Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Kid-Free Zones

I know before even posting this that I will most likely be in the majority of my parenting friends on this opinion. A current phenomena in our culture is banning children; be it from restaurants, first class, or even movie theaters.

As a parent, I'm supposed to be outraged at this, I think. I'm supposed to be angry that my child, and possibly myself, is being discriminated against. But, truth is, I'm not. Parents and children should be allowed anywhere, right? We have a right to be anywhere without being discriminated against, and if that means a nice restaurant or a movie, then so be it. But I just really don't think that way. I think that if I want to go to a nice restaurant on a date with my husband, I don't want my kid to be there. And I don't really want anyone else's kid bothering me while I'm there. Does that make me sound like a totally unsympathetic person? I'm sure. But really, if I'm going out to somewhere nice, I'm probably sending my kid to my mother who is paying the toll herself, or I'm paying a babysitter: and if I'm paying a babysitter, I most definitely don't want some one else's child screaming and tantrum-ing near by.

Does this mean I think all restaurants should be allowed to ban children? Not at all. I just do not think it's a big deal if some choose to do so. This choice, by the way is 100% legal. Any privately owned business can choose to discriminate against anyone for any reason. Not only is it legal, it's a common marketing practice. It's all about making money in the capitalistic society, and if banning children and drawing in parents with babysitters and DINKs (Double Income, No Kids) makes them money, more power to them. If I'm without a babysitter, I'll go elsewhere or we'll eat in. I really do not have an issue with some restaurants choosing to not allow children of a certain age.

In addition to restaurants banning children, lots of other places are jumping on the bandwagon. An airline recently banned children from first class and is tossing around the idea of creating family only and adult only flights. While I can imagine people with enough money to fly first class might care about this, I do not have this much money so it's not even a blip on my radar. I do actually like the idea of adult only flights and family only flights too. As a parent, I know that my child is going to get restless on a flight much longer than an hour or two, and I would love to be able to fly without worrying that his busy self is going to bother the person in front or behind us. I tried my hardest to keep him as quiet as possible and to keep him from kicking the seat in front of us, but I can't tie him down to the seat and sometimes it just happens. Having a family only flight would really relieve some of that pressure, and not just because I think that people without kids are jerks who have no sympathy for parents and thus will get angry about anything that happens. I know for a fact that this isn't always the case as on my last flight they mixed up our tickets and a man gave up his aisle seat and took a middle seat so that Archer and I could sit together. I personally know that my child can't sit still for two hours without being loud or kicking something, and I hate that he acts that way in public. But I also know it's unavoidable, so like I said, I'm for the family flights.

Theaters also have specific hours for families to come and watch. One I read about online had days and hours for families with children under six. I haven't seen any local theaters do this, but I also don't see this as much of an issue. I don't really take my kid to non-G/PG movies, so I'm not sure if this law (and I mean this in the figurative since, not an actual legal fact) applies to them also or not. If so, that's really dumb and most likely losing them money. I have been in movies with crying children who should not be in said movie. We watched New Moon on opening weekend and it was filled with children and babies, some of whom were crying. That, to me is totally unacceptable. Get a baby sitter. It's not a child friendly movie and babies aren't necessary. I'm really sorry to the moms who can't get a baby sitter or who can't leave their kids for reasons like breast feeding. I really am. But I paid a ton of money to watch that movie, and I don't think that it's fair for someone else to bring their kid to cry through it. Like I said, I have sympathy, I really do. But when I was breast feeding, I didn't go out. It was easier for me to stay at home and be available to feed my child. The few times we did (and could afford to) go out, it was very near home with a babysitter at my house so that I could come straight home and feed him.

And that's where I hop off the child banning bandwagon. While I am willing to accept that I do not have the "right" to be where ever I want in public with my child, I am not on board with banning children from being in the public. Who said that? I found this blog article discussing recent trending topics on twitter, one of which being "places young children should be banned from." Some of the places were ludicrous, like condo-courtyards. Other people were commenting on them and suggesting that people with children actually don't bring them out in public until they are older. Others suggested that the be shipped via Fed-Ex while parents fly in planes or that they wear leashes and muzzles in public. That's really just taking it too far and I truly hope they were being facetious.

