Sunday, January 06, 2008

Children in restaurants

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.


Stuart said...

I'm not fond of children, especially when dining out. So I don't see much of a problem with Victoria & Albert's banning children under 10. It's true that Disney World is mostly designed for children, but why shouldn't they be able to also offer some places that are "adults only".

I understand your point (how are kids supposed to learn how to behave in a nice restaurant if they aren't allowed at a nice restaurant) but by that philosophy, the other customers-- who according to that article are paying $125 per person and up for dinner-- are forced to be the test ground for children's "first big night out".

To be accurate, the restaurant isn't in the middle of a kids' theme park, as you said. It's in the Grand Floridian, the most posh of all of the 20+ Disney World hotels. It's not like it's a restaurant in the middle of the Magic Kingdom.

And, as the woman in the article notes, there are 97 other restaurants.

Casdok said...

It now amuses me that as my son is now 19 i can take him to places where you cant take kids. He still wriggles and makes the weirdest loud noises!
We have only be banned from 1 place as he was upsetting a group of people.

Joeymom said...
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Joeymom said...

Having adult places is fine. And I understand they have excellent adult places- I believe its called Paradise Island- no kids allowed. And its fine to have adult areas- just be clear about them, and don't insult the kids and parents while you're designating them.

OF course, the V&A is in a weird position anyway. You're at Disney World, yet you don't expect to have kids in the restaurant- no matter the price? On the other hand, you have kids, and you're paying how much to feed them for one meal, and understand that everyone else in the place is also paying that? I would certainly hope that wouldn't be the tot's first night out. On the other hand, I think it perfectly reasonable for others in such a place to understand it may be the tot's first night in that kind of place- you're at DisneyWorld, not in some hot New York nightspot.

. said...
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Joeymom said...

Sorry "." I do not allow anonymous posts on my blog of any kind.

The Whiz Kid Forte said...

I'd love to go to V&A's someday if I win big on PCH or the lotto! I hate screaming kiddos and as an autistic, they are collectively a major source of overstimulation! Ugh!