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Monday, 18 March 2013

I'm not paying to listen to your children

I'll open with 'I have three children, and I understand what they can be like at times'. If your kid goes nuts in the supermarket, I'm the sympathetic nodder not the judgmental eye roller. If your child is lost or something fishy is going on, I'm the butt-inner checking up things are ok or will keep your child safe until we track down the parent. If your child is screaming on a plane, I'm who you want next to you, as I'm relieved it's not my kid screaming, and I still remember that's the WORST feeling, and there is not a lot you can do to control it. But this business of kids having more rights than adults and no common courtesies has to stop.

I went to see Oz yesterday, and while it is a kids flick, the cinema had 6 children in it and the rest of the audience were adults. Two little kids about 5 kept talking through it. Loudly and frankly, stupidly. I didn't hear the mother tell them to be quiet once. Not one time. I have a wee tot and if she talks in a movie I am quick to whisper harshly "You can't say a word - no one is paying to listen to you!". Before the film starts, we always run through the 'you can't make any noise in the cinema' speech, which includes a part on sitting still in your seat.  I even do this at kids films, because how do they learn how to behave in society if they think there's one rule for some movies and another rule when it's a show you like. I paid $20 and my experience was ruined by these 2 little kids. Should I have asked the mother for my money back? Should I have told the kids to shut the f%*& up? I did neither. I sat and seethed, debating about what to do.

Same day (it was 'treat yourself day' - husband had been away on boys weekend and I got the afternoon off on his return) I used a gift voucher I'd been given for a visit to a pool in a fancy hotel. The voucher is worth $50. I was sitting in the spa, reading my book when some kids got in with me. The pool was completely empty at this point. The kids start swimming about, kicking my legs in the process repeatedly. I let it go. Then they started jumping in, and splashing me and my book. I told them not to splash me, they continued, I told them again. At that point, the nanny or mother gave a very half hearted "swim over there" meaning the other half of the very small spa (not the big, empty pool??). At the point the kids started eating IN THE SPA, I got out disgustedly.

I know kids love spas, but I have sent my own kids out for splashing too much when other adults are using it, and when the adults leave, they are allowed back in.

Kids should have rights, but in the current climate, they seem to have more rights than adults. They don't seem to have to be aware of the social courtesy towards others. Restaurants are expected to offer a menu that they charge less for, though the child is taking up a seat and the kitchen's time, and the child may or may not run around the restaurant disturbing the full paying guest.

Women are allowed to breast feed where ever they choose, and should a negative comment be made, it becomes something of a civil rights issue, instead of something where you just think "What a jerk" and go home and tell your friends.

Teachers are harassed if the child doesn't get the grade they want or the part in the play. Everyone is expected to accommodate the child, but the child is not asked to accommodate anyone else in return. Why not?

In the '70's, kids were not factored into the equation much. The parents did what they wanted to do, entertained as they wanted to, went out where they wanted to, and the kids were dragged along and expected to behave accordingly. You were lucky if there were other children present, if not, you were to slink off and find a tv or sit at the table quietly for however long it took, without complaining. I don't think this was such a bad thing. We survived it, and it probably did us good not to think the Universe revolved around us and our friends.

I have a another speech that my kids unfortunately hear often, firstly due to their behaviour, then as they get older, as a reminder. It constantly points out that the other people have paid a lot of money to do whatever it is we are doing, and they aren't paying to listen to us. And I do mean US for while I know they don't want to hear the kids argue/screech/talk, I'm pretty sure they don't want to hear me telling off the kids either.

I get kids are learning how to behave in society. I get kids have little consideration beyond their own immediate whims. The point is, they never will, if you the parent don't teach them to. You don't just suddenly think about others as you get older. It needs to be taught and modeled, like everything else. No one would put up with the talking of teens in the cinema, no one would shrug off a drunken adult talking loudly in a restaurant. Why are kids given carte blanche to behave in equally socially unacceptable ways?

I would have been more tolerant in those situations above if I'd felt the 'supervising' adult was doing just that, supervising. Had there been a 'get away from the lady' or 'shh', I would have thought it was just badly behaved kids and irritatedly shrugged it off, but understood that kids don't always do what you want them to.  However, if you don't tell the kids they're doing the wrong thing, how do they know?

