Debate: 'Pubs Are No Place For Children.'

10/04/2013 08:47 | Updated 22 May 2015
Debate: 'Pubs are no place for children.' Alamy

It's rare that I spend an evening at the pub nowadays, but last weekend I got a babysitter and took my husband out for a drink. I was horrified to see at the next table a young child out with her parents. To her credit, she was happily colouring in for the best part of the evening, but she and her parents didn't leave until 9pm.

It made me hugely uncomfortable: I felt I had to watch my language and consider the topics I was discussing, which isn't something I expect to do at an adult venue such as a pub.

Louise Bruce agrees. "Kids should be at home, eating tea, having a bath and going to bed," she says. "The language in pubs isn't appropriate for children, and it's not fair on adults who want to let their hair down." And let's face it, that's what adults do on a Friday night.

My local pub isn't a scummy spit and sawdust joint, it's a well-to-do gastropub with black and white prints on the wall, and roaring log fires in winter. But come the weekend, there'll be three or four drunk chaps propping up the bar, a gaggle of pissed sixth-formers, half a rugby team and numerous couples on their second bottle of wine. Even in the Cotswolds, the language can get a bit ripe.

This isn't a rant from child-hating parents: I have three of my own children and I love spending time with them. I have taken them out to restaurants since they were babies and I am proud of their behaviour. But I would no sooner take them to the pub on a Friday night than I would let them cross a road by themselves. Watch people get drunk? Listen to them swear? Walk through the fug of smokers outside the front door? It simply isn't appropriate.

Like me, my friend Layla feels strongly that pubs are adult spaces, especially in the evenings, and she thinks that having her own children has reinforced that view.

She says:


If I've gone to the trouble of getting a baby-sitter, I don't want someone else's brat running about playing hide and seek under the tables!


But mum-of-one Catherine resents the implication that children are always badly behaved. She and her partner take their six-year-old daughter to the pub every Friday night, staying out till around 9.30pm.

"We enjoy going out," she says, "and don't see why this has to stop just because we have a child. We don't have family nearby, so our social network is important to us, and our daughter is well-behaved and capable of holding interesting conversations."

Catherine believes this time is a crucial part of their family bonding time, away from television, homework and chores, but whilst I wholeheartedly support the need for family time, I don't think the pub is the place for it.

Play a board game, go for a walk, take the kids to a museum, or go out for a meal – but choose a child-friendly environment where the kids won't be bored senseless and you won't be polluting someone else's child-free time with chatter about birthday parties, or the incessant beeping of some gadget brought along to allay the inevitable boredom.

I know not everyone has family nearby to look after the children, and I do appreciate that babysitters are expensive. But sorry – that's a choice you make when you have children. If you don't have childcare then don't go out.


I love children, but I don't want my own kids in my grown-up space, and I sure as hell don't want yours.


What do you think?

Do you take your kids to the pub or should they be a child-free zone, at least in the evenings?

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