Catering to Children is a Huge Missed-Business Opportunity

I feel like we live in a world that discriminates against children. I think that every time I leave the house these days and tonight, on a date with my husband, it really got to me in a way that surprised me.

We were eating dinner at Outback sitting next to a table with a family – two sets of grandparents, and a young family of four with a mom, dad, little girl and a toddler boy. The boy was having a hard time sitting still, which is totally normal, of course, and the mom was being so very patient. The dad was doing absolutely nothing to help with the kids – as his wife struggled to do everything to keep their son happy and feed their daughter, he turned the other way and talked to all the grandparents. I couldn’t believe no one was helping that poor mom! The antsier the boy got, the angrier his dad became. He started growling at his son through his teeth, then turned to us and apologized for his terrible son. I was not at all disturbed the boy, because he wasn’t being loud or annoying, and actually felt very bad for him because he was being expected to behave much older than his years allow. I was much more disturbed by the dad, and how he considered his son to be a burden, an annoyance, and didn’t stop to consider that his son is a person with feelings who is just acting his age.

I thought, you can’t bring small children into an adult setting and expect them to sit still and be calm. That’s just not fair. But, then again, why can’t we? Why must we feel that our children annoy others when they are just acting like children? That’s why we no longer go out to eat – because I hate the shame I feel when my children can’t behave like society believes they should. My husband even says that businesses are traditionally run by men and that’s why they aren’t children-friendly. I think he may have hit the goldmine there.

And all I could think, and this is something that I’ve been plagued with ever since becoming a mom, is that we ALL start off as children in this world, yet are brought up in a world that is made for adults where children are forced to act as adults in public – something they are not developmentally capable of doing  and, in my opinion, shouldn’t have to until they are adults. And the way parents, and especially mothers, are looked at and made to feel shame when their children don’t behave like others think they should, feels like discrimination to me. I feel unwelcome and shame because my children are behaving like children. 

It really saddens me because it causes unnecessary friction between parents and children and discourages that wonderful energy and naivety we claim to love about children. I feel there is huge misunderstanding taking place and us adults so easily forget that children cannot behave like we do. We talk about how we don’t want them to grow up too fast, yet it seems our actions speak to the opposite.

It’s also a huge missed-business opportunity – if malls, stores and our favorite restaurants were welcoming to children in a way that kept them happy, do they realize us moms and dads would be relaxed, not rushed, and would buy way more of their stuff? Airlines are the worst offenders as some talk of having flights where no children are allowed. This makes me so angry – it’s like Jim Crow laws but against children. We are not allowed to discriminate against any other kind of person in this country, so why is it okay to do it to children? They do speak a different language than us adults, and do have their own culture, and can seem like they are creatures from another planet (smile), but if they were welcomed and taken care of, I believe they would behave wonderfully in public.

For instance – why can’t Outback have a family section where children are allowed to be children – Where they can wander freely around and aren’t expected to sit still and be quiet. To do so seems like such a Victorian idea to me – where children were to be seen and not heard. It’s not that they are allowed to be destructive or misbehave, but simply to be children where they can laugh, play, roam, and explore. Where there are small, kid-sized tables that they can easily get up and down from, toys to play with, and soft mats for babies to lie on and crawl upon.

Some malls and grocery stores do have babysitting rooms, where the children can be watched while you shop. This is a huge step in the right direction, but has anyone ever considered changing the whole business model and making a place where it’s safe and fun for children to be with their parents while they shop? Most of us have a hard time trusting total strangers with our hearts and souls. Just change the way the shelves are arranged – with toys and books on the lower shelves that kids only use in the store, and have the items we need to buy on the top shelves. There could be coloring stations, food to taste, and maybe even a story time.

As much as McDonalds has been criticized over the years, they are one of the only businesses who have centered their entire business model around children, and have had HUGE success. It was an ingenious concept that had not been done on a large scale before, and obviously it has worked. People who don’t even have children happily eat there. All other fast food chains saw the money McDonalds was raking in and jumped on the kid bandwagon, too, so why has it stopped there? Us parents want to eat at nice restaurants with our kids, where we don’t have to pay for a babysitter or worse, take the kids with us and struggle to enjoy dinner.

