Aug
11

No Children Allowed?

By

I love my daughter. I love being a mom. There is nothing, NOTHING that has brought me greater joy. But I also love being a friend. And a wife. And a daughter. And a sister. And sometimes it’s nice to focus on those things too and not be forced to multi-task or be interrupted by calls, of “Mommy!” Yes, every once in while, I like a break from the motherhood— mine AND anyone else’s.

Apparently, a “No Children Allowed” movement has gotten some attention lately, and two of my favorite bloggers have written about it. And both bloggers (who are mothers) were all for it. One post came from an angle of bad parenting– how perhaps businesses and establishments such as nice restaurants wouldn’t need to ban children if parents would parent when in public instead of letting kids run amok. Certainly valid.

But it’s not always about a lack of parenting. There are places children simply don’t belong. Even well-behaved (and well-parented) ones. People have different ideas about, well, everything. And parenting and boundaries for children are seen so differently by so many. The no children allowed sign simply tells parents, “This is not a place for children.” Because sometimes parents need to be told that. Even if they don’t agree with it.

There are parents who believe their kids belong anywhere they do because children are individuals and have rights too. Kids certainly do have rights– but so do business owners, and so do other people. Forget businesses, some adults just assume that their kids are invited and welcome anywhere and to any event they are– weddings, funerals, dinner parties.

Not so long ago, for example, I attended a memorial service for a former student of mine who died from cancer at only 15 years old. It was standing room only, and I was in the back of the church. I could only hear about half of what was going on thanks to a screaming baby whose mother made no attempt to leave or do anything about it. I was chewing the inside of my cheek the whole time wishing I could tell the mother what I was thinking: “It’s really great that you wanted to be here. And maybe you didn’t have a sitter. I’m sorry– but then you shouldn’t have come. This is a memorial service! This time, this place is about remembering a special girl who is no longer here. And now your kid is making that damn near impossible for all the people back here to do that!”

Now of course, that was an extreme example, but it gets to the heart of the matter that there are places children shouldn’t be. Folks need to respect that instead of jumping to the either/or fallacy of “No kids allowed? Well then, obviously you are an intolerant bastard and must hate children.”

Um, no.

Of course, there’s the fear that if the movement really catches on, children will start being banned all over the place and mothers and caretakers will feel ostracized. Parents with no other available childcare will suddenly not be able to go anywhere– movies, shops, restaurants, grocery stores. Now I’m certainly no economist, but I’m thinking the free market and good old fashioned capitalism will take care of that.

There are lots of moms and lots of children and they are prime customers. If things start to get carried away (and I doubt they will), it won’t be long before the almighty dollar sets judicious use of the ban. Fancy restaurants with the ban might fare well because their businesses will be appreciated by enough folks that want to enjoy an adult atmosphere and a nice dinner out without having it ruined by toddler temper tantrums or flying chicken nuggets. Grocery stores that try to ban kids might find themselves seriously lacking revenue. Something like that.  Again– I’m no economist.

I understand the fear though. I do. I can think of nothing sadder than creating a society intolerant of children. Children need to be out and about in society to learn how to act while out and about in society. And parents need to learn how to parent out and about in society. Learning takes time and there will be hiccups and even epic fails along the way. There are just times and places to let that learning play out and let those hiccups happen.

I have a good friend who is childless by choice. She never had a desire to be a mother herself, but is all for anyone else’s desire. When I had my daughter, she flew to California to see her and help me out. (Now that I’ve moved, we get to see each other a lot more!) She is also a great hostess and when she hosts, she will let you know if children are welcome. She has wonderful, very kid-friendly open house type events. And there are also times we make plans and she’ll say, “It’s an adult night. You’ll need to get a sitter.” There’s no guess work. There’s no judgment. It’s simply that there’s a time to be with kids, and there’s a time to be without.

So, no, I don’t think the ban is intolerant. You can’t legislate feelings and attitudes. There will always be people and places who are tolerant and welcoming and adoring of children. There will always be people and places who simply do not like children. But the “No Children Allowed” ban might just help with establishing some boundaries. Ironically enough, the ones who might need it most of all are the mothers who want a chance to spend some time enjoying the myriad of other roles they play.

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Comments

  1. LeeWee says:

    As you know I’m all about the babysitter! You are absolutely right…there’s a time and place and most parents would agree. They realize in order to be a better parent, they need to be their own person as well. xoxoxoxo

    [Reply]

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