Tuesday, June 12, 2007

What does "I hate children" really mean?

Over to feministe, Roy has a post rebutting some of the "the kids aren't all right, not with me anyway" sentiments that he's seen around. His point, which is a worthy one I think, is that it's counter-intuitive for anti-bigotry people to engage in kid-bashing, because

Calling children “radically disempowered” is almost an understatement. Pretty much from the moment they’re born, children are subject to a world that treats them as much like property as like people. Children grow up in a world with no voice. There are countless rules and regulations controlling their daily lives, and they have absolutely no say in any of those rules. They are subject to the whims of the people around them- people who may or may not have their best interests in mind. Children have no privacy and no right to a fair trial when an adult (parent) accuses the child of wrong doing. Their entire lives are at the whims of people who control what clothes they wear, whether they have a roof over their heads, whether they even eat.

Being a child isn’t easy. Very little in your life is under your own control, and you’re also subject to your body’s whims. Children are still growing and developing, and they don’t always even understand how or why they feel certain ways. They may not know why they’re tired or cranky at any particular moment. And, as someone else pointed out, even if they do know, they’re still subject to other people’s whims. An adult who isn’t feeling well can call in sick and avoid interacting with other people, in many cases. Children don’t have that option.


The thread, which is at the time of this post pushing 300 comments, addresses that point and covers a lot of the usual back and forth over this rather explosive issue. Parents versus non-parents is a lot of it, of course. The question of whether it isn't in fact an extension of sexism to complain about "breeders" or bad parents (usually mom) who can't control 'em. Overpopulation, notes about class, various cultural expectations, exasperation more at a society that pushes procreation on people who don't wanna--especially the more reactionary aspects--and so on and so forth.

But I'm looking at it from a slightly different angle:

One difference between hating children and hating whatever other group is that, parents or not, we all once -were- children ourselves.

So, “inner child” mawkishness aside, i do wonder: is this also about disowning a part of ourselves? It's not like we leave the child we were -completely- behind, like a carapace.

I mean, i have to cop to this: screaming kids drive me crazy.

But part of it is irritation because sometimes it reminds me that -I- feel like screaming, and I’m not socially at liberty to do so.

And now I'm curious: do y’all remember how you behaved/were treated when you were in public, when you were kids?

94 comments:

Vanessa said...

I guarantee you, screaming kids drive parents nuts, too.

Alon Levy said...

Honestly, I don't buy it. "Don't say you hate children because other people hate them" isn't a really good argument.

Anyway, there's a reason I read FFMA but not Feministe.

I behaved reasonably well... after I turned 3 or 4. Before then, I liked conducting experiments like dropping phone receivers on the floor and stick my hand in sockets. But in public I wasn't so bad, especially after I turned 7 and became fairly introverted.

I don't know if hating children is about disowning one's personal history. I think people mostly do that by reminiscing about the ideas they used to hold as youthful indiscretions (speaking of which, my rooting for the netroots up until three months ago wasn't a youthful indiscretion; it was an error of judgment).

But what you say, about feeling frustration at children's being able to scream while they can't, sounds about right. People tend to get very touchy about what they perceive to be special privileges accorded to others: affirmative action, gay marriage, laws protecting pregnant women from discrimination, separation of church and state. Tantrum rights are no different in this regard, I don't think.

Alon Levy said...

That's FMMA, not FFMA. I'm not sure why I inserted that extra F.

Kelsey said...

I mean, i have to cop to this: screaming kids drive me crazy.

But part of it is irritation because sometimes it reminds me that -I- feel like screaming, and I’m not socially at liberty to do so.


Equals "why I love you." For me, this is it, right here.

I wasn't allowed to do even a fourth of the things kids nowadays are allowed to do. And so, when I see what they "get away with" nowadays, I get physically angry, because in my day, they'd have got such a smack.

Was no "time out" when I grew up, and I'm betting there wasn't such a thing for you, either. It was "behave or I'll belt you a good one." Or my other favorite: "Behave or I'll really give you something to cry about."

So again, for me: It's resentment that I didn't have it so good as kids seem to nowadays. and now it's too late; now I can't act out. Or at least, 90% of my resentment may be put down to that. The other 10% is, fucking hell, parents! If you want us to love and accept your precious ones, step up to the plate once in awhile and do your bit to integrate your precious ones into society.

I do mean "parents." You are right that too much of the blame for this falls on the mothers. That is not cool.

SnowdropExplodes said...

A few thoughts about this one:

I was a terror as a kid, because I had an instinctive disrespect for any kind of hypocrisy. For instance, my family lived in a semi-detached house, and father was always telling us not to thunder down the stairs at 6 in the morning because it would disturb the neighbours. Unfortunately, it would be 6am when he made his point, and he would do so at the top of his voice. So I didn't change my behaviour, because if it's okay to yell at 6am, it's okay to thunder at 6am... I never learned as a kid not to call adults on their BS, which obviously made me a "problem"...

In public I wasn't nearly as bad, but I do remember being awkward when I felt that things were "unacceptable".

Incidentally, the whole thing of "behave or you'll get a smack" - the threat never worked with me, because I always felt that it was another form of hypocrisy: half the time they'd be telling you, "you shouldn't hit other people!" and then you step out of line for too long, and... *wallop*.

(I do sometimes wonder if that's where I get my masochist side today - because as a kid, every smack I got made me feel self-righteous!)

I definitely identify with the thing of wanting to scream, but it not being socially acceptable to do so. I usually substitute singing at the top of my voice instead, usually to "It's All Your Fault" by a folk-rock band called Show of Hands (I've also worked it into my own punk-rock version for when I really need to scream!)

Renegade Evolution said...

BD: I rarely get mad at kids...their parents are a whole different story, and the truth of it is well, little kids, babies, toddlers, they cry. That is pretty much the sole way they can express themselves...hungry, angry, tired? They cry and have tantrums. Sure, it's loud, can be annoying, but that's the way it works. out of control seven year old kicking my seat on a plane or pitching a fit in a store? That gets to me because at that point the behavior is not so much on the kid as it is on the parent who pulls the passive "shush shush now, Timmy, be a good boy" (which never works) rather than, oh, teaching their child about reprocussions for their actions. I never want to smack kids, their parents on the other hand....

I hear tale that when I was a kid, I could not be bribed, I had to be threatened or negotiated with....and yes, my mother was big on "I will give you something to cry about"...til about age 8 or so, when I pretty much stopped talking altogether.

Antahkarana said...

I've lurked here forever...and I absolutely adore your blog. I read the posts at Feministe too and they left me with a lot of mixed feelings. I love kids...probably because I was a screaming, loudmouthed, tactless, disobedient nutjob who loved being that way every second of every day. I don't blame my parents at all for having trouble controlling me, the world was fresh and I was ready to let it play in the mud with me. This proved difficult in public places :) and when I see the kids running up and down airplane aisles, I want to join them sometimes....

My favorite childhood anecdote (that my ultra-feminist mother reminds me of time and time again) regarding this:

My little brother had only been recently...congealed (that booger blaster)...on the planet and decided to do the adorable infant thing by sitting quietly in the shopping cart while my mother and I waited in line at the checkout. I was bored--never a good thing. My mother struck up some light conversation with the elderly lady behind us, a native of our hometown for n generations who had never seen a lady in a saree before.

She told my mother that she admired our cultural values because my brother and I were so well behaved. As I type this out, I still try to make sense of that comment.

"You can always tell who's a working mother these days," the woman continued, "Their children are undisciplined cretins...always acting up! Not like your angels."

My 6 time board certified child psychiatrist and pediatrician with a fellow in addiction and forensic psychiatry mother said, "Yes."

