Why Ban Small Kids? Ban Their Parents!

By Cate Sevilla

Apparently there is a restaurant in Pennsylvania that has banned children under 6-years-old.

Yup, straight up banned them.

Feministe writer "Spilt Milk" has called this "anti-child bigotry" and is really pissed off by not only the restaurant banning small children, but the Twitter hashtag meme #youngkidsshouldbebannedfrom.

As she says:

"I’m the primary carer for a small person. Excluding her from places excludes me. Saying she is less than human in any way (incapable of real love, not deserving of rights) erases what I do and belittles me, as well as her."

While I totally get what she's saying, this whole "less than human" thing is just a bit dramatic. I agree and appreciate with what KJ Dell Antonia has said on the XX Factor, which is that, "There are playgrounds in malls and airports now. Kid activities in museums....As a mother, I think we're all set... so I'm not losing any sleep over their figuring out a way to cordon us off."

Yes, as you probably guessed, I don't have children, but I can imagine that if I were to walk in a restaurant with my 2-year-old niece and we were refused service simply because I had a small person with me, I would be pissed. But then again, why would I want to take my niece to McDains Restaurant and Golf Center in frickin' Monroeville, Pennsylvania, anyway? (Although their cheddar cheese stuffed pretzel sticks do sound divine.) I would take her to Giraffe or one of the many other restaurants that are family friendly. Everyone getting upset that one place in the back-end of nowhere is going to "set a trend" and that everyone will start banning small children everywhere need to calm down.

I don't think people should ban children from places, just as I think getting upset because a hashtag meme on Twitter "belittles" your child (please) is ridiculous.

But if we were going to ban anyone, I think it's the crappy parents that should be banned from restaurants and cafés and anywhere else in public where they cannot manage to pay adequate amounts of attention to their children, or parent them well enough so that their kids aren't throwing coffee beans across a Starbucks or screaming at the top of their lungs at restaurants.

I used to get really uptight about children being places. "Oh god, there are kids here. They're going to act horrible! Stupid kids! Stupid babies!" But then I learned that it wasn't stupid kids, it wasn't their fault they were being allowed to act like a jerk - it was their stupid parents' fault! 

Women who sit in a crowded café gossiping while their children tear around the establishment, opening the front door, shutting the front door, opening the front door, then shutting the front door while they are totally oblivious to what's happening. Or the men who are too busy reading The Mail on Sunday and enjoying their latte to realize that the reason their kid isn't sitting still and being quiet is because they are three-years-old, in a Starbucks, bored out of their mind, with no toys to entertain themselves with. HELLO! I would throw myself on the ground and cry too, if that were me.

Society can be incredibly intolerant of small (noisy) children, but I think if there's any annoyance to be had, it should be with parents.

Blame the parents!

Tue, 19 Jul 2011 16:00 (GMT+01)
2 Responses

Spilt Milk's comments irritate me. As a non-parent myself, I often feel like parents view me and treat me as a "non human". It's as if having children automatically gives them some divine knowledge or insight that makes them superior. Some parents, like Spilt Milk, blatantly think non-parents are callous, unfeeling, or perhaps (to use Spilt Milk's words) "incapable of real love". So yes, Spilt Milk is wrong. And a bit snotty.

Tue, 19-Jul-2011 15:44 GMT

I'm a parent of a very noisy small person so I can sort of see both sides of this! I am not someone who ignores her noise (even if it would be better in the long run, I don't like the idea of disturbing others while I'm teaching her) and I do tend to only take her to places that cater to small people. On the other hand, I understand where Spilt Milk is coming from: not everyone has it worked out the way Cate does and realises that a part of bad kid behaviour can be down to disorganised parenting, so a lot of the reactions that you get when you take kids out are really negative and exhausting. You end up feeling less than human and like your kid's a monster.

All that's really needed is, as Cate says, a little give and take on each side. Children are not the devil and will not ruin everything, and honestly, most parents are doing their best to make them sociable (those that aren't need to sod off and stop ruining it for the rest of us). Likewise, there's no harm in having some places that are only adult-friendly. It's not about segregation, but understanding that some places are for toys and fuss and noise and some are for quiet and relaxing!

Wed, 20-Jul-2011 11:35 GMT

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