Google+ Authentic Parenting: Children Not Allowed (rerun)

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Children Not Allowed (rerun)

The Child Free movement is gaining strength, winning over first class at Malaysian Airlines, counting several hotels to it’s dance card, but also restaurants, shopping malls and even movie theaters. Soon, we parents and our kids will all be banned to the back of the bus, just like the colored a couple of decades ago and just like Jews in Europe of the Thirties.
Sounds harsh? What else is it when you start discriminating against people and those attached to them based on physical abilities, height and mental qualities?

When it were only holidays, I could understand, just as I can understand that porn theaters have a 18+ label. What goes on in a lot of the holiday camps for singles or swingers etc is not for children’s eyes. However, this is taking into consideration the child’s sensitivities, whereas child-free restaurants are just blatant discrimination. This is of course still debatable, and one could say that parents are the ones responsible for their children, so they should be making these decisions, but this is the question of law and infringement on individual choice, and may for the topic of another article.
Here it’s not about the feelings of sensitivities of those who cannot advocate for themselves, but about other people’s intolerance. Where are the anti discrimination laws in all this?

Image: Dougclow on Flickr
It’s not only the US, I distinctly remember an incident in Belgium where people disputed the existence of a playground because “kids made noise there during the day” and won! And in Berlin they actually had to pass a law that stated that kids can make noise.

How is it that we have to make laws to prevent people from being discriminated against? We have done so for race, gender and disability, will we have to start passing laws against age discrimination? Or are children worth so little that nobody will bother too?
Do we really have to negotiate, just like people did in the time were blacks were enslaved, that children are people too? Is there any question about that?
So what if these children grow up to discriminate against the child-free elderly? How much mayhem would that create?

A fellow mother left these comments on my Facebook page concerning the issue. I decided to reprint them here, because they are so symptomatic for the 'cause'.
“You people need to realize not everyone is going to think your kids are as adorable and endearing as you do and that they won't care what kind of emotional or developmental issues they may have and that doesn’t make them all bitches, it makes them people with rights and feelings of their own that need some goddamned respect.”
Adherents will tell you that it’s about behavior, but if that were true, then misogynist and alcohol infused men should be banned from everywhere too.
If it’s about disturbing the peace, then there are lots of ill behaved adults that should be removed from the public eye, and then I’m not even talking about people with stomach turning body odor.
There are those who play the victim card: they have paid good money and have such little leisure, and now it has been disrupted by a child, no less. 
The odd apologetic person will tell you that it's not all children, it's just
“(...) those squalling ill-behaved brats belonging to overly permissive parents more concerned with not damaging the kids psyche with limits than the rights of others.”
and since you can't select the good from the bad kids, you just ban them all. Just like racists will tell you: "they're not all bad" or "I have a colored friend".
And then I'm not even discussing that the argument of permissiveness is completely ignorant, as it is dominance and violence that creates behavioral issues. 

I once sat on a plane for 13 hours next to a guy who had smelly feet, to the point that I preferred lingering in front of the bathrooms. Give me a screaming baby over this every day.
My husband had an 11 hour flight where an old lady crawled on his lap and latched out in her sleep, the entire flight.
Frequent flyers can tell you oodles of these stories. The screaming baby falls into oblivion against the pervert who brushes up against your leg and pants in your ear.

This complaining and this intolerance is not about behavior or disturbance. It’s about the kids. It’s about people being incapable of dealing with them, understanding them or being confronted to their own inner child. On the one hand this is a result from the nearly complete absence of children in the public view, on the other hand, from years of abusive child rearing. Being confronted with a screaming child may remind someone of the 'disciplinary measures' it would hold when they themselves were children. It's not the screaming that makes you uncomfortable, it's the remembrance and the feeling of powerlessness that overtakes us and makes us angry.
That's why we tolerate the smelly and abusive guy at the other table, but not the kid who spills his drink.

Children are children and they sometimes make noise, they have tantrums, they spill drinks. Either you can accept that, or lock yourself up in your flat. And if you feel like you have to move in places that are child free, I suggest you go into therapy to confront the issues that lie in your own childhood.
Better heal your inner child, than rob the children of the present of their childhood.



  1. Very well said! I wrote about this, too, and had a comment similar to the one you posted (you can see it here if you want: ).

  2. REALLY great piece! I have often had a problem with the "your child was so GOOD" comment on planes, in restaurants, etc.. because it is basically like saying, "your child was not a pain in the ass to me" or "your child did not cry" as if crying is a negative aspect of our culture.

