Recently a restaurant in Atlanta posted this disclaimer at the bottom of their menu:
Dear all present and future patrons: GCP is proud of its reputation as a family restaurant, a title that we will work to keep. Unfortunately a number of our diners have posted unpleasant experiences because of crying and unsupervised children. To ensure that all diners have an enjoyable lunch or dinner with us we respectfully ask that parents tend to their crying tots outside.
Aside from the grammatical errors, this is not an unreasonable request. It’s common sense, common courtesy. The fact that they have to “announce” it kind of gets me, but I wouldn’t consider this a baby ban.
A restaurant in Monroeville, PA took it a step further and announced last summer that it will not allow children under the age of 6 - at all. There are restaurants in my area where I wouldn’t consider taking my 9 year old, but those establishments haven’t told me I can’t. By announcing to families that we don’t want your money, your loyalty, your patronage because you have a child under the age of 6 is very risky, particularly in the age of social media where good/bad news spreads like wildfire.
This being said, let’s state the obvious:
1. Are there parents out there who could use a Super Nanny? YES
2. Are there children that misbehave? YES
Anyone who has ever taken a child into a restaurant knows it’s a gamble. Although prepared, parents can’t predict what an 18 month old in a high chair for an extended period will do. However, parents arm themselves with distractions and hope to enjoy a semi- peaceful meal with friends/family. It’s a social experience that everyone has the right to engage in.
The ONE basic common denominator all human beings share with one another is simple: we all started out as babies.
We all cried.
We all whined.
We all were annoying.
We all were aggravating.
But the good news is this: We grow up. Even though we still cry, whine, annoy, and aggravate others, we learn when and when not to do this. We develop social skills, pick up on social cues, and hopefully, learn to respect others along the way.
It’s always best to remember this: everyone has a story. A moment in time at a restaurant for a parent and a crying child is just that: a moment in time. Judging someone based on a sliver of time is unfair. This should be said for children as well as adults. Unfortunately, we are all guilty of jumping to conclusions without having all of the information.
So the next time you see a parent with a whiny child at the grocery store or perhaps a belligerent adult at the hardware store, keep in mind they have a story, a life you know nothing about. Then, take a deep breath, smile and give them the benefit of the doubt.
Jennifer Bilbro is the Founder of OutToEatWithKids.com, an online resource and mobile application designed to help families search for economical & healthy children’s meals. Visit OutToEatWithKids.com for more information or submit your restaurant info to firstname.lastname@example.org