others’ children. An infant crying I can understand, and even then the parents should take him/her out.

Love the site, and your words!


Virg August 22, 2011 at 9:42 am

I agree with the Dame’s idea that it’s not rude to ban small children from a restaurant, but I do take issue with making it a “my business, my rules” reasoning. The problem with that reasoning is that it was used quite effectively to ban people of certain races or certain religions or what-have-you, so this particular idea needs to be avoided. When a business opens its doors to the public, it must be more careful about the idea of “my place, my rules” than a normal host.



--E August 22, 2011 at 9:44 am

Right on!

I remember my parents taking us out to eat quite often in the late 70s. My mom was in law school more than full time and my dad worked all day, and since he made a good living, they opted for dinners out several days a week. We ate at least once a week in a very fancy restaurant that we had to get dressed up for.

And I learned two things very quickly: one, that if I got out of line, my mother would pick me up, cart me out to the sidewalk, and wait impassively for me to calm down before I was allowed back inside; and two, that I was apparently a loud talker, because I recall my father instructing me to speak in quieter tones quite often. (I would pipe down, and then forget, and Dad would have to remind me again. Hey, I was a child.)

My parents managed this with some ingenious tactics. First, get a booth, and stick the kids on the inside, with one parent on either side on the end. (Or at the least, there needs to be a parent next to each child. No kids on one side / parents on the other crap. And no round tables. Round tables are very bad.)

Second, talk to the kids like adults, asking how their day was and telling them how your day was. This lets you keep up with their school situation, and shows you expect them to start thinking about how adults live. I knew at age four that I would go to college and get a job someday. This prospect was not the slightest bit frightening.

Third, bring paper and crayons–even to the fancy restaurants–so the kids would have something to do if the grownups needed to have a grownup talk. When we were a little beyond the crayon stage, Dad used to give us pens (standard Bic ballpoints–he always had at least two in his suit pocket) and ask us to draw the objects on the table–the wine glasses, the salt shakers, the flowers. Or Mom would make up a word-game, asking how many words we could make out of the letters in our names, or the name of the wine, or “veal parmigiana.” I can’t tell you how many games of tic-tac-toe and hangman we played.

(Fourth, books. But this only applies to families who care about reading, which is not all families, alas.)

Parents today have an even larger wealth of entertainments. Gameboy, iPad/Pod/Phone, even ordinary cell phones have games on them (I get a lot of mileage out of Snood on my decade-old clamshell).

My point being, unless one’s child has a certifiable neurological condition, any parent who fails to keep their kids quiet at dinner is suffering from a failure of imagination.


J's Mama August 22, 2011 at 9:46 am

I have a two year old, and I agree with the admin completely. Unless we’re out at a fast food place, or a louder kid friendly place, i.e Red Robin, then we stay home. My son is a good boy, but he is a typical toddler. I think it’s rude to expect other patrons, and even dh and I, to pay good money for a meal, and have it interrupted by a child.

More often than not, if we are craving a certain meal, and we know that we cannot bring ds, than we do carry out. Even higher end restaurants are getting into that, so we can eat our Cheesecake Factory in peace, while ds dines on chicken nuggets. It’s the best of both worlds.


LC August 22, 2011 at 9:47 am

As repetitive as it is to yet again agree with Dame E. hee, I could not concur more. I would add my many varied experiences of having had dining experiences ruined, but it would be much of the same. We all have our horror stories

I would definitely favour and patronize a restaurant that declared itself child-free. Assuming the food was up to par, I would frequent it on principle alone.

I will take my beloved toddler, step-grandchild to appropriate venues. But because I am not a primary, or even secondary caregiver, I do not have the kind of ‘control’ over his potential behaviour such that I could guarantee his sweet nature would not turn into tantrum or just bad-behavior land in some adult-oriented establishment. Why even risk the gamble, and potentially spoil the experience for not only my immediate party but also for those around me?

And air flights are another special type of ehell with screaming children. Yes, I understand and have read and heard all the arguments about how parents have every right to travel with their children. I actually pretty much agree.

But if an airline has the resources and willingness to provide childfree accomodation, and the market is there, then I fully and completely support the initiative.


