Author: has written 8 posts for this blog.

Return to: Homepage | Blog Index

776 Responses

  1. Jeff Fecke
    Jeff Fecke June 11, 2007 at 1:59 pm |

    Amen. I understand the antipathy toward children in the feminist community, at least in the abstract — when you’re told that your inherent worth as a human being is inextricably linked to your capability as a wife and mother, some resentment of children can bubble through.

    But as with so many things in the patriarchy, hating on children is misplacing your anger. It’s not kids — especially not other people’s kids — who are judging you for wanting or not wanting children. It’s the dominant society, and that has bugger all to do with children just being inculcated in its dysfunctions.

    As for my daughter — I won’t go so far to say as I always give her a vote on everything. But I will listen to her, and try to accept what she’s saying. And my ex-wife and I have never, ever hit her — and never, ever would. And I find the idea that people still do hit their children revolting.

  2. the15th
    the15th June 11, 2007 at 2:06 pm |

    Children (by which I mean very young children) simply behave differently from adults, and that’s why it’s sometimes acceptable to talk about them in generalizations. I mean, an adult who says that she just loves the wonder and energy of children is going to get a different reaction from a white person who says that she just loves some supposedly positive stereotypical behavior of Asians.

    So should it be okay to say that you “hate children”? Well, no, but no one on that thread actually did.

  3. Vanessa
    Vanessa June 11, 2007 at 2:09 pm |

    Oh my god I agree with you so much.

    However, I do understand the “I hate children” impulse, as being mainly a backlash against American society as of late being so “what about the CHILDREN!!!” driven. And the hipster parents with the kids wearing 30 dollar onesies being pushed around in thousand dollar stokke explory strollers, well, that’s frustrating too. (Although I admit, it’s a nice stroller. If one fell off a truck I wouldn’t exactly feel bad about retrieving it.)

    Also, a lot of children’s charities I find frustrating, as it would be nice to buy the poor third-world children shoes, but it would be better for the society in question to buy the parents shoes, so they can walk to work and then afford to buy shoes for their children themselves.

    I think a lot of this is misogyny at work. When a child is referred to as a ‘crotch dropping,’ whose crotch is it dropping out of? A woman’s. My experience as a mother has shown me that mother’s win the Oppresion Olympics. Everyone either hates them outright or thinks they’re not doing something good enough.

  4. Emma
    Emma June 11, 2007 at 2:30 pm |

    One last point that I think is very important to keep in mind is that childhood is something we have all shared and experienced. It’s the one stereotype or ‘group’ that everyone’s been a part of at some time.

    It’s interesting how quickly we turn our back on our memories of how we experienced childhood and the helplessness associated with it.

  5. Lorelei
    Lorelei June 11, 2007 at 2:35 pm |

    I think a very good reason to consider thinking about children differently is because oppressed groups tend to be infantilized — historically (correct me if i’m wrong, please), it seems that women have been made out to look like and act like children, and I’ve noticed it with black people, too. If we had higher regard for children, there’d be less of a point to do that to people.

    of course, i’ve had 3 hours of sleep, so this isn’t all worded properly or anything…

  6. Elli
    Elli June 11, 2007 at 2:44 pm |

    I’ve been wanting to blog this, and you put it much better than I did.

    Interestingly, I’ve heard young women who identify as “feminist” (or even my fellow deviant nerdy girls in undergrad who were working like mad on identifying as “different”) say this a lot, as a way of distancing themselves from traditional femininity – i.e., “I hate kids! I don’t want to make babies! I’m a Unique Different Woman who doesn’t want a family! And I’m going to repeat that I hate kids every chance I get lest you forget how Unique and Liberated I am!” I find it bigoted and ridiculous, and a lot of times see it as immature lip service that isn’t backed by much real credibility.

    Hey, I’m one of those people who coos at any baby in sight. My sister’s kids are fantastic and I love being an aunt. And I don’t think I want any kids of my own. Child-hatred is not a necessary prerequisite for deciding not to have kids of your own.

    For that matter, hating kids and not having kids of your own is not a necessary prerequisite for being a feminist, your own person, and/or a career-oriented woman. It all seems left over from whatever wave of feminism claimed that success for a woman was such a fragile and unattainable thing that anything else (like a husband or babies) would derail it.

  7. Mrs. Tarquin Biscuitbarrel
    Mrs. Tarquin Biscuitbarrel June 11, 2007 at 2:46 pm |

    Amen, Vanessa, and also to you, Roy. Well-spoken, all.

    Having been an at-home mom for mmmmmmm-years, you’d be surprised how many people think that the brains of ladies like me drop out of their crotches along with the kids. This meme comes from women as well (or “as badly”) as from men.

    On the other hand, I’ve met a number of sweetly wistful men who get unexpectedly–well, “turned on” is the only reaction I can think of–when the mom answering the door is wearing a flour-smeared apron over her dress. Gee, they wished THEIR wives were making hot rolls! When it’s not even Thanksgiving!

    But yeah, kids. Most vulnerable creatures on the planet, and for a really long time. If they’re lucky.

  8. DCC
    DCC June 11, 2007 at 2:50 pm |

    You’re right. The “I hate…” formulation is offensive when applied to any group of people.

    I think what some people who write such things are trying to express (poorly) is a view of their functional relation to children as a group. They don’t like to be around them and don’t want any of their own. Is that narrow and stupid? Maybe so, but people are entitled to their preferences. Why someone would go out of his/her way to tell that to a parent, I have no idea.

    I commonly use the “I don’t really like children” formulation
    1. In response to aggressive questioning about when I’m going to hurry up and breed (men get this occasionally too)

    2. In response to “cult of the child” people who, because their child is the center of their lives, believe she/he should be the center of mine as well. This generally takes the form of fond smiles as the little hellion uses a spoon/drumstick to continuously beat on my restaurant table/snare drum while I try to enjoy a meal.

  9. Ann
    Ann June 11, 2007 at 2:52 pm |

    I agree with the15th. Saying “I love children” is also overly general, but it’s not considered offensive.

    However, I’d like to introduce a fact that hasn’t been mentioned, and which I think deserves further consideration. Being a child isn’t at all like being a member of a race; it is a stage which everyone goes through and which most people leave. I could say that it isn’t like sex or gender either, except those factors are becoming more malleable also. Still, you wouldn’t tell a woman who was concerned with sexism that she should consider gender-reassignment surgery.
    But I digress. My point is that childhood is a phase, not a permanent state. You cannot identify a permanent set of children and work to change their status, because they will not remain children. Children can’t be said to be discriminated against, because they aren’t permanent members of a group. Instead, they will inevitably leave that group and join the “other side.”

    One of the facts of childhood is that children do not generally possess the experience and reasoning sufficient to participate in a democracy. It’s true that many adults don’t possess these qualities either, but we use age as a convenient proxy for intelligence and maturity.
    Our obligation as adults should be to care for, protect, and educate children. When that doesn’t happen, as in the horrors that Roy lists, we should all be concerned and act accordingly to change those conditions.
    But disliking the presence of children is a matter of personal preference. Not everyone enjoys their youthful exuberance and lack of restraint. I, for one, don’t want to hear them at the movies or feel them kicking the back of my airplane seat. I do enjoy seeing them at the park, the beach, and any number of other places where they are allowed to act joyfully and spontaneously. I would almost say that I “love” children, but I wouldn’t want to sound patronizing!

  10. justicewalks
    justicewalks June 11, 2007 at 2:53 pm |

    I think there really is an issue as to when a child attains personhood, which, as we all know from abortion discussions, is a different matter than that of humanness. Like the15th noted, there are generalizable and easily anticipated differences between the behavior of adults and that of young children, and I don’t think being uncomfortable with those differences (which manifest themselves in many facets of life) makes child-averse adults bigots.

    I think the parallel with racism falls a bit flat, too. If there really were differences in cognitive and intellectual capability based on race (ones that weren’t borne out by linguistic or other social disparities), there wouldn’t be anything wrong with pointing them out. It’s the fact that cognitive and intellectual differences along race lines don’t actually exist that makes racism wrong. The same thing cannot be said about the cognitive and intellectual capabilities of adults and children. Anyone who values a sharp wit and articulate tongue will be disappointed by interactions with children who have not attained a certain level of developmental maturity. Here, too, there is a divergence from the racism parallel, in that children will eventually outgrow their lowly status (or die first), while people oppressed on racial grounds will never be so elevated.

    While there may be some 5-year-olds who are worth having a political discussion with, I feel pretty confident in stating that it would be a statistically insignificant portion of them. I don’t feel bad in the least that I may be denying myself the company of that miniscule percentage of conversation-worthy toddlers by limiting myself to interaction with people who can at least read at a college level (note, before accusations of elitism or classism are launched, that one need not actually attend college in order to attain college-level reading skills).

  11. Sally
    Sally June 11, 2007 at 2:54 pm |

    I think a very good reason to consider thinking about children differently is because oppressed groups tend to be infantilized — historically (correct me if i’m wrong, please), it seems that women have been made out to look like and act like children, and I’ve noticed it with black people, too.

    That’s very true, but I think it’s actually a bit more complicated than that. Unlike other oppressed groups, children really can’t take care of themselves. It’s really sexist to believe that women need protection and guidance, but a two-year-old really does need protection and guidance. My one-year-old nephew is an awesome little person, but if you left him entirely to his own devices he’d probably fall down the stairs and stick his finger in a light socket. He really does need to be taught how the world works, so that one day he’ll be a responsible adult. That’s not oppression: it’s just common sense. And it’s really hard to figure out how much freedom it’s appropriate for kids to have at any given stage in their development. So I think this is all a bit complicated.