About 8 years ago I (& my kids) went away with a girlfriend from England and her daughter. We went out to dinner and the kids, in my opinion, were very badly behaved. They kept getting out of their seats and running around our table. I kept telling them to sit down, and didn't noticed it was only me doing the ticking off. As we left, I commented on a poor couple who had arrived after us and left before us, thus having no time without our children ruining their evening. My friend responded "Well, children are the future. People have to understand they're going to be around." I was stunned (which is why I still remember it verbatim). I pointed out that perhaps that was true in the sense of providing public education with their tax money, but not necessarily in a restaurant. We agreed to disagree.

My kids are by no means perfect. I am not an expert on parenting. I do call my kids out, when I need to and I don't think I should be able to ruin the experience of others by my children's selfish or noisy behaviour.  This generation is being done a disservice by their parents, and I get the feeling that some parents don't want to actually parent. Sometimes we have to be the bad guy. Sometimes we have to be the one who says no, when they want to hear yes. Sometimes they won't like you for it. At the end of the day though, we need to remember we are raising citizens of the world, not just an individual.

Looking at the current world climate, there will be a heavy load for these future citizens to carry, so we need to make them the best they can be. It needs to start with the small stuff when they are young, so they can change the big stuff when they are adults.


Linking up with the Lounge.



37 comments:

  1. I whole heartedly agree!! And I'm glad to hear someone with 3 kids say this, as I have one child, and sometimes wonder if I am *that* parent - the one of an only child who "doesn't get" what it's like to try and control multiple children. Kids don't really know better, but the parents absolutely should. There's a time and a place for being loud, noisy, out of control, and it's not in a spa (really? $50 just to use the pool!??!?!) and it's not in a restaurant, unless it's the mcdonald's playground! Yes, kids have every right to be in these places, but they also need guidance on what kind of behaviour is expected at said places. There's just no consequences for kids actions these days, it seems. And I think too many parents are just lazy and as long as the kids aren't bothering THEM, they don't care! -Aroha #teamIBOT

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  2. Exactly, not saying they shouldn't be there, but they should behave accordingly. (or at least the parent should TRY to make them - if they fail, it's one for next time)

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  3. Can't agree more. If the parents try to correct them or discipline them to make them behave but unfortunately fail, I can understand. I know kids are hard (I have 2 and I was a former teacher). But what shits me is when parents don't even attempt to tell their kids to behave/shut up.

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    1. That's my point - try to correct their behaviour & if you fail, I'm far more tolerant of the child (& parent) cos we all know kids don't listen;) but it's the not trying, which is the parents fault not the child's, that gets me ranting...

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  4. Yes, children are our future, but what sort of future is it going to be when they aren't given the opportunity to learn how to behave properly and acceptably in public? x

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  5. Yes, yes YES! I am always extremely conscious in any situation where the behaviour of my children is going to impact on the experience of others. I believe that teaching our children to be considerate of others and to be aware of how the way they act can affect other people is an essential lesson for any child.

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    1. It is, but I guess now there are a lot of adults who also don't show much courtesy, so it's probably just the way things are heading...

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  6. I am with you all the way! Before kids, I really got frustrated with children ruining my experience. After kids, I get really ticked off at parents who don't try to teach their children how to behave. Parents have a responsibility to bring their children up to understand what is socially acceptable too.
    Becc @ Take Charge Now

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    1. That's my thing, it's the parents not the kids, who ought to know better!

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  7. Interesting post. I am with you, I am the sympathetic 'have been there' parent also. We all have bad days, unfortunately sometimes they are on show for the public to see. I try and see situations from a viewpoint of a tired, over it mum. But sometimes I waggle my finger at the road we are all going down. I think kids do get it easier. I think parents do loosen the guidelines. Kids LOVE boundaries. Im waffling now, but you have made me think!

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    1. i get that it all gets too much and pearshaped but I think if you are in a restaurant/theatre/cinema/expensive dayspa, you have to take into account other people, and what the kids are doing to the other persons experience. I guess I'm a big finger waggler! :)

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  8. I agree with most of the points in this post. Many kids don't have respect for adults and rule the roost. I know parents who chase their kids around the loungeroom trying to feed them dinner whilst they watch TV. Apparently it is the only way they will eat.

