I am childless by choice. I admit I don’t have as much tolerance for badly behaved children whatever the cause. I know sometimes kids are tired and hungry but I find it hard to tolerate their high pitched cries especially in small places like the bus or on an airplane. That’s not to say I think they should be banned from adult oriented places or from traveling with their parents on public transportation.
I know it must be difficult for parents when the child is upset and misbehaving in public. Some people immediately blame the parent but often you really can tell they are at the end of their ropes. You can’t leave the child home all the time and there is the argument that they need to learn to interact socially.
But here’s the thing. And it’s not going to be pretty. In my experience and observation, there are increasing numbers of parents that don’t deny a child anything and never say No to them. The child then feels entitled and throws a holy tantrum when denied or any attempts at discipline are applied. And it seems to occur more and more these days.
I’ve had people say to me that saying No to a child stifles their creativity. They have said it’s disrespectful to the child. No it’s not. It’s teaching them right from wrong. It’s teaching them that they can’t have anything they want, there has to be limits.
And then there are parents that just shouldn’t have children. That sounds hard, I know. But I think back to a flight I took between Heathrow and Toronto about 10 years ago maybe. Two women in their 20s or thereabouts were sitting in the bulkhead section, each of them with a child. One child was about 3 or 4 and the other was a little boy about 2 and a half. The two women took their shoes off, put their bare feet up on the wall of the bulkhead in front of them, slouched back and gossiped the whole way.
Meanwhile, the older of the two children wandered around the plane by herself, or tried to crawl up on her mother’s lap and was pushed away. The other younger one half heartedly wandered the aisle, but was cranky and fractious. He smacked people on the legs. He tried to get up to his mother’s lap but he was pushed away and told he was being annoying. It was clear to me that little boy was unhappy, and I later heard his mother mention to the flight attendant that the boy had an ear infection! No wonder he was fractious and that woman wouldn’t even pick up her sick child for a cuddle!
Luckily, that’s generally the exception. Even though there are usually some children on most overnight flights I’ve taken, my fears for a noisy night have always been soothed aside from once. Most of the time the children fall asleep quickly. One flight, I could hear a small child grizzling on and off all night and nobody in the general area slept. But it was also clear that little one wasn’t having a temper tantrum or misbehaving, he was probably unsettled due to the traveling and strange place he or she found themself in.
I still prefer to be in a place without children if possible and when around them, pray to the gods that they are well behaved. Most are, some are not and it’s hard to take even when it seems like the parent is doing their best. Harder to take when it seems like the parent is letting the child run rampant.
Traveling with a child on planes and trains must be very difficult. Getting them used to it young is ideal if you can. The routine isn’t strange to them after awhile and they know what’s expected and what happens. In this blog post, there are some very good arguments for all sides, regarding kids in public places. Keeping kids from getting bored is probably paramount when traveling longer distances. Finding kid friendly places to eat means they’ll be more likely to find food on the menu they will like.