Thursday, August 04, 2011

About Child Bans

There has been no little controversy lately about private businesses banning young children. Such bans are being decried as anti-children. And it is hard to deny that they are literally anti-children. But the issue is not so simple.

(Note: The story linked above notes that a Missouri Whole Foods is reportedly banning young children during certain hours. The reports are wrong. The Whole Foods in question is actually assisting families with young children. Glad I double-checked that!)

On the one hand, businesses have a right to seek to provide a pleasant experience for their customers. On the other hand, although most parents do their best to make their children act tolerably in public (and gently remove them when they do not), enough do not that it can be a problem. I still can remember one set of parents who let their precious one bang his silverware on a metal tray, metal on metal, without let or hindrance at a meal I tried to enjoy years ago.

I have mixed feelings about all this. Society should and needs to welcome children – for its own good! Still, there are certainly some places were young children are not a good fit.

The Service of Nine Lessons and Carols at Kings College comes to mind. Does anyone in their right mind think it appropriate to allow in babies and toddlers to interrupt the music? And Kings ever politely and rightly states, “Please note that the service is not suitable for young children.”

Less clear cut, but still understandable is the controversial McDain’s restaurant banning of children under six. The owners tried to accommodate families with young children. But some families were less than cooperative.

In a very tactful summation of the scenario, the McDain's Restaurant owner says he doesn't hate kids: “Parents have gradually diminished their cooperation.”

Basically there's been a lot of customer complaints -- and the owner's obviously tired of dealing with it.

“This is a three-part issue," says Vuick. "One is the increasing number of small babies that can’t be controlled. They can’t be quiet and really they can’t be expected to.” He says the kindergarten crowd has “shown increasingly poor manners.” And the McDain's guy says parents “act like we’re the ones being offensive” when staff asks them to help their children simmer down.

What we have here are jerk parents (and their little ones who predictably take after them) making life more difficult for others, including for those parents who try to control their kids and not inflict their misbehavior on others.

And parents need to realize that they are responsible for their children. While, again, society should welcome children, that does not mean people are obligated to put up with all of their enormities in every situation.

And with the decline of common sense courtesy in our society (I could have a good rant on that topic!), private businesses and other institutions have to make some hard choices. I understand those who make provision for those who have a reasonable desire for some peace.

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