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On Being A Considerate Parent

On Being A Considerate Parent

So there’s this post on Feministe about “shorter, cuter, more honest people”. I have a lot of issues with this post. A lot. Starting with the fact that the author wants to make this a childfree vs. parent issue. Then there’s a little jab at American cultural values, and we round it out with this idea that it’s a good thing to have your toddler in a bar all night. So, where to start? Heck, I’ll just cover the spread. First up, let me just speak up as someone who was that kid in the bar in the middle of the night. The child isn’t having fun. No, not even if they get up and start spinning in circles. They’re not spinning in circles, whining, breaking things, or screaming because they enjoy being dragged from pillar to post while you ignore even the most basic concept of respecting their needs. They’re (at best) overstimulated. More likely they’re tired, cranky, scared (especially by the drunk people), and really in need of someone to step in and put their needs first. That person should be their parent. Be considerate of your child. They are indeed a person and as the one responsible for their well being you should treat them as one.

Now, in the interests of full disclosure let me just say that I am a parent. I have been a single mom in the past. I am a married mother of two now. I know all about the sacrifices of parenting. And yes, I think little kids are awesome. They’re sweet funny people that make me want to kiss their cheeks all the time. They’re at their cutest when they are well fed, well rested, and engaging in age appropriate activities. This is not a “Kids should be seen and not heard” post. I think it’s great to take kids on trips abroad, to museums, to the park, to nice restaurants, to festivals, and even concerts that don’t involve a single Disney character. I think that all of those trips should be made when they can be comfortable and enjoy the experience. Kids that are enjoying an experience generally aren’t crying, yelling, or pouting. They’re happy to be there, they may well want to dress in special clothes, and they are at their best when they have time to process what is going on around them and feel safe doing it. Protip: They don’t tend to feel safe when every adult around them is out of control. *hint hint* Drunk people are not in control. They often say things that small people do not need to hear, and frequently do things that small people do not need to see.

Parenting is work. Like any job it can swing the gamut from rewarding to frustrating, but it is a job in which you need to put forth your very best effort. It’s the hard parts of parenting that often matter the most precisely because you’re the ultimate authority in that child’s life. This argument that adult specific places are about isolating women or not treating kids as human might work better if we didn’t go out of our way to make kids comfortable in most situations. Granted, not all. But enough that I can’t buy any claims that they are being oppressed by not being welcome in a bar at 4 am. Children have very different biological and social needs than adults. They need more sleep, and aren’t as capable of processing input in social situations without a competent guide. Yes, that means giving up some experiences once you have a child. Does that mean you can’t still have a social life? No. It’s fine for you to go out. Have a blast. I’ll even buy you a drink. But, only if you get a sitter so your kid can have a good night too. Can’t get a sitter? Might be time for a night in. This isn’t about American values vs. the world. This is about basic child development and loving this sweet funny person enough to do right by them even if it means you miss out on watching the sunrise with an alcoholic beverage in hand. Sometimes sacrificing your fun is the biggest part of being a good parent.

As for the idea that other people can’t say something is bad parenting? Yes, yes we can. You know why? Because kids are vulnerable people. They need someone to step up for them at all times, but especially when their parent is failing to do right by them. This is not about a harmless parenting choice. This is about neglect, possibly abuse, and acting in the best interests of the child. That’s the criteria that counts here. Do I love it when a kid flips out in the grocery store? No. But I get that sometimes such things happen. However, there’s a huge difference between a grocery store where you need to be in order to get food and a bar where you want to hang out and get inebriated. Social services agencies geared toward protecting the welfare of children exist for a reason. That reason isn’t that becoming automatically makes you a good decision maker. If it did? Legions of folks wouldn’t be bearing the internal and external scars of no one putting their needs first.

