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.