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Restaurants Take A Stand On Poor Child Behavior

There is a movement afoot to ban children from certain places. This piece, titled Restaurant Bans Kids, followed up on The No Kids Allowed Movement Is Spreading, and both presented real issues for the restaurant industry:

At a Pennsylvania restaurant, it’s no shirt, no shoes, no kids, no dice.

At McDain’s Restaurant, in Monroeville, Pennsylvania, kids don’t eat free. And starting next week, they don’t get to eat at all. Mike Vuick, owner of the Pittsburgh area eatery, has just announced a ban on children under 6 at his casual dining establishment.

After receiving noise complaints from customers about crying kids at neighboring tables, Vuick decided to institute the policy, which will go into effect July 16.

In an email to customers, Vuick explained: ‘We feel that McDain’s is not a place for young children. Their volume can’t be controlled and many, many times, they have disturbed other customers.’

The owner of the ‘upscale, casual and quiet‘ restaurant explains to WTAE Local News, he’s got nothing against kids in general, but their endless screams at public dinner tables are ‘the height of being impolite and selfish.’

There is little question that restaurants have to meet the needs of their customers and if customers are complaining about children, more and more restaurants will ban them.

There have long been places where children are not welcome. At Disney World’s acclaimed Victoria & Albert’s restaurant, in its Grand Floridian Hotel, only guests 10 and over are invited to dine. There are 55-and-over communities, and many resorts have adult-only pools, to name a few.

This movement, though, is driven by two things. One is surely a change in demographics. DINKLife, which was just recently launched, celebrates the dual-income, no kids lifestyle. Although this web site seems to focus on younger people who either have not yet had children or who have decided to not have children, an even bigger constituency is the growing elderly population, whose children are long since out of the house.

Yet we suspect there is something beyond demographics at work here.

Read that restaurant owner’s complaint again: “…he’s got nothing against kids in general, but their endless screams at public dinner tables are ‘the height of being impolite and selfish.”

What is this about “endless screams at public dinner tables”? One take, that taken by Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit fame, who we owe a hat tip to for introducing us to this topic, is put this way: “WHEN DID KIDS BECOME THE EQUIVALENT of second-hand smoke? When parents quit disciplining them, I’d guess.’

That is a true-enough point, but we would take it a step further. The anti-child movement, especially in places such as restaurants, is also motivated by a change in ethos that makes people, parents among them, unwilling to sacrifice their own comfort to avoid inconveniencing others.

Maybe it is partly a function of older parents who are just more tired, but it is certainly a function of a “me generation” attitude that is entirely self-referential.

Children do sometimes misbehave, and parents can moderate this by planning ahead, bringing appropriate toys and distractions, offering appropriate incentives, etc. Still, children may misbehave and if that misbehavior takes the forms of screaming in a restaurant, parents have to interrupt their own dinner and take the child outside until he can be calmed and brought back to the table.

Momma Pundit did that more than once with this incipient Pundit, and the Jr. Pundits have sometimes required similar treatment.

The key is that the parent has to feel a responsibility to the other people around. Unfortunately, not everyone does.

The real message here for businesses that serve the public is that if the culture no longer causes parents to protect other customers from bad behavior by their own children, then restaurateurs will have to act. 

Of course this leaves a big open question: How are restaurants to protect patrons from poorly behaving adults?

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