Bars Are For Adults, Not Children (and How to Tell If Your Kids Are Welcome)

Bars Are For Adults, Not Children (and How to Tell If Your Kids Are Welcome)

Imagine sitting on a barstool, with kids — kindergarten age and younger — darting across the floor, screaming for their parents, and generally posing a liability for any inebriated adult who might have the misfortune of colliding with one of these tiny people. Suffice it to say, I have an axe to grind against parents who bring their small children to bars.

This is a facet of pre-COVID life that I am loathe to see return. The pandemic is in retreat here in the U.S., which is fantastic news for parents, children, and bristly 31-year-old hipsters like me. So, as we more frequently find ourselves at watering holes where the legal limit for entry is 21-years-old and no food other than bags of chips are to be found, I am begging young parents to leave their children elsewhere.

Your child isn’t cute at a bar

Don’t get me wrong, I love kids — absolutely adore them — and look forward to being a dad one day. Chances are your cherub-faced infant is adorable — just in any environment other than a bar. The second you enter an establishment meant solely for adults to imbibe and decompress from the bullshit of adult life, your child becomes a menace.

In the rare instance a kid at a bar is well-behaved, most people won’t mind, but such well-mannered tykes are rare. Usually, at least in my experience, parents unleash their kids onto a barroom floor like you might a dog upon a sprawling meadow. The fact that the adults are in a social establishment somehow means that the necessity of parenting takes a backseat to whatever microbrew is on the menu.

Or, consider it this way: When your kid sprints behind my barstool yelling and laughing as if they were at Disneyland, they’re no longer cute. They’re a nuisance, frolicking with the kind of abandon you’d expect from a kid in a safe environment. The thing is, though, they’re not in a safe environment.

Is it legal to have kids at bars?

One of the most galling aspects of this situation is how it’s even legal for your child to be in a bar. The thing is, it’s technically legal to bring your baby into a bar in some states and many require the establishment to serve food for anyone under age to enter. I will continue to rail against the legality of this burden for the rest of my life, but alas, the law is on your side, yuppie parents.

Kids create a weird atmosphere for everyone at the bar

My behaviour around children is different from my antics at a bar, which is true for most people. I try not to curse in the company of little kids (contrary to what you may believe after reading this far, I’m not a monster). Having a group of little kids at a bar, especially if the kids are running around relatively unaccompanied while their parents unwind, creates a confusing atmosphere for people like me.

What’s the etiquette on swearing or bellowing at a basketball game if I’m sitting next to a four-year-old? I don’t think we should have to resurrect Emily Post to figure this one out. Leaving your kid at home with a sitter or in-laws means I won’t have to think about how my behaviour might be internalized by a two-year-old.

Moreover, with the pandemic coming to an end, adults without children are hornier than ever after over a year of isolation. If you take your child with you, they might bear witness to some, uh, adult behaviour. Is that a scar you’re willing to let rest on your conscious?

How to tell if a bar is welcoming to kids

Here’s a good rule of thumb: Does the place you’re frequenting with your kids have a children’s menu? Is there any food apart from nuts, pretzels, or chips? As a way avoid the frustration of malcontents like me, consider finding a few places with a festive, bar-like atmosphere that also has a kids menu. You can even sit at the bar with your child in most states, especially if you order food.

I understand that you chose to remain in the city so you can maintain a semblance of the social life you lost when you decided to become parents. But please, don’t ruin the bar experiences of others because of it.

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