Since becoming a mom four years ago, I feel like I’ve seen a handful of stories about restaurants banning kids. The latest comes out of North Carolina where an upscale Italian restaurant, Caruso’s, hit their limit with the antics of their guests under the age of five and decided those patrons would no longer be welcome.
The restaurant’s manager described the incident that was the final straw to the Washington Post: A child was using an iPad with the volume turned all the way up and her parents wouldn’t force her to turn it down, despite repeated requests from the staff and complaints by other patrons.
“Finally we had to ask them to leave,” the manager explained. “They were upset, but they didn’t seem to care about what the other guests thought. We tried to be nice about the situation, but we’re here to take care of customers and we can’t tell a parent how to control their kids.”
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And that comment, right there, is exactly why I have no issue at all with restaurants banning kids. In fact, I support it.
This wasn’t just a case of a child patron behaving badly—it was an example of parents behaving badly. Something I'm sure wasn’t an isolated incident.
I don’t cook. As a single mom, I just don’t have the time. And to be perfectly honest, I’ve never exactly loved being in the kitchen. So for the most part, my daughter and I rely on a lot of whole foods (we might make an entire meal out of a Costco rotisserie chicken and a platter of fresh fruits and vegetables), takeout, and yes, eating at restaurants.
It works for us. But the thing is, my 4-year-old has been dining out at restaurants pretty much since she was born. Back then, she spent most of the meal snuggled against me, but still, she has grown up having lessons about how to behave in a restaurant reinforced from a very early age.
If your children can’t handle themselves in restaurants, teaching them those lessons should happen in a child-friendly environment.
We don’t bring electronics in with us. We don’t yell. We don’t run. We say “please” and “thank you.” And the trade-off is we get to enjoy a meal that isn’t tarnished by my awful cooking.
That’s the deal. And there have only been a handful of occasions where I’ve had to pick her up and walk her out of a restaurant she wasn’t behaving in.
I do my part, so the restaurants we’re dining at don’t have to contemplate banning us.
If your children can’t handle themselves in restaurants, teaching them those lessons should happen in a child-friendly environment. Not in an upscale locale where other diners might be hoping to enjoy their meal in peace.
And you know what’s funny? Caruso’s reservation list has been booming since the ban was put in place. There are very clearly a large number of diners who like the idea of not having their meal interrupted by children.
Ultimately, it’s not the end of the world. People need to calm down and remember that having kids sometimes limits your options. And that’s okay. Being a parent doesn’t entitle any of us to the right to infringe upon anyone else’s experience or to demand businesses forever cater to our additional needs.
So ban kids at your restaurant if that’s the environment you want to create. Decide that you want your wedding to be kid-free. Or even throw an adults-only party.
Whatever you choose to do, you've got my support.