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Hooters Dad: 'Pervert' or Teacher?

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My Fox Twin Cities: A dad has stirred up controversy for taking his 11-year-old son to a Hooters restaurant to see how he acted around the women.

Bob Elston, who is a stay-at-home dad from Herndon, Va., wrote on his blog The Rain Racer , which explores parenting issues, that his September visit was meant as a way for him to gauge if it was time to have a talk about puberty and sex with his son. As part of his post, he snapped a photo of his son and his son's friend with a Hooters waitress.

"My 11-year-old boy has reached the age where girls at school are showing interest in him but he is not ready to reciprocate with equal interest in them," Elston wrote . "The trip to Hooters, I saw, as an opportunity to see how he conducts himself around women. If he drooled and couldn't take his eyes of the waitress, then that would be an unmistakable cue to me to start preparing another birds and the bees talk. If he acted embarrassed and shy, then that would be a sign that such a pointed talk could wait a bit."

What Elston discovered was that his son felt awkward being taken to Hooters, he wasn't surprised, disappointed or regretful. "I just don't see these types of trips as changing anything. Rather, I am sure that my children's interest in all things sexual is stamped in their DNA somewhere and not subject to rise and fall based on how many boobs they see over a cheeseburger. In fact, in a world where sex is used to sell anything and everything, I don't think my son saw anything in the restaurant that he couldn't see on TV, YouTube, at the beach or anywhere else.

"In the end, I would rather my kids be exposed to such things and see their reaction rather than driving through McDonald's for yet another Happy Meal in which nothing is gained but a 1,000 extra calories of processed food."

But not every parent agrees with Elston's experiment. "You are a boneheaded pervert! You just think that your child already sees it on TV, but now your child thinks you approve, which will set him on the wrong road. BAD DAD!" wrote Lisa on Elston's blog.

Added Jodi, "The problem with taking a young child to a restaurant like Hooters has nothing to do with being a prude. It is about the fact that Hooters objectifies women (after all, it's a a restaurant named after crude slang for a women's breasts) and that is not what our young boys should be learning. If a young boy is taught it's okay to stare at and objectify women then it will be hard for them to grow up and respect women."

But the majority of comments on Elston's blog praised his efforts. Branden wrote, "Hey, just wanted to let you know as a fellow father of a 13-year-old son, I support you 100 percent on this. Most parents are not aware of what their children do or even think, even though they like to think they do. People should realize this and understand that as parents its our job to teach and attempt to be proactive rather than reactive when possible."

Binaryman said, "What's the big deal? It's Hooters, not a strip club. I'm pretty sure the two boys see a lot more sexier stuff outside of Hooters. They can't escape it even if they want to. They are bound to see women walking down the streets wearing things a lot more revealing than what a Hooters girl would be wearing."

On the parenting blog Parentdish , Elston said he has no regrets about causing controvery over this blog post or taking his son to Hooters. "I think that despite the divisiveness around this particular issue, we parents all have the same goal in mind. That is we are all trying to raise our children to grow into thoughtful, responsible and happy adults capable of making good decisions without Mom and Dad there to guide them. The trick for parents is to figure out a unique route to that common end point."

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49 comments so far | Post a comment now
Anonymous November 17, 2009, 8:42 AM

I don’t see anything wrong with what he did. I agree that my 14 yr.old son see a lot more flesh just in his everyday world rather it’s the mall or school or just girls hanging outside. I’m sorry to say this and I know many other women will have a problem with it but if you don’t want boys/man to stare at your breast, then don’t let them hang all out.

Robin November 17, 2009, 9:34 AM

Just have an honest conversation about it after. It’s not only a way to see if your son is noticing girls, but a good teachable moment to see what they think is apropriate and about why some people find the chain so offensive. I personally have a sense of humor about the whole thing and enjoy their food.

redmum November 17, 2009, 10:46 AM

To anonymous (the first commenter), are you a man? because most women will tell you that breasts do not need to be hanging out to be the focus of a man’s attention.

In terms of bringing a child to hooters, eh no. I would prefer my sons to have a healthier attitude to women myself.

Regardless of what a young boy can see on tv, youtube etc, that can be monitored if the parents have a will to do so, bringing him to a place called hooters says it all really.

To me the puberty talk is needed before 11 so if the child was uncomfortable, its not as the dad says, that the time for the talk is not then, it could be because he knows enough now to be embarrassed…

Slee November 17, 2009, 10:47 AM

Wow. Its a Hooters, not a strip club. I think some people like to get worked up about things and be against establishments, movies, books, and anything else because they enjoy getting outraged and being “against.”
Frankly, the resturant doesn’t glorify objectifying women, else they’d not be wearing unflattering orange shorts, and be required to wear tights.
Its tacky, but probably a good opportunity to guage the boy’s reaction. Going to Hooters does not make one a pervert.

Anonymous November 17, 2009, 11:24 AM


real man November 17, 2009, 6:54 PM

ok, basically hooters is like disney for the mature male, and males of all ages can go there with no fear of being scared for life. This father was being responsible by introducing his son to women in a friendly environment. This is no big deal anyway… it is a restaurant with no age restrictions which means that all people of all ages and genders are welcome. If it was inappropriate for kids to be in there then Big Brother would have created an age requirement.

J November 18, 2009, 6:01 AM

I take it no one has been in a Hooters lately. For those of you who haven’t, it’s no different than any other restaurant. I was very disappointed the first time I went in and none of the waitresses was wearing anything revealing!

chef-prepared-meals November 20, 2009, 8:05 AM

Yeah I don’t think I would be interested in going to Hooter’s for Thanksgiving, especially since I ordered chef-prepared meals.

busylady December 18, 2009, 6:16 AM

WOW! Some of what I am reading here is quite shocking. If you think that bringing your son to a Hooters is going to make him have no respect for women then you must not have a very good opinion of your own parenting skills.

My husband and I raised our children to respect all people regardless of their race, nationality, gender or job. We had many meals at various Hooters and even had a meal there once on Mothers Day (because I did not want to wait 2 hours at another restaurant). Our daughter is a very healthy 24 year old with a Masters degree and a good job. Our son turned out to be a complete pervert because we brought him to Hooters too many times….bet that’s what some of you expected to see isn’t it. The real story is that he is a very considerate 22 year old who is working on his degree. I feel that we actually taught him that he should respect people regardless of what job they are doing and what clothes they are wearing.

We’ve had many conversations with waitresses at Hooters and everyone of them enjoyed their work. Many were working there to pay for college. I think this man had really good idea and was able to learn what he hoped to learn from the trip.

seolace May 6, 2010, 5:06 PM

Nice post, thanks for writing!

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