Why does our society hate children?

Try flying with a small child and retain your love of humanity.

Incoming from The Guru:

Perhaps of interest?

Oh yes.

I have to admit that I laughed out loud as I read James C Kaufman’s take on the recent Southwest Airlines throws mother and child off plane because child is too noisy story. Especially when I found out that it was because the 2-year-old in question was drowning out the the safety announcements with shouts of “Go Plane! Go!”.
I think we’ve all felt that way as they run through yet another sodding demonstration of how to put a sodding life-jacket on.

Kaufman seems to have exactly the same approach to parenting as me:

I believe in rules and good behavior in public. I don’t like ruining people’s days (at least via my child), and we don’t take our son to nice restaurants, movies, or live theatre when he’s clearly not ready for it. But there are some situations where it is necessary to take a child into the public eye. One that’s on my mind right now (because we’re traveling quite soon) is plane rides. I have seen the most egregious behavior here – from adults.

Before I was a parent, I wasn’t a parent. And those days aren’t so far gone. So yes, I understand that unruly kids can be a pain.
What I don’t think I understood before I was a parent was that sometimes kids have to be a bit unruly. And what better time for them to be unruly than on a plane?

Think about it. You’ve been cooped up in a car for an hour (or however long) to get to the airport. You’ve stood in 13 different queues – check-in, security, customs, etc etc.
And then you sit – seatbelted in – doing precisely sod-all for another hour once you’re actually on the plane before a really scary take off and 11½ hours (I’m doing Cape Town – London here) of having to sit in your seat and not go anywhere – oh, and then a really scary landing as well.
All in all a wholly unpleasant experience. I’d certainly scream and cry.
I still do, from time to time.

The thing that non-parents forget to take into account is that they were once kids too. And they almost certainly  behaved in exactly the same way, be it on a plane, in a shop or in public anywhere.
Because that’s what kids do, from time to time. It’s part of what being a kid is about.
Of course, parents have to react to this – especially in public. One can’t be seen to be simply ignoring the fuss that one’s child is making. Goblin – in her charmingly titled post Just Gag It points this out:

Parents should be fined when their child is throwing a tantrum in a public place and they pleasantly continue to drink their coffee saying, “Oh he’ll calm down in a second. I will ignore him until he behaves properly. Until then, we will ruin your experience”.

Of course, it should be noted that trying to deal with your child throwing a tantrum in a public place (or even in a private place) very rarely yields instant results. Or at least any beneficial ones. But it’s the fact that you are at least trying to do something about the noise which is enough for most people. Most people.

Things to remember:
1. It’s not pleasant for me [the parent] either.
2. I’m doing my best to stop the noise for everyone’s (incidentally, including my daughter’s) sakes.
3. We’re at 37,000 feet. Where would you like me to go so I’m not disturbing anyone? (Actually, don’t answer that)
4. It’s 10 minutes out of your life. It may seem like longer, but it’s not. 10 minutes. Deal with it.

I would argue that most of the anger that is directed the way of parents and their children on aeroplanes is there because other travellers have given themselves a false level of expectancy. I would also be disappointed if, when traveling economy, I was expecting free champagne, caviar, ample leg room and a nice massage with a happy ending from Denise the Stewardess.

Dream on, sunshine. Ain’t going to happen.

And likewise with kids on flights – as I pointed out earlier – you have basically put them through every situation that they hate. What do you expect?

Kaufman again:

Several folks on this and other sites pointed out how much money they would pay for a child-free flight. You know what? I’d pay just as much for a child-friendly flight – where reasonably behaved kids can fly without fear of glares from miserable old ladies, put-off hipsters, and misanthropic businessmen.

Correct again, Professor K.
I have already suggested this idea to influential people in the parenting business. Like Mrs 6000.

This doesn’t mean that kids shouldn’t be allowed to fly. All it takes is a bit of understanding from all parties involved. From the children – as much as they can understand; from the parents – who must do everything to make the experience as uneventful as possible for all concerned; but most of all from the other people on the plane, who – when one looks at it properly – often end up behaving like… well… children.

P.S. Southwest Airlines apologised to the mother and her son that were kicked off the flight.

14 thoughts on “Why does our society hate children?

  1. Aww but I’ve told you if you look like you’re actually doing something about it I won’t want to kill you. 😉

    If it would make you feel better I could have a whole week of ranting about how annoying adults are?
    .-= Tara´s last blog ..Shiny! =-.

  2. Seeing as I occasionally entertain the idea of having groblets of my own one day, I quake in terrified anticipation of the day I have to take them on a flight, or even out of the house.

    Why? Because of people like me. I was on the train the other day, and this lady with her 4 beautiful children (it definitely helps to forgive all if the kids are beautiful, which is even more disturbing) and one of them was… a little rowdy. I have no patience on the train as it is, but when I heard her speaking a foreign language I immediately started thinking, damn Eastern Europeans cannot control their children… then realised that if the mom had been British I would have been thinking, damn chavs or damn posh people or damn Northerners or damn Scots…. Basically we are all pretty nasty and prejudiced when we are exhausted. Poor parents and kids having to deal with us intolerant adults.
    .-= Po´s last blog ..What I think =-.

  3. Hmmm, if we’re making lists of types of people we don’t want our flight… I have a few to add way before “noisy children”…

    I’ve had the misfortune/ honour of being one of those chosen people to sit next to an unaccompanied kid on a flight. She was delightful. The pissy glaring angry auntie on my other side, not so much.

