The Parent Police Proclaim: "No Kids Allowed"

by Samantha on July 16, 2011

Backlash or hogwash?

It depends who you ask.

A recent decision by Malaysia Air to ban babies from first class caused quite the uproar amongst family advocates everywhere. After all, is it fair that those who choose to procreate be relegated to the equivalent of “steerage” when traveling by air? Perhaps a tad sensitive because of this announcement, parents this past week went into overdrive upon hearing about a Pennsylvania restaurant’s decision to ban all children under six from passing through its doors. The reason? The apparent disruption and contribution to an unpleasant eating experience for other patrons.

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Okay, as a parent, I’m torn. I understand why people may want to get out for an afternoon or evening in a restaurant without having to worry about the meltdown going on at the next table. Who wants to listen to screaming or whining kids? On the other hand, we were all children once and having been through the rigors of parenting, heaven knows we moms and dads sometimes need a break, whether it comes from handing off the kids to the babysitter or from cooking lunch or dinner.

Kids throw tantrums. Kids melt down. Kids scream and cry. And parents are responsible for addressing each of these behaviors appropriately, whether or not they are inside their home or in a public place, like a restaurant. We’ve all seen kids running amok with their parents blissfully ignoring the mayhem that their children are causing, just so that they can continue on doing whatever they are doing, dare I say, selfishly. And as far as I am concerned it is a much greater reflection on the parents than on the children when the proverbial sky seems to be falling, in public, no less, and the parents do absolutely nothing about it.

I wrote about tips for dining out with small children in an effort to provide some realistic tactics for my fellow parents who are in the trenches and wanting an opportunity to get out, perhaps to a restaurant. Diversion tactics, a game plan and a clear view of the front entrance are just some of the tried and true strategies of making it from the appetizer to dessert without annoying other diners. Yet, even if these suggestions are followed, it appears that there is a large group of folks that don’t want kids there, regardless of what efforts are made to keep them quiet. Between the Malaysia Air decision and the Pennsylvania restaurant edict, one may start to think that children are no longer in vogue.

Where is this backlash coming from, and is there more to come along the same lines?

I discussed this particular topic on CBC Radio’s afternoon program, Here and Now, and have attached a link to the discussion below.

So what do you think? Is there a war on kids that’s starting to brew? Or is the news coverage on these two items “much ado about nothing?” How do you feel about kids in restaurants and airplanes? Yay or nay?
I look forward to your feedback.

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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

RoryBore July 16, 2011 at 3:40 am

I am finding that there IS most definitely a backlash against children these days. I don't know if it stems solely from those who have experienced a loud, disruptive, chaotic gaggle of kids with unattentive and no-discipline parents…..or if it's just a general backlash. But I am certainly very aware that there is just no tolerance from some people with regards to the things children - no matter where they be - can get up to. A return to the old saying "seen and not heard"? It bothers me that those who should be our most precious resource for the future, are being treated as a bothersome burden. Children are gifts; blessings. And they deserve unconditional love - in fact - they absolutely require it to grow. What kind of message does this send them? You are not wanted. It's selfish and hurtful. And believe me….they are not too young that they won't get that. Every child deserves to know that they are wanted, loved, and cherished. Whether they managed to sit quietly in their seat, or not.


Grumpy Grateful Mom July 16, 2011 at 4:23 am

I think the is such an interesting discussion. I'm OK with a restaurant banning children. If the restaurant doesn't want or cater to kids I really don't want to be there. We've had good and bad restaurant experiences. With four little ones, I do the best I can.

But, I do also get frustrated when people complain of having to deal with children in other unavoidable places, like on a plane, for instance. Of course, I would rather not have my kids on a flight, but sometimes it has to happen. Like you mentioned, there are some moms who don't pay attention to their disruptive kids, but I think they're in the minority.

At least those people without kids can be grateful they don't have to take the kids home.:)


Samantha July 16, 2011 at 11:35 am

Thanks for your comment, Leslie. So well said! I think many people forget that they were children once also, and that they likely had moments where they were not on their best behavior. Your observation that we are sending the wrong messages to kids is one that we should all consider before cavalierly deciding that the smaller set should be banned from various establishments. As I said on the radio program, it is more a reflection on the parents when the kids are not being reined in, or the parents are allowing it to continue to the detriment of others' eating experiences. It's not about the kids really, it's how they are being taught - or not.
Thanks for commenting.


