Pub's New Child-Free Rule Sparks Debate About Whether People's Dislike Of Children Has Gone Too Far

Sure, people are entirely too unwelcoming to parents nowadays. But is a child-free bar really that big a deal?

Child crying in restaurant Anna Nass / Shutterstock

Once upon a time, children were expected to be "seen and not heard." Thankfully, we've gotten over that bizarre requirement. 

But has the pendulum swung too far the other way? Some seem to think so, and an uproar has erupted over the topic on social media. 

A pub's new child-free rule had sparked a heated debate about people's feelings regarding kids. 

The commotion began when a British man named Kyle posted a joking photo of himself outside The Lower Red Lion Pub in St. Albans, U.K. 


In it, Kyle pointed with a smile to a chalkboard sign the pub had put out that read, "Dog-friendly, child-free." 

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Kyle captioned his tweet, "found my new local," the term Brits use for the pub nearest their home. A place to enjoy a pint with your pup without having to worry about kids running around sounds pretty great for the dog-loving, child-free set, right?

And it doesn't seem as though Kyle intended to say anything more than that.

But Kyle's very simple tweet has set off a furious debate about where kids should and should not be allowed and what is and is not a reasonable amount of like or dislike for children — all of it on a level that would make you think Kyle and the Lower Red Lion had launched a campaign calling for children to be banished to an island or something.

As Kyle put it in a follow-up response to his tweet, "This got weird," and the longer the discourse has gone on, the weirder it's gotten. 


Many found the pub's new child-free rule to be an example of over-the-top contempt many seem to have for children today.

I am a person who loves kids but has no interest in having my own. My nieces and nephew are my favorite people on Earth, and I would take one thousand bullets for them. Still, I also cannot wait to go home approximately 90 minutes into every visit because they are a lot.

So, I'm sympathetic to those who don't like kids. But I must say, nowadays, I am sometimes downright shocked by the vitriol people have for children. 

@kpifthatscool so cute that he smells like a ball pit #children ♬ original sound - KP Parker

If a baby makes the slightest peep in public, there always seems to be one person on the verge of a tirade, and social media is full of people who feel the need to underline their discourse about not wanting kids with broad proclamations of their open hatred for children. It's… a little weird at times and often seems like it borders on the pathological. 


A perfect example of how strange this has become is the response to husband-and-wife TikTok influencers Alex and Jon's announcement that they are having a baby. Many fans have acted as if the once happily child-free couple's decision to have a kid is not only an outright betrayal but some sort of ethical lapse. It's… really weird.

@lukecgraham Imagine commenting on a stranger’s pregnancy announcement to tell them you’re disappointed that they’re having kids… #pregnancyannouncement #pregnant #fyp ♬ original sound - Luke Graham

Some of the replies to Kyle's post definitely trafficked in this bizarre level of contempt, and with it came tons of angry responses from parents about how unwelcome they feel in public with their kids nowadays.

"[Stuff] like this makes me feel so insane, like why are we banning parents (women in particular) from public spaces!!! Your dog doesn't want to go to a pub or restaurant!!!" one woman wrote in a tweet.


Some replies even likened people's distaste for and intolerance of "other people's kids" to outright bigotry against children and parents — a view that seems to have become increasingly common in the wider discourse about this issue. 

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But is one single pub — in a city with scores of them — banning children really that big of a deal? 

For every outraged tweet by parents that Kyle's post seemed to inspire, there has been another who finds this uproar patently insane. After all, is the Lower Red Lion's rule really that out-of-line — especially given that we're talking about an institution for imbibing?


Sure, the very nature of a British pub is that it's a sort of community gathering spot, and communities include children. But this is only one pub in a city of nearly 150,000 people. Is it really this serious? As one man pithily put it, "If your child is that gasping for a pint, surely you can take them to one of the many pubs which do allow families?" 

Of course, the vitriol and contempt people seem to so freely express toward children nowadays has a corollary — all too many parents seem to have taken trends like "gentle parenting" to mean "let your child do whatever they please wherever they please with nary a moment's pushback." (The same can be said of dogs and dog owners nowadays, to be fair.)

How many outings have we all sat through at this point while children run roughshod through a restaurant while their parents pretend not to notice? Not to be an old man rapping his cane on the table in exasperation, but when I was a kid and acted a fool in a restaurant, my mom packed me up and took me home. That used to be the default, a common courtesy. It doesn't seem to be anymore.


In the end, this seems like a debate where both sides have taken things entirely too far.

Yes, people are entirely too free nowadays with their open hatred of children — including to the face of those children's parents in restaurants, on planes, and basically anywhere else a child dares make a peep in public.

We're at a point where parents are now making apologetic "goodie bags" for their fellow plane passengers because they're so terrified of blowback for their babies crying on a plane — which is inevitable since that's what babies do. 


And yes, this all speaks to a sort of erosion of the basic social contract that multiple studies have shown is rapidly fraying.

But likening the advent of child-free establishments to systemic bigotry when parents can simply go to a different restaurant where children are welcome is equally absurd. 

Maybe everyone needs to just take a breath and have a bit of empathy — a bit for the parents just trying to survive and stay sane in a world ready to bite their heads off any time they dare leave the house before their baby's 25th birthday, and a bit for everyone else who should be able to enjoy a meal or a drink without having to navigate the slings and arrows of other people's kids.


And if one place is teeming with caterwauling brats or another considers kids public enemy number one, well… There's always another restaurant or bar down the road. It's really, truly not this serious.

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John Sundholm is a news and entertainment writer who covers pop culture, social justice, and human interest topics.