Is Our Anti-Child Society Your Fault?


We live in an adult-centered, anti-child world where mistreatment of children is considered, not just appropriate, but preferred.

At best, kids are considered loud, messy and exhausting.

At worst, they are considered inherently “bad” and in need of training, which is usually doled out in the form of mental, emotional or physical abuse.

It’s true that children are the only group that is still boldly and legally discriminated against. They are the only people who are legally allowed to be hit, stolen from or held against their will. There is even a movement to ban the “brats” from public places based on nothing but their age.

Think about any of these sentiments said about a particular race and you’ll see my point. It is a very anti-child society we live within.

Of course, all of this instills in children a belief that they are less than, broken or bad. And unless they heal that belief, because children are the only oppressed group who will outgrow their oppression, it’s a belief they will continue to carry into their unoppressed adult life and inform every choice they make, including the treatment of the next generation.

So, we are essentially creating an entire culture of broken, hurting human beings for generations to come.

And I keep hearing so many parents complain about this and the so-called “brat bans”.

We are all appalled and offended when someone speaks condescendingly, assumes a child’s guilt or otherwise passes judgment on them based on their size.

But how many are doing anything about it?

Guess what?

If you want the anti-child treatment to change you’ve got to come out of your hiding places and start talking about.

Not just on Facebook.

Not just on your blog.

You need to start speaking up. At family reunions. At the grocery store. With your best friend. With strangers at the park.

You need to grow some cahones and start creating real awareness by speaking your Truth.

You need to live with Integrity.

Last week I got the opportunity to ask an older gentleman to drop some anti-semetic remarks he was making in front of us.

This was a strong, opinionated man who never backs down. He’s the kind of man that constantly makes racist, classist or sexist remarks and is used to winning arguments. The kind of man no one even bothers arguing with anymore.

I knew all of this going in. I’ve seen how people will sit uncomfortably and listen as he makes these remarks and not say a word, because they don’t feel it’ll help. They all looked pained as they shrug their shoulders and ask “What can I do?”

But I live by my own integrity.

And according to my integrity, all people should be treated with honor and respect and compassion. Even this man who was making anti-semetic remarks.

So with respect for him, I clearly stated that I was uncomfortable with his remarks, explained why and stated that I would appreciate them not happening in front of us.

Because I spoke with respect, not anger or fear, he did what no one had ever seen him do before.

He apologized and said he hadn’t looked at it that way.

We then went on to have a nice conversation for several more hours.

The One Rule To Speaking Your Truth

It doesn’t work when you speak from a place of anger or fear.

It doesn’t work when you fight or demand or criticize.

People shut down when they hear your anger, or feel attacked.

But people hear Truth.

Truth is not angry. It’s not fear-based. It’s not judgmental.

It’s just Truth.

And real Truth comes from a place of love. It comes with compassion and acceptance and gentleness. It doesn’t back down or hide.

And it speaks volumes louder than anger.

If we want to change these anti-child views…if we want to promote respect and love, compassion and kindness…we get to speak out while we set an example of what respect, love, compassion and kindness look like.

We get to live our Integrity out loud.

(And really, if you’re speaking with anger, are you really living your integrity?)

Change doesn’t happen by complaining about it.

Keep this in mind: the reason these anti-child (or racist or sexist or any-ist) sentiments make you uncomfortable is because you’re not living according to your own beliefs, your own integrity, when you don’t speak your Truth.

You’re sacrificing your beliefs to “keep the peace” (what peace?). And that’s uncomfortable!

To live with integrity means to take your authenticity and your Truth out of its box and into the world.

What do you know as Truth? What is holding you back from speaking your Truth with compassion and respect for everyone involved?

Because if you see the abuse and hate occurring towards children – or anyone else – and you do nothing about it…or you increase it with abuse and hatred of your own, whose really to blame here?

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39 Comments. Leave new

Great post. I actually skipped a family reunion just this past weekend so that I didn’t have to listen to all the comments we get when we are around the extended family. Thanks for the thoughts on how I can address them:)

oh my goodness tara, i love this post! i work for child protective services and am often frustrated, sometimes stunned, at how children are not entitled to the same legal protection and rights as adults. i can’t wait to check out parenting for social change.

