Monday, 27 May 2013

When is a child not a child?

When is a child not a child? When they go out for a meal, go on holiday or visit an event or tourist attraction apparently! As a parent of 12 and 14 year old children, this REALLY annoys me.

These money-grabbing companies have decided that childhood should end somewhere between 8 and 16 (and usually at 12 for some reason)...but strangely, our adult-children get no extra perks except for having the privilege of paying a higher price than their infant equivalents; indeed, most of these companies also state that children under 16 or 18 must be accompanied by an adult. If they'e paying an adult price, surely they should count as an adult?

Kids' meals
These seem to have the widest variation in age restrictions, with some restaurants even deciding on eligibility for kids' meals by height, which is hardly fair! 

I've always tended to ignore these age requirements and if my girls want a kids' meal, I order them one, however some places are stricter about this than others. Take Disney for example - in the magical world of Disney dining, childhood officially ends at just 10 years of age! This actually worked to our advantage when we were there, as we got free dining, so then 10 year old Miss Kahonie qualified for adults' meals, which had better menu choices for vegetarians. Those with fussy eaters may well want to order from the kids' menu though. This is possible, but only if you've paid for an adult meal! Surely parents should be able to choose whether their child eats from the kids' or adults' menu and pay accordingly? 

It would also be nice to be able to order a smaller or half portion from the adults' menu, especially for tweens and young teens. Some Indian and Italian restaurants offer this option, but this still seems a rarity in the UK. 

Theme parks, tourist attractions and museums
Most UK theme parks seem to have come to the agreement that childhood ends at 12, whereas major tourist attractions and museums (with an entry fee) seem to prefer to end childhood at 14 or 16.

The exceptions to this are of course the US theme parks, including Disney and Universal Studios, where childhood again ends at the tender age of 10. Even though you'll have to pay full price for your 10 year old, they won't be able to go on all the rides, as these have height restrictions.

Holidays and flights
12 seems to be the general cut off for most airlines and budget tour operators, whereas 16 seems to be the cut off for most major travel agents. Do 13 year olds, suddenly take up more space on a plane?

I would like to see a national age limit of 16 or 18 (if still in full time education) set for child prices in the UK. Of course most 16 year olds won't want a kids' meal, but they should certainly be charged a child's rate when visiting tourist attractions - after all, it's us parents who pay for them to get in! 

So there you go. Rant over for now.

Do let me know the most outrageous and annoying kids' age restrictions you've come across, by leaving me a comment.

Just in case you were wondering when childhood officially ends, here's the  NSPCC's Legal definition of a child'.

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  1. I've never thought about this before. On flights and other places where the child takes up a seat I think it's fair to charge the full price over say 12. My reasoning is that if a 12 year old doesn't want to go you can usually leave him at home or with friends.

    I totally agree with you about the theme parks where they pay full price and can't go on all the rides. Personally I think there should be an accompanying adult price - I pay full and hardly go on anything as I'm too much of a wimp.

    In restuarants I make full use of the American custom now adopted everywhere, to have half the meal wrapped and eat for lunch the next day. If it's a salad I make sure to smother it in parmesan cheese first. :).

    1. That's a good point...I think it's the inconsistency that annoys me most.

  2. Bonkers as a parent of a teenager whos birthday is is September making him one of the elder ones

    1. I'm really noticing the price difference this year, as my youngest is now 12...that means we count as 4 adults in many places :-(

  3. It's a tricky one isn't it? We went to a pub for lunch yesterday and the server looked at my 13 year old and said "She's 10, isn't she?" (obviously not serious) because it was free for 10 and under. We appreciated this, but the teenager was most miffed at being accused of being 10!

    The trouble is that there is such a variation in children of 12 - some are almost adult in size if not in mind, whereas others are much more child-like. Businesses have to draw the line somewhere, though it's a shock as a parent when you suddenly find yourself effectively paying for another adult.

    1. Lol, mine would be happy to pretend they're 10 for a free meal!

  4. I also hate the fact that most children's menus consist of junk food rather than simply smaller portions of the adult menus. Chips with everything, or a pasta dish for the veggies, is most common

    1. I agree, I could have a whole separate rant on kids' meals!


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