What’s a Beer Lover to Do About All Of Those Kids In Bars/Bier Gartens?

Editor’s note: This blog will address some serious subjects, but will also tread into satirical territory…

It’s a controversial topic. Children in bars. Bring it up on Facebook, and it essentially boils down to a war between parents – and the non-parents. Complaints about kids running around willy-nilly without supervision, parents changing diapers on tables meant for using for the consumption of food/beverages (so, so disgusting) and kids urinating on picnic table benches are ALL things I’ve witnessed in “child-friendly” establishments that also serve beer. And they’re all legitimate complaints, but… they’re largely going unheard. Is it a winnable war, if you’re part of the “I don’t have kids” group? Well, sadly,  not really…though there are things you can do (which I’ll get to in a bit).

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Consider giving dive bars a try if you want to avoid dealing with kids while you’re at the bar! Here’s B.J.s in Burton, MI. I’m willing to bet it’s not super popular with parents!

When I was a kid, it was pretty much UNHEARD OF to bring your kids into a bar. The only time I ever set foot in a bar – as  kid – was when I was very young – and it was during daylight hours. My mom was visiting a bar in which my aunt worked (pictured above), so that they could talk. Mom ‘plied me with quarters for the pinball machine – and plenty of Coke. This was the ’70s – helicopter parenting was a concept lurking in the glimmers of future millennials’ eyes and would have been scoffed at by parents of the ’70s. Not only would they laugh at your helicopter parenting,  they would dump their tiki cocktail over your head – and ash out their full tar cigarettes with asbestos filters on you. Maybe they’ll  cut you with a broken 16.9 ounce empty 7-up bottle if they’re feeling extra feisty (those bottles are actually kind of hard to break). Parents of the ’70s concerned themselves only with making sure the kids got home in time for dinner – and for f—s sake – DIDN’T miss the bus! Mommy didn’t want to take you to school!

Things have really changed! Not only are parents bringing their kids to bars, but they’re having kids birthday parties in bars, too! Yes, this is something I’ve seen more than once. Is Chuck E. Cheese no longer a “thing”? Let’s see, they sell booze there – and and they have plenty of flashy games to entertain the kids. Parents can get a little toasted, kids get to whack the moles, kill aliens, shoot fake things and redeem tickets for crappy prizes while animatronic animals sing at them (anyone else think those things are creepy)?  To me, hosting a kiddie birthday party at a bar is like bringing a blind man to a strip club. Kids can’t enjoy the booze in a bar, and a blind man’s not going to enjoy a strip club. Unless the stripper is REALLY creative while giving a lap dance! Hmmm!

Isn’t it good for there  to be some separation with activities? Let adults do “their” things, let the kids do theirs? Does  there  have  to  be so much family  togetherness  in bars? Apparently (groan)!

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Have beer gardens/craft breweries surpassed Chuck E. Cheese in popularity as places to hold kids’ birthday parties?

Craft beer establishments, in particular, tend to be “kid-friendly.” People who come in with kids in tow are likely to spend more money, particularly on food. They’ll also take up more space. Businesses LOVE people with kids. Us folks without kids are in the minority (who gives a crap about us selfish, childless, heathen monsters anyway)? Since most places have no rules against people bringing mewling crotch trophies into their establishments (except maybe asking them to leave after 9, under  21 accompanied  by adults, etc.), this MUST be true, right? Get lost, you childless…freaks! Go drink from a flask in a dark alley! Drink your Nighttrain concealed in a paper bag at home! We don’t want your kind here! Vamoose! (JK)

Just to be clear, I have nothing against people bringing their kids to bars. Kids might as well learn about drinking early on, right? What better way to teach your kids that drinking is a bad idea then to have them watch Daddy (or Mommy) become a drunken asshole after drinking six IPAs? Or maybe they’ll actually LIKE how friendly and talkative Daddy is after a few beers! “Drunk daddy is SO much more fun than regular daddy!” My mom certainly has her share of stories about her alcoholic father (he loved to get out his banjo and sing when he was inebriated – he was by all accounts a “friendly drunk”). RIP, Grandpa – I hardly knew ye!

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Me and Grandpa, 1974. Pabst Blue Ribbon was his favorite beer! He died in 1976.

I also have no problems with parents keeping their kids under lock and key at their tables – it’s actually nice to see kids sitting quietly at the tables with their parents, being quiet and engrossed in playing games or even having their faces fixed on their tablets/phones. However – this scenario is the exception, not the rule. Chances are you’re going to almost trip over an unattended kid while you’re stumbling to the bathroom. Open the door heading outside and you’ll see a kid there, with fingers poised near the spot where the door could crush them. Kids are accidents waiting to happen as a matter of course – add drunken/tipsy folks to the mix and the chances of kids having accidents become astronomical. A kid running around on the gravel in the beer garden is going to take a spill sooner or later, and, well – here come the waterworks! And there are other types of “accidents” that will happen in a bar – whether you’re a drunken adult – or a clueless toddler (yes THOSE kinds of accidents). Ever have to clean a toilet that didn’t belong to you? Or the floor/walls around that toilet? I rest my case.

What’s a barfly without any kids to do? Stop drinking? Pffft! Hell NO! Life finds a way, as hot nerd Ian Malcolm said in Jurassic Park. He actually looks a bit like a guy on my trivia team!  Follow my tips – and you’ll find a way to make sure you can get your drink on in a child-friendly bar –  without having to stumble around a clueless toddler -or give a stink eye to an even more clueless parent!

What Can I Do If I Want To Drink Beer In A Bar And Not Have To Deal With All Of Those Pesky Children?

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There ARE steps you can take to ensure as much of a “child free” drinking experience as possible! Let’s talk about some of those things:

  • Timing is everything. Go early – between 3 and 5 p.m. – or late – after 8:30 p.m. The later – the better. Many bars have “late night” happy hours. This is YOUR time to be a kid!
  • Avoid going to “child friendly” places on weekends, unless you plan to go after 8:30-9 p.m.
  • Beer gardens are REALLY popular with parents/kids. Avoid them during peak hours.
  • Consider “dive” bars during peak “children” hours. Parents NEVER bring the kiddos to these places. There is no guarantee, however – that you won’t encounter a drunken idiot in these places ACTING like a child!
  • Go to places that don’t serve food or non-adult beverages. Parents will almost always take the kids to places that serve food – and avoid the places that don’t.
  • Sit at the bar. Parents with kids never sit at the bar. In fact, that’s sort of…not allowed.
  • Deal with it! After enough beers, you’ll be able to tolerate anything!

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