46 comments to On Being A Considerate Parent

  • (I had a much better comment earlier but OpenID ate it) That’s a whole lot of straw man, privilege, ethnocentrism, aren’t I special and I can do what I please going on in that post. The OP thinks its appropriate to have her child in a BAR, just because they are a person too?! They aren’t a person of age to imbibe and she is putting the bar owner at risk for a lawsuit by bringing a child into their establishment. Hell they aren’t a person of age to overhear most of the conversations that happen in bars.

    The people lauding the OP are making me sick, and/or seethe with anger over making this a US centric issue. I guess she glossed over the fact that the EU commenter made it very clear it’s not seen as appropriate to take your child into a bar. I just got stuck on this idea that I’m supposed to just suck it up and deal with the fact that I will encounter kids everywhere I go and well, kids are just kids.

    That’s not acceptable, because I wouldn’t expect to see a child in a BAR, or an R-rated movie, or other places that aren’t really child appropriate. I also expect that while children are everywhere, their parents actually, parent them and not let them run amok and be unruly small people. I don’t care how cute your kid is, if they are running through the aisles of Target, pulling things off shelves and you do nothing, you aren’t parenting.

    Ugh, nothing makes me see red more than folks that want to act persecuted because every adult in a 10 mile radius isn’t bowled over by the cuteness of their kid as well as the entitlement of I’m a parent, and my child can do what they want, when they want. That’s how we get such selfish idiots as adults running around now.

    Better reign myself in, I was starting to rant about more than the OP’s sense of entitlement and utter idiocy of taking her kid to a BAR. In short, the OP of that article is a fool, and she needs to get off her high horse.

    • Elee

      Whereever I have traveled in the EU-territory (Finland, Greece, France,Italy, Russia – just to name a few), I’ve NEVER seen a child in a bar. In restaurants, yes, I’ll give you that, esp. in Greece and Italy usual time for evening meals is a lot later than what I am used from Germany, so that even I as an adult was too tired, but the native kids very up and lively. But in bars? For a moment I wondered if the US I know only from news, blogs and TV (meaning don’t know at all) maybe was some kind of an alternate universe thing. Way to miss the point, OP.

  • brownstocking

    tanyad beat me to it.

    I couldn’t believe the number of cosigners on the OP. That’s crazy talk, and I say that as a kid who grew up in bars thanks to a dad who who didn’t know how to cope when mom was away. Bartenders got to be my friends, and I knew where to hide when cops came in. Makes for colorful stories, but we all knew it was wrong.

    I just don’t get parent privilege and entitlement. I see it all the time at church. I just grind my back teeth. Great post, and I feel bad for society if people continue to raise kids in full “agency” and cavalier, “they’re tiny adults” attitude.

  • Jack

    Yeah – in my experience, I was “oppressed” by being kept up so late I was tired for school, because my mother wanted one more drink. I was “oppressed” by being made to “sit quiet in a corner” where I heard women talking about cheating on their boyfriends and saw them going off to do it, men talking about fighting and drugs and saw them start to get violent, where I heard all kinds of things a small child shouldn’t. And also, though it’s not an issue now, being around constant smoking.

    To me, respecting “a child is a small person” means doing things like raising them to stand up for themselves, it means things like giving them choices where possible – but, those choices are on a child level. Jam or peanut butter, red pants or blue skirt. Things a child should be thinking about. Not how to avoid that creepy drunk guy who always tries to put his arm around you, or the giggling women who think it’s cute to give you “just a sip”.

    I did notice that the only people thinking of it from the child’s side over there seemed to be heavily against it. “Children’s rights!!!!!” seems to translate to “My right to carry on like I never freely took on responsibility”.

  • I find it interesting that comments being let through are some grade A crazy shite, such as someone who basically told feminists to fuck off cause they haven’t done shit for her daughters, but mine is still awaiting moderation? Guess you have to co-sign on the OP to get through the line. For posterity, in case my comment never makes it out of moderation… I waded into the fray, even though I should know better.

    Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    I’ve read through most of the comments, and some are totally missing the point and some are on point. What I can’t understand is this lauding of the OP for standing up for the poor, oppressed children when she admits to taking her toddler to a bar, because she will take her child where she pleases?