That was the moment I decided my brother had to be miserable, and I whacked him upside the head with an Us Magazine. His infant wails of injustice blew my mother's shameful secret.

"Whaa..." the old woman looked at us incredulously.

"I'm a...I'm a temp...for my husband!" My mother blurted and quickly scooted us to the front of the line.

I'm not sorry :) she doesn't hide who she is anymore and I still like ball pits.

Deoridhe said...

I don't mind kids annoying unless we're on a plane and they're crying, and that's a volume issue (I understand WHY it just doesn't stop it from HURTING).

I think crotchdropping can be a term of endearment, depending on your actual feelings, but settling on it as a reason why children are disliked is kind of silly.

And kids have no rights for a lot of very good reasons and a few very bad reasons. I'm suspicious of anyoen who starts going on about children's rights and doesn't address the little issues, like kids not being adults.

Roy said...

Alon, that was hardly my argument, and I don't think it's fair to charactorize it that way.

I'd more accurately classify my argument as "Don't hate children because bigotry is wrong. Also: it particularly bugs me when people say that they 'hate children' because children are already a pretty disempowered group to begin with, which makes hating on them particularly odious."

I don't expect everyone to love children, but I do think it's particularly shitty to target animosity towards groups that are already easily victimized and essentially defenseless against that animosity. That children are abused and neglected and suffer isn't the reason people shouldn't hate them- they shouldn't hate them because I think it's bigotry, plain and simple.

Thanks for the h/t, belledame.

Trinity said...

"So I didn't change my behaviour, because if it's okay to yell at 6am, it's okay to thunder at 6am... I never learned as a kid not to call adults on their BS, which obviously made me a "problem"..."

Me too. Fortunately I had rather permissive parents who tended, in general, to understand WHY I did things like this.

"
(I do sometimes wonder if that's where I get my masochist side today - because as a kid, every smack I got made me feel self-righteous!)"

hehehehehehe

I find it funny that now I'm a top because I very clearly remember experiencing the few times I got spanked as an affront.

"How DARE you use your hand to make a point with me!"

It made me more likely to want to disobey. It never "taught me consequences." I experienced it as an affront to my dignity, and would respond by thinking (though I kept it hidden because I didn't want to get hit) "If you want me to understand I've done wrong, there are better things to use than fists. Now I'm just furious."

Trinity said...

(this is, incidentally, probably a huge part of why I've very little interest in "punishment" as a part of long-term D/s. My thinking, even when I'm not feeling squicked by the whole idea, is "That's gonna work? Pfft. Please.")

kactus said...

I'm trying to remember a cartoon I saw years ago--I think it was The Far Side?--where they showed a restaurant full of adults who were acting like children. And every one of those adults was literally bawling with grief and expressed emotion.

That's always stuck with me. The point of course being that lucky children, it's socially acceptable for them to loudly express their feelings, but not adults.

That whole thread at feministe has been sticking in my craw all night long. The classism, the sexism, and the general "trying to get it" and sometimes succeeding.

Why are children so disposable?

belledame222 said...

I dunno, but it definitely makes me lean more toward buying Alice Miller's theories.

hey, thanks, & welcome antankharana and kelsey.

belledame222 said...

Anyway, it is an interesting question, what I think Roy was getting at: why people would have -less- compassion and -less- tolerance for people who have -less- self-control and -fewer- rights, -less- power--physically, legally, in many other, subtler ways--than they do.

I think sometimes people on the Left can get fed up with the "what about the chillllldreennnnnnnn" crap that the Right tends to use as a trump card whenever they want to pull some kind of paternalistic, repressive crap that's primarily gonna affect -adults.- Also, I know a lot of gay folks and women whose parents/milieu were/are all about the "but when are you going to get a REAL life and REPRODUCE, DEAR?" That, I definitely get.

Thing is, though, in those cases the actual kids, such as they are, are -already- being objectified. They're -symbols.- Alternately little precious figurines that will shatter if (whatever it is they're trying to shut down), in an abstract sense, no less, like the Infant of Prague or something;

of course, as we see in cases like the Shaquanda Cotton business and the six year old who got arrested, only -some- kids are precious angels, and that's only -some- of the time, conditionally.

Or, I don't know, you look at f'r instance the Michael Jackson case, okay. Yeah, he was excoriated, but he was, like, the stereotypical pervert/freak, and he -still- got away with it (yes I think he did it). I was fascinated to see that for all the people baying for his head, there were also a lot of people saying things like, wellll he never really had a childhood himself, poor dear...

which is, yes, but now -he's- the adult, and what about the -actual child- at the center of the case? Did anyone else notice how he just sort of -disappeared?- Even if it wasn't true, what the hell happened to that kid afterward? He was a pawn. And maybe, when -he- grows up and finds someone else to release all that crap onto, -then- someone will say, "poor dear, he didn't have a childhood."

But what about -during?-

People don't really -empathize- with kids, I guess, is what I'm trying to get at. They're, you know, I think there's a reason the authoritarian right prefers to dwell on fetuses, even frozen embryos ("snowflake babies"). They're totally helpless; they can't speak for themselves; -and that's exactly what's appealing about them.-

Melting "protectiveness" like that is a form of control, yes, and i think not -just- over the womens' bodies, although that's certainly a part of it.

It's like someone was saying over at Renegade's, after the hideous Maleficent-the-righteous-shelter-director
swooped in. Some people are "charity vampires." They -like- the idea of helpless people they -need- to take care of...and, of course, punish if they get out of line. This is however not the same thing as actually being nurturing.
What it is, is, -objectification-, using the dependents (children or otherwise) as projection screens for their own shit.

Amber said...

What bothers me is the parents who act like their child is the center of the universe - everyone's universe, rather. And can do no wrong. Like recently when I was at Chick-Fil-A (a local fast food restaurant) and these kids were SCREAMING and running around like banshees, even to the point of physically PUSHING past employees... and the parents just looked on, amused.

Finally when one little boy got all up in my personal space, bouncing around, and COUGHING without covering his mouth, I said to him, "Little boy, do not get your germs all over my food. Cover your mouth when you cough." He looked shocked. As if he'd never been reprimanded.

And the mother looked daggers at me.

As the two moms and their kids were leaving, I overheard some whispering about "people who don't have kids."

Excuse me lady, but how do you know I DON'T have kids? It's not about kids. It's about the rude, entitled behavior. And, that is the fault of the PARENTS, not the kids themselves.

I just wonder and worry about what kind of adults they'll grow into.

rhondda said...

Delurking here. I do so totally buy Alice Miller's ideas. When I was a social worker, I saw how the kids on my caseload so responded to emotional truth. It was as if they were telling me that someone finally got their frustration. They did not have the words for their feelings, but just allowing them to search for the words made all the difference. Her idea of the 'enlightened witness' made me cry. Yes, people, mothers and fathers especially project so much shit on their kids, it is as if they(the kids) become responsible for it. I especially like her idea of breaking the fourth commandment of honouring your mother and father. I told my own kids that they must do that, and not feel guilty, because what I did was a result of my own belief system and all belief systems have a flaw.
As Leonard Cohen said "There is a crack in everything, that's how the light gets in."

belledame222 said...

Hey, rhondda.

and yeah, it's completely backasswards, isn't it? People forget that the little projection screens are gonna grow up themselves, and...lather rinse repeat.

beansa said...

I think I was pretty well-behaved in public when I was a kid, but then again, my mom didn't drag me and my siblings all over creation with her either. It was a treat when she took us out somewhere, and her expectations of how we were to behave were abundantly clear.

I've noticed that most of the time, when I see kids melting down in public, the parents have put the kid in a situation that basically sets the kid up to fail. Like they're grocery shopping at 8:00 at night, or they've brought their kids along to a crowded public event and then fed them a bunch of sugar, or whatever. I consider this to be the fault of parents, though I understand that sometimes it can't be avoided due to life circumstances.