SingActDance August 22, 2011 at 9:52 am

Someone in the comment thread of that article actually tried to compare being a child to being developmentally delayed. They said that kids basically have a handicap because they cannot properly communicate their needs, and therefore cannot be discriminated against per the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Now I proceed to pick my jaw up off the floor…


elicat August 22, 2011 at 9:52 am

Once, during a work lunch, I was waiting for a colleague outside a deli which had seating. The seats were in the area of the store-front’s windows. I watched as a young tot upchucked against the window and the chatting mommies at the table did nothing. That’s probably the worst incident I’ve witnessed. (However, I will say that many of the moms who go out to eat in this town allow their children to run around restaurants as people are eating.)


Wink-n-Smile August 22, 2011 at 9:53 am

The only problem is that good parents and their children suffer by association.


FLS August 22, 2011 at 9:54 am

I have had many awful dining experiences courtesy of someone’s little angel (if we go to a Red Robin or similar family style restaurant we know that comes with the territory, I’m talking Ruth’s Chris level of fine dining). Most recently, my husband and I were at an upscale seafood restaurant when a family came in and took a booth near us, but not right next to us. The booths are wood (no padding) and little angel decided it was fun to beat her head against the back of the booth and make a wonderful and loud sound that reverberated through the general area. The parents did nothing about it and I finally after I had heard enough (several minutes of this non-stop) leaned over and asked them politely to please ask their little angel to stop. The father got irate and said, “she’s only 4 years old” in a very nasty tone to me. I looked him straight in the eye and repeated my request for his little angel to stop making the noise. The mother shushed the little angel and the father glared at me and said to the mother, “just let her do it” and he continued to glare at me the rest of our meal (I just ignored him as best I could). The mother kept the little angel in line but I wonder when it became acceptable to be so incredibly self centered and rude. I also wonder at some of the piggish messes that supposedly civilized people leave behind in their wake. I’ve often felt sorry for the poor bus-person who has to clean up after those pigs. It makes me wonder what sort of squalor those people tolerate at home.

I live in the Washington DC area and people here do seem to have a particularly prevalent “I’m entitled” attitude that I find extremely off-putting. I was raised by a caring and strict mother who believed in manners, courtesy and politeness. I am eternally grateful for her lessons. Something I find a bit ironic is that growing up, we were fairly low on the socio-economic totem pole which just goes to show, in the words of my sainted Mother, “Money don’t buy class.”

But back to the topic at hand, I would go out of my way to patronize an establishment (movie theater, restaurant, etc) that I knew had a child-free policy, even just one evening a week. I have annoyed many a host/hostess when they have taken us to our table at a restaurant and I’ve asked to be seated at one that isn’t so near small children. I am not anti child but I am anti ill-behaved, annoying child.


Elizabeth August 22, 2011 at 9:54 am

Yes, NooraK, the alternative is not traveling.


P Chan August 22, 2011 at 10:05 am

Better than child ban would be a pledge by the restaurant to remove rowdy customers. Not very long ago, my husband I were eating at a place that is fairly family friendly. One group (It was either a bridal shower or birthday party) became very boisterious. Extremely loud laughing and talking. It made conversation at my table nearly impossible. A family with four young children came in. Three of the four children seemed to make a game of “I can scream louder than you can.” The table of loud women kept saying how rude the family’s table was. I could only laugh and ask for a to go box.


Just Laura August 22, 2011 at 10:10 am

what if the business owner bans overweight people because his customers complain they dont like to ‘watch fat people eat” (I have seen these complaints happen) is it still rude ?

This is a poor comparison. Last I checked, overweight people haven’t thrown food at me, screamed for no reason, or crawled around on the table. When the action physically interferes with my dinner (i.e., I can’t have a conversation over the screaming), then there is a problem. A big person consuming food doesn’t concern me.


Carol August 22, 2011 at 10:13 am

If the resturant isn’t geared to small children in the first place, then I see no problem with the ‘ban’. My general rule was: ‘Only go to places with crayons on the table’.

I will never understand parents who are upset when they can’ t bring their child to a place that is clearly not geared to them. Why would I want to force my kid to speak in hushed whispers while I desperately try to find something on the menu he’ll like.

I think half the problem, too, is people expecting the child to act up, even if he isn’t. My son was always fairly well behaved – only child/single mother, you get dragged to places a lot, and even though he didn’t cause problems, I’m sure people eyed him warily, expecting him to explode at any moment. I like to think good parenting kept it in check.

