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

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.)

Tsh Oxenreider

Tsh is the founder of this blog and just finished traveling around the world 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.

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  1. Suzanne says:

    When I am out to eat the last thing I want to be around is screaming kids and such. I have kids but I have seen too many parents let their kids get away with bad manners so when I want to spend money and enjoy an evening out, a rest. where kids are not is where I would be. There are always going to be places to take your kids, I do not allow bad manners with mine and will leave. This does not offend me at all. 🙂

  2. I agree and disagree with this. I have a 2 1/2 year old son is pretty wild. He has never been able to sit still or be quiet since he was a baby. He’s very independent and opinionated. For now, I have “banned” him from certain places which include coffee shops and sometimes the grocery store. I understand being in a place where a child is acting up and how frustrating it is.

    On the other hand, I’m not sure if we should be “banning” all children. I know lots of 2 1/2 year olds that are total opposites of my son and can behave themselves very well. And who’s to say how my son will act in a year? He might be able to behave himself better and maybe then I would want to take him back to a coffee shop.

    But then again, I understand when you’re running a business establishment you’re there to make your customers happy and if you have parents with a misbehaved child that doesn’t do anything about it, then you might end up losing customers.

  3. Too many parents let their kids run wild and act unruly. I see a kid free zone as a great thing but only to a degree. This probably wouldn’t be an issue if parents actually disciplined their kids. I am a parent and find it embarrassing to be with or around children with no manners or guidance. There is a time and place for loud voices and running and a time and place for quiet and manners.

  4. I have been the mother of 20 plus children, bio, adopted, foster and literally children off the street. We are now onto grandchildren, hence my gma name “Lovie” as posted. We have always taken anywhere from 5-10 children out to dinner, movies and the likes with us….people often have a freaked out look on their faces as we sit down. Inevitably they will stop by our table on their way out and thank us for having well behaved children. It is ALL in the parenting, we now have passive parents who basically ignore their children or find correction/instruction intruding on their children’s rights.

    As much as I love children, I have to agree with public establishments banning children, what a sad statement on our society in many ways.

    • Care to share some secrets? 😉

    • couldn’t agree more!! it’s about the parenting kids will only do what they can get away with.
      I have no kids but sit for my friends kids my godchild and as much as he acts up he knows how far he can go with pril. and its not very far. i’m a mean godmother but i have the child safty and manners to teach. and i can’t teach him if i can’t take him.

  5. I am torn, in part because I have pretty good kids, but even good kids have bad days. I LOVE going grocery shopping by myself, but that’s not always an option. And when it comes to restaurants, we usually won’t bring our kids to an adult-oriented restaurant or bar, UNLESS we are meeting with a certain group of friends; because we can’t always get babysitting, it becomes a choice of whether we are going to see these friends at all or stay home. And hey, our children like these friends, too!

    Of course I remove my children from the situation when they’re acting up – if possible. I think the biggest difficulties come in situations where it’s NOT easy to remove the kids for just a few minutes (movie, theater, musical event, airplane), but where you would have to leave entirely, giving up the money and time you have already invested.

    I think of all the times that my toddler/preschooler has had a blow-up WHILE we are already in the checkout line at the grocery store or another store. I’m not going to abandon my groceries. Instead, I try to calm the kid down while we’re in line, and just bear with it until we can get out of the store.

  6. Heather F says:

    I’m all for it. I wish I could make my house a kid free zone. Who are these kids and why do they keep calling me mom?

  7. I have to say that I’m not completely surprised at this. There are two ways to look at these bans. 1) It is just another “ugly head” raised against what God has established, that of families and family life. or 2) Could this be more of a reflection on parenting or more importantly, lack of parenting?
    Actually, I think it is a combination of both views. Children need teaching and training and I think (myself included) we can “turn a deaf ear” to our children because of our own interests or responsibilities. Consequently, there are more poorly behaved children out and about. You can tell the difference between a child that is just tired or having a particularly bad day and the one that is used to manipulating their parents with demands and bad behavior.
    Personally, my children are my most precious charge, so I am not inclined to give that charge to someone I don’t know. I would rather set up a babysitter that I trust will be looking out for my children, instead of giving that charge to a stranger. My two cents! 🙂

  8. Actually, the places are banning parents who have abdicated their roles as parents. I love kids. It’s the parents I can’t stand. My kids are grown, but when they were growing up, if they misbehaved, there were consequences. They were not allowed to yell when they were inside. They were not allowed to stand up on chairs and tables. They were not allowed to run around places unsupervised. If parents would be parents, there wouldn’t be this problem.

  9. OK, first of all – I don’t have time to join in the conversation by reading all the comments before mine. Probably I’m repeating sentiments already shared …
    Nonetheless, here are my answers to your questions:

    When you hear a local restaurant is banning kids, do you feel “persecuted,” or do you do understand their perspective?
    I don’t feel persecuted. I just wouldn’t patronize a place that didn’t welcome children. I usually don’t leave my babies at home until they are eating solids, which happens around 9 or 10 months. I can see that people might want an elegant restaurant to be quiet for their customers, but … it’s a different approach to life than we personally want to take.

    Does this say anything about how our culture views — and deals with — children?
    Absolutely. I think a pretty huge pendulum swing has happened from the politeness that was expected in the 50’s and 60’s (think Leave it to Beaver). Kids are in general much more disrespectful of adults in general and parents are at a loss as to how to train their children basic respectfulness – let alone appropriate manners for an upscale restaurant. Is the “no child policy” a reaction to a louder and more disrespectful generation of kids? I think it is actually part of the problem. Parents don’t “do life” together with their kids – as families – and don’t have the opportunity to model appropriate behavior. Adults do kid things with their kids, toting them from event to event, and then to adult things without their kids. There isn’t a merging of the two very often. Does that make sense? So our disregard for really getting to know our kids and loving spending time with them, including them in our games, our outings, our enjoyments, as much as we do theirs; expecting much of them (because they are capable of respecting us) as we respect them ……. Then we would want to invite them out with us (from time to time) because we enjoy being with them and they with us.

    (Wow. Sorry for the long ramble!)

  10. I’m all for kid-free zones. I see it less as intolerance and more as societies freedom to place boundaries. Generally boundaries are necessary for the people who don’t have natural boundaries themselves (i.e. parents who let kids talk during church, those who talk loudly on cell phones in quiet coffee shops, gum poppers in libraries – you get my drift)

    I don’t mind being protected from parents who are unable/unwilling to train their youngsters to behave appropriately.

    I will say though, I have a three year old who I take everywhere with me. Does that guarantee he will never act up? No. But I am conscious to take him to places that are toddler-friendly and to be aware of how he is doing – if we’re coming up to nap-time, I don’t take us out for lunch…

    Just my .02,

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  11. I’m the first one to bristle at being told I can’t go somewhere or do something. However, many business owners are not only trying to create revenue, they are marketing an experience, an atmosphere, or a product that may not be intended for children. I am happy to expose my children to “grown-up” situations, because I agree that they need to learn how to behave in them. But I also see the side from the business owner’s standpoint of trying to maintain a profile that fits their mission, which just might *not* include serving children… And let’s face it – there are PLENTY of places in the world today that d0 cater to children!

  12. no one wants to hear someone else’s screaming kid behind them in the checkout line… let’s be honest. but this whole “kid-free” craze really scares me. it says kids are an inconvenience. their presence isn’t appropriate. they’re in the way. their existence means you can’t do what you want. and how must it make them feel? my daughter wouldn’t be allowed in a place that didn’t want kids 6 and under, but she’s old enough to get the impression that she’s not wanted. she’s not as important as all those big people in there.

    but i think a lot of this is brought on by parents bringing kids to places where they really shouldn’t be… to a movie at 9:30pm, a fancy restaurant with a 2 month waiting list. people bring their kids (and they’re only inviting disaster by doing so, no kid is going to enjoy those places), disaster happens, and the manager has to make his paying customers happy so he says no more kids. parents really need to use common sense sometimes.

    i think establishments providing child-care is wonderful!! it shows they’re valuing the adults’ time. it also shows they’re valuing the kids by providing things for them to do that they’ll enjoy. talk about customer service! i’m a big advocate for families doing things together, but sometimes you just need to think straight when making a big purchase or catch a few minutes alone with your hubby.

    i will say that there seems to be a general looking-down-the-nose attitude towards kids now. it makes me sad and maybe a little nervous for the future.

  13. Juliette says:

    I definitely enjoy some kid free time. Sometimes by myself and sometimes on a date with my husband.
    It is certainly a business’s right to make their establishment kid free but I think I would feel a bit offended by this.
    I think instead of banning children maybe parents could use a bit of common sense and not take their children to places their children aren’t necessarily mature enough to be at. We take our children to nice restaurants, not just restaurants with a play place. That way they learn from example how to behave in public. We get the opportunity to teach them. If they are always with other children how will they learn this? At the same time we also don’t take them to an upscale fancy restaurant. Yet.
    So maybe a combination of parents using common sense of where they can take their children and teaching children appropriate behavior might help make the outings more enjoyable.