    When I go to adult only spaces, such as a BAR I don’t expect a toddler there. I think it’s a sign of privilege and entitlement that you would not consider that the child may not enjoy such a place, nor the fact that you could be putting the bar owner at a huge risk of a lawsuit or loss of their liquor license because you’ll take your child where ever you go.

    Since I was not raised on a deserted island, I accept that children are part of our society, but what I will not accept is a sense of entitlement and poor parenting in places that I frequent. There’s a marked difference in kids enjoying themselves, screaming in delight and having fun and kids screaming their head off, running in the aisles and acting as if they have no sense while their parents do nothing about it.

    If you are amongst those parents that actually, parent good on you. However I find it very arrogant to assume that I should have to bow down to the altar of motherhood wherever I go, because kids are people too darn it! Well, they are people, but they are not mini-adults.

    Your assumption that kids are not welcome in the US is interesting but a false assumption. I don’t know where you are currently residing, but I’ve found the US to be incredibly child-friendly to the point where I’ve been grilled, ridiculed and told I’d get over my aversion and fears of being a parent, even after telling someone point blank that i have no desire for motherhood. It’s a fallacy to me to to point out that the US is so child hostile, when women here seem to be deemed useless and bizarre if they don’t want any kids.

    I find this article to be full of privilege, ethnocentrism and a dash of condescension for added flavor. Next time you might not want to lead off with a tale of traipsing your toddler in to the bar before you try to make your point about kids and rights. I might actually take you seriously.

    • mpe

      I’ve found the US to be incredibly child-friendly to the point where I’ve been grilled, ridiculed and told I’d get over my aversion and fears of being a parent, even after telling someone point blank that i have no desire for motherhood. It’s a fallacy to me to to point out that the US is so child hostile, when women here seem to be deemed useless and bizarre if they don’t want any kids.

      IME, harassing women who choose not to have children is all about misogyny, not about being child-friendly. People like that tend to be hostile to children too.

      • Exactly how is someone giving me shit for not wanting kids misogyny? The people who tell me I’m wrong headed for not wanting to have kids are females, WITH kids that can’t comprehend that another woman just has no maternal drive.

        • mpe

          Because it’s disrespecting your right as a woman to make your own decisions about your own body and your own life.

          The gender of the harassers is irrelevant.

  • Blue Jean

    Thank you for saying what was bothering me about this story, far more eloquently than I ever could. Thank you.

  • Robin

    I’m a parent to two children, and I say amen. Parenting is rarely about me and what I *want*; parenting is about what they *need*. And what my kids need is to be safe and protected. Maia is getting so caught up in her child’s awesomeness that she’s losing sight of the fact that her child is still a child.

    The fact that *I* reproduced does not mean that the world stops just for me. This is why, when my children were very young and in that in-between stage when they were old enough to want to move around and explore, but not yet old enough to be entertained in a seat for an hour with books/crayons/etc., we simply stopped eating out. If we wanted a restaurant-cooked meal, we’d get takeout and eat at home, or we’d eat at a fast food place. Yes, children do need to be socialized about how to act in those situations, but that socialization can wait until my child is 2 or 3 or so, and is capable of sitting in a seat if they’re provided with proper distractions. There’s simply no excuse for putting a kid into a situation where *they’re* going to be bored and stressed, and as a result they’re going to make life miserable for everyone around them.

    I notice there’s a lot of “well, if the bars you’re going to are that dangerous, then you’re going to the wrong bars!” and that completely misses the point. Whether or not people *should* be going to bars like that, people *are*, and some of them are the kind of poor parents who would bring their kids along if they could. (And yep, I was that child in a bar once too, feeling gradually more and more freaked out as everyone – including my dad – got more and more tanked. I HATED it.)