I often wonder if child-hatred is fostered by the age-segregation of our culture. A lot of my friends who don't have kids are uncomfortable around my daughter at first, like they're not sure how to relate to her because they're not used to being around children. After they figure out that she's just a person, albeit one at a different stage of life, then they usually start to get along just fine.

Renegade Evolution said...

Amber: See, that's when I am all about slapping the PARENTS. Mr. E and I have..."friends"...an old college buddy of ours and his wife, and they have a kid who is about 3 1/2, cute kid really, but there is no such thing as discipline, at all, in their house, and when they come to visit, they always bring the kid...who it might be all fine and good for her to run around destroying stuff at her house, but it is not okay at MY house...and her parents will just sit there and ignore or smile on whilst she is, oh, ripping up magazines and throwing paper all over the floor or smearing bbq sauce all over my table, like it is A-OK....and give me or Mr. E the death look when we say anything...as in, how dare the slut and the party animal SUGGEST we are not perfect parents and our child is not the apex of perfection...and I tell ya, it's not the kid I get mad it...it's her parents, who have not been invited to casa del Evolution for nine months or so because of their failure to TEACH their child some manners and that NO is a word she needs to understand...

And no, we don't hate the kid, but her parents??? GAH!

rhondda said...

Yes, it is so totally assbackwards. I forget who the poet was but he said 'the child is father of the man.'
My kids taught me so much about what is means to be human. Defending them against teachers was my biggest challenge.It was kinda of tricky because I had to make them believe the kid had a crazy mom so that they 'would' not take it out on him. Yet at the same time, hit the right triggers in the adult, so that they 'could' not take it out on the kid. It being their refusal to believe the dogma presented to them. Survival is the game, not status. Teachers project shit too. At least they are independent adults now and do their thing. (I hope the pronouns are relating to the right people here.)
I just want to add that I have been musing on all the crap about various feminist positions and I do enjoy your take on it all. After all every dogma is a construct no matter how coherent. Ha, lets all dance the night away while totally drunk on life. (okay, maybe not.)

Moira said...

I don't have children, but it's not because I hate kids. I like kids, even the noisy screamy ones. There's something wonderful about holding a baby. (Yeah, I have the Baby Lust something fierce.) So I don't get mad when there's a baby yelling in the restaurant. I'm not even mad at the parents. They shouldn't have to sequester themselves away until their children leave home, and besides, how are children going to learn how to behave in a restaurant if they're never in one? Destructive behavior is a definite no-no, and RE? It's your house, so it's your rules. No tearing up magazines. And yeah, the parents are at fault there.

Thing is, I'm a third-generation abuse victim. It probably goes back farther, but I can easily trace it back to certain grandparent, and I'm terrified that I'd turn out like them. Or I was. These days I'm not so afraid of that, but I'm sterile, and so is my wife. Adoption isn't really a possibility for us. So, no kids, though I enjoy other people's immensely.

And I'd like to thank Roy for the post; I hadn't thought of it as a prejudice on the level of racism and misogyny before, but it really is. The comment thread at Feministe scares hell out of me, though. I'm so not reading all that.

belledame222 said...

i didn't read all of it super carefully, but it looks to me like it's mostly two or three people being spectacularly assy, and a few more just being kind of assy.

Amber said...

They shouldn't have to sequester themselves away until their children leave home, and besides, how are children going to learn how to behave in a restaurant if they're never in one?

Well, exactly. But that means that the parents have to actually teach the kids what is and isn't appropriate behavior in a restaurant. Running around and pushing employees is not acceptable behavior, and yet the parents of those kids at Chick-Fil-A just looked on with smiles and didn't say a word. And these kids were about 7 or 8 years old... way old enough to have been taught how to behave.

rosmar said...

I hadn't been here in a while, and I wish I had been, because this is excellent.

I sometimes worry (less than I used to) that I'll be resentful of my own kids, because they will "get away with" so much more than I did. The rational part of me doesn't want to be abusive like my parents were, but there is an irrational part who doesn't want any child to have a better life than I did, because it "just isn't fair."

Anyway, thanks, belledame.

Moira said...

Well, exactly. But that means that the parents have to actually teach the kids what is and isn't appropriate behavior in a restaurant.

Oh, absolutely. I mostly just meant that there's a difference between a very young child yelling because she's tired and an older kid running around and being destructive, and that often gets lumped together as the same sort of "I hate when they bring their kids to the restaurant" bad behavior. There's bad behavior and normal kid behavior, and I try to not get upset about the normal kid stuff.

Kids on airplanes? I totally empathize with the kids. That's why I sedate myself heavily as soon as I get to my seat.

Alix said...

Followed a link here, because the topic interests me:

I don't have children, but I work with them. (Currently, I work in a public library. I used to babysit and teach sunday school.) Generally speaking, it's not the children who are the problem. It's the adults - and not just parents. Often, the child haters are a major problem, like the woman who pitched a fit when I wouldn't throw a couple of teens (who were talking quietly) out of the library.

I think an awful lot of child hatred is displaced anger, especially at a society that constantly pushes the "children are wonderful! have more!" idea at us. A lot of the anger also seems to stem from society's whitewashing of childhood as some idyllic time and of children as sweet innocents - a lot of self-professed child haters I know talk about how they had bad childhoods and bad relationships with other children, but society tends to push that under the rug.

Also, I think a lot of child hatred is hatred of the idea of having children oneself, projected out onto other people.

I come at this issue from a weird angle: I am a misanthropist. I hate people. But I am very aware that that's MY problem, and it's one I'm trying to deal with.

People who hate children, or anyone else, need to realize that: their attitude is their problem, no one else's. They are responsible for their hatred. If they are uncomfortable being called out on it, maybe that should be a wake-up call.

Er. That's a bit of a rant, sorry.

belledame222 said...

ROSMAR!!!

(how the hell are ya? drop me an email...)

Jen in Ohio said...

I love kids; always have, probably always will. I usually find their honesty refreshing and amusing, even when it manifests in behavior that's considered to be annoying.

I was exceptionally well behaved as a young child but a lot of that was because I was also severely abused. I had very crappy parents, and I had a lot of work to do as a young adult to straighten my [by then] obnoxious ass out, so I feel sorry for kids who have bad parents because I know the odds are their future holds a lot of anger and resentment one way or another. I often feel irate at the bad parents themselves, though.

(And just because it probably needs to be said, I'm not talking about parents who fold their kids into their everyday lives, I'm talking about the parents who objectify and mistreat their children, or who fail to socialize them to be considerate people with some kind of social conscience.)

andi said...

"So, “inner child” mawkishness aside, i do wonder: is this also about disowning a part of ourselves? It's not like we leave the child we were -completely- behind, like a carapace."

No. It's not leaving part of ourselves behind.
I've often been accused of a being a child hater, well if it makes you ( general you not aimed at anyone here) feel better to lable some one a "hater" because they are sick of being told "But he's just a kid, he deservers such and so" NO, he doesn't And I don't care what "such and so is"
_ an answer to a personal question, that I POLITELY say " I don't care to discuss that" (and get told I am agist)

_ a craft project I worked. And want to keep or give as *I* see fit, not to whom ever demands it.

- The 100 year old doll I have at home and kids want to play with - "But it's a toy and it's old, grow up and give it to her".

Or maybe it makes you (again, general you not aimed at anyone here) feel better to lable some one a "hater" because they are sick of being put upon by parents who constantly

- ignore their children's behaviour rather than teaching them to respect other's property, time, feelings and/or beliefs.

