New Jersey restaurant bans young children

Photo credit: Klaus Nielsen

by Daniel Fink, MD, Chair, The Quiet Coalition

NY Eater reports that Nettie’s House of Spaghetti in Tinton Falls, New Jersey has banned young children because of the noise and commotion they make.

Restaurant noise is my personal noise issue- my goal is to find restaurants where I can enjoy both the food and the conversation with my wife!- but noisy children aren’t a particular problem for us. Perhaps we dine a little later than most families with small children, perhaps we enjoy being near children more than others, perhaps parents do a better job of wrangling their children in Los Angeles than the do in New Jersey (not likely), but this really isn’t something we worry about when we go into a restaurant. Banning children seems extreme.

We are well aware of the challenges of dining with children, first from our own children and now with our grandkids. As someone once said, “too many people are growing their children, not raising them.” Before about age 2 or 3, adults should bring toys, and perhaps child-friendly food, and be prepared for one adult to pick up the child and take her or him outside if there’s any problem until the kid settles down. After that, the child should be able to sit at the table for at least an hour, not necessarily for a 3-hour gourmet meal, before reaching the breaking point.

To us, pacifying the child with a video device and headphones is a bad choice, although we’ve seen parents do that. Children need to learn that when dining, especially in a restaurant, they must sit quietly, engage in conversation, and enjoy the meal. They are well able to do this. As a letter in The Guardian noted, in France children dine with adults without a problem, and I am certain they can learn to do so in the U.S. as well.

Quieter restaurants would be a very good thing, but we enjoy watching children and their families at nearby tables and hope other restaurants don’t follow Nettie’s example.


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