"http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-transitional.dtd"> urbanMamas

Children Allowed, but not welcome

Recently, I had to use a Groupon (or one of those types of offers) for a facial.  I booked 6 weeks in advance, or even more.  I was excited.  I hadn't had a treat like this in a long, long time.  The morning of the facial, my sitter for the day cancelled, and I was home with my 7-year old daughter all day.  Rather than forfeit or reschedule, I decided to bring her along.  I told her our plan for the day, which included chores, lunch, the facial, some errands, and free swim.  She was excited.  She packed her bag for the day, which included a book and some water and a small snack for her to have during the 60-minute facial.  I know my girl.  She would be cooperative.

I suppose I didn't give it too much thought.  I suppose I could have.  It was a one-person operation, I figured.  We would disturb only ourselves.  I have actually had to bring a child with me before to a bodywork appointment and it was fine.  I was extremely put off by the response I received when the aesthetician opened the door.

She took one look at me, then looked long and hard at my daughter.  The look on her face was baffled, confused, and irritated.  She said, "OH", with a tone that I heard to mean "What the heck is *this*?" and "I don't do kids here."  I explained, "My sitter backed out at the last minute and this is all I could do."  She said, "OH." a few more times, with the same tone, exaggerated and really annoyed.  I tried to put the tone aside and so I could enjoy the 60 minutes I had been looking forward to for weeks.

My daughter was silent for those 60  minutes.  I forgot she was there.  She was reading and having some water and playing pretend games in her head.

Even if it was not explicit that kids were not allowed, it felt like the business operator's response indicated kids shouldn't be there.  I've been into some stores before that literally seem to flinch when I walk in with my kid(s).  Sometimes, I'm made to feel like the kids are a disease.  When it comes to airline travel, kids are an annoyance to other travelers and there is the constant proposal that there be kid-free sections of the plane.  Restaurants and supermarkets (like a Whole Foods location in Missouri) are following the kid-free movement, outright banning children or implementing the ban during specific hours.  (Ever take the kids to Happy Hour?  Always!)

Are there places you wouldn't bring your children, even if kids are technically allowed?  Are there circumstances under which you would support the kid-free movement?  Do you think the kids should be allowed to come along wherever you are entitled to go?


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

I think that the only way to teach children how to behave in public is to take children out into public. Taking them only to explicitly family-friendly locales doesn't afford them much of a chance to work on those skills.

On the other hand, the onus is on the parent to know her own child and his respective limitations and strengths. Not every outing needs to be a teaching moment. Sometimes you need to just identify: "Okay, this isn't working," pack up and head home, and try again another time.

I think well-behaved children should be allowed to go where ever parents go. The problem is the term "well-behaved" can have many interpretations.

I'm a Naturopathic Physician and often bring my son to work with me (only after I've checked with my patient). He's used to being there. He thinks of it as a special treat. He gets to play with the toys there, read the books and maybe watch a little video. He's very well-behaved for a 3 year old. I'm very lucky.

I think parents should be allowed to use their best judgement when bringing their children along. That facial appointment was for you, not for the aesthetician. You should have been allowed to bring your dog, your neighbor and your husband if you darn well felt like it. You're the customer and the one to be pleased and pampered, not her.

Ooh, I wish you could tell us where that was :-)

I think that there is nothing wrong with child-free areas; a spa being one of those. When I go for a treatment of some sort I want to be away from my children and the children of others for just a little while. Usually spas don't allow any children at all since people are relaxing, walking around in various stages of undress, preparing for special occasions and generally being adults. She was right to be annoyed since you should have called ahead and asked if it was okay before bringing a child along. Inconsideration on the part of parents is one of the reasons there is such a backlash against families.

I don't think that's analogous at all to air travel which is a necessity not a luxury

"I'm a Naturopathic Physician and often bring my son to work with me (only after I've checked with my patient)."

I wonder why you wouldn't think that the aesthetician is deserving of the same consideration? Just because someone is providing a service does not mean that they are not due the same basic respect and consideration you'd show your patients.

I personally would never give my business to anyone that has any kind of no-kids policy (other than places that have no choice, such as bars). I rarely go to coffee shops or restaurants with my kids, unless there is a play area or some other kid accommodations. I think money constraints keep most parents from bringing their kids to fancy restaurants, and bedtimes keep them from being places late at night. That is when people can enjoy kid-free establishments. I think everyday places, like supermarkets and restaurants open during regular hours, should welcome and accommodate children.

