Restaurant Ban on ‘Screaming Kids’ Ignites Debate


More parents, worldwide, are bringing their young ones to theaters, restaurants, and other spots once considered appropriate for adults only. At the same time, says Roya Wolverson, writing for Quartz, more venues are restricting or even banning children from their establishments.

Many restaurants in Korea have asked children not to visit because of safety and legal issues. Berlin cafes have made strollers verboten and have instituted child-free zones. AsiaAir has a "quiet zone" for fliers age 12 and above, and Malaysia Airlines allows only children over age 2 in the first class section.

Texas and Pennsylvania have restaurants which ban kids so that customers who need a night away from their own children can have a peaceful retreat. But there have been strong reactions to both sides of the conversation. Parents who like to have their children with them in adult outings feel their children are no more distracting than boisterous talkers or drunken frat boys at the table next to them.

Those against the ever-present children model say kids are a bother or could be put in a dangerous situation. These same people blame the new idea on middle class, overly permissive parents.

American sociologists call this type of parenting "over-parenting", "helicopter parenting", or, sometimes, "death grip parenting." Hara Estroff Marano, author of "A Nation of Wimps: The High Cost of Invasive Parenting," says the trend is because of the working mother who can't spend enough time with her children; the insecurities bred by a globalized economy, or fear that their children will face competition from smarter kids across the world; and formative research on brain plasticity, meaning children will succeed if every moment of their lives is carefully supervised.

In Canada, a restaurant in Cape Breton, which has banned crying babies, has started a national debate. The establishment was Cape Breton Island's Lobster Pound and Moore, and the ban was published on the restaurant's Facebook page. The National Post's Tristen Hopper says that when the owner received hate messages and threats, Richard Moore reversed his policy and pleaded for forgiveness. At the same time, supporters told him not to back down. He was praised for doing what others had only dreamed of doing. Brenda Armes, the owner of a Carolina Beach, North Carolina restaurant says she does not ban kids, but she does expect parents to "make them mind."

Tobias Salinger, reporting for the New York Daily News, shares Facebook reactions to Moore's original post. One mother wrote that the first message was childish and rude, and an entire group of people were alienated by his words. But another patron wrote:

"I fully supported your initial statement," while awarding the Lobster Pound four stars. "Irate parents attacking you for their complete and utter lack of parenting is ridiculous. You were NOT excluding children. You were excluding PARENTS who chose not to correct their child's misbehavior. My niece and nephews would never scream in a public place."

Another restaurant owner in the area joined in the conversation. Kirk McRae used roadside signs in front of his stores which said, "We Love Screaming Kids." He said he was not disrespecting the original comments by Moore, he just wanted customers to know they had no problem with kids.

04 23, 2015
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