Eek! Children!

A while back Glenn Reynolds had a series of posts on European birth rates and the social costs of having children (I would link the articles but my timer on this computer in the library is running out and I don't have time to search). 

Our first few days here in the [English] countryside have really reinforced different cultural attitudes about children.  The first night here, we walked into a restaurant with our kids, and the whole place went silent, staring at us.  We were told children were not allowed.  In retrospect, it felt like that scene in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang when the townspeople are all staring at the family because in that town kids are illegal.  The next restaurant did not let kids in after 7.  The next saw us and said that they had a large group arrive and couldn't serve us (despite the fact the parking lot and restaurant were empty). 

We thought at first this might have something to do with liquor laws, since many local restaurants are also the pub.  But that first night when we finally found a restaurant that would serve our children, they said we could not sit in the restaurant but they could seat us in the bar!

Not sure I have a conclusion here, except to observe how different attitudes about children and families are here.  Kids here are also much quieter in public than American kids, perhaps because they have learned to keep a low profile in a society that doesn't always want them around.  It will be interesting to see if London is any different.

Bonus trivia question, answer below the fold:  The writer, producer and several of the actors in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang also were responsible for what other quite famous series of movies?

Update:  I left off that it was in the English countryside (near the border of England and Wales).  Sorry.  I am finally on a decent Internet connection and just caught onto the confusion.

James Bond.  Chitty Chitty Bang Bang was written by Ian Flemming and the movies were produced by Albert Broccoli.  Coggins and Q are played by Desmond Llewelyn.  Gert Frobe played both the baron and Goldfinger.


  1. garble:

    Okay, that does seem pretty odd. Here in Wisconsin it's not unusual to see people having dinner at the bar with kids as late as 9:00

  2. Dave:

    Kids are best seen and not heard.

    Sorry, but as a parent you have to control your kids, lest a stranger do it by slapping them. Snot nosed little brats.

    I would love to see restaurants forbid children.

  3. dearieme:

    Bond, James Bond?

  4. Technomad:

    Europeans have often commented on how rambunctious and uncontrolled American children are. In _Flashman and the Angel of the Lord,_ George MacDonald Fraser said of Americans: "You won't find finer men or bonnier women anywhere, but the only solution I have for their children is to run Herod for President."

  5. dave s:

    And, Dave, who do you think is going to wipe your ass when you are old and incontinent?

    I confess that my kids (I have 3, 5-8-9) can get pretty rowdy. We try to keep them in line and to avoid inconvenience to others, and we spend a lot of our time in the company of other parents.

    Remarks about The Future are pretty fruitless, however - we had our kids because we wanted them, we are having a lovely time with them. A society which doesn't make room for kids will collapse soon, though.

  6. Max Lybbert:

    Based on previous blog entries, I believe the children involved are over 7 or 8 years old. That is, IIRC, these aren't toddlers, but kids coming up on double-digit ages.

  7. stew:

    Go to Asian restaurants they are more children friendly. Also, read Steve Sailor's, American Conservative magazine,, articles about Affordable Family Formation that addresses Blue vs Red states fertility levels in the US. Mark Steyn devotes significant writing space to European birth rates and the coming Euroarabia.

  8. Mark Horn:


    If it's in the financial interest of the restaurant, they will ban children. In exactly the same way that if it's in their interest they'll voluntarily ban smoking. Or were you asking for the government to impose the ban?

    As far as controlling my children (4 boys: 8, 5, 3, 10mos) I think my wife and I do significantly better than average. My only comment to you would be this, my children get to experience all natural and logical consequences of their behavior - most of the time through me and/or my wife. However, I would caution you about slapping them. If any action you took against my children would be considered assault against an adult, I promise you I would press whatever charges I could against you.

    Adults don't get to run around hitting each other. I don't know why you think that'd be an ok thing to do to a child.

  9. EclectEcon:

    And yet I have yet to go into a country pub in Southeast England where there isn't at least one dog.

  10. dab:

    Perhaps it is not so negative that there are boundries in Eng. through which kids don't trample through with their 90 dollar sneakers and annoying gameboys. It is a valid question to ask: Do kids have too much power in the US? I think so. It will not hurt a kid to understand that the world does not revolve around them, there will be plenty of time for that when they are older. The amount of loud whiney and obtrusive kids from relatively middle class and educated homes where the parents have no strength to raise them is staggering. Adults should be able to go to dinner without the worry of having to sift through the rambunctious biorythms that are sure to eminate from untrained kids.
    Teacher, parent, formerly well behaved kid. Born in UK raised in AZ.

  11. Half Sigma:

    Children impose negative externalities on other restaurant patrons.

  12. Anton Sherwood:

    Henry Fairlie wrote that on his first day in America (mid Sixties) a child on a bicycle said, "Hi, mister." No well-brought-up English child, he thought, would be so forward. Soon after that (same day?) he met a bishop, who said, "Hi, Henry!" Must be one of those liberal bishops. And eventually he met Lyndon Johnson who said, "Hi, Henry!"

  13. dearieme:

    When John Buchan returned from being Governor-General of Canada, he said "You have to know a Canadian very well before you discover his surname."

  14. dearieme:

    P.S. Hot enough for you?