This is a free country where you should, regardless of race, age or gender, be able to frequent any establishment of your choosing.
That being said...
Your family will be turned away at McDains restaurant, just outside of Pittsburgh, if you have kids under 6 years old.
Owner, Mike Vuick, has had enough of the loud, ill behaved children and has decided to ban them all from his restaurant.
Being the mother of 4, you would think that I would instantly take offense to this. But I do not, and will tell you why.
I have, on several occasions, dined at restaurants where I was seated next to or in close proximity to families with children who were unruly. On more than a few occasions, the parents were unable to quiet their children but did not do the courteous thing and leave the restaurant, but decided instead to ruin the evenings of the rest of the patrons and stay.
Now, I am not talking about a kid talking or laughing of just being a kid. I am talking about blood-curdling screams, table cloth pulling, silverware throwing tantrums that were impossible to overlook.
As a parent, I find this rude as well as selfish. I also see it as a growing trend, parents who are unable to control their bratty kids, and I think I know where the problem lies. Extreme lack of discipline. If these kids were worried about losing a privilege or had been taught early on that this type of behavior would not be tolerated, they may not behave that way in public.
For younger children, say under 2 years of age, it is all about distraction. Any baby, who is just little fussy, will quiet down when distracted by something interesting and new. When my kids were that age, I always kept things meant for this purpose close by when we dined out.
Most importantly, these parents need to learn the art of the stare down. All it takes with my own kids, to make hands instantly go to laps and kids' mouths to quiet down, is eye contact. This is not something you can just start anew though. This stare down of mine has taken years to perfect and is only powerful because of consistent behavior expectations imposed upon the kids from an early age.
I think there should be a class, sort of an instructional, on the art of the stare down. I think this is something many parents are lacking and should be taught alongside Lamaze and diapering skills.
Sure, there were times when nap times were compromised, the stare had no effect, and they got cranky. That is when you ask the wait staff to wrap your food to go, leave a nice tip and proceed to the nearest exit with your kids in tow.
Maybe a happy medium would be to establish a separate area for families, kind of like the smoking sections of years past. That, or people could use a little common sense and leave restaurants when their kids are behaving in a way that is overly disturbing.
So, do I think that Mr. Vuick was justified in banning ALL kids from his restaurant because of the behavior of some?
No, absolutely not.
I cannot blame him though, since I can totally see his point and I am hoping that, if anything, it makes at least a few people more aware their public demeanor.
That and their need to learn the stare down...the stare down is key.