Recently, a small restaurant in Pennsylania said it wouldn’t be serving children under the age of six anymore. The small person policy change has spawned numerous articles and created a general uproar. This particular one caught my attention because it’s written by a self-described nonparent, who estimates that the topic is more important to certain camps of adults than the children who are ultimately denied access to dining:
It’s not that anybody cares about McDain’s or its stuffed flounder ($18.95) or beer-battered chicken ($12.95). It’s that the question of whether small children should be allowed in restaurants cuts through one of the biggest unspoken divides in American life: the one between parents and nonparents.
Well, I guess it isn’t unspoken anymore because the author, Josh Ozersky, went there. Yet another reason I like this article. But it isn’t as black and white as you might think. Parents and nonparents don’t always adopt the viewpoint you would expect, I noted from reading some of the comments below his article. For example, one parent said they view dining out as something special to do without their children.
I am with the commenter that said that those dining in elegant and really expensive restaurants should expect to enjoy an adult night out. This is not too much to ask, and it isn’t like parents don’t have a variety of other restaurants they can go to with their children. And parents can frequent the fancier restaurants, too, just not with their kids in tow.
When opting for a less formal or family-friendly place, you can expect a different dining experience. While kids are allowed, they shouldn’t get a blank check, and bad behavior shouldn’t be tolerated. Children should be held to reasonable standards, and if they aren’t able to behave appropriately in public, they might not be mature enough to eat out yet.
Most of the children I see misbehaving in public appear bored and unhappy. Perhaps, as the author said, it’s more about the parents. They don’t want to forgo dining out, and drag the kids along, whether the children want to be there or not.
Somehow, we have adopted a mindset that children should be allowed everywhere. This wasn’t always the case. When I was a child in the 70s, my parents would frequently hire a babysitter so they could get a much needed break from their responsibilities. And, far from feeling slighted for not being invited, my sisters and I looked forward to staying at home with the fun babysitter.
As we grew up, we started to enjoy going out to dinner with our parents. And they enjoyed having us along because we didn’t embarrass them in public. Our tastes, pun intended, are supposed to change as we get older. And there is also something to be said for having something to look forward to when you grow up.