Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Is It OK to Hate Kids?

Recently, the feminist blogosphere has been abuzz with endless discussions on wheter it's OK to say that you hate children. You can read the contributions to the discussion here, here, and here. In case you don't feel like wading through this endless exchange of posts and comments, I will summarize it briefly. Some people have stated that they dislike having their peace and quiet invaded by screaming and misbehaving children. Especially if you go to a very expensive restaurant, for example, you are paying to have a certain kind of ambiance and might not want it disrupted by other people's children's tantrums. As a result, many people say they hate kids. Other people say that this position is misguided and oppressive.

In my view, the problem does not originate with children. It's the inconsiderate adults who often inconvenience others, while the children get the blame. The day before yesterday, for example, I witnessed the following scene. I went to the gas station next to my house to buy some stuff. A woman with a little boy of about 4-5 years of age was in line ahead of me. She hoisted the child onto the counter and decided to use that shopping trip as an opportunity to help the child develop his counting skills. She gave him her purse and had him figure out how many paper bills and then how many coins he was supposed to pay for their purchase. Of course, this took forever. Soon, quite a long line formed behind me. This was a gas station, so many people were obviously in a hurry. An older gentleman behind me was struggling to hold a heavy box of soft drinks. Everybody was getting visibly annoyed, although nobody said anything. The cashier was getting frustrated as well.

The intentions of the woman who caused this scene were obviously good. She was trying to teach the child an important lesson. The problem is, though, that she was doing it at the expense of others. Besides teaching the little boy to count money, she also ended up teaching him that it's fine to inconvenience others. This is how we end up with a new generation of completely self-involved kids who honestly believe they are the centre of the universe.

I applaud parents who choose to take their children to real restaurants instead of stupid McDonald's and disgusting places like that. I think it's a great idea to take kids to "adult" spaces such as coffeeshops, museums, theatres, libraries, etc. It is the parents' responsibility, however, to prepare their children for entering such public spaces. I'm sure this would be a great educational opportunity from which everybody would benefit.


J- said...

I could not agree with you more! I generally find kids to be pretty interesting, but wow, sometimes their adult companions do not handle the situations well.

Reena Sienna said...


I fully agree with you that it is adults who influence and determine a child's behavior in public places. I was at the shopping mall recently and a little boy was not too happy to walk alongside his parents - the mom was heard telling the little boy "Go, go join the bad people, they will steal you." I was so shocked.

Bugaboos are very common back home - they are used to instill fear in children. In public places, parents literally hold the child's hand so tightly as if they were gluing themselves to their child. Further, it is pretty common to slap, or box the child's ears - if the child tries to go astray. But, this idea of parents teaching a child that the people around are bad, and harmful was in poor taste.

Also, the American idea of individuality is pretty appreciable - not when it leads to a false sense of superiority and a ludicrous sense of entitlement. I pity kids who are raised believing that they are special - they are in for a rude shock called ethnocentricism.

Are you sure that the lady at the Gas station was teaching her son basic arithmetic and not brushing her arithmetic skills ? It was kind of you to give her the benefit of doubt. LOL

Anonymous said...

The woman with the kid was a passive-aggressive twit with an inflated sense of entitlement.

I would have told the kid Santa is dead.

NancyP said...

Young children shouldn't be taken to a few types of public venues until they have shown that they can behave well in similar child-friendly public venues.

Don't take them to a regular symphony concert until they have shown that they can handle the free concerts without having tantrums. Most very young children don't have long attention spans and shouldn't be set up for frustration. Do take them to the outdoor theater (Muny), or the open-seating performing venues (Shakespeare in the Park, various musical events in Forest Park), at the very last or most lateral section, so that the parent and child can duck out and do something else with the child for a few minutes and return when the child is ready.

Don't take them to very expensive restaurants (the sorts that will not admit men without suit and tie). Young children should be trained to eat out at the local family restaurants, which need not be chain restaurants. Chinese, Vietnamese, Thai, Korean, Indian, and Mexican restaurants all come to mind for local small family-run, family-friendly restaurants.

If they haven't learned to obey "do not touch" signs and commands, do not take them to traditional art museums and let them run around. (Babies in slings and in strollers are fine because the adult controls whether the child comes within grabbing distance of the art.) There are "touch, please" museums for children (in St. Louis, The Magic House and the City Museum).

Public libraries (other than centralized research libraries) generally have a glass-walled children's room with appropriate material and no need to be very quiet). In fact, there are planned activities for all ages of children (storytelling, group reading, arts and crafts, live musician/teacher, and so on). The botanical garden here is a great place to take babies and younger children. In other words, the places where one shouldn't take young children are few, and the number of child-friendly venues and events are very high, at least in St. Louis.

wv: edecide
1. to use results of an internet poll to guide actions
2. murder of the person outranking you in the academic hierarchy (student to teacher, teacher to administrator). This is a common end-of-academic-year fantasy among participants in higher education.

Anonymous said...

I just very randomly came across this post that I had somehow missed before. Although I realize that commenting nearly a year later is a bit weird, I do have to disagree with NancyP on the following:

"Don't take them to very expensive restaurants (the sorts that will not admit men without suit and tie). Young children should be trained to eat out at the local family restaurants, which need not be chain restaurants. Chinese, Vietnamese, Thai, Korean, Indian, and Mexican restaurants all come to mind for local small family-run, family-friendly restaurants."

This is a generalization. I don't think that no kid is capable of handling a fancy restaurant. I am not a fan of family-run and family-friendly restaurants (in general) and like eating out at nice places. It is hard for me to all of a sudden stop going to them since I have a baby. I do realize and respect the need others have for privacy and a quiet and pleasant evening, and would never subject someone to a wailing infant. However, that being said, all kids are different and one does not necessarily need to tense up and anticipate the worst when they see a baby or a young child enter a restaurant. Many of us, the parents, are considerate of others and bring up our children accordingly. The chances of my daughter screaming or disrupting others at a restaurant are much lower than someone getting drunk and rowdy.


Clarissa said...

It's never too late to comment on a thread. People can see all the recent comments in the right-hand panel.