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Should Restaurants Ban Kids?

Like most modern arguments, it started with a comment on Facebook. Then it kind of took off from there.

The original post had been a shared meme from a random radio station, the type of thing created specifically to push buttons and fill the thread with righteous anger and opinions passed as facts—the lowest common denominator of social media. The question: Would you go to a restaurant that bans children under the age of 7?

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My response was I would never knowingly spend my money at any establishment that banned children as a rule. I don't care to give my money to those who feel justified in the banning of anyone. Not serving ___________ for anything short of legal or health reasons is discrimination, no matter how annoying or objectionable the business owner may find said ___________ to be. Remember, we aren't talking about an individual, some special flower of seeded discontent judged upon their actions, rather a banning of the entire field because of the roots that they may share.

It's not my best metaphor, but you get the picture.

Apparently my views on the subject were in the minority, which surprised me. Don't get me wrong, I appreciate a night without children (mine or anyone else's), and I am very aware of how the behavior of an ill-behaved kid might make a few moments feel so much bigger than a First World problem. But I have also had unpleasant experiences while dining out due to couples fighting, adults getting ill, people being drunk and, in one case, an attempted mugging in the bathroom (I left my wife and kids to help chase down the culprit, which, in hindsight, may not have been the smartest thing to do).

Everyone has a choice in how they spend their own money, and denying that right to some based upon how you see the world is not the way to solve an issue—assuming you have the power to do so. It's a dick move, pure and simple.

Then there are the other age-related offenses, like rude teens having the audacity to promote another stereotype or elderly people who shout to hear themselves above the din of their dinner rolls. To prevent such things from occurring, an establishment would have to ban everyone—even the waitstaff, as surely we've all had a meal ruined by the ineptness or attitude of an unfriendly server.

That said, I get that some restaurants are more geared toward adults. As such, I would not bring my children to them; however, that has as much to do with having to buy them a $27 bowl of macaroni and cheese than any potential behavioral problems on their behalf. The point is, if my kids misbehave, which they might, then that is my problem not yours, and I will attend to it accordingly.

A popular rebuttal in the Facebook thread was that parents do not teach their kids manners or reprimand their behavior, which is ridiculous. True, manners are open to interpretation. For instance, I am not a fan of pacifying a child at the table by losing them to a tablet or the current fads of technology, but the idea that most parents in America would let their kids be assholes on purpose—or out of some blatant disregard for their surroundings—is an unfounded assertion. Perhaps it is easy to believe that is the case if you are not the one shaking with anxiety and embarrassment while trying to quietly defuse the situation, but it is seldom the reality.

Watching people my own age shift into such clichés as "kids today" and likeminded generalizations makes me painfully aware that FOX News isn't going anywhere anytime soon. Its future viewers are getting more disgruntled by the minute.

It's a slippery slope from telling the world to get off your (the royal "your") lawn to telling subsets of society they cannot go in a public place because their presence, or the possibility of their actions, offends you and your precious sense of entitlement. Everyone has a choice in how they spend their own money, and denying that right to some based upon how you see the world is not the way to solve an issue—assuming you have the power to do so. It's a dick move, pure and simple.

After all, kids have an upside, too. In addition to literally being the future, they can provide a soundtrack of joy and laughter, and conversations of hope and imagination. Also, they totally justify you coloring on your placemat.

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I firmly believe that banning kids from an establishment because they might make noise is an absurd practice and companies that do so don't deserve my business.

They won't get it, and I'll explain my reasons loudly.

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