In Sunday’s New York Times, Alex Williams wades into a modern minefield of a topic: parents who bring their children into bars.
Williams’ article, “Look Who’s Getting Rolled Out of the Bar,” takes a look at parents who like to bring the wee ones into the local for a quick cold one. Concerned about stroller pileups and liability issues, some bars are asking parents to pass on by (or at least leave the Maclaren at home), while bar patrons' arguments have grown increasingly heated on both sides of the debate (for proof, just check out the comments that have been showered on the article). Williams’ story focuses primarily on parents and establishments in New York, where neither city nor state laws ban minors from bars; other places, of course, take a different approach.
The mix of alcohol consumption and parenting has long been a sticky issue, and as the response to Williams’ article demonstrates, it’s not a topic that’s likely to cool down anytime soon. As an aficionado of fine drink and drinking establishments who is also the father of two, I’m familiar with the quandary. While I regularly work a visit to a cocktail bar into my weekly schedule (for research purposes, of course), I can’t imagine taking my kids inside—where, for legal reasons and house policy, we’d no doubt be shown the door.
But I also want my children to grow up seeing the responsible consumption of alcoholic beverages as an acceptable thing for adults to do, in hopes that it’ll help eliminate the appeal of the forbidden that can play a role in binge drinking later in life. On this point, I’m happy that I live in Seattle, where many brewpubs (which, while doing a healthy restaurant trade, are still clearly about the beer) feature high chairs and kid’s menus, so I can sip an IPA over dinner while my kids color their place mats in an environment that is unambiguously family friendly.
That’s my two cents—what’s yours? Should kids never pass through the door of a drinking establishment until their 21st birthday, or is there a point where peaceful coexistence is possible?