The mistreatment of people simply because they are smaller and younger is so terribly, heartbreakingly insidious. Worst of all, I think it’s contagious. It is so easy – I admit it’s happened to me – to slip out of our own principles and values when out of our home and surrounded by a society that demands controlling, heavy-handed, negative parenting.
There’s a real lesson in prejudice in society’s treatment of children. Because they are small and young it is assumed they will behave a certain way. And for those of us who parent non-punitively, it is assumed that we do not lead our children to learn to be thoughtful, considerate, social people. But for some reason, this sort of prejudice is not only tolerated, it’s encouraged. It’s terribly sad.
And thank you for the last section of this post: my grandparents, father, and in-laws are prone to making latent racist remarks or jokes and we have simply sat uncomfortably through them rather than causing a scene. You are absolutely right that we do no one any favours by doing so: it stops now!

Thanks for this Tara. I think you’re absolutely right. And it’s what I needed to hear. Too often lately have I kept my mouth shut when someone has said something I disagree with, for fear of causing hassle. From racist slurs from family members, to a woman yesterday complaining about a child in a supermarket who she felt needed to be smacked. And all I did was change the subject, while my inner voice told me to question what they’d said. Thanks again for reminding me to be authentic.

I do speak out against this! I wish more people would be ‘a village’ in public places also. A parent is stressed and can’t handle things sometimes so just offer to carry her groceries or take the cart back already!
The book ‘Playful Parenting” has a chapter in the end on how to help a parent in public who is being rough or angry. Everyone should look at that!

As a single w/o children I agree wholeheartedly with post. What are we as a society in whole teaching our little people?

Personally, if adul people are so bothered by children then maybe those adult people should stay home instead.

I am printing this post and will read it many times over and implement it.

I have to disagree. I think the anti-children movement is caused by the parents who don’t respect their kids. Non-parents are reacting to the consequences of that bad parenting, not by a belief that kids are inherently annoying and unteachable.

Your son sounds like an amazing kid, and I would have absolutely no problem with him being around. The kids who are being yelled at, hit, put down, *by their parents* are the ones I see throwing tantrums and being annoying. Those are the kids people want banned from nice restaurants and theaters. A blanket ban is considered necessary by them because it seems the number of kids acting out is increasing.

August 4, 2011 3:16 pm

This is a great point Margaret.

The treatment of children by many parents is creating the behaviors we see in kids today and those behaviors are what people are responding to.

But blanket bans will not change the behavior of these hurting children, nor will it change the behavior of these (likely also hurting) parents. It’s discriminatory, just like banning against a race is discriminatory.

Which leads back to my original point. If we see a problem and we react harshly to it (“brat bans”) or we ignore it or we just spend time pointing fingers, aren’t we just part of the problem?

We’re certainly not part of the solution until we take our compassion, our beliefs and our integrity out of that box and start living it out loud.

Amen, amen, amen, amen. Oh my gosh, this is powerful and true and I bless you for putting it out there. I do speak out a lot but more often I am silent because I am buying the suggestion to feel afraid and small. Perhaps a different invitation is called for.

This stuff has really been bugging me lately. I don’t deal with a ton of people who are like this, but I think maybe I need to start growing up and growing stronger towards standing up for what I believe in.

The first time I read all this “brat banning” stuff though, I got very upset. I just can’t imagine Aedan growing up in a culture that says he is inherently a “brat” just because he isn’t an adult. A culture that is saying he should just stay home and pretty much never go anywhere because he isn’t old enough to venture out.

I think the general principle of your post is right on. However, I’m not sure I can get on board with the whole thing about kids. Maybe it’s a geographical thing. I’m a mom in Texas and I’ve personally experienced nothing like what you described, much less seen it in public. This thing about banning kids from certain public places is totally foreign to me.

I do have to say though, there ARE some places I think are not appropriate for small children. Some restaurants, for example. We avoid taking our small kids (especially when they were babies) to nice restaurants where people often frequent for dates & such. We did this not because our kids are not well behaved or because we couldn’t “control them in public” but because it wasn’t fair to them or the people who were going to the nice restuarant.

There are clubs that don’t allow people in unless they’re over 21 or 18. Is that wrong?

