What’s your opinion on “kid-free” zones?

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by Tsh

Tsh is the founder of this blog and lives in Bend, Oregon with her husband and 3 kids. Her latest book is Notes From a Blue Bike, and believes a passport is one of the world's greatest textbooks.

The hot topic on the Internet this week has been “kid-free” zones in certain places — essentially banning children from certain events and arenas.

The buzz really got going when a Whole Foods Market in Missouri announced a new event: two hours of free babysitting while you go shopping, every Friday in August. Parents can drop off their kids — the young ones can enjoy crafts and books; Mom and Dad can shop without the grabby hands or whining.

People misunderstood this as banning kids from Whole Foods. Understandable, because local venues are hopping on this trend: a quiet, casual restaurant in Pennsylvania announced this summer that children under 6 are no longer allowed.

A restaurant in North Carolina has made it quite clear with a sign on its doors: “Screaming Children Will NOT Be Tolerated!” Malaysia Airlines recently announced that children are banned from first class.

In Austin, my hometown, Alamo Drafthouse has a strict no kids allowed in all their movies, offering instead kid-friendly hours and movies during certain times and days.

There are times and places where children shouldn’t be, for their sake as much as the other people involved. But as a culture, are we becoming less and less tolerant of kids?



Photo from flickriver

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. When you hear a local restaurant is banning kids, do you feel “persecuted,” or do you do understand their perspective? Companies have a right to do what they want — but do you feel like it’s a good move on their part?

Does this say anything about how our culture views — and deals with — children? As a parent, how do you feel when you see someone else’s child making loud noise in a store, an airplane, or some other public place?

(And perhaps most importantly, how awesome would it be if there were more restaurants and stores that provided childcare? This is just one of the many reasons we love Ikea so much.)

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Comments

  1. i have two small kids – ages 4 and 2- (and one on the way)- and i think it’s a pretty great idea. in the rare moments when i get to go on a date with my husband to a nice restaurant, the last thing i want is a crying baby at the next table. and if i paid to sit in first class, you better believe i don’t want a toddler kicking my seat…

    • avatar
      JenniferSalley says:

      :o) I’m glad I’m not the only one that happens too!

    • I share your belief-kids are a blessing and a gift, but on a date with my husband I really don’t want to hear someone else’s kids ating out. That’s a whole different topic though!

      • avatar
        Melissa L. says:

        I’ve got a two year old and five year old, and I agree. Sure, it would be nice if everyone had the same sense of what places (or times of day) are appropriate for young children, but since we don’t all share the same practice, we’ve left it to the businesses to make the determination for us.

        • I agree. I have four children. When they were young I didn’t take them anywhere if I weren’t positive their behaviour would suit the situation. Unfortunately, not all parents have that decision – making ability. So, since we’ve handed the decision over to businesses, vote with your dollar. There was one family restaurant we never went to again after they gave me attitude about my toddler – we hadn’t even been seated yet!

    • avatar
      Nikole Kubias-Clarke says:

      I was just talking to a friend of mine about this. I have a 6 year old, a 1 year old, and one due in 2 1/2 months. I think it’s a great idea. Why not have some areas that are just not for kids. Or a restaurant that I know I can go out on a date night with hubby and there will not be any kids. I love and like my kids. i like to take my kids most places with me and I enjoy them. But the occasional meal/movie without them would be even nicer knowing I won’t have to hear someone elses child yelling or screaming.

  2. avatar
    Jessica in Canada says:

    When businesses ban children, I feel persecuted. I don’t take my children to places that are unnecessary (ie. a fancy restaurant) unless I am sure they will behave. Children are a part of society. We don’t (or aren’t supposed to) shun other segments of society.

    It’s the same as when parents feel they must drug their child for the sake of other passengers on an airplane: forcing a child’s liver to metabolize a drug for the comfort of adults. A man got upset with my almost 2 year old for giggling on an airplane. I didn’t know he was ensured a perfectly quiet flight so he could read his book.

    Banning children from public places aka ignoring parts of our population that are “unpleasant” doesn’t make them go away. I think if people find certain aspects of the population too unpleasant to deal with, they shouldn’t go out in public too often.

    • so true. Totally agree with you on this one!

      Sarah M

    • Word!

      • Totally agree with you, Jessica!

        Our society likes to pick on those least able to stand up for themselves…children, the elderly, sick people, the list goes on…

        I always laugh to myself in that the beautiful part is that children are just expressing out loud what we all want to express on airplanes or in airports…utter exasperation and impatience. Ha! Besides, do they kick off the first class passenger who belittles and patronizes the staff and takes up too much space of the woman next to him? No because that person is more difficult to manage than a mere child. UGH! Infuriating!

        I think as parents that we have a responsibility to try our best to show our children how to act in public, and to choose appropriate places for where are children are developmentally, but banning kids is over the top.

        Parents, we have major influence with our pocket books…don’t buy from those who ban kids! Next thing we know, they will be telling elderly people that they are too old to eat at their restaurant or to fly on their plane. Ridiculous!

        • avatar
          Brittany says:

          I agree. Though if I go on date with y husband we find a sitter. But how are chidren supposed to learn how to behave in public if they arent allowed there. We are expected to put up of loud mouths, drunks and smokers but not children? If my child is screaming crying than I take him and comfort him whether it be in the bathroom or outside so that he does not disrupt people around us. I had a man once be very ugly to me and a little girls mother ( a babysat for them) bc she was laughing at her movie Then when we were leaving the plane he wanted me to help him get something he had dropped. though the right thing to do would have been to help I told him that he should of thought about taht before he was so ugly about a 3 year old laughing! I thought we were supposed to be a tolarant country!

    • I agree completely with you on this one! Just today, I had a lady complain very loudly about all the screaming children and that all mothers need to just find a babysitter before they go out shopping. She said all of this in a store where half of the merchandise is for kids. I couldn’t take it anymore since I had my own 2 little ones with me who were being very well behaved and told her, if she didn’t like kids so much, she needed to shop in a store that didn’t cater to children. I could have just ignored it, but I’m tired of the attitude. I agree with making some places kid free, it is nice to have a nice meal or quiet down time, however we can’t teach kids how to act appropriately in public if we don’t allow them there. They are people too, and adults need to remember they were kids once too.

  3. Something has gone a little wonky when the child is seen as the problem. Cesar Millan’s quote about dogs would fit perfectly here: “It is not about your child – it is about you.”

    However, I do agree that not all venues should be child-friendly.

    xoxo michele

    • avatar
      JenniferSalley says:

      I completely agree! I don’t think that as a society we are tiring of children, I think we are becoming less tolerant of passive parents.

      • This is exactly what I was trying to say and couldn’t find the words! I think it’s the rare person who really minds a well-behaved child in public, though for the life of me I will never be tolerant of babies in bars no matter how quiet and cute, most people mind parents not correcting behavior or taking care of an obviously distressed child.

        • avatar
          Jessica in Canada says:

          I definitely agree with children in bars! The problem is parents disagree about what is appropriate for their children. Once, I was at a laser show at Universal Studios. There was no age restriction for the show, but recommended for over 12. The people behind us had 3 kids around under 10. One of them was screaming in terror the entire time. I felt ill for that child. He probably had nightmares for a month. I filed a complaint with the park. They said there was nothing they could do. This was incomprehensible to me: physical rides have a height restriction to prevent young children from going on them, the same can be done for “scary” shows.

          My issue is with well behaved children in restaurants, flights, museums, etc. It seems like some people are getting so crotchety, they can’t handle any possible disruption to their day. Should we start banning elderly and disabled people too? When will the insanity end?

          I don’t have an issue if people want to take advantage of babysitting while they are shopping. It definitely makes things easier — for the parent! This is not the store saying children aren’t welcome.

          • I agree it is the parents that do not either know how or care to discipline their children and feel it is okay to expose their children to everything society has to offer. I think businesses banning children says more about societies total lack of responsibility when it comes to their children. There was a time when parents would never have thought about going to a nice, fancy dinner with a 2 year old a time when the child should be asleep rather than suffering through a dinner with his/her parents or concerts where the music is way too loud and not very child appropriate. And yes, I to have seen many a child in a bar.
            Yes, liberty gives us our freedom but that freedom still comes with restrictions.
            Kind of reminds me of what I teach my children. Just because you are free to do whatever you choose does not mean you should.

      • It is the parents, not the children.

      • I think the crux of the problem is that there are adults who are failing at their responsibilities as parents and because of them, those of us with children capable of social mores and positive behavior, are being punished.

        I think the banning should focus on Human Beings who do not behave with decorum appropriate to the venue. I would ban several adults. Those who talk on cell phones while the film is playing. Those who treat staff in hotels and restaurants like alley dogs. Those who ignore their children until the children resort to screaming.

        Parenting is a serious responsibility. I’m a business owner and a homeschool mom. I was blessed with a high need infant and it took a lot of hands on
        attachment parenting to comfort my sensitive babe. Yet, because his
        father and I were diligant he was able to attend adult venues like Shakespeare
        by age four. He’s never acted out in a restaurant and if he was fussy
        in a class I took him out to calm down because he obviously wasn’t
        happy. It’s about responsive parenting but kids who are acting
        out are often doing so because they have parents who are ignoring
        them to suit their own selfish needs.

        I’ve seen parents who don’t stop their children from running through
        restaurants or climbing under tables and on top of everything. If
        the parent is lacking in emotional maturity how are they going to
        teach their children appropriate behavior?

        We rarely have the ability to go out to a nice restaurant and
        when we do, I don’t want to hear a child having a tantrum
        at the table next to me. I think the issue can be addressed
        on an individual basis but maybe the owners of establishments
        are just tired of dealing with rude parents and they’ve given
        up. Thus the ban on children.

        • avatar
          kristi m says:

          Totally agree! I think the problem lies within the adults. How is society going to expect children to learn manners and certain behaviors if they are banned from certain places. My son (now 5) knows exactly how to behave in a movie theater because we have been taking him well before he was two. Same goes with the restaurants. By the time we took our first flight on an airplane at age 2, he was accustomed to the way things needed to be. I also can not imagine children being banned from church. I am involved in a very family oriented religion and can not even imagine it without them. By going to church, my son has also learned the appropriate way to sit and listen and I highly believe that it will bleed over to the way he behaves in school. It all comes back to the adults/parents and their ability to teach their children the appropriate way to behave. I have been in many restaurants and movies, etc where the adults were behaving out of line. So to blame the desired experience on all children is so sad.

      • avatar
        Robin Bird says:

        This is exactly the point! With society becoming less rules oriented and structured the lines have become blurred. Having some of these rules in place simply makes it obvious to those who do not take it upon themselves from to teach their children the proper way to behave within our society. There will always be a place for childish behavior from children. But childish behavior from parents that have yet to rise to the occasion to teach and love their children enough to live in a society gracefully is another thing.

      • avatar
        Leah McNatt says:

        hear hear! I was about to post something similar to this. Jennifer saved me the time.

      • My thoughts exactly!

      • Exactly! I don’t mind whining, crying, screaming, misbehaving children [i]as long as I see their parents attempting to do something about it[/i]. Businesses have been put into this situation not because of children, who are simply doing what children have done for centuries, but because of parents who are [i]not[/i] doing what parents have been doing for centuries – that is, PARENTING!

        The ban should be on inappropriate behavior, and that should include adults as well as children.

      • Yes..that’s exactly it. I think if children are well-mannered for their age no one would have a problem with them but some parents aren’t teaching their children appropriate behavior for public venues and it’s frustrating to those who have to put up with it.

    • avatar
      Leah McNatt says:

      amen sister!

  4. Maybe it’s just because I’m involved with my own kids, but other people’s kids really don’t bother me.
    You know what bothers me more than this new trend with restaurants etc…? Churches. Churches have been banning children from worship services for decades.

    • YES.

    • … and we wonder why fewer kids grow up to attend church as adults…

    • We love where we sit at church. We meet my folks there and know a lot of the people in the pews around us. Recently a new family has joined us and they have what looks to be a four year old boy (I also have a four year old who sits with us).

      The little boy talks the entire service and the parents engage him in conversation. If my little one talks all I have to do is give a look and the mouth is zipped.

      Now, I’m so happy that they are there and want to bring their little guy with them but it really is loud and I can’t hear the sermon. All the people around us look over at them hoping they will get the hint. They have TVs right outside where you can sit with your little ones and hear the message.

      My question is how do you handle that? Do you say something? Do you just move? They are going to drive people away—I’m already preparing myself to be annoyed and it’s only Friday morning. Curious to know what others do in this situation.

      • avatar
        Christine S says:

        Our church has the kids Sunday School classed during service. Its hard because some people have to miss to teach, but all members teach in a rotation for 2 months so its doable.

        I’d suggest getting to know the family and then gently bring up how the child reacts in quiet settings. You may get a new perspective on how the parents REALLY feel about their son talking! Truth in love goes a very long way! Either way, you’ll feel better since its a friend at that point.