  14. I think it is fair. Some places kids don’t need to be. I have two young ones, 1 and 2, and they love going to the movies, but i hate having to take them out half way through and never seeing the movie. That really upsets me. It would be nice if they offered baby sitting at an extra fee so parents who have no family support, or they moved to a new area and don’t know anyone, can still bring the kids, but be able to enjoy the movie. I don’t think resturants should ban kids, unless its a brewery like Oggies’ in California, they should inform the parents that a screaming child will not be tolerated, but then the resturants do need to speed up their service, the only time my kids get fussy in a resturant is when they have to wait nearly an hour for their food – that shouldnt be tolerated either. So I think it can be double edged in the case of resturants speed up your process and the kids wont get fussy. But I also read that some hotels are doing that also thats completly unfair to people, if I am on a vacation or goign to visit family and didn’t want to fly I better be allowed to stay in a hotel with my children, im not goign to let them sleep in a car and if your the closest hotel/motel for five miles and im dead tired you better beleive I’m staying there, and if you want to fight it I will fight it. Give me a room where no one is near me.

  15. Julie Bame says:

    I have an almost 3-year-old and a 9 month old baby. I think there are a couple different factors that come into play here. First, I think it’s great that some places offer child care so that parents who don’t have family or babysitters close by can do some sane shopping whether for groceries or furniture. I’m super blessed to have my sister just a few miles away and I often call on her to keep the kids just for a little while to run errands. The other side of the discussion has to do with 1) how parents allow thier children to become the center of the universe, thus creating little monsters 2) how children who are un-trained and rule the roost of their households behave when in public places. As the problem is two sided, so is the solution: 1) children need to be taught that they are a wonderful addition to their families and to the world, not the center of either. This gives the children perspective on the world – their needs will be filled and are important, but patience and self-control truly are virtues that need to be learned early on 2) parents need to be parents, which means that behavior training, while hard work and a big challenge much of the time, is essential for having children that can handle being in public places successfully. So, while banning children in certain places seems extreme, behavior problems in children who think they are the center of the universe can be equally disturbing. It’s time to be grown ups and take responsibility for our children’s behavior.

  16. kate n. says:

    quite frankly, i find the entire thing to be offensive…banning children from places…”we don’t tolerate screaming children” — well, i don’t tolerate drunk and/or obnoxious adults — are they banning these people too?
    what about adults who are rude to wait staff…are they banned? and, how about adults who talk through the entire movie at a theater? for pete’s sake! adults are much more in control over their behavior than kids. adults can think through the consequences much more thoroughly than kids. people need to get over themselves and quit blaming kids for the problems at restaurants, theaters, stores, etc.

    • I don’t blame the kids – I blame the parents. If the parents disciplined the children and taught them the proper behavior for certain settings, there wouldn’t be a need to “ban” kids from places. But when parents take their kids out in public and let the children behave as though they’re at home, running and screaming and playing, that’s a problem. It’s simply not appropriate to let a 5 year old roam around a restaurant, playing on the dirty floor, getting in the way of the wait staff. But I’ve seen this happen, and I don’t blame the child. I blame parents who are so afraid of hurting a child’s self-esteem, that they won’t properly discipline him and teach him that there’s a right way and a wrong way to behave.

  17. I think that some restaurants banning children is cool with me, if that is the atmosphere they are going for. I think it is better to have a certain night that is no kids, but none at all? not my thing, but I get it. I have 3 children (2, 4, and 6) and when I am shelling out bucks for a date, I want to have a conversation with my husband. if we are sandwiched between two tables of screamers…well that is tough, and our money was not well spent. Even worse than kids, IMO is the tiny yappy dog in the purse people at the restaurant. Gross. Just saying. I’ve also BEEN the lady with the 3 noisy kids in a restaurant, and I totally understand then when we go out on valentine’s day with our littles (we like to show them that they are special and we love them on this particular holiday, and do our own date a different night) I totally understand that we are usually put in the separate room or back corner with all the other families that do the same thing. It is great. The kids are all noisy, and all of the couples can enjoy their peace in another room of the restaurant. everyone wins.

    The grocery store? I think it is great. I have times when I love having my kdis with me at the market, because I can teach them about food, prices, shopping, etc. But my 2 yr old is sort of a gong show lately, and it would be wonderful to take my older girls with me and let him go play. And who hasn’t tried to shop with the kids during naptime, only to get halfway through and realize it was a terrible mistake? I think it is a great service for the store to offer, and a wonderful marketing tool as well.

  18. Kristy in Canada says:

    I have often observed couples inflicting the not-so-cute antics of their ill-behaved, poorly disciplined, or simply over-tired children on other clients in a restaurant that is obviously not aimed at ‘family dining’. This leads me to side with many of the comments I’ve seen here. My family has limited financial resources, so when my husband and I decide to go out, we like to have a meal in peace and quiet. Therefore, I will not apologize for walking out of a restaurant when I hear a child crying or see them misbehaving, and I refuse to be held accountable for how the owner of the restaurant responds to my actions. That is entirely their choice. Businesses like restaurants in the service industry take their chances when they institute a kid-free policy, as it immediately alienates a significant group within their potential customer base, but I have to think they’re taking a decision in response to a need they have observed or heard expressed by their customers. Finally, if the restaurant you wish to attend has you worried about whether your kids will stay seated and quiet, chances are you shouldn’t attempt going there until they’re old enough to do so without your constant vigilance. Do yourself and your kids a favour and go to a family-friendly restaurant where you can all relax, or shell out the cash for a babysitter.

  19. As a mother of a 2 and 5 year old, I do not make it a habit of taking my kids where I know typical child behavior is not suitable (ie a really nice restaurant). The problem is that many parents today have zero regard or respect for others. I have friends that I cannot go to the mall with because they think it is perfectly ok to let their little ones run like maniacs through the stores. That’s what the kid zone area is for!
    I just think that if parents took the responsibility to teach their children how to be respectful and behave properly in public it would be less of an issue. And if that means that you don’t take a 2 year old to certain places or at certain times of the day (ie their nap time when you know they are going to be cranky) then you don’t take them.

  20. Kelli G says:

    I have three childern, 2 of them are in college and one is a teenager. My kids are far from perfect but they knew how to behave because I was clear with them about it. They also knew that if they did not behave that there were consequences. 95% of the time, they were fine. The other 5%, well…it happens. With that being said, I think the reason why businesses are starting these bans and “child free” hours and such is because a lot of parents are too lazy or scared to discipline their children. I see it all the time, parents chatting or texting on the phone while their kids are going crazy. It’s too bad that for the parents of children who DO behave that these bans have to be put in place. I have to laugh when I see comments from people who feel that society is becoming less tolerant of children. I think society is becoming less tolerant of passive or lazy parents and bratty children.

  21. Some people are just professional victims. Persecuted because your kids aren’t welcome someplace? Give me a break!!!!!!!!!!! Why would you want to go someplace where your kids are not welcome? That is so immature and typical of the entitled generation. Just go someplace else, for crying out loud. It’s not the children people are objecting to, it’s the parents. And since there is no way to know in advance if you are or are not the kind of parent who will attend to your child’s needs or disruptive behavior, the simple solution is to just have adult only venues.

  22. I mentioned beneath another post that I was of two minds about this. Truly, I don’t like being next to a table with an unruly child, screaming, banging, and being a nuisance to everyone including him/herself. But I love being next to an adorable, sweet, not-quite-shy child or just seeing a happy family interacting. If it was a place I went to all the time, I’d be ticked off and might boycott. But if, like in the Whole Foods example, they provided child care, I’d say halleluia! When we stayed in Atlanta for four months, I loved Ikea – drop your child off at the kid’s area and shop in peace! Kids weren’t forced to go, but it was nice for the parents, I think. And for kids – my son loved it!

    My son has ADHD. Thankfully, he mostly keeps the impulsive, short temper part of that at home. But I know from first hand experience that all the good parenting in the world won’t always help. Yes, parents should just suck it up and leave at that point. But…I could almost understand if this is their one time out a month and it’s melt-down city and stuff happens. And sometimes, kids have outbursts then get it back together again. The world is messy. Sometimes kids are messy. But then I’ve been out and it’s some loudmouth adult-only-in-theory. You can’t ensure a calm, quiet, peaceful situation – even without kids.

  23. Free markets. I’m guessing that’s what is driving the decision these businesses are making to go “kid-free”. And in the end, these free markets will decide if its a good idea. If enough people value going to a kid-free restaurant, it will probably do very well. It is no different than the many businesses I frequent that are specifically designed to be “kid-friendly”. And that is the choice of the business, just like we as customers have a choice whether or not to support their business.
    I personally think kid-free restaurants are a great idea. I’m a full-time stay-at-home mom, and on the off chance my husband and I go out on a date, I do not want to deal with other kids. I don’t mind if they are well-behaved, but everyone has a different opinion of what ‘well-behaved’ means, so I’d rather just not have to deal with it at all.
    I have no problem with kids (well-behaved or otherwise) in family restaurants, grocery stores, airplanes, buses, etc, etc, etc. But there should be some places adults can go without having to worry about the possibility of disruptive kids.

  24. I can understand businesses wanting to limit children, particularly during later hours and in more formal settings, but I would probably be offended by a place that does this (especially if I felt it was a place that should allow kids — explain, a casual restaurant or shopping center) and would probably choose not to dine/shop there.