- demand our time, resources ( "Let sophia try!" while one is drawing, cross stitching, knitting, whatever),

- who set rules about what we can and can't do not only in public but in our own homes, if the kid is present. ( Sorry my home, my rules and if you don't like them don't come over)

- who try to restructure a persons home around the "needs" of a kid who does not live there. ( And I am not talking about "childproofing".) - In other words if you don't like the fact that I am of another religion/culture/philosphy or don't want your kids to see evidence of such...don't come over and if you do DON'T take religious items/ cultural items off the walls or altars. Also dirty diapers don't belong on altars because you don't think it's "a real altar"

- who use their kids as an excuse for everything from pushing to the head of a line to getting off work early yet again...but who rarely if ever cover when a person with out kids needs to take off early...no matter how desperate their situation.

- who think that a single person alone in a park ( not a playground a park) cross stitching and waiting for some hotdogs to cook is a threat to your kids...just because they are there, even if they are minding their own business and not approaching anyone, let alone a kid.

- who think that there should be no place reserved for just adults but that certain places should be only reserved for kids.


If it makes you (general you not aimed at anyone here) feel better to lable some one a "hater" because they are sick of being told "

-You'll change your mind" about our reproductive choices.

- that "you'll feel differently when you find the right man"
- that "you're immature and need to grow up"

-called irresponsible because you don't have kids.

- called prejudiced be we think we should be treated with the same respect and tolerance that parents seem to demand for themselves and their kids.


Well then have at it and call me a childhater.


I don't hate kids as indviduals, but I do hate how I get treated for the sake of "the children."

And why is it demanded that folks love children? who ever asks "do you like adults?" Seriously I think it's as much a disservice to people of all ages to demand that one like children as a group as it would be to demand that one like all adults as a group...kids are individuals too and some will inspire dislike, others will be liked and others loved...and it's a matter of how personalities "click" and how each person is treated by and treats the other, no matter what the ages.

midwesterntransport said...

RE, i agree that in your home, you get to say how kids behave. your house, your rules. if the parents don't like it, they can not bring the kids over.

public humiliation was a HUGE part of childhood for me, and is part of why children of a certain age make me cringe. i really like kids, and i'm hell-bent on having one, but when i see kids get disciplined in public, i shoot right back to when i was a child getting scolded by adults who weren't my parents.

i was a hellion of a child. i had a lot of rage and didn't always know how to express it, and i didn't have very good boundaries. and my poor exhausted mother (raising 4-6 children at any given time) couldn't always be with me.

like i remember going to this k-mart near our house where they had a bike and little car section. there were those little cars that you paddle along with, and i remember her leaving us in that section while she got done what she needed to get done. i remember getting out of hand and the k-mart employees talking to us. and being absolutely mortified. embarassed beyond belief.

i'm still very, very sensitive about displays of embarassment. there's no quicker way to piss me off than to be embarassed of me in public. i'll go home and cry.

it also makes me less likely to say something to kids themselves when their behavior is out of hand. i'm more likely to turn to the parents and ask them to tone their child down a bit.

midwesterntransport said...

i haven't read the whole feministe thread (400 comments! who has the time? yippity skippity!), but i will also say that there's definitely a racial element to whose kids getting singled out for being unruly and why.

i've noticed a lot of white parents giving kids of color the Look of Disapproval.

Dw3t-Hthr said...

Remembering childhood --

It's actually a very mixed/scattered thing. It's impossible for me to describe my childhood as 'good' or 'bad'; it's all full of this pointilistic complexity of many things.

I'm told that when I was very young, when we went to a particular fried chicken place my childlike enthusiasm for their fried chicken was such that random strangers would suggest that I should have done commercials for them. (I didn't. They went out of business. The world has lost some really good fried chicken.)

I'm pretty sure that I was taught fairly young to behave appropriately in public social situations, and part of that was because I was, hrrr ... a display piece of sorts? Expected to attend gallery openings and be shown off and not cause a problem, even though there were no crackers and nothing to do.

My mother once said to me, in this viciously angry, sneering tone, "Your father talks to you like you're an adult." Treated me like someone with something to contribute. I was ... in my early teens at the time, I think. And I spent a while sort of contemplating that once I'd retreated to my room (dubiously safe space if she was in a rage, but the door had a partial chance of reducing invasion), and came to the conclusion that yeah, he talked to me like I actually had something to contribute.

I've always liked kids. Partly, I suspect, because in the neighborhood where I was one, all of the other children were my brother's age, so I sort of adapted to that. I can entertain a toddler for a long, long time; something about the direct simplicity of mimicking patterns by thumping on objects is very soothing to me. :}

At the same time -- heh, I was told I was an unwanted child (to tone down what was actually said to me a good bit) and that freights a lot of my memories. My aunt told me once, "I hear she told you you were an unwanted child. you were quite wanted, up until she figured out that it was work." That's the thing that scares me the most about having children of my own -- the notion that I might suddenly morph into the child-hater.

midwesterntransport said...

...k, i clearly can't shut up.

i cannot properly express how profound my relief was when i finally got out of college and became "an adult." i was raised to distrust and question authority and i learned my lesson. i hated being told what to do. i hated obeying rules that seemed arbitrary. i hated not having an out. one of the best moments of my new adult life was visiting my stepmother, having a nasty argument with her, and realizing that i could JUST LEAVE. i had my own car and my own source of income. i didn't HAVE to put up with her bullshit anymore.

fucking freedom.

belledame222 said...

RE, i agree that in your home, you get to say how kids behave. your house, your rules. if the parents don't like it, they can not bring the kids over.

Agreed.

I guess, you know, well, in child development class we learned there's a difference between "authoritarian" and "authoritative" structure (the latter being more desirable than the former). Neither is "laissez faire" parenting, wherein, yep, the kid's allowed to just run all over the place with no structure or guidance.

The difference between the first two is--ideally, you're trying to socialize the child, and sure, it's gonna be painful at some point, inevitably--but, you're trying to do it in a way that

1) teaches the kid that it's about -behavior-, not "you, as in your whole self, are bad," as much as possible

2) you're doing it in a age-appropriate way (what makes sense for an eight year old would be way too harsh for a three year old)

3) the goal is to get the kid--again, gradually, in an age-appropriate way, as kids naturally -are- egocentric--to understand that they are not the center of the entire universe, that there are other people in the world and you treat them the way you would want to be treated.

Which is different from "don't do this or something bad will happen to you," or "don't do this, because I said so and that's the end of the story" (at least outside of y'know emergencies or areas where the kid genuinely is too young to understand an explanation)

Amber said...

I gotta agree w/ most of what Andi said. I feel the same a lot of the time.

Amber said...

one of the best moments of my new adult life was visiting my stepmother, having a nasty argument with her, and realizing that i could JUST LEAVE.

YES! That was HUGE for me, too. (Though it was my parents, not my stepmother; but same thing otherwise.)

beansa said...

andi,

If I had endured even half of the situations you listed, I would hate parents too.

Cassandra Says said...

I was a pretty well-behaved kid. I was an insane little terror in certain contexts, and I had a lot of energy, but it was always very clear where and under what circumstances it was acceptable for that energy to be vented. My parents took me everywhere and it never caused any problem, probably because I understood that I would be allowed to run around, jump on the bed, sing etc when I got home. I don't think I ever broke anything much except glasses because I used to squueze them too hard in an attempt not to spill things, until I realised what a freakishly strong grip I have.

I think part of it is parents who give the kids appropriate venues to vent their energy and at the same time set clear boundaries as to when running, screaming etc are not OK. Expecting kids to sit still and not make a sound all the time is nuts, but they can be taught to do so in certain circumstances.

The only clashes I remember having over my behavior were actually over me being too withdrawn sometimes. My Dad is very extraverted and it drove him nuts when I wanted to go read quietly. He felt like if we had guests I needed to come out and entertain them, and got upset if I wasn't in the mood. Luckily for me my mother was the same way and she would intervene and explain to him that some people are just like that.