    My daughter has never been an easy child, I had a lot of negative comments on what a horror she would be as she got older. But instead she has turned into a gorgeous well behaved and polite child. Kids need to learn respect.

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  9. I am not saying I think it's easy, and I actually don't blame the kids. Half the time I tell my kids not to do something, they ignore me. I totally understand that. It's the not even bothering to say it that bugs me...and yes, kids also are their own people, and like us, are shaped by many influences, not just their parents...(and I've done that with the dinner!)

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  10. Well said - I will admit that I did take my then 4 month old baby to see 'Les Miserables ' but she slept the majority of the way through and fed for the rest of the time! But I do agree with you - I try to teach mmy 3 yr old an acceptable way of behaving in public and it irks me that some people don't even bother. We went out for dinner with my husbands family - to an all-you-can-eat place, so by no means fancy - and my son stayed in his seat, only getting up to come with me to tell me what he'd like to eat, but my almost 3 yr old nephew was running around the table, over to other peoples tables, down to the food service area, pretty much wherever he wanted. My SIL goes ' oh, he's just a little kid '.... But he won't be forever, will he? If you don't teach him now he won't know any better when he's older, right?

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  11. So I did get up and run around the table once, when with a friend, and the whole cafe looked at me (we were laughing about 'imagine if an adult did it') but the little girl on the table next to me, her eyes went wide in confusion. It was HILARIOUS! (No kid came near us after that)

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  12. I hear you! As someone who spends lots of time with other people's kids (coaching) I probably would have turned and spoken softly and kindly to the kids ... turned smiled and said "would it be ok if you used your whisper voice so that we can hear the movie" and then winked at them or something to show I was on their side ... just hoping for some susho. But then again, I usually feel very comfortable in that situation because I'm used to being around loads of little kids. It can be hard to talk to other people's children because you fear what the parents might do or say.
    Leanne @ Deep Fried Fruit

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  13. You would have been calmer and nicer than me (obviously I am not coaching material). Will let you know if I use your suggestions in future...cos we all know it will happen again.

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  14. hmmm. What annoys me is when parents (and nannys) make no attempt to correct unfair behaviour in the playground. Like when once child is sliding down and walking back up the slippery dip, thus hogging it. And if I step in and explain the socially acceptable rules, which lets my child and others play as well, I get glared at for disciplining their child. Especially when they've been staring at their phones instead of watching their child in the first place. How do I explain to my child that the rules apply to them and not everyone else?

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  15. I've had the other side of that coin - my daughter was following the person in front too quickly, or trying to stand on the waterside so after ticking her off a few times, I made her get out. Then these boys started all going together and bring stupid and the dad I'd been sitting next to looked at me & said 'that's dangerous. They need to stop that' like I was the life guard or something?? What's that about?!

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  16. I agree Lydia. Kids needs boundaries and they need to learn from an early age what behaviour is not acceptable. Parents and carers have a responsibility to check their behaviour and set the right example. It's a pity that this is not universal anymore... Kirsty @ My Home Truths

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  17. Kids need to learn respect by being shown respect from an adult - I think we spend more time friending them than loving and parenting them!

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    1. We'll some of us do...and it's interesting how it can then go wrong. Of course nothing stabs harder than when your teen doesn't like you...(sullen stomps when you kick them off the xbox)

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  18. So agree with you. It can be a real challenge to decide what behaviour is appropriate from my toddler when we are out. She is 20 months, so has limited understanding and of course I have so much grace for her, but I also want her to learn to respect other people and their things and that she can't just do whatever she wants. I'm still learning what that looks like.
    But the "I have rights" thing as a child 10,11,12,13 is a bit much to take

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    1. I guess we all expect the 10 year old to tow the line, but why not he 5 year old, I say? Cos that 5 year old turns into the 10 year old...

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  19. So much is true in this post. The one line that resonated with me most is that "some parents don't actually want to parent" - I get that feeling quite a bit when we are out - I'm quite strict with my boys when we are out with them, restaurants, movies, even the park - they need to learn to behave in society - it is my job to teach them - but it is especially hard - when some children are running around wild while i'm a sitting my two boys down in the corner!