    When I get a chance to go out with my husband and see/hear kids, I’ve never been annoyed (at least not since having kids, because boy does your mindset change after having kids) — it reminds me lovingly of my own but it also makes me glad that I’m not ‘mom’ right now. I can’t imagine it would ever ‘ruin’ my meal/night. I’m quite aware that some teenagers can also be loud/obnoxious, but I wouldn’t go banning teens either.

    • I agree with you Jaclyn. When I hear kids when I’m out on a date, I’m not annoyed, I’m just glad that my kids are loudly playing at Grandma’s house. 🙂

  25. Mama of 2 Under 2 says:

    Aaaahh.. a topic worth discussing!

    YES, I felt discriminated against when I was asked to remove my squirmy 18 month old while attending a service as a guest at a church, nearing the end of the service. It was almost nap-time, he had sat BEAUTIFULLY (and quietly!) throughout the worship and message. I was mentally preparing to take him out and head home if he became noisy. But the usher saw him start to wiggle and whisper “Mama”…. and took it upon himself to ask us to leave.

    What? He was a distraction? To whom? And if so, could you please ask the man behind me to remove his wife? She spent most of the service chatting it up with her friend…

    (To their credit, both the pastor and the usher made apologies after the service, acknowledging their poor judgement…. but the issue remains.)

    In contrast, at another church the week before, a nicely dressed visitor showed up carting her three dogs in a doggy stroller wearing doggy clothes. After the service, I watched while she did nothing as her dogs barked shrilly at 3 different toddlers who approached the doggy stroller, each time sending the child off crying and scared. Holding my 3 week old baby boy, I greeted the woman and engaged her in conversation. She was intelligent, friendly…. and shocked me by volunteering that if all the babies in the world and her dogs were thrown over a cliff, she would save her dogs first. “They’re like my kids,” she said.

    Thank you for that, ma’am. Not that I was asking. But it confirms what my husband and I have been suspecting for a long time now. Dogs, mutts, canines…. are now much dearer to the hearts of TOO MANY fellow Americans than children. You know it’s true. You have witnessed it yourself.

    We welcome dogs. We scarcely tolerate children. Lord forgive us!

  26. Stephanie Pease says:

    Sounds honestly like the poor restaurants are reacting against parents who either can’t control or have inappropriate expectations of their children. When parents bring kids to a formal restaurant and the proprietor has to actually kick them all out in order to restore order to the place, its seems pretty natural that they’d resort to these sort of extreme measures rather than have to make a scene every time there’s a problem. I think as a parent, I would appreciate a polite sign saying something like “If your child enjoys sitting quietly, he/she is welcome here. If not, please consider providing your child with an alternate activity.” and maybe a little picture of two angelic looking children on a bench or something. A “No child allowed” sign is a little too rude.

    But as far as the whole foods thing goes… oh my gosh – free babysitting while I go grocery shopping!! Sign me up for that! Going shopping with two children is miserable – one is ok, but more than that is just crowd control!

  27. Darlene says:

    My kids are grown now, but, I know I would rather eat without listening to screaming or crying children. It would be nice if places provided a place for your kids while you shopped or did whatever. Also, if people don’t like restaruants banning kids they could go somewhere else. The restaurants will more than likely loose alot of business doing that.

  28. I think a business should be able to make their own rules about having a minimum age to enter, but at the same time I think it’s a bad business idea to exclude the kids. They might be little now, but they will be growing up and spending money soon–and if you want their money in the future, it might be a good idea to be nice to them now.
    I also think it’s a little bit…I don’t want to say selfish, but that’s the best word I can come up with…it’s a little bit selfish to think that you can go into public and not have other people around you. You can watch a quiet movie at home, or eat a quiet dinner at home, just as easily as the children can stay home. When we choose to go in public, we are making the choice to be around other people. Children are people too.
    And I think Whole Food’s babysitting program is a little bit genius.

  29. I think it does make a statement on society and their opinion of children and people; even their own children. Children and people are not an interuption anywhere. Our model – Jesus – welcomed interuptions and children with open arms; he didn’t displace them. When the cripple’s friend tore the roof off and lowered their friend Jesus did not get mad and stop the lesson; he was amazed and commended them for their faith. Segregation in any form doesn’t represent life. Everyone needs compassion is playing in my head. How selfish to think a young couple trying to have a life together would not be accepted, because of a fussy child. We all wish we have angelic 24-7, reality doesn’t always happen because of sleep, sickness, family, background and life experiences. We all need and want quiet: turn radios off, TV’s off, smart devices off, and go on down the list. Honor and respect others, what does this look like?

    I agree with some of the people and their new studies on divided church. This restaurant thing is just more of the same. We have segregated children to the extent that they are not connected in the body or sometimes even welcomed in the body and thus disengage from families and church between 18-30; some returning and some never coming back. I believe we do need to rethink how and what we are teaching and quit dividing people generationally. We need to restore worship and living to be whole families; not separate units. As Christians we are reflecting the world versus Christ and His teachings.

    • I understand your point, but I have a feeling the children in Jesus time knew how to behave in public, if their Jewish mothers were anything like the Jewish ladies I answered to! 😀 I, too, struggle with the idea of children being catered to in worship. When I was coming up there was no such thing as children’s church. We were segregated during Sunday school like everyone else, then all sat together as families for church. And we learned how to sit still. And be quiet. And a lot of what was said sunk in even when we didn’t fully understand it. Based on our own experience with our kids, I think we lose kids at 18 because they’re used to being entertained in church – then thrown into adult church, which is “boring” in comparison. Definitely something we need to investigate and do better.

      But when it comes to entertainment and eating out- that’s a new phenomenon, because 50 years ago NO ONE went “out” at the rate we’ve become so accustomed to. Segregating based on age-appropriateness is for everyone’s protection and benefit. I doubt there were a whole lot of children who attended crucifixions.
      There is a time and place for everything… time to bring the kids and time to let them stay home and fun while mom and dad invest in each other. A healthy balance strengthens the family.

  30. I don’t mind going to a “family” diner with the kids, or a kid movie, or any place where kids just seem to fit into the setting. I don’t have a problem with some kid issues and noise at these places. I do have a problem with loud, sick, unruly, temper-tantrum-throwing, or crying little angels. People are not considerate of the people around them. If they would realize that not everyone thinks the antics of their little blessing are cute and precious, the world would be a much more friendly place. Get up and take your child outside or to another less inhabited spot when they are unhappy and are spreading their unhappy attitude to the rest of the world. OR, Heaven help us, when they are sick! Why do people bring their sick child out into the world to infect me and mine!?

    No, I have no problem with children free zones. If that’s what it takes to keep people from impressing their moody kids on others, or making people understand that allowing their children to be a distraction is rude, then that’s what it takes. When I get the opportunity to go out with my husband (without the kids) the last thing I want to do is hear someone elses child throwing a fit, or just being loud. If you are like us, those nights were few and far between… a “treat”. We wanted to focus on each other, not exercise our compassion for others with kids. Raise your child up in the way that they should go! To me, one aspect of this means making them behave so others are amazed that children were even present. When they realize they are there, they can look on in awe at my parenting abilities! hah! Mine were very well behaved little bits, but I think they were a blessing from God, and had little to do with my abilities. They all hit a sour note from time to time, and mine hit their share! However, they were allowed to go to many events where only older kids and adults were present, and they always impressed even the grumpiest of old men!

    In church, I don’t mind a little baby noise, kids talking softly, or crying a little if mom is trying to get into a nursing position, etc. When they become loud, can’t be soothed or become really disruptive… it’s time to go into the nursery! 🙂

    I saw a clip on the news where some outraged parents were discussing a local diner that had recently become a kid free zone. They were saying things like, “If they don’t want my kids, then I will just never eat here again!” and I’m thinking, hmmm… what is the address of that place? That would be a great date night location!

  31. The name of the game is courtesy. I’m afraid in our “all about me” culture we haven’t seen it all yet.
    Back in the day parents parented and disruptive children were promptly removed from the scene. Now it amazes me how far parents will let a child go before taking action, if any at all.
    I’ve also been in restaurants where a group of adults was so rowdy it bothered everyone else.
    I’m astounded that many managers don’t seem to know how to set proper boundaries in such scenarios. There was a time when a manager would quietly and kindly ask you to respect the other patrons or leave. Now everyone’s afraid of confrontation.

    Like others have pointed out, businesses have the right to determine who they prefer to cater to. I don’t like a blanket “no kids” policy, but I can certainly understand the trend given what I’ve seen evolve over the past 30 years. I see nothing wrong with offering kid-friendly times versus later adult hours.

  32. As a mother of two boys (ages 9 and 3), I am All. For. It.
    I don’t think it says society is becoming intolerant of children. I think it says society is becoming intolerant of overly-permissive parents who put Little Precious on a pedestal too high for any form of discipline to ever reach. We’ve come a long, long way from the days when strangers would not just stay out of it when you corrected your child in public, but would offer to help. And at whose expense? Are our kids any better off for it? I look at my children’s spoiled, self-indulgent, demanding peers and think not.

