Should children be Seen and Not heard?

Katherine - posted on 02/25/2011 ( 15 moms have responded )




Re-Posted from StrollerDerby

You’re in a nice restaurant, trying to enjoy your meal on a long-awaited night out with your sweetie. At the next table over, someone’s toddler has just spilled her fourth cup of water and started howling.

We’ve all been there: in the library, on a bus, at a restaurant, or perhaps worst of all on an airplane. A child starts misbehaving and getting all up in our space, and those lazy, neglectful parents do absolutely nothing to stop it.

If you’re a mom, you’ve probably been on the other side, too. Getting stared down by vexed strangers who seem to believe that you should know where the off switch is on this screaming monster that has suddenly replaced your kid.

On Feministe, one mom has taken up arms with a manifesto about how kids are people too. Jezebel hit back with some low blows about punctuation and some good points about child-free spaces.

My two cents on this: Feministe’s blogger, Maia, is right. In North America, people often seem to feel entitled to treat kids like they’re a public nuisance, an expensive hobby their parents took up. That’s wrong. Kids are people.

They’re people with needs very different from those of adults. And while it makes my blood boil to have someone be rude to my kids for making a little noise on an airplane, I think it’s quite reasonable to keep children out of bars and other clearly adult spaces.

As I said after causing a minor Internet ruckus about kids and air travel last winter:

I am one of those mothers. I’m a mom who believes that the well-being of our children is a shared responsibility of everyone. My kids are not an exotic hobby, or a bizarre lifestyle choice. They are little people with all the rights and privileges people are entitled to. Their emotional and physical well-being is in your interest as well as mine.

One of the most important points to be made here about kids being people is that their parents, particularly their mothers, are not their puppetmasters. If my kid starts wailing and throwing boxes of cereal in Aisle 7, I can’t just apologize and turn the volume off the way I can if my cell phone goes off in a crowded theater.

I can do my best to help her behave well; keep her well-rested and fed and entertained. But if she’s losing it, she’s just like any other person with a problem. What she needs is help. You’d never go up to a 25-year-old sobbing two tables away from you at a restaurant and tell them to be quiet; you’d either stay out of it or offer help. Kids deserve to be treated the same way.

Similarly, if a kid crosses a line with you, the thing to do is to gently hold the kid accountable. Politely ask her to quiet down, return your toy or get off your foot.

Generating a culture of fear around moms in public, that they’d better get those kids to shut up and act sweet or else, only serves to make us more fearful as parents. Frightened moms are stricter, less flexible and ultimately less able to handle stressful situations that crop up with their kids. Ease up a little, and the kids will have fewer meltdowns to begin with. Everyone wins.

The point is not that you should not have adults only space. Go ahead and rock the age limits on nightclubs, bars, what have you. But genuinely public spaces: shopping areas, public transportation, city streets, most restaurants – these spaces are for everyone. The kids in them deserve to be treated with respect.

Photo: Hassan and Mariko


Janessa - posted on 02/25/2011




I want to be a strict parent because that how I was raised in my country and with my adoptive parents. I think western style of parenting for the most part I do not like it. My generation of people are very rude to adults and they think they are entitled to everything in life and I do not want to raise my kids like that. I want him to be respectful of adultes, have manners and behaves anywhere we go. I just notice kids are becoming so rude, disrespectful and are entitled to everything.

Amanda - posted on 02/26/2011




If your child is throwing cereal around a grocery store you have bigger problems then me giving you a dirty look ( oh and I will give a dirty look I might even suggest you parent your child). Three children and NEVER has my children behaved like this in public. Parents need to stop trying to be so damn PC with their children, and teach them how to be responsible for their actions, and emotions! Toddlers can be responsible, stop treating children like they have no intelligence, self control, or just plain old comman sense, because THEY DO. Expect more out of your children, and you will get more!

Lacye - posted on 02/26/2011




There is a right way for kids to act in public and a wrong way. If my child is talking to me and behaving, then that is great. If she becomes sleepy and needs a nap, we get done quickly and we go home. If my child decides she wants to go into a full blown temper tantrum, I will either take her to the bathroom and pop her on the butt or I will take her out to the car and pop her butt. When she decides to act better, we will go back inside and finish our shopping.

As for "generating a culture of fear around moms in public", that's a bunch of crap. I don't have any problems taking my child out in public because she knows how to behave. She'll be 2 in May and she knows that when we go somewhere she is expected to behave. Now I'll admit, there are some things she doesn't understand yet and I can look past them, but she knows if we are in the parking lot, she has to hold my hand and if we are in the store, temper tantrums are not tolerated.

Alahnna - posted on 02/26/2011




I do believe children have feelings and rights, but I also believe children need to be shown and taught the proper ways to behave. I think the problem with children today is that parents aren't really being parents anymore. They're too busy trying to be their child's friend because they have rights. Being a parent, you can still be a friend but you have to discipline as well, which means you might be the bad guy sometimes. You do you child a dissservice when you decide to just be a friend instead of helping to teach them about the world and show them right from wrong. Children need our help to make their way through life, even when they grow up and move out, lol

[deleted account]

Her example of kids misbehaving is throwing boxes of cereal...and we should respect that? Whatever.