    Having said that, I really can’t stand the child-hating trend. I hate a lot of the sentimentality and stupidity around children, as well as the compulsory childbearing thing. But kids themselves are often quite awesome, although obviously it depends a bit on the actual kid.

  12. prairielily
    prairielily June 11, 2007 at 3:01 pm |

    *applauds*

    I think I’m going to like having you around this week.

  13. RKMK
    RKMK June 11, 2007 at 3:04 pm |

    I think I feel the need to point out that when I generally grumble about children, I’m really grumbling about parents who don’t actually parent.

  14. snappy mackerel
    snappy mackerel June 11, 2007 at 3:05 pm |

    I really appreciate this post.

    Also, it made me realize how unfair my own knee-jerk reactions have been. I’m prone to saying, “I hate kids!” even though I don’t really hate kids–I hate the ones who are simultaneously rich, white, spoiled, noisy, whiny-voiced, and coated in some unknown but vaguely sugary substance. But you’re right. Those kids aren’t all kids. Those kids weren’t me, by any stretch. Those kids aren’t even those kids themselves, except on the occasions that they’re being whiny-voiced and coated in sugar.

    Thanks for the gut check.

  15. Brooklynite
    Brooklynite June 11, 2007 at 3:06 pm |

    Saying “I love children” is also overly general, but it’s not considered offensive.

    Unless you’re Sara Silverman.

  16. tinfoil hattie
    tinfoil hattie June 11, 2007 at 3:10 pm |

    Children have a right to be in “your” restaurant, “your” airplane, and “your” store. I don’t have much sympathy for the “ick, they’re everywhere” sentiment. Yep, they are. And they have a right to be.

    There are, of course, many venues where the presence of children is inappropriate. Certain concerts, plays, movies, even elegant restaurants come to mind. But don’t blame the children for being in those places.

    It’s easy to “hate” chidren because they’re powerless. It’s much scarier and riskier to approach a child’s parent and say, “Excuse me. Could you please ask your child to be quieter/stop running around the restaurant/kicking my seat?” Because in many cases, the parents who ignore this behavior are the same parents who will become very hostile at your taking umbrage at said behavior.

    And if you live in Virginia, like me, the parents might even be packing.

  17. Yuri K.
    Yuri K. June 11, 2007 at 3:12 pm |

    Homer: If children are so great, why is everything bad named after them? Acting CHILDish? KIDnapping? CHILD abuse
    Lisa: What about ADULTery?
    Homer: Not till you’re older.

    Sidequestion: How many syllables does the word ‘child’ have?

  18. the15th
    the15th June 11, 2007 at 3:14 pm |

    I should also add that I think that the rights of children, especially adolescents and teenagers, is an issue that should get more attention on feminist blogs, so I appreciate that you’re raising it. In my experience, though, the people who complain the loudest about babies in movie theaters (me!) are often the most sympathetic to arguments for the civil liberties of minors.

  19. Bitter Scribe
    Bitter Scribe June 11, 2007 at 3:17 pm |

    Whenever I’m annoyed by a misbehaving child in public (which doesn’t actually happen all that often), I just console myself by thinking that in 20 years or so, that kid will be paying my Social Security.

  20. Kiril
    Kiril June 11, 2007 at 3:18 pm |

    This is kind of overblown. When people say “I hate children,” what they usually mean is “I hate having to put up with other people’s children when other people won’t control them” or “I hate that so much of our public space has become child-oriented that everything has to be made child-friendly so I can no longer enjoy my adult pleasures.” The “I hate” construction is clearly hyperbole, like when I used to tell my brother I would kill him for doing something or other. I never really intended to kill my brother. I was blowing off steam. People who say they hate children are also just blowing off steam, in a way that seems more vicious than it really is because the very thought that children are anything but an unmitigated blessing for all is so socially unacceptable that they end up choking down these thoughts normally.

    I spent 10 years in the service industry as a waiter, bartender, what have you. I hated children, too. But I feel less antipathy toward them as a group now that I’m not regularly on the hook for cleaning up after them. But I still will not be seated in a restaurant close to children. Whenever I mention this preference–discreetly–to the host or maitre d’, I am always answered with “I understand perfectly.”

  21. Ledasmom
    Ledasmom June 11, 2007 at 3:18 pm |

    While I agree with the substance of this post, I still maintain that anyone who doesn’t get at least a small thrill from that scene wherein W.C. Fields kicks a small boy in the pants isn’t entirely human.

  22. Linnaeus
    Linnaeus June 11, 2007 at 3:23 pm |

    As an aside, I believe the Germans have a term for a hostility toward children, which manifests itself either on the individual or societal level: Kinderfeindlichkeit

    (My German’s a little rusty, so pardon me if that’s misspelled.)

  23. Jimmie
    Jimmie June 11, 2007 at 3:24 pm |

    I think your premise is completely incorrect.

    I don’t hate children, in fact my daughters are really quite nice. What I hate (and I believe I’ve seen this sentiment expressed multiply by supposed child haters) is non-parents who have offspring. We see them everywhere these days, from meltdowns at the mall where the parents try to “reason” with the tantruming child to the latest rendition of “Little Drummer Boy” at a $25-a-plate restaurant to the movies. I’ve actually been told by a fellow parent that I shouldn’t attend a matinee if I expect to actually hear the movie.

    Unfortunately, it seems a plurality of so-called parents these days think kids are to be heard, felt and tolerated by all, without regard for the feelings of others. Any attempt to confront either the parent or child will almost certainly result in a nasty confrontation, hence the backlash you’re referring to. What do you expect hapless adults, who are caught in the unpleasant situation of paying good money for a relaxing experience, to do? They deserve peace and quiet just as much as you deserve a night out or a movie with yummy popcorn. For once, try and step outside yourself; realize that a world of people outside your immediate family have to share space with you and try to act accordingly.

    Here’s a tip from someone whose youngest daughter is now in college:

    Next time you want some “me” time, try getting a sitter and actually making the most of that time. Trust me, your fellow adults will appreciate it.

    Jimmie

  24. Brooklynite
    Brooklynite June 11, 2007 at 3:26 pm |

    I think the parallel with racism falls a bit flat, too. If there really were differences in cognitive and intellectual capability based on race (ones that weren’t borne out by linguistic or other social disparities), there wouldn’t be anything wrong with pointing them out. It’s the fact that cognitive and intellectual differences along race lines don’t actually exist that makes racism wrong. The same thing cannot be said about the cognitive and intellectual capabilities of adults and children.

    Yup. Which is why it’s always struck me that bias against people with disabilities analogizes to bias against children far better than race-based bias does.

    If it’s only “the fact that cognitive and intellectual differences along race lines don’t actually exist that makes racism wrong,” then why is bias against people with cognitive disabilities wrong? If being a “child-averse adult” doesn’t make you a bigot, is being averse to people with cognitive disabilities okay, too?

    Children can’t be said to be discriminated against, because they aren’t permanent members of a group.

    By that standard, discrimination against pregnant women, breastfeeding mothers, and people with non-permanent disabilities doesn’t exist either.

    I’ve come to believe that attitudes toward children, the elderly, and people with disabilities share a lot of commonalities. It’s a subject I’ve written about in some detail here and here.

    PS: Sarah Silverman.

  25. Lee
    Lee June 11, 2007 at 3:27 pm |

    Ann, really, that was so perfectly put. I just want to echo the sentiment (voiced by RKMK) that it’s rarely actually the children that bother me, just the behavior that the parents think is acceptable or cute. Among parent friends of mine, I’ve noticed a tendency to not even tell their child “no” when the child hits someone because “Oh, he’s just playing,” and “Aww, isn’t she cute?”. Just as I wouldn’t hit your child, I would expect your child not to hit me. I understand children of a certain age can’t fathom why this wouldn’t be alright, but it’s the job of the parents to reprimand and explain so that their adorable three-year-old with a temper doesn’t become a violent ten-year-old with a potential to cause serious harm to someone.

  26. Blitzgal
    Blitzgal June 11, 2007 at 3:31 pm |

    I’ll never forget the time I sat in the theater watching a gory, “R” rated vampire film and was forced to listen to a mother reading each subtitle aloud to her very small children in the row immediately behind me. They were too young to read, but mom thought it would be okay for them to view a film in which people were disembowled.

    Kids don’t belong everywhere, and there are places in which I can reasonably expect them to be barred. But I’m more irritated by blatant bad parenting than I am with the children themselves.

    I also think a lot of single grumbling about children is due to the fact that we are constantly questioned about our decision not to have them ourselves. Because clearly there must be something fundamentally selfish or inhuman about us.

  27. magickitty
    magickitty June 11, 2007 at 3:33 pm |

    Thanks for this. I have very little patience for people who hate on children.

    Being a kid sucks, because everyone has an opinion on their behaviour, or the parenting style of the parent. And unless complainers have actually had the care of children themselves – and not just a few hours of babysitting – then they should stfu.

    I think hater-people are jealous of children, because they’re living lives without the “filters” that adults have. They are completely impulse-driven, until we hammer that out of them. My three-year old pitching a fit because the science centre’s closing and we have to go home? Well fuck, I’d pitch a fit too, if I didn’t have the behavioural training not to. I envy him his total, uninhibited expression of emotions.

    When people complain about children’s behaviour, I think they’re just resenting the fact that they themselves can’t run around like idiots/be themselves/etc. When I think of the free child I used to be, and all the restrictions and changes made to my personality as I had to become an adult, I’m pretty damned resentful too. But I don’t blame kids for it.

  28. Natalia
    Natalia June 11, 2007 at 3:34 pm |

    I think that people often fall into one of two extremes: Either they profess to lurrrrrrrrv children to the point of insanity, or they despise them and the people who “spawned” them.

