Visit The Pub Curmudgeon site

Pellicle magazine has recently published an article entitled Pubs, Parenthood and Children at the Heart of the Community advocating a more tolerant attitude to children in pubs. Now, I’ve been over this ground many times before, so I don’t propose to revisit it here. However, I can’t help thinking that the article paints a rather rose-tinted picture of mummy happily sipping her third of craft beer with her friends while little Jocasta quietly sits with a colouring book, which all too often bears little relation to reality.
One argument that came up in discussion about this was the old chestnut that “what adults do in pubs is far worse than a few noisy children”. Now, in extremis, this is undoubtedly true, but it is essentially a classic example of the logical fallacy of tu quoque, that wrongdoing by one group in some may justifies or excuses the (possibly less serious) wrongdoing by another group.
I also have to say that, in my experience, witnessing inappropriate adult behaviour in pubs is extremely rare. This is true not only of actions at the extreme end of the scale such as fighting, or being abusive or threatening, but also more low-level behaviour such as shouting too loudly, throwing tantrums or deliberately annoying or pestering others. Of course it does happen, but it isn’t an everyday occurrence.
It has to be remembered, though, that behaviour has to be taken in context, and what might be par for the course when the local team win a football match, or in a lively city-centre bar late at night, would stand out like a sore thumb at lunchtime in a rural gastropub. Pubs often, by definition, are somewhat boisterous – that comes with the territory.
Children in pubs can often behave in a way that would be entirely normal for the playground, but is inappropriate for a pub environment and would not be considered acceptable in adults. (By “pub” I mean a drinking place, not a casual dining venue) It doesn’t mean that you hate children not to want to be in the presence of their happy laughter all the time.
The article rightly points to the importance of the pub as a “third space”, a refuge where people can relax away from the pressures of the workplace and the home. And, for many people, that also means an adult space that offers a respite from the responsibility of tending to children’s needs, and where inhibitions can be loosened somewhat. Is that something so unreasonable to ask for?