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.

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4 responses »

  1. Charlotte McClain says:

    Great post. I’m a childfree kindergarten teacher and, if anything, I’m more qualified to talk about young kids than parents are. When I’ve been poopooed in the past I’ve pointed out that while they’ve raised one, two, maybe three kids, I’ve observed and worked with hundreds and in certain aspects I knew each of those children better than their parents did at that age.

  2. Fred says:

    I saw the same show (let’s be forthright, it was Dr. Phil). I can’t say I was surprised, given the show’s target audience is self righteous stay at home moms.

    They started the episode off by expressing shock that people without children were capable of forming opinions. I knew it was headed even further downhill when they brought on the guy that slapped someone’s kid at a store (with no injury whatsoever to the kid) and the audience literally cheered that he received a 6-month jail sentence and hefty fine. Sure, we was in the wrong, but thinking jail time is appropriate, no one in their right mind should believe that.

    On the other hand, they trotted out some moo that was upset her kid was kicked out of a library for making noise. I have to give Dr. Phil a modicum of credit for pointing out that her first call before even leaving the library was to the media, betraying her self-righteous and limelight seeking attitude, but the point was quickly glossed over while the audience full of moms cheered her right to interrupt the quiet study of others.

    They also trotted out some person who immediately put down the “two wrongs make a right” defense, saying that because some people impolitely talk loudly or on the phone at restaurants, their kids should be able to annoy others, too.

    But, aside from the immediate dismal of all childfree opinions, the most ridiculous thing trotted out by all the pro-moo people they had on the show that sadly went unchallenged was the belief that things had changed. They acted like society has changed that children’s behavior is suddenly unacceptable. Nothing could be further from the truth. What has changed is the so-called parents that think they have the right to take their kids wherever. When I was a kid, I was uncontrollable. But my parents made sure that the rare times we did go out, we went to a family-type restaurant where kids are expected, not to the trendy or pricey place.

    The reason some parents trot out the “how many kids do you have” question is because they are trying to rephrase the debate. They want us to look foolish by unreasonably expecting a child to behave. Thing is, no childfree person actually thinks this. Heck, that is a big part of the reason some of us chose to be childfree, because unlike some that want kids, we acknowledge kids can’t help their boundless energy. We are not debating the behavior of children, we are debating our right not to be forced to endure it.

    • Well now, Fred, I’ve been known to enjoy my Dr. Phil 😉 I was disappointed, though, because while I find he’s usually very good about presenting all sides and speaking common sense, this episode was definitely very biased. It surprised me.

      I think you’re 100% right, too, that some people will try to reframe the debate to make it seem like we’re pointing the finger at the children as the problem, when it’s really the parents we have an issue with.

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