RE Whether or not we get mad at kids...I rarely do. I do get annoyed with parents in situations like the ones that Ren and Amber are describing. It's really not the kids fault that they're acting like that, the parents clearly haven't taught them any differently, and I do think it's unreasonable of parents to expect everyone else to dote on their kids the same way they do and, for example, finds kids running around in a restaurant and shoving the employees cute. It's not cute, not for the employees and the other customers. There's a balance that needs to be struck.

I really dislike the idea of isolating children in kid ghettos and making large zones that are child-free, though. Maybe it's because I grew up in places where kids were far more integrated into adult life than they are here, but that seems really unnatural to me, and it's not as if training kids to behave appropriately in public spaces isn't possible. Some parents just don't bother to do so.

Ravenmn said...

Well, fuck me, I have no tolerance for this debate. Since when is it open season on children, for fuck's sake?

Has anyone talked about the cultural aspects of this? When I lived in Mexico, I saw a culture that adored children and mothers. I got to know a culture that treasured children and tolerated their crying and acting out in public. Why is that so hard for people in the US?

Who taught us that we shouldn't have to "put up" with a child that cries or carries on in public? We can understand entitlement went we deal with racists and sexists. What is so hard about recognizing entitlement when we see it in adult human beings who expect children to measure up to unreasonable standards?

Truth is, I seriously do no get this debate. What the hell am I missing?

belledame222 said...

What is so hard about recognizing entitlement when we see it in adult human beings who expect children to measure up to unreasonable standards?

aHA!

belledame222 said...

I mean, I do get the annoyance when adults take very young children to really violent or scary or otherwise inappropriate movies. Or to events where they're going to need to sit still and be quiet for longer than is probably reasonable to demand of a child that age, for something that doesn't interest the child. But even for the latter, you know, as long as the parent's willing to get up and take the kid outside when sie starts getting restless/loud, I can deal with it.

It's when they treat the kid as an annoying appendage that has to be tolerated so they, the adults, can do their fun thing with a minimum of bother, that I get annoyed. Because -then- it inevitably ends up spilling over onto everyone else, the whole drama; and it sucks for the kid.

belledame222 said...

We can understand entitlement went we deal with racists and sexists.

Weeelllllllll....

some of us can, to some extent, some of the time, let's put it that way.

belledame222 said...

The only clashes I remember having over my behavior were actually over me being too withdrawn sometimes. My Dad is very extraverted and it drove him nuts when I wanted to go read quietly. He felt like if we had guests I needed to come out and entertain them, and got upset if I wasn't in the mood. Luckily for me my mother was the same way and she would intervene and explain to him that some people are just like that.

Damn, I wish I'd had someone standing up for me in that regard. You'd think my dad might've, since he was pretty damn prone to do it himself, but he was, y'know, not available.

and he'd drag me out of my room as well, you know, I was being rude to the guests.

I can sort of understand it, but...yeah, I do get drained being in company for an extended time, and need to isolate to "recharge."

belledame222 said...

Raven--I think la lubu talked a little about the contrast between her own Sicilian heritage and the more erm whitebreadish mores she clashed with.

There is of course a class thing as well, as people have noted, as well as some assumptions that we tend to be unconscious of, that are very I would say U.S (not limited to, I'm sure, but exemplified by, maybe). I am ENTITLED to enjoy my fine dinner and my freshly dry-cleaned Chanel suit (or whatever it is). -I'm paying money for it.-

(whereas presumably the -other people- are not -also- paying for their fine experience...)

There's actually a lot to unpack there; you'd think nominally leftie people would at least look at that a bit more closely.

belledame222 said...

My folks didn't use physical punishment that I can recall--they read Dr. Spock an' all--but, "time out," no, nothing that...consistent, i don't think. "Go to your room" probably happened. Random screaming fights followed by tears and recriminations happened. The occasional withdrawal of privileges happened, usually in a punitive-feeling way.

Cassandra Says said...

Belle - I didn't say my Dad actually listened, at least not all the time, though I did appreciate my Mum trying to run interference.
Dad didn't stop until the one time he dragged me out of my room when I was about 13 and tried to get me to join in some card game playing thing and busted out the "but you're so clever and so good at cards", ie please impress my friends for me, and my sarcastic ass went into a little rant culminating in "Dance, monkey, dance!".
He finally got it at that point.

andi said...

" beansa said...

andi,

If I had endured even half of the situations you listed, I would hate parents too"

I don't hate parents as a group...most of my friends are parents. And they are my friends, in large part, because they do me and their children the honour of letting us form our own relationships. With some of their kids, I have developed friendships totally independent of my friendship with their parents. Other kids drive me batty...other kids *I* drive batty. But the thing is we are allowed to take or leave each other as PEOPLE first adult and child second.
The problem for me, at least now, since I have kicked many of the folks who treated me badly out of my life, is the way I get treated by strangers and society at large. 7 of the dozen or so incidences I cited happened in public - and came from total strangers. Including the asking of personal questions and the both demands for craft projects (Let her try! and the giveme) and of course the park incident.
It's not a group I hate but a certain set of attitudes exhibited by a subset of that group. ( does that make sense?)

ArrogantWorm said...

who ever asks "do you like adults?"

Rare, but it does happen. Or maybe it just happens to me, I dunno.

Far as childhood goes, I was fairly quiet, kept to myself most of the time. There was exactly one regular rule growing up, and that was bedtime, which was either eight or nine o'clock, it escapes me which. Didn't get Rulez until middle school with the stepmother, and they didn't interfer with what I wanted to do so I didn't really care. 'Cept that one time where I was grounded from my room because I painted a three ft. replica of Bart Simpson on my door. But then, the stepmother wasn't that bright, she didn't realize 'till a good week or two after it was done, and dad had to be told. So...yeah. Even then, the rules were set by skewed standards.

For the most part, I watched the adults around me and did the exact opposite of their behavior, because I didn't like their examples.

Rebecca said...

Generally, I like kids - and I'd like to have them myself one day. This does not mean, however, that I have any time for the awful offshoots of laissez-faire parenting gone mad. I'm not saying that I have a problem with kids carrying on in public; kids do that stuff, and to a fair extent, that's only to be expected. I draw the line, however, at parents who a) allow their children to do whatever they want in public, no matter how unacceptable, or b) won't show a little bit of sensitivity to those around them, and say, take a screaming child outside if said child can't be quietened otherwise.

Children cannot be expected to measure up to adult standards, but too often in these threads this seems to be interpreted as saying that they shouldn't be expected to measure up to any standards at all.

beansa said...

andi,

That makes perfect sense, and I didn't mean to say that you hate all parents, I was just empathizing (and I always forget how precise communication needs to be over the tubes.)

What you said about your friends letting you form a relationship with their kids is a great point. That's what I do too, though I never really thought of it that way.

belledame222 said...

Children cannot be expected to measure up to adult standards, but too often in these threads this seems to be interpreted as saying that they shouldn't be expected to measure up to any standards at all.

Yeah...

Roy said...

Children cannot be expected to measure up to adult standards, but too often in these threads this seems to be interpreted as saying that they shouldn't be expected to measure up to any standards at all.

Exactly.

Another thing occurs to me, too. I think that maybe part of my issue here is the way that, in almost any thread about children, someone has to show up and complain about that one time when a kid was at a restaurant later than it should have been, and it ruined my dinner!

It's the same as the way that nobody can mention a thread about weight without someone coming on and screaming about how FAT PEOPLE ARE UNHEALTHY AND GROSS!

In a post about autistic children where a mother is talking about how to control her child's meltdowns? Yeah... not an appropriate place to vent your anger at having your fucking dinner intruded upon by a child crying.

belledame222 said...