Samantha July 16, 2011 at 11:41 am

@Grumpy Grateful Mom Interestingly many people agree with bans on kids in restaurants, and I'm sure many of the people who agreed have kids themselves. I think it's because we all want a stress-free eating experience without kids going crazy at the next table, ruining the moment for you who may have paid for a babysitter just so that you could get away from the screaming and chaos for a few short moments. IN these cases I'll maintain that it's the parent's responsibility to keep the kids under control and if the kids are uncontrollable, then the family should leave. The problem arises when parents don't do their jobs in reining in the kids and everyone else suffers.
Thanks for commenting!


pregnantandbeautiful July 16, 2011 at 4:00 pm

I don't agree with a ban on children in restaurants, however, I do believe that if the children are constantly unruly and their parents do nothing they can be asked to leave.

I used to work at a very small clothing store where many children would come in and their parents would do nothing. I'm not sure if it's because most of the parents of the small children were very young or not but these kids would scream, tear things off the shelves, and play in the racks. In fact, we even had parents that would ask if we would watch their children for them while they shopped! Um, no. I love kids, I'm pregnant with my first right now but I used to baby sit and even took the twins I watched to the movies by myself because they were good kids. However, these parents didn't know me so I was not watching their kids. Even good kids have their moments though. We used to joke there that we wanted our no pet policy to extend to small children, but instead they were treated like everyone else. "You break it, you buy it." "Excuse me but you're causing other shoppers to leave because of the noise level." Etc. (That one actually got told to teenagers most). How are our children suppose to learn how to behave in different social settings if we don't take them?

Let someone tell me I can't take my darling daughter out in public with me, and then they'll see backlash.


Cathy July 16, 2011 at 6:48 pm

I agree with an establishment banning children from restaurants. It's okay - but that doesn't mean I have to support the business either. But I would. There is something to be said for a quiet environment.


Holly Ann July 17, 2011 at 2:07 am

I have to say that I think the ban on kids in a restaurant is just bizarre to me. Not necessarily offensive - just strange. Here's why - I know LOTS of restaurants I would never, ever take my kids to because they are obviously not kid-friendly (e.g. very expensive high-end places, places that serve a lot of alcohol like pubs, places with no highchairs, etc.) My point is that calling for a ban on kids in a restaurant just seems like a big publicity stunt. You don't have to tell me kids are "banned" from your eating establishment for me to know they're not really welcome there. That's just an insult to my common sense.

Now as for the plane, that's a different story because planes are often absolutely necessary for family travel. But I've already shared my feelings on that with you via facebook. :)


By Word of Mouth Musings July 17, 2011 at 2:17 pm

I would say the general tone these days and in these comments, is not so much directed at the children, but more towards the parents. I am comfortable taking my kids anywhere now, but they are 9 and 13. When they were two and wanted to walk all around the restaurant for the entire time we were there- it was not so much fun for us since we didn't get to actually eat together (since one of us was walking around with the child) and we started the habit of going out for breakfast or brunch and keeping dinners to the two of us for a while.
But the lack of parenting, or follow thro and empty threats that you see daily … the behaviour we are witnessing … that is the fault of so many parents.
I wrote a post last Monday, called 'Why I don't like your kids' actually ;)
(I like some!)


Samantha July 17, 2011 at 2:36 pm

@pregnantandbeautifulWow - that's pretty nervy asking you to watch their kids while they shop!! What were they thinking? That it was a concierge/nanny service as WELL as a retail store? Yikes! Agreed that it is the parent's responsibility to watch their kids and they really should just leave if their children are misbehaving. Unfortunately too many parents don't follow this common sense rule and we all suffer as a result of it.
Thanks for your comment :)


Samantha July 17, 2011 at 2:38 pm

Hi Cathy,

As I've mentioned, I think that the ban on kids is because there are some parents who will not keep their children under control while out in public. I'm not sure that banning them outright is the right message; perhaps there should be a larger discussion to some of the misguided parents of unruly kids about what is appropriate and what isn't in public places. Though I have a feeling that they likely wouldn't listen.

Thanks for commenting!


RoryBore July 21, 2011 at 4:49 am

This so intrigued me that I also did a post on my blog

I would worry, that in the most extreme scenario, it would be akin to segregation. And I can think of many other habits we've developed in this modern world that annoy me far more than some rowdy kids.

Perhaps every establishment should just post that sign that says "unattended children will be given an expresso and small puppy." LOL


Samantha July 21, 2011 at 8:25 pm

Interesting point about segregation. I never really thought about it from that point of view but you never know how far this can be taken.

Great post on your blog, BTW :)


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