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Child-free zones

By Victoria Fryer 

About a month ago, Inquirer.net ran an article about the rise of kid-free zones in Korea, in places like restaurants and cafes. This is, as you might expect, creating some controversy. But those in support of the policies say that it’s not a slight against children, but against those children’s parenting styles. One person quoted in the article said, “I am also a parent, but I see the need for kid-free venues as there is an increasing number of parents who disturb others in public by failing to properly discipline their children.”

There has been talk of creating a selection of child-free flights, but here in the United States, it is incredibly uncommon, if not unheard of, to disallow children under a certain age in public venues.

This contrast between Korea and the U.S. has me thinking about how different cultures view parenting.

There has been a trend toward ‘helicopter parenting’—both in the U.S. and Korea, it seems—and some say this is a function of parents having fewer children and waiting later in life to have them.

But the birthrate in the U.S. is still higher than in Korea. “The number of children the average Korean woman can expect to have during her lifetime — the fertility rate — currently stands at 1.25, the lowest among OECD [Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development] countries,” writes the article’s author.

With there being a greater divide among number of people choosing parenthood between the U.S. and Korea, that might have something to do with the differences in dealing with some of the challenges some Korean business owners have said they face when parents bring their children to an establishment.

The U.S., though, still has a very—what some people call—”pronatalist” culture that promotes and encourages families to bear children.

I’m sure we’ve all been in situations, either in a restaurant, on an airplane, or in a grocery store, in which there were children who were less than well behaved. But is forbidding children in various venues the answer?

I really don’t have an answer to that. I think it’s likely a bit insulting to parents to find that their children wouldn’t be allowed in a certain place. At the same time, perhaps some places would prefer to make their business model about creating an ambience they don’t feel attending children would support.

Again, I don’t know the answer. I think if too many places implemented such policies, it would really be going too far. But as folks without children, what do you think?

Victoria Fryer is a writer and content strategist. She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and two pit bulls. You can find her on Twitter @extoria.

Childless

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