Kid Free Zones: It’s About Time, AFA

In the October 2011 issue of the American Family Association Journal, one of the News of Interest items is “Family Advocates Resist No Kids Allowed Trend.” It is an article critical of restaurants, airlines and other businesses who have set up kid free zones. The article quotes Jenn Giroux, founder of Speaking of Motherhood, as saying that this trend is “a reflection of where we are as a society today in America: we no longer love children.”

Correction Mrs. Giroux, we no longer love SCREAMING children. The conclusion of the AFA, a Christian fundie organization if you didn’t know, is way off. Adults are tired of a society that caters to children instead of seeking a balance–“Do it for the children!” As someone who has had constant noise problems from neighboring children who don’t seem to have responsible parents I could not agree more with the “kid-free zones” trend. Maybe AFA kids are quiet, but certainly not the kids who live next to me and in the last 2 locations from where I moved. I have issues every summer when school lets out with kids screaming their heads off underneath our bedroom windows. We tried to complain and were told by the apartment management across the way to call the police on them (seriously, I have to call the police on noisy kids?).

Last month my wife went downtown to a work-related meeting and grabbed a bite on her own at a small pizzeria. Wouldn’t you know it, a family decides to sit down next to her. Then their kid starts running around the entire place yelling his head off. My wife started hurrying to eat her food as the noise was intolerable and the parents were unable to control him. Finally the kid was right next to her and let out a gut wrenching scream and she couldn’t help herself and yelled out, “Jesus!!” The parents got a clue that maybe their kid was annoying other patrons. My wife hates bringing attention to herself, but it was just too much.

We’ve experienced the same issue with kids in the movie theater, and not at kids’ movies either; PG13 and R-rated movies. Again, wouldn’t you know it, the kids run free, can’t sit still, and make noise which ruins the theater going experience.

My wife and I chose early on not to have kids based on what we anticipated would be needed to raise them right including time allowances and finances that required a good education and physical health. We felt it wasn’t fair to have a kid just for the sake of “having a kid.” It was the responsible thing to do as our artistic fields have greater risks of being out of work and having to use savings until the next job comes along. For those couples with substantial incomes and the time needed I say go right ahead and start a family, but how many families have I seen crammed into a small apartment where the parents foist their kids onto the rest of the neighbors because they want peace and quiet in their own place. They don’t take them to nearby park or school playground to get their exercise, they just shove them out the door for the rest of us to hear as they watch their favorite TV shows.

There are laws against excluding kids from apartment complexes or preventing families from moving into homes, but why can’t restaurants schedule “adult” times to be free of kid noise? Obviously it became enough of an issue that such a decision was made. It doesn’t mean anyone necessarily hates kids. I expect kids to be naturally noisy which is why I blame parents when they don’t leave if they can’t shut their kids up. Take them to McDonald’s or Chuck E. Cheese’s where they can be loud. Let me eat my seafood in the “nice restaurants” or even have a greasy burger at a joint meant for adults. For airlines, First Class is for adults. No kid needs to be spoiled in First Class and no adult trying to escape kids should have to deal with them in First Class. That’s why you pay more for First Class.

For movie theaters, maybe R should mean restricting kids period. The AFA article notes a Texas cinema chain that bans kids under six except on “kid days.” That’s a reasonable way to do business because most kids under six are only going to be amused by cartoons anyways. I don’t need to see the drama on the screen and the drama of a mother trying to restrain her kid from running up and down the stairs.

So as usual the AFA gets it wrong. Kids are not a blessing from God. They are a result of having sex and are planned and unplanned. They are both a joy and a pain in the ass and most parents would agree if they were being honest. No one is banning kids in public, we are just asking for some peace when we, as adult consumers, spend our money on food, flight and entertainment. Kids are selfish little bundles with cute, mischievous smiles trying to understand the world and what they don’t understand yet is the value of money, especially in this crappy economy. I applaud businesses who have the guts to make a good business decision and do right by their customers.

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