As far as abuse or maltreatment goes, however, that is never acceptable! However, the Lord did put us in charge of training up our kids. We’re supposed to teach them boundaries & obedience & respect for others & self control. If some people want to say it’s unacceptable for me to make my child sit in a chair against “their will” at dinnertime when they would rather run around the house, then so be it.

Maybe I’m completely missing the mark …

August 5, 2011 12:30 pm

Oh there are absolutely places I would not take my son, mostly because why in the world would he want to go there, partially because it’s not legal and partially because of the things he might experience that I know he would be uncomfortable with.

And yes, if a child is crying or screaming, absolutely help them get their needs met away from others who may be disrupted.

But I feel we may in disagreement with what constitute courtesy to others (such as in a restaurant) and what constitutes an unnecessary battle (such as making our kids sit through dinner when they may not be hungry or might be feeling too energetic to hold their bodies still). I also feel we’re in disagreement as to our responsibility to our individual faiths or how that looks like. I can’t imagine Jesus spanking, or even speaking harshly to a child, can you?

I want to strive to treat our children with the same dignity afforded a friend going through a difficult transition or an elderly grandparent possibly struggling in their later years.

deb from p.s. bohemian
August 7, 2011 9:09 am

Tara, you said: “I can’t imagine Jesus spanking, or even speaking harshly to a child, can you?”

and then i tried to imagine just such a thing and it doesn’t work. Not in my heart and in my faith in a Jesus who believed children were special and should be emulated not hidden away.

great point!

A good place to start refraining from child abuse is to skip the circumcision of boys. You wouldn’t strap a grown man to a board and amputate his privates, now would you?

Wow. This is a fantastic post calling for action and offering a how-to. I deeply appreciate this.

My problem is knowing how to talk to people in that space of understanding and courage. You are you, I am me, and let’s create a safe place where we can both talk together. At this point, I’m still too defensive to do it gracefully, but I’m working on it. My best right now is to walk away and not open my mouth, but perhaps the day will come when I can defuse a situation and open it up instead of resorting to frustration and labels.

Thank you, thank you.

This post makes some good points and like Abby says, may be geographical. In a city like we have made home, there are definitely those who do not want children around, well behaved or not. However, there are times, as Abby mentioned, that we choose not to take our children (preschool) to certain restaurants simply because they are too young to behave appropriately in those settings.
I think this is different than what Tara is talking about in this post. Tara, I appreciate the admonition to live in integrity and have the courage to speak in a respectful manner as you did to the gentleman who seems not to have realized he was being disrespectful. Whether it applies to an “anti-child” attitude or a racist one, learning to meet another person with courage, tempered with respect, is the mark of a wise woman.

I think you’re right, Monna. I definitely hear the spirit of what Tara’s saying! It’s so difficult sometimes, for me as a mom, to be able to bring myself to a place to speak out not out of anger when I see a child being treated “abusively.” I also think people struggle with “is it my place to say something?”, ya know.

For an national organization (the only one I know of) fighting anti-youth prejudice check out the National Youth Rights Association:

Ramona Creel
August 5, 2011 3:52 am

I was sort of pointed toward this blog inadvertently by a friend of mine on FB — as a child-free individual, I have to disagree about the “anti-child” attitude being based in ageism. I don’t inherently have a problem with the young — I have a problem with the ill-behaved. I don’t believe in banning kids from public places — but I have no problem segregating screaming, crying, temper-tantrum-throwing children whose parents are doing nothing to “guide” them toward acting like civilized human beings. I do not believe in discipline that is hurtful or abusive, but I do believe that too many well-meaning moms and dads have taken on a laissez faire parenting style that is more damaging to the kid in the long run than a little discipline. I know folks want their precious little snowflakes to find their own path in life, but that can only happen if a child has been taught how to function in the larger society first. First you show them the boundaries of acceptable behavior — then you teach them how to go beyond those boundaries without stepping all over the personal freedoms of others. Children should be allowed to be children — but that doesn’t mean they get a free pass to be rude and obnoxious. We’re raising a generation of children who have never been told “no,” and it’s no wonder so many are being labeled as “brats” by the larger society. Honestly, it has nothing to do with discrimination — it’s a gut reaction to an encounter with an out-of-control human being (and the reaction would be the same if that person were 21 or 51 or 81). If your kids are well-behaved, even the child-free will view them kindly. But if they aren’t, don’t expect everyone to just look the other way. If it takes a village to raise a child, that also includes correcting socially-unacceptable behaviors — it takes a village to keep a kid from showing his ass in public.