  33. I love my toddler but there are times that I want to spend some quiet time on a date with my husband or being out with friends. I understand what these establishments are doing and I’m not against them doing that as long as they reserve some special time and place for children. Though I really do not like the idea of totally “banning” kids from entering their store/restaurant. That’s just unfair, don’t you think?

    It would be great to visit a favorite restaurant for some down time and not feeling guilty that other families have their kids with them while my own kid is at home with a babysitter. Of course we also make an effort to only bring my toddler to a kid-friendly store, especially with restaurants.

  34. One place where kids really do bother me is in the doctor’s office. Until very recently, I worked for an eye doctor. We didn’t do pediatrics, so I was surprised the number of parents who would bring their children to their eye exams. The vast majority of the kids could not be quiet enough for their parents to have an eye exam with the kids in the room, so we ended up on baby-sitting duty with the noisy kids in the waiting room, which in turn disturbed other patients looking at frames or conducting other business with us. Even more astonishing was that those kids would continue to run amok after having been asked to leave the exam. We had a few coloring books and toys they could play with, but these kids would walk up to our computers and start banging away on the keyboard, or they would take our chairs (the typical spinny doctor chairs) and zoom all over the place. It was a danger to the kids and our patients. Being strangers, there wasn’t a whole lot that we could do to keep the kids under control. It put everyone in an awkward situation. Parents need to know their kids’ limitations, and deal with them appropriately. There are places where it is not appropriate to bring kids; those places are specific to each kid (some may be fine in restaurants and shopping, but not a doctor’s office) and parents need to act accordingly when bringing their kids along.

  35. Sue Klingseis says:

    I think the main issue is lack of parenting. Most people reading this blog do not have that problem. People spending hard earned money for a meal out deserve to eat in peace and quiet. As a teacher, when I went out to eat after work, I asked to be seated in a “child free” area and usually was satisfied. It was hard for my friends and I to be by undisciplined children after a day of disciplining and guiding children.

  36. Children deserve respect and tolerance as much as adults do. If adults can’t tolerate children, what are we then teaching the children? Gone are the days when children were to be seen and not heard. Children are not miniature adults. A child’s brain does not function as an adult’s brain does and therefore, they do not have the capacity to think logically, understand reason, or control their emotions. It’s our job as parents to teach them to do so, however, that being said, parents cannot CONTROL their children. We can only teach them right from wrong and how to respect others, then hope they follow suit. And most importantly, adults need to model the behavior they expect from children. Children are always watching and observing adult behavior so “Do as I say and not as I do” is no longer an option. I would not/will not spend my money at an establishment that does not welcome children. It is discrimination. However, I also know the difference between a family-friendly environment and an environment meant for adults.

  37. My husband and I purposefully look for family friendly restaurants when taking our 6 year old daughter out to eat. I wouldn’t think of taking any child under 8 to a nice restaurant. That’s just rude. We go to nice restaurants to get away from our kids, not to hear someone else’s kid at the next table throwing a fit or a baby who wont stop fussing. I would like to say that people should just know better, but some either don’t care that they are interrupting other people’s dinner or are oblivious to the fact that their kids are misbehaving.

    I also like the idea of banning kids in the movies after a certain time, like 6pm. Kids young enough to interrupt should be eating diner and getting into bed, not at the movies. I have been to far too many movies where a baby cried through half of it or kids are running up and down the aisles during the show.

    Now, banning kids from 1st class on an airline is a mistake. There are lots of people who are not going to fly coach and are not going to leave their kids in coach alone. They will take their money somewhere else. And they should.

    I guess, its okay for some things and not for others. I think ultimately it should be up to the business owner. If they don’t feel like their business is appropriate for kids they should say so. That should be their right.

  38. Screaming kids – absolutely ban them! And NO I would NOT want Ikea or Whole Foods or anyone else I haven’t personally screened, to watch my kids. My church’s entire Sunday School teachers and assistants are criminally background checked so no perverts are overseeing the children – is the same true of Ikea’s and Whole Foods’ staff? I think not. NO THANK YOU.

    Not only should screaming children be banned from ALL public venues, the parents should be stiffly fined. I am sick of our crumbling society not holding individuals responsible. Autistic? No problem. Bee sting? No problem. A crying baby is removed (temporarily) to be fed or changed? No problem. A toddler is learning boundaries and behaviour skills by testing their parent by throwing a fit in the middle of the aisle or restaurant? If the parent promptly removes them, no problem. IRRESPONSIBLE PARENTING – yes that’s a big huge problem. FINE THEM SINCE THEIR BRAINS AND COMMON SENSE ARE NOT WORKING. Send them to parenting class, sure, but do it on their dime, not mine. Not during my highly paid hour at the restaurant. People have no shame anymore – and no common sense. I am absolutely sick of passing the buck and being irresponsible. Poor children, what chance do they have as growing up decent with parents like that?

  39. This is ridiculous, IMHO. As a mother of 3, I believe children should be allowed to be part of the culture (especially food shopping, for goodness sake!) and parents should be exactly that… PARENTS teaching their children how to behave, grow up, and live in society. Sure, we have all experienced our children behaving badly or over-tired, etc., and been THAT parent with THOSE children. Most other parents will sympathize. I think it’s sad when parents consistently seem to have no control, OR are always looking for ways (and the cultural trend seems to be this) to get rid of their kids so they can do their thing ‘in peace’ rather than engage and instruct and model what is proper and good to their kids. Kids are like sponges and will respond. It really IS possible.

  40. I think it is sad… welcome to North America (speaking of mainly Canada and the US) where we can’t wait until our parents are old and we can throw them in a nursing home, ban our children from everyday places. I say if you want to go kidless… get a babysitter and go to a pub… or better yet, a quiet trail or beach off the beaten path. We treat our children and our elderly poorly. Most countries have them all living together!

  41. Gosh, I wasn’t feeling persecuted by the “kid free” businesses, but I am feeling persecuted by some of the comments on this blog. The problem with saying it’s the parents’ fault because they’re not correcting the behavior is that different people have different ideas on how to do that. Unfortunately some of the most common ways actually make the behavior worse. I think it’s a crap shoot at best — sometimes your kids will behave like angels and other times they appear to sprout horns for no reason. I’d say stick to the family friendly places and have all your strategies in place to prevent problems, but be prepared to leave if it turns into a nightmare.

    • I agree with you. And it’s also difficult to control infants and young toddlers when they don’t know any better and/or are tired. If my kids were really acting up then I get my husband to ask for the check and we’re out of there. Sometimes I’ll just go and wait in the car with my kiddo while my husband finishes up.

  42. Hmmm…I guess it depends on the restaurant. If it would be considered a family-friendly restaurant I would be a bit peeved if they began to ban children. If it were a nicer, sit-down restaurant I would probably understand. While I have 4 kids (4 years of age and under) I get a bit disappointed when my husband and I are on a date next to a screaming kid. I just left them at home with a babysitter for the simple enjoyment of a quiet dinner and adult conversation.
    The whole kid-free thing does say something about how our culture sees parenting, I believe. It seems that in a way parenting has become a passive thing…sit the kids in front of the t.v., give them a technological device, etc. when the going gets rough (heck, I even do the t.v. thing when I’ve had it!) but by all means don’t break their spirit! So why not let them scream like a banshee in public, right? Obviously not acceptable behavior but kids are starting to rule the roost in some families.
    I would be absolutely thrilled if stores or restaurants offered FREE babysitting!! I see this is a huge way to get families to spend more money so why the heck don’t establishments do this for crying out loud?! 🙂

  43. As a mom of a 3-year-old and a 5-year-old, I completely understand and respect some businesses’ decision to ban or limit children. On the rare occasion when I go out for an expensive dinner with my husband, it’s nice to eat in peace. If I could afford to splurge on first class plane tickets, I would also be quite frustrated if I had to sit next to a whining child. Children are blessings, but there are certain places children don’t belong until they get a little older.

  44. My husband and I went to a semi-nice restaurant the other day while he, our kids , and I were on vacation. We have never been to this town and we needed dinner…and fast. We found this lovely little spot. I felt a little uncomfortable bringing in my young kids (ages 3 and 1) but the wait staff were really kind and doted on our children so I felt comfortable after awhile. A couple other children around our kids’s age showed up a little later as well. We had a nice time but my one year old was tired from the long trip and, now that he can walk, wanted out of the high chair. When he wants something it doesn’t take long for him to make this unbearable, screechy noise. There were a group of older adults that had just arrived and were chatting and I overheard them talking about this new issue of children being banned from restaurants and airlines. One lady mentioned, “I don’t want children screaming in my ear….” I felt like that was my time to get my kiddo out of the restaurant. So I picked him up and told my husband I was going to take my son out for some air while my husband waited on the check. Ugh. I’ll definitely be visiting that place again when we vacation there again, however, it’ll probably be for a special date with just my husband and I. Lesson learned….research restaurants before heading out! 🙂

  45. nopinkhere says:

    Our children learn how to behave in public by being in public.
    That said, some venues are more appropriate than others. I like Baby Day at Alamo Drafthouse because I can go with my younger child and not feel like I need to leave just because she fusses or wants to walk around.
    I am both much more and much less judgemental of badly behaving kids and their parents now than I was before I had kids. Less because everyone can have a bad day, kids included. More because I hate seeing parents condoning bad behavior by not leaving wherever it is. I admit, sometimes you can’t leave, but I do like to hear the parent in the seat behind me attempt to get their child to stop kicking my seat rather than ignoring it.