      • avatar
        Amber H says:

        I would say something. In a NICE way. Mention the TVs outside. A lot of times people honestly don’t realize that they are bothering the people around them. Maybe they think they are talking quietly enough that no one is being bothered by it. If they are engaging their kid in conversation, maybe they aren’t catching (or maybe they just aren’t interpreting) the looks. I always try to give people the benefit of the doubt. I’d mention something nicely and, if it keeps happening, maybe be a little more forward in saying that you can’t hear the sermon when they are talking to their child.

      • I’ve not been in the situation, but perhaps some proactive maneuvers to avoid a public scene would help. Maybe talk to the family away from church and/or offer some quiet activity materials, inviting the other child to sit with yours with crayons and coloring books? Let them know that you think it’s wonderful that they want their child with them in the service, but that it’s challenging to hear the sermon when there’s any conversation occuring. Ensure that they feel welcome in your area and at church, letting them know you want to keep it that way by helping them to fit in to the existing group.

        • This whole topic is interesting and I honestly sort of agree with both sides. As far as church goes, we don’t “ban” kids from worship in our church, but most go to nursery or Sunday School during worship…or at least after children’s moment about 1/4 of the way into worship. Honestly, worship is not the ideal setting for an ADHD kid and being in worship would do nothing to engender a love of church with him. He would associate it with being bored and being told to be quiet and sit still. In Sunday School, they can talk about God and Jesus, learn about the Bible, and do interactive activities – and they don’t have to sit still. During the times we’ve not had Sunday School or children’s activities during worship, I’ve gotten absolutely nothing out of worship. Really, I should’ve stayed home. He was distracted, I was distracted, no one was happy. We tried activity books, but that doesn’t interest him and what’s the point? That’s like giving a kid a DS at dinner. He’s not there for the point of being there.

      • avatar
        mom of 7 says:

        Engage this family:) Invite them over, find out what they are looking for in a church, and see if they are interested in the idea of “family ministry” There are lots of ways to facilitate the presence of children within the service. We have children’s programing, but some families prefer to keep their kids in the worship service with them. An area of our auditorium is kind of a gap for the sound system used during the music (our contemporary music can be quite loud for litte ears) and we do make note of that. Activity pages that paralell or compliment the sermon topic plus crayons are available. The tech crew uses motion backgrounds for the powerpoint. I am sure we can all think of ways to help the little guy to wait to ask his questions or at least to have them answered later. the goal of our family ministry team is to help all members of the church see the value in everyone and to bend to those needs (the older people in our church need a hymn or two, the teens like the drums, families prefer short rows with a little more wiggle room, some members prefer the scripture on the power point instead of flipping through their Bible. Our members seem to be less irritated by these things once they think of them as important to someone else) The TV feed is great, in a relationship you might find out why they don’t take avantage of it. A “look” from a stranger communicates very little, but a conversation might lead to an understanding. Unfortunately there is always the chance that thesse people just don’t get “it” so keep your eyes out for an available pew:)

        • avatar
          Jessica in Canada says:

          Although it may seem like all parents have the same behavioural goal for their children, in fact everyone has a different philosophy! We have coworkers who let their children run amok; people try to give them advice all the time. What others don’t realize is that this was an intentional choice. I have a friend who believes in answering every her childs questions no matter what or when it is to encourage learning…I believe some things are age appropriate and that some things are best explained in private.

          It is the same for church. I think the key is to find a church who shares your parenting philosophy. Churches that have a program for every age group can help adults to be less distracted and learn more directly. We chose our church precisely because they believed in keeping the children with the parents. We go to church as a family, so we want to worship & learn as a family. Most events are held for everyone in the church, not just a certain population. When music is going on, there is nothing wrong with kids dancing at the back of the church — I don’t think this should disturb anybody, but some people will find this distracting. I personally think if a baby starts crying or a child starts acting up, yes, take him out. But we are in public, so no one should be annoyed by the act of the child being taken out. If the child is not attended to and continues to distract, then I feel that is the problem.

    • Really?!?!?!?

      • GREAT discussion :-) Really enjoying all sides of it. I just wanted to chime in with our experience. Having attended all sorts of churches over the years my family and I are really blessed to attend a Russian Orthodox Church here in our small town. There are many families and lots of little kids. We don’t have a Sunday school or nursery so all the families are welcome during services. Another blessing (might not sound like it at first) is that we stand during services–little kids can sit on the floor, walk a bit (esp. the under 3 set) or stand with us. The attitude during service is reverent and all the families truly support each other with our common desire for attention and quiet, while understanding when an infant gets wiggly. This is the first time I’ve been in a truly warm and welcoming place for all ages. I must say when a “Village” is of a similar mind and helpful attitude it’s really helpful to us parents!

    • Yes! In some ways the church is the worst! And this is coming from a pastor’s wife.

      • I would say absolutely do not mention the tv’s outside or comment on the kids’ behavior. Personally, I would walk out the door and never return if someone did that to me, and I’m the youth pastor’s wife!!! Maybe they are uncomfortable with the nursery because they don’t know the workers and desperately want to feel included in the service instead of ostracized in the hallways. The best thing anyone at church has ever said to me (and my kids are quiet and well behaved but do make noise occasionally as 18 month olds tend to do), is that they love to hear my children make noise in church because it reminds them that children are there and that the church will continue when they are gone. Jesus didn’t kick the kids out when the disciples wanted to, he said, “let them come to me!” Best thing you could do? Let the kid sit right by yours and help entertain him through the service with books or stickers or something that you bring for them.

        • Our church is family oriented, with service together first, then children and adults go to separate classes. My four kids are relatively well-behaved, but they have their moments, too. Being aware of and respectful of those around you is common courtesy, but I agree that we all don’t have the same parenting style or philosophy, so either roll with it or find a new place to sit. Our clergy encourages reverent behavior during our church service because we are worshiping in the Lord’s house, and even the youngest children can understand that.

  5. I have a 4 year old and I can sort of see both sides of this argument. There are times when I want to go somewhere and it be peaceful without listening to someone else’s kid scream or throw a fit.

    But on the opposite side of that, I feel punished as a parent who has raised a child who is aware of social etiquette. She knows that she can run around and be a maniac at home but behaves in public.

    For example, I have a weekly reflexology appointment at a local spa. One week my childcare fell through last minute and I was really nervous about taking her with me. Of course many of the people who go to a spa are trying to get have a relaxing, peaceful day so it made me feel super when Riley was complimented on her behavior. Plus she gets her feet rubbed if she tags along. ;)

  6. I like the idea of kid-free zones because when I am kid-free myself the last thing I want to do is be by a kid. Well I guess I should say, I don’t mind kids who are behaving. But if it’s kids who are screaming their heads off or something else equally as annoying and the parents aren’t doing anything about it? Well, I get annoyed.

    At the same time. I think businesses take it to far. Parents can be your best paying customer if you treat them right. And businesses who don’t actually end up losing those parent’s business forever because honestly, I’m not going to visit a business who banned my children…even if I’m kid-free. There are ways to deal with kids who’s parents can’t control them and completely banning children isn’t the way.

    • avatar
      Chic Mummy says:

      Agreed. A local restaurant we used to go to brought in a rule of no children after 6 pm. That’s fine, that’s their right, but now we no longer go there before 6 or on our date night, and many if our friends are the same.

  7. When I first heard about kid-free zones (my husband was staying in a kid-free hotel on a business trip) I was kind of shocked. But then I thought about it for a while and the idea kind of grew on me. I often check my children because I think they might bug other people. Knowing that these people can go to a child free restaurant/hotel/whatever makes me a more relaxed mom, actually. And the thought of going to a kid-free restaurant for a date night with my husband is very nice, I have to admit. :-)

    I do understand if parents feel discriminated against, tough. If we’d all be a bit more tolerant towards the needs of others there wouldn’t be the need for kid-free zones. But as we’re not living in an ideal world I am ok with child-free zones.

  8. avatar
    Jennifer says:

    Moderation is key. Several of our local movie pubs (in Portland) have kid-friendly and kid-free times. I wouldn’t want to have my children at a late night movie where drinking is involved anyway. But to reciprocate, they show movies for adults (originally written as adult movies and then I had to edit it) during the day just for mommies to enjoy and kids are screaming all over the place. It is great.
    About planes, it would be nice if we could actually use our frequent flyer miles when we wanted and where. We were forced into coach once and had to bring our daughter with us. We didn’t want to pay the extra miles for it, and I felt bad for the paying customers, though we kept her entertained and as quiet as a toddler can be.

  9. avatar
    Heather T. says:

    To me, it’s a pretty obvious case of age discrimination. Instead of banning noisy people, it’s all kids under 6 regardless of if they’re irritating others. I’ve had more unhappy dealings with loud and drunk adults than I have had with little kids. I really wish people would rethink treating children this way.

    • Yes! This is exactly what I think — it’s age discrimination. No one would dream of banning the elderly or young adults aged 20-24 from restaurants but they are increasingly doing it to children. I think there are ill-behaved and well-behaved people in all age groups and to paint everyone in a group with the same brush is ageist.

  10. I take my kids everywhere I go. They are well-behaved (for the most part) because they are used to it. I often get compliments from others at how well behaved our children are (3 & 4). We take them to “nice” restaurants for dinner; we enjoy time spent as a family, and don’t just want McDonald’s as our only option for dinner when we eat out. We do go to places that are “kid friendly” ie. have kids’ menus, coloring pages & crayons, etc.

    If a place is not family friendly, they don’t get my business. Period.

    Once we were asked to leave a play because I had my sleeping newborn w/me. He was sound asleep not making a single peep. We demanded our money back, and never went back to that theater.

    I do think parents need to be more mindful of their kids though too. I know I don’t drag my kids running errands if it’s their naptime or haven’t eaten, cause then meltdowns are bound to happen. And if we are out in public and they do meltdown, they get one warning or we leave. right. then (I’ve only had to do this once or twice, and my kids understand I’m serious, lol)

    • That’s awful you were asked to leave be cause you had a (sleeping!) baby with you!!

    • I think you’ve touched on the issue that businesses are facing – not all parents are teaching their children the proper way to behave in public. We homeschool and live in a rural area – my kids go everywhere with me. We haven’t faced this issue, but I completely understand it! One trip to Walmart is enough for me to wish that it was child-free, but more because the parents of those children are not being responsible. That’s more irritating to me than the child’s behavior.

      We have left stores and restaurants when my children were not behaving. Going out to eat is a major treat in our house and they now realize that they don’t want to blow it with bad behavior!

    • I can understand banning your newborn from the play.

      The baby may be asleep going in but quite likely to disturb everyone if it wakes up.
      Even if you take the screaming baby out you are still going to ruin the atmosphere of the play while you do it.

      I am sure the theater didn’t lose much by you not going back as you sound very entitled and they get to keep their customers who will never come back from them letting a potentially screaming baby into the play.

      • I would understand the theater’s policy if we weren’t allowed to enter to begin with (ie. if they had a no kids policy). However, I thought it was completely unacceptable for them to accept our money, and then part-way through the play to ask us to leave for no reason.

        A good friend of mine was performing in the play and invited us, which is the reason why I even went. I had a 2 mo. old nursing newborn (so I couldn’t just get a babysitter); my older son was with grandma.

        That theater had very poor customer service, and has since gone out of business.

        Luckily, this has been the only business I’ve ever had a problem with regarding babies/kids :-) I find most businesses where I live are welcoming of well-behaved kids and they continue to enjoy our business.

      • You can disagree without being rude, Aussie. “I am sure the theater didn’t lose much by you not going back as you sound very entitled” is out of line.

  11. avatar
    Kirsten says:

    I’d say it is much more a case of more and more punk kids being allowed to run wild than a lack of tolerance for kids in general. It’s just more common for kids to misbehave than to behave. (and I say this as a family photographer … kids are allowed to run wild! Yikes) While it would be nice if only poorly behaved kids were banned, that would be a much more difficult policy to implement.

    Although I can see how places might lose some business by implementing a kid-free policy, it is also possible they might gain business. It’d be interesting to see the stats on that.

  12. If you own a business, you can ban whomever you choose – and if folks don’t like it, no one’ s forcing them to shop there.

    There are some places and events that don’t make sense for children to be at – it’s not fair to the kids or the adults. People don’t seem to teach their kids how to behave in public – I think thats more a problem than the Bans.

    • Actually, businesses most certainly cannot ban whomever they choose – they cannot ban someone based on race, gender, sexual orientation, or religion. So why should they be able to ban someone based on age?

      There are annoying people in EVERY age bracket.

      The guy who smacks and burps while he eats. The girl who chats loudly on her cell phone. The couple that practically makes out in the booth across from you.

      You cannot get away from annoying people, unless you just stay home… which is maybe a good idea for those who think that they have the “right” to a perfect night out. It’s a privilege, not a right!

      • Actually, it is our “right” to spend our money how ever we choose – even if we choose to spend it at a restaurant that bans kids. Welcome to the concept of free enterprise, one of the MANY things that makes our country so great.
        You are right, based upon the federal Civil Rights Act, businesses can not ban some one based upon race, religion and other categories, NONE of which include children. Therefore, it appears businesses do have a constitutional right to ban children.
        The experts supporting the staff at the Wall Street Journal, the Huffington Post, and pretty much every other major publication that has discussed this topic all came to the same conclusion. There is no law stating that a business can’t ban children. Otherwise I’m pretty sure we wouldn’t be having this discussion – as I’m guessing some of the people posting on this blog would have already taken that business owner to court.