August 5, 2011 12:23 pm

Thank you for sharing your passionate thought here Ramona.

I see that you are very frustrated as the hands-off parenting we all see, and have a need to express that frustration and your views on the matter.

We are in agreement that hands-off parenting is not healthy, that many parents have stopped guiding or even being involved in any manner, that children should be allowed to be children, that screaming kids should be gently removed from an area to be helped in a way that doesn’t interrupt others and that healthy boundaries are very important to every person’s life.

I would assume we’re in disagreement about the way in which that is all done. I’ve shared more of these thoughts in my comment below to Dawn.

Thank you again for sharing and I am pleased it has struck such a passionate chord in you so that this conversation could happen.

Children are an oppressed group??? Oh come ON – now I’ve heard everything. It is precisely THIS attitude that created this generation of spoiled, unruly, impolite, undisciplined children. True discipline is NOT abuse – it is the guidance of children in teaching them right from wrong in this world. Contrary to popular belief, children are NOT small adults. They are not physically, emotionally and mentally prepared to handle adult decision making – they must be guided by parents whose job it is to teach their children the skills to function in society. Newsflash – your child’s delicate soul won’t crumble if you tell him/her no. I know, unbelievable!

As a child I was allowed to be a child. However, I was also taught how to behave properly in public . Tantrums and rudeness to others were not tolerated. Was I abused? Never. Was I made to feel that I was less or a second class citizen? No.

Let me tell you a story. When I was growing up my Aunt had a room in her house that was the “nice room” that she used for adult company only – pristine furniture, light colored rug, breakable items. Of course, this area was always cordoned off. As a young child I would stand at the kid gate and stare in the room at all the pretty things — I wanted to go in so badly! Did I throw a tantrum about it until I got my way? No. One day I turned to my aunt and said politely, “Oh Auntie, please can I go in there? I promise I’ll be good.” My Aunt was so impressed that she picked me up and put me in the room where I got to look around. I’ll never forget it – and neither has my aunt. 30 years later we STILL talk about it together.

The point being that I was taught how to behave in adult places – and far from being oppressed, I was rewarded for my behavior. Being allowed in the ‘adult room’ made me feel special and wonderful, and taught me that politeness, manners and consideration would get me far in life. And it has.

August 5, 2011 12:16 pm

Thank you for your response Dawn.

I see that you are feeling frustrated and have a need to be heard on this matter. Maybe also that you have a need to clarify your own experience.

And I thank you for that. We are in agreement that certain behaviors are not socially acceptable, that children are not small adults and are not capable of much decision-making without our guidance, that children are capable of hearing no and understanding it and that they need to be allowed to be children.

We are in disagreement as to the tools and methods a parent should use to help guide their children.

I would assume we’re also in disagreement about the long-term effects of traditional “discipline” (which I find most people to think is synonymous with “punishment”). As a life coach to women, as a friend to many other life coaches, I’ve seen the deeper affects of a child feeling that they are only as good as their behavior. I’ve seen the beliefs it creates in adults, such as a feeling that “I’m not good enough”, the need to be perfect or the fear of making mistakes, and the people-pleasing, worrying about what others think, the self-sacrificial choices or the rebellion against it all that we all see in our teens.

I’m not an advocate of raising children to a status above other human beings. I’m an advocate for treating children with the same dignity and respect we would give, perhaps a close friend going through a hard transition or an elderly grandparent struggling in their later years.

Again thank you for sharing your thoughts and I’m pleased to know this has struck such a passionate chord in you.

This is a tough one for me. First, let let it be a given that I think children have feelings and opinions that need validating and respect. However, I am frequently frustrated by the way parents handle children in public places and I’ll add that I am frustrated by the way parents handle themselves in public places.