  46. I don’t see it as being less tolerant of children but less tolerant of ill mannered children whose parents don’t parent. As a mother of young children I’m appalled at how some parents allow their children to speak to them. How’s raising who? That’s what I want to know.
    Kids free zone, I’m all for it but more importantly we need parents to step up and be responsible. Don’t expect that you can bring your child anywhere you want, have them behave anyway they want and other people should just accept the behavior. I don’t think so. My children know what is expected of them before we leave the house and if for some reason they are having a bad day then we don’t bring that energy to everyone else. It comes back to the parents!

  47. I agree with what you are saying here, Jessica from Canada! Those poor children she mentioned…being subjected to something that is frightening with their own parents being those who are subjecting them to it! My husband and I went through a haunted house one Halloween right behind a daddy who was carrying his little girl, approximately age 3, over his shoulder through the place! She was scared to death, screaming and crying, and he was laughing about it! I was appalled to say the least. Unfortunately, we can’t make decisions for parents, but I wish we could, too, in instances like these. Thankfully they are trying to put through some legislation in California banning young children from purchasing video games that are “first person shooter” games. People can say what they want about it, but I think of it as a good thing. Those youngsters don’t need to be subjected to the experience of virtually killing people with realistic graphics.

    As for children being banned from public places, I think it is archaic on the one hand. There was a time when children were to be seen and not heard (or NOT seen and not heard if possible) which is so sad! I was grateful that time was behind us, and now it seems we are heading that direction again. Most kids already feel excluded from their parents’ lives. Why further that feeling by banning them from places where they might have a family meal? Obviously they shouldn’t go into places like bars or X rated book stores, etc, but restaurants? I guess it’s up to the establishment to decide, but I would think they’d lose a lot of business because of it. On the other hand, I understand the desire of the other people to enjoy their dinner without being disturbed by someone else’s unruly child. Some parents have trouble removing their kids when they are being disruptive to others. It might do them good to remember that if their kid is screaming, then they are probably NOT enjoying themselves any more than the people around them are at that moment!

    I DO think it’s good for children to be exposed to places where they have to work on their social skills, such as a restaurant, where they need to be still and engage in proper public behaviour…but not when they are too young to understand what is expected of them. That is just cruel in my opinion, if the child is too young to understand. It’s better to go to a family friendly place where they can enjoy themselves without disturbing those around them if they are too young to understand what is expected of them in a more formal environment.

  48. I do like Ikeas kidcare place, but man something about it rubs me the wrong way. Maybe it’s just the location we go to but the attendants are always (and we’ve encountered different ones over the years) extremely strict, speak to me like I’m the child and seem to have NO compassion whatsoever. They recently refused my 3 year old entrance because she was oh, about one milimetre too short. She had to watch her 6 and 7 year old sisters go without her after a climax-building car ride getting there. I would tremble with fear sending my 5+ year old delayed son in as he wasn’t toilet trained until 8 years old. I was sure, being as hard nosed as they had always demonstrated that he would be kicked out if discovered in his pull-up! It’s such an awesome idea to have childcare but not when you feel like a little cog in a huge machine just to go through the process of leaving them. I would shop there more if the attendants had a little heart.

  49. I have never been bothered by a screaming child at a restaurant. My only thoughts when hearing it are, “I’m glad I don’t have to deal with that child. I’m glad we were able to get a sitter.”

    I don’t mind businesses making rules, I just won’t give them my business. My girlfriends and I have a Mom’s Night Out once a month and I have to bring along my nursing infant (who was pretty fussy last time). I don’t know if I’ll go next time–not because I think I bothered the other ladies, but because it’s not fun to be at a restaurant with a fussy baby (especially when I’m spending money)! If a mom has to bring her 5 year old son along because she had no one to watch him, who cares? She must have really wanted/needed that night out if she still came with her son. Life isn’t about me. Come on. Yes, we pay a lot of money for dinner at a nice restaurant, but when has the night ever been perfect? If it’s not a screaming child, it’ll be a bad steak, or an annoying waiter, or an argument with your husband.

  50. I can understand it, because I’ve been sitting in cafes where kids are making heaps of noise, getting very annoyed, thinking ‘How come I can’t even have peace and quiet when I don’t have my children with me.’

    However, I also think it’s a symptom of society’s idea that everything must be perfect. We can’t stand to put up with inconvenience or discomfort of any kind. Yes, screaming kids can be annoying. But isn’t that part of life? If we really want a perfect life, maybe we should cocoon ourselves away from all irritations, distractions, annoyances and conveniences. But then, that’s not really living is it?

    Jesus said “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them” (Matthew 19:14). He didn’t say “Let the little children ( provided they’re not causing a disruption or making too much noise or bothering our patrons) come to me.” And as I think Jesus is someone worth emulating, that means if I’m getting annoyed noisy kids, I’m probably the one with the problem, not them.


    • I wish that were the case, Liz. I think that most often, annoying children are the result of poor parenting. If the parents don’t teach a child the proper way to act in a setting (be it at the grocery store, in a restaurant, or a movie theater), how will the child ever learn? Parents need to teach their kids that the things they do at home (running, playing, screaming, etc.) aren’t appropriate in every setting. I have absolutely nothing against kids being allowed to go anywhere theire parents go, but I don’t think I’m wrong to expect the kids to behave. I don’t expect things to be perfect, but I do expect common courtesy.

  51. I used to be offended by the ban on children. But today I was out with my two close girlfriends without all our kids. We spent the day shopping and then went out for frozen yogurt. We purposely sat away from all the families with busy little children because we needed a much needed break we rarely get. There are so many businesses that cater to families–Chuck E Cheese, Great Wolf Lodge, Red Robin, IHOP etc. Let the businesses that want to cater to adults only be able to do so.

  52. “There are times and places where children should not be, for their sake as much as the other people involved.” (Simple Mom) And yet some parents still insist on dragging their kids into such situations and then have the nerve to blame their children for bad behavior. I ask is it really the baby’s fault that he is being asked to quietly sleep through a movie being played at decibels which could break the sweet dear’s eardrums? Or is it the toddler’s fault that she is being told to sit still and quiet in a boring restaurant as her bedtime grows near and the adults are being completely self-absorbed? And if you were a child and had no other means of direct communication wouldn’t you scream and throw a tantrum too? I know I would.

    My concern is not how our society views children but how our society raises children. Until we learn better parenting skills then children bans will happen, and I’m okay with that. What I am not okay with is the bad parenting that lead to the bans in the first place.

  53. Stephanie says:

    I shop at Bashas in Arizona BECAUSE they have the Cubhouse. The employees are awesome, and my kids looove to go! If they hated it, I wouldn’t take them. I love having my children with me, but if they can be happier doing something more for them, then I am all for it!

    I think parents these days are the ones acting out of line. It seems that the internet and their own personal hobbies and friends are more important than spending quality time with their children. When I see children just being kids and parents yelling because they aren’t acting perfect it really makes me sad….many parents need to get control of their own emotions so their children can be kids. I am all about teaching manners, just remember monkey see monkey do 🙂 And really don’t take your child somewhere that you would have to expect them to act like an adult…they are children!

    I’ll get off my soap box now…I have only begun too!

  54. If they are banning my child, they are banning me as well. Do I really have to get a baby sitter to go to the grocery store?

    Of course, It all depends on the place or situation. But in most cases this seems really discriminatory!

    Casual restaurants? Movie theaters? Airplanes? What’s next? Making parents with children sit at the back of the bus?

  55. sfmaster says:

    I haven’t read all the comments but find them interesting. I have been frustrated when out with just my husband and a pretty fancy restaurant eating AT THE BAR to have kids there. They are well behaved but it isn’t appropriate. When we go out alone we often make choices about when and where to make sure we have an adult experience. And I think it is ok to want adults only time.

    That said it seems like our culture views kids as a “lifestyle choice”. Something one does purely to indulge one’s own desires. But I think we need to realize that there is no cure for cancer, spaceship to mars, highways built, taxes done, planes flown unless we have generations to follow us. We NEED children! And yes many could do better to teach them manners but children in our world are NOT OPTIONAL. There are lots of ways we should accommodate and support families that do have them.

  56. I am “one of those parents” I suppose. I often avoid taking my children to places especially when I know they would not settle down, but there are times when I have to go to the store and I have no other option. My kids are talked to all the time at home and school about being responsible and respectful but it doesn’t always sink in. When they start running around or throw a tantrum I quickly grab my last items and head to check out. Because if I were to discipline my child in the middle of the store I would also get dirty looks for that. My children are always better behaved for other people as well so I know we have taught them well. They just don’t do so for me. Although I am not a single parent I can emphasize with them. We do not know the situations that the parents are in so please be careful to judge when their kids are acting crazy. They are probably just as fed up as you! Now, I will not take my kids to a fancy resturaunt because I know it would not work, but I can’t afford to send someone to shop for me when my husband is away. I live in a city with no close relatives nearby. My only option is to pray they will heed my requests and be well-behaved.

