Think of others before bringing your obnoxious kids to a restaurant

It made international headlines — for good and bad reasons — when a New Jersey restaurant banned children under 10 years of age. You already know the two sides of the story without hearing it: Yesssssss! and That’s so unfair.

Right away, the lines are drawn. Many parents will be offended and those of us without kids think, “Hey, not a bad idea.”

I didn’t feel compelled to comment, however when a food and culture publication ran a story, its headline got me thinking.

Bon Appetit’s article is titled, “If You Don’t Want Kids in Restaurants, You Should Just Stay Home.”

When I was growing up, our “dining out” experience was McDonald’s when my parents got paid. They’d bring home the food or we’d go to the restaurant and play in the kids’ area designed for families

There were also times when, for financial reasons or simply to get away from us, our parents would go to a nicer restaurant and leave us three kids at home.

It’s about the atmosphere. If it’s a restaurant designed to entertain kids, then it would be unreasonable for an old curmudgeon to grumble about it being too noisy there.

If the vibe of a restaurant is quiet and dark, and guests are expected to maintain that ambiance, then it’s just as unreasonable for parents to bring kids that think the dining room is their playground.

There are, of course, eateries that fall in the middle and that’s likely where the true debate comes in.

As a dog owner, I use my discretion about where we bring our pooches. In West Hollywood, it’s not uncommon for people to have their dogs on restaurant patios. Dogs are allowed but I think: What is the purpose of bringing them? Will they be too much of a distraction? Will others be bothered by them?

Therein lies the most important question: Will others be bothered by them?

In today’s very self-centred society, people are quick to only think about themselves. Yes, a family dinner can be a special time, however, diners need to remember that other people must be taken into consideration.

Years ago, I had a disagreement with my family about my birthday dinner. Traditionally, you choose where you want to go for your bday feast, however I was met with objection because “there’d be nothing for the kids to eat” as my niece and nephews were still quite young.

“Not my problem,” was my response, which only angered my brothers more. We were having an “after party” at my parents’ house anyway so I could see the youngsters there.

I was told many times growing up, “You’re too young, you can’t come” whether it was to a restaurant or a concert or a party or a bar. That’s just the way it was. I was able to shake it off and not take it personally – even if it was personal because I was an obnoxious little brat who didn’t realize it at the time.

Not every place is a good spot for children, just as it’s not for a four-legged kid. It’s nothing personal. Well, it is if your kiddos bother everyone.

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