Childfree spaces & places?

By Dann Alexander 

It was a long time ago now that I remember first switching seats because of a noisy group of kids. I cannot remember the movie that I went to see. What I do remember however, is the group of kids that pushed me to my limits. There were about seven of them and they had an adult chaperone with them. It was someone who appeared much older than me. They spent a great deal of time chatting out loud before the movie started, which was fine.

The movie started to roll. The previews were long over and the dialogue was beginning. These kids had all continued to talk without a word of intervention from their chaperone. I remember standing up quickly, snapping that I could not believe people could not keep their kids quiet in a theatre. I promptly moved seats farther away. Whatever I said at the time must have worked. They barely uttered a word again.

It was one of those rare instances where I felt it was necessary to outright move places. I’ve done it a few times more since. Only a couple of times with the need to make comments as it was happening. To be honest, the theatre is not one of my favourite places to go anyway, as I much rather enjoy watching films in the comfort of my own home. You cannot push pause in a movie theatre!

Airplanes are another tricky area that is almost unavoidable. If you are sitting in coach and it’s a full flight, you may end up being forced to sit beside or near a family with kids. You just hope for the best possible scenario in those circumstances. Thankfully, after only one really difficult flight in 1999, I’ve had no loud children with obnoxious parents interrupt my flight experiences.

There are a growing number of stories online and in print dealing with the ideas of childfree spaces and places. The idea of a childfree airline is not new but certainly would still be welcome by many. It is much more difficult for a restaurant to ban children from its premises, unless the place can promote itself as a bar with very strict rules. It would depend on the laws of where you live.

A restaurant that lies within a four-hour drive from my home recently drew fire for posting on its’ social media page that they would no longer tolerate screaming children within the walls of their dining room. Their decision was the result of complaints they received from some of their customers. It was completely understandable to many, including several customers with kids.

Regrettably, it faced a major backlash from within the community and surrounding areas, with accusations of bias against children. The story made local news. It was not about bias at all, in my view. It was more about kids who were not being controlled by careless parents, and were interrupting the dining experience of others. The backlash was so strong that the restaurant was forced to apologise. With the apology came more backlash, this time, from those who initially stood up for the restaurant.

I am all for having businesses that want to enforce keeping out uncontrollable kids and the seemingly careless parents who might bring them in. Businesses have a right to want to keep their customers happy, as long as they do not cross any lines that could be seen as downright prejudicial.

Have you had any experience of troublesome kids in public places?

Based just outside of Halifax, Nova Scotia Canada, Dann Alexander is the Author of Planned UnParenthood – Creating a Life Without Procreating which is available at Amazon and other online retailers. Twitter @WriterDann

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