    Realistic conversation is needed. Kids are human beings, and they affect everyone differently, and on different levels. The cutesy toddler with the angelic smile may very well be flushing his mom’s shoes down the toilet. The screaming brat on a crowded subway car may bring the sort of joy into her father’s life that most people can only dream about.

    We need to accept the fact that children are neither perfect nor horrible. Only then can we move beyond the cliches.

    Either way, thanks for a thought-provoking post!!! :)

  29. Janet Westlake
    Janet Westlake June 11, 2007 at 3:36 pm |

    Whenever I’m annoyed by a misbehaving child in public (which doesn’t actually happen all that often), I just console myself by thinking that in 20 years or so, that kid will be paying my Social Security

    Maybe. If they’re not in prison, or if they’re not a SAHM/SAHD themselves, doing NOTHING to put into the SS system.

    I think you console yourself more with that nice child tax credit you get now, than you do with the thought of Junior wiping your butt.

  30. Magis
    Magis June 11, 2007 at 3:38 pm |

    You’re right of course. BUT…

    Living in Utah where you can’t go to any but the nicest restaurants without being subjected to a plethora of squalling brats gets to be more than a little tedious. Yes, I realize it’s the parent’s fault. That doesn’t make my eardrums any less pierced or my harmony any less destroyed.

    I do remember a time when children didn’t go to restaurants and other public assemblages until they were old enough to behave. That’s what baby-sitters are for.

  31. Alara Rogers
    Alara Rogers June 11, 2007 at 3:39 pm |

    Thank you, thank you.

    It’s okay to say “I hate arrogant, overly entitled, obnoxious men”, but not “I hate men.” It’s okay to say, “I hate busybody, nosy women who think that wearing white after Labor Day is a moral failing”, but not “I hate women.” It’s okay to say “I hate old people who drive 10 miles an hour on the highway” but not “I hate old people.” And it’s okay to say “I hate children who run around in restaurants shrieking and eating other people’s food”, but for some reason, in this case many people think “I hate children” is an acceptable shorthand for this expression.

    The disconnect is that everyone in America is verbally expected to express love for children, so it’s “hip and edgy” to say you hate kids. However, since very few people in America actually *express* love for children in the abstract, or maybe we’d have better-funded schools, the “I hate” thing is mistaking style for substance. It’s believing that American culture really is child-centric, rather than a culture that panders to the belief that you should buy your kids every toy in existence but totally disregard their needs and wants in every other respect. (Or rather, that their mother should be their virtual slave, but no one else needs to lift a finger to make her life or their lives a damn bit easier.)

    Again, America is pro-natalist, not pro-child in any way, shape or form. “I hate children” is not a hip, edgy way of expressing your rebellion against the culture, because the culture also hates children, or it wouldn’t allow them to be confined in buildings without air-conditioning in the summer heat for six hours and forbidden to go get a drink of water except at lunchtime. We have better protections for factory workers than this. “I hate people shoving the idea that I have to have babies down my throat” might be less pithy than “I hate children”, but if that’s what you mean, say it, because no one’s kids are forcing you to have babies.

    And the argument that children are not discriminated against because they don’t stay children is ridiculous. If I’m poor, and people treat me like shit, and then I become rich, and people treat me well, does that mean they never treated me like shit when I was poor? You don’t need to belong to a class that you can never leave in order to suffer discrimination — ask any bisexual who’s been in long-term relationships with both men and women. You just need to be in that class *now* and have sizable barriers to leaving it. I’d say 18 years is a sizable barrier.

  32. Jasmine
    Jasmine June 11, 2007 at 3:42 pm |

    Wow. Great post, Roy.

    You know, I think it’s fine to say, “No way do I want children of my own,” or even, “I don’t particularly enjoy the company of children,” and I think that with some people who flippantly say, “I hate kids,” that’s what they mean.

    But the level of hatred I’ve seen directed at kids JUST FOR BEING KIDS on a lot of comment threads around the Internet scares me in the same way that DJ’s talking about “wouldn’t it be funny to fuck the hell out of some bitches?” scares me.

  33. Cara
    Cara June 11, 2007 at 3:42 pm |

    I am someone who really does not enjoy children. I remember reading that post and EG’s comments really did make me think differently about the issue.

    I just do not interact well with children (I am an impatient person). But I think that my tendency to express dislike of children comes from the fact that we are constantly told– especially as women– how amazing children are, that they’re great and cute and special and “How could you NOT like kids?” A lot of that anger that some people (I’m thinking particularly of feminists here, since they have been directly discussed throughout the comments) have I think is really towards the society that tells them they they SHOULD love children, and ends up getting misdirected at the children themselves. The fact that I do not enjoy interacting with kids is no reason for me to not like them. The fact that everyone treats me like a freak and a Bad Woman because of the fact that I don’t like interacting with kids is what makes me angry. And you’re right– it’s definitely wrong to misdirect that anger, because kids had absolutely nothing to do with creating this oppressive culture we live in.

  34. Iris
    Iris June 11, 2007 at 3:42 pm |

    I read this post hoping it would end up being some form of satire… and it wasn’t.

    I don’t think anyone who says they “hate” children really wishes harm or suffering upon them, unlike those who sincerely hate a race or ethnic group. Children don’t get to vote, decide their own health care, have sex with adults, etc.- and for good reason. They don’t pop out of the womb ready to make life-changing decisions.

    When I say I “hate” children, I mean I don’t feel comfortable around them. And I don’t like that it’s expected of me that I smile and coo and fawn when I see them- and not just because I’m female. We’re all expected to be pleasant and restrained around other people’s children, and we’re seen as weird and inhuman if we let our discomfort show.

    We as a society are obligated to take care of children, but not as individuals. I think the plight of children around the world is contemptible, and we should do all we can to fix it. But to do my share, it should be sufficient to send someone a check, not to have a child shipped to me to take care of myself. I just don’t like being around small children. Yes, I would be a terrible mother, and that’s why I’m glad I have the choice not to be.

  35. mustelid
    mustelid June 11, 2007 at 3:44 pm |

    One thing about childrens’ rights (or lack thereof): would you ever tell a (insert group here) “Yes, you are clearly being treated in an abusive manner, and that sucks. Just hang in there till the school year ends/you hit the magical birthday, and try not to piss off your abuser.” Happens way too often to kids.

  36. occhiblu
    occhiblu June 11, 2007 at 3:50 pm |

    I tend to see it as similar to some of the misogyny that seems to be common among gay men. If you’re pushed your entire life to love a group of people for whom you don’t have any interest, and if society tells you your lack of interest is unnatural and wrong, then you’re likely to end up reacting strongly against that group of people.

    But I don’t think misogyny in gay male culture is ok. And I don’t think it’s ok for people who don’t want kids to make parents’ lives harder by being nasty to, or about, children.

  37. Jennifer
    Jennifer June 11, 2007 at 4:02 pm |

    I really think you are bundling everyone who hates children together. I say I hate them, but you know what? I hate society. I hate that children are to young to make rational decisions (thats why they have no political power), I hate that they are in my movie theatre at my rated R movie, I hate that I have to pay extra for my car for childproof locks, I hate that everyone assumes that as a woman, I want to coo at the baby, I hate the entitlement that parents have towards getting special privilages for their children, I hate that every damn charity is for children to get Christmas presents and for childhood cancers, because it means less donations to every other more inclusive charities, I hate when I see parents change diapers on tables that are for eating off of, I hate that at my college graduation, I could count the number of babies there because they were boredly shrieking (and I hate that their parents or caregivers didn’t take them out of the gym), and I hate slowing down in school zones when children aren’t even present.

    I think comparing race to age is odd, because its not as though black people turn white when they graduate high school. Kids grow into adults.

    I also think that while all those statistics are sad, they aren’t really about American children, who are the ones I have to live with, and the ones I have to dislike. I might be sadder if the children in my neck of the woods were terrible disadvantaged (BUT this would only be if their parents weren’t disadvantaged, but of course this isn’t so) but the children nearby me, that are at my rated R movie screaming, are privilaged and not going to starve to death.

  38. Jeff Fecke
    Jeff Fecke June 11, 2007 at 4:03 pm |

    When I say I “hate” children, I mean I don’t feel comfortable around them. And I don’t like that it’s expected of me that I smile and coo and fawn when I see them- and not just because I’m female. We’re all expected to be pleasant and restrained around other people’s children, and we’re seen as weird and inhuman if we let our discomfort show.

    “When I say I “hate” African Americans, I mean I don’t feel comfortable around them. And I don’t like that it’s expected of me that I smile and nod politely when I see them — and not just because I’m white. We’re all expected to be pleasant and restrained around other races, and we’re seen as weird and inhuman if we let our discomfort show.”

    I’ve found that the acid test of whether you’re being bigoted is to switch up who it is you’re talking about, and reread the sentence and see how it sounds.

    I’ll leave it to the reader to determine what this means.

  39. louise
    louise June 11, 2007 at 4:04 pm |

    Yuri K, that’s FUNNY… my pre-teen can shove 5 syllables into “MOOOOOM”, so I answer back with a 5 syllable “KIIIIID” and we call a truce. :-)

    Jimmy, I agree with the “non parents”, but sometimes when a child has a meltdown and the parents are trying to reason with them, there’s more going on than meets the eye. My 9 year old is highly functioning autistic and can become quickly overwhelmed- I try to eliminate as many of her sensory triggers as I can, but she has still had episodes like you describe, albeit rarely. Dogs, no matter the age or size, can set her off and many people rightfully feel they can bring their pets just about anywhere, too. Lots of fun…and I love dogs! She’s currently working slowly with a therapy dog at school to overcome this fear.