(When he was 6 we flew to and from Vegas for my sister’s wedding. He was fantastic both times. However, when we were flying back over Philly I pointed out the Eagles stadium, and he promptly broke out into the fight song. Fortunately this was met with cheers and laughter. Especially by, as I was told, a professional player who was on the flight!)


AS August 22, 2011 at 10:18 am

I love children, but unruly kids bother me. Though unless they are real bad, I try to pardon the parents by telling myself that kids will be kids. I don’t have children of my own, so I don’t know what it takes to be parents. Question to everyone out there who have had small children – if you are travelling with a child in a long flight journey, how do you keep them from getting restless? I am an adult, but I too find it hard to sit at a place for too long in 15 hour flights. Some children are more active than others; and I don’t think many children can really behave themselves for more than 6 to 7 hours. In many situations, I have often debated whether I should request the parent to control their child running around the aisles, yelling or kicking my seat (unless they have been doing so all the time); or should I give them some leeway because they are probably trying, and also because they are humans after all, and might be tired.

That said, I’d like to share a horrifying story about unruly kids and bad parenting I once encountered.

I was once at a cosmetic section with my mother in a non-chain departmental store. This section had counters for testing out products like they have in the malls, and we were looking for some things when another woman (I’ll call her baby-mom) with a 2-3 year old child came to the counter next to us. The first thing baby-mom did was seated her 2-year old on the glass counters! Then she started trying out the nail polish testers, and the child started taking the bottles and throwing them around on the floor! (Thankfully and miraculously, none of the bottles broke!). Several sales reps. (including the one attending to us) quickly gathered around the child to catch the bottles she threw. The mother of the child did nothing about the behavior. My mother gave baby-mom the look, but all baby-mom could do was give my mother a wry smile. Mother did not want to tell baby-mom anything else because she didn’t want to create a scene in the store. We left the counter letting the sales rep. know that we’ll be back after a while (so that she can help in catching bottles thrown by the child!; We used to frequent the store and knew the staff quite well). My mother was fuming, and told me that I’d have gotten a stern “no” from her if I had tried to pull anything of that sort when I was the child’s age. If I had dared to disobey her “no”, I’d have gotten a whack and earful of scolding once we get back home.


Athena Carson August 22, 2011 at 10:19 am

@Elizabeth – what about NooraK’s other question – “Would we keep people from being able to visit their families until their children are of a certain age?”

Let’s be honest – if you have any sort of expectation of a pleasant flight (with children or without children), you are delusional. Air travel is not designed to be pleasant, and in this regard the airlines have succeeded beyond their wildest dreams.


Pixie August 22, 2011 at 10:19 am

My siblings and I behaved better in restaurants then at home. We often got compliments from people at tables near us. You see, we loved to eat out. It would happen at least once a week. . . a long as we were good. If any of us acted out it would be a good month before we could eat out again (not even fast food).


bettyedit August 22, 2011 at 10:20 am

I’ve taken to keeping a set of earplugs in my purse at all times, which is especially helpful on the airplane. I have also use them in public/restaurants when I happened to be by myself and needed a respite from a screaming child. I do love children, but I do not love parents who don’t take responsibility for their progeny.


Clair Seulement August 22, 2011 at 10:24 am

I agree that infants should be banned from first class on airlines. People pay extra for the privilege of flying in greater comfort. However, I am with Noora K in that it could be problematic to ban children from entire flights–it’s sort of irresponsible, since it would culminate either in more flights (not environmentally responsible) or fewer choices for travelers.

I like the idea of teaching kids that participating in the adult world is a privilege and demands a certain amount of decorum–that’s certainly how my parents raised us. Lately it seems that the pendulum has swung in the other direction, with the dominant rationale being “kids are here, deal with it.” We’re in the throes of an Entitlement Boom that I fear may have ugly consequences.


Angela August 22, 2011 at 10:25 am

I am all for the child-free zone. One of my children has Down syndrome and we have limited our dining options because he is hard to quiet down if he’s wound up and I have no great desire to spend most of our dining time outside with him. (Yes, I can and do take him outside. No, I cannot force him to shut up. )

I do get a little annoyed when this same sentiment is applied to the supermarket and similar places. There are times when you have to take a kid to the store. I am trying to get out as fast as I can but I have to eat too. Luckily my husband does a lot of the shopping. I don’t know how single parents manage.