    All in all, I would actually like flights without the bitchy airhostesses. Why are they so mean these days? Why?

    But PLEASE! Is there ANY ANY way to stop some kids from doing that blood-curling scream. Where they sound like they are being slaughtered & are reaching decibles that would break glass. The kind only someone who has never been a parent seems to hear!
    .-= Champagne Heathen´s last blog ..The Hypocrisy of Civilised =-.

  4. Hoorah for Professor Kaufman. As a mother, I too have dealt with kids throwing tantrums in public, but I agree with the statement of not taking kids to smart restaurants and inappropriate places until they’re ready. I used to love going to flashy restaurants, but now it’s more a case of visiting the Spur where there is a dedicated play area for the kids to amuse themselves while I can hopefully try and have my meal in peace. Why torture yourself by taking them somewhere and you can even enjoy the experience yourself?!

    Another experience was when my daughter was 18 months old and decided that she was going to fling herself ‘gently’ onto the walkway in a busy shopping mall and scream her guts out. I actually don’t think she was bothering anyone and proceeded to walk about 30 metres away from where I stood and watched until she realised that she didn’t know where I was, jumped up and started looking for me. People generally were just laughing at this little event as they’d all clocked what was happening. The kids soon get over their tantrum if you learn not to indulge them.

  5. Tara > We all know how annoying adults can be. So no need for that.

    Po > That’s not being anti-kids, that’s being xenophobic. I happen to think that British kids are among the best and worst brought up in the world.

    CH > As the prof points out – it’s often the adults who are thoroughly obnoxious. But it’s a stressful time for all involved – parents as well. With all parties on edge, it’s a disaster just waiting to happen.
    And as for the scream – no. Sorry. No way of stopping that. Fortunately, Boeing have tested their aircraft windows against it, so there’s littel dnager of a blowout (of the windows, anyway) at 37,000ft.

    Madge > I once carried my tantrumming boy out of House & Home in Blue Route to the car park. He wanted to play with the wshing machines, we wanted to leave the shop. This (as any dedicated BR shoper will know) necessitates going right through Checkers and then right through the rest of the mall. I kept smiling (gritting teeth) and ignoring him while he screamed. The looks of pity, digust and amusement from shoppers as I passed noisily by were remarkably close to 33% each.

    Pamela > I was actually compiling a list of things you need to think about, but then I ran out of rainforest.

  6. The Economist made some sound proposals in this regard back in 1999, which have unfortunately not taken off yet.

    One frequent cause [of stress while traveling] is the noise that children, especially bored ones, inflict on other travellers. A year ago, we proposed that all planes should have child-free zones, just like no-smoking zones: children (and parents) should be confined to the back of the plane.


    The problems of both children and luggage could be solved in one stroke by putting the children in the hold, to make more space for carry-on luggage.

    .-= Jacques´s last blog ..Which religion should you follow? =-.

  7. Jacques > I’d be all for child-only/child-free zones on flights. I think it would make things easier for everyone.
    Less impressed with the baggage hold idea, to be honest.

  8. Just in case any of your more twitchy readers decide to boycott that esteemed publication, or have more children in retaliation, let me also point out that they were joking about the baggage hold idea. The kids might rummage through everyone’s stuff, after all.
    .-= Jacques´s last blog ..Which religion should you follow? =-.

  9. Far too many factors involved in the day of a child’s life to think that he/she will be all sweet and obedient when required. If your kid is going to cause a ruccus then it will be when you least want them to – they are like hounds that can smell blood – they know how to get what they want; even if it’s just attention. You Know Murphy’s Law is the only law they will obey – lol.
    It is a bit of a trade off if you ask me – while as a parent you cannot always give in to your child (least they use it as a tactic and get spoilt too their ruin) you also got to consider others around you. A bit difficult to do on a plane – hey, lets go to the play park; well that depends on how good your kid’s imagination is.
    I have a 2rd old and he kind of throws tantrums, and we took him on a plane about a year ago – you gotta hand it to kids you do not go crazy in such small and foreign places after such a long time.
    I reckon that our society hates children (if you can really generalize like that) because they encroach in ‘our’ space – more than ever before ‘our private space’ is becoming more sacred while we reserve our ‘community’ space online. or not.’
    .-= Phillip Gibb´s last blog ..phillipgibb: RT @twitter_tips: WARNING: Twitter Money Scams Spreading Through DMs http://j.mp/1RCVhQ // ahhh that explains a lot =-.

  10. I was on my first long haul flight at 6 weeks, and my mother tells me that I was an angel and slept all the way. The second time I flew, I was an unaccompanied minor – so no one call tell me if those angelic qualities remained, or if I was a little sh*t on the flight. 😀

    We did the long haul thing when my son was five – and he was a little star. Sadly, his will power didn’t extend to the toy aisle at Pick ‘n Pay/Game/Asda/Tesco, and I had to drag him and his lip home on many an occasion. I then solved the problem altogether by leaving him at home while I went shopping. As you may know, we’ve gone the US way, and smacking your child in public, while not illegal (yet) is one sure way of getting yourself arrested – so I went for the non-violent approach… 🙂
    .-= Helga Hansen´s last blog ..Last of the summer time =-.

  11. Personally I don’t feel much for children, never did like them much.

    When I was young we were seen and not heard, literally… We had nannies and didn’t travel.

    A young child never sat at table until it learnt to eat properly with a knife and a fork.

    Kids today are like little pests, they are treated as grown up when they are most certainly not.

    There is only one good place for a kid and that is year round boarding school in Switzerland.

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