Have stroller moms gone too far?

5/14/2010 Update:

Back in 2008 – we discussed Hoboken stroller moms at great length here on Hoboken411. You can see the “controversial story” that kicked off the conversation after the break. But the reason I’m updating the story today is…

Hey Moms, you don’t own the world, and you can be a little less rude!

The uptown Dunkin Donuts is very tiny, and not meant to be a place where you hang out. You run in, grab your coffee or donuts, and you leave.

I stopped in for a cup earlier this week – and this gaggle of three moms, two and a half strollers, and four screaming kids had made themselves comfortable while they sipped their free iced coffees. Upon entering the store, the path to the counter was completely blocked by this group, with zero acknowledgment of a customer walking in.

This photo update probably wouldn’t have been published today if the group made some effort to move out of the way, and offer an apology for treating the store like their family room. But nope! The Dunkin Donuts employees also complained about it – and said they “took up the whole store” and were there for a while.

While I admire the beauty of giving birth – it does not give you a public space passport!



In yesterday’s NY Times, they wrote a piece about how the new-millenium baby boom has started to cause some issues, like in Brooklyn, where some people feel that kids are showing up in places they don’t belong.

Now while I haven’t seen it cross the line that bad here in Hoboken, have any of you seen kids with crayons at your local bar? Does the smoking ban have something to do with this these days?

Look Who’s Getting Rolled Out of the Bar

By Alex Williams

THESE days little children are brought along to places that would have been considered inappropriate a generation ago: four-star restaurants, cocktail parties, rock concerts. But for all the sniping from adults who resent this territorial invasion, the onslaught shows no sign of letting up. In fact, one of its latest flash points is the local bar.

When the owners of Union Hall — a moody, dark-paneled bar and brunch spot in Park Slope, Brooklyn — recently posted a sign that read “Please, No Strollers” under another one reading “No One Under 21 Admitted,” they did not see it as a declaration of war with the neighborhood’s sizable population of young parents.


“The word gets out that this is a place for baby buggies to go, we end up with 8 to 10 strollers, or 15,” said Jim Carden, an owner. He explained that the goal was simply to make sure that the preferred transportation for toddlers of the stay-at-home parents who had adopted the lounge as an afternoon hangout would not crowd out the regular patrons.

Perhaps he underestimated the neighborhood’s vocal and proactive parents. Local parenting blogs were soon bristling with denunciations.

hoboken-stroller-moms-no-strollers-allowed.jpg“This was a perfect winter moms’ group place for those of us with infants going stir-crazy,” wrote one woman on onlytheblogknowsbrooklyn.com, wondering testily why local mothers could not at least drop in for “a beer once a week when it’s not crowded.”

Of course, the practice of bringing babies and young children to bars is hardly exclusive to Park Slope. The issue has been debated in online message boards in cities like Minneapolis, Philadelphia and Washington.

A woman in Boston, recently posting to yelp.com, a national, user-generated city-guide site, seemed appalled to see a 7-year-old next to her at a bar. (“There were cubes, crayons and candy on top of the bar,” she wrote. “Does anyone else think there’s something wrong with that?”)

In England, the JD Wetherspoon chain of pubs recently implemented a rule making sure that parents who bring young children not only eat a meal, but stay for no more than two rounds. After a recent smoking ban, more families have been bringing children to pubs, and a spokesman for the chain was quoted by the BBC as saying, “Once the children have had their meal, we can’t see a reason why they should still be in the pub.”

In New York, too, the smoking ban has altered the bar’s image. No longer a den of adult sin, the local tavern is now seen as an attractive option for afternoon gatherings among parents. (Neither New York state nor city law forbids minors in bars, although state regulations say children under 16 must be accompanied by an adult, a State Liquor Authority spokesman said.)

It makes extra sense, parents said, in Park Slope, where the demarcation between generations has blurred — in Brooklyn, hoodies and skateboard sneakers constitute a uniform for parents as well as their 5-year-olds.

While critics of bringing children to bars are vocal, some parents have embraced the habit with gusto. In recent years, mothers in Manhattan and in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, gathered for Wednesday afternoon cocktail mixers called Tots and Tonic. One former attendee, Christen Clifford, a writer and actress who now lives in Jackson Heights, Queens, proudly recalled breast-feeding her son, Felix, at the bar before ordering a martini.

It’s one way of denying that your youthful exploits come with a shelf life, she acknowledged. “Psychologically, you feel like, ‘Oh, my life hasn’t changed that much,’ ” she said, “although of course it completely has.”

Neal Pollack, the author of the book “Alternadad,” said that Generation X parents — the types who sport gray whiskers in their beards and Vampire Weekend downloads on their iPods — “value lifestyle above most things.”

“I don’t think it’s a bad thing that people want to continue a semblance of their pre-parenthood lifestyle,” said Mr. Pollack, who lives in Los Angeles. Going to rock shows and bars, he added, is “just what their lives were.”