    • Shannon says:

      I don’t think anyone should be banned from the store or avoid shopping if they don’t have child care! I’ve seen some parents acting worse than the children they are with at the store! I think you should go shopping whenever you need to – kids along or not!

  57. On the one hand, it would be nice if babysitting was available in more places because it could make certain experiences more enjoyable for all involved- even the kids! Grocery shopping was always like pulling teeth when I was a kid, and you bet that most days had I had the option of hanging out with a coloring book instead I would have taken it!

    But at the same time, children have to learn how to be discerning consumers, which they learn by watching and conversing with us. So I suppose that value would be determind by how things are going on a particular day.

    And as many people have mentioned here, some parents are just too disconnected from their children to realize that there are days where going out to eat or to the movies is just NOT a good idea! We all have bad days, and kids are no exception. I think we often expect unreasonable things from children- they cry when they’re upset and so do we. But who reprimands US for it? So ok, set some limits for the sake of the children whose parents dont seem to know any better.

    But I do think its a reflection of our views on child rearing. The prevelant idea is to “control your child.” But control is an illusion. Children are more than willing to behave and work with us when we work with them and respect them as human beings. I always see parents trying to control their child and all thats happening is everyone ends up aggitated. A woman in a store once screamed at her 5 (ish) year old “WHY CAN’T I CONTROL YOU?” I wanted to ask her why someone would allow her to have control over them when she obviously wasnt in control of herself!

  58. Shannon says:

    My daughters are 19 and 16 now and while I understand some of the new “rules” I don’t agree with all of them. Our local movie theater has now banned children 16 and under from any movies after a certain time of evening. I really enjoy that because my husband and I have been on a much-looked-forward-to date night and had some little child or baby being extremely distracting during a movie that is playing at 9:00 p.m.! I understand that some parents can’t always find a sitter and feel that they should be able to take their children anywhere, I really feel that parents of young children need to be respectful of others in the venues where they are going. Believe me, I was! I never took my girls to movies at 8:00 or 9:00 at night where adults might be on a date night!

  59. I wonder how people would feel if that same restaurant would say ‘no women allowed’. Our son is very well behaved in the restaurant. I think a ban is ridiculous, but the restaurant has every right to ask children to leave that are not behaving. I wish more restaurants would do that.

  60. Persecuted? I haven’t read the comments but I do think that anyone who considers this “persecution” doesn’t have any idea what persecution really is. I just think we want to be careful to keep things in perspective.

  61. I am absolutely on board with kid-free zones. I have a 4yo and 5.5yo – if the environment isn’t welcoming my kids, then I would rather know ahead of time.

    I’ve had pretty good luck taking my kids places, but I try to be careful and respectful of the establishment. Last week, we went to an art museum and it was a limited engagement. We went in, saw some things, then got the hell out.

  62. Wow. I don’t know how I feel about it because I haven’t been anywhere yet who would not allow me to bring my son with me. I assume if I know in advance that my son wouldn’t be welcome, I’d just choose not to patronize that business even without him. But if I went somewhere and was surprised at the door by their “no children” policy, I’d probably be mad and feel that their policy had wasted my time and energy.

  63. I think it has more to say about how parents have not trained their children to behave and do not handle outbursts appropriately.

  64. Our culture has shifted greatly to a parenting style that tolerates inappropriate behaviors from children. As I child I was expected to behave a certain way, especially when in public. My parents were often complimented on how well their children behaved in restaurants, stores, planes and other public areas.
    I have trained my children to do the same, and I am blessed often by the same compliments from store owners and strangers. Are my kids always perfect? No. They’re kids, and just like adults–we don’t always behave as we should.
    I do believe business owners have the right to make their own rules, especially when so many parents aren’t enforcing any rules with their own children.
    When parents take the responsibility to train and teach their children, we as a society will benefit, and children will be a welcome blessing to every one.

  65. @Susan Just to be clear, businesses don’t have the right to choose who they do business with. Would we feel differently if they choose to ban old people? That’s simply a ban based on age too.

    As annoying as kids can be (especially if I’M the one enjoying a kid-free date night) I can’t support a policy of discrimination against a certain group for any reason. Although I do think it’s a sad comment on us as parents that we are failing to help our kids understand what is “acceptable” at the restaurant, theater, etc. I feel there is no longer a common understanding of what IS acceptable and very likely, this is the problem.

  66. I am seeing a lot comments on here about bad parenting and parents losing control of their children. I do agree we see parents spoiling children and not setting boundaries. But what about children who act because they suffer autism spectrum disorders or Aspergers? Or ADHD? Honestly sometimes the best of children have meltdowns. My oldest is very laid back and had a massive meltdown in a restaurant (only time I can ever remember her doing it). We were not in a place where we could leave right away (we eventually did). While some customers might be annoyed, other generally feel bad for the parents…and are totally helpless in doing anything about it. To me, it make sense to have certain businesses cater to families, to adults, to children, etc.

  67. I think it’s a little unfair to lump Alamo Drafthouse with the other places in the blog post. The “no-kids policy” is actually a no Under-18 policy. In my opinion it’s a good thing because the Alamo is essentially a bar that shows movies in a hard partying college town. I’ve seen people watch Harry Potter, in the middle of the day, with a bucket full of Coronas in front of them and would never consider it an appropriate venue for kids.

    Also, have you seen their new cellphone advert? (Available on YouTube) They kicked someone (over 18) out for using her cellphone in the middle of the movie. They are hardcore about keeping it a pure movie watching experience 🙂

  68. First things first, I love you blog/s. Secondly, having lived in Austin and enjoyed the Alamo, I like that their policy is more about no one making noise/talking/texting, not just kiddos. In this sense, the bigger issue is what are people’s tolerance levels with disruptions and chaos in public? I agree with many of the other commenters, that its less about society being less child friendly and more about parents not having common sense and putting their kids into situations that are not child friendly to begin with, like late night movies and date night restaurants.

  69. As a parent of a 3 year old, I understand both sides. There were times I had to leave the grocery store with him screaming after I had to chase him down. I never ever thought I would have to deal with situations like that. And we do teach him manners. (He’s much better now at 3 than 2…) My husband and I appreciate our time alone in public, and agree in the no child zone. If we’re paying for a babysitter to take care of our little tike, to enjoy each other’s company….then we’d like it to be without children that draw attention to themselves due to negative behavior….which we completely can identify with.

  70. This sad state of affairs is a result of the fact that many parents don’t/won’t teach their children basic manners. Yes, we have to be understanding and realistic about what we can expect from our kids. The other side of that is that we, as parents, need to know our own kids and not place them in situations where they cannot behave appropriately. We expect all others to accept poor behavior by our children. If your child is too young to make it through an entire afternoon out and then dinner, then plan accordingly and avoid the problem.

  71. Julie Andreen says:

    People who don’t mind their manners while using a cellphone bother me FAR more than kids do (i.e, talking too loudly, driving poorly while using it, using it in a theater or restaurant, etc.) Yes, we need to have certain expectations of kids, but in the end, they are still just KIDS, so I’m more willing to forgive most of the things they do. Adults are supposed to know better!

  72. Jennifer says:

    I think these bans are the obvious next step in the culture of death that has a strong hold in America. I strongly disapprove. On the other hand, it is only logical that children should not be in a bar; they should not be out late at night. They need to be home in bed.
    What I dread most, is taking my children on airplanes. I dread the comments of people telling me my children are annoying. They have sensory processing disorder and I do the best I can but I can’t make them be perfect. They will make noise. It’s not loud but someone usually finds it annoying.

  73. Suzanne Kriefall says:

    The trend should be going in the opposite direction : more restaurants designed for families with small children, day care provided while shopping, etc. When my family visited the UK (two small children in tow), we were delighted to find a pizza restaurant with both an indoor and outdoor play area for the kids while we sat at the table. The whole time we were wishing that there was a restaurant like this available to us in the U.S. — other than McDonald’s. Its a very simple concept. There are plenty of fancy, grown-up restaurants and we already get the idea that they are not for kids, so there is no need to impose a “ban.” What we need are more kid-friendly restraunts with good food and play areas.

  74. Hi Tsh! I did a post about this same issue last week when I heard about the PA restaurant. I totally “get” why it might be good to place some limitations… I think what disturbed me most was the commenting and the attitudes I saw in articles (not necessarily here on your post but other places) and on talk shows. Almost like kids are disgusting annoyances that keep us from the rest of us from enjoying life. There was no sense that we could bear with one another and walk a mile in someone else’s shoes… for instance, maybe the mom & dad with the crying baby can’t afford a sitter and this is the first time the new mom has been able to leave the house. She tried to time it just right according to Junior’s schedule but… alas. Maybe we could look at her and smile and say “hey, it gets better” and be a little less selfish about our own date time. I don’t know. I understand wanting a peaceful dinner out and I get frustrated by unruly kids too. But, I’m just not sure I want to live in a cultural where children are seen and not heard; or limited to McDonald’s. They bring important stuff to our culture’s social fabric too. I like seeing whole families out together experiencing life. Here’s my post, if anyone is interested: http://inamirrordimly.net/2011/07/dinner-gone-wrong/. I’m a few days late commenting… so, maybe I’m too late to contribute on this one!