        • avatar
          Repulsed says:

          Wow! So much hate here. I live in Florida, and have had more problems with rude old men than I ve ever had with kids. since we’ ve become a nation of convenience, then my vote is to ban old people from driving…they actually kill people, and they drive too slow, and a rush hourand make me late for work. Ok, so old people only should be allowed to drive after nine and before 4. Oooh, and what about banning ethnic people from planes if I dont like the smell of their skin.. I mean It would be my right to a pleasnat experience right? If I dont like the smell of curry… OK Im being dramatic here…and trying to make a point, and NOT actually advocating any of the above. hate is hate and once banning segments of our society become acceptable, where will it end? Also, do not forget that The children you ban from society now, will be the same children you will be expecting to care for you in your old age. Be intolerant with them now, and they will show you the same when you become the weak.

          • Not quite sure where you get the “hate” from . . . . simply stating the law that currently exists. I think this is a great topic for discussion, but I think some people are taking it way too far. I could probably throw a rock at 50 restaurants from here that are kid-friendly, but not one that bans kids. Why is everyone so up in arms because a few high-end restaurants want to protect their brand? The level of “disgust, shock, etc” showing up on here would be so much better spent on topics that can actually hurt your child, and other (i.e. child abuse, poverty, our failing education system – I could go on forever). But a few restaurants banning kids under 6? Seriously. I think we need to get our priorities straight.

  13. I think that there are times when, truly, children should be seen and not heard. Equally, I believe that most contemporary children haven’t developed this capacity (and I’m including my own three in this) and that it’s not unreasonable to exclude children from certain places. I take my own children to fancy restaurants once in a great while, but it’s with the understanding that they’ll have to be especially grown up and be on their very best behavior.

    That said, I’d love free babysitting whilst I shop!

  14. avatar
    Sharon Henry says:

    I know that some statistics show that the population is ageing. That could be some of the reasons for the bans. It is hard to pay the event prices that are being charged and have some kid yell and holler so that you can’t enjoy said event. That said, maybe we need parents who demand behavior that will not ruin other peoples experience. That said, I know I would like to shop where no little ones drop stuff on the floor and you almost, or do, trip over the junk. Love those little kids but only in small doses!!!!

  15. avatar
    TuxGirl says:

    I haven’t yet decided how I feel about this. Honestly, I’ve taken my almost-2-year-old to some slightly fancier restaurants, but I’ve done that because I know she can handle it, and if for some reason she can’t, I’m okay with taking her out to the car and waiting there. She sits through over an hour of church every sunday, during nap time, and usually manages to be quiet enough to not need to be taken out into the hall (although if she starts getting fussy, we do go out of the chapel).

    I understand that many children aren’t able to handle these situations, and in some cases, the parents aren’t willing to take the children out of the situation if things start to melt down. I understand that, and I don’t particularly like having a crying child at the next table over during dinner either. But, on one level, I also wonder what the long-term results of this type of rule is. If we are, as a society, making the statement that children can’t be expected to behave in public, then how are we ever going to teach them to behave?

    The other question I have when this topic comes up is, “What about the children who *can* sit quietly at a restaurant?” Maybe this is a selfish question, but it is one I think about. I have put some effort into trying to help my daughter understand what type of behavior is okay in a restaurant, and I don’t like the idea of being told that she can’t have that experience just because others her age don’t behave well.

    Out of the examples you give, I guess the one I agree with most is the one that states that screaming children will not be tolerated. I’m okay with that, because if my daughter is screaming, at least one of us is going to be going out with her to the car until either the meal is over, or until she is able to calm down and is ready to behave.

    • Rock on, TuxGirl! Keep taking your daughter to these places and keep expecting her to behave her best (no one is perfect, but you know what she can and can’t handle), and guess what, she will! And doors will open to her that are shut to her contemporaries. For instance, people who freeze up when they see me walk in with four children are bubbling over with praise and engaging my kids in conversation by the time we leave.

      My children also sit through church and can behave well in all sorts of situations. People ask me how I do it, but I say I’ve never NOT done it. I don’t drop them off to be entertained so I can escape them, nor do I let them watch ill-behaved role models on TV. My kids love to go places with me, and I love to take them. Win-win.

      • I agree that the ‘fair’ thing to do is to make only the disruptive children leave and for businesses to not discriminate against all children. That, however, puts a business owner in a tough position often, by requiring them to tell the parents of noise-makers that their children are not behaving well enough. I, for one, would feel very uncomfortable telling another parent (and paying customer) that their children are being disruptive and should be carted elsewhere.

        I understand that businesses would rather choose the route of least resistance by not allowing children all together.

        • What is so hard about saying, “Your child is disrupting the other customers, please remove them.” If it’s a restaurant, they could offer to box up their food.

          What about a disruptive adult? I don’t want to listen to someone else’s loud cell phone conversation and they at least should know better. I would be more annoyed regarding an adult’s behavior than a child’s.

          • avatar
            Melissa L. says:

            I think it actually would be hard. It leaves it to the employees, because an owner isn’t always on the premises, and it leaves too much room for interpretation – “the last time we were here my daughter did the same thing and no one complained” or “why didn’t you say anything to that family over there?” It’s simpler, even if it’s unfair, to make a quantifiable judgment (age) instead.

      • I have 2 kids, 5 and 1. The first time our 5 year went to a restaurant he was 6 weeks old. And we never looked back. As a result, he doesn’t get wild and crazy at restaurants. He also looks the waitstaff in the eye and orders his own food, with please and thank yous. He doesn’t know any different. Our 1 year old is learning the same thing. I was a little worried during the 2s and 3s that we’d have to curb eating out, but he did great. He actually behaves better during meals at restaurants than he does at home. :)

        If you don’t expose them to things when they are young, how do you expect them to know how to behave when they are 16? 19? 30?

      • Exactly!!! I have taken my kids with me everywhere too. My hubby works out of state during the week and I need to take them with me EVERYWHERE. I would not choose to leave them anyhow. I ENJOY my children and they are learning how to be responsible adults by going places with me. I take them to restaurants, malls, nursing homes, hosptials, funerals, farmers markets, church, playgrounds, etc.and I have never thought twice about them not behaving. My kids now look at those “other kids” with disgust. They know that isn’t the way to behave.
        We were eating in Pizza Hut one evening when a little girl, about 5 years old, was throwing a fit about eating pizza and a salad. The dad was trying to convince her that she liked cucumbers! I thought that my kids eyes would pop!! They couldn’t believe that the dad didn’t take her out. My daughter (10 years) said that little girl’s behavior was “way wrong and totally unacceptable”. “What is wrong with that dad!” It is really bad behavior that brings comments like that from another child. Many of the problems are with poor parenting. It is NEVER acceptable to let a child scream and run around in a public place. I watch a 4 yr old granddaughter for our neighbor. She has her moments (at home) but I will take her places with me too. She has never misbehaved for me in pubic places. I have babysat her since she was 15 months old. I think that example set for her by my kids has made an impression. I am also very clear with her on what I expect when we go out.
        All this said; I feel that restaurants have to do what they need to do. It may not always be “fair” to me but no one ever said life was fair!
        It is the “bad” parents that ruin it for the “good” parents!
        Thanks for giving us this space to vent!! ~SMILES~

      • Elisa, I love your reply that you’ve “never NOT done it.” This is the kind of parenting that is needed! Kid-free zones isn’t really about how society views children, it’s really about how our society raises their children and parenting skills (or lack thereof)!

    • I was an insanely well-behaved and shy little kid. I remember being very upset that there were pools and restaurants I wasn’t allowed to go to, because I was practically a shadow!

  16. avatar
    Mcrunner34 says:

    I have a great 4 year old and 5 month baby, both boys. I am working on my Marriage and Family therapy degree with eleven years in behavioral modification counseling.
    It doesn’t matter where you’re at with a child in the community. If you tell them “no” to something they really want, they will wear their emotions on their sleeve. I did it as a youngster, so did you. The lack of patience and understanding people show towards children in, even a first class event, reveals that people think way too highly of themselves.
    Do people need personal space? Yep. Not at the expense of telling parents where they can and can’t be.
    I don’t know of one human being that wasn’t once a sniveling little monster as a child.
    Maturity is knowing that it happens everywhere and extending patience and empathy towards parents because they are trying and the child’s tantrum was unplanned.
    If I was in an environment when my child tantrumed and someone confronted me, they have officially made the situation worse for everybody.
    This is silly.

    • avatar
      Amber H says:

      “I don’t know of one human being that wasn’t once a sniveling little monster as a child.”
      LOVE.

    • I agree that “Maturity is knowing that it happens everywhere and extending patience and empathy toward parents because they are trying and the child’s tantrum was unplanned.” But, maturity is also knowing when to deal and handle the tantrum by taking the child out of the public environment in a timely matter and considering the others around you. We shouldn’t expect that other adults should just be patient with our out of control child. Yes, on a plane that might be impossible and more patience is required. But it is not silly or does not make the situation worse when someone confronts a parent who needs to take their child out of the public environment. It is just as selfish for a parent to expect twenty people or more at diner to just deal with their child so you can finish your meal.

      • I love your comment, Mcrunner34… I fully agree. And I don’t think that confronting a parent whose child is having a tantrum is really going to help the situation – more than likely the parent already feels embarrassed (whether they are showing it or not), perhaps helpless, and most likely racking her/his brain to figure out how to make it stop.

        Judging his/her “crappy” parenting snidely (in your head or out loud) is certainly not helpful or kind.

        Children are immature, naturally. Everyone is born and must go through the necessary stages of child development in order to become an adult. If we segregate children they will never learn to become mature adults.

        A little empathy and/or patience can really go a long way. And like I said above – no one has the “right” to a quiet evening out. The right to not be discriminated against based on age, gender, religion, etc…. that’s a real right that is being taken away from children, and that’s just wrong.

        • I so appreciate this comment. It’s one thing if a parent does nothing to deal with a wild kid, but most of the times that I see children – either mine or someone else’s- having tantrums, the parents are doing their best to calm the situation / remove the child promptly. Let’s have some compassion for the upset kids and their parents. Let’s quit making snap judgements about parents. And let’s realize that young kids are certainly not going to be able to react in a ‘mature’ fashion.

  17. I understand that parents should know when it’s appropriate to take their children to certain places and when it’s not. I have a 21 month old and a 2 month old and know that it’s inappropriate for me to bring them to a movie at 8pm at night. However, I do not think that places can mandate whether or not children are allowed without facing charges of discrimination.

  18. The problem is not the children but the astonishing variances in what parents view as acceptable public behavior. Have you ever tried to “help” a parent whose child is exercising their freedom of expression in the middle of a movie? For the most part it’s not pretty. As a business person I would prefer to avoid that circumstance if I can.

    I support a business being able to create the atmosphere they believe is most conducive to the success of their endeavor. Just as I am thankful I can make an informed decision about whether or not to give them my business rather than be in the uncomfortable position of poor service due to an unwritten policy or ongoing underlying frustration.

    • Exactly!! There are so many parents out there who are in complete denial about their children’s behavior and think they poop roses.

  19. I’m not that bothered by it… When we go out with our 6 yr, 3 yr, and 5 month old, we go a little earlier, we’re prepared to keep the kids quietly entertained, and we go to places that we know are kid-friendly. Some restaurants clearly aren’t intended for kids, and I think people abuse that, and that’s why these places feel the need to “ban children”. We save those restaurants for date nights! It also seems like sometimes parents don’t want to change their lifestyle to fit their kids. If they took into account their kids schedules, and the environment they are in, fewer run-ins would happen.
    I breastfeed in public, but I also make sure I’m well covered up so I’m not flashing any bits and bobs. We take the baby to the movies, but are prepared to get up and leave if he becomes noisy. We still do all the things we love, we just adjust and do it a little differently with (or without) the kids.
    As for the airline tickets…. I wish I could afford first class tickets for myself, let alone my 3 kids!!

  20. I think they’re a great idea. I’m a pretty new mom, but I’ve always appreciated businesses that help guide those who can’t seem to know where their children should and shouldn’t be. In Philadelphia, the Ritz theaters do not allow children under 6. This is a perfectly acceptable rule. They don’t show children’s movies (they’re usually art or indie films) and most of the adult movies shouldn’t be viewed by really little ones. Until my little guy can behave himself, I’m not going to subject other patrons to his screams and whines while they try to enjoy themselves. Pre-kids, this drove me nuts and now that I’m a mom, it drives me even crazier. When you become a parent, you have to make sacrifices from time to time. If that means you can’t go out to eat with your kiddo, so be it. Get take-out or delivery. (Obviously, my humble opinion).