    I do however, wonder about how much children's sensitivities play into some of the decisions parents make like.... I don't personally believe that movie theaters are for young children or media in general. I don't think young children should be expected to sit in a restaurant for long periods of time, etc...
    So I guess in cases where parents are not making responsible choices, I am all for protecting the kids, but we can go too far in taking parenting choices out of the hands of parents too. I want my choice to not immunize, circumcise, etc... to be respected so I guess I need to respect a parents right to sit there kid in front of the TV all day. It is a really hard topic for sure.

    I am all with you on restaurants, parks, hotels, etc.. Just wrong!

  3. Here are my thoughts as of now:
    There are Male/Female only clubs and establishments. Gender discrimination is also discrimination. Though it's still generally accepted in our American culture as the norm, as is age discrimination against children.
    If a restaurant or a hotel or a cruise ship wants be adult only or clothing optional or whatever I don't care. The moment that discrimination passes into the public arena I'm all over it. A child free library? no way. A child free train or bus? nope.
    Now I freely admit that a large part of my apathy comes from the fact that as a mother raising two small children I have a limited amount of time to get mad about such things. Hopefully when my nest is empty I can be more of an advocate.

  4. ""Being confronted with a screaming child may remind someone of the 'disciplinary measures' it would hold when they themselves were children. It's not the screaming that makes you uncomfortable, it's the remembrance and the feeling of powerlessness that overtakes us and makes us angry."

    Exactly! I dislike crying as much as the next person but I wouldn't assume that I have more right in a public place than the mother with the five children who probably doesn't go out very often to begin with. If individuals don't want to see/hear children they are free to stay in their child-free houses or only go out to bars where children are already prohibited.

  5. I feel that you may have a point, but it was buried under the weight of polemical overstatements -- children being restricted from a few bars, theaters, hotels, etcetera is NOT the moral equivalent of slavery or Nazism -- and a few glaring unedited bits.

    And, yes, I and my son have not been able to go into some places because of these rules. It was disappointing, but not tragic. The people who are most hurt by the child-free movement are those who go out of their way to avoid children. They impoverish themselves: but it's a choice they are free to make.

    Lauren W

  6. We have men-free gyms that cater for women who feel more comfortable working out with no men present. So what's wrong with a few child-free restaurants that cater for customers who feel more comfortable dining with no young children present.

    I see these bans on young children as giving consumers an option that they are clearly welcoming, given that the trend is growing.

    There are plenty of other places we can take out kids. Let them have their handful of child-free options.

  7. Well said!

    I've had all the arguments from various child-free friends, some of whom are more tolerant of families than others.

    Up until my children were school-age, we basically had no social life unless friends came to us. Those of our friends who can't handle kids never came round unless they were already in bed and out of the way.

    Lack of time and money meant we couldn't go out much as a family, we never ate out with the kids until they were old enough to cope with table manners and appropriate public behaviour - they love it when we eat out now, because they feel so grown up :)

    As for the cinema - why else do film companies bring out an endless stream of animated films to entertain the kids during the long summer holiday? They'd lose an awful lot of revenue if kids were banned from cinemas. ~It's ridiculous. So the child-free people have to put up with me and my kids taking ages choosing what sweets or ice cream to get. Deal with it - at least you'll be out of our way while you're watching Saw XIII or whatever.

    And on a parting note, have the killjoys never heard of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child? Article 31 protects the right of children to play and rest. Play involves noise. If you don't like it, as Wolfmother said, stay home or stick to grown-up only venues.

  8. I totally agree, and I am even bothered by the children-free cruises or vacation clubs. Children are part of life. France is so bad for that, so not children-friendly !

  9. This is an awesome post - you have hit the nail right on the head in so many places.

    It is always one of the main questions I have - why do we put up with so many other types of crazy annoying behaviours from people and then choose to pick on children out of all of them? Your answer makes a lot of sense...

    Looking forward to sharing. :)

  10. I addressed the issue as well, but find it to be as much a adult parent (usually feminist) issue as a child issue.

    I would go as far to say that those who subscribe to the child-free movement should not avail themselves of anything produced or services given by anyone who is more than 18 yrs younger than they are. If they want a world without children then more power to them.

    They might want to especially take a look at the child labor products that they likely own - hmmmm... so a six year old is good enough to sew their jeans, but not good enough to sit next to in a restaurant?


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