    What’s weird is that she had a sweet gentle old golden retriever until she was 3 and since has had a pug, but the pug is afraid of dogs, too. Even other pugs- go figure. Likes cats, though…

    I have found that if I calmly ask her to “STOP- TAKE A DEEP BREATH- START OVER” that quite often, she can do so within 3 minutes. And if she can’t, we leave. But the trick only works if I remain calm, reasonable, and consistantly do it just as soon as the first signs of meltdown occur.

  40. Silver Owl
    Silver Owl June 11, 2007 at 4:04 pm |

    In my opinion not many people actually see children as human beings that require almost 2 decades to actually mature into adults. There is a very bizarre expectation that children will be full blown adults by the time they are 5 years old and act accordingly whenever seen.

  41. Cara
    Cara June 11, 2007 at 4:09 pm |

    This post seems to have struck a personal, uncomfortable chord with a lot of people. It’s interesting seeing people try to justify using the word “hate” towards a certain group of people. I say that as someone who has said she “hates” children in the past, and as someone who sometimes slips up and STILL says it. I know that when I say that I hate kids, I don’t actually want to physically harm them. But that doesn’t make saying it okay, and I can’t imagine trying to defend saying it once I’m called on it– particularly if I’m called on it in such a thoughtful manner.

  42. Rachael Anne
    Rachael Anne June 11, 2007 at 4:14 pm |

    Roy, I like you already :)

    To Jimmie, the person complaining about parents attempting to reason with a toddler having a meltdown, please realize that parents cannot win in this situation. A toddler determined to have a tantrum will have one even if the parent gives in, and throws a pony into the bargain. If the parent hauls off and gives the child a smack, there will be even more negative attention than they’re getting due to the tantrum. If the parent ignores the bad behavior, everyone else is annoyed that the tantrum apparently isn’t being dealt with.

  43. thinking girl
    thinking girl June 11, 2007 at 4:18 pm |

    Hi Roy,

    nice post!

    I must confess to having uttered the sentence “I hate children” on several occasions. Is it true? Well, no not really. Kids are fine in many situations, and I’ve met some that I’ve liked, and even loved. I don’t like children enough to want to have one of my own; in fact, for me, that would be a complete and utter nightmare. I certainly resent the assumption that because I have a uterus and a vagina I will automatically at some point want to have a child – and in this situation, a good “I hate children, don’t want one never will” has enough shock value to shut the gender-role enforcer the fuck up. But ultimately, what I hate is being in a situation in which I must share what would otherwise be serene space with ill-behaved children who are allowed to run amok by their parents. I blame not the children for such behaviour, but the parents, who should for the love of god intervene and prevent their children from hurting themselves and bothering others. Some spaces are appropriate for children, others are not.

    I think you’ve hit on something here with the children-as-property’ model. I think many parents think about their children in a narcissistic kind of way, as extensions of themselves, which is problematic for obvious reasons. I prefer to think about parenting as stewardship: children are little unique people, and parents’ jobs are to care for them and allow them to develop – to be stewards of and for their children.

  44. Frumious B
    Frumious B June 11, 2007 at 4:20 pm |

    OK. I only hate the kids who don’t live in poverty, who do live in a developed nation, who aren’t exploited as slave labor, who have shelter and enough to eat, and who aren’t affected by any of the other things in the UNICEF report. That accounts for 100% of the children who I am exposed to.

    I do not enjoy the company of children. I do not enjoy the sounds of their voices, even when they are gurgling in happiness. I do not enjoy them running into me. I do not enjoy them touching me. The problems highlighted by UNICEF in no way mitigate the aspects of children which I find distastful. I recognize children as a valuable and necessary part of society, but I don’t like them. And I get resentful when people come up with bullshit arguments for why I should.

  45. louise
    louise June 11, 2007 at 4:28 pm |

    Good thing your parents didn’t feel the same way, huh? At least you’re honest…

  46. car
    car June 11, 2007 at 4:32 pm |

    I like this post!

    I agree that there are certain places that kids shouldn’t be unless they can act accordingly – a string quartet concert, for instance. However, what makes me mad are the people who think that children shouldn’t be allowed anywhere in public, ever. Yes, I see those evil eyes when you’re scared my kid will have to sit behind you on the plane, but children have to use public transportation from time to time, too. I had a waitress at a definitely NOT formal restaurant lecture me the minute we walked in the door about how they shouldn’t touch the stuff on the walls (it was one of those places with crap nailed up all over for “decor”) before they even made a peep. I’m personally very kid-tolerant, but I also think that everyone should give a little slack for the fact that children are members of society and are going to be in parts of it. As long as the child is well-behaved for its age and/or the parents are doing everything they can to control them, there should be no cause for complaint. Yes, babies cry. Kids throw tantrums. Teenagers look at you funny. Elderly people walk slowly and sometimes talk loudly. Not everyone is a witty, cute twentysomething – it’s called all of humanity.

  47. Jennifer
    Jennifer June 11, 2007 at 4:34 pm |

    louise, that is such a bullshit argument, ala “good thing your parents were prolife.”

    Not to mention there are plenty of parents who hate/hated their children.

    All that says to me is that we need to make sure Frumious B has great birth control options, and an option for abortion.

  48. Alara Rogers
    Alara Rogers June 11, 2007 at 4:34 pm |

    I do not enjoy the company of children. I do not enjoy the sounds of their voices, even when they are gurgling in happiness. I do not enjoy them running into me. I do not enjoy them touching me.. I recognize children as a valuable and necessary part of society, but I don’t like them. And I get resentful when people come up with bullshit arguments for why I should.

    I do not enjoy the company of sports fans. I do not enjoy the sounds of their voices, even when they’re yelling in joy that their team won. I do not enjoy them watching their sport on a TV while I’m eating. I do not enjoy them clogging up traffic as they try to get to the stadium while I’m picking up my husband from work. I recognize sports fans as a necessary part of society, but I don’t like them. And I get resentful when people come up with bullshit arguments for why I should.

    So, is any of the above a good reason why I should spout off at random about why I hate sports fans, wish they would be confined to their own little sports-loving enclaves and leave the rest of us alone, get pissy when I find them in restaurants and my gym because they hog the televisions and watch boring crap, or in general be a jerk to them? Or is my problem with sports fans *my* problem and one I should keep to myself?

  49. Roni
    Roni June 11, 2007 at 4:38 pm |

    THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU.

    I canNOT stand people who say “I hate kids.” I don’t care if they don’t really mean it, they said it.

    If anyone really thinks this country is child-centered, they are in for a rude awakening. In a child-centered society, we wouldn’t have to have a law that says children need health insurance, etc. OK, I’m saving the rest of my rant for my blog.

    But I hope you stay awhile. It’ll be refreshing to see someone who doesn’t hate kids on a top-tier feminist site.

  50. wellie
    wellie June 11, 2007 at 4:39 pm |

    incredibly well said, roy. and well defended as well.

    as someone who plans never to birth children, and as a result, is surrounded by friends and others who feel similarly, i often find myself in conversations about ‘hating’ kids, being annoyed by them, etc… and i’m so happy to have several people similarly comment (RKMK, Kiril, Jimmie, Lee) that it’s PARENTING (or lack thereof) that is what’s truly annoying. people find it so easy to put down about a group of individuals that don’t have the ability to defend themselves, rather than the people responsible for the resulting behavior.

    on another note: i’d like to comment that not only are children ‘radically disempowered’, they are utilized by adults as bargaining chips, tools, and products of persuasion and conformity. case in point: have you all seen this viral video used as an advertisement for the bastard fairies? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k8x14cLGh5o
    while we may or may not agree with what she’s saying, the fact is, she’s fed these lines and delivers them as her own. and while she’s absolutely cute as a button, children should not be used as pawns in political/social mediums.

  51. Iris
    Iris June 11, 2007 at 4:40 pm |

    Come on now, Jeff. I think that paragraph would be perfectly acceptable for someone to say. You can’t force someone to be comfortable with anything or anyone. Right wingers don’t have to be comfortable with gay people, and most won’t, they just shouldn’t legislate their discomfort onto others. I don’t smile and nod at black people. I don’t smile and nod at white people. I don’t smile and nod at anyone I don’t know. It’s not expected of me. But it’s different with kids, even strangers’ kids. All of a sudden, I’m not allowed to exist on my own. I’m supposed to acknowledge their cuteness. And I’m supposed to tolerate it when they run around screaming because hey, they’re just kids. I can’t force myself to be comfortable around them. It just doesn’t work like that. A fact is a fact, and I’m sorry if it’s not politically correct to say so, but it’s true.

  52. Silver Owl
    Silver Owl June 11, 2007 at 4:42 pm |

    lol Frumious B if you have any siblings or friends that will eventually have children and you actually wish to maintain any kind of relationship with them I would recommend that you refrain from telling them how you feel about their offspring.

  53. Iris
    Iris June 11, 2007 at 4:45 pm |

    My point is that it’s expectations that are the problem. I just want to be able to mind my own business.

  54. C. Diane
    C. Diane June 11, 2007 at 4:47 pm |

    So many bullshit arguments on this thread.

    I resent that The Patriarchy and the pronatalists want me to breed white babies. I resent that people see my wedding ring and feel they have some right to inquire after my sex life (ie, “when are you having babies?”) I resent that people see that I’m female and expect me to play babysitter (“can you watch my baby a second?”) or get all gooey about somebody’s kid or some baby clothes.

    And when the pronatalist horseshit piles up too high, and “No, I don’t want to have any children” doesn’t work, saying “I don’t like children” does have a high shock value to it, and can work in getting people the fuck out of your business.

    I had to defend my decision not to have children to half a dozen of my relatives this weekend. This is a hot topic for me.

  55. emjaybee
    emjaybee June 11, 2007 at 4:50 pm |

    Over-sentimentalizing and hating children are just two sides of the same coin. Neither one sees them as they are, as persons or individuals.