  21. I don’t support a ban on child in particular venues I think it should be more like a ban on irresponsible parents. I don’t care if there are 50 kids in a restaurant where I came to enjoy a quiet evening as long as they are for the most part well-behaved. What bothers me is having a kid jumping up and down on the adjoining booth and screaming and crying and throwing things while there parents are distracted by cell phones or just plain ignoring the child.

  22. I do like the idea because it’s always disappointing to pay for a dinner out and have it ruined by screaming or unhappy children. It’s okay if the parent will take the child outside, but often they don’t. So the money you spent for a relaxing dinner is wasted, not to mention your evening out.
    Personally, I would never leave my child in the care of a department store employee. You could come back and find they somehow allowed your child to leave with someone else. Even if they issue tickets or something you must show first to pick up your child, I just don’t trust folks. I’d never be able to enjoy shopping worrying if my child was truly safe. I’d just rather just pay for a sitter to come to my home…someone I know and trust.

    • avatar
      Sharon W says:

      I totally agree about not leaving your child with some random person. I have never taken advantage of any gym or store offer to babysit while I do whatever I need to do. I hadn’t thought about the issue of my child being picked up by the wrong person, but that’s a great point! My fear is more about who would be taking care of her. You hear of so many people that work with children that should not be allowed anywhere near them. And, as friend recently pointed out to me, when you are with your child it’s easier for you to pay close attention to them versus someone that is watching multiple kids at once. I may be a bit overboard, but nobody has stayed with my toddler besides my Mom.

      And I agree with the people who have commented about using your brain as a parent as far as when and where you take your kids. I don’t take my daughter to the store etc unless she has had a nap and been fed. It’s unreasonable to expect a child to be well behaved when you haven’t provided for their most basic needs.

      • Sharon, I totally agree with your comment. We would never leave our child in the hands of a stranger so why do it in a store. Our children are small…for about a minute. Then they are grown and asking for the car keys and we would give anything to shrink them back to that age for just a day. I know, because mine is grown now and I miss my little boy. Grandchildren…this woman needs grandchildren! lol

  23. Oh good grief and then their will be “granny free zones” and “mother in law free zones” and “wheelchair free zones” and then “parent free zones”… why don’t we all just get born into an exclusive club and never ever intermingle because we might learn something from another club and hay you wouldn’t want anyone to learn anything… This is such a weird first world idea – that people need their space. Imagine this idea in a place where children are loved and adored and seen as a heritage, rather than a commercial commodity, that are born demanding a college degree…

    I have to say that when there is a revolting snively grotty wining kid around in an restaurant or store you don’t usually have to look to far for the corresponding adult who is setting the tone who is behaving even worse than their kids…

    Really how are kids ever going to live in an adult world if they only see adult environments when they are eighteen…you would never dream of letting them drive a car at sixteen if they had never ever crossed a road before. That being said, most reasonable parents wouldn’t take their kids to obviously “adult only material” places… it just doesn’t make logical sense to expose your kids to some things. Frankly I don’t want to be exposed to a lot of so called “adult things.” But a whole food market – it’s laughable!!! Think of all the bright and beautiful colorful markets around the world and then remove the children – ordinary comes to mind.

    Apparently I feel quite strongly about this!!! I will just back away from the keyboard right now!!!

    • I agree! Of the four countries I have lived in, America is the least tolerant of children. And as things become more segregated, everyone loses.

      I believe television-as-babysitter and the culture of escaping from our own children (dropping them off with people we don’t even know!) both contribute. The less we, or someone else who shares our core values, are actually present-in-the-moment with our own kids, the less they will know how to behave, and that is now resulting in their privilege to go places being forcibly curtailed. Like prisoners. It makes me very sad.

      • Oh, AGREE! AGREE!

        Children are people too. Why does American society think it’s okay to treat a child as somehow less of a person than an adult? Now, I do believe there are places and times that are inappropriate for children. But to BAN them seems extreme and really selfish and self centered. A responsible parent will respond to their child’s misbehavior and either correct or leave. And seriously, airplanes. I’m sorry but sometimes it just has to happen. Plenty of crabby adults on airplanes, too.

        Childcare in a grocery store? Hah! You want to hear some screaming? I won’t even leave my 1 year old with his grandparents let alone a stranger.

        • avatar
          Jessica in Canada says:

          I agree Elisa! It is a breath of fresh air to take my children on vacation to Mexico! Mexicans value family and adore children! The waiters/waitresses in restaurants forget about working and start playing with our kids. It is such a switch going from the airplane where I am worried the whole time about getting dirty looks from fellow passengers despite my well behaved children to going into the Mexican culture where they are happy to see my kids. It is so much more relaxing and joyful.

          I also believe segregation is unhealthy. A friend of mine attends a small church where there is no nursery. Some of the congregation were complaining about the children in the service. My friend stood up and said “you should all be grateful we have children in this church. They are our future and valued by God.” There were no further complaints.

    • I agree. Just about all of us reading this post live with children. We know that children are sometimes well-behaved and sometimes need admonishment for their behavior. There have been times when I have needed to take a child outside to calm them down or to discuss inappropriate behavior. Once, I even left a restaurant because my children were not behaving appropriately. But all children cry sometimes. Even the best parents have children who misbehave sometimes. I wish that people (especially those with children, who should know better) would be more tolerant of children in public places. I wish they did not immediately glare at or give very audible sighs towards struggling parents and children. Be patient; give parents and children time to resolve their difficulties. Most parents will remove their children if that is not possible.

      And giggles and whispered questions during children’s movies charm, not irritate, me.

  24. While I can appreciate the idea behind “kid-free” zones, I think that as a society we have gone grossly astray. The traditional family and it’s values has been so broken down in the community without this to add to the problem. I understand that kids misbehaving in public isn’t always something that other people want to deal with, but by secluding them away from places, how will they ever learn how to behave properly? If we expect kids to grow up with tolerance, patience, & understanding.. should we not lead them by example instead of simply excluding them? I do think that on many occasions some parents let their children do things that might not be acceptable, but at the same time being a kid, means acting up and out. It means screaming at inopportune times. But rather than deal with the immediate issue, we chose to just simply block them out entirely? Where does it end? It’s already gotten out of control what you can and cannot do with your kids, now you can’t even go where you’d like to go? Yes, other people pay to have a relaxing time doing “X” and it should be enjoyable to them. Yes parents should do more to make sure their kids aren’t being disruptive. At the same time, YES we should be more conscious of our children and raise them through love, understanding, and patience, so what if it’s not your kid? You’d expect nothing less if it was. I’m just saying, for as “accepting” as society claims to have become, what I see more and more is a greater trend towards the intolerant. What ever happened to “it takes a village to raise a child?” We are so self-absorbed as a society we think we know more about what’s right for someone else’s child than their own family. Is it not true that the people with the children are also paying the same money as the ones without the kids? If there is a problem, would it not be better to simply ask the parent or grownup to take the child out for a few moments to settle down rather than simply say no children allowed? What if you have a well behaved kid? What if you have a very young baby who’s asleep? I could go on and on, and have already! But I’d just like to ask this, once the “kid-free” zones are established, what’s next and where does that stop? It sounds a lot like age discrimination to me. Just my take. And yes, I am a mom of an almost 3 year old boy, who, on occasion makes a fuss, but it gets handled, and if it doesn’t change then it’s time to go. Just beware, first it’s the ban on kids, next is a ban on old folks, who knows what’s after that! lol I am being dramatic there, but I think it’s a fairly obvious that if this sort of thing sets that kind of trend, it opens all the doors for every other “problem” that comes up. I’d say, punish the parents not doing what they need to be doing to get their situation under control, not the kids. It’s just my view anyway.

  25. Sorry for my GIGANTIC post! Didn’t realize I had that much to say!

  26. My first thought: I would much prefer restaurants which post loud and clear about their kid-free policy to restaurants with no highchair/booster seat/changing table etc without warning.

    If I have a date night with my husband, I may also want to go to one of these kid-free restaurants. I don’t think I can hear other people’s kids but it would make it so easy to answer the question “why can’t we come along?”

    Perhaps, people have become less tolerant of kids nowadays as people’s relationship become more distanced. In the “good old days”, there were more large extended families get together, even the singles would have experience with kids. At the same time, kids are not like they used to be either. Sometimes, some parents give their kids too much “freedom to explore” and are afraid of putting down boundaries.

    Given the circumstances, I can understand kid-free policy. But I will feel “prosecuted” if one of my childhood restaurants becomes kid-free; or, an entire chain casual-dining restaurants become kid-free. It would be best if they offer child-care next door :)

  27. I love taking my daughter out to restaurants, art galleries and other venues that aren’t specifically kid orientated. I think she gains valuable experiences & often shows me aspects I might have missed (pop a toddler in front of some abstract art & ask them what they see!)

    BUT

    I know my girl. Her personality, limitations and triggers for certain behaviours. We’ve spent a lot of time teaching her what behaviour is appropriate in such situations. We talk about it prior to arriving & if things start going wrong, we will leave.

    If I go out on date night with hubby at 8pm to a nice restaurant I don’t want kids running around a restaurant disturbing everyone. I think that’s fair.

  28. People want kid free zones because some parents allow their children to be brats. They don’t teach their children to behave in public….that being said, not all kids are brats, so I can see why some people are upset about this. Kids need to learn from their parents how to act in all situations. Even as my child is throwing a total fit (and totally embarrassing me in the process, -trust me, it happens plenty) I know that I have to use that moment to show him that No, its not okay to act like that, at the store or at home. I think we tend to worry so much what will happen if we discipline our kids in public – whether that means a spanking, time out or a stern talking too….you never know when the (usually childless) random stranger comes to the kids “rescue” and confronts you on your parenting style. This undermines the teaching of your child and shows that kid that when you are in public, they are free to do as they please. I have seen far to many people give in to whatever that child wants just to keep them quiet…which in turn creates a “little monster” that, quite frankly, I don’t want to be around. So, is this really a “persecution” agains parents? Or is it a wakeup call to raise our children to know that Mom and Dad mean business whether we are home or out to eat.

  29. I think it is sad that public places need to make these rules.

    As a parent, it is my right to have my children with me wherever I go. It is also the right of my children to be able to attend restaurants/ theatres/ go on flights etc without discrimination.

    However, sometimes it is preferable for us to sacrifice our own rights, and even the rights of our children to love and serve other people.

    If all parents were concerned with loving and serving others, and made sensible decisions about which venues are appropriate for their small children, these “rules” would not need to be imposed.

  30. I think these rules are being implemented for the kids in America that aren’t being disciplined by their parents like they should be and are basically just running wild. I don’t have kids yet, I don’t mind kids, manners and good behavior go a long away and I thank my Mama for being so hard on me.

  31. I think it is sad that so many people are cheering about this on the news sites that are writing about it. Kids are PEOPLE and I think that as a society we forget that. We want them to be quiet, emotionless unless the emotions are convenient for us, little robots and then we get angry when they don’t meet our incredible demands. People of ANY age can be rude, loud, messy, demanding- I can think of a whole age group that has a tendency to- the elderly! What would happen if restaurants started banning people over age 60 because people complained? Ugh!! Yes, there is a time and place for kids to be, but if I want to take my 7 year old daughter to a fancy restaurant because I know she is well rested and in a good mood, I think that should be my choice. (And if she started acting up or causing a scene you can be sure I would get my food to go and try again another time!)

    • I think part of the problem is that too few parents are willing to leave if their children act up. Those that don’t are ruining it for those that do.

  32. Just like any other establishment I do not care to visit/support for various reason (service, don’t like the product…) I won’t support businesses who do not accept children. However, there are certain places children just do not belong. I am talking small children, who have a hard time staying quiet and siting still and are still in training. Like my children! (I guess any children who cannot behave in that setting applies, too.) I believe small kids should not visit places like upscale restaurants and the symphony. If your kids can act appropriately in these settings, I applaud you! My kids just need a little more time in training, so I will opt to keep them at home while my husband and I enjoy some adult time alone.

  33. I think Whole Foods did the right thing. If you want to give your customers a pleasant shopping experience and still be family-friendly, then offer a complimentary staffed kid-zone. Any business can do that- restaurants, malls, movie theaters, bowling alleys. Parents have a nice stressed-free time, the business gets more business. It’s a win-win.

  34. avatar
    Rebecca Willard says:

    I think it’s very ironic, considering the individuals making these rules were once children too, they’ve just forgotten!

  35. Karma. Grumpy kid-haters will be the ones in nursing homes being neglected by some kid who felt the hate growing up and now hates old people and only works there to torture them with wiffs of good smelling food they can’t have or waking them up every half hour or cold hands :p

  36. avatar
    Ashley G says:

    Reading all of your comments has really helped me to better articulate my own attitude toward kid-free policies.

    I agree with a number of you that going out in public to a wide variety of venues is educational for kids and liberating for parents; I want to continue to be able to do so. Most definitely. I understand that there are plenty of businesses out there that want parents and kids as patrons, but my concern with no-kid policies is that if many businesses do this (with good results) it will become standard and not just an exception. There will be kids’ public places and adult public places. And judging by the corporate world’s general attitude toward children (especially YOUNG children), the kids’ places are not going to be maintained as well as the adult places. I imagine that life in public with kids will become one giant, sticky ball pit. I agree with the parent who said she wants to be able to take her kids out to eat–and NOT just to McDonald’s! This kind of widespread segregation would be a shame (though I know it hasn’t yet arrived). It would allow adults who want to forget there are even children in the world to do so. It would allow children to grow up thinking that all public places are kid-centered (which is equally distressing).

