Just two weeks ago McDain’s Restaurant and Golf Center in Monroeville, Pennsylvania, implemented a new rule that bans children under the age of six.
According to owner Mike Vuick, there’s “nothing wrong with babies, but the fact is you can’t control their volume.”
One occurrence is not a trend, but there seems to be evidence of a growing impatience or downright irritation with young children these days. Or at the very least, there appears to be an unwillingness to recognize a distinction between children who are well behaved and kids who wreak havoc in public places.
In Missouri, Whole Foods announced “child-free shopping hours.” Earlier this summer, Malaysia Airlines announced a ban on babies in their first-class cabins. Other airlines are expected to follow suit. And some movie theaters have even started offering “adult-only” viewings of films that would otherwise be of interest to an entire family.
Is this simply a matter of business, of catering to public demand – or does it point to something more unfortunate in our culture?
When Trent and Troy were young, Jean and I did our best with them while eating out or flying on airplanes. But children are unpredictable and you can’t guarantee compliance or smooth sailing. Even now, when I see parents struggling with their children, I tend to feel compassion, not condemnation. That’s because anybody who has been a parent knows full well the challenges of a public meltdown.
Perhaps that’s part, if not the whole, of the problem.
With the decreasing birthrate and more couples choosing to remain childless, is this trend inevitable?
Perspective is a powerful and poignant thing. I recently read of an incident that is said to have occurred out on the west coast during the California Gold Rush. With so many men and so few women in that culture, children became a rarity. But one night a woman with a baby decided to attend the theater and just as the orchestra began to play, her child started to cry.
“Stop those fiddles and let the baby cry,” hollered a man from the pit. “I haven’t heard such a sound in ten years!”
According to the story, the audience roared its approval.
Here at Focus on the Family, we embrace Psalm 127:3, that “Children are a blessing from the Lord.”
But turning back to the current debate that is swirling, I would welcome your thoughts on this apparent trend toward childless venues.
What do you think? Is there a time and place for this? Or is this a sign of a growing intolerance toward children?