Is Hooters a Family Restaurant?

Filed under: In The News, Opinions, New In Pop Culture

Does a children's menu and a box of crayons from your waitress necessarily make a restaurant "family friendly?"

That's what Hooters is hoping you'll think now that it has a kids' menu and an expanded online store with toys and clothes for kids with slogans such as "I only date Hooters girls", "Hooters honor roll student" and onesies declaring "I'm a boob man." One creepy baby bid states, "Hooters. Your crib or mine."

To be clear, I do not begrudge the Hooters chain or it's owl innuendo. If frat boys and sports fans want tasty wings served by girls in tank tops and orange shorts over weird, flesh-colored tights, I have no objection. And I believe NOW ought to lay off Hooters and spend more time fighting injustices against women in the Middle East.

On the other hand, I worry about what Hooters' not-so-subtle corporate plan to attract families might mean for children. Will my kid's Little League coach think it's OK to take the team to Hooters after the next baseball game? Will normalizing family night out at Hooters sexualize yet another previously sacred part of our children's lives -- the family dinner?

Believe it or not, Hooters birthday parties for kids as young as 7 and 13 can be found on YouTube. It's difficult to watch how out of place and painfully embarrassed these kids look as they are serenaded and hugged by the scantily clad waitresses. These boneheaded parents clearly have no idea about what a kid really wants on their birthday. These kids aren't having fun. Why can't we let kids be kids?

The bottom line is that, with so many parents who are either too busy, too lazy or too stupid to parent consciously, Hooters' kids' menu will inevitably mean that many more families will go out for wings and buy their 4-year-old a "Future Hooter Girl" t-shirt on the way out.

So why should this matter to you if you don't take your kids to Hooters? Because culture matters. The combination of bad parenting and corporate profit-seeking has introduced children to "Grand Theft Auto," slutty Bratz bolls, sleazy kids' clothes and Disney starlets who pole dance. Without a question, the cumulative result has been an assault on childhood innocence that affects everyone's kids and makes good parenting harder than it's ever been. Bottom line: desensitizing children to the adult nature of a Hooters environment is a bad idea –- no matter how good the wings are.

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