    The other thing is that there are a lot of parents who seem to lack any judgment whatsoever. I went to go see the movie Hannibal and there were children in the theater who couldn’t have been older than eight. Who the fuck would DO that? I’ve had the same experience with horror movies; some people bring their children. Do they not realize that these movies are intended to be terrifying, and children are still developing their ability to sort fact from fiction, and their ability to process intense emotions?

    People will argue that parents are the best judge of what their kids can handle. And to an extent, I agree. But there are so many parents that DO show bad judgment, at some point some decisions need to be made on the behalf of children, to keep them safe from their parent’s bad judgment. Yes, this is a bummer for those of you that go to quiet bars, with interesting adults, and your 11-year-old is disappointed that they can’t go with you and be a part of the conversation. But it’s put in place to keep all the children of parents who *aren’t* as good as you, safe. And as someone who was one of those children once, I’m damned glad those rules will hopefully prevent other children from being in situations that are wildly inappropriate and dangerous for them.

  • Adults are the ones responsible for making responsible decisions, not children. How we behave around children is far more important than whether we should be able to take them anywhere.

  • Auktastic

    I… How did that get published? With the complete lack of capitalization, proper punctuation, and any sense of self-awareness at all, it reads like an obnoxious facebook update. Hell, even the topic (complaining about not being able to bring her kid into a bar in the middle of the night) fits. Geez.

    • Mac

      She says it’s her “style of writing”.
      Comments encouraging her to use the shift key from time to time have been cencored. :)

  • Brittany Fuller

    Yeah, that’s ridiculous. And although you’re completely right in saying it’s off topic, the commenter’s hospital story makes a lot of sense to me – it’s not an issue of society hating children, it is an attempt to protect the kids (and the hospital from liability issues) – kids get abducted from hospitals, and the staff is much too busy to make sure it doesn’t occur.

  • The whole thing was kind of boggling, but the one that really got me was the “OMG HOSPITALS ARE SO MEEEEEEEEN!” School-aged children are germ magnets–just ask any parent who’s had to leave early because their kid has a fever. What happens when a kid who’s unknowingly picked up the latest variety of flu is in the same environment as people with seriously compromised immune systems? The hospital isn’t trying to be cruel or to discriminate; they’re trying to prevent patients from getting sicker due to opportunistic infections.

    • I have to admit, that comment struck me too, but for a few different reasons than yours.

      Leaving completely aside the fact that anyone who’s ever been in the waiting room of an urban hospital emergency room knows that sometimes, people get sick or injured who should not have access to an unescorted child.

      America’s emergency rooms are primary healthcare for lots of folks who don’t have insurance. Many of those folks are pretty seriously sick from putting off healthcare, some of them with drug-resistant diseases, and as you point out, children’s immune systems are notoriously not resistant to germs. Children aren’t being kept out to protect their delicate sensibilities. They’re being kept out to protect their safety.

      I do take her point about it being difficult to deal with emergencies with a child in tow. What I don’t understand is how her anecdote proves her point. Because when someone told her she couldn’t leave her child in an unsafe waiting room, she asked for alternatives, and was provided with a clean, safe, family-friendly space for her daughter to stay in.

      The hospital apparently wasn’t a child-free space. She didn’t ask.

  • cfg

    Thank you SO much for writing this. I tried writing several reasonable comments of dissent and all were shot down. The entitlement in her post was positively alarming. Children are children and need to be protected from harmful places. Like bars.

  • AEP

    This comment I thought was particularly special…

    The attitude that parents of small children (and the children themselves) get in grocery stores, airplanes and even mid range restaurants is a manifestation of a much larger issue, much like expecting people of colour to sit at the back of the bus was a manifestation of a much larger institutional issue.

    I…just…wow.

  • “If you don’t like ‘kids’ or ‘babies’ there’s something wrong with you.”

    At that point (probably earlier, but definitely then) the thread should have been over. Though I do love the irony of someone commenting in a post on a site called Feministe telling a largely female commentariat that they’re sick and wrong if they don’t like children. We’ve come a long way, baby.

