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Are Bans on Babies in Restaurants a Form of Discrimination?

restaurantsA while ago, I heard about a few restaurants that were banning children during certain hours of the day, due to noise and mess issues. I didn’t really give it much thought at the time, mostly because they weren’t in my area, but also because at that point, we only went to a very small number of restaurants that had kids menus. And then, on a parenting facebook group I belong to, a mother posted a picture of a sign at one such restaurant much closer to home.

The sign was phrased pretty poorly, arguably even rudely, but the point was the same- children who make loud noises were not welcome in that restaurant. The picture stirred up some emotions among the group with many parents questioning whether it was legal or if it was considered a form of discrimination. I thought that the reaction was interesting, though I found that disagreed with many of the comments.

Frankly, I really have no problem with it, nor am I offended by the concept. And I don’t feel discriminated against.

It’s definitely legal. Restaurants can refuse service to anyone, so while it may be kind of rude or obnoxious, it’s totally legal. Is it discrimination? Ehhh, maybe.

Here’s the way I look at it- on the nights when I get a babysitter and go out with my husband or friends, I want to go to a restaurant where we can enjoy each other’s company. That means I don’t want loud drunk people (unless I’m one of them, I suppose), I don’t want a rowdy crowd screaming at a sports game, nor do I want screaming children around me. After all, if I’m leaving my child at home, it’s not because I want to hear someone else’s. It’s not that I think that screaming children are the fault of bad parents or that I don’t like kids, it’s just that, loud kids are loud and they’re just not always appropriate in public places.

By the same token, I love my child dearly, but he is loud. Like, seriously, really loud. There are some nights where he is crabby and cranky and whiney and honestly, I don’t always really want to eat dinner with him, so why should I expect others to want to? I hate the idea that my child having a lousy day would ruin someone else’s dinner.

I think that having bans on children in certain restaurants is completely appropriate. I think that there are places where you pay for ambiance and it’s entirely reasonable to expect that if people have small children who cannot, for any reason, act appropriately in a restaurant that they either get a babysitter or go somewhere else. To me, it’s not discrimination as much as it is just polite. I think that if there’s not a kids menu, it’s probably not the place for a child.

I’ll admit that my opinions on this are definitely on the conservative side. But am I alone here? Does anyone else think that banning children in some restaurants isn’t a bad thing?

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