SmackDown: Should Parents Bring Babies Into a Bar?

Filed under: Opinions

ParentDish says it's fine to bring baby to the bar, Lemondrop says it's not. Whose side are you on? Credit: Evening Standard / Getty Images

No cheers with your child.


by Julieanne Smolinski

In a recent New York Times op-ed, single young journalist Risa Chubinsky took parents to task for bringing their kids to bars in the residential Brooklyn neighborhood of Park Slope.

The article generated a debate between those who have progeny and those who don't. As many of the commenters noted, Chubinsky's gripe is hardly new -- but I happen to think it's legit.

Coincidence time: I also happen to be young and single and living in Park Slope. I also get irritated by kids in bars.

But I'd like to propose an easy test for determining whether you should bring your children with you or leave them at home:
If you're going to a place where the food is secondary to the alcohol (a bowl of dessicated party mix doesn't count, Moms and Dads), then get a sitter.

Even if you're just there to have a club soda and catch up with Fun Cathy from your old office, if you can afford to drink in public, you can afford to leave little Braidyn or McFayden at home with a responsible teenager.

Servers and diners at kid-friendly places have basically signed on to be around children. But bringing your kids to neighborhood pubs and lounges? Bartenders hate it. The other patrons hate it. Your kids? Prrrrobably not enjoying themselves much either.

Doing so -- whether this shoe fits or not -- makes you look like one of those weird adults resisting maturity. And that's just not attractive. Bam. Real Talk.

Guys, I realize that having procreated doesn't make you love fun any less, and that just because you've had kids, you don't think you should have to stay home. But there's a time and place in your life for finding your fun at bars. And that's pre-child -- or when you have a sitter.

Lest you think that your kids are just cramping my drunk, inappropriate style (they are -- I like to swear and talk about sex, because that's what we Young and Childfree do), please note that I'm considering your fun as much as mine. If you need to get out of the house to unwind with a friend, then you're not going to do so by worrying about your kids, whether they're young enough to put plastic coasters in their mouths or old enough to befriend the weirdos by the jukebox who keep putting "Pretty Young Thing" on repeat.

I won't even get into the safety issues posed when I'm toppling over your stroller or accidentally body-checking the baby strapped to your chest en route to the bathroom, or the fact that parents have complained to my friends that they smell like smoke or are using profanity. It's a bar! It's for alcohol, not niños.

Consider the single perspective, here. We do lots of things for parents -- give up our seat on the subway, ignore chair-kickers and screamers on planes and let little kids cut the bathroom line.

But just as I'm not allowed in Chuck E. Cheese because I'm over the age of 16 and not accompanying a child (no one will lend me one! What gives?), you probably shouldn't bring your kids to the place where I'm flirting with drunk guys because they're blind to my embittered homeliness and general inhumanity toward man.

You know how you love your kids and you're happy to have them? Maybe some of us single people want kids, too. And we'll never have them with that cute stranger drinking Asahi, because hearing the phrase "go potty" is a libido killer on par with "Grandpa's in the hospital."

Bottom line: I'm a single girl who works hard and likes her beer. (And her gin. And bourbon. Shut up.) You don't think I'd love to put my cat in a basket and take him to everywhere I go? I would. But I can't. It would be weird. And besides, he died three years ago, which, if I put him in my Prada tote, would be an even weirder libido killer. While I don't agree, I trust my shrink's opinion on this.

Single people have so little. You, on the other hand, have disposable income, friends you want to party with AND a family you love enough to drag everywhere. Great! Drag them to Applebee's, or pay someone $40 to keep them safe while you're on the stool next to the bitter single lady, and maybe she'll buy you a brewski.

Get over it or move to a booth.


by Tom Henderson

Bring a baby into a bar, you might be the punchline of a Jeff Foxworthy joke.

On the class-o-meter it ranks right below picking your nose with your car keys. However, it's not a sign of the End of Civilization As We Know It.

Oh-so hip, young, single and childless New York journalist Risa Chubinsky thinks otherwise. To hear her tell it, a baby she saw in the Brooklyn bar is the fifth horseman of the Apocalypse, right after war, pestilence, famine and reality television.

She raged against the baby with a righteous indignation usually reserved for, ya know, something that actually matters: The health-care system, the debate on eminent domain, First-Amendment issues.

I can understand where she's coming from to some extent. Twentysomething, hipster bar dwellers hate babies invading their space. Good point. Who wants a bunch of crying, whining, sniveling, tantrum-throwing brats around when you're trying to enjoy a drink?

That's why I say show the twentysomethings the exit.

Let them cry, whine, cry, snivel and throw their tantrums somewhere else. If state law lets you belly your baby up to the bar, case closed.

Besides -- and I cannot stress this enough -- who the heck cares if there's an infant around?

Certainly not the babies. They're like everyone else in the joint. They just want to know when their next drink is coming. Sure, they can get a bit unruly at times, but we're talking about a bar, not the ballet.

You want to hang out with nice, quiet adults, try a yoga class. Babies are probably the least objectionable characters you're going to encounter in a bar.

And guess, what? They don't care how you act. You can even be objectionable yourself. Don't feel you have to censor yourself. Go ahead. Be a total ass. The baby won't mind.

Frankly, whiny twentysomethings should appreciate babies more. They have a lot in common. They both love to carry on about nothing in particular.

Nothing in particular is at the heart of Chubinsky's rant. She says shouldn't have to compete with the shrill crying of a baby when she's at the bar to blubber about her latest breakup. How dare some baby crash her pity party.

It apparently doesn't occur to her that that the sound of her blubbering might be just as unwelcome as a crying baby among other bar patrons.

Listen, even we parents don't like the sound of crying infants in public places.
Responsible parents will take the kid outside. Sadly, you can't take a blubbering, self-absorbed twentysomething out back and slap her 'til she burps.

Childless twentysomethings say bars should be places where they can escape the pressures of the big, bad outside world -- a world that includes -- oh, horrors! -- children.

What? Do all these people run day-care centers during working hours?
Odds are, they rarely encounter small children except for the occasional niece, nephew or neighbor kid. Having a couple of babies in the bar is not going to disrupt their fragile, self-absorbed ecosystem.

Yeah, all things being equal, I wish people wouldn't bring babies into bars. I wish a lot of things. I wish I could still light up a stogie at Boomtown Tavern in Lewiston, Idaho.

But there's nothing I can do about it. The same's true about babies in bars. You can try to outlaw them. Or you can just get over it.

My vote would be for getting over it.

Bratty, whiny twentysomethings annoy most people a lot more than babies ever did.

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.