A recent question posed on a parenting website sought public opinion. The question had to do with whether or not readers supported adult-oriented restaurants banning young children. The answers were interesting to read. They ran the gamut from, “Absolutely not. Kids should be welcome anywhere”, and “Society in the West is way too anti-child,” to “Yes, they should. Adults should have a kid-free zone if they want.”
I gave my own answer which I will re-share here. To underscore one of my points, I really believe that much of the hostility towards children in public places like planes and restaurants is the direct consequence of too many children who are not under control of their parents. If wise pet owners know the importance of obedience training (a dog not trained can be a major problem), how much more important is it to teach and train our children with eternal souls? Without child training our kids become a menace to others. This is wholly unnecessary.
Young parents will read something like what I wrote (shared below) and sneer, “Oh, wow. Your kids are so PERFECT! How could we ever measure up to your perfection?” I’ve seen hundreds of comments like this from moms insinuating that teaching obedience, respect for authority and respect for others is some peculiar and unattainable thing, and that any parent (no matter how experienced) who claims they have trained their children this way is either lying or bragging.
It is sad to see the wrong-headed ideas about parenting absorbed several generations deep now where kids running rampant, screaming, throwing fits (I just saw a cartload of this at the grocery store the other day) is the norm. It is the norm now, but it should not be, in my own opinion.
Both my husband and I grew up in homes where obeying parents and not being a public nuisance was the norm. My mother only had to look at us to achieve compliance in public places and church. We were not allowed to ask for things at other people’s homes and not allowed to whine for candy in the grocery aisle or anywhere else. No meant no. We loved our mom, which was the foundation for her child-rearing success. But we also knew she meant business. We were not terrorized by her nor repressed by her parenting. She was the final word. It was that simple.
My husband and I have taken the same approach with our children. We have the final word. Children are in training for adulthood, and they were and are (Emily is our last one) not going to run wild and treat their neighbors (those in public) with contempt and disrespect. Concern for the well-being of others, we emphasize with her, should be the basis for all courtesy. Life is about more than just you and your desires.
Here is my response on the parenting site. If you disagree, feel free to write so in the comments. I want to add this point. I realize that with the rise of autism, some parents are dealing with special needs which my post, for obvious reasons, does not include. Special needs are special needs. Most children simply are not expected to obey today and behave properly in public, and that is the problem.
I am a mother of six children, ranging in age from 7 to 30, also a grandma to 3 toddlers. I absolutely believe that restaurants have the right to ban service to young children. The fact that there are wonderful exceptions to the rule when it comes to young child behavior is not the point. It’s that we have an epidemic of youngish parents today who have no concept of child training and discipline. The fact that young children are not welcome in certain places should be common sense.
Decades of permissive parenting advice, advice doled out by idiotic parenting magazines and “experts” who are anything but, and the simultaneous loss of generational influence in families have resulted in child-driven couples who are more interested in being buddies with their child than teaching them the needed skills for public behavior. In short, kids run the show with their tantrums and demands for total freedom in all places, and parents often act like hapless fools, watching their children offend and interfere with other adults. I truly believe the hostility frequently shown to children in public places is a direct result of parents not having children under control. Children, when in subjection to authority, are a delight. When they are not, they can be little horrors, disrupting and defrauding others of peace and order.
With children (two from orphanages) of many personality types raised in our home, I continue to believe that parents can and should teach respect for authority and respect for others – the two are inseparable – or we are failing. Restaurants field complaints and risk loss of business from loyal customers when they allow out of control children to destroy the atmosphere the customers value. Parents are free to go elsewhere to a family-friendly setting, but when when customers pay for a quiet evening out and then descend into a chaotic atmosphere with out of control kids, it cheats customers out of what they paid for.
So that’s my position. A voice of sanity is badly needed in the wacky world of modern parenting advice. This is just one issue I feel strongly about regarding child-rearing. In the future, I’ll write on the subject of schedules and the importance of order in a child’s development. But that’s for another day.