Banning Children - fair or discrimination?

There has been an uptick recently in businesses banning children from their establishments: Malaysia Airlines banned babies from their first class cabins, McDain's Restaurant in Monroeville PA banned children under 6 from their restaurant, and other hotels, movie theaters, etc. are following suit. The question is, is banning children a fair practice on the part of the business owners, or is it discriminatory to families with children?

There are two sides of debate. On one side, you have families who feel like they shouldn't not be able to go to nice places or places at all just because they have children. On the other side, there are businesses who try to keep up a certain atmosphere in their space, and crying or unruly children hamper the experience they try to provide to their customers.

From my personal experience working in performance arts venues, I think it is inappropriate to bring a baby to a live performance. Now, some parents know their children well enough to know if they can sleep or rest quietly through a performance, and if that is the case, then it is fine. But, if you are in a theater with a crying baby, the crying disrupts the experience of the audience and is distracting to the actors. Even with this said, I've never banned anyone from coming into the theater with a child. That has never been the policy of anywhere I've worked.

In movie theaters, or regular restaurants, I don't feel like a crying child is as much of a big deal. However, at an upscale restaurant, where people are paying not only for food but for ambiance, I think it's unfair to everyone involved for that to be broken. My references are pretty much concerning babies up to toddlers about age 3. At age 4 or 5 I think most children know how to be well behaved in public.


I'd love comments from people on either side of the consumer/parent spectrum, or comments from business owners about their policies.


  1. I think it is fine to ban children at certain places and I have a child. My son is mostly well behaved but he can be a little noisy when he is excited, tired, or not wanting to be at a place. Whenever my husband and want to go some where nice, we find a baby sitter. We take our son to see movies for his age and interest. We take him to places with kids menus. When I see a place w/o a kids menu, I always think that means they don't want kids there. I don't understand taking young children to the theatre unless it is a special performance for families and kids (if they have those in Alabama they have them every where else). I am for exposing kids to the theatre and live performances, but only at the appropriate time when it won't bother others in the audience.

  2. @Erika - thank you for sharing your opinion as a parent!

  3. I don't have a problem with kids. I have a problem with parents of kids who refuse to CONTROL said kids.

    Case in point. Joe and I went to dinner the other night, at a place called Yardhouse, they are a restaurant with a rather loud, bar style atmosphere. It was a Friday night, well past 8pm. Two tables over, there was a table of three people, two adults, and one rather small child (I want to say around 2 or 3 years old).

    The kid started SCREAMING the minute they walked into the restaurant, and didn't stop until several other patrons (myself included) complained to the management and they were asked to leave.

    All the time this kid was screaming, mommy and daddy dearest were IGNORING the kid, actually pretending they weren't even there. They said that this was how they "taught" their child to not act out in public. At one point, the kid was screaming so loud, they almost choked.

    And to be honest, there are just certain places where small children should not be, including movie theaters. The visual and audio stimulation is too much for them, and 99% of the time, they will act out because of it. Imagine if you had a headache and your beloved wanted to go to a loud concert in an enclosed environment. You wouldn't be happy, and often times the only way a child can/will communicate their unhappiness at a situation is through crying. They don't know any better, and I really don't blame them.

    I do, however, hold the parents 100% responsible. You made the choice to have a baby, now your social life is going to suck for a few years. Its exactly why I haven't procreated yet, I'm not ready for it.

    As far as restaurants and other businesses banning children from their business, I think they are perfectly within their rights to say they don't want kids in their place of business. Its rude and inconsiderate of the parents to subject other people to their child's poor behavior, and if they won't do something about it, the business has no choice but to step in, unless they feel like losing business.

    And obviously, not all places should have a ban. Walmart, places that serve kids food, parks, etc are one thing. Movie theaters, high end restaurants, etc is another story entirely. If people would actually control their kids, I might be of a different opinion, but since many parents won't, I think policies should be put in place by the individual business owners regarding kids in their establishment.

  4. @Liz- thanks for commenting! And I agree that the business does have the right to protect the atmosphere they would like to uphold, whether that be not allowing kids under a certain age, or having a dress code, etc.

  5. I agree with the above comment. I worked at friendlys as a waitress for 3 years and you wouldnt believe how many children (children who are old enough to know better)act up and there parents do nothing about it.

    These kids will look their parents straight in the eye, yell and swear at them. When i was younger, actions such as these were not tolerated, and it will be that way with my kids as well.

    I think its okay to ban kids from certain places, for example all inclusive resorts for vacations. You dont need to put your kids around a bunch of adults there to have a good time. At least i know, i might drunkenly step on one.

    High class restaurants, i understand. Movie theaters, i think are okay. Any time ive been to a movie theater where a baby/child was the parents knew enough to remove them as soon as they started to act up. Teenagers in movie theaters are more obnoxious then crying babies. I think we should ban them. lol

  6. @Kayleigh - yea,I too agree that movie theaters are pretty much fair game. Most parents will take their kids out of they act up, and it's an atmosphere where people are already getting up to get concessions, use the bathroom, etc.

    Thanks for comments! :-)

  7. i COMPLETELY agree with @liz. you sign up to be a parent then you either get a sitter for adult activities or stay home with your child. Most parents don't PARENT their kids these days and let them act a banshee fool, which is not appropriate in public. just because YOU'VE learned to tune out your bad ass kids doesn't mean the rest of us have or should learn to lol.

    Vonnie of

  8. I can't help but think...ding! ding! Hello? There's a market that just opened up right there. Make luxury cabins on planes for families with small children. Cater it to them so that they have a play area, cry/scream-friendly space. I don't know. They have a room at church for babies, they can do something similar to accommodate at any public entity...or have places especially for that market segment.

  9. @Thu - true that. There is definitely a market for people who want a place for their children, and the ability to have luxury at the same time.

  10. I agree with what Liz said. More than it being about kids, it's really that parents don't teach their kids how to act in public. The ban is about bad parents.

    There's a McDonalds, somewhere, right? ;)

  11. I had to sigh prior to answering because i love kids but really do want silence in some places like the theatre....most parents attempt to keep their kids well behaved but only to some degree! great topic! but you can't band kids from McDonald's!

  12. @beginswithm & Mrs. Pancakes - LOL at both of you mentioning McDonalds.

  13. As a mother I knew my kids' limits when they were little. Only once did I take a baby to the movies...we were on vacation and wouldn't trust anyone I didn't know with my baby. I had to leave halfway through because he woke up and wanted to 'talk'.

    A crying, fussing, or rude child doesn't bother me in a restaurant unless they are my own. And since mine are grown...I ain't worried. Airplanes are a different story. I cringe if I get seated near a child or have one behind me. Especially on long international flights. Mercy.


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