Angela August 22, 2011 at 10:28 am

BTW some of the stories about kids squawking reminded me of working in a fairly nice restaurant when I was in college. An extended family came in with a baby who was less than a year old. She was fine but she occasionally made this loud “Ah!” sound. The parents were frantically trying to shush her when a drunk guy across the restaurant decided it would be fun to “Ah!” back at her. She was having great fun at this game, and I don’t know who was more mortified, the baby’s parents or the drunk guy’s companions. Luckily he passed out and she found something else to do.


BamaGirl August 22, 2011 at 10:29 am

I work in a public school sytem where the lunchroom policy is for the children to eat silently for 10 minutes, after which they are allowed to either quietly converse with students next to them, or read a book. Then, upon leaving, the children pick up all food AND wipe down / sweep the floors. They somehow manage to do this 180 days a year, with little complaint. To then see these same children run amok in a restaurant with their parent makes me realize that they know when the rules are, and aren’t enforced.


Margaret August 22, 2011 at 10:30 am

Personally, I’m a little affronted by the small child ban. Still, I support the business owner’s right to make that decision. I just wouldn’t patronize that business anymore, which is really his point, isn’t it? His risk is that even when my kids were older, I might not choose to return.


Random August 22, 2011 at 10:33 am

Elizabeth, telling people with kids not to travel at all seems excessive. I can’t stand annoying kids whose parents do nothing, but sometimes inconvenient situations happen. What if they are on a plane because they are moving to a new home? Or visiting family that they cannot see without taking a plane? Can they not go just because the kids might act up? Remember, even the best behaved kids have bad days. If they are flying home from somewhere and the kid is having a bad day do they not get to go home? As I said, kids acting up annoys me, but if the parent is trying to calm them down I cannot be too mad at them. I agree that parents should not take kids to nice restaurants or optional places if the kid is going to act up, but some things, like air travel, are necessary. I don’t like to be inconvenienced, but I do not feel that it is right to tell families to never travel with kids just so I will never be annoyed.


many bells down August 22, 2011 at 10:36 am

A restaurant, fine. A child should be removed from any public place if they can’t behave.

Air travel … well come on, flying is just unpleasant for everyone involved. You’re jammed into a tiny seat with 100 other cramped, uncomfortable people. There was just a news article about some poor 13 year old girl who woke up on a flight to find a drunk man urinating on her. Sometimes, you have to travel. Sometimes you have to travel with small children. When my best friend in the Air Force (or her husband) is reassigned to a different base, she has to pick up and move promptly with her two kids. Flying is one of those times where we just have to make the best of an unpleasant situation.


Ashley August 22, 2011 at 10:48 am

The timing on this post is fantastic, as just last night I was subjected to children allowed to run back and forth AND a child who managed to drown out every other noise in the place with her shrieking. To be fair, it was a sports bar, and a popular one at that, so I have come to expect a certain level of volume that is higher than you would get at most other places. But when ONE child manages to drown out the sound of the music, at least 10 TVs broadcasting sports, AND a crowded room full of diners, and the parent does NOTHING to keep them quiet? You could actually SEE people flinching every time she started shrieking and not once did the parents do anything to shush her.

I want to make it very clear here. I adore children. I have cousins by the dozen, a niece, another niece on the way, I grew up with my mom running a day care out of the house, and I have three brothers. I also plan on having kids of my own one day. I really do absolutely love children. I also know from watching my brothers and I grow up that yes, it IS possible to raise your kids properly so they know that shrieking and banging is NOT acceptable behavior in a restaurant, and yes, you SHOULD do something to stop it if your child is doing it. The fact that all parents don’t seem to understand this, or don’t care, or whatever they are doing, is deplorable. It ruins it for the good parents that are left out there.


doodlemor August 22, 2011 at 10:56 am

Roseanne Barr said that she was in a restaurant where the kids were so bad that many patrons left to immediately go get their tubes tied.

I agree that it’s the parents who need the banning from restaurants for not supervising their children. I think that some of these people, like the mother in the department store or the father with the head banger in the restaurant, actually enjoy having their children bother others. I think it’s kind of an “in your face” thing to society in general.


AS August 22, 2011 at 11:01 am

@me what if the business owner bans overweight people because his customers complain they dont like to ‘watch fat people eat” (I have seen these complaints happen) is it still rude ?