    I feel, and have always felt, very strongly that every member of a society has an obligation to the children of that society, both because they are an absolutely necessary societal resource from which everyone benefits and because they are vulnerable and in need of protection.

    And I think what bugs me about the “I hate ill-mannered children” thing is not that someone hates hearing screams or seeing tantrums, but that it betrays a lack of understanding of what *causes* those things–none of which can really be blamed on the child. Either the parents have failed to do their part, or they are not able to get the child away quickly/calm them down.

    A screaming child is, at least up to a certain age, an overwhelmed child who does not know how to handle their emotions, fatigue, needs, and wants, especially in strange surroundings. They are getting attention and demanding comfort in the only language they possess. For autistic kids, this may be a stage they can never grow out of. And there are many reasons why parents may not be able to calm that child or get them out of that environment quickly, which sucks for the other adults but is not really a malicious act on anyone’s part.

    For other kids, behavior is something they should get better at–unless their parents refuse to teach them or pay attention to them, in which case, the behavior escalates. Then again…not the kids’ fault. Which is why we try to intervene, with limited success in the form of school, community programs, and other ways for kids to get the guidance they need.

    Being patient with children and protecting them from harm and taking an interest in seeing them grow up and become productive members of society is a responsibility belongs to all of us, as adults who were once kids ourselves and benefited from the contributions of adults. That does not require us to make everyhing kid-oriented or to have children ourselves.

  56. wellie
    wellie June 11, 2007 at 4:50 pm |

    not to say that kids are “controllable” all of the time. (or that they even should be)
    children are certainly people as well, as many seem to forget.

    sorry, just wanted to get that out before someone thinks that i’m referring to all the hardworking parents out there that just happen to be having a less than perfect day with their little ones :)

  57. Greta
    Greta June 11, 2007 at 4:51 pm |

    I’m floored that you actually manage to confuse the spoiled rotten, entitlement-minded brats in American society with children in third world nations who are suffering from fatal diseases and growing up in filthy, subhuman conditions.

    I’m not a fan of children – not one bit. But when I casually say, “I hate children,” I’m not talking about the children of sub-Saharan Africa, who are HIV+ and sleep in the same garbage dump they pull their meal from every morning. I feel absolutely horrible for those children. What reason would I have to hate any of them? What would wasting the time and effort required to actively hate them achieve? It would achieve nothing.

    These children are an extreme contrast to the little monsters who are out and about in a lot of your industrialized nations. So many American “parents” (if they can even be called parents) give their children everything under the sun and expect the rest of society to bend over backwards to do the same, and if we don’t, watch out! Children in American society are overindulged to the point that they have become sociopathic little tyrants. Too many parents think that disciplining a child, telling him or her no, or setting boundaries will disrupt their emotional development, stifle their creativity, or damage their self esteem, so they are allowed to get away with murder, much to the dismay of anyone trying to enjoy a movie in a theater, a romantic dinner, a quiet museum, or any number of other places where some standard of appropriate behavior once applied.

    Besides, what most people are missing about the phrase, “I hate children,” is that it usually translates to: “I hate people who call themselves parents but have never done one minute of actual parenting in their lives, and therefore I hate what has come as a result of their lazy, ineffectual child-rearing techniques.”

    No child is born an out of control, spoiled rotten brat. They end up that way because of the irresponsible, selfish people who are in charge of shaping them as they grow. All of this is a far cry from the child who is forced into sexual slavery, the child dying of AIDs, or the child growing up in a wartorn nation. In fact, it is sad commentary indeed that parents and children are so out of touch with reality in our society when there are parents and children in other places who don’t even get to drink fresh water or live anywhere with working plumbing. That Tickle-Me Elmo extreme or the XBox 360 may not seem quite as important if they stopped to consider how lucky they are just for having a safe place to live and good meals.

    So maybe instead of getting angry at people who say, “I hate children,” you should get angry at the people who give them a reason to feel that way.

  58. Jimmie
    Jimmie June 11, 2007 at 4:51 pm |

    To Jimmie, the person complaining about parents attempting to reason with a toddler having a meltdown, please realize that parents cannot win in this situation. A toddler determined to have a tantrum will have one even if the parent gives in, and throws a pony into the bargain. If the parent hauls off and gives the child a smack, there will be even more negative attention than they’re getting due to the tantrum. If the parent ignores the bad behavior, everyone else is annoyed that the tantrum apparently isn’t being dealt with.

    I agree 100%. That’s why, instead of subjecting 50-odd people to a bout of “My child is in an inconsolable state where they will not listen to reason”, you act like a leader. Pick the child up, find a private place somewhere (most likely outside), let the child cry it out, then ask them if they are done yet. If they start up again, take them home and put them in their room, with no possessions to distract. Explain that people who act decently are allowed freedom and they will get theirs back as soon as they get over themselves.

    If you don’t lead, they won’t follow. In the long run, we’ll all pay for that.

    Jimmie

  59. Suzanne M
    Suzanne M June 11, 2007 at 4:52 pm |

    Alara @ 50: Perhaps not shockingly, both the ‘children’ and the ‘sports fans’ choices there apply to me. Those of us who really can’t stand children (or sports fans!) are, however, not jerks to them when they’re around. We just prefer to avoid them whenever possible. Is this where the disconnect is for so many people? That no one understands that we don’t treat kids (or sports fans!) like crap just because we don’t like them?

  60. tps12
    tps12 June 11, 2007 at 4:53 pm |

    I don’t really get the animosity towards children. I feel like the people who complain about kids on airplanes, at the movies, or in restaurants would just target other adults with the same grievances were those venues made child-free. Some people just don’t like being around other people, which probably has mostly to do with being raised in a culture that teaches that happiness is best found in suburban seclusion. So yeah, these anti-child attitudes are pretty wrong.

    Old people, though, don’t get me started…

  61. louise
    louise June 11, 2007 at 4:54 pm |

    Sigh… it wasn’t MEANT “that” way… ick. My bad, and I should have known better. Maybe the double post will make sure it got into my thick skull! :-)

    It was the broad generalization brush that hit nerves with me; it was just SO against anyone under 18, regardless of ANYTHING. It’s like saying “I hate left handed people”, even though they have a right to exist. But I did like the sports fan analogy- change that to NASCAR and the people who have to drive like they just missed qualifying, and I am SO THERE…

  62. Reba
    Reba June 11, 2007 at 4:54 pm |

    There was a time in my life when I really did not enjoy being around most children. I chose not to be around them whenver possible and was highly irritated when the choice wasn’t mine to make. Children make a lot of noise, often high-pitched, frequently non-sensical, regularly hysterical and rarely responded to promptly by the supposed supervising adult. But I didn’t hate them and it would not occur to me to have said that I did. I just didn’t like them, which is a totally different thing. You can argue it’s semantics, but hate is a strong word, one that has a history of implied willingness to oppress or commit violence . I believe it is that to which Roy is objecting.

    Now, as the mother of two children and the co-guardian of a neighborhood full of them, I believe that it is the responsibility of the parents (individually and as a loose coalition) to set limits on how children behave in public. My children (and those who accompany them) don’t run in restaurants, throw tantrums in stores, hit anyone (with the exception of light saber/sword play and then there are rules that must be followed), nor speak above a whisper in movie theatres. And they got that way via supreme effort and reinforcement on the part of their parents and other responsible adults.

    At the same, the kids in the neighborhood do run like madmen across the yard, do crazy things on their bikes that I try very hard not to think about, build “additions” to their “fort”, argue the rules of whatever Calvinball game they’re playing, and sing off key – loudly. We call this being kids. I holler at any and all of them for swearing – and that includes any slur about any group – or if they make sounds that indicate that someone might be removing their spleen against their wishes and without anesthesia. For the most part, admonition (and threats of making them find someone else’s yard to play in) gets the desired results. Kids respond to what’s expected of them.

    The problem isn’t children. The problem is that too many parents either don’t know how or don’t care to respond to bad behavior. It takes a hell of a lot of effort to be a decent parent, and you never know if you’re succeeding because it’s very rare that people praise your kids for being well behaved. You hear about it most when they do something wrong, which makes sense in a backwards sort of way. I think it has ever been thus.

    On the other hand, I think the idea that everything should be about the children is utter crap. I do not expect anyone to be nearly as interested in my kids as I am and it would sort of creep me out if they were.

  63. Julie Mc
    Julie Mc June 11, 2007 at 5:05 pm |

    Roy,

    People who say they hate children (and not in a joking way), lack some basic understandings that most of us have.

    First of all, children will reflect their surroundings. A number of scenarios can make a child act less than desirable in public. “Children-haters” do not think to take that into consideration and instead pass quick judgement.

    Now, I am not saying that children should behave certain ways in certain situations, but, like you said, they come into this world as little balls of clay to be formed. They need to be taught.

    Its important for us, as a community, to step up to the plate when it comes to raising our youngest members of society. Too many times, I have seen good, kind-hearted, innocent children get corrupted by the world we live in…and how couldn’t they when there are people walking around that think it is ok to hate them.

  64. sadie.sabot
    sadie.sabot June 11, 2007 at 5:11 pm |

    Hey, thanks for this post. I’m new to the feminist blog world, made my way here and to pandagon and feministing via a friend on livejournal a few months ago, and almost immediately was confronted with some of the virulent anti-child stuff you refer to. I was really disappointed when I encountered it; once again getting the message that there are actually feminists out there who do not have a feminist view of motherhood is always depressing.

