Tuesday, December 06, 2005

An Article in our local paper today.....

Businesses creatively banish brats
Tuesday, December 6, 2005 By MARTHA IRVINE AP National Writer

CHICAGO - Dan McCauley had seen one too many kids at his cafe lying on the floor in front of the counter, careening off the glass pastry case, coming perilously close to getting their fingers pinched in the front door. So he posted a sign: “Children of all ages have to behave and use their indoor voices.”

To him, it was a simple reminder to parents to keep an eye on their children and set some limits.

But to some parents in his North Side Chicago neighborhood, the sign may as well have read, “If you have kids, you’re not welcome.”


That one little notice, adorned with pastel hand prints, has become a lightning rod in a larger debate over parenting and misbehaving children.

“It’s not about the kids,” says McCauley, the 44-year-old owner of A Taste of Heaven cafe, who has no children but claims to like them a lot. “It’s about the parents who are with them. Are they supervising and guiding them?

“I’m just asking that they are considerate to people around them.”

While he has created some enemies in his neighborhood, McCauley has received hundreds of calls and more than 600 letters, the overwhelming majority of them supportive. One letter-writer from Alabama typed out in bold letters: “In my opinion, you’re a hero! Keep it up.”

It is a sentiment that people feel increasingly comfortable expressing. Online bloggers regularly make impassioned pleas for child-free zones in public, while e-mailers have been forwarding a photograph of a sign in an unidentified business that reads, “Unattended Children Will Be Given an Espresso and a Puppy.”

While it is common policy for upscale restaurants to bar children, owners of other types of businesses also are setting limits on kids.

The Wynn Hotel in Las Vegas, for instance, does not allow visitors who aren’t guests to have strollers; hotel officials say it is to prevent crashes with other pedestrians. The Bellagio Hotel does not take guests younger than 18 without special permission.

Some parents are fine with the limit-setting and complain that too many of their peers take their kids to places traditionally meant for adults, such as late-night movies and rock concerts.


Robin Piccini, a 42-year-old mom in Bridgewater, Mass., gets annoyed when she has hired a baby sitter for her daughter, only to end up seated at a restaurant next to unruly kids.

Some business owners are creating separate spaces for kids and families, in an attempt to accommodate as many generations as possible.

All Booked Up in Suffolk, Va., is among bookstores that have separate sections where kids can play and rest. Many ballparks have alcohol-free “family sections.” And a few restaurants have added separate dining areas for parents with children.

Zulema Suarez, a professor who studies parenting, applauds attempts to strike a balance.

“There needs to be a give and take,” says Suarez, an associate professor of social work at Adelphi University in Garden City, N.Y. “Children don’t need to be allowed to run wild and free, but they do need to be allowed to express themselves.”

Too often, though, our cultural emphasis on freedom and individual rights gets taken to the extreme, becoming “a kind of selfish entitlement that undermines our ability to function as a civil community,” says George Scarlett, a professor of child development at Tufts University in Boston.

I'd like to add my own comment on this article. I have 2 kids (now grown naturally) so I know and understand what it's like to "parent" them in public. Now I have always been a disciplinarian. If my children acted up (depending on what it was) I would smack their bottom. ( I hear some sighs out there...go ahead and disagree...we all share our own paretnal styles). My kids never screamed in public. I could take them out to eat and they would behave. If they got loud and/or rowdy..we left. They always just "knew" to be good in stores. There were occasions don't get me wrong. Like the time my son grew "spaghetti legs" and fell to the floor because he couldn't have a toy he wanted. That was the one and only time he did it. I truly believe this shop owner has a great idea and parents need to know how to make their children behave in public. "indoor voices" is a great thing and I certainly hope it picks up and more places hang signs like that. In no way is he saying that if you have kids you aren't welcome. Whomever said that must have unruly kids and felt it was directed at them.

Oh well...that's my 2 cents on it all......what's yours?


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