  • I’m really uncomfortable profoundly skeeved out by the way she frames this in terms of child oppression in the comments, going so far as to call out child exploitation and slavery to make her case.

    I had more to this comment but I think I’m going to go put it over there.

    (I’m sorry if you get multiple copies of this – OpenID is not cooperating with me and it doesn’t -seem- to be getting through.)

  • Michelle

    this is my first time commenting on this site. i read both posts and i think had the other post been about how her children are scorned when going out to eat by other restaurant goers because they were laughing to loud, or she was told to “control your children” buy a stranger at a store because they were walking under the racks, or if she was given a dirty look as soon as she walked into a small store with her children, i would have been like HELL YEAH, MAMAS, I HEAR YA! because when it comes to american culture, i do believe that children – in general – are seen as disrupter’s of public spaces {stores, buses, libraries, restaurants}. if we were a child friendly nation, there would be laws reflecting that value by supporting families, women, and fathers. there would be a low sink in public restrooms. animals received rights protecting them against violence in our country before children received those same rights. in fact, when fighting for laws protecting children from abuse, animal protection laws were evoked as an argument for. so yeah, i don’t think america is a child friendly nation.

    BUT, the right to take a child to a bar misses that argument for me. i was also taken to bars growing up, around age 4, by an aunt. it was only fun when my cousin and i were aloud to go outside of the bar {in the middle of nowhere} and play. sitting in the bar was terribly boring! i never felt unsafe, but i did feel uncomfortable. but if there were other children there… it would have been a blast. but even in her country, i’d be surprised to see a lot of children in a bar or a bar that had a jungle gym to play in – if i’m wrong about this i’ll be surprised and impressed.

  • Michelle

    oh, i’d like to add if i can… i don’t think children should be taken everywhere! i have two children, and when i go out to a bar, i do not want to see children there for all the reasons people have already pointed out. i would feel so bad for that child! but other public spaces, like the grocery story {yeah, i my kid runs up and down the isle i’m gonna call them back, but don’t judge my motherhood because they got away from me in the first place}, i’m all for seeing children.

  • I’m a little late to the party here, but thank you for this post. The comments there went as all comments to these kinds of posts do at Feministe, with lots of accusations of child-hating, and conflating “Kids shouldn’t be in a bar” with “Kids shouldn’t be allowed out in public AT ALL.” As I pointed out in comments (to no avail, but what the hell), there are really only a handful of spaces at issue here: bars, dance clubs, sex clubs, and the odd no-kids private wedding or party. Other than that, kids are pretty much allowed in every public space going, though they really get a lot more leeway than adults do. A kid may get away with a tantrum, but an adult would get escorted out by security, for example.

    As to the specific discussion of bars — while I was not taken to bars as a kid (versus bar/restaurants), my father was an alcoholic, so I got to see him drunk every night. When I was very young, I was in bed before he got bad, but as I got older, I saw him get scary and sometimes violent. He never hit me, but he did hit my brothers, and as we got older, he got pervy about our sexuality and that of our girlfriends/boyfriends. He even told my sister she was a slut right in the middle of her engagement party.

    If there’s one thing I know about drunk people, is that they can go from maudlin or even happy to terrifying in the blink of an eye, and when you’re at a bar, you don’t know when that’s going to happen. Yes, a perfect environment for a toddler.

    What was particularly weird about the OP was that the framing story — her friend calls her up while the OP is at a bar (presumably with child) to invite her out to drink until dawn, and then asks if the kid is there. Instead of this being her friend’s (or the friend’s friends’, sounds like from the mention of whispering) problem with having her child there, it becomes about childfree people hating on children.

    Frankly, the problem is never really the kid, it’s the parents — and the defensiveness is never about the child’s right to occupy space, but the parent’s wish to be free of criticism or not have to accept that things change when you have a kid. I do get that some people really have no choice but to bring their kids places, but the OP mentioned a partner, the child’s father. Where was he in all this?