The only way fat people can bother someone is if the “victim” is bothered by them; the same way people of different religions or races can bother someone. In other words, their problems are self-inflicted by the “victim” themselves. But unruly children are intrusive, and the victim cannot do much about the disturbance. This is like a drunken person (who is not allowed in several establishments either) who spoils your experience by behaving badly, or gagging and doing other disturbing things the whole time.

In short, it is very rude for customers to complain about fat people unless they are bothering them in some other way (in which case, the complaint will not be about the offenders being fat). Period!


Sarah August 22, 2011 at 11:03 am

I’d definitely frequent restaurants with a child-free policy. As an earlier poster mentioned; eating out was considered a huge treat when we were children, and this mindset hasn’t altered. My husband and I work hard, and like to eat out occasionally as a treat. It is so disappointing when the treat that we have looked forward to all week is ruined by a screaming child climbing over the seats. Nobody is suggesting a blanket ban on children from *all* restaurants, but certainly the high-end ones. My husband and I know to expect a lot of noisy children if we visit a family restaurant like Frankie & Benny’s, and we don’t resent that – it’s just part of the territory, but when we go somewhere more expensive, we expect a service worthy of the money we are paying – this doesn’t happen when the staff are preoccupied with dodging a hyperactive child intent on playing with the wine glasses on other tables or commando rolling in front of them while they carry hot food. We recently had a lovely meal ruined because a family was seated on the other side of a wall to us, which had a little window in it. This child kept sticking his head through the window and shouting at us and other diners while his parents ignored him and critiqued the wine list at length.

It is a real shame that poor standards of parenting have caused this debate to exist in the first place.


A.J. August 22, 2011 at 11:11 am

I really don’t like OPC (other people’s children). Its gotten so I hate taking my kids to kid events, like storytime, due to the children running amok, screaming and hitting and making it impossible to hear the story and their parents do nothing. But I don’t really know how I’d feel about a child-free restaurant, I guess I’d never eat there since I’m a single mom and I rarely get to go anywhere without my kids.

I do have a story about somewhere that should have been a child-free zone. Back when I was married, a friend decided to treat me to a “spa day” with her. We were going to get manicures and pedicures and get a relaxing hand and foot massage to some tranquil music, that kind of thing. Since I had very young children, I didn’t get a chance to do that kind of thing much, so I was really looking forward to it. Except an older lady had shown up for her appointment and brought her very young granddaughter with her. This kid ran around the room the whole time my friend and I were there, yelling and getting into everything possible, almost breaking nail polishes, etc. Not only did the woman do nothing about this, she also insisted her granddaughter get her nails done too, which took away a manicurist who was supposed to be helping us. The manicurists were very apologetic to us, saying this was a spa and that behavior was supposed to be the kind of thing we were relaxing FROM.


Shannon August 22, 2011 at 11:18 am

I’m not a “kid person.” I like kids I know (relatives, friends’ kids, etc), but I’ll admit random kids tend to get on my nerves. I was raised that there is kid time and grownup time, and never the twain shall meet. If my parents had dinner guests, my sister and I ate early, greeted the guests when they arrived, and were sent upstairs. Now kids take a place at the table like they’re mini grownups, and all conversation has to be G-rated.

So, because I prize grownup time, I would absolutely patronize an adult-only restaurant. I’m sick of the standard “kid noise” that parents have learned to ignore (“Mom mom mom mom mom MOOOOOMMM!!!”), the running around (which endangers both the children and the waitstaff), and more G-rated conversations. Even in a bar, which to me is an adult envioronment – yes, in DC, people have started to take their babies to bars. And then the parents get huffy and say we can’t cuss around little Madison.

At this point, I’m about to give up and start patronizing strip clubs for the food – sure, I’ll pay 10 bucks for a Bud Light and my dinner will be dreadful, but at least everyone there will be 21 and over.


Lizajane August 22, 2011 at 11:21 am


What do you hope to add to this conversation about children by asking that question?