I don't have a child that would sit quietly for an hour, so I can only dream of what that would be like! But, I also think that makes me think hard about where/when I do bring children. I had to bring my son to a dental appointment once before and it worked out okay, but I really try to avoid something like that. I do find intolerance of children in general pretty hard to take, but I can understand that not everyone appreciates my darlings the same as I do.

As to the idea of asking first, it still can create a weird situation. If the aesthetician really needed the work, she might feel obligated to say yes even if she didn't like it and, for her, having the child present might really interefere with her ability to focus on her work, gives you a crummy experience, which you then advertise to friends and she loses out. She'd be kind of in a no-win on that one because if she said no, she risks you doing the same thing. And for the naturopath above, I don't know that I would feel so confident that asking first makes it any better. Your patients might not feel like they can say no and still get the same care. I think if you're going to bring your child, you should just do that and not put the responsibility for the decision on your patient. Just my opinion, though.

I think it's sad that we now live in a culture where we no longer look out for one another. What ever happened to the idea of "it takes a village"? We wonder why so many moms out there feel depressed, alone and defeated. I feel it is because we are in fact alone and defeated in many respects. I heard on the news the other evening of some casual family style restaurants that are becoming "kid free zones". One woman who was interviewed said "I like kid free zones because I no longer have to be assaulted with a kid's cry". It angered me and made me sad when she used the word assaulted. We need to respect our children and respect other's children. We need to treat them as human beings and if a child cries why not lend a hand just for a moment to help a mom or dad out.

I think this issue is related to manners and courtesy. There is such a continuum in our society of what is acceptable behavior in public (for both adults and kids), that people are often made uncomfortable when their boundaries are crossed.

I tend not to bring my child with me to places that are not explicitly child-friendly. Many times my own enjoyment of my adult time has been ruined by self-absorbed parents who drag their poor children with them *everywhere.* This is particularly prevalent in Portland, I've noticed. Often this means that I don't get to go to the fun places I used to when I was childless, or that I must hire a sitter, or make alternate plans. But that is the choice you make when you have children--you have to change your life! A spa is not an appropriate place to bring a child; you should have rescheduled or found alternate arrangements for her. Neither is a bar or a non-casual restaurant, in my opinion. It's just thoughtless.

You can bring your kid to Zenana Spa. (I promise I don't work there.)

I've found other cultures so much more child friendly and welcoming of children... we still have a "seen and not heard" mentality which has grown into a "not even seen" in many respects. So sad, b/c children are so much fun.

I'm actually glad to see this on a site not devoted to children with special needs. As I have son with Down syndrome, I know that I can easily jump to the conclusion that the reason my kids aren't wanted somewhere is because people are uncomfortable around even a child with different abilities. I'm wary and on-guard that people won't want their children to play with him at the park, etc. I guess I need to rethink all that because 1) it's not happening at the park, and 2) it is happening at other places to people who have typical children.

I agree with Candice that I just naturally support businesses that have kid zones that show they are willing to accept the behavior of non-adult humans in their establishment. Also, yay Zenana! As a mom that has weaned both kids I was thinking that I had aged-out of their demographic, but now I'm thinking that I need to send my business their way.

Kim - Why would a child who did not say a word or do anything but sit quietly interfere with the aesthetician's ability to do her work well? If this was an adult friend, not a child, we wouldn't be even discussing it here because it would be ok. What is the difference if both just sit with their mouths closed?
I understand that many children misbehave in public and it creates backlash. But business owners should just criticize those kids (or their parents) not all children. If I have a couple of middle aged annoying uncles who drink too much, should I assume that all middle aged men are like that and exclude them from any family functions or not do business with them??? Generalization is never ok!

Children should not attend spa appointments. Sorry, but it's not appropriate. You should have cancelled or given your groupon to a friend. Not everyone likes kids.

Exclude the kids and middle aged men? That doesn't sound half bad. Especially if we're still talking about a private massage appointment...

I think you can love kids and support plenty of places where they are welcomed without agreeing that it is appropriate for them to be everywhere all of the time.

