I read an article about “kid-free zones” on the Simple Mom blog and it got me thinkin’. Tsh talks about the current trend of businesses, from restaurants to first class flights, to ban children. These trends raise concerns about how our society views and deals with children, but for me a bigger concern is what kind of parenting is leading to these “kid-free zones.” Children are banned because of business owners and their customers have experienced repeated bad behavior from children, but in my observation 90% of bad behavior on the child’s part is really just bad parenting on the adult’s part. I recognize of course that sometimes you really just can predict how a child will act in a certain situation, and that sometimes a tantrum happens, but this is the exception to the rule, not the rule itself.
When I am sitting in a restaurant and there is a child jumping on the bench of the next booth over, hollering, and throwing things, I can almost guarantee that the parent is somehow absorbed in their own concerns and mostly ignoring the child.
When the choice of parenthood is made, the choice to make certain sacrifices is also made – period. The obvious sacrifices are sleep, money, and time (and often mom’s fantastic physique). But less obvious sacrifices include seeing movies on the big screen, dining out in fancy restaurants, staying out late with friends. “There are times and places where children should not be, for their sake as much as the other people involved.” (Simple Mom) And yet some parents still insist on dragging their kids into such situations and then have the nerve to blame their children for bad behavior. I ask is it really the baby’s fault that he is being asked to quietly sleep through a movie being played at decibels which could break the sweet dear’s eardrums? Or is it the toddler’s fault that she is being told to sit still and quiet in a boring restaurant as her bedtime grows near and the adults are being completely self-absorbed? And if you were a child and had no other means of direct communication wouldn’t you scream and throw a tantrum too? I know I would.
My concern is not how our society views children but how our society raises children. Until we learn better parenting skills then children bans will happen, and I’m okay with that. What I am not okay with is the bad parenting that lead to the bans in the first place.
I call out to parents everywhere for better parenting. Accept the sacrifices that must be made to raise well behaved, happy, rested children. Rise to your duties as a parent and take pride in it. Be prepared to visit family friendly restaurants during early dinner hours and save the fancy dining for date night (when you leave the kids with a sitter). Be willing to wait for the movie to come out on DVD and watch it at home. Plan your outings around naps, meals, and bedtimes. Kids that are fed and rested are happier and almost always behave better. And if not, then get that child out of the situation as quickly as possible! Know your child and know the limits, then act accordingly!