  • Maripoya

    I have a couple of thoughts on this issue:

    1. As a woman from a Panamanian/Barbadian background, I’ve never understood why citizens of the United States become viscerally angry when anyone from another culture points out that they do things differently where they come from and uses this simple fact as a starting point to critique U.S. society. The United States holds approx 7% of the population in a world of over 6 billion people; Maia isn’t trying to make an ethnic slur against USians, but just pointing out an attitude towards children that she finds perplexing from her (perfectly valid)vantage point.

    2. I feel too many decades of mass television consumption has created the ideology of the good-child. Yes, that one. The one that acts just perfectly in every situation comedy on every channel. Well real children act like real children. We call it the terrible-twos because most two-year-olds are actually quite terrible. The issue is less about what space a child occupies, and more about why so many people expect an 18-month-old toddler to suddenly obtain the attributes of a legal adult. It’s like the space between birth and turning eighteen has been erased and replaced by a concept of childhood that is acutely child-free. Mothers unable to produce this perfect-acting-in-every-situation child are then open to ridicule and condemnation for any and all reasons.

    • 1. Her perfectly valid point is that of an ex-Pat American living overseas so I take it with a grain of salt because she seems a bit sour on the US as a whole.

      2. I don’t think anyone with sense will debate that tv-children =/= real child behavior, so I find that one a bit hard to swallow. No one, again assuming they have any sense expects children to behave like small adults that haven’t finished growing up yet.

      Some people just don’t like children or they are assuming how THEY raised their kids is how everyone should raise their kids and when children don’t act the way THEY expect them to they give parents the stink eye.

      Again, this is all contingent on the offended party actually having some sense about children being actual people and not puppets with no free will until they reach the magical age of 18.

  • brownstocking

    I can’t go back to Feministe. That’s just some weird, angry stuff going on over there, with the GB and her posse. I’m not in love with feminism, but I don’t get how you encourage dialogue with “eff feminism” on a feminist blog. And I don’t hate kids, but I dang sure don’t want to see them at a bar!

    Mama=social justice activist? Okay, and a hell of a lot more, like “GUARDIAN.”

    No mas Feministe–unless an Angry Black Woman I can understand guest blogs.

  • Isabel S.

    omigod! Thank you all so much for letting me know I’m not just some mean, crazy, child-free anti-feminist! I read that article and got more upset with each comment.
    Some of my favorites were from the OP, who very clearly stated that she wasn’t a feminist while blogging for a (supposed) feminst website; someone who explained that kids are “what life is all about;” the persistent belief that if I don’t want/like kids, something “must be wrong” with me; and the conflicting talking out of both sides of one’s mouth by insisting that as a member of civilized society, it is my job to help you raise your child, coupled with the demand that I not judge or impose myself on your childrearing choices.
    And the first line in the piece, “you are not entitled to child-free space” just made me want to retort back that the OP is not entitled to any child-friendly space, either, so now what? That was one of the big problems with the article (among many), the OP wasn’t looking for solutions as to how the childed and child-free can live together or how the world can be more feminist by understanding the plight of parents (who are according to the OP and commenters are mostly women, hence parenting is a women’s issue-sorry dads), no, she just wants the world to accept and accomodate her definition of good parenting, which includes taking children everywhere (including bars) at any time. Because if we don’t, then clearly we’re anti-feminist.
    The amount of privilege was astounding. I mean, if I said I wanted to take a job like being a doctor, but I didn’t want to go to medical school because it was too difficult and interfered with my ability to go out and socialize, you would tell me that I can either suck it up or choose another career, right? If I wanted to be a pilot but hated flying, you might counsel me to choose another career, no? You want certain things, you have to pay the price. This is not revolutionary thought here, this is called being a grown up. So why is it that when the OP takes on the job of bringing a human being into the world and being her caretaker, a job that requires a full-time commitment and huge amounts of sacrifice, she not only doesn’t want to suck it up and pay the price, but she wants the entire world to support and accommodate her desire to continue living the same lifestyle she enjoyed before she had a child??? We can argue about whether the price of parenthood is too high, whether the world should be more parent/child-friendly, whether there should be paid parental leave, cheap childcare, etc., but not about whether it’s your job to care for your child that you chose to have!
    The OP claims that we child-haters (’cause that’s what we clearly are) don’t recognize that children are people too, and I would like to argue that it’s because we do recognize their personhood that we think parents shouldn’t be allowed to treat their children in ways that don’t recognize the child’s needs just so that the parent can still have a good time. When you have a child, your wants now take second place to your child’s needs. So stop whining and be a responsible adult!
    Rant over. For now…