View replies by

Jenn - posted on 02/26/2011




I do think that kids are people too, and deserve respect and to have a voice. However, I don't think we should just all put up with kids acting inappropriately. Teach your children basic manners and respect. I understand that there are times when a young child may lose control of their emotions out in public, but deal with it accordingly.

[deleted account]

I agree that children are humans with valid feelings and thoughts and I want to hear them. But she lost me at the throwing cereal thing.

[deleted account]

Traveling and being out during the day, i feel most parents cant control a fussy child i see many doing there best to calm a fussy child but before i had my children i was a waitress in a very busy and popular restaurant, at night it was adults, i mean no one did take there children at night.During the day many were very understanding of fussy child but many were not with parents who allowed them to run riot or throw things if they were in a high chair.We would nicely step in there as its for one not safe and very unfair to all around.
I do see many being stupid towards others when its just a simple fussy baby or toddler without it being extreme and i say not because i am a mother but as a good human being without having to be a parent.Get the underwear out of your butts and be more understanding.Its not going to kill you.Offer a little help.I had a fussy, tired child on many occasions and there were really nice adults or teens who helped me out..made my girls laugh etc.To many are to rude towards parents and there kids.I see parents and children as a part of life, we should just get used to that.Most of the time its not a problem but people take it a bit to far.I mean I FEEL IF OTHERS HAD A CHOICE CHILDREN WOULD ONLY BE SEEN NOT HEARD.

Katherine - posted on 02/26/2011




I do like her thinking and concepts.

:Kids are people too."

What I don't agree with is that everyone else should put up with it.

I do agree that they don't belong in bars and that they should have a kids only space.

[deleted account]

Cathy S. :

I thought it was funny just because we have all been there and doesn't it give you a little bit of a chuckle and happy bubble to know that you have done such a wonderful job raising your kids? I know I feel the same way when my kids are held up for behaving when others that are older don't behave. It is a great feeling to know we are doing a great job. :)

[deleted account]

In certain situations children should be seen and not heard. I have 3 girls under 10. I don't expect my kids to be silent but my kids are expected to be respectful of those around them. For examples:
We are at a park, they can be as loud as they want.
We are at an indoor play area they can be loud but not outside loud.
We are sitting down in a restaurant, they have to sit quietly. They may talk, and interact with each other and whomever is at the table with us in a respectful manner. (not interrupting or being gross)

We teach our kids manners & respect. We expect them to use those manners & respect at all times too. We also expect other parents to do the same with their kids though half the time it is just wishful thinking.

Didn't we ever go through the tantrums in public? Yep. Did I stick around and let my child keep at it disrupting those around us? Nope. I stopped what I was doing grabbed one or even all 4 of my kids and walked out. Went home and put said child in time out while the children that behaved got a treat for being so understanding. (yes even when out to eat. They can cancel the order or have it boxed and ready to go before I hit the door. However, the only way I pay for it is if it is with me when we leave or we have already eaten.)

Joanna - posted on 02/25/2011




I do not go out to eat any more, simply because my 3 year old became a lousy diner somewhere along thecway, so I do not subject others to it. And there IS an off button when the throw a tantrum in the store - it's called leaving. It's not that hard to step outside or go to your car and calm your child down, then either go back in or go home. I've done it many times.

However people do need to realize that they are people, which is why I do like the article. They are not little nuisances, they are people with needs, and we need to treat them with respect.

Sal - posted on 02/25/2011




if i'm going out to a nice dinner with my sweetie no i don;t want to listen to kids, not even mine!!!!! if i have to take mine we go early, take books and pencils and take turn in taking them for a walk, i do see it as our responsibility to make them behave.....if it is a place where you expect to finds kids, buses, supermarkets, day time cafes too bad, i don;t want my kids to misbehave but they are infact kids, if you don't want to hear kids in the supermarket go late night, you are clearly going at the wrong time, if you don;t want to listen to kids in the coffee shop go to the one with the most expensive coffee and poky little sitting area, don't go the maccas, last week i was killing time between appointments so took my girls to maccas, they played i had coffee, and someone got shitty because they were having an "important phonecall" and the kids in the play ground were making too much noise.....WTF no one took the kids to his work place, we didn;t sit them in the back of his car, they weren't even in the restaraunt area he was in the playground....

Becky - posted on 02/25/2011




I like this article, and I completely agree with her. Yes, there are some places kids don't belong - it's not even legal to bring your kids into a bar here. And I think that's as much for the protection of the kids as it is for the adults to have a child-free space. But unless there is an age restriction, I have the right to bring my kids wherever I want to, and while I'm certainly going to try to help them behave, sometimes they won't. If one of them starts pitching an all out tantrum, I'll leave, but I'm not going to leave at the first peep they make.
I think some adults need to remember that they were kids once too, and I'm pretty sure they weren't perfectly behaved either! In fact, the most judgemental adults were probably the brattiest kids!

Join Circle of Moms

Sign up for Circle of Moms and be a part of this community! Membership is just one click away.

Join Circle of Moms