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Scoot Blog: Is society growing less tolerate of kids- or their parents?

There is an increase in ‘kid-free’ zones in society?  Is it because, as a society, we like kids less today, or is it because, as a society, we have become less tolerant of the parents who don’t control their kids?    

A Houston restaurant, La Fisheria, has just adopted a new policy about children – children under 8-years-old are not welcome after 7:00 pm.  Roy’s Public House, a once family-friendly restaurant in Toronto, Canada, has now declared the restaurant an “adult space.”  Only well-mannered kids are welcome and no disruptions will be allowed.  Some local parents threatened a boycott.

The no-frills air carrier, Air Asia, adopted a ‘child-free’ zone on long flights. Children under 12 are not allowed in the first 7 rows of the economy section, which is separated by bathrooms and curtains.  Malaysia Airlines bans children under 12 from the upper-deck economy section on its new Airbus 380.

In Toronto, Cineplex announced the inclusion of an ‘adult space’ in its upscale theaters.  At the posh Canal Place Theaters in New Orleans, no one under 18 is allowed at any time.  With roomier seating and a full food, cocktail and wine menu, the age limit is obviously also part of a plan to maintain an adult atmosphere for movie-goers.

While many parents denounce the idea of ‘kid-free’ zones in public settings and stand by their right to bring their children anywhere, it seems that this growing ‘kids-free’ trend is more about parents than it is about kids.  We have all seen children misbehaving and causing disruptions in restaurants, grocery stores and on planes and with their parents appearing to be unable to control their children.

There are some givens with children – babies cry and kids misbehave and test limits.  These are the understandable things we can all accept about children. Some children have other, more complicated, issues that lead to what might be deemed inappropriate behavior in public.  But it seems obvious that there is a growing number of parents who have bought into a more permissive style of parenting and have failed to establish limits and consequences for their kids. Many parents have been so self-centered that they have continued to focus more on their needs and desires than their responsibility to teach their children how to act properly in settings shared with other people.

The parent that says to their child in a grocery store, “Johnny, don’t do that again,” and when the child continues the behavior the parent says, “Johnny, if you do that again I’m going to punish you,” but the negative behavior continues is a parent who has, through ignorance or apathy, failed to teach their child respect for their authority and how to be respectful in public.  This is one of countless scenarios we have all witnessed.

Once on a flight, a young boy began kicking the back of my seat.  Looking over the seat, I made eye contact with his mother expecting her to get the message that her son’s behavior was annoying.  When the child continued kicking the back of my seat, I looked around the seat at him directly and said, “Stop that!”  The kid didn’t kick the seat the rest of the flight.  Either that mother was oblivious to her child being disrespectful or she was unable to control her child.  Whichever the case, that is a distressing trend in parenting today that yields the same outcome – misbehaving, disrespectful kids.

I don’t think we, as a society, have become less tolerant of children – I think we have become less accepting of the lack of parenting or poor parenting.  It’s not easy to be a parent, but if you are part of a child that comes into this world, it is your absolute responsibility to teach your children right from wrong and that there are definite consequences for negative behavior.  And that your children must be taught to be respectful of others.
Several generations of parents have been given permission to fail as parents and not have to accept responsibility for their failings.  The increasing acceptance that no one – parents or kids – are responsible for their behavior is the single most devastating trend in America over recent decades.  The lack of respect personal accountability in our society is subtly leading to everything from children misbehaving to crime to frivolous litigation that is a cost to all of us.
Though I don’t do it on every occasion, I have not hesitated to say something to the parents of obnoxiously misbehaving kids.  However, the reaction is what you might expect – “How dare you say anything about my child!”   That attitude is probably an instinctive defense of their inept parenting skills.

The world changes, but not always for the better.  There was a time when parents expected their children to be well-mannered in public and expected of themselves the responsibility of teaching their children what is not acceptable.

And for those who are quick to challenge that basic premise by saying that parents can no longer discipline their children – let me set the record straight. Contrary to what you have been led to believe, it is legal to spank you children.  It is not legal to ‘beat’ you children and parents are expected to know the difference.  But corporal punishment is not the only effective way to teach consequences for negative behavior.  ‘Time-out’ is an effective and proven method of discipline, but it takes more time and effort on the part of parents.  Too many parents are selfish and don’t take the time to make ‘time-out’ effective, instead they blame the system for not allowing them to spank their children.

Before those parents who will quickly defend their failure to control their children in a restaurant, a grocery store or on an airplane and say that society is becoming too intolerant of children – please consider that it’s not your kids we are frustrated with – it’s you!

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08/12/2013 6:10AM
Scoot Blog: Is society growing less tolerate of kids- or their parents?
Please Enter Your Comments Below
08/12/2013 7:10AM
Here, here!
I work in the school system and see it every day. The bad parenting I see comes from people who were badly raised themselves. It goes across all socio-economic, racial and ethnic lines.
08/12/2013 7:43AM
I can't stand to be somewhere trying to enjoy myself and kids are running around like little animals not being controlled or supervised. Then when they hurt themselves, the establishment gets blamed for not being safe.
08/12/2013 10:29AM
I Agree.
I witnessed my 15-year-old great-niece telling her mother to shut up. Instead of calling her down for this disrespect, the mother said, "You shut-up!" The parents are as immature as the kids!
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