Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Children in public places

Oh wow.  This article debating whether children should be allowed in public places (airplanes, restaurants) made me mad.  Really, really mad.  It is amazing how intolerant people are of children.  Hello?  Every one of us was a child at one point. 

*warning - rant coming*

I lived nearly 30 years with no children, and I don't remember being so obnoxiously opposed to children.  What are parents expected to do?  Lock ourselves in our house until the children are 30 years old?  How would they learn socially appropriate behavior if they don't have opportunities to practice?

The majority of the time my children are reasonably well behaved in public.  But there are times when I swear to you, I am doing everything I can and they are just unruly.  THEY ARE KIDS.  The problem is, it is often unpredictable, so I may think they are going to be well behaved in the restaurant, yet all hell breaks loose when we get there.  I take my children outside if weather permits, or to the restroom.  In extreme cases, I've taken them out to the car.  However, there are some instances where this would be a very difficult solution. 

Prime Example:

I have a stay-at-home mom friend who was hugely pregnant and took her 3-year-old to the post office with her because she needed to get a gift in the mail.  After standing in line for more than 30 minutes (all the while, her 3-year-old behaved), the child decided to pitch a major fit right when it was her turn at the counter.  She figured she would just hurry up and get her business done.  Here she is, tired, pregnant, embarrassed, and what happens?  Strangers start telling her how she should handle her child, criticizing her, and glaring at her.

You know what, I can't tell you how many times I've seen full grown adults behave way worse than any child.  Why are they allowed to go to restaurants and fly on planes?

In the article above, it is debated whether airline passengers should have to tolerate babies crying or kids being unruly.  So, if I agree that passengers shouldn't have to tolerate this, then my children won't ever see my husband's family?  Or if I fly with them, I should take two children to the tiny bathroom and lock myself in there with them?

For what it is worth, when we fly our children are very well behaved 95% of the time.  We keep them entertained, fed, and we pace with them in the aisles if they are restless.  However, there have been a couple of instances when I couldn't do anything - once was during descent when I wasn't allowed to get out of my seat and the baby had a wet diaper - she was a little fussy.  I guess the freaking air marshall should have arrested us.

Let's have a debate about why adults shouldn't be allowed on flights:

  • They fart and it is permeates the entire plane in a very disgusting manner.  I DON'T WANT TO BREATHE YOUR POOP PARTICLES!!
  • They drink too much and talk too loudly.
  • They lean their chairs back even though I already can taste the coffee that spilled on my pants (since my knees are crammed in my face).
  • They take my arm rest.  It is clearly MY armrest.
  • They treat the flight attendants like crap.  "Raddy, raddy, rah.  Hmpf.  Look at me, I'm Mr. Important Business Person, so I should be allowed to do whatever I want and you should be at my beckon call."
  • They have temper tantrums when they don't get their way (e.g., asked to turn off cell phone during takeoff).

So, Mr. or Ms. Obnoxious Adult, why don't you put yourself in timeout in the disgusting, smelly bathroom?

What do you all think?

  • How do you feel about children in public places?

  • What is your limit on what is reasonable to expect from children?  What are the exceptions (certain circumstances)?

  • What do adults do in public that you think is worse than what children do?

I like this short but effective article about children's behavior in public.  The gist is that it is about balancing the child's needs and the need to teach them appropriate behavior with the needs of the general public.  One doesn't trump the other, but both needs are important.


  1. It's one of those issues with two vocal wingnut groups, but I'd like to think that the majority of people can find a middle ground. I don't get the militant kid-haters. Sure, it's annoying if a kid starts screaming at a restaurant, but you roll your eyes and get on with life. To lack all tolerance for children to the point that you look down on parents and try to ban kids from airplanes is cynical.

    At the same time, I know more than a few parents who feel that "childless by choice" is immature, selfish, a betrayal of society, or all of the above. There are few lines I hate more than "You wouldn't understand; you don't have kids." The world isn't exactly short on people, and there are other ways to have a positive impact on it besides spawning.

    So here's the compromise - kids or no kids, having a superiority complex about a chosen familial status isn't helping anyone. There are some environments like a movie theater where parents do have an obligation to remove their screaming children from the room even if it means missing the movie they paid to see. An airplane isn't one of those environments, so you deal with it like a grown-up. Just order another mini-Jack Daniels and keep in mind that the parents are probably having the most miserable flight of all. In fact, order them a Jack, too...for the screaming kid, of course.

  2. Well said, my friend, well said.

    I also always hated it when people said "you don't understand because you don't have kids." The other one that bugged me and still does is, "it is different with your own." True, but not always in the right direction! This statement implies you will be more tolerant of your own children, but I often find I am less tolerant and have higher expectations of my own children.

  3. I posted a link to this post on my facebook page, and want to share some of the comments that were posted there. I edited names by converting them to initials:

    ST: this made me irate as well. People saying children should be banned from all airplanes? Wow. You don't get much more selfish and mean-hearted than that.

    KC: Wow! Jen, I agree--that article is maddening! Are we discriminating against parents and babies now?

    ST: they need to charter their own damn plane then. Americans are the only ones who don't do public transporation well. This country needs an attitude adjustment

    LH: Crap- I'd be screwed.... L. actually behaves better in public than she does at home!!!

    LKH: Wow, that's irritating. Usually my kids are great in planes, but this last time R. was horrible. I tried everything but she just wasn't happy. Then just as I got her to sleep, S. kicked off wanting me to hold het. I got a ton of looks, but I was doing everything I could. I understand getting upset at parents who ignore the behavior, but if we're trying, cut us some slack. Kids can't be perfect all the time.

    ST: if we ban babies, then I suggest we ban the annoying business man that feels he is too important to turn his cell phone off and asks to set his drink on your tray becasue his big important laptop takes up all of his. That's how I get annoyed. Do I create a huge stink about it and call CNN? No, but I could if that's how shallow human beings want to get.

    MR: i was in an irish store the other day with t. in hand and a. in the baby bjorn and the woman behind the counter darted a look of death at me and very rudely said "this is NOT a toy store" i should have told t. to poop on her carpet...

  4. Oddly silent lately on the blog, Jen. Everything OK? I'm assuming you're just super busy raising your beautiful daughters. :-)