I remember being 12 and noticing that it always seemed like it was the mom who carried the screaming toddler out of the restaurant to cool off…and my complaint as a feminist girl was that the dad got to keep eating while the mother missed the meal and conversation etc. These days, the problem is that neither parent carries the child out of the restaurant or movie or play. Ignoring the behavior seems to be the method of the day or worse, endless negotiations with the child about their behavior. Listening to the child best the parents in negotiations is frustrating when your seat is being kicked.

Children are not being banned from public places because they are children, they are being banned because in large numbers their parents refuse to parent them. Yes, many moments are teachable moments and some discussion regarding behavior can be appropriate, but these days it seems as if a child throwing ice cubes is gently and respectfully asked repeatedly to stop and told how it isn’t nice etc, but no one reaches over, grabs the glass and firmly tells the child that throwing ice isn’t tolerated.

There isn’t a single event or occasion where I wouldn’t welcome a child, however, the key is that their presence not be a disruption to the experience of others while attending the same event etc. Yes, kids get loud and sometimes have bad moods — totally understandable, but the problem is when the parents do nothing but weakly shrug instead of leave or use an effective (non-abusive) way to end the situation. When I was a kid my brother and I were better behaved for the baby sitter than our own parents because it was expected that we be. I don’t think this is wrong.

Honestly, I’ve never heard anyone rail against the children in these situations, but I have heard frustration expressed about the parents. I don’t think this about hatred of children. I think the situation has reached a head and bans are gaining support because so many people are tired of dealing with parents who simply refuse to see clearly the negative impact their children have on other people’s experiences. Ironically, it is often these same parents who notice the “positive” impact their children have on people and who feel parental pride at their child’s sensitivity or kindness who simply ignore what they do not want to see when their child may behave normally (for their age, experience etc), but in a place where such behavior isn’t appropriate.

August 5, 2011 2:21 pm

Laura, thank you so much for this comment. I appreciate your sharing your thoughts in a way that is respectful of all parties. <3

I wholeheartedly agree that too many parents are ignoring their children's negative impact on others and no guiding them.

And I LOVE this statement for the Truth that resonates with me: "Ironically, it is often these same parents who notice the “positive” impact their children have on people and who feel parental pride at their child’s sensitivity or kindness"

And this is right in alignment with what I'm saying above. It seems as though parents are quick to take ownership but slow to take accountability.

The same thing about integrity applies to these situations. We get to speak up for what we believe is right…whether it's for respect for all ages or full and positive engagement with our kids. And we get to do so with the same compassion and respect we so adamantly demand from others.

Very interesting post! And I particularly enjoyed this response: “And this is right in alignment with what I’m saying above. It seems as though parents are quick to take ownership but slow to take accountability.” Amen!

I have to say, though, that I agree with a number of other commenters that children are not being banned from some of these places because they’re children, but because their parents are allowing behavior that is disruptive to numerous others. To be frank, it’s just a good business decision to try to accomodate most of your clientele – especially if it sets you apart from other businesses.

Now, we are expecting our 7th child. We LOVE children. We host families and young people in our home frequently, but there is one family whose children are frequently not invited to our home because they have no repect for boundaries and house rules. We are not discriminating against children in general when we do this, we are choosing to not accomodate behavior that squelches the joy of everyone except the offending family. I don’t blame the children – the fault lies firmly with the parents. Regardless of who is to blame, however, the fact remains that we are “discriminating” against these children but, you know, “discrimination” is not always a negative term – sometimes it indicates the ability to make wise decisions.

In response to the title of your blog post, “Is Our Anti-Child Society Your Fault?” I would have to say that it is, to a degree, the fault of parents – parents who refuse to parent responsibly. It’s also our fault when we appreciate media that values things over people. It’s our fault when we complain about our children (or the consequences of having children) to anyone and everyone. And, okay, I’ll be frank and go out on a limb here…what kind of a society did we think we’d create when we said it was okay to kill unborn children if they were an inconvenience of any kind? (I am not saying that women flippantly have abortions for no reason at all – what I am saying is that we have a law that says we can.) Really? Did we think that this would result in a society that values children? In fact, I would guess that fits in nicely with the theme of this post. “It’s true that children are the only group that is still boldly and legally discriminated against. They are the only people who are legally allowed to be hit, stolen from or held against their will.” They are also the only people we kill for any reason at all without impunity.

