You might disagree with me on this, but children younger than five should not be allowed in restaurants. Fast food places, family restaurants, restaurants designed for children, okay; but otherwise the child should be left at home. If the parents cannot find a baby sitter then they should find a place suitable for children or stay home.
Any restaurant not billing itself as a family restaurant should have the right to ask parents with a noisy or misbehaving child to leave, whether the child is three or twelve. I’ve sat in restaurants where children who were six or seven years old ran around playing tag. Once I was eating a plate of Butternut Squash Tortellacci when a girl, probably eight, maybe nine who had been too loud and boisterous for my tastes, topped her behavior off by vomiting on the leg of a man at a table about five feet from mine. That might not have happened if the restaurant had been able to ask the family to leave.
Other than terrible food or terrible service, terrible surroundings will ruin almost any romantic night out. A child screaming or running around a restaurant will turn any atmosphere, no matter how lush or lavish into something lurid.
I know there are times when even the best children act up, get irritable, get sick, or are just ‘out of sorts.’ When that happens a considerate parent will remove the child until the child is able to return to normal or will leave and take the child home. There is no reason to abuse other people with an inability to be a considerate parent.
Actually, I feel this way about most public establishment including retail stores (especially grocery) and churches, but especially about restaurants.
What do you think? Am I way off base here? Should I be the one who stays home or leaves the restaurant?
For something similar read: Children in restaurants, a delicate dining dance – baltimoresun.com.