Wendy August 22, 2011 at 11:25 am

I know I’d go to one of these restaurants. I’m tired of the squealing, the yelling the screaming…and getting kicked between the shoulder blades by a toddler carried by dear old dad who wasn’t paying any attention to the child on his hip. I don’t go to a restaurant to be “entertained” by your sweet prince or princess. (Nor do I go to hear your cell phone conversation!) I don’t care that s/he is thrilled to be there and loudly proclaims it. I go to have a nice, quiet meal with my family. I expect a certain amount of noise from the crowded room, I even expect children to be excited and maybe louder than usual. But I also expect parents to shush a loud child and provide busy stuff for them to do while waiting and to take them out if the child becomes unruly or sick. I don’t think it is too much to ask parents to BE PARENTS! :o)


Wendy August 22, 2011 at 11:26 am

Please let me add: I know some children really can’t help it. Autism spectrum disorders come to mind, as does ADHD, etc. I’m talking about the kids who can control certain actions and don’t because mom/dad/grandma/grandpa don’t care.


vanessaga August 22, 2011 at 11:29 am

I too have small children (4 and 18 months) and while I consider them well-behaved, they are children. We don’t go to fancy restaurants with them and even in the family-style places, I feel the evil eye on me when they get a little loud or get restless. I do not feel like it’s rude to choose to keep certain people from your business if you so choose. I do think it may set a dangerous precedent (i.e., recent FL residents trying to keep kids from playing outdoors). Just because other people’s children have misbehaved doesn’t mean mine should be banned from public view until they reach a certain age and frankly…if these kids have been poorly brought up, at what age do we expect them to suddenly be different? My guess is that it won’t happen.


Dark Magdalena August 22, 2011 at 11:40 am

@Margaret – Why are you affronted? I am not trying to be snarky, just trying to understand.

I have always believed that it is the owner’s choice to what he wants in his restaurant as long as it obeys the law. One specific example comes to mind: smoking. I fully believe that if the owner wants to allow smoking, he should be allowed to. However, that is not the law, and thus the owner has to abide by the law.

That is only one of the reasons I support child-bans. If an owner thinks that children will be disruptive to other customers, it is his right to ban children from his property.


spartiechic August 22, 2011 at 11:40 am

Eating out and flying are not “rights.” They are privileges and should be treated as such. If I’m going to a family restaurant, I expect to hear and see children. If I’m going to a restaurant that caters more to adults, I shake my head and plead with the helpless waitstaff to quiet them to a dull roar. When I’m paying upwards of $30 an entree for dinner, I refuse to put up with bad parenting and will simply walk out. As a child, I was taught how to behave at the dinner table and I was expected to be appropriate. Dining out was such a rarity that I knew that my continued excursions to various restaurants were dependent on my behavior. I have ADHD and my mother was still able to instill in my proper table manners and respect for my fellow patrons. Unless your child is has a severe disability (mine was moderate), there is no excuse for bad manners.


The Elf August 22, 2011 at 11:44 am

A place that bans children – especially a restaurant or an airline – will get my dollars in a heartbeat. I like kids, but I’ve had too many nice meals out ruined by squalling. It’s usually not the kid’s fault – though sometimes they are old enough to know better. It’s that the parents don’t respect their fellow diners enough to either 1) plan better or 2) remove the kid when a meltdown happens.

Planes are a little different. Air travel is tiring no matter what. The pressure changes can hurt little ears. Parents can’t really remove the kids from the area either, though I would appreciate it if they attempted to quiet their child. Some do, some don’t. Even good parents are going to be flustered here, and I honestly cannot point a finger of blame. But I swear I would pay a few hundred more to fly on a childfree flight.

When a business decides to ban children, it is their decision. They’ll lose some business, for sure. But how much more will they gain? And is the loss worth it to have a quieter restaurant? Maybe – I’d let the business people make that call.


G-Radical August 22, 2011 at 11:47 am

@me “what if the business owner bans overweight people because his customers complain they dont like to ‘watch fat people eat” (I have seen these complaints happen) is it still rude ?”

Well, then don’t look at them! With small kids you can try to tune them out but sometimes the high pitched squeals break the barrier and then they are running around causing disturbances (climbing over seats, throwing food, just wrecking havoc.) I am pretty sure the “fat people” are minding their own business, quietly enjoying a meal. You can ignore them as they will ignore you. Can’t always say the same about kids.

I love little kids and apparently they love me! I have had random kids run up to hug my leg out in public before. The reason I love them is because I only see them for a short time and then I am merrily on my way. Kids are cute but that’s no excuse to let them run wild.


Nadine August 22, 2011 at 11:49 am

Remember, the airline ban on children is only for First Class, and only for a handful of airlines. The airline offers a premium service, First Class, to deep-pocketed customers. The airline is simply making their product more attractive to top-level passengers by insuring there will be no young children in First Class.

I don’t have a problem with that. The family with young children can still get to their destination in Business Class or Coach.


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