I go to the spa to get away from my kids. I treat myself just twice a year to facial and I would have been highly annoyed at you.... no matter how quiet your kid was!

When children are around adults cannot relax in the same way. You have to watch what you say, be much more conscientious about your modesty, kids stare if you have freaky stuff on your head or face or make comments...they haven't yet learned that a spa for example is a place where adults respect eachothers space in a heightened way. It changes the dynamic and if you are trying to have a break from a child-centric world and let loose a bit, or like jacksons mom just treat yourself, the presence of kids can radically diminish that. I kill myself to take care of everyone and I don't want to spend my hard earned time at the spa worrying about you or your childs sensibilities in an effort to avoid confrontation or embarrassment on my one day off . Get a sitter.

Just because you go to the spa to get away from the kids doesn't mean we all have to comply (read: keep our kids away from you). If I go to the spa after a hard day at work trying to get away from my coworkers, that doesn't mean my coworkers should be banned from this spa.

The stated reasons that kids do not belong there do not apply to another adult.

Every adult was once a kid. Kids are part of our world. Get over it, people! If you don't like shopping when kids are also in the grocery store, then YOU do YOUR shopping at midnight.

I think a lot of the negativity towards children in public has more to do with how poorly parents allow their kids to behave than with kids in general. I love kids, but when kids are being little shits and their parents don't care, I don't want to be around them.

If I were the person providing the facial in the post, or any such service that is quiet, intimate, and one-on-one, I would have had the same response to someone bringing a child without any forewarning. YOU knew that your child is capable of sitting quietly for an hour, SHE did not. For all she knew, she was going to spend the next hour trying to keep your kid off her equipment and out of her tools and quiet, while you laid back receiving your treatment. Should have called ahead and asked.

aj, my thought about it interfering with the aesthetician's work has to do with this person not knowing what the child is going to do. If she has to be hypervigilant about the child getting into things, wandering, beginning to talk and ask questions, etc., then it might interfere with her work. I would assume anyone in the beauty industry is going for an atmosphere that is quiet, peaceful, etc. Unless this child has been there before, she has no idea how the child will behave. Despite mom's assurances the child will be fine. And if mom is unavailable because she's mid-treatment and the child has a need, who is going to need to manage it? I just don't think it's surprising that someone might not like it.

Kim, we are talking about a 7 year old, not a toddler.
Michael Barton, I am with you.

Despite whether it was appropriate to bring the child to the appointment or not, the aesthetician could have been more graceful. If she had concerns, she should have been direct about them instead of being rude. Just as restaurant managers should address poor behavior if children are out control.

Unfortunately, the lack of consideration combined with the ridiculous sense of entitlement exhibited by many parents has resulted in a society where people feel like they must create rule based buffers and exclusion zones as a way to establish adult only spaces. Children cannot drive, or drink or vote or do countless other things adults can because it is not socially and developmentally appropriate. I guess some would call that unfair since they are people, too but the majority have decided that some privileges are simply reserved for adults.

In the original post, the inclusion about Whole Foods and other grocery stores following some kind of "kid-free movement" was not actually supported by the included link; the article referenced actually said:
"Even running errands with toddlers may be changing. This summer Whole Foods stores in Missouri are offering child-free shopping hours. Kids are allowed inside but childcare service is available for parents who want to shop kid-free. (Whole Foods contacted Shine to clarify that the company does not have a kid's ban. The store's child-free shopping hours are "about giving parents a break, not about clearing out the kids for those who want a child-free zone," says a spokesperson for the grocery chain.)"

Not quite the same thing, is it?

Wow anon...great catch. It's funny; when you're a hammer everything looks like a nail.

Yep. Some aggregator on Babble got the Whole Foods thing wrong, too. I feel sorry for that store - they are trying to do something nice for parents akin to the Fred Meyer or IKEA playlands, and the entire Internet is now accusing them of child hostility. It's worse than a shame when bloggers rely so much on other reporting that they can't/won't check facts.

What rude behavior and exceptionally poor service by the aesthetician. Anyone in the service industry has to learn to deal with conflict graciously - obviously she had some conflict with the presence of your daughter in the room but chose to handle it very poorly. I'm sorry you had to deal with this during the time that you had set aside for your special treat! In this situation I would've done the exact same thing... brought my child in to the appointment without a second thought.

