I have to say that my initial reaction is something along the lines of: "I kind of like the idea of places that aren't kid friendly putting up a sign that lets us parents know... because if they don't want kids there, I don't really want to give them my money."
At the same time I can't help but be annoyed every time I read one of the articles. I have a one year old and a three year old who know how to be pretty quiet. They sit through Mass at least an hour a week (that can be very tough). They find it much easier to sit in a restaurant and look at a book or color in the little coloring pack I bring along in a restaurant.
On the rare occasion that one of them is having an off day, either Paul or I whisk them outside for a few minutes and they're usually pretty eager to come back in to have some food after standing around being bored in a parking lot.
So I don't like being lumped into any sort of classification with parents who don't care what their kids are doing and let them run wild (I've seen it, when I'm with my kids and been horrified...) because... well... I don't belong there (and I imagine most of you don't either!).
Here's a highlight from the latest article (prepare to be offended):
"...Brat bans could well be the next frontier in destination and leisure-product marketing," writes Robert Klara in an article on the child-free trend in AdWeek.
Klara points to Leavethembehind.com, a travel website for kid-free vacations, with a massive list of yoga retreats, luxury resorts and bargain hotels around the world that ban children.
"Call me a grinch, a misanthrope, a DINK (dual-income-no-kids), or the anti-cute-police, but I hate (hate a thousand times over) ill-behaved children/infants/screaming banshees in upscale restaurants (ok, anywhere, really, but I don’t want any death threats)," writes Charlotte Savino on Travel and Leisure's blog. She lists a slew of a popular destination restaurants with kid-free areas and policies for travelers looking for quiet vacation dining.
Traveling is one thing, but what about in kids' own hometowns? Should kids been banned from local movie theaters, like they were at a recent adults-only Harry Potter screening? In Texas, one cinema chain has even flipped the model, banning kids under six altogether, except on specified "baby days".
Even running errands with toddlers may be off limits. This summer Whole Foods stores in Missouri are offering child-free shopping hours and in Florida, a controversy brews over whether kids can be banned from a condominium's outdoor area. That's right, some people don't even want kids outdoors.
When did kids become the equivalent of second-hand smoke? Blame a wave of childless adults with money to spare. "Empty nesters continue to wield a huge swath of discretionary spending dollars, and population dips in first-world countries mean more childless couples than ever," writes AdWeek's Klara..." (picture from Shine Article)
I guess it makes sense. We can kill our kids in utero. They seem to be seen more and more as a commodity or an accessory. And now they're a pesky problem that shouldn't be seen at all.
These article have shown me one thing: I now appreciate the local movie theater in town here more than ever (although I must say, I can't imagine taking a small child to see the new Harry Potter movie to begin with!). When we took Sadie to a movie once we assured the owner that we'd take her out if she made a peep. The owner told us that was fine, but to make sure we told her if we had to leave... because she'd give us tickets to use to come back later.
I'd much rather give my money to a business like that, than one that feels an inclination to put up a sign banning all kids. So while I'm disturbed by the mentality behind the bans I am slightly thankful for the warning. Don't worry Mike Vuick... we don't want to spend our money at your restaurant either!
I'll keep looking for descriptions like "family friendly" when I'm looking for a new place to try. Kids menus are a plus too!