Roy, I thought the same thing, in the post above.

But, yeah. You DESERVE to have yer fancy dinner unhampered by the existence of needy children. You have a RIGHT to it; you're paying good money for it, after all (unlike anyone else, who use the barter system). It's in the Constitution and everything!

ravaj said...

" -I- feel like screaming, and I’m not socially at liberty to do so."

not so long ago i was in the roosevelt field mall on long island on a saturday afternoon. all of a sudden it seemed like everywhere one looked a child was screaming. i turned to my g/f and asked, 'do you feel like screaming?' she did, as did i. 'let's do it then!' i exclaimed. she absolutely could not. i had to wait until we reached a somewhat empty corner before i could have a go, and it was a bit half-hearted.

of course, if i'd've done that in a store when i was a kid, my mother would've dragged me out of there pronto and i'd be lucky not to get a spanking. etc etc

Trinity said...

"I think that maybe part of my issue here is the way that, in almost any thread about children, someone has to show up and complain about that one time when a kid was at a restaurant later than it should have been, and it ruined my dinner!"

Yes. Exactly.

Why does that get generalized? And why do people have an inalienable right to never be annoyed when they go to dinner, such that they can form "childfree movements" and spend so damn much of their time complaining about their bad dinner experiences?

Trinity said...

I mean, I get that there's more to being "childfree" than that. I get pressure to be a mother myself, and I don't like it. But what I hoped was a movement advocating my choices was actually more often than non a movement for complaining about parents and hating children (I do not. I love them. I simply do not intend to incubate any in my uterus.)

belledame222 said...

welcome, ravaj.



not so long ago i was in the roosevelt field mall on long island on a saturday afternoon. all of a sudden it seemed like everywhere one looked a child was screaming. i turned to my g/f and asked, 'do you feel like screaming?' she did, as did i. 'let's do it then!' i exclaimed. she absolutely could not. i had to wait until we reached a somewhat empty corner before i could have a go, and it was a bit half-hearted.


reminds me of the scene in "Cabaret," where Sally Bowles gets whosis to scream as the train's passing by.

sometimes i do it in the subway station. (one of the advantages of NY is that you can act like a crazy person in public and rarely if ever be called on it, or sometimes even noticed).

Anonymous said...

I'm a parent and I can't stand many of today's "parents". The very idea that your 3 year old is "Learning" something by screaming its head off in a checkout line or a restaurant because it's "overtired" is dumbfounding. It just wants to go home and take a nap or have a snack, so take it home, already!

The only thing you're teaching it by continuing to ignore it is that its (and everyone else within earshot's) needs are not important to you.

My daughters are gone now (the youngest is in college), but here's how I taught them to respect others, public decorum, etc:

We played "dress up". Once a week, we had "Fancy dinner", where we dressed, used the good plates, sat in the dining room and ate *with manners* (to include sitting down and being quiet). When they had it mastered, we took them to eat in places like Red Lobster.

We did the same things with stores, inside voices, etc - we taught them *at home* and when they had a good grasp of how to behave, we took them places. Sure, that meant I had to run loads of errands by myself after work for a long time and it meant my wife and I couldn't go on date night unless we could get a sitter, but that's what being a parent is about. When they say it changes your life, they don't just mean the "Norman Rockwell" moments. There is alot of sacrifice - a concept I think many of today's "parents" are completely unfamiliar with.

Enough already. Anyone who respects the feelings and personal space of others is nodding their head in agreement; those who can't think past the tip of their own nose are grinding their teeth in anger.

C'est la vie.

Jimmie

belledame222 said...

The very idea that your 3 year old is "Learning" something by screaming its head off in a checkout line or a restaurant because it's "overtired" is dumbfounding.

Wait--who's saying that?

belledame222 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
belledame222 said...

Enough already. Anyone who respects the feelings and personal space of others is nodding their head in agreement; those who can't think past the tip of their own nose are grinding their teeth in anger.

Generally speaking, that's not the sort of thing that provokes useful dialogue.

Amber said...

Well, Trinity, I don't think it's unreasonable, nor does it make me selfish or think I have an "inalienable right not to be annoyed at dinner" to expect NOT to have to listen to someone's screaming child the entire time I'm out at a restaurant.

belledame222 said...

I think it's reasonable to expect the parent to take the screaming kid outside, and, if necessary, to leave. I don't think it's reasonable to the point of people pointedly -glaring- or making remarks at anyone who dares to enter a particular spot with kids in tow (as I've seen happen, and as I see the online equivalent of happening), before the poor kid's even done anything.

ArrogantWorm said...

We did the same things with stores, inside voices, etc - we taught them *at home* and when they had a good grasp of how to behave, we took them places.

Certainly a good idea, and I take it that worked well for your family. But not all parents have the time to practice outside enviroments like the grocery store or the all-you-can-eat buffet, even if it is only once a week. It also doesn't follow that the parents in question know how to act themselves, just because they're adults really doesn't mean much.
Good behavior needs to be taught to children, yeah, but some adults could stand to learn it as well.

Sit down dinners weren't common until I was at least in junior high. I remember spending the night at a friends house in, oh, third grade thereabouts and marveling that they ate their dinner together. At a table no less, among other things.

All those parents might not have the time, money or skills to teach such things to children. There's bad behavior on the parts of parents that could be stood to be gotten rid of as well, also negatively affects things.

A screaming child that might be in the next booth over? Heaven forfend the behavior might not be the parent's fault. Or at least, all the parent's fault.

I severely dislike deliberate non-parenting. Seems to go on all over, but that might be my 'Back in my day...' talking. But it's not all because their child is the apple of their parent's eye and they can do no wrong.

ArrogantWorm said...

I've probably muddled through what I was attempting to say. Possibly that sometimes the tantrums aren't anyone's fault, not directly. And also that children, most of the ones I've met, anyway, can be reasoned with provided their not over-tired. Two and up, depending on their vocabulary. Anyone under, well...doesn't really work.

But, you know what's interesting? Adults have the same tantrum behavior, it leaks through. It almost always leaks through in some form (usually physical with moving hard, and raised voice, insults.. everything but the kitchen sink and outright incoherent screaming) because people often don't realize it happened till after they've crested from whatever negative emotion they had to an adult's version of a tantrum. But, and again, this is probably just my observations, but most adults are willing to overlook other adults ...indiscretions.

Hell, spend half an hour, an hour tops, in any store. I've even seen the behavior in restaurants, but not often. Usually, I think, because they storm out after hearing prices, or seeing the line, or not liking someone else's tone of voice. Don't really stick around long enough for me to observe.

And for whoever was wondering about what would happen if an adult screamed when they felt like it when a kid was yelling the same way?

The kids, seven or eight times out of ten, stop screaming and give whomever's also screaming one hell of a look. Friend of mine does that sometimes to get a child's attention to talk when they're set on ignoring everything else. Least kids look at things to see what's going on, where Adults'll just walk past the behavior and try not to get involved.

I'm just going to throw something out here. The next time a toddler is screaming, ask them what's wrong and tell them their yelling is hurting your ears. A lot of them don't realize they're hurting your ears, and a conversation will ensue where they'll tell you the problem. And often apologize, oddly enough.

belledame222 said...

But, you know what's interesting? Adults have the same tantrum behavior, it leaks through. It almost always leaks through in some form (usually physical with moving hard, and raised voice, insults.. everything but the kitchen sink and outright incoherent screaming) because people often don't realize it happened till after they've crested from whatever negative emotion they had to an adult's version of a tantrum. But, and again, this is probably just my observations, but most adults are willing to overlook other adults ...indiscretions.

