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In defense of banning little kids

A restaurant plans to close its doors to small children; its owner should be applauded.

By doubleace Jul 12, 2011 2:43PM

This post comes from Lynn Mucken at MSN Money.


The story pops up every couple of months: A European low-cost airline hints it might offer no-kids flights (it didn't) or a Florida homeowners association threatens to ban kids from playing in the streets and driveways (it didn't).


Now a Pittsburgh area restaurateur announces he will no longer allow small children in his establishment. (We'll see; the ban is scheduled to begin July 16).  Post continues after video.

Here's a guess on how this will play out: McDain's owner Mike Vuick will be vilified and canonized for rejecting the under-6 crowd, but eventually he will rescind his ban. Not necessarily because his business will have suffered, but because the hundreds of people who have emailed him in support will be content with that gesture, while those opposed will have decided that only unconditional surrender is acceptable. 


You see, parents of small children head the long list of oblivious and irrational characters who inhabit this Earth, beating the runners-up, "parents" of dogs, by a wide margin and easily lapping the lunatic fringes of our major political parties.


Don't believe me? Here's Vuick's rationale for his decision, as reported by

"Parents have gradually diminished their cooperation," he said, adding that the new policy is strictly in response to customer complaints.
"This is a three-part issue. 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."
The second factor is kindergarten-aged kids who "have shown increasingly poor manners." And lastly he blames parents, who "act like we're the ones being offensive" when staff members ask them to calm their children down.

Contrast that with Tamara Reese's post on on the subject of small children in restaurants:

We are respectful of people who want to enjoy a meal without hearing a kid cry, which is why we try to dine early with the rest of the breeders and AARP cardholders. But I want to spend my money in places that respect that I have a child and that, yes, he'll be joining us and he might just happen to cry or drop half-chewed food on the floor.
You don't have to have a germ-laden kiddie gym in the middle of your establishment to win me over -- just don't act horrified at the sight of my toddler. For the most part, his behavior is pleasantly age-appropriate and my husband and I have a very low threshold for misbehavior and no qualms about taking our food to go.

Perfectly rational, right? Except for her final sentence: "However, if you are going to glare at us with your judgmental stink eye before my child even opens his mouth, you might just get a ketchup-laden french fry thrown in your direction and it may or may not have come from our kid."


Earlier in her post, she complains about feeling unwelcome at a restaurant where she and her husband, along with their "fussing" 3-month-old son, were seated "next to tables of well-groomed couples sipping wine and picking at appetizers while they chatted about politics or weather."


I understand how Reese thinks. My wife, the lovely Nancy, and I were first-time parents once. Heck, we were second-time parents, too. But we had standards in restaurants. We allowed our children to play in the dropped food under the table, but promptly removed them when they migrated under the table of the couple next to us -- unless they (the kids, not the couple) were being really cute, which was most of the time.


And, of course, we were considerate enough not to ratchet up the noise factor in a restaurant by reprimanding our children.


Truth be known, we were young and selfish. Those parents who believe restaurant owners and fellow diners should tolerate a squalling and food-tossing 2-year-old because separation from their kid for a couple of hours is unthinkable are being selfish, too.


To quote a wise older man, the aforementioned Mike Vuick: "You know, their child -- maybe as it should be -- is the center of their universe. But they don't realize it's not the center of the universe."


Good luck, Mike.


More on MSN Money:

Jul 12, 2011 4:07PM
Unruly behaviour, regardless if it's a family style restaurant with crayons on the table or a 5 star restaurant with $100 bottles of wine, should not be tolerated.  Does not matter if it is child or adult.Martini glass
Jul 12, 2011 4:07PM

I wish I lived near his establishment so I could make it my new favorite spot for dining. His quote is 100% correct. "You know, their child -- maybe as it should be -- is the center of their universe. But they don't realize it's not the center of the universe." (our ours).


Yes, I had children. Yes, we took them out for dinner but never to a place that we would like to go ourselves for a quiet dinner and a glass of wine. AND, my children knew how to behave in public. They were taught manners as we were and a simple look from the wife or I was all that was needed to keep them sitting polite & quiet. NO, we never hit our children that's not how we learned our manners and respect, it was simply taught from day 1.


We now have grandchildren and they have been taught the same way. It begins at home. When they visit, they play quietly in the basement rec room or another room, not where the adults are visiting. They say please, thank you & may I. There are still children that know how to behave in public, it's too bad there are so many parents that lack the skills to teach it.

Jul 12, 2011 4:26PM

I too agree.  I wish more would follow suit.  It is distressing that children run amuck in a fine establishment and parents just sit there and allow it.  No discipline is basically the problem.  When I was a child, my parents set rules for behavior in any and all restaurants we were planning to eat in: be quiet, one trip to the bathroom and if we were unable to abide by the rules we would not be allowed to come until we could behave and stay home with a babysitter.  Trust me, it was more fun with my parents than stay with a sitter.  But that's my story, parents don't set boundaries as far as I can tell so I will be happy with no children under age 6 while I am dining out..

Jul 12, 2011 4:20PM

When my kids were little, we took them to age appropriate restaurants.  Pizza restaurants, Olive Garden, Bertucci's etc.  We did not tolerate bad behavoir and removed them if they

started to misbehave.   Family buffet style restaurants worked really well.  And we started them out by going to Mcdonalds and making them sit quietly until we felt they were ready for even those restaurants.


However, we didn't take them to $100 dinner for two restaurants.  That is where people go to

converse, relax, celebrate special occassions etc. 


My husband and I went out to a fancy restaurant after my oldest was born and before I had to return to work so we could have a nice relaxing dinner together.  It was the first time I had been away from my baby and some other couple brought their tiny infant into the restaurant ,who preceded to cry through the whole meal.  The baby wasn't the only one crying by the end of the meal.  Children do not belong in a nice restaurant and most waitresses don't make enough money to pick up a box and a half of cheerios cause you brought your kid to dinner and let them act like an animal.

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