If children were more integrated into our public spaces and allowed to act their age by making those spaces safe and fun, I think that even the adults who aren’t children-friendly won’t mind having children nearby because they will be happy children and not screaming ones. Sure, there will be some crying and screaming, but a whole lot less of it.

About Sara McFall

Sara is the owner and founder of My Merry Messy Life, which started in 2011 as a way to chronicle her journey to a natural, chemical-free lifestyle and to share her passions of mothering, real food, homeschooling and crochet. She is a mama to three precious and energetic little boys and wife to a university professor who loves to sing, dance ballet and ballroom, and live simply and naturally.


  1. Thank you, I have just been looking for info approximately this subject for ages and yours is the greatest I’ve came upon till now. But, what concerning the conclusion? Are you certain concerning the source?

  2. I don’t even know how I ended up here, but I thought this post was good. I do not know who you are but definitely you are going to a famous blogger if you are not already 😉 Cheers!

  3. Hello, Neat post. There’s a problem along with your website in web explorer, may check this¡K IE nonetheless is the market leader and a big component to other people will pass over your fantastic writing due to this problem.

  4. Nice read, I just passed this onto a friend who was doing a little research on that. And he actually bought me lunch since I found it for him smile So let me rephrase that: Thank you for lunch!

  5. Hi, Neat post. There’s an issue with your web site in internet explorer, would test this¡K IE nonetheless is the marketplace leader and a big element of folks will omit your wonderful writing due to this problem.

  6. My brother suggested I might like this website. He was totally right. This post truly made my day. You cann’t imagine simply how much time I had spent for this information! Thanks!

  7. Great amazing issues here. I¡¦m very satisfied to look your article. Thank you a lot and i am having a look forward to contact you. Will you kindly drop me a mail?

  8. You are my intake , I possess few web logs and very sporadically run out from to post .I conceive this internet site has got some rattling excellent info for everyone. “In this world second thoughts, it seems, are best.” by Euripides.

  9. You are a very persuasive writer. Building business owner search engine optimization advertising plus social media advertising campaigns plus ad copy marketing campaigns.

  10. It is a general notion that if scam is big it has to be in rich and wealthy nations but to our surprise it is not wealthy nations where such scams can be, and hence they are wealthy. Even after several damages filled by public money at times and in different modes, yet what is revealed is about 300 billion dollars of scam that comes from a third world country India. But it is not regarded as scam due to ignorance of the mass and the tactic of the working class that evolved it and the nexus sharing benefits.

  11. Nice post. I used to be checking constantly this blog and I am impressed! Extremely helpful information specially the last section 🙂 I deal with such info a lot. I was looking for this particular info for a long time. Thanks and good luck.

  12. Watch live sex on our site

  13. ever think about customer acquisition advertising and print? Nice read. like jesse grillo and manhattan beach marketing.

  14. Wow, marvelous blog layout! How long have you been blogging for? you made blogging look easy. The overall look of your site is great, as well as the content!

  15. What i don’t realize is in fact how you’re not actually much more well-favored than you might be right now. You’re so intelligent. You recognize thus significantly on the subject of this topic, made me in my view consider it from a lot of various angles. Its like women and men aren’t fascinated except it’s something to do with Lady gaga! Your individual stuffs nice. At all times maintain it up!

  16. Hey, that’s a clever way of thinking about it. Your post is absolutely on point!

  17. I do not even know how I ended up here, but I thought this post was good. I do not know who you are but definitely you are going to a famous blogger if you aren’t already 😉 Cheers!

  18. Thank you for some other informative site. The place else may I am getting that kind of information written in such an ideal way? I’ve a challenge that I’m simply now operating on, and I have been on the look out for such info.

  19. Hi there, i read your blog from time to time and i own a similar one and i was just wondering if you get a lot
    of spam comments? If so how do you stop it, any plugin or anything you can suggest?
    I get so much lately it’s driving me mad so any help is very much appreciated.

Speak Your Mind