My other complaint with this bandwagon is the mass idea that so many parents these days just don't discipline their kids. I honestly don't think that's the problem. Consider, if my child has a tantrum a few times in a store (ever by the way, he's usually very well behaved in public, and we always get compliments on how polite and quiet he is) and your child has thrown a tantrum in a store, then chances are people are really just seeing a lot of the same tantrums and they aren't so wide-spread, just an occasional thing. Does that makes sense? My point is, I think that even a handful of kids having the occasional tantrum, all over the country seems like a ton of mis-behaving kids when it's really not that many kids or tantrums.

I also hate hearing how it's the parents fault. I'm not going to sit here and say it isn't. Parenting is the leading cause of children's behavior, positive and negative. If you reinforce bad behaviors, they will happen again. If you reinforce (or don't reinforce) good behaviors, they won't happen as much. BUT, like my previous paragraph, I don't think it's this global epidemic of horrible parents. I think that I'm a good parent, I really do. I always strive to have a well behaved child, and probably have expectations a little too high in that department (especially considering his genetics haha), but I am the first to admit there are days that I just say "Whatever, if it makes you shut up, then do it!!" I know that's awful, but if you're sitting there judging me and you have kids, shame on you. You've been there, I know it. We all have. We all give in and let our kids do things that they shouldn't be doing because sometimes we need the easy way out. And sometimes it's ok, just not every day. If you're sitting there judging me and you don't have kids, double shame on you because you have no idea what I'm talking about and I know, because I've been there and done that and I was wrong.

If you see my kid throwing a tantrum in public, please know that it's not his typical behavior. He's a little busy and a little loud, but he is not a brat and I am the only one allowed to call him that. I put a lot of hard work into teaching him not to throw fits, not to act ugly, how to act polite, the nice things to say, etc; and it doesn't always work. He is a human, not a programmed robot, and he has free will. Sometimes he doesn't act the way he's been raised, but I don't think that's a reflection of me. I think there are a variety of reasons, and some of them are probably me and my parenting, but he has learned a better way. And those days are probably the days I should have more patience and teach him even more. But I don't. So I don't. And there just isn't much I can do about it. If you have an issue with that and own a business, ban us.

Like I said, I'm sure many parents won't agree with the majority of this post. I do think that we as parents should stand up for the rights of our children, but I don't think that going to any restaurant we as parents want to drag them to is a right, in fact, I know it isn't. But I do think that there are many rights we should stand up for, and I try my very hardest to do so.

My big guy acting sweet out to eat at Texas Roadhouse.

Here are the links used as a reference and inspiration for this post.
No Kids Allowed Movement is Spreading
Stop Discriminating Against My Kid

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Anonymous said...

Sally, I couldn't agree more! Well said sister.

Anonymous said...

You should not be a mother. How terrible of you to be okay with discrimination of your child.
Kids are people too, they deserve to be treated as such. Not all kids are bad. I'm sure you don't eat at 5 star places anyhow.
Pathetic world we live in when citizens do not enjoy children and think they are more important or more deserving of being in a place simply because they are an adult.
Grow up.

Anonymous said...

One more thing... You work in schools, right? With kids?

They should take your license. Anyone who isn't a child advocate should not work with children. I wonder what your school district would think of this blog?


Sally @ A Blessed Existence said...

Anonymous, I'm actually a great mother and teacher. Sorry you feel differently. I am an advocate for my child, and the children I work with. I am part of programs and donate money yearly to assist with special education students (the population I work with).

I'm sure that my district would be just fine with my not taking issue to a completely legal act. I assure you I'm not the only parent who feels this way. I'm not letting others discriminate against my child, I'm letting a private business decide who they sell to. Just as, myself the consumer can decide who to buy from.

Again, sorry you feel that because we disagree on something that I must be a horrible person.

Sally @ A Blessed Existence said...

One more thing....Anonymous, if you are on my facebook friends list, please remove yourself. I don't care to be friends with anyone who questions my ability to do my job as a parent or a teacher; especially when you have no idea what I do with my life outside of my facebook and/or my blog. If it's only the latter, you know even less about me, and shame on you.

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