A few weeks ago, erica and christy posted a link on twitter to this article about the "no-kids-allowed movement". I clicked over to read it, just out of curiosity: Basically, there are stores, movie theatres, airlines, etc., that restrict the areas or the hours that kids can be present, because there are adults who are happy to watch a movie, do their shopping, fly, etc., without the presence of screaming. There are a couple of really odd (to me) things about this article; first, the writer mentions screaming children multiple times, including in quotes, but then toward the end asks, "When did kids become the equivalent of second-hand smoke?" Erm, they didn't. Go back and reread what you wrote: It's the misbehaving, screaming, and (usually) parent in the background threatening a timeout but not following through that is the problem. (BTW, this is not a commentary on parenting. I am aware that it's energy-sucking and probably impossible to follow through every single time. I'm just talking about the article.)
The comments were pretty predictable: divided between people making that very point (about the behaviour), and people complaining about childless couples spoiling everything. Which brings me to the second odd thing: I thought not only the author but also a lot of readers skimmed over a mention of empty nesters being the ones taking advantage of the child-free stuff-- after all, haven't they paid their dues? I realise I'm quite sensitive, being one of the childless people that tend to be alternately ridiculed for being different or blamed for the end of society as we know it, but there are a lot of factors at play. Lenore at Free Range Kids frequently disparages cities that ban "unaccompanied" adults (by children, that is) from parks, childrens' sections at libraries, and so on. So, alas, it goes both ways.
Here's where it gets interesting, though: While the US may indeed be less open to the continuous presence of children than it was a couple of years ago, it's not the first time. In Generations, William Strauss & Neil Howe describe that every fourth generation (the Reactive type), is a "bad-child generation". The most recent time of "unremitting hostility toward children" was when Gen Xers were young. Yay, us! So, we might be coming around to that. We've certainly been moving toward the opposite end of the cycle-- the "suffocating overprotection" that they also mention of Adaptive-type generations.
And I wonder if child-free shopping or movies are actually part of that attempt to keep kids from bad influences: This way, they'll only be in the store or the cinema when other families are, right? None of those predatory and potentially dangerous childless people there to cause them harm. I really hope that isn't it, because I'm in the camp that believes multi-generational influences are important for kids, as is mixing with all types of people. I love that I can be the "safe" adult for a lot of teens I know-- I don't react to anything like their parents would, but I am there to be a listening ear and possibly offer some suggestions for how to proceed. I would want the same kind of people to be there for my own kids.
Have you ever encountered any child-free or family-only environments? What do you think about that?