I would like to support Stephen’s plea against wanton children who are ignored by parents as they run and play in a pub. Unsupervised children put an immense strain on clientele as pub goers are left either controlling the safety of the abandoned children or desperately clutching their pints and speaking above the laughter and shrieks, instead of seeking calm and solace.

A few points however:

  1. Where is the best place to put a child who can toddle around a pub? Carrying a child precariously whilst holding a glass with the other is no mean feat, especially when they wriggle for extending periods of time when you are trying to wrestle with your purse to pay the barmaid. The alternative to ‘holding’ them against the bar is then to let them toddle about, especially when you come to a pub without your partner. You have few choices available.
  2. This brings me to point two. Clearly a child should not be allowed to endanger the safety of themselves or others, but when children are of toddling age, they have no sense and can only be likened to puppies. They have an immense amount of energy and curiosity but no sense of danger or direction; they run skittishly and randomly, and even the most observant of parent can be caught out as one slips and changes direction at will.
  3. Nappies! Changing a nappy should not ideally be a sociable occasion. But, if facilities are dirty, engaged or unsuitable for safety reasons there may be due cause to change nappy in public in preference to outside or on toilet floors. However, clearly this is not ideal.
As a mother I would like to highlight a number of factors which Stephen may not be aware of. The public perception of parents can be as overwhelming as becoming a parent for the first time. Once solely judged by your height, weight, clothes, mannerism and speech or accent, you are now also judged by your offspring.

I assume pub managers make the choice of what age children they allow on their premises and make informed choices depending on their building, license and clientele. As such, for those that include children, they must expect some disruption to their jobs depending on the age of the children which they allow. If managers break their license then the consequences should occur as with any other indiscretion which happens.

However, just because I have had a child does not mean I should have to abstain from a long-standing hobby, especially in a pub which consents. I did not have my social bone removed with the umbilical cord- quite the reverse. Being able to join in which past hobbies is extremely hard to grapple with as a new parent, as you mourn a lost lifestyle. This frequently leads to depression.

I still want to socialise, meet others in public places and even indulge in a beer over Sunday lunch. Children 'interrupt' lives of their parents; does Stephen propose that parents should not dine with their children until they are 18?

Children should be included, where appropriate in social gatherings and be allowed to dine in varied and safe accommodating premises, some of which may be places where alcohol is served. Surely we are emulating and modeling a British pastime which, I presume is as dear to Stephen’s heart as it is to mine. This is preparing them for life in many ways, children can join in on few normal ‘adult’ pastimes, late dining, cinema, gigs, theatres and night walks are off limits with children.

In a controlled manner, I think occasions where family and friends gather with children can be the making of a strong community where children can be cherished and enjoyed and protected by a wider community. Children can be socialised into becoming controlled and active participants of social gatherings. Alcohol needs to be seen as something that is enjoyed sensibly in moderation. Children need to learn the codes and etiquette of social gathering, and talking with friends, whether it’s with or without a pint.