Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Children in pubs

I like to portray myself as a grumpy old bastard. Even though I say so myself, I think I've done a pretty good job. Possibly because that's my true character. But there's one point on which I deviate from my crusty manifesto: children in pubs.


I took Lexie with me to Wildeman on Saturday. Here in Holland taking your kids down the pub is perfectly normal. Everyone does it and no-one minds. Just as well, because even if it had been socially unacceptable, I'd still have done it.

My kids were pub regulars before they could walk. Mostly in Bedier, a pub next to the sixth most dangerous road junction in Holland. But I'd take them into town to Belgique and Wildeman, too. I won't pretend that there weren't some hairy moments. Andrew had a habit of running off down Nieuwedijk if I didn't keep a close eye on him. And Lexie, well, was Lexie. He's inherited my psychopathic streak.

Now I'm reaping the benefit of getting the kids accustomed to pubs early. They sit there nicely and, if they get fed up, fiddle with one of their many electronic devices. Or say "Dad, I'm bored. Can we go home now?" Which is fair enough. But I can usually get 1.5 to 2 hours boozing time. More than enough, even for a pisshead like me.

Of course, the British way is much better. Confine kids in the beer garden with a bottle of pop and a bag of crisps until they're 18 (or 16, to be more realistic). Drop adolescents right into adult life - and alcohol consumption - cold. Just like they used to throw kids into the river to teach them to swim. Yes, Europe has much to learn from Britain.

12 comments:

Tandleman said...

Pete Brown is on about this. I guess it isn't about children in the end, it's about behaviour.

Laurent Mousson said...

Hear hear. Kids in pubs are not a problem of either kids or the pub. It's a problem of parents being aware of their responsibilities, of the pub being a public space, and therefore one where they must expect a certain standard of behaviour and be ready to enforce it.
But then how would they understand it that way, since they weren't taken to pubs under supervision when they were kids themselves ?

Making sure kids experience isn't the magic bullet against binge drinking. Young males, especially, are bound to test the limits in their teenage years.
But if there's an existing reference point of civilised drinking somewhere in their mental landscape, they're quite obviously more likely to know where next when they're tested said limits enough. If there's no such reference point, it's a lot harder...

Bailey said...

As I said over at Pete's, I don't mind kids in pubs at all. I don't even mind a bit of crying, laughing, shouting or running around.

As a child, I spent far too many boring afternoons in "family rooms" (torn seats, stained carpets, no heating) or sitting on concrete steps eating crisps, and I certainly don't think people should have to stay at home because they've done what the majority of the human race does at some point and reproduced...

Adrian Tierney-Jones said...

I agree Ron, James sits there with his PSP, as quiet as a mouse and I reckon he won’t want to go anywhere near pubs when he is older, he’s done his time and unlike me when it comes to 18 (or 15 to be honest) he won’t think of them as places you have to sneak into, or as places that are a bit edgy and where you act like an idiot — pubs to him will be as normal as the butchers or the post office (if we still have them)

ZakAvery said...

I can't think of a better way of deterring teenagers from going to the pub - if it's the place that dad hangs out, it must be rubbish.

Ed said...

When I was a kid I like sitting outside with a bottle of coke and a bag of crips, we didn't get them normally.

And kids don't go straight into pubs at 16, they serve their apprenticeship drinking in parks first!

First Stater said...

The American model is even worse. Alcohol is hidden from the children for their whole life. The kids may sneak a few beers from dad's hidden stash over time, it is considered the forbidden fruit. And then off to college where booze is freely available, kids have their first taste of freedom and responsibility and a few die each year from alcohol poisoning.

Ed said...

My sister was in America for a year and she said it was worse. Young adults neck spirits in bar toilets brought to them by older friends. And then drive home ...

Alan said...

My kids have been with me in pubs since their days in diapers. They are reminded to have their "restaurant manners" and have learned the skill. Not that they are little angels but I'd much rather be having my pint with well mannered kids than near any loud mouth, sweary adult who thinks a pub is his personal space.

david m said...

Like so much in life, this issue has its roots in the culture of personal irresponsibility that we have to endure.
Irresponsible parents create the problems of unruly kids in pubs, irresponsible drunk behaviour creates the problems that get the lawmakers twitchy for yet more legislation that only treats the symptoms not the cause. The industry may not be lillywhite but it carries the can.

Joe Stange said...

Kids also tend to be welcome in pubs in Belgium. The problem is that most of them are still too smoky. By banning smoking, UK pubs now face the kid question more directly.

Seems to me that pubs in whatever country are ideally for the community. Not just men, not just old people, but everyone. And they tend to be places where everyone gets what they want: kids get a snack and soda while mom and dad get a beer to take the edge off.

Still, it's up to management to set a kid-free environment if they want. Just do everyone a courtesy and post it on the front door.

Matt said...

I have no problem with well-behaved kids in pubs. However I do think it's a shame they'll miss out on the teenage rite of entering the forbidden territory of the pub with their mates and ordering an illegal pint.

The smoking ban has obviously made pubs more child-friendly although before it came in I actually saw a group of mothers in a pub in Manchester who had put their toddlers' buggies in a circle and were all puffing away around it!