Kids Under Age Five Banned from Upscale Restaurant

How will little ones ever learn proper behavior if we keep coddling them, pushing technology at them or banishing them from sight?

Back when I was a toddler (some 40 years ago), fine dining consisted of a candle on a saucer and maybe cloth napkins instead of paper. The restaurants were filled with families — parents, kids — eating, laughing, talking to each other, and of course, doing a little misbehaving.

So I was intrigued when the story of Caruso’s, an upscale Italian eatery in Mooresville, North Carolina, started making news this week for enforcing its no-children policy. That’s right: Kids age five and under are no longer allowed at the candle-lit, fine-dining establishment.

A manager at the restaurant, Michael Mills, told local news stations: “Sometimes the children become rowdy, and some of our other guests — it has made them upset because the parents don’t do the right thing of taking the child out.”

As soon as the news started spreading, social media went crazy and the reaction from the community (and now the internet) has been both negative and supportive.

“I think it’s wrong to exclude all families with young children.”

Some people believe kids should be “seen and not heard,” which often means leaving them at home while Mom and Dad (and other patrons) dine in peace. And judging by the many comments on the restaurant’s Facebook page, this philosophy is quite popular. One woman posted, “I have said for years that restaurants should have a ‘no kids’ policy. Honestly, I think it should be no kids 10 and under.”

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On the flip side, another Facebook poster said, “I think a big part of this equation is taking your kids to restaurants at young ages and setting proper expectations for behavior when they are young! I’ll be willing to bet that the kids that misbehave the most are ones that rarely ever eat in restaurants! I think it’s wrong to exclude all families with young children.”

Related: Etiquette Excellence for Kids

She does have a point: The only way our kids are going to learn how to conduct themselves in any setting is to practice the behaviors we want them to display. Good behavior has to be modeled for them first — by their parents — and then they (the children) need to see how others behave in that same setting. It’s the age-old theory of:

1.) Watch how I do it (modeling);

2.) You help me do it (or we do it together);

3.) I’ll watch you do it and give feedback;

4.) You do it alone.

If that sounds like a lot of work, it is. But guess what? Being a parent is not easy — and if we want our kids to act a certain way and treat others with kindness, respect and graciousness, then we have to be patient enough to put the time and effort into teaching them how to do it.

And let’s face it, many adults find it much easier to stick a cellphone or tablet in front of their kids when dining out — which creates an entirely different set of problems.

Related: 18 Moms Weigh In on the Best Age for a Kid’s Cellphone

I’m not sure who will eventually win this argument on Facebook — but it has brought up a lot of interesting points about parenting, community and polices regarding children. And that always make for a good debate.

Sara Lindberg is a wife, mother of two, secondary school counselor, and writer based in Washington State.

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