-Exactly.-

Or well look, take the whole corporal punishment business. Outside of people who get it about consensual BDSM, how many people think it's okay to smack another adult? Particularly if one is in a position of authority and it's a disciplinary method? Not so many, right? Why is that, when the kid is so much smaller than the adult?

Alon Levy said...

Why is that, when the kid is so much smaller than the adult?

That's only a subset of people... who aren't necessarily the same people who fuel the child-free movement. The child-free movement's racial equivalent is not the KKK member or the judge who sentences a black man to death for rape on flimsy evidence, but the Northeastern suburbanite who has nothing against black people as long as they don't move into his town.

Alon Levy said...

And that, of course, is just the extreme portion, consisting of people who live in gated communities with no children allowed or press restaurants not to let in anyone under 18 (thanks for telling me I couldn't behave up until last July).

Rebecca said...

Outside of people who get it about consensual BDSM, how many people think it's okay to smack another adult? Particularly if one is in a position of authority and it's a disciplinary method? Not so many, right? Why is that, when the kid is so much smaller than the adult?

Eh, I'm cynical about this sort of argument. Children of a young age haven't necessarily developed the capacity to reason. In my opinion (and I say this as someone who was smacked as a young child, and basically always deserved it), a light smack for a young child, IMO, is a really effective, and quite harmless, means of conveying consequences for bad behaviour.

For anyone who has actually developed the capacity to be reasoned with, however, it's unnecessary and probably ineffective, which is why the comparison (and looking at it in terms of adult power relations instead of how best to effectively socialise one's child) doesn't really work for me.

Anonymous said...

Honestly? I'm not sure. Probably a mix of 'They're to young to understand' and the idea that pain is a good inhibitor. Laziness and ignorance probably contribute as well. Pain as a behavior modification tactic working, I think, has some truth to it, but it isn't a good truth. Or one that lasts since they'll just sneak around it and/or defy openly. Besides, it's mean.

I was wondering if spanking in particular was carried over from the under two kid group, where I've sometimes seen it used for startlement. Hesitate to call that spanking, really, because it looks more like a finger tap on a diaper for unpleasant distraction to associate with behavior that's not good, like persistently crawling toward a wood stove. Not used as punishment, which is where the difference lay. Can't say I like to see it, though, makes me uneasy.

andi said...

If a kid is crying it NEEDS something and the parents should stop and deal with it or take the kid out until they are under controll. I think MOST folks would agree with that.
But that's not usually the bone of contention when it comes to CF'ers and parents in restaurants or public places. It's the intrusions into the physical space or private conversations that bother us. It may be age appropriate for a child to do the "HIHIHIHIHIHIHIHIHIHIHI!" thing at total strangers but it's an invasion that parents need to stop. I reply "hi" once and after that I expect a parent to stop the child from further incursions into my conversation.
It may be age appropriate for a young child to be bored in a sit down restaurant and want to climb over the seat, play trucks on the back of a shared bench, or run around the place, but it's not really safe and it is a disturbance. ( and I had a kids matchbox car stuck in my hair because he thought running it over my shoulders was fun, and continued after I asked him AND his mother to stop.)
It may be age appropriate to bang silverware on a table, glass, and plate to hear the differing sounds but it is disruptive to all around you.
And while it is not appropriate to
give dirty looks to a kid the second they walk in....that family has no more of a right to be a disruption to the other patrons than any one, no matter what their ages.
You can say it's not a Cf'ers constitutional right to have a quiet dinner but neither is it a families right to be disruptive to others just because the behaviours are 'age appropriate'. Not all venues are appropriate for all ages, and sometimes children need to learn that they need to use inside voices, keep their hands to themselves, stay seated and not bother strangers. And sometimes CF'ers need to realize that Kids should be given a chance before they are sneered at and judged.
And sometimes both sides needs to look at things from another's point of view.

Anonymous said...

Light smack. Had an a-ha! moment, the words were better used than that finger tapping example.

Probably need to work on my clarity.
But there's that 'tween stage where discipline is just awkward, and frankly a pain in the ass, especially as they figure out how to sneak around.

ArrogantWorm said...

The name bar seems to have screwed up in some form, the above post is mine.

beansa said...

I can't get behind the idea that smacking kids, however lightly, is ok because I think it contradicts what I'm trying to teach - that hitting is wrong and that no one is allowed to touch your body in a way that you don't like. I mean, I've heard parents say that they spank because it teaches a lesson and it's for your own good and all that and I think, those sound like some of the same reasons abusers use to justify their abuse.

Plus, it doesn't work any better than non-violent discipline. It just takes a little more thought and consistency and follow through to teach kids how to behave without resorting to hitting.

Amber said...

It may be age appropriate for a young child to be bored in a sit down restaurant and want to climb over the seat, play trucks on the back of a shared bench, or run around the place, but it's not really safe and it is a disturbance.

EXACTLY.

ArrogantWorm said...

Beansa,

If you don't mind my asking, how do you get a very young child to stop dangerous behavior? I've mulled that question over for almost a decade, and aside from startling them so they associate whatever's dangerous with the uncomfortable feeling, I'm at a loss. The obvious answer is moving either them or the not so good object out of their reach, but sometimes it isn't feasible, and that's the type of situation I wonder what to do about.

belledame222 said...

I think a single swat on the behind as "no! dangerous don't do that right NOW!" attention getter probably wouldn't do lasting harm. Beyond that, though...yeah. I think it serves the parents' needs far FAR more than the kids'.

belledame222 said...

but yeah, i mean, i have the same question wrt, like, my cat. basically he gets away with murder, so.

ArrogantWorm said...

basically he gets away with murder, so.

And that is why I like fish. Although, there was that one time number Four jumped into the bathroom sink and had to be rescued.

Used to own a cat (or rather, he owned me, ya can't really own a cat, they just...deign to take up residence with a person) and I found a spraybottle with water in it worked wonders for when he decided he owned the kitchen countertop. But then there's the resentful glare that he give afterwards, and I really wondered at the time if it was worth the cold shoulder.

Ravenmn said...

This might be entirely too simplistic, but how about we adults intervene with unruly kids and voice our opinions about their behavior?

If the parents get upset? Let them.

There's something about this discussion that makes it seem as if people who are bothered by the inappropriate behavior of children feel that speaking up would be so horrifying that tolerating nonsense is the only sensible approach.

Why this fear of being considered a bitch?

belledame222 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
belledame222 said...

My cat waits till I set the spraybottle aside and then -attacks it.

Raven: well, what i hear from -some- people is that they -do- say something to the parents, but it doesn't do any good.

ArrogantWorm said...

I think Ravenmn was talking about intervening with the kids, not the parents. Although I could be mistaken. I've suggested that in real life before, but it never seems to catch on.

Intervening with the kids, that is. Most people bypass the kids automatically and go straight to a parent, if they say anything at all. I find it's usually more effective to talk to the kid. Size and wether they know you or not helps.

Anecdotal, (again) way back in first grade I remember getting lost in school, and ended up in the section where the fifth graders were kept. They were huge, and I was terrified of asking directions. Point being, he was taller and older, so I figured he knew what he was talking about. Also, strangers don't usually make conversations with kids unless it's important, so when an adult says something, it usually gets considered and accepted. When it doesn't, eh, I whine to the parents.

Kind of irritating, but the more a child knows you, the better they're able to stick out their tongue with a 'no' upon your request to be left in peace.

beansa said...

With really little kids the only things that work are redirection and repetition. If a child is in iminent danger, you obviously have to intervene and get them out of the way - like picking up a toddler before they run into the street. That can be follwed up with an emphatic NO! That's Not Safe! Tone of voice carries a lot of weight with little kids.

