• Sweden edition
 
Swedish café owner defends his kid ban

Swedish café owner defends his kid ban

Published: 05 Apr 2013 08:25 GMT+02:00
Updated: 05 Apr 2013 08:25 GMT+02:00

From its generous parental leave to Ikea's supervised play areas, Sweden prides itself on family-friendly policies.

So when a Swedish café owner tried to ban children from his property he wasn't surprised by the number of outraged parents -- there were plenty -- but by the groundswell of support he received from his guests and colleagues.

"I'm always going to think that everything my daughter does is really cute, but I know that not everyone else feels the same way," said Josef Shamon, whose family owns Nelly's, the Stockholm coffee shop and bistro that recently implemented the ban.

Problems included children "standing on the chairs, jumping from them, standing on the shelves by the windows and banging on them," he added.

One employee asked a mother to tell her son to stop jumping on the couch, only to burn himself with coffee when the young boy came running at him minutes later.

"We have lost a lot of customers over this and it's a widespread problem in the industry," Shamon said.

It all began when Nelly's new owners decided to lift a ban on prams and buggies, a practice Swedish eateries justify by pointing to fire safety regulations, but which is also seen as a ploy to keep the number of latte-sipping parents down.

News of the baby-friendly cafe spread and soon there were around ten prams on the premises at any given moment of the day, and even more children, Shamon claimed.

"Out of those, 90 percent are very good and well-behaved...but around ten percent come here either thinking we will take care of (their kids), or that their behaviour is okay," he said.

For the moment, Nelly's has taken down the controversial sign barring children from entering, but Shamon said it was mulling having the ban tried in court, pointing to the growing popularity of child-free holidays and hotels.

Restaurant owners and taxi drivers from around the country had called his family to give their support, he added.

Still, few have done so publicly in a country where many feel children should be seen and heard -- including at dinner parties, where relegating young guests to a separate table is considered old-fashioned.

If the number of toddlers at Nelly's and Espresso House, Sweden's ubiquitous Starbucks clone, seems unusually high, it can also be explained by the country's generous parental leave.

The system allows for 480 days at 80 percent of salary to be claimed by either parent until their child turns eight.

Add in the tax cuts enacted by Sweden's centre-right government and it's easy to see why young parents are a lucrative market for coffee shop owners.

But if the online outpouring of support for Nelly's ban is anything to go by, Sweden's "latte parents", as they are sometimes disparagingly called, could also cost the proprietors some of their business.

On a popular café review website, one patron said many mothers were now boycotting Nelly's, but suggested it had made the venue more rather than less popular.

"I sit there often and work and...the place is pure heaven. However, it's busier than usual," she wrote.

Child-rearing experts, like the rest of the country, disagreed on how to solve the problem.

"I think bringing your children with you everywhere you go is wrong," Hugo Lagercrantz, a professor of paediatrics and a commentator on children's health issues, told AFP.

"If you go to a coffee shop it's for the parents' sake, the children don't find it particularly enjoyable," he said, noting that Swedish parents have a high tolerance level for bad behaviour.

But calls for stricter parenting were slammed by Lars H. Gustafsson, a paediatrician and father of eight who's written books such as "Growing, Not Obeying" and "The Preschool Child's Human Rights".

"If children are running around in a cafe because they're bored, other adults can take care of them and talk to them, instead of just sitting there and looking annoyed," he said.

"After all, it's a privilege to be able to meet children sometimes."

Greater visibility of children in public spaces had led to a backlash, borne out by the popularity of reality TV shows teaching parents how to discipline their kids, Gustafsson argued.

"Sometimes as a parent it's better to leave, so that the children will be spared the glares and negative comments," he said.

If someone else's child threw a tantrum in a shop, Gustafsson himself sometimes offered to take the parent's trolley past the tills so that they could take the child outside.

"I think adults should be more forgiving and help out," he said.

A spokeswoman for Sweden's Equality Ombudsman (Diskrimineringsombudsmannen - DO), Susanna Lundmark, said a complaint had to be filed before the agency could judge whether Nelly's child ban breached the country's discrimination laws.

AFP/The Local/at

Follow The Local on Twitter

The Local (news@thelocal.se)

Don't miss...X
Left Right

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Race to be scrapped from Swedish legislation
Integration Minister Erik Ullenhag meets children in Husby, Stockholm. Photo: Jonas Ekströmer/TT

Race to be scrapped from Swedish legislation

The Swedish government announced that it plans to remove all mentions of race from Swedish legislation, saying that race is a social construct which should not be encouraged in law. READ  

US aircraft 'violates' Swedish airspace

US aircraft 'violates' Swedish airspace

A mystery airplane that passed over Swedish airspace recently has been revealed as an American aircraft, sources revealed on Thursday. READ  