    That being said…I would not boycott a business that just wants to promote certain events or hours as adult-only. I have adult-only events and hours in my life, too!

  37. Restaurants in my neighborhood are more likely to have a “anthony-free” zone as I am more childish than the kids I work with sometimes.

    No, kid free zones don’t bother me unless too many of them start popping up.

    I think “stroller-free” is a more appropriate idea. If your kid needs a stroller, he’s probably a baby.

  38. I absolutely agree that certain places should be off limits to children. I have 3 children, but I appreciate the fact that there are places that they do not belong. I also appreciate a restaurant that does not allow children. I worked a restaurant that did not allow children and no one ever got upset about it. When dinner is upwards of $30 a plate I do not want to sit next to a 4 year old. I want to enjoy my meal and the experience. There are too many children that do not behave and have parents that do not make them behave that has set this into motion. Perhaps that is what should be addressed? Not businesses finally putting their foots down.

  39. I think we’re becoming less responsible with kids, forcing and allowing them to grow up fast. As a result, there’s been a backlash of “kid-free” places. It amazes me the behavior that is allowed to go on and the inappropriate and unsafe places that kids are plunked into by their parents. I do find it a bit sad that anywhere is banning children all together. There’s no reason that responsible and respectful parents with mindful well-behaved children should not be allowed to dine together in any restaurant of their choosing, fly first class or see a movie. However, as a person who has been discomforted by an unchecked child (and who hasn’t experienced this – kids or no kids of their own) I can say in the moment I felt a mix of emotions – sympathy for their parents, irritation at the discomfort I was being caused, and the willingness to pay extra to not be inconvenienced by the child. It’s a sticky situation.

  40. I don’t think it’s a matter of society becoming less tolerant of children. I think it’s a reflection of how so many people are raising their children in a completely undisciplined way. People allowing their children to scream in restaurants, run the aisles in the grocery stores – they are the ones who are causing the backlash.

    • That’s exactly what I was going to say!
      I think the problem is too many adults who want what they want, no matter what. If their kids scream in a restaurant, well everybody else just has to deal with it. If they are restaurant patrons without kids tonight, they expect everyone else’s kids to be quiet.

    • Ahh. It seems adults acting like children are the real problem. Not the kids.

  41. I’m going to admit up front that I do not have any children. I read this blog because I like the simple lifestyle it promotes and because I want to be as knowledgeable as possible when I finally do have children. That being said, I grew up as an only child who spent a lot of my time with my parents and other adults. When out, I was expected to be on my best behavior- if I whined or threw a tantrum, we left. It was that simple. I learned quite quickly what the consequence of being a brat was- I didn’t get to do fun things or go to restaurants. While I have seen a few parents implement this strategy over the years, the majority that I see in the supermarket and at restaurants spend more time ignoring or attempting to placate their children than enforcing good behavior. I know parenting can be tough, but I don’t think they are doing themselves or their children any favors. In addition hearing a child scream and cry while attempting to enjoy a meal or get through the already annoying chore of grocery shopping puts me on edge. If parents can’t enforce good behavior, I don’t think there is anything wrong with society saying, “Sorry, no kids.” It may be inconvenient if this model becomes popular when I have children, but I respect the right of patrons to shop/dine in peace.

  42. It makes me wonder if there are going to be age discrimination law suits or something of the sort…you can’t ban an 86 year old from going there, so why should you be able to ban a 6 year old?

    I can see both sides. I do feel a little persecuted but I also know that I have 2 active, energetic boys who cannot sit through a long dining experience at a fancy restaurant. The idea of going on a quiet date with hubby is pretty appealing after a long day of roaring dinosaurs or loud puppies :). Maybe what they should have is kid friendly zones or something (like they have/had smoking and non-smoking zones in certain restaurants).

    I definitely think this will be interesting to watch develop because there are going to be some very upset, very vocal parents who won’t like having their kids banned. I keep wondering how on earth royal families get their children to behave in public so well :)

  43. avatar
    Kimberli says:

    Living in Utah where family is king, I have to agree with this. I have a few kids of my own, so don’t get me wrong. I love, love, love kids! But…I DON’T love parents that think we should tolerate their kids running around a restaurant, or screaming in a movie. I think that is selfish to expect others to put up with their misbehaving children.

  44. perhaps a reflection of the unprotected environment of the unborn. if we have the right to ban babies from being born, then why wouldn’t we want the right to not want to deal with them in public?

  45. I think this has come about because some people just don’t parent their kids, and they let them run wild and finally some people are complaining and business are starting to get sick of it and starting to do something to protect their business. Now not all kids are wild and rambunctious when they shouldn’t but a lot are, I was out shopping yesterday and I’d say at least a 1/4 of the kids I saw were behaving in ways that I would never let my 2 (15 and 6). Would you let your 10 year old walk through a CVS bouncing one of those big balls? I sure wouldn’t. Would you let your teen girls play hide and seek in Target yelling and squealing at each other? I wouldn’t. Now I don’t count the screaming toddler who was throwing 1 heck of a tantrum in Target as his mom was trying to deal with him, but many times I also have seen kids throw those same tantrums and the parents are doing nothing. I expect my kids to behave in a way where they are not bothering the over people around us, but I also do expect them to act like kids. So if we go someplace where they do start to bother other people we will leave, why should my kids ruin some one else’s time I don’t think that’s right or fair so I do my best to take care that they don’t. Now am I perfect no, but I do try to be.

  46. My grocery store has a large, well-stocked secure playroom and it’s awesome! It’s not a “no kids shopping” thing but an offering if we want to use it – my kids love it and I love the stress free shopping.

    I’m all for kid-free zones, be it restaurants or airlines. When my hub and I get the sitter and go out to a quieter adult restaurant, I really don’t want to see or hear kids. I NEED the break!

  47. I think the problem here isn’t the kids but (some) parents…
    I have two rather well behaved children. When they get out of line and scream in a store, or hide under a table at a restaurant or stare for long periods of time at people eating at the table next to us, we make sure to stop the behavior and if we can’t we quietly leave. We also keep kid things on hand to keep them occupied. That being said, I don’t bring my 9month old to the movies or a fancy restaurant where he is expected to keep quiet for 2 hours but I will bring my 5year old (and keep him quiet). I think if people used their judgement there would not be a need to ban kids from anywhere.
    On the other hand, I know parents who never do anything when their kids misbehave in public. If all kids were like this I would ban them from everywhere! These families give all families a bad rap. Not all kids are rude and scream and run all the time.
    When I was a kid, I would NEVER have misbehaved that way in public, my parents would have never allowed it. And you didn’t see many kids behaving badly in public without the parents stepping in. I think SOME parents are way too easy now. Raising a child also means teaching them how to behave in public as well.

    • avatar
      Catherine says:

      You wrote what I was thinking. I’m amazed at the behavior some parents will tolerate. I have 2 kids and we tell them each time we go out to 1. be mindful of others eating (watching movie, etc.), 2. Use their manners since we teach them for a reason and 3. If they can’t do 1 and 2 – we will leave, no exceptions.

      We’ve had to leave mid-meal twice. A bummer, but the lesson is learned.

  48. avatar
    gwyneth says:

    I love the Alamo policy, and love that they have a baby day for those who it may affect. I know the owners, and I know one of their major problems when they were first starting out was people bringing their kids to the movies (young kids, under 10) and then the parents would sneak out to do whatever, essentially treating the theater like a babysitting service (part of their policy now is that any child under 18 must be accompanied by a guardian. I quote “there are wonderfully behaved 12 year olds, but get them in an unsupervised pack of four or more, and they can rampage through a place like feral hogs”). One part of the problem is that we have in society is that there is no longer a reasonable expectation of how children should behave, or how parents should behave. Parents of some kids do insane things that business owners have to deal with, but on the other side of the coin, people talk about how kids should behave in a restaurant, and expect a two year old to act with the same manners as one should expect from a eight year old. I don’t have a problem with restaurants making kid-free zones any more than I have a problem with them requiring a jacket, or any other dress code. It seems like there have always been kid free restaurants, it was just understood that wasn’t the sort of place you should take your kid, but as people stop understanding that, they have to make it policy.

  49. avatar
    Hannah D. says:

    I’m befuddled by the response to Whole Foods. Are people just determined to be offended? Because if our WF offered that option (or Central Market, or Costco, or wherever) I would be all over the opportunity to shop while maintaining a harmonious inner dialogue about which box of cereal represents the best deal. :-)
    And it’s not like they’re forcing parents to use the service!

    P.s. Loved Heii’s photo of you guys!

  50. avatar
    Hannah D. says:

    *Heidi’s

  51. Far from being less tolerant of kids, I think society is becoming less tolerant of the results of poor parenting and the sense of entitlement many parents feel to take their kids anywhere at any hour. In general I see kids out later then what used to be considered ‘appropriate’ and at locations that were not intended for children and it is, again generally, tolerated. But when parents stop being respectful of those around the who are paying to enjoy a nice dinner (and may also be paying a sitter so that they can go out without the kids) people get upset.

  52. Though I do agree that there are parents who fail to discipline in public I feel like any time a child acts out in public, a parent is labeled as one of those parents. There are times when any kids have a bad day and may cry or get upset. That cannot always be prevented. I think more than anything we should be less judgmental and more understanding when we see a fussy kid in public and parents may not feel so under pressure or judged.

    I have a strong willed son and we work very hard with him about his behavior but sometimes he has a melt down. That being said, we try to handle it privately and remove him from the situation. Even in doing so, there are those glances and expressions from people as we usher him out. Being already stressed with his behavior, it makes you feel even more stress and judged. I am thankful for the times I have seen an understanding smile from another mom.

    I also know families of children with disabilities like Autism and though the child may look normal they may have developmental reasons for struggling.

    I am not saying that any of this makes it ok to allow a child to continue a wrong behavior but for us to be careful before we judge too quickly.

    I think that the business needs to accept the loss they will incur and if they choose to do so, they will lose that revenue.

  53. I read the news about the PA restaurant but the other items are new to me. So very interesting.

    I understand why restaurants are banning children–it’s often because the parents aren’t using common sense! I have children, ranging 1-8, and they are often very well-behaved when we’re out. (They save for bad behavior for home!) But if they are making noise in a grown-up establishment we get them out of there in a hurry!

    And as for childcare at Whole Foods, or IKEA, I think it’s a great idea. But I’ve been squeamish to use it myself. I’m iffy on the idea of strangers watching my kids…..am I the only one?

    That picture is awesome, Tsh!

  54. What about parents bringing babies, toddlers, or preschoolers to movies that are totally inappropriate for young children? The babies were startled or awakened by the loud noises, toddlers screamed at frightening scenes, and preschoolers constantly asked (loudly) for explanations of plots/subjects that were beyond their comprehension. I did not bring my young children to movies that were not appropriate to their age or that began after their bedtime.

  55. I think the problem might be the definition of “proper” behavior.

    A spacecraft that I had worked on was entering orbit around its destination planet after many years of travel to get there. There was a public event held to watch the telemetry as the even occurred. My husband, mom, kids (4 and 2) and I (very pregnant) went. The actual orbital insertion occurred about an hour after the kids’ normal bedtime, but we figured that it was a historic moment that we wanted to share with them (plus none of the adults wanted to stay home). We brought plenty of activities for them and gave them some space to walk back and forth between adults.

    Immediately after the event, a complete stranger who was sitting a few rows behind us came up to us to tell us how amazingly-well-behaved our kids were.

    During the reception after the event, I spotted the couple who were sitting next to us (the wife sat down after we did and there were plenty of other places to sit at that time and any other during the night). Feeling confident due to the earlier compliment, I approached them and said that I hoped the kids hadn’t disturbed them too much during the event. The wife proceeded to explain to me how disruptive they were and how it was a professional event and children should not have been allowed. Greatly shocked, I apologized and went my way.

    One person’s perception of my kids behavior and another’s were completely different (I thought they did GREAT, personally), and I’m pretty sure also depended on their own experiences (pretty sure the couple next to us was childless).

    To say “misbehaving kids are not allowed” is going to depend greatly on the one making the judgement call. If I have small children and a store/restaurant says they’re not allowed, that’s the store’s prerogative. They just won’t get my business. It doesn’t necessarily offend me since it’s their loss.

  56. I have two girls, now 21 and almost 18. I can sympathize with a parent trying to calm a crying baby, overtired toddler, or discipline a whiny child (I’ve been in their shoes). But, I too feel America is tiring more of PARENTS not dealing with their child(ren) and their acting out, not the children themselves. If your child is screaming, kicking seats, throwing things…REMOVE them from the situation. How can we expect our children to grow up courteous and respectful when their own parents aren’t?