I am surprised at how many commenters here, presumably parents themselves, are proponents of no-kid zones at spas, salons, nice restaurants, etc. I hear many saying that the presence of children (regardless of how well-behaved) makes some uneasy when they're trying to enjoy a child-free night, but my experience is so different than that. It doesn't bother me in the slightest to see a child at a fancy restaurant, at the ballet, at a spa, etc.

To "Anon" who wants to emphasize "Not everyone likes kids": I don't care. I see this comment in all sorts of discussions about kids in public. I have strong feelings about what is and is not appropriate kid behavior in various public settings, etc. I don't take my kids to fancy restaurants and to events where the majority of people are expecting quiet still company or stores full of stuff that's easy to break. If the terms of the debate are about this, fine. But this presumption that by bringing my kid into public, I am expecting everyone to like him and to coo "Oh look, how cute," is self-serving crap. I don't care if you "like" my kid. Based on your comment, I suspect he wouldn't like you either and that would be fine with me. I would, however, still expect him to be polite and civil to you. If I could pick and choose who went where on the basis of whether or not I liked them, well, you probably would just have to stay home.

I don't let those looks make me feel insecure in the least. Children are human beings too, albeit, badly behaved children are a different story. In your situation, i would have held my head up high and carried on without hesitation. I have two well behaved boys (yes, boys!) And like you, there are times when they must come along to places like that. I give them a very stern talking to in the car about what kind of behavior i expect and *cough*threaten*cough* what privileges will be lost if there is bad behavior. I've gotten those looks, but the professionals are always complimenting us and shocked when we leave after my boys have exceeded their low expectations.

Oh, i should mention though, that me PERSONALLY, wouldn't. Want to bring my boys along to a spa hour, no matter how well behaved they were. That wouldn't. Be the same level of relaxation.HOWEVER, it's. Still your choice and you shouldn't have been gawked at like that.

I've got 2 boys who, while they are getting older and more mature, are still active guys with short attention spans and naturally loud voices. I would never even dream of taking one of them to a spa appointment, not out of "fear" of disrespecting the establishment or fellow customers, but because it would likely be one of the least relaxing experiences of my life. If I showed up at a spa and a Mama had a well behaved child with her, I'm not sure I'd even think twice about it. My opinion is that the OP is a paying customer just like the rest of us, who used her own judgement about whether or not it was appropriate to bring her child. A facial is generally done in a quiet room with just the customer and the aesthetician--not in a room crowded with other customers. I think the aesthetician's reaction was inappropriate--it's not about her, it's about her customer--and she didn't come off that way at all.

I skip as many errands with my kids as possible, doing most of it when they are in school or on the weekends when I can leave them at home with my husband. It saves me a ton of stress and allows me to have time with them that we all enjoy a lot more. I know that not every parent has that luxury. I find that when I do take them with me, they are generally well behaved and the reaction I receive about them from others is much more positive than I expect, and I am usually more stressed about their behavior than anyone else. I like seeing kids and families out in public, I think we should have a more positive and accepting attitude about it. When we have travelled to Europe we have always been amazed at the accepting attitudes around kids in public places, even very nice restaurants. Its refreshing.

I live for several years in Europe and children would never be welcomed in a spa. There is a huge difference between a restaurant and a spa.

Slight tangent but I find the attitude towards service providers on this thread a bit disturbing. Just because someone provides a service for you does not mean they should be treated like a peon or shown little or no consideration. I guess it's an extension of the sense of entitlement others have mentioned and it is a real problem in Portland.

How would one know children were not welcome at a spa? Wouldn't the spa need to advise this somehow? If one isn't a regular attendee, it's not common knowledge.

