What are we talking about today?

Some days have themes. I don't necessarily post something in each of these topic areas every week.

Sunday: Church-related or spiritual things.
Monday: Running.
Tuesday: Books.
Wednesday: Transportation.
Friday: Green living.

09 August 2011

And the Pendulum Swings

A few weeks ago, erica and christy posted a link on twitter to this article about the "no-kids-allowed movement". I clicked over to read it, just out of curiosity: Basically, there are stores, movie theatres, airlines, etc., that restrict the areas or the hours that kids can be present, because there are adults who are happy to watch a movie, do their shopping, fly, etc., without the presence of screaming. There are a couple of really odd (to me) things about this article; first, the writer mentions screaming children multiple times, including in quotes, but then toward the end asks, "When did kids become the equivalent of second-hand smoke?" Erm, they didn't. Go back and reread what you wrote: It's the misbehaving, screaming, and (usually) parent in the background threatening a timeout but not following through that is the problem. (BTW, this is not a commentary on parenting. I am aware that it's energy-sucking and probably impossible to follow through every single time. I'm just talking about the article.)

The comments were pretty predictable: divided between people making that very point (about the behaviour), and people complaining about childless couples spoiling everything. Which brings me to the second odd thing: I thought not only the author but also a lot of readers skimmed over a mention of empty nesters being the ones taking advantage of the child-free stuff-- after all, haven't they paid their dues? I realise I'm quite sensitive, being one of the childless people that tend to be alternately ridiculed for being different or blamed for the end of society as we know it, but there are a lot of factors at play. Lenore at Free Range Kids frequently disparages cities that ban "unaccompanied" adults (by children, that is) from parks, childrens' sections at libraries, and so on. So, alas, it goes both ways.

Here's where it gets interesting, though: While the US may indeed be less open to the continuous presence of children than it was a couple of years ago, it's not the first time. In Generations, William Strauss & Neil Howe describe that every fourth generation (the Reactive type), is a "bad-child generation". The most recent time of "unremitting hostility toward children" was when Gen Xers were young. Yay, us! So, we might be coming around to that. We've certainly been moving toward the opposite end of the cycle-- the "suffocating overprotection" that they also mention of Adaptive-type generations.

And I wonder if child-free shopping or movies are actually part of that attempt to keep kids from bad influences: This way, they'll only be in the store or the cinema when other families are, right? None of those predatory and potentially dangerous childless people there to cause them harm. I really hope that isn't it, because I'm in the camp that believes multi-generational influences are important for kids, as is mixing with all types of people. I love that I can be the "safe" adult for a lot of teens I know-- I don't react to anything like their parents would, but I am there to be a listening ear and possibly offer some suggestions for how to proceed. I would want the same kind of people to be there for my own kids.

Have you ever encountered any child-free or family-only environments? What do you think about that?


GigglesandGuns said...

In some instances I have welcomed the no children rule. Not because of the children but the parents.
Ie. Bozo and Bozette are done eating. Their parents are still busy visiting (and drinking). Everyone is having a good time except the other patrons who are listening to the kids squeal as the run through the dining room, trip over them as they try to make their way to the restroom, etc.
It's not parents correcting but not following through it's parents ignoring the fact that the kids are theirs and are a disruption.
And I'm sorry but small children and infants do not belong in a movie theater when it's late evening and it is not a children's movie.

Grahame said...

What *really* irks me is that my parent's church doesn't allow children in the worship service.

JEFritz said...

As another one of the childless people bringing down society, I would take advantage of child-free times. I don't want anyone to think I'm anti-children, though--I just interact better with adults.

Honestly, screaming children do bother me, but I tolerate it because I'm aware sometimes you have to get things done and your child won't listen. I just wish people wouldn't accuse me of not liking children because I want to go to a child-free place. That's no different from the people who accuse parents of being selfish because their children are screaming.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

I have four children and believe they always behaved when we were out but I never understood why parents take small children to restaurants. Kids don't enjoy waiting on a meal or sitting around the table after it's over.
There's been many letters to the editor in our local paper about this same issue.
And I have been places where other people's children irritate me as much as seond hand smoke.

Su said...

@Giggles: I feel the same way about restaurants. I don't blame parents for needing adult time, but no wonder the kids act up out of boredom. And I agree about the movies, too. Maybe it's one of those things where people know not to take the kiddos, but don't want to be told not to?

@Grahame: Ooh, that irks me, too. I understand providing an alternative for the kids, but not banning them altogether.

@JE: Yep, it goes both ways. And again, if I go during regular instead of child-free hours, does that make me creepy for choosing to be around children? I can see this going bad in a lot of ways.

@Susan: Hee! I guess that's fair enough. And you're right; sitting and waiting in a restaurant (or anywhere else my parents decided to linger) was the worst when I was a kid.

erica and christy said...

Actually, I think some of those parents are the end of society as we know it. ;)

But luckily, a lot of older people talk to us in restaurants and compliment us on our well-behaved children. They save all the angst for the privacy of our own home!

Timbra said...

i think, even as NOT a parent, susan, you might like the read "hold on to your kids". . . i don't want to go into this subject, but really. . . we are a society who does NOT cherish our kids (or our elders) so. . . i think if there was more understanding, even by the PARENTS themselves about children, we wouldn't even be having this discussion. if PARENTS cherished their children, some of what's going on that makes it frustrating for others to be around children in public, wouldn't be happening in the first place. . . . big subject, little space, and WAY too late.

Kari Marie said...

I'm another childless adult who's bringing about the end of society. Beloved Husband and I enjoy going to movie theaters and restaurants where children must be accompanied by an adult.

I love kids. I'm an Aunt and a God mom and I enjoy my time with them. However, there are public places that I enjoy being kid-free.

Su said...

@erica: That's because you have mad parenting skills!

@Timbra: I'm always up for a good read. And that's an interesting thought... that the modern over-protection coupled with some degree of permissiveness is a result of not cherishing the kids to begin with. I can definitely see that point! I'll have to read the book.

@Kari: I'm with you-- kids are fun. But I think everyone, even (especially?) parents, like to have time without the small fry.