  57. I completely get kid free zones in movie theaters, and even first class. But grocery stores? Seriously, I would never drop my children off in the care of total strangers, who I have never interviewed, or even gotten a background check on. Call me crazy, but I think that would make me pretty irresponsible.
    At the same time, I understand that parents need a break. My husband is active duty military, and often, I’m a single parent with NO family nearby to help or a close group of friends to give me a break every now and then.
    And, because I am a stay at home mom, my daughter accompanies me on my errands and day to day activities. As a parent, you know your child’s limits. If I know my daughter is sick, in need of a nap, I won’t push it by taking her to the grocery store or go to lunch with my husband.
    But the grocery store, or even the mall and department stores, are not places that serve primarily childless people. They need the business of families. And my daughter , who is 2, is learning to behave at these places, BECAUSE I take her with me.

    Does she throw the occasional tantrum? Yes, and if its a real tantrum, we leave. But if she’s crying bc I won’t let her stand up in the cart or won’t let her run in the aisles, and I know it will only last a minute , then we keep trucking. I don’t care what people think either. Just because my daughter is crying for being told no doesn’t mean I’m a bad parent or a lazy one. Toddlers can’t control their emotions nor should they be expected to be a perfectly quiet and still.

    I think the important thing is to remember your child’s limits and come prepared. Have special toys/books that they can only have during outings. I often go to the grocery store during snack time and my daughter gets to munch on her snacks in the cart, which gives me at least 30 minutes of time to focus on groceries. After that time passes, I know that I only have about 20 more minutes, before she gets restless, I so come with a list and try to get out as soon as possible.

    I realize that some parents ignore their child’s behavior, but I am pretty sure that MOST don’t. Kid free zones in movie theaters, bars, and services that cater to singles and adults…..sure, I get it. Fancy restaurants, SURE! ( and Chilis, TGIF, Olive Garden, do not count as fancy restaurants)
    But lets not go overboard here. The average working mom and stay at home mom does not have a nanny and does not live near family anymore . And, if your child goes to daycare, the last thing you want is drop her off at more “daycares” everywhere you go or pay for a baby sitter.
    Phew, that was long. Sorry!

  58. If more parents were willing to discriminate on their own when/where it is appropriate to take their kids, this wouldn’t be necessary. There should not be a 2 year old running around behind me during a violent PG13 movie- while the kid was annoying, I was also concerned about his well being.

    If more parents were willing to ‘parent’ rather than do as they please with kids in tow, I would have more trouble with these policies. As it is, I don’t feel discriminated against, because I know our family is not the target of these policies. My boys rarely scream at restaurants, and if it happens, we take them somewhere calm so they can calm down, as well.

  59. Responsible parents are definitely part of your target audience Tsh:)
    Children are a blessing from the Lord and it is our duty to teach, guide and disciple them. It becomes very apparent that when parents do not do their jobs, children get a very different label and are not valued for what they truly are.
    I’m struck by the affluence of our country as I read this blog post, I’m comparing it with a blog i found yesterday called Sixtyfeet.org. Children who are found “offensive” by begging in Uganda actually get rounded up and placed in what is essentially a prison. How blessed our we that we get to choose where we spend our money based on our personal beliefs or how those businesses make us “feel”.

  60. It’s possible that our society IS becoming less tolerant, but if so, it probably stems from a problem with parents who do not discipline and rein in their children. I agree with many of the comments above–it’s really a problem with parents.

  61. Toddlers and children have to be trained to entertain themselves quietly for an hour or so. They aren’t born with that skill any more than they are born potty trained. I am disgusted by poor or passive parenting, which has become the norm. You are hurting your own child’s ability to function as a normal member of society.
    Bottom line, mommas? If you haven’t regularly invested the time at home to train your kids to sit quietly with a small toy or book to entertain them, don’t bring them into a public venue intended for adults. If you are in a public venue and your kids choose to pitch a fit, it is your obligation to find a private place until your child is back under control whether they are 2 months or 5 years old.

  62. avatar
    linda turske says:

    If parents would parent their children instead of trying to give them everything and make their lives comfortable 24/7, then this idea would not begin to take root. Kids misbehave because parents are no longer teaching them the proper way to behave. Too many parents don’t want their kids to go without or be told NO. I am called to parent my child and that often mean I am not his/her friend. I make decisions based on what is good for them in the long range not at the moment. I am not called to be their friend/buddy/pal and often I am not popular but that is okay (it affirms that I am doing the right thing by giving them boundaries). I do not like to see this turn of events but I completely understand it. I do not enjoy being at a nice restaurant and having a kid throw a tantrum because mom or dad is not giving them what they want at that very moment. I have 5 kids and all were taught how to behave at a restaurant, in church, or where ever. I could go anywhere with them at a very young age because we did not tolerate misbehavior. Paretns need to step up to the plate. If you do not know how, find a mentor. Someone you respect from church or in your circle, and ask them to help you/teach you.

  63. children are a part of our society. they need to learn to be a part of it. it is discrimination when they are banned from places. what harm do they cause other than some noise and maybe a little more mess in a restaurant. i know when i take my 2 year old out, we try and clean up after our son so we aren’t way more messy than normal, and when he is too loud we take him outside. not all people with kids do this, but i am never bothered by other kids…. even before i had my own.

  64. This is a hard one. As a mother of a one year old, I have taken my child to pub-like bars at times–she did SXSW and I breastfed her at shows–but she’s a well-behaved, easy-going kid. At first glance, I read this post and thought–”Much of this is straight up discrimination–right up there with race/class discrimination.” (The movie theatre stuff is the exception–I live in Austin and love their Tuesday Baby Days.) However, I agree that the root of the problem is two-fold: 1) people who don’t teach their kids to behave in public–and who have no idea what places are appropriate for their children and 2) people who are prejudiced against children and those of us who have children just because they’ve had a bad experience with others kids/parents in the past. If my kid squirms in a restaurant, I take her outside. If she were to scream (which, fortunately, she hasn’t done yet), we’d get our check and get out of there. When she’s older, she’ll learn that dining out is a privilege.

    As for the church issue, I think that kids should be allowed in church. Period. All should be allowed in church. We don’t have the option of turning people away, even if it is to have them sit in the foyer or wherever else with their kids. If our church ever gets to the point where we’re “politely” asking moms/dads to leave the room because of their kids, I’m leaving our church.

  65. I don’t think we, as a society, are becoming less tolerant of kids. I think we are becoming less tolerant of bad parenting. I am fine with the banning of kids in places or times.

    The business is free to do as they please. You are free to be their customer or not. I LOVE children. They are free, innocent, and incredibly open eyed to the world. However, when a crabby child is whining at the store and obviously needs a nap or a good whoopin’, the parent needs to nip that attitude in to bud. That parent should have been pro-active to prevent the child from being uncomfortable and reacting in that way.

    All of the customers in the store should not have their hour ruined because of a too cranky kid.

  66. I think movie theaters should have time and movies just for kids. Taking kids to a late show, or to an adult movie, is more for the parent and not considering the kids. Plus then the adults can go when to go. However, I would say the same is true for adult who have to be texting through out a movie or can’t figure out how to turn off their phone or put their phone on vibrate. Its rude and inconsiderate. However, I don’t think you need to banned kids, parents need to have more common sense. I know its hard to constantly be paying for a babysitters so that you can enjoy a night out, but its temporary and maybe parents can trade with another couple in their neighborhood or family.

  67. I think companies should definitely have the right to do this. But I do think it’s a sad reflection of our society and the value we place on children. Also, a reflection of how poorly disciplined so many children are. On one hand, I think it’s sad that many people seem to view children as another thing to check off of their list of things they want to do (and no more important than getting a puppy). But on the other hand, I’m not sure I can blame people for not wanting to be around bratty children who have parents that do nothing to stop them from yelling, kicking your seat, etc. Just the other day we went to see a movie. It was Cars2, so the theatre was full of children. My son is 4 and the seats are huge. He must have kicked the seat of the woman in front of us when he was trying to climb up. She bit his head off, instead of simply telling me that he had kicked her seat (once!). Oh well!

  68. Wow – I hadn’t heard about this issue before reading this blog post, but it’s certainly given me a lot to think about. I can see both sides of the issue, but I think, as many people have already stated, the root problem is a major decline in the standard of behavior we are expecting from our children.

    It bothers me when other parents allow their children to run amok through a restaurant or talk loudly in a venue that should be quiet. But I also understand the necessity of taking children to such places so they have opportunities to learn how to behave appropriately.

    That being said, every private company is entitled to make their own rules regarding what patrons are welcome in their establishment. And to say that a 6-year-old has the “right” to be anywhere is not totally accurate – minors do not have the same rights as adults in our society, and that’s as it should be. And parents who feel their rights are trampled on may just have to look at this as another one of the many sacrifices they’ve made to have the family they wanted.

    • Children are people too and deserve the same respect and “rights” as an adult. Why does the one day difference between 17 and 18 magically make a child a whole person? Our society would be better if they treated a child as a whole complete person with thoughts and feelings just as valid as anyone else’s instead of some sort of little pet robot to only do as instructed.

      • (FYI – Different Amy than original post)
        That is ridiculous. Children to not deserve the same “rights” as adults. I don’t want my 5 yr old to have the right to drive a car, buy liquor, vote, or for that matter, be drafted for war if it came to that – do you? And of course nothing magical happens the day someone turns whatever age is chosen for the various rights I just listed – but an age limit has to be chosen. And unless that age limit is adhered to, any lazy parent could decide their 14 yr old is “mature enough” to drive a car simply in order to avoid carting them around.
        The federal Civil Rights Act does not prohibit public establishments from discriminating against children, therefore it is the “right” of the business to ban children if they choose.

  69. I unfortunately don’t have time to read all the other comments today, so someone may have said what I am thinking. This points to a much more serious problem: poor parenting. If we were doing what we should be as responsible, mature parents, we wouldn’t try to take our fussy baby to an adult movie, or allow our toddler to endlessly kick the sit in front of them on an airplane. This is businesses’ backlash to unruly, undisciplined kids. It is just a shame. When I was young, which wasn’t so very long ago, my parents would not have taken me along on their visits to four-star resturants. Not because I couldn’t behave, but because they knew I would not appreciate it. Parents need to set boundaries, loving your children and being a proactive parent means defining lines. Small children shouldn’t be allowed to do certain things- by their parents, not businesses. However, your 5 year-old may be mature enough for experiences that mine is not, we should be the ones to make that determination. If our culture was more disciplined, this would not be happening. I think it is a shame, and if more businesses join in on the trend, I will be limiting where I shop, eat and fly.

  70. avatar
    Hilary Snodgrass says:

    I have 4 kids. I believe that our society has devalued children and made them “status symbols” and something “tolerated until they leave the home.”

    BUT, in my little world, some parents are obnoxious and encourage their children to behave as such also. For example, I know one family with 6 kids and they find it funny to go to a movie and see how loud and rude they can be and the COUNT the number of people that leave. That is out of control. It’s b/c of parents like this that people don’t want to be around children.

    • What a shame the people around them can’t have a good laugh also as they are all thrown out… like the poor excuse for parents were recently with the misbehaving brats on a plane.

      If a few more businesses had the courage to do this then it might stop the incredible entitlement attitude of some parents.

  71. Reading a lot of these comments I do wonder if we are a little lacking in grace towards both parents and kids in a lot of situations, like assuming that every mother has the time and resources to shop whenever she likes, around a tired child’s schedule, etc. I also wonder if it is that new. I am always struck when reading Jane Austen books of how children are considered bothersome. Maybe we have swung back to a time when children are only a small part of normal life, and should otherwise be relegated to day care or a nanny. I like the idea of being able to choose a certain atmosphere, I think the problem is assuming that atmosphere should be standard across the board, and there should always be a room for children to be expelled to if they dare cry. When my sister became catholic, one of the culture shocks was the lack of nursery care in a lot of catholic churches, and the number of crying babies in church. When she spoke of it to someone she was reminded that they believe in worshipping as a family. Children are part of that family, and children cry, they are supposed to be there, and we are supposed to love them.

  72. avatar
    Christina Y. says:

    I think there are a couple of issues at hand here:
    First of all, I think as a society, parents have become more leniant with where they allow their children to go and what they allow them to view. So, perhaps the first issue is to recognize that there has been a change in parenting styles within the past decade. Perhaps that is why restaurants, grocery stores, and movie theatres have created guidelines/restrictions for children (partially to protect the children’s well-being).

    Secondly, there are plenty of restaurant options for families with young children that don’t have to be “McDonald’s quality”. A lot of chain restaurants are family friendly and have more of an upbeat/loud atmosphere where children can blend in to their surroundings a bit easier. I know that these types of restaurants are the ONLY restaurants that my husband and I consider when we are heading out as a family. If we are going out alone, however, we will choose a quieter atmosphere where we would assume children would not be. But, if there is a screaming child, we try to remind ourselves that children can be unpredictable and occasionally do have a melt-down (our own included). The last thing I want to do to another parent is give a dirty look or say a rude comment while thier child is having a bad moment… Lord knows we’ve gotten enough of those and it makes the situation worse!

