SINGAPORE: A restaurant recently made the news for introducing a S$10 “screaming children surcharge”. Angie’s Oyster Bar and Grill along Outram Road introduced the surcharge a little over a month ago. Diners were warned that they would be charged for screaming or uncontrolled children.
As a mother of two, I thought the policy sounded discriminatory towards families with young children when I first heard of it.
Though my children are now 10 and 12 years old, I still remember the baby and toddler years when they would have a crying fit, which could happen at any time, any place. Often, they were hungry, tired, overstimulated or feeling unwell; sometimes, for reasons unknown or for something as trivial as singing the wrong words to their favourite nursery rhyme.
In most cases, normal child behaviour might mean they can’t sit through a meal, no matter the parents’ best efforts. It doesn’t seem fair to discriminate against children just for being children.
Surely it falls to the parents to assess, when considering a restaurant usually for a leisurely sit-down meal, whether bringing young children is appropriate?
But putting myself in the shoes of the restaurant, it’s not hard to imagine that children running around unattended or disturbing other people is dangerous in a place with hot food and sharp cutlery, and disrespectful to those who just want to enjoy their meal.
Many of us have been on the receiving end of unpleasant encounters, often with overindulgent parents.