I do think it's important to teach children expectations of certain environments and if we do not take them into public places how will they ever learn what is expected behavior. We tell our three year old that we are at a place of business and that he has to hold our hand and use an inside voice and if he does that when we are finished he gets a lollipop or honey stick. Some may see that as bribery but I am reinforcing the expectation with something that is meaningful to him and rewarding. We all need rewards for doing things that are hard for us. The tricky part is when there is gray area like for instance he knows what is expected at restaurants and what is expected at the park but when you blend these two like summer concerts or movies in the park the lines are unclear and many parents lack compassion when your child invades their picnic area. So we pack it up and go home. I think children and parents should be aloud to be in public places and we need to allow children opportunities to learn expectations but I think we should all just take a deep breath and be patient and compassionate with others. My son is not perfect and neither am I in fact none of us are. You don't know peoples situations. For example my husband travels a lot for work and I don't have the luxury of going to the grocery store alone when I am solo parenting. I have left full grocery carts in the store because I felt the pressure of others to pack it in. It's okay for children to have meltdowns and for parents to deal with it in that moment. Sometimes it's nice for others to show understanding instead of disgust. I work with children with special needs and I cannot tell you how many times parents have shared the negative experiences in public and peoples mean nature. Are we just suppose to keep children locked up in their houses? I would like to think we live in a society, time and place where there is more compassion and just a little more peace love and understanding that makes all of our lives a little bit better. Where is the sense of community in all of this negativity?
When my three year old is in the midst of a tantrum I graciously bow out of the situation and am humbled by the experience, but I think it would be better to stick it out and work it through. It's more a result of the social pressure not the tantrum itself. My biggest fear is that my inside voice will express "Oh you are just perfect and your children must be just perfect. How nice for you." I hold back but I think it very loudly sometimes.

spottie I wrongly assumed it was just common knowledge. I've seen the employees at Dosha NW stop people at the elevator and inform them that there are no children permitted on the spa floor.

never been to a spa, so no perspective on that. but if any service is provided in a private room with just the provider and the customer, i don't understand the provider's objection. who will that bother? i don't mean the provider isn't worthy of respect, of course she is. but a mom having her child in the room during a private service appointment isn't disresectful. it's life. if the child was interfering or touching supplies and equipment and the parent didn't respond, it would be another story. but it's unfair to assume it will go that way.

one of my kids has come with me to chiropractic appointments and haircuts with great behavior. the other, i have to get all the stars lined up perfectly before i'll take even to an informal family restaurant. as parents we make 100 decisions a day based on our particular kids. most of us get it right most of the time.

and thanks, leah for pointing out that not all parents have the option to leave kids behind much. even if they want to. i'm one of those. we're a 2 parent family, but both work full time. even if we have babysitting options (we often don't), i want to have dinner with my kids if i haven't seen them all day. while i don't love running errands with them, that's how it goes 90% of the time.

long comment, but i think we owe each other the respect of not bringing kids along when the deck is stacked against them behaving appropriately for the context. and we also owe each other compassion when kids are disruptive in public. kids do that sometimes.

Zenana Spa welcomes children. I use to take my son with me to get my eye brows waxed. They were very welcoming. They also offer infant message classes and other post baby support. Highly recommend!

Interesting post and comments. I'm OK with "kid-free" spots. I get annoyed when places that should welcome kids are not very inviting to all types of children. The other day I was at Belmont library with my very active, verbal three-year-old boy (in the KIDS room) and a mother whose "well-behaved" 7 and 9 year-old girls were quietly reading kept shushing my son. Books are his absolute favorite thing and he was excited....granted, he does not sit down and he talks loudly and moves quickly, but I was disappointed that another parent couldn't even allow for this behavior in a place designed for children. I imagine that parents with kids with certain disabilities must experience this irritation from others all the time and that makes me angry! Personally, I think people need to accept that kids are a part of our world and be more accepting of behavior that isn't perfect, quiet, and "adult"--because they are not little adults, as much as we might want them to be!!

I have had this argument many times with childless friends.Kids will only learn how to behave when given the opportunity to participate in the real world. I take my kids out to dinner once a week, they know how to behave in a restaurant because of it. We have very specific expectations that are expressed beforehand, my kids get praise and occasionally a reward at the end. I see families at places like Hopworks where the play area turns into a babysitter, I do not want to police the area or the other kids. The offending parents wash their hands of the situation as soon as their kids are no longer in their line of sight. It is unpleasant for me, the parent of two of the kids in the area.

On an airplane last year with both my kids, 2 and 4 at the time, we got some horrible looks prior to take off. The kids were excited to be on their first plane ride and excited to go to Disneyland. I was dismayed to see people anticipating the worst from my kids without even giving them a chance. They were mostly quiet, which was more than I could say for the arguing teens a few rows ahead of us.

As for the single person facial, I think her reaction was overboard.