    See, here’s the thing. People are trying to find ways to compare bigotry against children to things like racism or sexism, and making analogies like that is often quite problematic, because the things are not the same, so any comparison can be endlessly picked apart. ( a friend of mine calls this “flawnologies, as in, “flawed analaogies”) And also, if you say child hating is “like” racism, then what about kids of color? Or people of color who’ve bought ito this child hating thing (if they exist. my sense is this is an overwhelmingly white, class privileged phenomenon, whch tells me a lot)

    What I think is more useful in trying to figure out a frame for this is to acknowledge that children are targetted by patriarchy. patriarchy is a system that privileges adult, straight, cisgendered (non trans) men at the expense of women, children and youth, queers, and gender variant and transgendered people. Not all targets of patriarchy experience the oppression the same; for example, although the patriarchy has a very special way of punishing queer men, queer men also have male privilege.. Similarly, children who grow up to become straight, cisgendered men move from being a target of patriarchy to being a beneficiary of patriarchy. but children as a class are still targets of the patriarchy. So in a feminist space where people are presumed to have an analysis of patriarchy, it’s just sad to see the child hating.

    the global women’s strike/wages for housework campaign folks have some really good takes on this, taking a look at the ways that the roles of women and of children in families wer changed and reshaped as a result of the rise of wages and capitalism, re-framing women and children (and elders, disabled people too) as “non productive” memebers of society, who’s work is invisible, unpaid, and unacknowledged.

    As for critique of individual parents and how they parent, well….further punishing and isolating people with kids is not going to do anything to help us have a more wholesome, healthy, respectful approach to parenting. And I am skeptical of the claims of overpermissiveness coming from people without kids.

    I think a healthy society is one that, among other things, loves and nurtures children, where the entire community takes an approach of love and reponsibility toward all the kdis, instead of kids being isolated in nuclear families. It’s scary to me to know that there are people who id as left.liberal/progressive, etc, who I wouldn’t be able to trust to keep my kid safe in an emergency situation because they “hate” her just because she’s 4. I wish more self identified feminists were more committed to challenging patriarchy in all it’s manifestations, and in struggling to create a world and society worth living in, instead of fighting other targets of oppression like rats in a fucking cage.

  65. maja
    maja June 11, 2007 at 5:15 pm |

    I think your premise is completely incorrect.

    I don’t hate children, in fact my daughters are really quite nice. What I hate (and I believe I’ve seen this sentiment expressed multiply by supposed child haters) is non-parents who have offspring. We see them everywhere these days, from meltdowns at the mall where the parents try to “reason” with the tantruming child to the latest rendition of “Little Drummer Boy” at a $25-a-plate restaurant to the movies. I’ve actually been told by a fellow parent that I shouldn’t attend a matinee if I expect to actually hear the movie.

    I think this cuts to the chase. Both the words ‘hate’ and ‘love’ are so overused that little is gained from parsing them in this discussion, IMO. The problem here seems to be parents who profess a disregard for other people’s space and property – and yes, it is unfair to blame children instead of their parents. I once had a toddler at a restaurant smearing his food into the back of my coat – his parents couldn’t fathom why I didn’t find that simply amusing. On my last flight a 5-year-old child was running wild in her seat and in the aisle, tugging hair and tearing down books. Her mother couldn’t understand why she had to keep the kid from other people’s property or seated while the seatbelt sign was on, since she wanted her girl ‘to be able to run around’.

    If those parents would say ‘sorry for the tantrum’, I’d perfectly understand and I doubt we’d have this controversy. It’s the ‘you are a horrible person for not appreciating everything my child does!’ that annoys me.

  66. XtinaS
    XtinaS June 11, 2007 at 5:17 pm |

    /delurk

    Bless you, Roy.  And Alara Rogers, at #32.

    If it is a personal preference, then why use the word “hate”?  If you’re referring to the parents or to the poor combo of venue and kids or to society’s handling of children, why say “I hate kids”?  And sweet jesus, I just cannot combine “I merely dislike them and do not prefer their company” and the phrase “crotch-droppings” in any sensical fashion.

    I used to say “I hate kids”, until I realised that words mean things, and words affect things, and that “I should choose my words carefully” means more than just refraining from swearing at work.

  67. Sharon
    Sharon June 11, 2007 at 5:24 pm |

    I don’t hate children and yet I’m annoyed by this argument. It is always near impossible to compare oppressions (and it gets all sorts of progressives into all kinds of trouble) and it definitely doesn’t work here for some reasons mentioned above. I’m also not convinced by the facile “change this word for this word and see how horrible you are” because that tool happens to be used way too often by white supremacists arguing that they’re just as oppressed as people of color.

    We all remember how annoying it was to be a kid. I for one couldn’t wait to be a grown-up and make my own decisions (even if I wasn’t exactly excited to have to make my own dinner). We don’t always remember, however, how self-absorbed childhood and adolescence can be. It’s the job of adults to help children grow into members of society, to learn how they should relate to people, to learn how their behavior affects people around them. No one’s born knowing this, and it makes children difficult and exhausting to be around. (On the other hand, it can also make it rewarding and deloverly to be around children. It just depends on the adult. Both seem, to me, utterly rational reactions.)

    Sure, don’t hate. That’s a goddamn good rule and I try to live by it. But don’t pretend that children are as oppressed as fill-in-the-blank group of people.

  68. PhysioProf
    PhysioProf June 11, 2007 at 5:28 pm |

    In her book “The Dialectic of Sex”, Shulamith Firestone analyzed the role of children in patriarchal society and made some very interesting observations about the evolution over the last millenium of how we treat children.

  69. brd
    brd June 11, 2007 at 5:30 pm |

    Wow! What a wonderful post and my how it raises so many issues for discussion. Here are two that it made me recall. First, my reaction when I found out I was pregnant the first time–I now have four children who are adults. I cried and cried, for I believed I was not parent material. The idea of having a baby slobber on my clothes was not “special” to me. I changed. The day of my first child’s birth was the most miraculous day of my life. What does that mean? I don’t know for sure, except that perspective and relationship can change a person and I will ever be grateful that I have experienced having and raising children, for they have changed my life.

    The second thing is control (exterior force of one person upon another). So many people talk about parents controlling their children in restaurants, grocery stores, etc. Undisciplined children are unhappy children, but discipline (self-control) is something that parents work to build into their children. But it doesn’t happen overnight, it doesn’t happen when parents use heavy-handed control, and it doesn’t happen by keeping children locked out of places. They need exposures so that slowly they can develop internal disciplines. I’m not saying that everything is appropriate for children, but we all need to cut parents with children some slack. It may be a teachable moment for them. Or you may be part of that teachable moment.

    Children don’t grow up successfully with just input from a couple or three people. To quote a viable FEMALE candidate for president of the United States (isn’t it nice to be able to say that!), “It takes a village.” And, it takes people throughout culture investing in the next generation. That’s all of us, not just parents.

    Thanks for this great post.

  70. sadie.sabot
    sadie.sabot June 11, 2007 at 5:33 pm |

    I just wanted to add that emjaybee’s post, #58, is very right on.

  71. Dr. Free-Ride
    Dr. Free-Ride June 11, 2007 at 5:35 pm |

    Is it me reading things into this thread, or are some of the committed child-free people pretty sure that they know what sort of parenting is required to produce well-behaved children?

    I have to say, from the parenting trenches, I’m not convinced it’s always so obvious.

  72. kactus
    kactus June 11, 2007 at 5:37 pm |

    Thank you so much for this. There are no words except thank you. I was in tears through much of this post.

  73. Karolena
    Karolena June 11, 2007 at 5:44 pm |

    Those of you who hate having to deal with children in the public sphere – what do you propose? Locking them up at home? Who do you think is going to end up stuck at home with them?

  74. Natalia
    Natalia June 11, 2007 at 5:46 pm |

    I’m weirded out by people who say that they “don’t hate” kids, as long as these kids aren’t privileged, and, for example, living with HIV.

    I may be going out on a limb here, but I almost feel that the reason why it’s OK to hate certain kids and not other kids has to do with proximity. All those African orphans are far away – they’re not the ones disturbing us in posh restaurants or at the cinema.

    But kids are kids. My aunt (who’s a poor woman herself) once took in an orphan who ran away from his horrible, abusive (Eastern European) orphanage. That kid was grown up for his age, having lost both parents to violent crime. But he was also still child, and I saw a lot of myself in him – the same anxiety, restlessness, the same crying fits, the same desire for the pretty toys. I feel very lucky to have interacted with him, but it was difficult. My aunt is practically a saint for having done what she did – and, interestingly enough, many of her “enlightened,” “human rights-oriented” friends turned up their noses at her when she did it. They tried to hide it, sure. They were just “too busy” to interact with her, until the child was placed in a better home.

    It’s one thing to talk about “the oppressed kids” – it’s another thing to actually experience what they’re going through up close, and to realize that these are STILL children – children who act like children. And should be allowed to act like children, dammit.

    I am honestly puzzled when people talk about oppression and privilege – and say that the oppressed are somehow more tolerable than the privileged – especially when it comes to kids. Kids are kids – noisy, difficult, willful, etc. They’re like this pretty much all over the world.

    I guess I feel as though certain children are being “Otherized” here – especially as someone who grew up continuously negotiating both extremes. I was the pampered child, and I was the deprived child. The former didn’t make me into a monster (right?), but the latter didn’t make me into a saint.

  75. C. Diane
    C. Diane June 11, 2007 at 5:47 pm |

    Dr Free-Ride, when you have parents on the thread saying things like “take your tantruming child out of the restaurant/movie theater” or “hire a sitter if you want to go see a movie,” I would have to say your theory is false.

    Then again, those things are common courtesy. I would ask anybody who’s interrupting the movie (screaming child(‘s parent) or person yammering on cell phone) to kindly exit the theater.

  76. evil fizz
    evil fizz June 11, 2007 at 6:03 pm | *

    That Tickle-Me Elmo extreme or the XBox 360 may not seem quite as important if they stopped to consider how lucky they are just for having a safe place to live and good meals.