    I do LOVE the idea of babysitting being offered during grocery shopping! I wish more stores offered such services!

  73. avatar
    Mary Lou says:

    “Companies have a right to do what they want — but do you feel like it’s a good move on their part?”

    Hmmmmmm……let us take that thought a little further and then see if you still think it is a good and wise statement.

    Question #1 ….If companies have a right to do what they want and ban children from their establishment, then why is it NOT okay for that same establishment to ban a particular race?

    Questions #2….If companies have a right to do what they want and ban children from their establishment, then did those who died fighting for the Civil Rights Movement, die in vain?

    Question #3…..If companies have a right to do what they want and ban children from their establishment, then why is it NOT okay that the Chinese government bans more than one child per family?

    I could go on and on with my questions.

    Yes, I have been in eating establishments where there have been children that are out of control and out of line. Should those disturbances be addressed? ABSOLUTELY! But I don’t think the answer is to ban children from the establishment as this brings things back into our society that we as a country worked long and hard to divest ourselves.

    Another option: Equip management with the skills to firmly but kindly request that the parents escort their children out. We have bouncers in bars for disruptive individuals that have imbibed too much. Requesting parents to escort their children out for disruptive behavior….NOT JUST TALKING but for screaming, crying, etc……..could work very effectively. If and when the child decides to reenter the eating establishment with their emotions under control, they are welcome back.

    Honestly, the majority of the times that I have experienced disruptive children I have also noticed a lack of parental concern or involvement in solving the problem. The parents have actually made the situation worse by their own actions.

  74. avatar
    Liz Anne F. says:

    I recall walking into our local cineplex one time and noticing the sign that said that infants/children would not be allowed into the R rated evening movies. My first thought was, Who is taking them to these movies during the day? because the idea was so foreign. But clearly, the theater had experienced problems and felt they needed to make a policy to address the needs of all of the patrons.
    Regardless on the movie topic, I do see both sides of the issue, but I think as parents, when we are out on our date night or on a solo grocery store trip (aren’t those fun–you can linger!) we need to be compassionate towards other parents whose child is not behaving. We have no idea what is going on or how the parent is “parenting” and should (try) to not be quick to judge and perhaps, offer help (or sympathy) if it is appropriate.
    As for kid-free venues—I have mixed feelings and whether I am upset or not will depend on the individual business as well as their approach to the issue. Kids are welcome for brunch, lunch and early dinner, but will not be seated after 7? Sounds great. Kids not welcome ever? Not a fan.

  75. avatar
    Christina H. says:

    I do believe it shows how little we value children. Consider also the attack on the public school system, head start programs etc. Clearly children are not a priority in this country. I agree as well; we are no longer tolerant of passive parents. I do not “tolerate” my children because I demand a certain level of behavior from them. Of course they step out of line and push the limits every now and then, they are still just children. However, when that occurs we remove the child from the situation for “chill time” so that no one has to “tolerate” their behavior, myself included.
    I think the hard thing for parents to understand is that you, the parent, must behave as you wish your children to. We say please, thank you, excuse me, and your welcome to our children because we ask them to do it for others. We stop and hand a bottle of water to the homeless man on the sidewalk with a smile because we desire to have compassionate children. We do not hit them because we don’t want them to hit others. We do not yell and name call because we ask that they not do this. Most parents behave badly but ask their children to behave well. You become a hypocrite. Why would you ask your children to trust and respect a hypocrite? Why would you expect that during the struggle through the teen years when they are fighting to find who they are and grow up that they would turn to a hypocritical adult for guidance? My husband and I desire to raise responsible, respectful, and responsive adults, so that means every day I must ask myself if my behavior has been appropriate before I ask if my children’s has been.

  76. I see this as a form of discrimination. Substitue child for another minority group and you’d have a lawsuit.

    Imagine if an airline or restaurant banned blacks or gays???!!!

    It’s simply unacceptable. If there is a person (adult or child) that is demonstrating bad behavior, then it’s completely acceptable to ask them to leave. But an outright ban is discrimination….

  77. avatar
    Adrienne says:

    While many more people today are choosing not to have children, and the whole idea of having a big noisy family is not en vogue, that doesn’t change the fact that children in the West are treated better and given more respect than they ever have in history. The idea that are society is becoming less pro-child is really not logical. Our culture may not be pro-family, but that is another issue completely. Just think back 100 + years to the Victorian era. The childhood rearing mantra back then was that “children should be seen and not heard.” Hardly realistic, but yet, children were often not allowed to be children, child abuse was prevalent, and they were pretty much expected to submit to the whim of any adult, parent or not. I’m a parent of two, and I honestly don’t mind in the least if a upscale restaurant wants to court clientele taller than three feet. It’s not like Chili’s is banning kids here.

  78. Unfortunately, this trend is gaining strength not due to children, in my opinion, but due to poor parenting. I believe all children can behave in any situation. I was fortunate on many occasions to have complete strangers compliment my children on their good behavior in church, restaurants and other public places. Now that my children are teenagers, I am glad we had a good recipe for their good behavior. If I may be so forward as to share what we did as parents (and for the record, we were very young parents….we had three children under the age of 4 and we were 25 years old).

    * A well-behaved child is well rested and well fed with nutritional meals and snacks.
    * A well-behaved child has received positive attention for their good behavior in the past. We were generous with genuine praise…”I like how you did that puzzle so well!” or “Thank you for going right to sleep last night at bedtime. Mommy loves and appreciates you!”
    * A well-behaved child receives kind and direct communication from their parents. “We will be in church for two hours. I have brought your Bible books for you to read if you need to keep busy. After church, we will go to coffee and donuts in the church hall.” When running errands, we would always lay out for them where we were going and what to expect.
    * A well-behaved child receives positive reinforcement in situations where they are doing what you expect. “I like how quietly you are waiting for your food to arrive. ”

    We also made sure that our children had visited the bathroom before flights, going into a restaurant, movie or church.

    We had such a positive response from our children to this type of parenting that they are just total joyful people to be with now as young adults.

    I believe that any parent can raise a well behaved child who are joys to be around in any situation and thus, these child-free zones would not be an issue.

  79. I’m in MO where the Whole Foods has the babysitting thing. I never took it as banning kids from the store. I don’t go there, but if I did my daughter would go with me and I would never leave her for some stranger to care for. That’s insane. It’s scary how many people just jump at any chance they get to drop their kid off with who knows what kind of person.

  80. I don’t disagree with kid free places, sometimes that’s appropriate (like a grown up movie, or a fancy restaurant). But I think we need to look at how we’re raising our kids, if we’re teaching them to be kind and considerate for those around them then maybe there wouldn’t be such a need for kid free zones. In all the places where we bring our kid they need to learn how to be considerate and well-behaved to those around them, and other folks should do the same. (I really like our local Fred Meyer and their kids play place, but if I was required to use that while shopping they wouldn’t get my business. Also, I won’t attend a church where it wasn’t okay for me to have my child in the service with me for any reason, which is why I love that our church loudly proclaims we are okay with babies and kiddos)

  81. As a mama to 4 (ages 2-12) I am aware of what my children can handle and make efforts to leave them home (when possible) particularly if we are in the “danger zone” – naptimes or after 8pm. I know it is not always possible to arrange childcare for every outing (yikes!) but I think it is reasonable to expect children to behave a certain way while in restaurants or in public places. We have had to have our meal packed up more than once because of a failed outing…but that’s our problem, not the other patrons.
    I am troubled by the permissive parenting that causes reactions like this from businesses. As many comments have already stated, the problem begins at home. And I have witnessed many oblivious parents who have no trouble ignoring the appalling or potentially dangerous behavior of their children. As a parent who tries to raise future responsible adults it is increasingly frustrating.
    This is not to say we haven’t experienced our share of tantrums or meltdowns when we have pushed the kids too far (the checkout line breakdown is a favorite ;)) but I think those instances carry a different expectation than a sit-down restaurant or a movie theater.
    As for the comment about government intervention in other countries (like China) I’m not sure that’s the logical conclusion of private businesses laying down guidelines that should be common sense. The amusement of children is not the stated purpose of most of these establishments and unfortunately it has turned into a case of a few bad apples spoiling their bunch.

  82. What a brave woman to undertake such a topic publicly! Being the mother of 5 (now mostly grown) and the grandmother of 3…I do not consider myself ‘anti-children’. But honestly, when my children were younger we did not take them to ‘adult style’ restaurants or venues out of respect for others. (Ie: no Steak & Ale when the kids were with us, but a local Mexican place with a play area instead.) I just don’t think people consider each other any longer. They want to take their children wherever they want to go with no consideration for others.

    Just the other evening I had dinner with an old friend just to ‘catch up’. Knowing this was a family friendly place (as everything in our area is nowdays), we asked to be seated away from the play area so we could talk. Halfway through our meal a family came in and was seated next to us. This would not have been any problem except that the little boy who looked to be about three decided to be a puppy for the entire meal and barked in loud, squeaky yelps for the rest of the meal. Even when we moved to the bar area to finish our visit, you could still hear him all over the restaurant. At that point, I would have liked to have been given the choice of a ‘kid free zone’! Unfortunately, in our part of town there are few options for ‘adult friendly’ places except a bar — and that just isn’t the type of place that I want to hang out in.

    In this case, if we would have had a kid free option, we would have taken it…not because we are anti-children, just because you can’t be sure that other people are going to be considerate of those around them.

  83. I’m so glad you raised this question. I think it’s a sign of the terrible trend our culture is taking where parenting is not taken seriously nor honored as a core part of maintaining our culture and charting our future. Certainly as parents, we have to think strategically about where to bring our children and how we structure them. When my kids were younger, there were places I didn’t take them because I knew it would be tough on them to keep up the behavior expected in a place. However, I think this all falls in the realm of good judgement, courtesy, good parenting and communication.

    These blanket bans in restaurants, etc. shows how much children and parenting is devalued in this society – and how self-absorbed, self-centered and comfort-oriented this culture is becoming. It’s all about having your needs perfectly catered to.

    However I also place a lot of blame on how permissive parenting has become. Parents are reluctant to discipline their children, set limits and even limit their own lifestyle as children become part of their lives.

    Ultimately it’s one of these bans that indicate how ill this culture has become on so many fronts.

    Finally, as the final piece de resistance. Many of these restaurants ban children but allow dogs. Now isn’t that indicative of how people are turning to animals – dressing them up, buying them fancy meals, etc. – because they require so much less of us than children. Yet starting to move them inappropriately into a relationship that used to be reserved for children. So many people are not taking up the challenge of building human relationships and supplanting them with animals. The double-standards in some of these bans is what shows this in stark relief.

  84. avatar
    Katie Boman says:

    I have a nearly 5yo daughter and expecting my second daughter in October. I’m very old school; I don’t tolerate tantrums with my kids, PARTICULARLY in public.

    Now I have to admit, because of a combination of luck and my zero tolerance policy on tantrums, I really haven’t had this problem myself. But I decided long ago that, regardless of where we were or why, if my kid started screaming because she wasn’t getting her way, she’d get once chance to knock it off and listen carefully to me telling her quietly and firmly that she’d either straighten up or we’d go home to the no-fun plan; no tv, no games, no choices about meals, for the rest of that day. Here’s where I got lucky; she never tested me till she was old enough for this, around 3&1/2. As such, I never had to actually DO the no-fun plan; my informing her of that consequence was enough. But she just doesn’t scream and throw fits in public, and I feel like that’s at least in part because I don’t tolerate that kind of behavior anywhere.

    There hasn’t been a time since my daughter was over a year old that she got anything like her way by screaming over it. Before that, naturally, crying is still the largest part of how babies communicate their needs, but after that, I was just a careful as I could be to make sure that, when she could use words calmly to tell me what she wanted, she didn’t get it till she did. And if I had to say no, and she tried to throw a fit, I’d simply and calmly shut it down, through simple words to make it clear that wouldn’t be working, and then ignoring her flat out till she stopped. It never took long.

    I feel bad for parents that have screamers. When I see those situations in public, with children obviously older than 3 or 4 years, and the parents aren’t quickly intervening to either get through to the child or leave the venue….you know, when they just keep on about their meal or their shopping or whatever as the child racks up time continuing to behave like someone’s got him/her by the hair and the heels and pulling fit to split him/her in half over a toy they can’t have or candy they had to put back, or simply over being told to stay in their seat rather than running hell bent for leather all over the place…

    Well, I have to say, if it were my kid, I wouldn’t subjecting others to that for 60 seconds; I’d be scooping up my kid, abandoning my meal if that’s what it took, and taking her home on the no-fun plan for the rest of the day. As such, yes, I do have to admit I get quite put out by having to spend 30 minutes or more in a situation where my daughter gets treated to the example of tolerance of unacceptable behavior in other little kids by their parents.

    Imo, if there wasn’t such an outrageous rash of people allowing their children to behave in these, (o man this is going to be offensive, but I’m gonna say it anyway,) bratty ways, we wouldn’t have public venues banning them.