    • I concur… deciding to have that child was her decision, not the world at large’s so the rest of society is not required to take up her slack, when she doesn’t feel like being a responsible adult who just has to make some sacrifices for her kid.

  • Since my comments seem to never make it out of the moderation qeueu lately, here’s what I wrote in response to the flip-flopping joy article, linked above that tries to take Karnythia to task for jumping to conclusions about the OP of the original piece:

    While I agree that no one deserves being dog-piled unnecessarily, the OP did herself no favors opening her post with no one is entitled to child-free spaces.

    That set a bad tone for me reading the piece and then reading the comments just made me angry at the entitlement I got from the OP and from the posters who feel oppressed.

    Making a point about how you think your child should be able to go anywhere in society and declaring that I have no right to child free space is two totally different things and that made all the difference in the world in how I took her post.

    FWIW, I had no clue that the OP was a WOC, not that it would have made a difference in how I received her poor me, I’m a mom and I can’t go places I want to because US society (where the OP doesn’t even reside) hates kids and mothers.

  • “shorter, cuter, more honest people”? I like the “more honest” part. What if short, cute, more honest little aza tells her, “Mommy, I’m tired! Mommy, I want to go home! Mommy, I hate this place! Mommy, I hate you!” I wonder if the little person’s honesty would be quite so adorable then?

    For me, the notion of “child-free” is a warning signal. It implies to me that adults need to be shielded from children. And there are adults — I’ve met my share — who feel that way. I’d rather stress the angle that children need to be shielded from adults who, as various commenters here have said, aren’t in control and who behave in ways that will scare or even hurt children. (As zuzu’s comment reminds me, though, such adults are everywhere, including home.) I do think that adults should have places where they can behave like that, but it that “entitlement”? Is it a “right”? Is it “child-free”? Is it a matter of whether I “want to see children there”? How badly are adults “entitled” to behave even in the absence of children — in a bar, for example? I think the debate, such as it is, is being badly framed here.

    Contrary to Maripoya’s comment, though, I don’t think that “the ideology of the good child” is the result of mass television watching. Sentimentalization of children in Anglo-American culture is a lot older than that — see the sentimental literature of the late 19th-early 20th century.

  • n.

    in Spain it is (or used to be, last time i was there) perfectly normal to bring kids to bars (which were also cafes, like hers. bars where you can even get a nice coffee and pastry for breakfast in the morning.) and i never saw people getting too crazy in bars there, either. when i was there, people drank more frequently than i was used to in USA but got drunk *WAY LESS* frequently. i don’t see anything wrong with the post ma’ia made, once understood in her context and meaning.

    i am saying this as a deliberately child-free (married) female. i can be uncomfortable with even other people’s children. but i like the point that children are people. if they are nice, i have no problem with them, any more than i have with people in general if they are nice.

  • Leigh-Andrea Fernandes

    I don’t know how a parent can be selfish and stupid enough to drag a child to a bar. Honestly. It’s frightening that these things are even up for debate. This is something that people should know. Some people just aren’t fit to raise children.

  • Robin

    Hmmm… you make some good points, Karnythia, but I have to wonder if maybe you’ve misinterpreted some of Maia’s story. It doesn’t sound like she actually had her daughter in a bar, only that her friend inquired if Aza was with her when inviting her over at a late hour. Now, Maia seems to have taken offense to the implication that her daughter might not be welcome at her friend’s party, but it seems to me that the friend was simply asking whether Maia was free to come over or whether she needed to be home with the kid.

