National Post (National Edition) - - TRAVEL - Week­end Post

vir­gin cock­tails and ac­tiv­i­ties in­clud­ing rooms full of bun­nies and pup­pies and video game sta­tions for their wed­ding re­cep­tions.

So, what should par­ents ex­pect when it comes to hos­pi­tal­ity – both in terms of the in­dus­try and among friends?

Eti­quette ex­perts tend to agree on one golden rule: you should never as­sume you kids are wel­come some­where that’s tra­di­tion­ally adult­sonly in na­ture, and you should never pres­sure a host to ac­com­mo­date your off­spring. One del­i­cate way of han­dling an adults-only in­vite is to re­spond by say­ing you’d love to at­tend, but your child isn’t ready for a sit­ter or you can’t ar­range for a sit­ter. This puts the ball in the host’s court, al­low­ing them to po­litely ac­cept your de­cline or let you know that your lit­tle one is wel­come.

On the flip side, hosts shouldn’t feel like mis­an­thropic trolls be­cause they want to host an adult­sonly gath­er­ing. How­ever, it’s im­por­tant to be clear about your wishes if that’s your in­ten­tion. Diplo­matic ways of word­ing this re­quest in­clude, “For the en­joy­ment of all chil­dren have not been in­vited,” or, “We love your kids too, but tonight is for grown-ups only.” On a wed­ding in­vite, you could write, “We re­gret we are un­able to cater for chil­dren at the re­cep­tion.”

No mat­ter how tact­fully a host deals with such a sit­u­a­tion, how­ever, there are some psy­chol­o­gists (and in­ter­net com­menters) who re­main adamantly against child­free pub­lic spa­ces, even go­ing as far to call their rise “baby apartheid.” They would sug­gest that it can make kids feel like un­de­sir­ables or sec­ond-class cit­i­zens and robs so­ci­ety of op­por­tu­ni­ties to en­gage in com­mu­nal child rear­ing, prac­tice tol­er­ance and em­pathize with oth­ers. Kids and adults alike ben­e­fit from in­ter­act­ing with each other, and ex­pos­ing young­sters to di­verse cul­tural, culi­nary and so­cial ex­pe­ri­ences can be key to their de­vel­op­ment as global cit­i­zens.

When it comes to the hos­pi­tal­ity in­dus­try at home, the land­scape is even more dif­fi­cult to tra­verse. Legally, the ques­tion of whether a Cana­dian es­tab­lish­ment can dis­crim­i­nate based solely on age is up in the air. In 2010, an Ot­tawa mother filed a hu­man rights com­plaint against a fash­ion­able restau­rant who turned away her and her child. They reached a pri­vate set­tle­ment, so no court was able to give an of­fi­cial rul­ing on the mat­ter. How­ever, it’s worth not­ing the place in ques­tion now ad­mits kids.

At the end of the day, there’s no easy an­swer about where and when it’s ap­pro­pri­ate to bring your lit­tle an­kle-biter. The best way to avoid is­sues is to re­search whether kid­friendly ameni­ties such as kids’ menus, child­care or ac­tiv­i­ties meant to en­ter­tain wee ones are be­ing of­fered. If they aren’t, it’s best to pro­ceed with cau­tion, com­mu­ni­cate clearly and re­mem­ber your child isn’t be­ing per­son­ally tar­geted.

The world will be a much friend­lier place for grown-ups and mi­nors alike if we could ex­er­cise a lit­tle em­pa­thy, a dash of self-re­straint and stop act­ing like the very chil­dren we’re fight­ing over.

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