Ban children from restaurants and cafes?

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Janet STreet Porter, restaurants, child friendly, Daily Mail
A child, eating in a restaurant. Scandalous, I’m sure you’ll agree. Pic credit below.

I was invited onto BBC Radio Tees yesterday. I was asked if I’d care to respond to an article that Janet Street-Porter had written for Daily Mail.

In the article, the former Independent on Sunday editor, suggested that children should be banned from restaurants and cafes. She also put forward the idea that aircraft should have special “baby zones”.

Did I accept the invitation to go on air and respond to what Street-Porter had said? Indeed I did. I said any such move would see a return to the days when children “should be seen and not heard.”

I was asked about child discipline, not just by the presenter but another interviewee called Kathy who claimed that “kids are having kids” and that “kids don’t know how to discipline.”

Kathy, it turns out, didn’t have children of her own. I took her comment to be a sweeping generalisation. Speaking for myself, I was well into my thirties before I became a father and I have no issue with disciplining my daughters.

You know what though, Street-Porter (who is also child free) raised one point that I have some sympathy with. As a stay at home parent, I spend a lot of time with my children. There are occasions when I want to go out with friends and not have to deal with the demands little ones have, especially other people’s.

Janet Street Porter, family friendly restaurants, children Daily Mail
The one and only Janet Street Porter. Pic credit below.

If a pub, bar or restaurant established an adult only zone, I’d be all for it. If management wished for the venue to be adult only venue beyond 8pm, fine by me. Ban kids altogether? That’s not justifiable.

Your average restaurateur or pub landlord would probably panic at the idea of banning children. Families, after all, spend a lot of money entertaining their offspring.

For me, the highlight of Street-Porter’s article was this gem:
We don’t allow dogs in most restaurants and cafes, and generally they are better behaved than the average British toddler.”

Yes, you read that correctly. Street-Porter compared the average British toddler to a dog. If I could be bothered to be offended, I would.

Shall we also shed the pretence and admit that adults can behave appallingly badly? Have you ever stumbled across a stag or hen party late at night in a provincial market town? Not a pretty sight is it?

Despite all of this, in my eyes Street-Porter made an even bigger error in her article. Although she made one or two references to “parents”, the article refers to “mothers” throughout. Yes mums, Street-Porter is pointing the finger at you because, well, you know, men don’t have anything to do with their children do they?

Anyone visiting a café or restaurant on a school holiday or weekend will find it crammed full of dads and kids. To me, this proves that Street-Porter’s opinions are completely outdated. Not only is her approach to children Victorian in nature, she has failed to appreciate that, in the twenty first century, fathers generally do childcare. They may not do as much as mum, but they’re usually quite capable of managing their kids. Only someone totally out of touch with the world today would fail to appreciate such a thing.


Pic credits; Image of child eating in a restaurant:,Dwastak. Sourced from pixabay.com. Picture of Janet Street Porter, Wikimedia. Bother reproduced under Creative Commons agreement


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11 thoughts on “Ban children from restaurants and cafes?”

  1. Great post and I like your ideas. I think adult only zones or times is perfectly acceptable whereas Janet Street Porter clearly has bizarre and outdated views on this kind of thing. And comparing to children to dogs is totally charming. like you say though I can’t be bothered to be offended either, it just makes her sound completely batty!

    1. I kid of think she wants ot be thought of as batty but such comments will offend come people and that’s not necessary. Thanks for commenting.

  2. I saw about this. It’s ridiculous. Yes, people should be considerate in how they manage their kids’ behaviour, but that is not an issue with the kids themselves. Although you do get exceptions, most people do not keep their little kids out too late, and they are not in clubs, or usually in bars – there are plenty of adult places and times. &, when you do see the exceptions where small children are out in unsuitable places too late, it is the kids who that makes me feel upset for as it is unfair on them, it’s not whiny adults like Street Porter I would waste my concern on. The rest of the time, kids and people with kids have as much right as anyone else to be anywhere. So some people don’t like them. I don’t like some adults. I still have to put up with them. So they can be loud and tantrummy. So are drunk adults. I don’t drink. I still have to put up with the behaviour of people who do when I go to dinner. & I am much less inclined to be forgiving to adults, who should know better, than a two year old. People who don’t like kids have child free space at home, as far as I am concerned. Public places are for the public, and you can’t dictate who gets to be there. If you don’t like it, stay in your space at home. Ridiculous woman! #sharewithme

    1. Quite agree with you. Kids can be a bit naughty, adults can be utterly obnoxious. Public spaces are for the public and there are enough adult spaces available for us grown ups.

  3. I’ve not experienced child free places before, although on a recent stay at a family friendly hotel, it was obviously by where people were put in the restaurant as to whether they had kids or not. “Oh you have a kid, then come into this area out of the way” is how it felt! I’m becoming more and more comfortable with taking Toddler L out for food, but am really conscious of other people – whether I should be or not is debatable. As for JSP and her views on men grrr….

  4. There is a pub in the the small town we live in which has a sign displayed in their window stating children are not allowed. I actually find this a curious market strategy at a time when pubs are struggling generally.
    Sadly Janet Street Porter’s comments don’t surprise me, as we’ve witnessed such attitudes when we’ve been out with our kids. Not because they are badly behaved, but because there are a significant number of people who want child free zones when they are out. A two year old, no matter how well disciplined by its parent/s is still a two year old. Just to turn things around; is it unreasonable to expect adults to refrain fro swearing and and other “laddish” behaviour when there are children in the bar or restaurant? I don’t think so, but have had to remind people of the presence of children when we’ve been out as a family.

  5. Both my wife and I are new parents. I am 46 (although I have 2 children from previous relationships, oldest 23) I still consider this a new experience for me. My wife is 42 and it’s her first.
    Reading what JSP has said has got me so annoyed. To think that the older generation would much rather ignore or have placed out of sight and mind the children that will inevitably pay and keep us old folk for longer.
    I know that’s a wide eye look at the issue here but it’s just the same. However misrule or misunderstood children are they still belong in a place in society. There is a reason for them and should be thought of as anything less just because they are not adults

  6. Living in a town full of ageing Daily Mail islanders, I relish the chance to annoy them at cafes and the like. However, my daughter is frustratingly well behaved…

  7. Oh dear I have to agree with you having adult only zones or time frames is fine but saying no to children would make cafes go out of business. SAHM want to get out with friends and fresh air and have a bite to eat. They are more apt to buy more with their children in tow as they get drinks snacks for them too as well as for themselves. As a work from home mother I do know the feeling of wanting to get out and have no shouting screaming children around but that’s not life. Thank you so much for linking up to Share With Me. #sharewithme

  8. Pingback: Childhood and parenting, what’s changed over the years? | Dad Blog UKChildhood and parenting, what's changed over the years? - Dad Blog UK

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