    That said, I don’t think that Maia’s parenting style would be acceptable in most parts of the US, nor do I think it’s terribly healthy for a child to grow up without limits or lessons in situationally appropriate behavior. Claiming misogyny in the face of people expecting a parent to, y’know, actually parent their kid is not going to help her convey her message of children-as-people. Yes, children are people, but they’re not adults and they need to be taught how to behave before they’ll know intuitively.

    I agree with Duncan that it’s not so much a matter of child-free spaces as it is child-inappropriate ones. Young children shouldn’t be taken to horror movies or noisy bars, particularly late at night when they should be sleeping.

    • karnythia

      I went with what she said. If she intended to convey something else then she should have included that info in her post.

      • Robin

        Yes, she certainly could have been clearer. (And employed proper capitalization and punctuation, for that matter. It took me a couple of reads to figure out what exactly “pink videos” were. That’s not a writing style, it’s sheer laziness. I digress.) But it seems like more people are discussing “ZOMG how dare she take her kid to a bar!” than discussing her actual point, which is the boundary between kid-friendly and kid-unfriendly spaces in western society. And the main difference between “n america” and wherever she is now seems to be in parenting styles. Westerners generally prefer a look-after-your-own approach, while she seems to be living in a more it-takes-a-village culture. (Though she seems to be taking even less responsibility for influencing her child’s behavior than that would imply.)

        I’m not trying to be an apologist for her entire diatribe. It just seems unfair to dismiss her whole post based on a point she never actually made.

  • John

    Here, the author of “shorter, cuter, more honest people” needs to see this episode of Star Trek.

    Description here.
    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0708734

    Seen here.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WT8aoYsch40

  • Anne

    I know I’m a bit late on this–I’ve just been reading through the whole site today.

    I really really don’t even like the idea of becoming a mother. And I do get all that “you’ll change your mind one day” and “you wont hate kids if they’re yours,” which is BS, but whatever.

    The thing is, while I’d never ever want to be in charge of kids (infants terrify me the most–i do NOT have the ability to notice dangers like table corners and small toys) I have no problem with kids in public settings, with few exceptions (the kid that kicked the back of my seat for two hours between Chicago and Denver, for example–but all frustrations tend to get amplified at 40k feet in a small metal tube with wings–and in the greater scheme of things two hours doesn’t matter, nor did my discomfort). In fact, since I adore kids movies, the kids in the audience who are excited to see the movies and talk through them and giggle and are fun just add to the great atmosphere a movie like Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs deserves. On the other hand, the couple that chats all the way through Up In The Air don’t even have bad parenting to blame. And the man that tried to make me sell him tickets to Tropic Thunder for him and his five year old? At 9PM? I was so glad we had the rule ‘no one under 7 after 7′ in R rated movies. That late at night, and a movie with that much violence? You really want your (5!year old) child to see that, rent it and watch it at home. (general yous, btw, mostly just aimed at that guy.)

    I fully agree that the worst thing about children in places like bars or others typically deemed “child free” is not at all that the adults aren’t getting their child free zone. Poor kids, that’s the bad thing. Who cares if adults are *forced* into the presence of kids (eyeroll), the poor kids should be asleep or having fun somewhere that’s not, well, a potentially hazardous environment.

    Also about your kid-flipping-out-in-a-grocery-store thing? I guess I never understood the antagonism towards kids who flip out–though I think that may be because I remember BEING the kid who flipped out. I guess I just don’t see it as a big deal. It’s not even bad parenting. Kids will flip–it happens.

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  • [...] Barnes and Noble and bringing your baby to a bar are really two separate issues, as Karnythia at The Angry Black Woman points out.  The impetus for Maia’s diatribe about kids-being-people-too is that one night, [...]

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