Okay – it wasn’t my intention to post about abortion when I started to respond to this post – it just came about as I thought about how we’ve become an anti-child society -but, I do think it’s worth considering…

Shawnele, do you really think children were treated like an equal class of people prior to 1972? Having been born in 1962, I can assure that is completely untrue. Throughout Western history, children have always been treated atrociously — young girls traded in arranged marriages to older men; boys sent off to boarding schools where they were beaten and trained for war; children put to work in factories as soon as they were tall enough to reach the looms making rugs, or sent to work in coal mines into spaces too small for grown men, only to later be cast aside, uneducated and stunted in growth; horrible, terrible conditions for children are the legacy of western culture.

The rights children have today are a vast improvement over the decades that came before. The fact is that it’s just not yet improvement enough. But to even suggest children are only mistreated today because we allow abortion is tantamount to saying people who support abortion rights mistreat children. It’s also untrue.

Oh, I certainly think that children have seen worse times than we have now iin the United States (the prior lack of child labor laws definitely come to mind). But we were talking about an anti-child culture – a prime example being that business places are now trying to eliminate patronage from young children (and their families) because of childish behavior. Of course a culture that condones murdering one’s children merely for the sake of convenience is NOT going to be a culture that honors those children (and their incumbent inconveniences) when they are born.

I think it interesting how you apparently read my comment – that I “suggested” that the “only” reason children are mistreated today is because we allow abortion. Of course, I never said nor suggested that – in fact, I gave a number of reasons why I thought out culture was “anti-child” and that was one of them. Obviously, your inference (based on something I never said) is equally faulty – I did not imply or state that those who support abortion mistreat children. What I did state was that those who support a woman’s “right” to kill her child because he or she is a current inconvenience are not promoting the inherent rights or humanity of children. It seems logical that if my right not to be inconvenienced, no matter how small trumps a child’s right to live, then the message being sent quite loudly and clearly is that my rights are pre-eminent over those of a child. My wants are more valid than a child’s needs. That is just a logical conclusion one would draw from legal abortion with little constraints. Why did we think that this type of thinking would increase the value people place on the lives of children?

It’s true that children were treated horribly prior to 1972, but Roe v. Wade certainly doesn’t help create a culture that values children.

Amazing post, Tara, and something that we all need to hear. I’ve backed down too many times. I’ve put perfect strangers before the needs of my children because I don’t want to upset another adult. I’ve been too scared to tell someone to back down, back off, or not talk to my child that way. I’ve allowed my friends and my kids’ sitters to put them in time out, make them eat their vegetables, and a myriad of other messes that I know need to be curbed. I pray I can be brave enough to put them first, even when it costs me another relationship – because THEY are important. Much too important to sacrifice to “keeping the peace”. Thank you.

LOVE THIS. Thank you.

thank you for this. my little boy is just under 3 months old, and already I find myself having to challenge so much anti-child sentiment.

Wow, where to start? I have three children of my own that I love and think are wonderful. We have gone out to dinner in many a restaurant. I have never had to leave. Usually if I speak once about an inappropriate behavior its understood. If its not I excuse myself and the child in question and talk to them in private about why its innappropriate,(ie: throwing your food on the floor is not nice to the people who have to clean the restaurant. Its not allowed at home, please don’t do it here). There are parents who DO let their children just run!

I do think there is too much name calling and downgrading of children, BUT I believe it all begins with parents who won’t own up to the need to parent their child. I have never been in a situation where I got the nasties about my children. I have, however, been in a restaurant where one family is just OUT of control!! And the parents are on their phone or just ignoring the situation. It is not unusual in human beings to lump people in a group rather than look at individuals. A childless person sees you walk in to a store with your child, rolls their eyes and says “Here we go AGAIN”*Sigh~~, and I can see why they could do that. It isn’t necessarily your child or mine, but the countless others who have wreaked havok before them, and their parents.

I believe that the childless should have the choice to pay for a flight that is childless as well. i think this all comes to striking a balance. There are many places where it is absolutely not allowed to bring your child, such as tattoo parlors, sex toy stores, x rated movies. Is it fair to someone who may not have CHOSEN to be childless to only have those kinds of places to frequent? Is it kind? The childless are people with needs as important as anyone elses. Why must they submit to my choice of becoming a parent? Why can’t we share the world we live in? With respect for all of us!