Elite schools stripped of 'special' privileges

Elite schools stripped of 'special' privileges

Sweden's three elite boarding schools can no longer charge tuition fees, the government announced on Thursday, in a string of changes following a two-year review. READ  

Bildt lays out four steps to Gaza peace
Photos: TT

Bildt lays out four steps to Gaza peace

Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt stated that there are four steps to achieving peace in Gaza, and that it begins with removing the blockade - which has "played into Hamas' hands". READ  

Malmström snags EU commissioner post again

Malmström snags EU commissioner post again

Cecilia Malmström has been nominated to be the European Commissioner for another five years, Sweden's prime minister announced on Thursday. READ  

Stockholm Pride 2014
In Pictures: Stockholm's Historic Pride Party
Conchita Wurst belts out a ballad. Photo: Rebecca Jacobs

In Pictures: Stockholm's Historic Pride Party

With Stockholm's Pride Week in full swing, The Local's Rebecca Jacobs heads on down to the traditional Historic Party to take in the colours, Conchita, and the community. READ  

Two to hospital after Stockholm fire

Two to hospital after Stockholm fire

Two people were taken to hospital in the early hours of Thursday morning after a fire began in their central Stockholm apartment. READ  

Salmonella prompts Coop hamburger recall
Photo: Jim Cole/TT

Salmonella prompts Coop hamburger recall

Swedish supermarket chain Coop has recalled its in-store brand of fresh hamburger meat after a routine check revealed traces of salmonella in the meat. READ  

What's On in Sweden
Photo: Roger Vikström/TT

What's On in Sweden

It's Pride Week in Stockholm. Find out more about the celebrations (including the biggest Pride Parade in Scandinavia) as well as plenty of other activities in Sweden's three biggest cities. READ  

Sweden resumes aid to 'anti-gay Uganda'
Hillevi Engström and protesters against Uganda's anti-gay laws. Photos: Maja Suslin/Ben Curtis/TT

Sweden resumes aid to 'anti-gay Uganda'

Sweden has resumed sending development aid funds to Uganda, after suspending payouts back in March due to "anti-gay legislation". READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
National
Stockholm Pride bars Sweden Democrats
National
Gender neutral pronoun 'hen' enters dictionary
Society
Top ten cafes in Stockholm
People-watching
Gallery
People-watching - Stockholm Pride
Photo: Henrik Trygg/Imagebank Sweden
Society
Sweden worst in EU at getting foreigners jobs
Blog updates

31 July

Calling a speedo a speedo (Blogweiser) »

"There are a lot of speedos on Europe’s beaches. Some European males are evidently more comfortable sporting small, stretchy suits on public beaches than I would be. I accept it may be nice to have swimwear that’s not long and cumbersome. A speedo is maybe also good for tanning. But strolling around town in a..." READ »

 

27 July

Approaching Stockholm (Around Sweden in a kayak) »

"I woke up in the comfort of my own little cabin on Eva and Rolf’s boat, it was 7:30am and I was feeling a bit groggy after a couple of beers with all the lovely locals the night before. The previous day had really taken its toll on my body and I was very stiff and..." READ »

 
 
 
Lifestyle
Stockholm Pride kicks off
Analysis
The top six ways the US and Sweden differ
National
Swedish youth suicides hit 25-year high
National
Politician reported for selling 'negro ball'
National
Police turn blind eye to Swedish 'slave trade'
Gallery
Stockholm Pride: Allsång på Skansen with Conchita Wurst
Skatteverket
Sponsored Article
Introducing... ID cards and permits in Stockholm
Gallery
People-watching, June 26th - 28th. Get inside Stockholm's hottest nightclubs
Gallery
Top ten Swedish taboos
Society
Seven-year-old Swede cycles to Berlin
Politics
'Gaza conflict needs help, not empty rhetoric'
Society
Swedes voted 'most beautiful' in the Nordics
Business & Money
Sweden demands EU clarity on Bitcoin tax
National
Swedish organic sales enjoy 'amazing' growth
Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT
Society
What's On in Sweden
Gallery
People-watching July 23
National
Swedish cops elect not to shoot 'angry elks'
Business & Money
New alcohol retail rules threaten micro-breweries
Gallery
People-watching Båstad
Sponsored Article
Introducing... Your finances in Stockholm
Sponsored Article
Introducing... Housing in Stockholm
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

751
jobs available
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions is an innovative business company which provides valuable assistance with the Swedish Authorities, Swedish language practice and general communications. Call 073-100 47 81 or visit:
www.swedishdowntown.com
If you want to drink, that’s your business.
If you want to stop, we can help.

Learn more about English-language Alcoholics Anonymous in Sweden. No dues. No fees. Confidentiality assured.
AA-EUROPE.ORG/SWEDEN
PSD Media
PSD Media is marketing company that offers innovative solutions for online retailers. We provide modern solutions that help increase traffic and raise conversion. Visit our site at:
http://psdmedia.se