Babies in bars -- a singular offence?

UK pub sceneA twenty-something New Yorker living in an area of Brooklyn where she finds “the mommy culture run amok” (most residents have children and she does not) complains that she is running into infants in -- of all places -- her favourite bars. Double strollers on the streets and toddlers in cafes are bad enough, she frets, but “bar-babies” are the limit.

No matter what breeders might think, bars are not family-friendly. If I am out drinking and sobbing about a bad breakup, I don’t want my cries to compete with those of an infant sitting next to me. If I go to the bathroom to correct my wayward mascara at the end of a long weekend night, I don’t want to watch a baby being wiped down on the soggy sink counter.

Nor do I want to be scolded by parents like the ones at the Gate, a favorite bar, where friends have witnessed a few mothers with toddlers actually wagging their fingers when young people cursed too loudly or got a little sloppy, while conveniently overlooking the fact that alcohol, blaring punk rock and drunken partiers are not pediatrician-approved.

You can see from these quotes that the woman has a problem with babies, and it’s not that she sees them being abused by their well-heeled parents. No, it’s that she does not want them to intrude on her social life at all just now, thank you. But is she right about the bar bit?

Personally, I think some babies in bars is okay. It is no sin, and, in (say) a cold weather climate with strict public consumption and open container laws--not to mention unaffordable housing for families and the cost of sitters--I don't see why a parent couldn't bring their tot to a bar in order to have a beer with friends. In Ireland it is quite common to have a family booth: a room without a table with the walls lined with cushioned benches. The kids play on the floor while the parents gab and drink.

Laying arbitrary social norms on parents and parenting in order to maintain a singles culture that can be brash, drunk, and crass without any guilt seems a detestable thing to me. Given the bar scene, one must be careful, but my wife and I have often brought little nursing infants to restaurants and sat in the bar for a long while waiting for tables.

It is not my general cup of tea, but there is nothing wrong with it.


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