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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Maybe to clarify – if I saw someone infringing on a loved one or a defenseless person for example, I might take steps to straighten it out. Other than that I try to keep my my own behavior positive, and not concern myself with the transgressions of others. It is because I don’t believe attempting to correct the average “person on the street” will end up changing the way they act or think one iota. And complaining to a third party is not often my idea of good energy. But sure, venting can make one feel better.


Niece of a friend of mine was looking at condos in Hoboken, wanted to leave the high rents of Manhattan to save money. He aunt, my friend, asked if I could advise where to live, enjoy night life, commute, etc. So I gave her the run down. After looking at multiple properties and familiarizing herself with the town, she decided to stay in Manhattan. Her complaint: too many stroller moms made Hoboken look like a not so socially profitable enterprise in the singles dating scene. No matter how much I tried to convince her the single scene is still intact, she doesn’t think so.


If anything, this thread and venting relieved me. I thought I was going mad and one of the few people who noticed how out-of-control the lack of manners and consideration have become. I was glad to be in the company of some of the folks here.

That said, inconsiderate stroller-moms are only a small portion of the problem.

Further that said, if you think it is bad here, go to southern Europe or most of Asia. Or just go to Ikea on a Saturday. 😯


It is certainly true that there are a lot of inconsiderate people with strollers, but those are the only ones people on this board ever notice. When out with my (admittedly big, though not double) stroller, I say excuse me, I “pull over” to the side if I am going to stop, I thank people if they hold a door, I sometimes hold the door for the non-stroller person if they are about to go through. If I were in the place above, I would find a little corner for the thing, fold the handle down, then leave when I got my stuff. If I am in a crowded sidewalk or store aisle, I try to move out of the way if someone is trying to pass. It’s just like driving, walking, or swimming in a pool lane. Please don’t just lump a bunch of people together like that. You see an annoying behavior and a person with a stroller and notice those two things. It’s like saying “why do all the damn teenagers hang out in the playgrounds”. The ones (most of them, probably) who don’t, are not there annoying me, so I don’t notice them.


Just wondering how many of the people who complain about the double-wide strollers drive an SUV?

Strollers aren’t the only annoyance in town. On a walk across town, I’ll probably be annoyed by SUVs parked on corners so I can’t see around them, dozens of drivers not letting me cross even though there is a sign saying it is a law to yield to pedestrians, a marked increased in bicycle riders on the sidewalk (some rude), dog walkers who won’t get out of my way because Fido is busy sniffing something, the much-aligned double-wide strollers, the “out of towners” who can’t decide whether they want to go to Amanda’s or Elysian, the children on scooters, tourists looking for Carlo’s, the people on cell phones, etc.

There’s just not enough consideration of others in this town, period. There are some very civil people in Hoboken – but also what feels to be a disproportionate number of selfish jerks.