So swooping in and picking the kid up is usually sufficent to get their attention, and smacking their butt isn't really necessary. Same thing goes for other unsafe behaviors like grabbing for a sharp object or reaching toward a light socket - you have to head them off and divert their attention to something appropriate.

The thing about using the butt-swat as an attention getter is that while it gets attention and usually startles the kid and makes them cry, it doesn't imprint the message any more effectively. It's not like you can spank a two-year-old for running into the street once or twice and then they know not to do it. They're still going to do it, because developmentally, they aren't able to control themselves and that whole cause and effect thing hasn't really sunk in yet.

sorry so long winded!

Anonymous said...

Ravenmn said..

"If the parents get upset? Let them."

I've tried that, on several occasions. Responses range from actually threatening me with physical violence (for telling a child that she had to wait her turn in line) to the usual "How dare you tell my kid what to do?".

Let's just say the outcome is generally not pretty. I avoid it if possible, but will not allow a kid to run over me, either. What's scary is that these people, who resort to attacking anyone who dares intervene at the drop of a hat, are raising children. (reference the Mother's Day incident at a Golden Corral in Toledo, OH as an example).

Jimmie

Amber said...

I think Ravenmn was talking about intervening with the kids, not the parents. Although I could be mistaken. I've suggested that in real life before, but it never seems to catch on.

Intervening with the kids, that is. Most people bypass the kids automatically and go straight to a parent, if they say anything at all. I find it's usually more effective to talk to the kid. Size and wether they know you or not helps.


I think it depends on environment... I mean, when I was a kid, in my neighborhood it was considered a foregone conclusion that any adult could and should intervene if a kid was doing something stupid, dangerous, inappropriate, destructive, whatever.

What I've seen from some parents though, is more an attitude of, "How DARE you suggest that my little angel is capable of anything but pure good??"

belledame222 said...

beansa: you're probably right.

Anonymous said...

Another thing occurs to me, too. I think that maybe part of my issue here is the way that, in almost any thread about children, someone has to show up and complain about that one time when a kid was at a restaurant later than it should have been, and it ruined my dinner!

You know, maybe it depends on the location, because this actually happens a lot where I live. It's never just "that one time." It's certainly not all the time, but it happens more often than it should, and it happens in places that kids probably shouldn't be brought into anyway, regardless of the hour.

I think it may have something to do with regional attitudes. I live in the Northwest, and I can't help but notice that certain types of people almost seem to think of their kids as trendy accessories - like it's stylish to drag them out to every adult occassion no matter how inappropriate.

I'm sure there are good reasons for bringing your kids into the Outback at 9:00 p.m. Maybe you're a family on the road, or you've had a long night and you're just now able to eat and you didn't want to cook. Or any number of other scenarios. Besides, it's called a "family restaurant" for a reason.

But when it's an expensive, upscale place you normally can't even get into without making reservations (and therefore it wouldn't be a last minute decision to bring your child, nor would it be inevitable to do so) is it really necessary? Some parents may answer this question without even thinking, i.e. "Yes it's necessary, my child goes everywhere with me!" but if that's the case, I'm not really too sure if that's a good thing.

In my own personal opinion there's really no reason a small child needs to be brought into an upscale establishment at a late hour. Usually these types of places serve the food slowly, not because of inefficiency but because the ambience of the atmosphere is part of the dining experience, so rather than rush you through your food, they let you take your time. This isn't exactly condusive to the level of patience of your typical child. The entrees tend to be expensive and the menu is typically without a kid's section. And there's a good chance that many of the people there have saved up for the chance to enjoy a pricier meal or are there on a special occassion.

Therefore, as much as parents may claim they have the "right" to bring their children, if their children are ill-behaved, loud, and a disturbance to others, then that's essentially saying they have a right to ruin someone else's evening - and they do not.

If your child can behave like a little lady or gentleman, then that's great, and as such they should be given a special treat. I can remember when I was old enough and well behaved enough to deserve it. I had practiced my manners and my "indoor voice" and my parents knew I was ready to go out.

But if they are not well behaved enough to sit through a longer evening involving a quieter atmosphere, they should not be brought into the restaurant. It's almost as if parents have their toes and fingers crossed and are praying to whatever it is they believe in that their child will miraculously behave just this one time, only to be met with disasterous results.

Again, like I said, it may have something to do with regional attitudes. It just seems to happen a lot where I live. It's very irritating to anticipate a nice night out for a special occassion and then have to listen to the inconsolable cries of a group of young children who are bored out of their minds and frustrated because they can't get chicken fingers in a restaurant that would never serve that sort of thing in the first place.

andi said...

I can't say there is any restaurant A child should not be at, just because they are a child. And owing to the fact that my family has been in the restaurant business for oh about 30 years, including my brother being owner/chef at a 4 star restaurant...I do spend a lot of time in them. I have seen toddlers be astoundingly well behaved in my brother's restaurants..and since this was a family of regulars there her behaviour was far from a "one off". Her parents set the expectation of good behaviour, taught it to her and she lived up to that expectation. She would have cringed at a kiddie menu.
I have also seen kids that should have been tied to the chair - for their own safety. One kid ran headlong into a Waitress with a heavy tray of hot food - he's lucky he's not dead actually.
A well behaved kid should be welcomed everywhere - a badly behaved one should be taken out immediately. And I don't care if it's a "family restaurant" or a 4 star - bad behaviour is bad behaviour and I should not be forced to interact at any level with anyone - child or adult.


As far as why most folks don't talk to a kid about behaviour? Well...most kids who act like this have parents who back their kids to the hilt and teach their kids "You don't have to listen to them." And who get *really* angry if you DARE suggest that their child's antics aren't the purest sunshine and cotton candy. Such an action whether directed at the kid or adult..usually results in WORSE behaviour from the kid and a berating from the parent.

ArrogantWorm said...

"If the parents get upset? Let them."

I've tried that, on several occasions. Responses range from actually threatening me with physical violence (for telling a child that she had to wait her turn in line) to the usual "How dare you tell my kid what to do?".


The only thing I can think of is 'that sucks.'


As far as why most folks don't talk to a kid about behaviour? Well...most kids who act like this have parents who back their kids to the hilt and teach their kids "You don't have to listen to them." And who get *really* angry if you DARE suggest that their child's antics aren't the purest sunshine and cotton candy. Such an action whether directed at the kid or adult..usually results in WORSE behaviour from the kid and a berating from the parent.

I've had some parents protest weakly that their kids 'weren't that bad' afterwards, but that's few and far between where I'm at. Those usually hustle their children off right after. I think I'd be in a bit of a shock if I got a berating from a parent.

belledame222 said...

Yeah, either parents defend the kid and/or take any criticism as a reflection on themselves, ime.

plain(s)feminist said...

Great post and discussion, and far more civil than it has been in some places. (I'm afraid to read the feministe bit!)

I spent last night at dinner with a screaming child behind me (not constant screaming, more like sharp, punctuated blasts) and today on the plane with a couple of occasionally-crying infants. It really doesn't bother me much anymore, because it just gets filed in my mind under "it's not my responsibility, so I can tune it out." (In both cases, the parents were handling the situation - the disruption was short-lived. I mention this only because in these discussions, people are often quick to assume that the parents are not doing anything.)

belledame222 said...

btw, meant to say: welcome to all newcomers.

Dee said...

I absolutely DO remember how I was expected to act in public as a child.

We were seen and not heard.

The thoughts of running around in restaurants screaming and yelling never even crossed my mind.

I sat at my place and quietly ate my dinner being sure not to interrupt the conversation of the adults.

I don't really see anything wrong with that actually. Especially at an upscale restaurant. I don't see why parents would even want to take small children to an upscale restaurant.

In the end, isn't it all about respect and understanding for everyone? The adults and the kids? I don't think we do kids any favors by not expecting them to behave.