  75. I am so on the fence about this topic. When we get a rare moment to go out without our kids it is bothersome to be around people who can’t/won’t control their own. However, we also have a child with autism and if we waited for him to have a good day we would never go anywhere. The person was right who said we can’t teach them how to behave if they aren’t given the opportunity to try.

    What I am really shocked about is the number of people who take their children to Las Vegas. My husband and I took a trip for our anniversary and thought we’d pick somewhere we’d never take the kids that was adult-oriented so we wouldn’t be around too many children. Um, wrong. We were SHOCKED at the number of children in Vegas. Babies being worn on their parents, toddlers in strollers, all hours of the day. Not only is it unfair to the child to be dragged around at midnight when it’s still 95 degrees outside, but there are so many things there that children don’t need to be around, like scantily clad women, drunks, ads for prostitution, etc. I find it so selfish on the part of the parents and feel so very sad for the children. Not sure what has happened to common sense.

  76. Donna Tollefsen says:

    I am the mother of a 7 year old.Personally I feel it is absolutely frightening that it has come to this. Seriously from day one if we brought my daughter somewhere and she started to fuss – ONE OF US WALKED OUT OF THE EVENT. Yes I ate cold meals at restaurants because what we thought would work didn’t and we ended up eating in shifts. Once she was old enough items were given back because she didn’t say thank you – we left parties because she was disrespectful. Other parents have commented we are too strict but you know what we have also received tons of compliments. I feel bad that she is missing out on so much because of the all the other parents that just don’t get it.

  77. Julie Andreen says:

    I think the expectations that people put on children and parents are completely unreasonable. Obviously, many of the people on this board don’t have kids (or have simply forgotten what it is like to have them). To expect that parents should basically stay home for the first six 0r seven years of a child’s life is laughable. Children are children; no matter how well-behaved they are and how wonderful their parents are, they all have their “moments.” It makes me incredibly sad that so many people have become so self-centered and intolerant toward the youngest members of society.

  78. Kid Free Zones? I think it’s a very bad idea. However, I think that a certain degree of good behaviour can be expected if it’s reasonable, to protect property from unruly kids.

  79. The family practice we go to has an “adult only” waiting room that is separated from the regular waiting area by a wall with a aquarium in the middle (you can see between areas). On a recent visit a couple (both late forty-ish) in the “adult” area started kissing, then full on making out including having the woman jump on the man’s lap! I don’t know if they thought they were alone and couldn’t be seen in the other room through the aquarium, misinterpreted the “adult” only wording, or were just plain crazy but their behavior far surpassed any kid shenanigans I’ve ever seen. In the end a nurse had to step in and break them up. Sadly there are many adults out there still working on behaving appropriately in public.

  80. I live far from family and on a tight budget. Therefore, I can’t afford a babysitter frequently and don’t have free help. If I want to go somewhere, I have to bring my kids with me. My oldest is very shy and a babysitting service in the store would be traumatic for her. I expect my kids to be well-behaved and discipline them accordingly when they are not. I find it extremely offensive and honestly would never give a company my business that didn’t allow my children. Once saw a sign in a coffee shop that said, “screaming children will be given sugar and a small puppy.” I was on a date with my husband and didn’t have my children with me, but I’ll never be back to that place again.

  81. i think you pareants are being the selfish ones.

    you have all the rights. you have more tax breaks, and benifts at work then i do. you take you bratts anywhere you want. etc..
    you are being selfish saying i cant have a few areas kid and bratt free.

  82. I’d never patronize a business that made me feel unwelcome. That said, I don’t take my kids to places where I want to enjoy kid-free time!

  83. I for one am delighted to be able to be in a “kid-free zone”. It’s not that I hate kids, but I hate the way some parents allow thier kids to scream, cry, disrespect them ( the parents) and generally do as they wish. I ate lunch in a Johnny Rockettes restaurant several weeks ago, and their was some kind of kid’s party going on. The noise was so deafening I couldn’t hear myself think. When people in public cannot keep thier boring cell phone conversations to themselves, how can we expect them to know that we dont just love listening to all the screaming and tantrums that thier children subject the general public to?

  84. I have absolutely no problem with this. Businesses have the right to refuse service to anyone at any time for no good reason. I think some venues aren’t appropriate for children. A high end restaurant is one of them. If I spend $100 on a meal (which I only do once a decade) then I likely have left the kids at home and want a quite night out with my husband. The last thing I want is some screaming, whiney kid disturbing the atmosphere. Why is that wrong? I do think it is stupid for some places to ban kids of families are their bread and butter, but they won’t be in business for long and we won’t have to worry about them. By the way, I have 3 really well behaved kids that I wouldn’t hesitate to snatch out of their seats for a trip to the bathroom if they were disturbing other people’s meals or entertainment. Nor would I hesitate taking them home if I couldn’t’ control the situation. We used to take our kids as babies to movies in a stroller. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t. One of us would have to wait out in the hall if it wasn’t going to work. What I would prefer is for business to have the full backing of law and society to kick out those who are disruptive, for whatever reason. Just two weeks ago I was at DQ. We were with our friends who also have a child, and we ran into another set of friends with their children. Total there were 6 children sitting together at their own table and us right next to them. They were being very good, talking quietly and enjoying their ice cream. A woman and her two children walked in and sat behind our kids. Her boy, who was about 7 started crying and screaming. He was having a fit because his candy bar had melted in the car. Mom had a cup of ice and was trying to cool it off (remember we are at DQ). The mom completely ignores this kid and his raging temper tantrum and calls the dad. She tells the boy, “don’t worry, Daddy is on his way and he is going to fix it.” I started to think, ok this boy is going to get it when Dad gets her, but no, he was going to bring him another candy bar!!!!!!!!!!! What the heck is wrong with people.

  85. I really don’t think it has to do whether a child is well behaved or not. We are all mothers and how little angels have not been so in an occasion or so. It has to do with our society as a whole. We do not want to be bothered, we do not want to help each other nor do we want to understand where the other is coming from. We have become self interested in just about everything. And before I get a comment, I am over generalizing and I do understand that there are people that are different.
    I will not eat a restaurant where my child is not welcomed, I will not travel on an airline that does not allow children no matter what class. I have the same right to choose as everyone else and I plan to do it with my money.
    We have banned smokers, pets, next children, what else is coming down the pipeline? Where will it end? I am offended by it. I agree that I might be irrational about the whole subject … but you shouldn’t mess with my kid.

  86. Personally I’m very happy to have the option of child-care (as in IKEA Smaland) but on the whole I think people should be more tolerant of parents and children in communal spaces. I lived in Spain for two years, children stayed up later and ate meals with their parents and grandparents in restaurants and no one batted an eyelid. Children were allowed to play around the table and express themselves and it made for a nice friendly atmosphere everywhere you went: there wasn’t an artificial distinction between child-friendly restaurants (over-priced, themed, boring/junk food) and adult only restaurants (stiff and formal). I live in the UK now, but I used to live in California and it was the same: disapproval and tutting if your child was felt to be out of place, however well behaved. I didn’t take my babies to bars! If a restaurant banned kids, I wouldn’t go there ever again……

  87. What a crazy concept banning kids from normal everyday places but people can always show how they feel with their wallets. I wouldn’t shop at a store that banned kids. I do understand that sometimes kids can get out of hand and that would bother any shop keeper, but it is a tricky line to cross! Parents do need to mind their kids and people on the whole need to be understanding and remember we were all kids once!

  88. My husband and I went out to eat with our 2 year old and although he was quite wiggly it was the college kids and adults next to us that were SO loud I wanted to leave. I tend to notice obnoxious, loud adults more than kids. Maybe we should ban them too?! I believe there are places that are appropriate and not for children, but perhaps it is going a bit far.

  89. heather gunsch says:

    As a single, kid free adult who works with kids daily i think its a great idea to have adult spaces where appropriate; esp in fancy dining, first class, movies. What i wonder though is are we missing the picture on why kids have to be restricted? Instead of blaming the kids we should take a look at who is raising them and how. It used to be a rare occ. to see an outburst or bad behaviour but within the last few decades it is common place. Just an opinion and observation from my part of the world.

  90. Personally, I think kid-free zones are a great idea.

    I love kids, and I’ve raised one for the last 20 years. But I don’t appreciate it when I go to dinner or a movie, or even when I’m shopping, and there’s a kid throwing a screaming, kicking tantrum and the parents aren’t doing anything about it. Why should I be subjected to that kind of behavior?

    Not long ago I was in an Applebee’s where a child was throwing a fit and other patrons were looking at the parents to do something about it, and the mom actually said, “You can just throw a fit! Get it out of your system!” The right thing would have been to take the child to the restroom or even outside and address the issue, but apparently she didn’t get it. It was as though she thought she was at home in her family room, rather than in a restaurant with 50 other people who shouldn’t have been subjected to her kid’s bad behavior.