It's interesting that anything about spas could be considered common knowledge. I've never been to one or had a facial. I always thought a facial was having someone else squeeze your blackheads, which seems gross and not at all relaxing. From this line of discussion, it seems I have no idea what a facial really is.

I love the Belmont library and its kids room and especially its youth librarian, but if you get a chance, check out the reviews on Yelp sometime. You'll get to see references to brats and anklebiters and tank like strollers. The library has forever been a quiet place where people shush children - it's hard to fight that history, unless you're in a storytime in one of the side rooms.

Was the beauty person kind of passively rude to her customer? Sure. Does it amount to much in the big scheme of things?

I totally forgot about an experience recently where i took my two boys with me to get my brows waxed. That day, i had no other choice but to bring my kids. Wow. Thinking back to that day, i never even thought twice about it. I Told my kids how to behave and and they did. I didn't recall any weird looks or vibes. And, thinking back to the thread awhile back about taking kids to the park, and getting dirty looks from other parents because of not playing with their kids- or BECAUSE of playing with their kids. I'm starting to think this blog just posts topics to stir the pot. To start drama discussions about" issues" that are not truly there. And if they are there, it's too petty to even consider. This thread, and the one about going to grandmas alone, the park thread, were all a bit ridiculous and just served to rile mamas up,make them feel insecure in their parenting about silly issues.

Jin, eyebrows waxed takes all of 15 minutes with a skilled professional. Many kids can be good/quiet that long. My facial, is full 60 minute treatment.

Get a sitter or swap some time with a good friend and her kids. But please, don't ruin my very rare moments off of mothering. I have two special needs kids and getting any time off is a rare luxury for my family.

Jln I would say that the trend of businesses creating child free times/zones is an indication that this is not a manufactured issue nor an issue too petty to consider. I think that many parents, myself included are used to existing in a community of like values that can be akin to an echo chamber and that instead of patting ourselves on the back or dismissing the concerns of those with very different opinions/experiences we can listen. Perhaps this site offers a glimpse into the thoughts of those with a different pov, value system or experience and that instead of immediately deciding that you're right, the better thing to do is walk in their cyber shoes for a mile and reconsider things you may take for granted, check our own privilege and even admit that initially you may have been wrong. In that way I think even th e contentious threads are valuable.

Some people have a hard time thinking positive. Sounds like your aesthetician is one of them. Regrettably we tend to remember negative experiences quite vividly and she has probably had a few regarding children being in places generally populated by adults. I would like to think that maybe you changed her mind a bit, but chances are she vented about it to a friend or two the same way you have here! I guess sometimes the only difference is perspective.

I can say that personally, as a restaurant server of nearly 15 years, I have never given a table attitude or questioned their presence in my section when their children were accompanying them - even before I became a mama - unless it was an issue of minors being prohibited by law past a certain time due to the increased sale and consumption of alcohol on the premises. Obviously there is a good reason for that restriction.

Even when I have had that situation occur, I do my best to present the situation as merely a safeguard for vulnerable members of our society, and not a statement about families with children being unwelcome. Not everyone is as gracious or, as someone else pointed out above, straightforward about their expectations or concerns.

What ever happened to asking first? Why is it OK to judge the person not expecting the child? You know, someone else actually thought this was a one-person event as well - the person providing the service. You are already getting some sort of discounted rate on this, and then you bring an unexpected child - WOW, I sincerely hope you tipped generously based on the actual cost of the service given the accommodation you seem to expect. Your sitter had the graciousness to call and cancel - perhaps you could have relayed the same to the spa and asked about the child policy. There are things in an spa, including hot wax, chemicals, outlets, etc that are dangerous - and children should not be unsupervised around them, no matter how well behaved you think your children are. These places have liability concerns - they are businesses, and the people who work there deserve respect rather than a call to arms and universal condemnation for things that may be beyond their control (had you the courtesy to ask). Having kids means setting an example - and maybe that example includes forgoing your spa appointment given the change in plans. Teaching kids how to handle disappointment is important too.

Pdxmom, why would the blog author need to call ahead to alert the masseuse? How would a customers young daughter sitting in a corner be any bother to the masseuse? If any one, it would be a bother to the parent who had already thought about it.