When at Chuck E Cheese, people would be outraged if someone came in and complained that children are being too noisy. We aren’t looking at that. What we ARE looking at is a flight where a business person could pay a premium to be able to sleep, or work on a presentation. Heck, I know business people WITH kids who would pay for that so when they get home to their own kids they could have that time with their kids and not a pillow! We are talking about an adults only Ledo deck on a cruise. I think childless people want their own Chuck E Cheese. And I can respect that. The childless should NOT have to live with MY choice:)

It is sad that non parenting choices by some have led us to this place that is so push/pull. We should be working together. I know childless people who volunteer their time with children and love being with kids. But they also like a nice dinner out alone. I don’t find myself insulted by this. There are times when kids should not be included, and sometimes it includes candlelight and a nice quiet dinner. The problem we should be standing up to is non-parenting, for THAT is the true core to the problem at hand.

If we are speaking of respecting each other, adult and child alike, we have to admit as responsible and loving parents that the childless may not be used to having kids around. We should lovingly ,and with our blessings SUPPORT a childfree flight. A childfree dinner at a restaurant. I think of it like adult swim. Did any of you have adult swim as a child? Or adult skate at a skating rink? It was a short blissful period where someone without children could participate in an activity they liked without being splashed or rolled over. Kids had all day in the activity, the adults got a brief hour in the pool or four songs at the skating rink.

We simply have to admit that we made the choice to have kids. Others made the choice not to. Some had no choice. I have no problem with a childfree “Adult Swim” for the childless to have peace and quiet. Respect is a two way street, something that can’t be forced. It needs to be given to you. If respect is a gift to be given, I say we wrap it with a lovely big bow and give! Maybe the respect needs to start with us.

I agree with a lot of what you’ve said. As a childfree person, I often feel like we don’t have our own Chuck E Cheeses. For me it’s not about age, but about behaviour. Kids go somewhere like that to run around and be kids, I go to a nice restaurant or a pub to have a conversation and be adults, but I do often find that such places aren’t places to be adults because they’re overrun with children being children, which is all well and good but I sometimes do want peace and quiet.

I find the original post interesting, but I disagree that there is full-scale discrimination against children in the way that people might discriminate against people based on race or sex. The difference is that most of us who go to over-18 showings of Harry Potter or avoid restaurants with lots of children don’t do so out of prejudice but because there are certain behaviours that are common to most children that we can’t abide. It’s not ‘Children are all stupid and loud’ but ‘Children aren’t fully developed yet, it’s natural and healthy for them to be energetic, and that’s not what I want at the moment’. I can’t stand high-pitched, loud noises; thus I can’t stand shrieking children on an airplane. This is partly the result of parents who don’t teach their children properly, but even the best parents can’t always deal with a toddler’s tantrums, because that’s simply what toddlers do.

I do disagree with ‘brat bans’ in the sense that it’s based directly on age, and calling all children under a certain age ‘brats’ *is* discrimination based on age. I would prefer to see something like a sign at a restaurant saying ‘noisy children must be removed’, regardless of age. I have no quarrel with a quiet baby sitting in a restaurant while I’m enjoying a meal with my fiancé. I do, however, object to going out for lunch with a friend and being unable to hear each other because the woman at the next table refuses to take her screaming child outside (yes, this has happened to me).

Children deserve respect, but we also need to remember that they do not behave or think as adults do. This doesn’t make them lesser than us, but it also means that it is the parents’ responsibility to ensure their children are behaving, and if parents aren’t taking that responsibility then it is reasonable for others to take measures to ensure the children don’t negatively affect their business or their night out.

Danielle @ Analytical Mom
August 22, 2011 6:41 am

Charlotte, thank you so much for your thoughtful response to this post! I could not agree with you more. I love that you said “Maybe the respect needs to start with us.” What a great mindset to have. It doesn’t mean we will never speak up when the need truly arises, but that we will be able to thoughtfully consider where the offending speaker is coming from, and be able to speak to them from their own frame of reference, rather than out of our own self-righteous indignation.