    I don’t think it’s that we as a society are less tolerant of kids. I believe people let their kids get away with bad behavior more now than in the past. I also believe that people feel entitled. “I paid to get into this movie, and I’m going to watch it even though my child is screaming her head off and disrupting the experience for everyone else.” It’s a me-me-me world, unfortunately, and everyone’s looking out for him or herself. Sadly, they’re not all that concerned with how YOU feel.

  91. I have two small kids- 3 1/2 and 1 1/2. We go to family friendly places. I agree with everyone above. When and if I do get a date night, I do not want to hear a screaming baby or obnoxious kid. I support there being adult only places. My husband and I strategically planned a date morning so we could go see the new Harry Potter movie together (we’re huge fans). I got a babysitter. Yep, there was a baby in the theater. I was really torn. It was the 11am showing, so kids are more expected but I paid good money for that ticket and every time the kid cooed and made noises I got distracted from the movie. I sort of consider babies at the movie like texting or phones ringing.

  92. I find the idea of complete banning of children from a public place to be in bad taste. Replace children with the words women, old people, gay and lesbian people, and you would have a protest brewing. The saying in this country says “Children should be seen and not heard,” but it is as if now children should not be seen either?

    That said, I think having certain times where it is adults only or childcare available is totally different.

  93. Dennis & VIcky Rathbourn says:

    Having raised two girls myself and my wife three of her own before we got married, I can truthfully say that there comes a time in ones life when screaming kids are just not enjoyed let alone tolerated. I blame their parents mostly and am glad to see there are others like us that would enjoy a night out at a restaurant or a plane trip without listening to and having to put up with unruly children. I’ve even seen kids running around in church during Mass like little Indians and the parents think nothing of it. It’s time to bring back discipline, in the home, at school, and everywhere parents take their little monsters in public. Then spank the parents!

  94. I have two kids, but I am absolutely supportive of this idea! Why? Because parents are not addressing their children’s bad behavior. Instead, they ignore it while those around them suffer. When ever my children acted up, started getting loud, or even crying, I took them outside and made it clear to them we would not return until they settled down. Guess how many times that happened? I can count on one hand.

    If you set the ground rules and let them know there are consequences, they behave. For some reason, our society has become too tolerant (or too tired) to deal with our kid’s behavior. We seem to think it is okay to let our child “cry it out” in the middle of a restaurant, or test the limits of their screaming range, or kick a chair (or airplane seat) incessantly.

    It is about respect for those around you, something that seems lost in our society. I would no more let my kid “carry on” in the middle of any restaurant or store, than I would have an argument, or talk on the phone. It is just plain rude and we are passing these disrespectful behaviors onto our children.

    I just wish they would post signs “Your kid is welcome as long as they behave!”

  95. My thoughts are this: just because a certain kind of human (young, old, big, little, black, white, unshowered, without a home, gay, straight, trans, mentally unstable… the list goes on….) isn’t the kind of human you want around at that time, it is pretty much your problem to deal with that, not the person(s) that you don’t want around. Sure, I prefer that children are quiet on airplanes and in restaurants. I prefer not to sit next to a bigger person on an airplane who makes me crowded. I prefer people to smell a certain way and I am more comfortable when they look a certain way (dressed in clothes similar to mine, for instance). But we live in a world with all sorts of people, including children who should not, developmentally speaking, be expected to behave like little adults. I certainly prefer that parents do their best to help children learn to respect those around them. And I prefer that when children are highly disruptive that parents choose to keep them in a more suitable environment for their needs. But ultimately, I don’t really blame parents or children for this and certainly do not think they should be banned. I think, as a society, we need to learn how to be more children-friendly and thus more mother (and often father) friendly. To me it raises questions about how we can create environments and spaces where children’s needs and tendencies are honored and taken into account, while also doing our best to find ways to make everyone’s experience one of comfort and welcome. It is, as with so many things, a balance. Thanks for this article and all the comments. Good to read and think about.

  96. I think it should be about behaviour and not age. My kids have learned to behave in certain situations because we’ve brought them to restaurants, movies etc. If they were banned from those experiences they wouldn’t have had the opportunity to learn. My kids aren’t always perfect and so I’ve had to take a trip to the van with one for a time out while my husband stays with the other.

    The thing about “Kid-friendly movies” is that that often means less expectations for behaviour. If my kids can sit quietly through a whole movie, I don’t see why they should have to tolerate poor behaviour from other kids anymore than an adult should. There should be expectations for conduct — regardless of age.

    Years ago I went to see one of the Matrix movies with my husband and someone had a child there who was around 4 or 5. I couldn’t enjoy the movie at all (and not because of that child’s poor behaviour), but because the child was clearly scared. I felt horrible for the kid the whole time and wished I could have offered to sit with him out in the lobby…

    Like pps I think it’s an issue of parenting. Some parents make poor choices and/or don’t deal with their child’s behaviour at all.

  97. I don’t feel they are banning children, just parents who don’t know how to or refuse to teach them self control. No reason to feel persecuted. A business owner has the right to refuse business to anyone. I can choose to go elsewhere. That’s the beauty of freedom.

  98. Well, I have only one kid but I think I like to respect adults and their space in places like Starbucks. I don’t think it’s my right to have my kid make a mess out of things or screaming so I don’t go during times when adults are studying or want to enjoy their coffee so I go during off hours. So I’ll go early to a restaurant for lunch or later. I never had an issue in Austin but back in Vancouver, I got yelled at a lot because my child yelled out once in a restaurant that had only one other table besides ours. So I didn’t appreciate that. I like that in other countries, people are very welcoming of kids but there are plenty of adult only places like bars and such so I’m not sure why our society doesn’t accept kids. Is it because of the parenting?

  99. My daughter is almost of the age past misbehaving in public, not that she did that much before. But I am appalled by the intolerance and self-centeredness I’m seeing in this child-banning trend, from consumers who need everything to be perfect. That’s called OCD and is treatable by therapy and medication. Fortunately our daughter was always well-behaved, but while it has been irritating to be on a plane with screaming kids, I never would have dreamed of asking that family not to fly. I mostly blocked it out, or tried to offer reassurance to the beside-themselves parents that we understood, or just felt sorry for them. There’s nothing they can do sometimes.

    I expect a parent with a screaming kid in a restaurant to take them out for a few minutes to calm them down, but I don’t expect them to leave altogether unless they can’t calm them down at all, and I certainly don’t expect them to not try again another day.

    As far as airlines, we go through scans, pokes, prods, and multiple irritations to fly, that’s just expected. And it’s expensive for everyone. Get over it. If you expect a hassle-free flight then you shouldn’t fly, even on first class. And never mind the miracle that we’re in a long metal tube going a zillion miles an hour above the clouds a mile above the planet. Just go right on ahead obsessing about a kiddie temper tantrum. It seems to me that people who get so upset they demand all kids everywhere to be banned, will find something to be unhappy about, period. If it weren’t the kids, their flight, or their perfect experience would be ruined by something else, by someone not speaking to them with the proper deference, or the flight attendant not coming quick enough, or their pretzels being too salty.

    My point is that I often find that the people who vehemently want to ban kids are more poorly behaved and rude than the kids I see. I guess that comes with the entitled attitude. Everyone may not be a parent, but everyone was once a kid, so I think this kind of attitude, and the notion that banning kids is appropriate is also disrespectful of their own parents, who had to raise them.

    Personally, regardless of whether my husband or I are traveling or eating or shopping childless, I will boycott anyplace that bans kids where they should not be banned. I understand a ban in a seriously upscale restaurant at like $50 a plate, but most of these places? Boycott. Vote with your wallet. The DINKs want to exert influence on businesses to ban kids, then influence back if you are a parent with children of any age, even adult children. There are still a lot more of us, and we have the benefit of ferocity when it comes to protecting the world we want our kids to inherit.

  100. I have no kids, The other day out with the girls we went to stop and eat. the screaming kid behind us was really loud. really loud. but it’s not the kids fault no it’s the parents, they were laughing and allowing him to do that. it was hugely annoying. rather ear peircing as well. Grant you i wish they would of removed the kid. I looked at the mom and gave her a look like please my ears are killing me.. then she bacame a parent they distracted the child long enought to get his attention back into their booth.

    If we remove our kids from places where we don’t want them how will they learn early on. it reminds me of my mom. one who never really followed through on me being grounded. never made me clean my room etc…
    now as an adult i find it next to impossible to build better household managment because my mom did it for me.. Guess who has a maid!!!

    i’m sorry. But banning children crying or not seems a bit harsh. i do get the appeal of having a nice quite evening out. but just as much you can move your seat or go else where. as an adult you have that choice.
    I find screaming kids more so the parents fault then the kids faults kids will only go as far as you let them .
    i have a god child who well is a little brat. When he is out with me he acts fine he knows his limits with me because i’m the sitter who will remove myself if he acts up. as an adult i know my limits and I can tell if someone is bothered by me or my company.

    i feel if you want to nip this in the butt. Then be a better parent. use disipline and your kids will not act out. but its hard to apply that for the first time when they are lets say 4…
    it needs to be done from day one.
    I think that rule is catering to our lack of abblity to control what we bring into this world. anything else to make us a more selfishsly aimed country .. anyone!
    what a joke!

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