Monday, July 11, 2011

Kids in Restaurants

McDain's restaurant in Pennsylvania is banning children under six.  You can read the full story here and see a Youtube video from an angry parent here

I think it's a great idea and I applaud the restaurant manager for doing it.  I hope more restaurants follow suit.

I can see both sides of the argument.  In these tough economic times, babysitters are expensive.  If money is an issue, I suggest parents cook a nice meal at home.


Restaurants are public places.  Actually no, they are private property and it is completely legal for them to establish rules.  Most people forget that it wasn't that long ago that many restaurants had dress codes.  Some still do.  This particular restaurant is like a country club, situated at a golf course.


Kids will be kids.  Yes they will, which is why it is inappropriate to insert them into every aspect of society.  Your baby may wail when tired or cranky.  I shouldn't have to listen to it while I'm enjoying a steak and a glass of wine.  Take the child to a kid-friendly restaurant or hire a babysitter.

Kids can't sit still.  Yes they can.  Parents can teach table behavior as soon as kids are sitting up in a highchair and eating cheerios.  Do these kids run around at mealtime at home?  Parents are completely responsible for training kids how to behave in restaurants and I have no patience with parents who shirk this responsibility.

Now if we could only ban the under-six crowd from ballet and musical performances.

I have pretty strong opinions on this, but I'm eager to hear your viewpoint as well.  And yes, my kids have always behaved perfectly in restaurants.  I don't think they realize that they even push in their chairs when they leave a table - something they don't always do at home.

12 people stopped folding laundry to write:

Branlaadee said...

I cant tell you how many times I wished the restaurant I was at banned children...and I have 3 kids!

You know where else young kids should be banned from? Movies. Not G or PG movies, but above that. I have had parents ruin R rated movies for me because they wouldnt leave the theater when there baby started fussing. Rude!

Goddess in Progress said...

I totally think the restaurant owners were within their rights, but I'm sorry it had to come to that. And yes, I blame parents.

I take my preschoolers out to eat at least once a week, and have since they were very young toddlers. On the whole, they are incredibly well-behaved and quiet, and we have frequently been complimented by servers and other diners.

BUT.

We go to family-friendly restaurants. We go at appropriate times of day (i.e. almost always lunch, or a pretty early dinner). We have practiced and coached restaurant-appropriate behavior for YEARS. We do not tolerate loud voices, climbing on benches, getting out of their seats, and the like.

It's so frustrating. I know I am lucky and have pretty mellow kids, and some kids are simply wilder than others. But as the parent, it is YOUR JOB to know your kids, teach (and insist on/enforce) appropriate behaviors, and make the right choices for your kids. If you know they're bonkers, or it's in the middle of naptime, DO NOT take them anywhere but the drive-thru until they can handle it.

OK, I could really start ranting, but I think I'll stop here.

Lily Boot said...

totally in agreement!!!! We were at a beautiful and expensive french restaurant the other night and across from us was a couple with a boy of about 4 years old. He ran around, did failed handstands and cartwheels in the space between his table and the next (almost kicking a waiter with plates of food on one occasion), shouted to his parents to watch me! watch me! and was loud, disruptive and chaotic all evening. It was terrible! We tried to simply turn our backs and ignore him but we honestly felt edgy every time he leapt about the place, waiting for crashes and falls. His parents were appalling rude and inconsiderate to let their child behave like this - they simply sat there with smirks on their faces, encouraging him all the way. My daughter (now 13) has also been visiting restaurants since she was a couple of weeks old - and I can honestly say, has never been disruptive because we have always taught and expected good behaviour and manners - restaurant behaviour, which frankly, is only a slightly more formal extension of what we expect at the home dinner table. When she was a baby, if she became fussy, we left. And I so agree with the reader above who suggests bannning young children from any film above a PG - picture this, Lord of the Rings and a family with toddlers and young primary school children - all crying and distressed and running about. Hopeless!

Anonymous said...

