Carolyn Hax: Restaurants and friends’ little kids don’t mix


Dear Caroline: When I invite my friends who have babies or toddlers to go out to a restaurant, how can I politely request they not bring their children?

Adult-Only: This isn’t a polite-request situation. This is a conversation situation, where you discuss the valid issues that arise when needy, screamy little people join your previously adults-only club.

You prefer completing your sentences. Totally fair. There’s a reason virtually every parent of small children I’ve ever known feels as starved for that as you do.

Your friends prefer to avoid sitter hassles and (I’m guessing) want to have their friends be part of their children’s lives. Maybe not as best-ever honorary aunties/uncles, though that can happen — but there’s as much value as possible: The parents get to model friendship for their kids. The kids get a community and adult presence beyond their parents. The non-kidded friends get some level of inclusion in their parent-friends’ family experience, which, no way around it, is a huge part of them now. Many become like family, or at least learn what it’s like when a kid steals your heart.

These parent-friends also have (again, guessing) logistical challenges. Even when you have a full agreement on just-adults restaurant outings, that doesn’t guarantee that they will have full staffing or funding for one. Child care is sometimes expensive, often scarce (especially now), doesn’t always preempt reservation-busting departure-time tantrums and occasional calls in sickness.

So, you talk — mindfully this is their

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