Earlier this month, a Pittsburgh area restaurant called McDain's made headlines when it banned kids under the age of six. Some parents cried foul, but most folks - parents and child-free folks alike - were fine with it. In fact, according to a local news poll, 64 percent of area residents were in favor of the ban. That caught the attention of businesses around the country. And it made McDain's the unwitting mascot for the latest trend in leisure activities - "brat bans."
"Brat bans could well be the next frontier in destination and leisure-product marketing," wrote Robert Klara in a recent article on the child-free trend in AdWeek. Some Missouri Whole Foods stores are offering child-free shopping. A movie theater in Texas has banned kids under six altogether except for certain "baby days." And some airlines are considering adding family zones or even banning kids from certain flights altogether.
So when did kids become such second-class citizens? Probably about the same time that parents everywhere stopped leaving them at home with babysitters and started dragging them around to fancy restaurants and adult-themed movies.
Don't get me wrong. I'm a mom of two young kids. I've taken my girls out to eat, to the movies, and even on airline flights. But I've never taken them to upscale restaurants or to R or even PG-rated movies. I'm not insensitive to the fact that some perfectly well-behaved kids sometimes act up in all the wrong places. Nor do I consider it insensitive that some adults just want to be able to eat a meal or watch a movie without having to listen to someone else's screaming kids.
Would I give a mom with a screaming child a dirty look at a restaraunt? No way. But would a patronize a kid-free restaurant the next time I'm out with my friends or on a date with my husband? Absolutely. I love kids. But I also like knowing that when I shell out good money for a babysitter, I will enjoy a break from them altogether - mine as well as other folks'.
How about you? Do you think the new "brat ban" trend is inspirational or insulting?