I think it is perfectly acceptable for some places to ban children under a certain age. I work in a restaurant and there are many well behaved children. It's a family-friendly establishment and I enjoy the children that come in. Most of the time, anyway. We once had a party of eleven come in. A little boy, about four years old, was running around without shoes, behind the server line, and nearly into the kitchen! The only person who took notice was an eleven year old! Another family who no longer comes in had a child that was constantly screaming, jumping, and running around. I don't understand it. It shouldn't be an age restriction, it should be a manner restriction! If you're not able to sit in your seat and eat in an acceptable manner you shouldn't go to a place where you'll disturb others. I don't have kids, but my niece and nephew often stay with me (they live out of state) and they know what is acceptable and that we won't go places if they don't behave. They know many things are priveleges and if they misbehave at any time they'll have things taken away.

Karen said...

I have to agree with you totally. Too often it does start at home and kids aren't necessarily taught at an early age how to behave. I know my mom and dad had no problem discipline us so that knew how to act.

Cheryl Lage said...

AMEN. AMEN. AMEN. In the double stroller days, it was Food Courts only while we established the expectations...that way, we could wheel 'em out immediately if they were going awry. Since then, we've taken our kids to family restaurants regularly since they were 11 months (and with twins, we truly felt it needed to be VERY well-established and practiced behavior). Once, at age 3 when we were standing in line waiting to be seated, a mild outburst and we WALKED. They LOVE eating out and know we'll leave in a red hot minute (same for performances, church, etc.) if they cross the well-defined lines.

Restauranteurs are business folks. If you can ban smokers for their behavior, you can ban children (or adults for that matter) for theirs.

THANK YOU for a brave post...and I will back you 100%! :)

owlfan said...

I think it's sad that they need to ban kids. Much better if the parents can control their kids. My older son was not always well behaved in restaurants - thus there was a period from about 16 months to 2 years old where we basically did not go out to eat. Even after that, we chose family friendly places and went early and well prepared with something to occupy him and the willingness to take him out as needed.

Tami said...

Agree completely. I had two kids 18 months apart and even though I think they fell at the well-behaved end of the spectrum, they were a handful in a restaurant

Small children just don't have the attention span for fine dining. At home they aren't required to sit at the table until the food is ready to eat. Expecting them to behave like adults during the entire ordering, drinks, waiting period is unrealistic. Expecting other patrons to put up with your child's restlessness with a "kids will be kids" attitude is even more unrealistic.

If I want an evening with kids, I'll take my grandsons to Burger King or Chucky Cheese. If I want a quiet meal with my husband, I leave them at home and would appreciate if others did the same. Hooray for the restaurant that took a stand!

Becca said...

I guess I would have to agree with it. While I love little kids, I don't love them kicking my airplane seat, talking during movies, and screaming during dinner. But, I don't think there is an age cut-off. Some 4 year olds behave better than some 12 year olds. Maybe restaurants could have stricter policies about kicking out unruly kids.

Jennifer said...

I live near this restaurant in PA and I am happy with the new rule. I have kids and love my kids to go out to eat with us (although it doesn't happen often) but they know what is expected of them. I am curious as to if more restaurants employ this rule. When our kids are not with us, I want to be able to enjoy the 'quieter' time with my husband.

Patty said...

Where is the LOVE button?! I so agree with you.

Virginia said...

I think it's unfortunate. It seems like this restaurant has been a place where people felt welcome with their kids, and now they're not. That never feels good.

You know, I still hold a grudge against the writer Michael Lewis for an article he wrote in Gourmet Magazine over 10 years ago about bringing his 4-year-old to Masa, a fancy restaurant in San Francisco. What a jerk. But there are some restaurants where you go *because* you can bring your kids there, places you wouldn't waste a babysitter on, and from the video, McDain's looks to have been one of those places. So if I'd been in the habit of bringing my kids there and was suddenly told never to bring them there again, I'd never go back.

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