She would call ahead out of consideration and to make sure that there were no policy/safety or other issues involved in bringing an unsupervised minor child to their establishment. This thread has made me start to believe that rules excluding children from certain places are necessary despite never having thought so in the past. The lack of common sense and basic consideration for people providing services demonstrates that some of the negative stereotypes about Portland are truer than I imagined. A massage is not a necessity to which one is entitled and so if you cannot make appropriate arrangments for your children you reschedule. The selfish notion that you are only getting a sitter for your benefit and not for the benefit of a very hard working service provider or for the child forced to sit motionless and quiet for an hour points to the fact that some people just don't get it. The world does not revolve around you. What if they had a policy about kids but she's put on the spot since you're standing there aflame in self righteous indignation with this poor kid in tow? She avoids confrontation, muddles through and now you've created one more enemy to moms. If you call ahead she can graciously explain the policy and try and reschedule but that's not what the poster wanted; she wanted her way.

Whew, Anon mom.. I agree with you.

I get so tired of parents complaining about stuff like this. We chose to have children, they change life, and we should adapt to that rather than assuming that EVERY aspect of society will accommodate our children. It's reasonable to be able to take children to a lot of places. It's also reasonable to have child-free zones. And it's reasonable for people without children to not be inconvenienced by other people's children on occasion.

It makes perfect sense to me that children would not be welcomed at a spa, and I would not fight or disrespect that. A spa is a luxury, not a necessary place to go, like a grocery store. Arrange childcare for the luxury or don't go. Place have to make blanket policies about things. Everyone things that their own child is well-behaved. Your child may have been. Many are not. The last thing the spa needs to do is play referee regarding which kids get to stay and which ones are too loud. Other adults paid a lot of money to relax in a spa in total peace and quiet. Good spas have thought out every detail - down to their staff not even being allowed to wear normal s hoes - to ensure that the place is quiet and peaceful. Kids don't mix with that. It's tacky of you to force your children on the situation. And it makes companies not offer Groupons, because they get tacky guests.

I think kid-free environments are discriminatory. A business owner should feel free to refuse service because of conduct no matter who or what age the person is, but refusing service without giving the person, even a kid, a chance just seems wrong to me, no matter what the service. I certainly have seen plenty of adults acting childishly and wished the store or restaurant would have them removed.
It sounds as though your child acted as maturely as an adult while waiting for your appointment to be over. Enough said.

I agree Emily, they should be allowed at strip clubs and drunken concerts, casinos...in fact it's clearly discriminatory that they cannot drink or drive or vote. I think you're on to something. What kind of world do we live in where there are actually a different set of rules /expectations/liabilities/ consequences for adults and for children? crazy.

And children at happy hour? No freaking way... watching grown ups get tipsy and act silly is not okay. Kids should be protected from that sort of nonsense.

This is a really interesting discussion to me, since I can see it both ways. I have two little kids. They are not quiet, and my oldest has some disabilities which make some public environments challenging for him. We are just now getting to the point where I can take him to the grocery store. I would never think of bringing my kids to a nice restaurant at this point -- they are simply too little and it's developmentally inappropriate for them. However, when they get a bit older, I absolutely plan on taking them to restaurants so they can learn how to behave in those environments.

By the same token, I bristle at some restaurants that have an exclusive "no children" policy. For some families, it works. I have seen them (and secretly envied/hated them) with their lovely children, sitting quietly playing with dolls or some such while the parents dined on their pasta and cote du rhone. Works for them; just not happening for me and my kids anytime soon.

However, I save my real rage for the coffee shops around town that seem to have an unspoken "no kid" policy. It really frosts me when I bring my kids to a coffee shop and I get the evil eye from other patrons who are engrossed in writing the great American novel/blogging/working/wasting time. Please. It's a coffee shop, not the Heathman.

That being said, I agree with those who have pointed out the safety and health regulation issues of a spa, in addition to common courtesy to the facialist. The poster should have called ahead to check.

@S - I think I know at least one of those ones! It's just off Hawthorne, not too far from the toy store and shoe store for kids, and Ben and Jerry's? But on the other side of the street?
I REEEEEEALLY think the urban mamas could make a useful list of the businesses and other places where mamas have gotten an "children allowed but not wanted" vibe. It would save everyone from a lot of discouraging encounters. Although I don't know how you'd reasonably separate the permanently bad vibe places from the places where the barista and most of the clients were just working off a bad hangover that one particular morning. Or maybe you could just make a list of places that always seem to prefer kids - you know, the places where the owner or manager or checker goes out of their way to do something nice?