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    1. Yes, it gets hard because the obvious thing a kid says i "well how come they're allowed to?" (cos their parents are selfish and I hope they all get kicked out...is that the right answer?)

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  20. I agree! I don't have children and I try not to be one of those people who think 'just control your child'. I did work in a child care so I know how hard it is to take care of children when all they want to do is rebel. I also think that children are very smart and will test parents to see what they can get away with and that, I think is where you need to be a hard arse in a sense and stand your ground. Its hard and time consuming but in the long run, we have to look at how their childhood will shape their adulthood. Children are blessings, they are still people who need to learn though!

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  21. I am glad someone without kids spoke up. I think it's so unfair that if anyone without kids criticizes a child's behaviour, everyone condescends to them "you don't know what it's like" instead of saying "yes, I'm sorry my child is behaving absolutely unacceptably". If a drunk person ruins your evening, no one says "well, what would you know, you're sober".
    I think kids get away with a lot of things in public because people "try not to be one of those people who think 'just control your child'." When in fact, they need to be called on it.
    I am of course getting nervous I'll have to flee my next outing because I'm just asking for the kids to go mad...hubris and all that!

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  22. I don't know how I missed this post back in March. But I love it and totally agree. Nothing shits me more than parents who don't even try to teach their children how to behave and don't discipline their children. My sister Kate above and I were raised by our mother to know what was and wasn't acceptable in public and heaven help us if we misbehaved while out and about. Mum constantly got told how well behaved we were and that people couldn't believe that 5 of us would be so good when out and about. It's because she put in the time and effort to make sure we knew how to behave.

    I had a friend with a child back when I hadn't yet had kids. She did absolutely no disciplining of her whatsoever and was one of those people that believed her child had the right to do and behave however she wanted, bugger anyone else around her. He daughter is now almost a teenager and one of the rudest, inconsiderate children I have ever had the unfortunate displeasure of meeting. I vowed that I would never raise my children like that and so far I think I am doing ok. Punky may only be 18 months but there are certain things she knows she should and shouldn't do and if she is doing the wrong thing I let her know. How else will she learn?

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    1. How else do they learn is exactly that! It's not about being mean to kids or being unrealistic, but if no one tells them, they don't know.

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  23. I absolutely agree. I have three children (all grown up now) and I firmly believe that it's never too soon to teach them respect and consideration for other. I'm sure there must have been times when others have found my children annoying but I can honestly say that if I have been aware of it and it was justified then I wouldn't hesitate to address the issue. I chose to have my children, other people didn't. Therefore I am the one who is responsible for teaching them how to behave.

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  24. I completely understand where you are coming from and I love your opening because I feel the same way. I don't know how our parents got away with that 'neglect' in the 70s. We knew how to behave, at least we did in public. Now parents can bring a truckload of toys and the entire interwebs to an outing and the kids will still muck up. I don't get it. I call my kids out too. It's the only way they learn. Cheers for linking!

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  25. Yes to this! Someone tweeted a story last week about a pub who had a sign outside asking people to keep their kids in line...the general consensus of the story was that it was appalling and people needed to be more considerate of children. The person who tweeted it was appalled at this line of thinking and so was I. Mr 5 is usually pretty good when we are at the movies and we go to child friendly restaurants because Paul and I both hate having our meals interrupted by kids and so we offer people the same leeway.
    I remember a post by Eden of Edenland where her and her husband were out for a child free breakfast and a small child from a nearby table decided to plonk himself at their table. The mother thought it was gorgeous, Eden asked him to move. The mother started yelling at her about how much of a hateful person she was because he was just a child. It was inappropriate on the mother's behalf.

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  26. Ah I think one of my posts this week was about having a dinner out with my getting grownup kids and loving not having to do the Hissing Mother thing.

    Mind you, I will always remember sitting in a Sizzler with my kids (it was our Big Night Out place) and with my back to an extremely loud adult crowd.
    When one of the boys facing me, remarked to me, about the very loud man who appears drunk Mummy......I hoped the man was part deaf, but was worried about what he might do.
    I just replied quietly, Yes, he is. And hoped for the best.
    My kids were never perfect, but yes, trying to keep them in line, and trying not to take them to places that are not yet in their abilities is what I consider to be the best way of dealing with it.

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