Obviously, there is a not one ‘right ’answer to the question of whether it is ok to bring children to an ‘adult oriented’ place – such as an up-scale restaurant or a museum. Each situation depends on the parents and the child/children.
In general, I feel that children should not be banned from restaurants, museums or movies; however it is never appropriate to take a young child to a bar – or any place that may potentially expose the child to a dangerous situation. And children should not be banned from buses, airplanes or any modes of public transportation. However, that is beyond the scope of the question, so I will stick with such places as restaurants and museums.
I often think that the question to be asked is why are parents putting their child/children in a situation where the child is expected to act in a fashion that maybe beyond their capabilities – thus making it a burden on the child to live up to expectations that they cannot possibly fathom or achieve? For instance, taking a squirmy 5 year old to a 2 ½ hour movie that may also contain some very scary segments; or expecting a 2-3 year old to sit through a 3 course dinner during their ‘terrible two’ stage? When this situation occurs, it puts everyone in an awkward situation and ultimately it is the child that is blamed.
Of course, there are many children that are able to sit at a nice restaurant or walk through a museum without causing an international incident. Therefore, those places should be open to all.
And other times, there are situations where a child maybe acting in a manner that is disruptive to others around them – it is at that point that the parent needs to step in, assess the situation and take that child elsewhere until either the child has calmed down or the parent realizes that the environment is more than that child can handle, goes home and tries again later. Furthermore, how will a child learn what kind of behavior is appropriate if they are never allowed to be exposed to that environment?
In defense of parents, however, there are times when ‘other patrons’ need to understand that the human condition can be ugly. People (including adults) sometimes smell bad, act bad, make a bad decision, have accidents etc; so opening your mind and showing some compassion can often make all the difference in the world. If a parent is struggling to calm a child down, and everyone is glaring at the parent, his/her stress is going to escalate and the child will become more anxious.
We live in a society – so people need to be aware of the world around them and act accordingly. Banning all children from places ultimately causes more issues than it solves.
So for me, at the end of the day, it is not should children be banned but why are putting our children in situations with expectations that they ultimately cannot live up to?
That’s my fast 2 cents ~