As I prepare to take my kids out to lunch with my aunt and uncle and cousins, I have noticed the internet seems very chattery about the place of children in public, particularly in eating establishments. Disney's Victoria and Albert's has decided to ban children to much applause from folks who do not have children. An English pub chain is limiting parent drinks- alcoholic or otherwise- to limit the time children are in the facility. Where is it appropriate to bring children? How does one teach a child how to behave in public if they are not welcome in public?
I will admit these seem to me to be two different issues. Disney World is a park designed for children, and marketed to adults for childhood nostalgia. It seems a perfect opportunity to help train children how to behave in an upscale environment (after all, if you don't want kids, there is a whole section of DisneyWorld reserved for adults only). English pubs, from what I remember of being in them, are a bit different. Many are more like local bars, others are more comparable to an American Ruby Tuesday or Outback Steakhouse; where it is a restaurant with a bar area.
But the sticky issue is really what to do about children in public, and the various parenting styles we may not agree with. I certainly don't let my kids run wild through restaurants, but they do stand and wiggle, and I remember as a young child going on "adventures" where my brother and I would wander around the room and look at things like fish tanks, wall decorations, and cozy corners behind my mom's chair. People who think children should sit quietly in the chair for an hour and say nothing are just fooling themselves. But should they ban my child from the restaurant? I see no reason to limit non-alcoholic drinks served to a parent, no matter where they are. If families are not welcome in your pub, put out the "adults only" sign and be done. And if my business is too important to do that, why insult me by saying I can't have another drink if I want it?
I find screaming children running wild as annoying as anyone else, but how will children learn to behave in a restaurant if they are banned from them? Sounds like we're asking for more of those annoying, rude adults we see who can't use inside voices to speak to their companions, chat on their cellphones, are rude to waitstaff, and otherwise can't seem to behave in public.
On the other hand, there is value to a quiet dining experience. Funny, when I want to go out without kids, I wait until the kids are in bed to go out. But why should people who have chosen to not have children have to plan their lives around children?
So I'm all for adult-only establishments, as long as they understand they will not be getting my money. If you don't want kids in your pub, say "no children." If you don't want kids in your restaurant, don't build it in the middle of a kids' theme park.