    Your average American adult has almost no concept of privilege, and you expect a five-year-old to get it? Let’s be serious here.

  77. SJ
    SJ June 11, 2007 at 6:07 pm |

    GODDAMMIT, THANK YOU for this. People who hate others for skin color, cultural reasons, economic status, and other reasons may never have experienced the lives of the people they hate. But we all start out as children. I never understand this hate. Well put. Where I live, I feel like it’s less acceptable to say you hate dogs than children. This is sad.

  78. maja
    maja June 11, 2007 at 6:07 pm |

    Roy:

    I don’t hate children and never said I did. I have 13 nieces and nephews under eight, all whom I dearly love and spend as much time with as possible. I hope to have kids within the next two years. (I’m sure you’ll say that will change my views on this!) BTW, one commenter talking about ‘crotch droppings’ does not make that a common view. If my using my experiences as an argument is unfair, then so is yours.

    I was trying to say in my post – and maybe I put it badly, I’m in a hurry – that I think this quarrel is more about parenting than children. Yes, kids act out, but a lot of the ‘hate-kids’ feeling is against the parental entitlement that is so pervasive in some circles, not the children. As I said, that’s unfair. Additionally I *do* think that not all venues are suitable for small children, and that parents who won’t put their kids in seatbelts are not doing their job. I did not mean that as a critique of all parents.

    Women without children in this society are often given a hard time. I wish parents would quit gazing at me with incredulity when I say I’m not ready yet – and that my friends with kids would stop sending me literature on birth defect risks for older mothers. My friends who never want children get much uglier feedback than me. I see this argument as a sort of culture war with feelings running high on both sides. I hope we can find more common ground!

    Feministe is my favorite blog, and you seem an excellent guest-blogger – thank you for this thought-provoking article. I look forward to reading more of your posts.

  79. Chet
    Chet June 11, 2007 at 6:15 pm |

    I don’t hate children. But I do dislike parents who act like the entire world is their children’s playground, and expect all other human beings to make allowances for their child. Roy, you’re an entitled parent, and you need to understand that while your children may be a blessing to you; to the rest of us, they’re as delightful as anything else that can’t reliably shit in a toilet and can’t remember to wash their hands before handling the good towels.

    Pretty much from the moment they’re born, children are subject to a world that treats them as much like property as like people. Children grow up in a world with no voice. There are countless rules and regulations controlling their daily lives, and they have absolutely no say in any of those rules. They are subject to the whims of the people around them- people who may or may not have their best interests in mind. Children have no privacy and no right to a fair trial when an adult (parent) accuses the child of wrong doing. Their entire lives are at the whims of people who control what clothes they wear, whether they have a roof over their heads, whether they even eat.

    Right. Because they’re stupid.

    Compared to adults, children have extremely retarded mental facilities. They’re occasionally dangerous to themselves and others, for instance all the children that shoot themselves or others with guns. They can’t be relied upon to exercise sound judgment.

    They break stuff, and since they don’t have jobs or money, they can’t replace it. They don’t know when its inappropriate to shout or use bad language. They’re physically handicapped so others have no choice but to step in to perform the simplest tasks for them.

    In every single capacity where judgment is necessary, a child cannot be relied upon. They’re completely dependent on the goodwill of others – indeed, they and their parents demand goodwill, forbearance, and charity, without offering anything in return. All human beings are required to lie and say how “delightful” your children are; any failure to offer sufficiently ebullient praise is regarded as the gravest possible insult to a parent.

    Being a child isn’t easy. Very little in your life is under your own control, and you’re also subject to your body’s whims.

    Thank God most of the time we were all too goddamn dumb to notice. I really don’t feel very sorry about the fact that children aren’t in control of their lives – they don’t want to be, usually, and because of their mental handicap, they’re simply not physically able to exercise the proper judgment necessary for self-determination.

    Can any of us imagine someone posting “I hate women. How is it disrespectful that I don’t find bitches awesome?” and there being less than serious outrage over it?

    So, women are like children to you? You’re an idiot.

    I don’t dislike children because they’re children, I dislike people who do the things that children are particularly prone to doing. I’d express the same dislike of anyone who kept shrieking in the middle of the movie; that the person who is doing it has a mental disability – like being too young – that prevents them from “knowing better” doesn’t give me back my ten bucks or make my ears hurt any less. Being a child is an excuse – for the child. For you? The parent who brought that child to the movie, reasonably expecting that they would act like that?

    There’s no excuse for you. Neither is there an excuse for misrepresenting people as you’ve done in this post; neither is there an excuse for your attempt to equivocate childhood and being female.

    Children are one of the most easily victimized groups on the planet. They’re targeted for rape/sexual abuse, kidnapping, forced prostitution, slave labor… and they have little to no means of fighting back or escaping from these situations. Millions upon millions of children go without any health insurance in the United States, through circumstances completely beyond their control.

    Oh, and fuck you very much for assuming that just because I don’t think it’s appropriate that you brought your mewling toddler to Le Quiet Bistro, I’m a kiddie-rapist who cancels health insurance as a day job. The people who leave kids out to die are monsters. It’s heartbreaking any time a child doesn’t have an adult to care for them and protect them from the real dangers of the world.

    But I don’t have to fucking like your kid to feel that way, and I don’t have to ignore the fact that a very great number of entitled parents like yourself think that having procreative sex – which any two fucking idiots can do – means that you’re entitled to demand that I help you raise your child.

    You’re not. And when you put me in the position of having to object to your child’s behavior in public, that’s exactly what you’re demanding.

    It’s not your child’s world. It’s a world we share, and part of that sharing is the recognition that there are places for children where adults refrain from adult conduct, and places for adults where childish conduct is not permitted. I respect your child’s space. Why can’t you respect mine?

  80. Chet
    Chet June 11, 2007 at 6:18 pm |

    But we all start out as children. I never understand this hate.

    It’s not hate for children. It’s hate for entitled parents like Roy who can’t understand that there are places their children simply don’t belong – because they reliably act like children.

    That behavior isn’t universally appropriate; and the fact that your child “doesn’t know any better” is no excuse. I don’t blame your child; it’s your job as a parent to instruct and train them, as since that’s your failure, you’re the one to be blamed.

  81. Katherine
    Katherine June 11, 2007 at 6:18 pm |

    Besides, what most people are missing about the phrase, “I hate children,” is that it usually translates to: “I hate people who call themselves parents but have never done one minute of actual parenting in their lives, and therefore I hate what has come as a result of their lazy, ineffectual child-rearing techniques.”

    So, if you’re in a restaurant and you hear a kid crying, is that what you think of its parents? How do you know they’re not decent parents who happen to have a kid who’s tired and overstimulated?

    Kids are going to act like kids. Throwing tantrums and being loud are not necessarily bad behaviors, they’re kid behaviors. Sure, it’s the parents’ responsibility to help their kid learn how to behave in public, but unless you don’t want to allow young children (and their caregivers) out of the house, kids are going to be loud in public some of the time. That’s life.

    I don’t think I want children myself, but I’ve spent enough time around them to know that raising kids is really hard. It bothers me when people without children act like they know more about parenting than parents, and that if parents did things the right way their kids would behave like miniature adults.

    And “get a babysitter” doesn’t work all the time either. Parents (especially mothers) often don’t have a choice about bringing their kids shopping or taking them on airplanes, etc.

  82. Katherine
    Katherine June 11, 2007 at 6:22 pm |

    Chet, I don’t think Roy is a parent.

  83. Chet
    Chet June 11, 2007 at 6:28 pm |

    However, what makes me mad are the people who think that children shouldn’t be allowed anywhere in public, ever. Yes, I see those evil eyes when you’re scared my kid will have to sit behind you on the plane, but children have to use public transportation from time to time, too.

    I’m almost certainly the “child-hater” Roy is talking about, or one of them (despite never saying “I hate children” and, indeed, affirming that I don’t hate children in several different posts.)

    I, for one, pledge to give your children, and all children, the benefit of the doubt. I’m willing to trust your judgment when you make a prediction about whether or not your child can behave appropriately in situations.

    But if you guessed wrong, you need to step up and accept it. If your child takes off on a tear, you need to re-evaluate your ability to assess situations that they can handle. You need to deal with the fact that your child’s rowdy behavior is an issue for the other people around you, and calling them assholes for being annoyed just pushed the problem onto them, instead of onto you, where it belongs.

    You’re the parent. You’re responsible for your child’s behavior; I’m not responsible for finding it inappropriate. I don’t hate children, but when a child has the mental handicap of youth, the parent needs to step up and take responsibility for the child’s behavior. That’s what parents do.

  84. Matthew
    Matthew June 11, 2007 at 6:30 pm |

    That does seem to be a common them, that the response of “I hate children” is used to shock those who insist that everybody simply must want children. Doesn’t make it right, especially when people really start to internalize it.

    Really, we all have an unhealthy attitude towards children and child-raising in our society. People talk about bad parenting; sometimes kids are just nasty little shits no matter how nice the parents are. I certainly was. My parents did their best, but I was a little turd. I got better. Parents are partly responsible for their children’s behaviour, but children have their own individual personalities too. Society also ingraines certain traits (my wife’s parents discouraged playing with Barbies, but my wife got them anyway… relatives get gifts, friends, etc.) whether the parents want it or not. Hell, we bought gender neutral clothing as we didn’t know whether we were getting a boy or a girl; as soon as our daughter was born we were flooded with pink despite our distaste for it.

    It’s the way of things that children will be shits if not all the time, then some of the time. They will impinge on our personal space and be noisy and annoying. Nothing wrong with a little patience, something sadly lacking in our society. I endure annoying children, people who cut me off in traffic, idjits who don’t turn off their cellphones in theatres (something that occurs far more frequently than loud children)… a gentle request/reminder has always served me pretty well.