Tara, I admire your determination to stand up for the rights of children. I agree that children are often treated unfairly (generally by their parents). Just a few questions. I am curious whether there are any present-day cultures that you would consider to be more child-friendly? I have heard that in Mexico, and many parts of South America, for example, as you phrased it, “the village” all helps entertain and accommodate children when they are at the market, the post office, etc. It’s a stretch to me to think, though, that in such places, exhausted children are being dragged out to fancy restaurants at 10 pm with their parents. Rather, children are welcomed and accommodated in situations where it is appropriate for them to be. I wonder, if American parents were a little more careful about where they took their children in the first place, if children might be more welcome in age-appropriate places. Like maybe, if a childless person had the confidence that they’d be able to dine out with a date in a quiet, intimate environment over a fancy dinner later, they wouldn’t mind children being present at a casual, family-friendly lunch.

We chose to have children, and we knew that we would have to give up a certain amount of freedom when they arrived. I am fine with the “adult swim” concept Charlotte mentions. If I have to schedule my flight at 9 p.m. instead of 9:30 because the 9:30 flight is “adult only,” yes, I will be a bit inconvenienced, and maybe a little bit grumpy even! But perhaps the freedom of “flying whenever the heck I want and eating wherever I want” is one that I gave up when I chose to have children.

TheOrganicSister, I think encouraging people to speak up about anti-child prejudice is a great thing to do, but I am not comfortable with telling people who are beaten down by that prejudice every day that they don’t get to be angry, and I certainly wouldn’t tell those people from my privileged position that their activism isn’t real activism. That is not love and it is not my truth.

When I am resistant to seeing someone else’s point of view, what breaks that wall down is not love but fear and anger. I need to see that I have hurt real people.

If I hid my anger and my fear, I would not be living according to my integrity and I would not be speaking my truth. My truth is angry because people have done things to me, day after day, in places I thought were safe, that are worth getting angry about. Fear is my constant companion and probably always will be. I refuse to believe my truth is any less true for that.

Other commenters: I don’t think it’s fair or productive to frame loud noises and disruptive behavior as specifically kid problems. I think it’s absolutely a valid concern–in fact, I’m sensitive to noise too, to the point of processing issues and shutdown, both as a kid and as an adult.

In my experience, when I have to leave or avoid a place because of noise, the source is usually an adult (about the same as the proportion of adults in the general population, not disproportionately adults) but I see the types of noise and disruptive behavior that are associated with children being stigmatized and complained about the most.

I absolutely support noise policies and designated quiet and loud areas, but a ban on kids wouldn’t help me much, and as a kid with noise issues, barring me from the places where quiet was most expected would have made things worse.

August 29, 2011 6:31 am

I feel you have misunderstood my words. I have never and will never say that anyone doesn’t “get to” be angry. Ignoring or hiding our feelings is a dangerous business.

But what I am advocating is that we rise above the anger and fear used against us and connect to something that has the ability to truly change anything.

Because what have anger and fear done for this world so far? Some good, yes, in keeping us safe. But far, far worse in creating the dangers that triggered our feelings of anger and fear in the first place.

I hope no one ever ignores or hides their feelings. I just also hope we can address our feelings without acting on each one we feel.

That is exactly what I am responding to. I feel that it’s other people’s anger and fear that have caused me to change, and I feel that that’s where my power comes from in my life. I completely disagree that anger and fear do not work and do not have the ability to truly change anything–the specific words you said. If you don’t like those words, you are welcome to change them.

I have lived with a severe, life-altering phobia all my life, and all my life I have been told to somehow rise above my fear. After all these years, it’s time for me to learn to live with it and to speak and make a difference in the world as I am. My fear is my companion and my friend.

One more thing: The dangers that triggered my feelings of anger and fear were not caused by either of those things. Many of them were in fact caused by love. I mean that! However, I still think love has valuable things to offer, and that those who are using love to change the world are doing important work.

I come from 12.. my parents told many stories about people saying how good we all were.. you must beat them.. someone asked once.. He said nope.. if you love and respect your kids when there ,4 they will return the favor when their 14…..And the other day I was with my dad (90 and almost 70 yrs of marriage) and I said dad how did you do it I feel so frustrated with my teenage kids… He said well I always tried to to see and be on your side so it was you and me against the world instead of you and me against each other… He has made me a better mother.

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