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.