I don't have a problem if people politely discourage kids.. it helps us 'know'... if one doesn't go to these places, one has no clue what is appropriate. I wouldn't have thought a child at a spa sounded ideal, but I wouldn't have thought it was a major issue either 'in a pinch'. But a 'please no children under age X' would have made it all clear upfront! Likewise, someone else could have 'children welcome'.

Interesting to read all the comments for what, in my view, is not a black and white matter. I have a young son and am expecting a second, but if I were having a daughter (once she's at the right age, who I was confident would behave appropriately and not be disruptive), I kind of love the idea of bringing her along for a spa appointment so she can experience some special time with mommy. I know, I could bring my sons, I don't want to ignite a gender debate, but there is something special in a spa environment about being in the company of women and it would be a sweet thing to share with a young daughter. I can imagine how much that might have meant to me as a young girl.

The "kids allowed but not wanted vibe" is pretty subjective....i think it would be a good idea to post such a list. Not to mention the business may not truly feel that way. That "vibe" could just be one employee's personal issue.

It's interesting that a few people have mentioned that zenana spa welcomes children. They welcome children, in that there is childcare available, for an extra fee. To my understanding, children still aren't allowed in the spa areas unless they are paying customers for mini-manicures or the like. This underscores the unspoken yet clear understanding that spas are for adults.

I always try to plan ahead about as to whether a place is "kid friendly." Much of my planning ahead is because I have an older son with Autism and he is generally well behaved, but waiting for him is very difficult and dealing with that is so stressful that I try to avoid it if possible. Personally, if I had time at a spa scheduled and it didn't work out I would reschedule because it wouldn't be relaxing for me with my boys there. There was one occasion when my stepdaughter who does not have children suggested we go out to eat at The Observatory. We had just recently moved to Portland and I should have asked her if it was okay for kids but I didn't. I didn't feel unwelcome by the staff at all , but to me it was clearly an Adult only restaurant and we had to wait about an hr. for our food. Luckily the boys behaved very well. However, I got several dirty looks from the nearby table of grownups. Oh, well live and learn.

We own a small business in Hillsdale, and bring our toddler in to work for short periods of time so that she may be included in the family business (which is our shared passion) and because we decided that we wanted to be the type of business that welcomed the smallest family members into our community. We recognize that some clients won't like it, and they are welcome to take their business elsewhere if so inclined. Most all of the adults treat her as a tiny celebrity...and comment on how much they enjoy seeing her there! We are of course considerate as to when and how often she comes in, and to date have found that it very much encourages an overall sense of inclusiveness, and whole community spirit:) I say, seek out and support those small businesses that reflect your own personal values!

Lara, what is the name of your business?

Thank you anon, there are many things i would like to do but don't because i am not going to bring my kids (who are well behaved, self-entertaining, and know how to use a napkin) to things that are, well, adult, such as happy hour or a hair appointment. There does seem to be a general lack of common sense about what is and isn't appropriate. Maybe there should be more posted rules as to age - kids shouldn't be in bars (in an actual bar, this is against the law), they shouldn't be at spas (outside of the childcare areas) and if the place doesn't have a separate child's menu, consider possibly that is a gentle suggestion. As much as you want respect and acceptance with your children, there has to be respect and understanding of those without children. It may make these situations easier on everybody if there is more upfront courtesy rather than assumptions, which seems to lead to injured feelings (and egos!)

I read this and was saddened! Kids are PEOPLE and we were ALL KIDS ONCE. It is like once we are adults we forget that was once US! Of course there are times and places that may not be age appropriate for kids but in general they are a part of our lives, this world, and our future generation whom I think we should respect, appreciate and teach. I think this is a cultural problem. We need fast, neat, clean, expensive and so on. We are selfish as a culture and think me, me, me! Kids are not the problem here. It is other people's attitudes and even a lack of parenting (for the disobedient kids and situations were kids are where they should not be) in my opinion.

There are some places a kid should not go. But if we never take our kids anywhere, how do they learn to behave in a public place. I see nothing wrong with taking your daughter, and it seems you was not a problem anyway. If you are out somewhere and your child acts up, then take them out.

The comments to this entry are closed.