In a sense, Park Slope is the perfect testing ground for the practice of extreme generational commingling at the local saloon. It is a neighborhood of young parents, of the sort who consider themselves laid back enough that they can carve out some time to knock back a few with junior.

Besides, many like to think of the neighborhood, with its elegant town houses and literary air, as London or Dublin in miniature. In those cities, the pub often doubles as a community center.

Dawn D’Arcy, the manager of the Gate, a bar in Park Slope that routinely sees groups of parents and children drop by during the afternoon, agreed, saying that the Gate was “modeled on an Irish pub.”

“This is a place where people bring dogs in, this is a ‘local,’ ” she said. “Families are a part of that.”

But Park Slope being what it is, the Union Hall debate soon took on metaphorical dimensions. This, after all, is a place where the stroller serves as a symbol: to parents, it’s a token of shared purpose in what many consider a child-rearing Eden; to critics, often artfully scruffy singles who feel crowded out by more affluent stroller-pushers, it connotes relentless gentrification.

The founders of a local blog, takebacktheisland.wordpress.com, which purports to advocate the rights of the childless, were not alone among bloggers who interpreted Union Hall’s gesture as a line in the sand.

“We salute Union Hall for following our lead and sticking up for the rights of childless adults who don’t want to deal with someone’s loud, crying infant when they’re trying to relax and have a drink,” said one of the site’s founders, (both women in their 20s), who uses the screen-name Ruby Stoneheart, in an e-mail response to this reporter’s question about the dispute.

The move by Union Hall is not the first time a local business invited censure by taking on the stroller class. Last year, the two-story Barnes & Noble on Seventh Avenue posted a sign restricting strollers to a designated area on its ground floor; the sign was removed after a neighborhood outcry. In 2005, a bartender at the Patio Lounge, a bar on Fifth Avenue, posted a sign — still known as the infamous “Stroller Manifesto” on local parents’ blogs — that asked, “What is it with people bringing their kids into bars?”

To members of a previous generation, as well as to the proprietors of Union Hall, it would seem like a valid question. Mr. Carden insisted the ban was pragmatic, not dogmatic. He explained that Union Hall contains any number of potential child-hazards that could constitute a liability for the owners — an open staircase, a full-size boccie court involving “hard balls thrown around.”

“Sometimes there are broken glasses,” he added. “It is a bar.”

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359 Comments on "Have stroller moms gone too far?"

strand tramp
8 years 1 day ago

this is a real issue in Hoboken as well. the “me” generation doesn’t seem to recognize that there are limitations to where they can “express” themselves. infants/toddlers/children DO NOT belong in a bar. they DO NOT belong in the bar area of a restaurant. they DO NOT belong in a restaurant after the dinner hour has passed. they belong at home in their beds. sorry but this is a fact. you cannot always have your way. wha wha wha! if i am IN a bar and children enter i state clearly to the bartender that I and my party are… Read more »

8 years 1 day ago

Unless, as someone said, it’s dinner hour and the family is there for a meal, then taking a kid to a bar is not a good idea. I understand that sometimes it’s hard to get a babysitter, and many people in this area are transplants from elsewhere so they don’t have anywhere to leave the kids (e.g., grandparents), and that apartments can be small and people want to get out (and don’t have space to entertain), and people work long hours and want to spend as much non-work time as possible with kids – but bragging about nursing your kid… Read more »

8 years 1 day ago

This speaks volumes about these selfish mothers: “One former attendee, Christen Clifford, a writer and actress who now lives in Jackson Heights, Queens, proudly recalled breast-feeding her son, Felix, at the bar before ordering a martini. It’s one way of denying that your youthful exploits come with a shelf life, she acknowledged. “Psychologically, you feel like, ‘Oh, my life hasn’t changed that much,’ ” she said, “although of course it completely has.”” That’s great that you get to feel “normal” again while I am trying to have my martini with your tit out there for everyone to see! I don’t… Read more »

8 years 1 day ago

There is a very clear line that, if respected, would solve this problem. Any bar that doesn’t serve food, should be off-limits to junior, no ifs, ands or buts. There is no reason for a minor to be in an alcohol only establishment ever. Also, if it is past 8:00pm, then leave the kiddies at home. While you little bundle of joy may be the most perfect thing you have ever seen. After a some time, the other patrons probably think he/she is messy diaper shitting annoyance. And the owners will look at you as a giant liability. The rules… Read more »

8 years 1 day ago

[quote comment=”67298″] i applaud Union Hall and encourage the bar owners of hoboken to observe the 18/over laws of this country and assist young parents with common sense.[/quote] Amen. We should all walk out when children enter – it might actually help. Kids DO NOT belong in bars AT ALL. EVER. Parents need to grow up. I want to punch this stupid c*nt in her face: “One former attendee, Christen Clifford, a writer and actress who now lives in Jackson Heights, Queens, proudly recalled breast-feeding her son, Felix, at the bar before ordering a martini.” Thanks Christen, we all wanted… Read more »