    But we’ve become a society that instead tolerates and even encourages bratty behavior, and the parents of said brats not only get off the discipline hook, they get to treat parents like me like we’re the bad guys, for being so strict and for “judging” them and their kids. Makes me kinda sick, actually, but like I said. I’m old school.

    • I feel the same way, I’m old school too. Yes some words might offended, but the truth can be offensive. We just took a long train ride and while other kids were running up and down the walkway (unattended) from car to car, back and forth.(now I also understand that kids have energy and but they also need guidance, there is time and place for everything, and running unattended thorough out the train is not the time nor the place) Ours were sitting down and playing games and laughing with us. There were times when they got fidgety but we took them for a walk through the train. There was a older couple sitting across from us, as their stop came and they were leaving, they told my husband and I how much they enjoyed our boys.

  85. For me….depends on the motivation behind the restrictions…

    If it’s because the scenario is not appropriate/safe for children (i.e. grownup movie, bar atmosphere, rides that are too dangerous for children…makes sense to me…for their own safety/well-being…probably shouldn’t be there).

    Otherwise–even if it’s a quiet, EXPENSIVE atmosphere….I’d rather not see an “official ban”. I’d rather parents become better at parenting, that parents consider the feelings of others and teach their kiddos the same. That parents take time to consider others when they think about taking their children along, and what their children can handle behavior-wise.

    The restaurant also can reserve the right to not serve or ask anyone to leave if their behavior is disruptive…be that a child or an adult. I’ve seen plenty of adults in “nicer” restaurants that I’ve wished could be sent to the “loud-and-obnoxious-free-zone”.

    Seems like otherwise, the regulating just spirals out of control….we’re regulating everything under the sun these days….based on the possibility of potential problems.

    And if the motivation is because of the ever-growing sentiment that children are a nuisance, a negative, a “ball and chain”….then that part of it just makes me sad.
    But–
    My husband often reminds me that the Bible doesn’t only say children are a blessing.
    It also says they can be a curse.
    I pray His grace into our kiddos’ lives and mine…to parent consistently and trust Him to develop hearts in them that are a blessing to be around (so that maybe those “kid-free-zones” won’t be needed).

  86. one, i do not mind if certain places ban children. the way i see it is that there are plenty of other choices to eat/shop..thier financial loss. two, i can see WHY places are deciding to do this..i can not tell you how many times i have had to listen to my son ask,”why do THEY get to run around?”

  87. Culture of death.

    I do have a friend who trained her kids how to act in restaurants. Once she told me how (she brought kid out to car to sit alone at first disobedience, she standing unseen behind while others finished meal) then I could think through training my daughter in restaurant behavior.

    My heart breaks when children cry. I also feel irritated, truth to tell. I believe we are becoming a less biblical society. I agree wholeheartedly about IKEA.

  88. Alot of you aren’t going to like this…. It’s a sheer lack of discipline! Children don’t get enough of it these days. My two are now 12 & 17 and I’ve NEVER had a problem with them being unruly in public or at home really for that matter. They know there are rules and boundries and proper ways to behave and reprucutions for their actions when they don’t abide by rules, etc… Not that I beat my children but I have been know to stand them in a corner in public, give a quick pinch… just something to get thier attention to let them know “Hey… that’s not okay!” And it works! I always said what I meant and meant what I said, still do… you hear so many parents threatening children “We’ll leave” or “You won’t get that toy” etc…. Well I say parents “Say what you mean and mean what you say” and you’ll have a little more control over your children :0) Why do kids just get stuff for going to the store with their parents anyway… that gives them a sense of entitlement I think… They’re not entitled to toys and candy for going to the store and behaving. It’s something they should just learn/be taught to do.

  89. Well I certainly would have LOVED free childcare during my grocery shopping trip the other day. (My Grocery Shopping Confessional)

    As a parent, how do you feel when you see someone else’s child making loud noise in a store, an airplane, or some other public place?
    I feel true empathy for them because I know exactly how frustrating that feels.

    When we traveled to Greece earlier this summer there was a couple flying back home to visit family with a baby about 5 months old. He was so fussy during the first part of the flight until he was able to fall asleep, but not so fussy that people were getting nasty.

    I could sense that so many of us around them wanted the baby to calm down not because it was bothering us but because we knew it was a stress for the parents.

  90. I think some of these developments are a brilliant solution to what has become a parenting problem in recent decades. I think we’ve become too tolerant of children in general and parents have stopped parenting, instead becoming indulgent and not setting strict boundaries.
    If some parents can no longer establish limits and appropriate behavior, then I believe establishments have every right to do so instead.
    What I find such a shame about the whole thing is that good parents, ones who teach their children how to behave in public spaces (or simply how to behave at all), are now having to live by these restrictions also.

  91. I am definitely not in favor of either extreme. I think children should be taught to behave and that people should use common sense in bring a very small child who is not able to be taught to be quiet in public to a very adult setting, like a nice restaurant in the evenings. So I actually don’t think it is unreasonable to have a sign that says “No screaming children are allowed.”

    On the other hand, I probably wouldn’t frequent a place that banned children, depending on their reasons. I think our culture is not a very family-friendly one, but we also, for the most part, don’t do a great job of raising our children with proper expectations of behavior. My parents (the hippy generation) have called out of control behavior “just a phase” where as my grandparents, in the same situation, have encouraged us to take the child out of the restaurant, discipline them, and return them once they are willing to act appropriately.

    I really don’t think that is too much to ask of parents.

  92. avatar
    Amy Grace says:

    Could there be a cultural shift taking place. When visiting Disneyland on vacation this month, I heard for the first time the admonition on EVERY ride, “Keep your hands and feet inside the ride at all times and please, watch your children.” The “Watch your children” part is NEW. Why is Disneyland feeling the need to record this message and repeat it on EVERY attraction? Could it be because culturally, people are NOT watching their children? Are people letting them run wild and act out? Could it be that businesses are creating “kid free zones” because parents are abdicating their responsibility? I don’t pretend to have the answer. Just was blown away by being repeatedly told to “watch” my kids on every attraction.

  93. I can see both sides of this. I know I don’t always want to hear a screaming child when I’m out at the store or at a restaurant. But I try to understanding, maybe the child is not feeling well, and really should be at home. I think we have become afraid to discipline our children, for fear that it could scar them for life. But they need guidance and boundaries, in a loving manner at a young age.
    As for the comment about the churches banning children. I really don’t think that was the intent. I know in my experience they have children’s church so that the parents can really listen to the message. Not so long ago my children always sat in church with us, (they have to learn how to behave) but if they did get loud we took them out, right away in consideration of others.

  94. funny, just got back from the grocery store and in the aisle , I passed a mom with 3 kiddos,looking very frustrated as she tried to calm one of her toddlers down ( he was having a meltdown).
    As a mom and not an anti-kid person, what did I do? I walked up to her, smiled at her son, and asked him whats wrong. The shock of someone else talking to him (nicely) quieted him down immediately. Exchanged some words of sympathy and laughs with other mom, and went on my way.

    Sometimes, if your next to a screaming tot, and your not too busy, just offer a smile and a word or two. Support mother’s, in general, when you see them stressed out or overwhelmed. Of course, I realize that this wouldn’t work in every situation (:

    • I just took my son to the post office because I had to mail out a package and had to do it then. He was acting crazy (as normal) and wasn’t listing to me. The lady behind the counter kindly but sternly told him he needed to settle down and he calmed down right then and there. It does help when it’s not Mom trying to talk some sense in them! After that, he got a sticker from the lady and we left happy.

    • avatar
      Sharon W says:

      I haven’t ever tried to talk to someone else’s child who was having a fit in a store, but was tempted to last week. I just didn’t know if it would work or not. But maybe I’ll give it a try next time. In this instance, I was trying to figure out who the problem was, the child or parent. There were 3 kids total and the middle child, maybe 7 or so, was having a fit (flailing around including running into a guy in the next lane over, running away from his mom in the check out line etc) all because his mom “never bought him anything.” Then she told the older boy to tell him what she had bought him already that day. I thought to myself, why is she even engaging in this conversation with him? And why did she bother buying him anything??? She finally had the older boy take him out to the car. Lastly, before the whole freak out in the line, I had seen the kid in the center of the store, alone, telling strangers that he didn’t know where his mom was. An employee told him to stay put and called for his mom over the loud speaker. After quite a long time, his older brother came for him and said for him to stop running away. Seems like he was out of control for the entire shopping trip. And from what the Mom yelled at the kid, I gathered that they had been to at least two stores before the one I saw them at. And she told the boy he could go to sleep when they got in the car. Sounds like she should have just skipped the trip to the store I was at and gone home. As far as I remember, her purchase consisted of two candy bars (one of which had already been eaten) and a snack for the baby.

  95. With a 12 yo and a 14 yo who have been brought everywhere (restaurants, church, international travel) I can honestly say parenting makes a huge difference. Behaving well in public places and using manners don’t just suddenly happen in kids, they have to be taught by the parents. And, it takes practice.

    Babies crying on planes? I feel awful for the parents. Toddlers running and screaming in restaurants? I feel awful for the kids. Get a sitter or do a child-care swap. Toddlers don’t really want to be at restaurants.

  96. Lovely idea in some ways, but it could lead to banning other groups.
    People in wheelchairs take up extra room. What about teenagers – they can cause more ruckus than cranky two real olds…and people who talk at the top of their lungs (especially after imbibing too much alcohol)?

    As out society has become more and more litigious… store, restaurant, and transportation owners, have become (and I certainly understand why), less likely to establish, what used to be considered, common sense rules, that patrons are expected to abide by.

    My husband and I have raised 10 children,and now have 17 grand children. We rarely (due to total exhaustion, and lack of funds), took our children out to eat, or shopping. When we did, we took great precautions, to insure that our children did not disturb other shoppers or diners. If at all possible, we did not go out during nap times, or after bed times. We ate snacks before leaving the house so that they were not ravenous, and we remembered to bring comfort (blankies, stuffed toy, etc. etc.) and “quiet entertainment” items with us. If one or more children because restless, overly loud, or began to cry, one parent would remove the offending child(ren), until “order” was resumed. If necessary, we all left – even if our meal or shopping was not completed. Was this a lot of work? YES! Was it necessary – for us it was!

    We practiced manners in our home. Our kids knew the difference between inside, and outside voices. They knew that we needed to be extra quiet in doctor’s offices, libraries, and in the halls and during services, at church. We did not allow children to “run free” in any public locations. We took responsibility for our children, and greatly appreciated it, when others did the same.

    Our children WERE NOT perfect, but they were – for the most part, courteous, happy, pleasant, little individuals, and we were often complimented on their good behavior. Parents MUST make time for their children… time to raise, nurture, and teach.

    As we have become a more mobile society, the extended family unit has become a thing of the past…which, to me, is so sad. How wonderful it was to have grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins around, to help set examples, and provide a caring village, that set healthy expectations and boundaries.

    Kid free zones – oh yes, there are times when we are out on our own (such a new experience after just become empty nesters, after having children and sometimes grandchildren, living in our home for 36 years), when we have become frustrated while shopping or dining out. Irritated by children crawling under tables, running in aisles, throwing temper tantrums, and crying throughout a meal…but more often than not, we just smile at each other, breath a sigh of relief, and say at the same time…
    ” Those were the days, but better them, than us!”

  97. I think if parents do a good job of watching their kids and make sure they aren’t being completely out of control then there wouldn’t be a need for kid-free zones. Yes, meltdowns will happen. But when I was little, if I had a meltdown in a store, my mom would just take me outside and I knew I was in trouble. Parents don’t seem to do that anymore they just tune their kids out almost.

  98. I think there is a lot more going on than a low-tolerance society. If we are working towards being debt free and a night out to dinner is a luxury, we don’t want to be seated next to uncontrolled children. That is the other issue: I truly think there are a lot more parents who make little attempt to discipline their children than we did 50 years ago. I think many facilities are having to put policies like this in place because parents are not using reasonable judgement. Is it really fair to the kids to bring them somewhere they are expected to be still and quiet for several hours if they are 3 years old?

  99. Let’s be clear about this…Children are being banned from private companies. No one, not even adults, have a “right” to go there. Stores, airlines and movie theatres are private companies who can choose who they do business with (whether you are an adult, child or baby.) So stop talking about the rights of babies. I am a parent also but have no problem with “adult only” stores or hours. I hate having crying babies in stores, movies or airplanes. I am more tolerant of airplanes because parents have no where to go if there baby is crying. As a parent myself, I believe that babies and young children belong at home, parks or on playdates, not being dragged around a mall with their mom (when they should be home taking a nap.) If you don’t like the polices of “adult only hours/stores” then stop going to those stores. If enough parents stop going to Trader Joe’s, then maybe Trader Joe’s will change their policy.

  100. avatar
    Heather says:

    I have to be honest, if I am on a date night with my husband and I am seated next to someone with screaming kids it would bother me. I don’t see a problem with some places stipulating ages limits because they cater to adults. Most people are ok with bars or even bed & breakfasts not allowing children under a certain age to be in there, so if the occasional restaurant wants to do it, that is fine with me. There are plenty of places to eat that are family friendly.

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