Twice in the past few weeks, I’ve come across this question in kid-centered discussions and it makes me want to scream. It’s often asked derisively, as though the status of parenthood raises the person asking the question to some higher moral or intellectual level. The first was a TV talk show where a restaurant owner discussed his decision not to seat children under the age of six. (And before anyone asks, no his revenues did not decline. He actually saw an increase.) The second was an online article about a mall (where I worked for almost four years) enacting new rules prohibiting unaccompanied minors on Friday and Saturday after 6pm.
In both cases, the most common retort from people against the restrictions toward those supporting them is how many kids do you have? And for anyone who responds that they don’t have children, like the restaurant owner on TV, people snicker in response, as if that fact negates the childfree person’s ability to reason and form logical conclusions.
Listen, just because I don’t have kids and don’t want kids doesn’t mean I don’t see and hear the obnoxious things kids sometimes do. And it doesn’t render me incapable of placing a value judgment on those actions, nor does it nullify my opinions. Hell, I could argue that if anyone is not in a position to look objectively at children’s behavior and the impact it can have on other people, it’s the parents. They love their kids (as they should), and that skews their view of their child’s behavior. Now I’m not arguing that, exactly, but I could.
If a person doesn’t own a dog, does that make them incapable of meaningful discussion about leash laws? They, too, are affected by pets allowed to run free. Should an adult non-driver be laughed at, or their opinion discounted, in a debate about the residential speed limits in your neighborhood? As a pedestrian, they likely are very concerned about speeding cars. Likewise, even those people without children are affected by your child’s public behavior and have a right to voice their concerns and look for solutions.
I’ll discuss the merits and problems of some of these kid-free restrictions in a later post. For now I just wanted to say that whether or not a person has children has no bearing on their ability to logically and objectively assess issues with the way some children behave in public.