Lately it seems as though we have had lot of people ask us if we are “kid-friendly”. The short answer is yes, but I would like to offer a longer answer. When we first started dreaming about The Harbor and what it would offer and anticipate the people it would draw, we decided that it was to be only for adults 18 years and older. The reasoning behind it was because we were afraid that if kids were running around it would lose its bar-substitution feel and those who needed to be here most would not come. We opened New Year’s Eve 2013 and a friend of mine came in with his kids; he is a single guy with a couple years or so of sobriety and only gets his kids on the weekends. Also in the crowd that night was a young teenaged girl who was approaching the dating age and excited to finally be able to go on a car date with her boyfriend. These two, the single dad and the girl, changed my heart and mind about the appropriate age of our patrons for they needed us to be” kid friendly”!
It was very clear to me that my single dad friend represented many who would come into the Harbor the upcoming years. Sadly, addiction destroying families is common and therefore there are many parents who have their kids on the weekends and yet need a social sober support; bring them in dad! What a better way to fight addiction in our town than to teach by showing that us adults can have fun without alcohol. The old saying of do what I say and not what I do has not worked. Parents that drink all too often have their kids following in toe in spite of their young age. After all, in the United States alcohol use is the “right-of-passage” into maturity even if not at the legal age. The 21st birthday is not typically the first drink it is just the 1st Legal drink. Truth is kids want to grow up fast and they want the same pleasures as parents.
In addition to my sober friend coming with his kids, another friend brought her teenager. After having a conversation about her and what was going on in her life, I began to wonder where her and her boyfriend would go on a Friday night; I knew where I had gone and what I had done when I was her age, and didn’t want her to do the same. I began to consider the very few good options for teens to date and quickly realized that The Harbor really is the safest place for them to be.
So while we’re not geared toward kids, yes – we are kid friendly! As a matter of fact, we have come to realize that it is part of our mission for kids to see adults socializing, laughing, and even struggling without the need of alcohol. Bring your kids. Encourage your teens to come and hang out. Come and play games with them. Buy them a milkshake and maybe even sing a duet with them on Karaoke – just please be responsible for them, as this is not romper room. This is an opportunity for parents to teach them how to behave and get along with others. Warning, if I catch them climbing poles or running through the building and under toe of our older population, I will send them home with a kitten and a Red Bull.