    Sure I’m up in Canada, but I find it hard to believe that things can be that different a few miles south of me.

  85. Chet
    Chet June 11, 2007 at 6:30 pm |

    Chet, I don’t think Roy is a parent.

    Yeah, I just read that in the other thread. Well, whatever. I don’t think that excuses his arrogant sense of entitlement.

  86. Bolo
    Bolo June 11, 2007 at 6:31 pm |

    No child is born an out of control, spoiled rotten brat

    I agree on the “spoiled rotten brat” part, but I personally know a few counter-examples to the “not born out of control” part. Some kids are just born wilder than others–and it takes years of good parenting to civilize them.

    I don’t know if you meant to imply this, but we’re not all blank slates at birth.

  87. Chet
    Chet June 11, 2007 at 6:35 pm |

    So, if you’re in a restaurant and you hear a kid crying, is that what you think of its parents? How do you know they’re not decent parents who happen to have a kid who’s tired and overstimulated?

    Kids are going to act like kids.

    That children can be relied upon to act like children only makes parents more culpable, not less, for incorrectly gauging their child’s ability to handle quite, adult situations.

    I don’t see how the parents being “nice people” excuses their lapse in judgment.

    Roy keeps saying that we’d never talk about any other group like I talk about kids, but that’s untrue. I’d talk about any group that was associated with negative behavior. For instance, nobody would bat an eye if I said “I hate rapists,” and I’m obviously not saying that children are all rapists, but what we’re talking about here are people who are engaged in behaviors that are unacceptable – I’m talking about the parents, here.

    Roy and others think that parents can be excused for poor judgment because children have a mental and physical disability that makes them prone to that behavior. Sorry, but another person’s disability doesn’t excuse your actions. Your baby didn’t bring himself to Le Quiet Bistro, after all.

  88. Greta
    Greta June 11, 2007 at 6:40 pm |

    Your average American adult has almost no concept of privilege, and you expect a five-year-old to get it? Let’s be serious here.

    No. If you read what I said carefully, you would understand that what I’m saying is that the parents should get this. Of course I don’t expect a five year old to have a concept of privilege or materialism.

    So, if you’re in a restaurant and you hear a kid crying, is that what you think of its parents? How do you know they’re not decent parents who happen to have a kid who’s tired and overstimulated?

    Like another person (sort of) said before me, there’s no reason why a child young enough to cry because he or she is tired and overstimulated should be in an upscale restaurant at 8:00 p.m. If his or her parents are anything close to decent they wouldn’t drag the kid out at an hour when they should be quieting down and getting ready to go to sleep. Sorry, but if you cannot get a babysitter, it is unfair to everyone else at the restaurant, as well as your child, to drag them out at night because you want that romantic dinner. Talk about being “subject to the whims of the people around them- people who may or may not have their best interests in mind.”

    Kids are going to act like kids. Throwing tantrums and being loud are not necessarily bad behaviors, they’re kid behaviors. Sure, it’s the parents’ responsibility to help their kid learn how to behave in public, but unless you don’t want to allow young children (and their caregivers) out of the house, kids are going to be loud in public some of the time. That’s life.

    If a child is throwing a tantrum and being loud, there is a right way and a wrong way to deal with it. Like Jimmie said, pick the child up, find a private place somewhere (most likely outside), let the child cry it out, then ask them if they are done yet. If they start up again, take them home and put them in their room. The more common sight is for the parent to give the child whatever it is they’re throwing a tantrum over, reinforcing bad behavior and ensuring that it will happen again. Either that or they ignore the child because shopping in the mall or getting that espresso is just so much more important.

    Besides, there’s no reason why these kids need to practice their behavior in public at 10:00 p.m. showings of R rated movies and candlelit bistros that lack kids menus or tables that sit more than two. I don’t have a problem with children in public, and I know that there will be times when children misbehave. I do have a problem with bratty, misbehaved children in places that children under a certain age do not belong, period. It’s pretty bad when I go to a film like Sin City and I have to put up with the woman in front of me covering her five year old son’s eyes during an especially violent scene and hearing, “Mommy doesn’t want you to see this part!” I guess mommy wanted to see the movie so bad, she didn’t care that she may be exposing her son to something that, to say the least, could seriously upset him. Again, another child who is “subject to the whims of the people around them- people who may or may not have their best interests in mind.”

    People are selfish, and being a parents is no guarantee that you will be any less selfish than someone without children. So many parents care more about themselves than they do their children, they expect everyone else in society to make up for the care they lack.

  89. Kate
    Kate June 11, 2007 at 6:43 pm |

    I’ve got to say that completely disagree. Children are ‘disempowered’? Excuse me, but if we ‘empowered’ children, most of them would end up dead, maimed, or free to exercise all these ‘whims’ that you speak of with no restraint.

    I agree with Chet: parents shouldn’t act like they’re entitled to inflict their kids on anyone else.

    I also think that it’s perfectly OK to dislike children, while hate might be a strong word. Unlike ‘women’, ‘men’, ‘African-Americans’, or ‘Caucasians’, the group ‘children’ is one we’ve all been a part of at one time or another. It isn’t exactly bigotry towards sector of society. And yes, it might be ‘ageism’, but what it sounds like Roy is saying to me is that children should be entitled to all the same benefits and privileges as adults. Sorry, but if they were, our entire society would be destroyed.

    And yes, I don’t like kids.

  90. Pepper
    Pepper June 11, 2007 at 6:46 pm |

    Greta and Iris: Unlike a lot of other people here, you get it. Bravo!

  91. Brooklynite
    Brooklynite June 11, 2007 at 6:50 pm |

    Like another person (sort of) said before me, there’s no reason why a child young enough to cry because he or she is tired and overstimulated should be in an upscale restaurant at 8:00 p.m.

    No reason? What if your best friend is in town for just one night and the old gang is getting together for the first time in years and your sitter fell through and you think the kid will probably do okay and it turns out you misjudged? You’re free to consider that an inadequate reason, but I’ll feel free to be as pissed at you for staring daggers as you are at me for bringing the kid to the restaurant.

    And of course I’ll wind up getting the daggers even if my kid is behaving beautifully, because there’ll always be folks who see a kid in a nice restaurant and expect a tantrum, and have their evening out ruined by the expectation.

    It’s pretty bad when I go to a film like Sin City and I have to put up with the woman in front of me covering her five year old son’s eyes during an especially violent scene and hearing, “Mommy doesn’t want you to see this part!” I guess mommy wanted to see the movie so bad, she didn’t care that she may be exposing her son to something that, to say the least, could seriously upset him.

    I haven’t seen Sin City, but my four-year-old has watched the 2005 King Kong, and if she’d been a little older when it came out we’d have seen it in the theater. Ditto for the first and second Pirates of the Carribean movies.

    Why have I exposed my kid to such violence? If you’re curious I can tell you. But for now I’ll just say that it was my considered opinion as a parent that letting her see these movies was appropriate, and if I think it’s appropriate, I really don’t give a damn that you don’t. And yeah, if I’d taken her to see King Kong in the theater, there’d have been a couple of moments when I would have covered her eyes and said “I don’t want you to watch this part.” I’d have tried to say it quietly, but I’d have said it.

  92. evil fizz
    evil fizz June 11, 2007 at 6:56 pm | *

    No. If you read what I said carefully, you would understand that what I’m saying is that the parents should get this. Of course I don’t expect a five year old to have a concept of privilege or materialism.

    As I’m reading your comment, you seem to be saying that it is the responsibility of parents to communicate the concept of privilege to their kids. My point is that that’s the sort of moral lesson that is not going to have much effect on the average kid. It just seems like a variation on “There are starving kids in Africa!” “Well, they can have my green beans then!”

  93. libber
    libber June 11, 2007 at 6:58 pm |

    Really great post, Roy. I couldn’t agree more with the general sentiment you express.

    But I don’t think too much weight should be put on the expression ‘I hate children’. Sure, some may really mean it, but as several commentators have pointed out, others really don’t mean it. They mean ‘I hate having to express a certain attitude when I am around children’ or something else which isn’t offensive.

    I occasionally say ‘I hate children’. I have a child, but I don’t hate her (obviously). I don’t hate other people’s children either. I hate when people ask, ‘when is number two coming?’, I hate when people think that just because I am a parent I like all aspects of parenting. I never liked changing diapers, breast feeding (sucked at it, anyway), being woken up 2-7 times a night, calling in sick 3 days in a row because my daughter caught that mean stomach flu, taking my daughter on an 6 hours long airplane trip, or on long car rides, or playing with legos. But, of course, I did all of it anyway, and I did it well (except for the breast feeding). No one can complain about me as a mother (of course, there are lots of things I ought to have done differently but if I have to say it myself: I am a pretty damn good mother).

    But here is what I really hate. I hate how society revolves around children and reproduction (in fact, as some commentators pointed out, reproduction more than children). I hate when airlines let parents with children on before everyone else (even before pregnant women and mildly disabled people). I hate when parents expect me to help at gates etc. because they are travelling alone with four children. I hate when parents don’t make any moves towards preventing their children from kicking my seat. I hate feeling obliged to go to colleagues’ baby-showers. I hate feeling obliged to hold their babies while they go to the bathroom or change another one of their children’s diapers. I hate being asked whether I would ever want more children. I hate that people think I am a bad mother because “I don’t want my daughter to have any siblings”. I hate that people think I am a bad mother because I say I don’t like playing with legos. I hate that people think I am weird because I have a child and say that there are lots of things about parenting that aren’t fun at all.

    Here is what I really want to say to the world. Please, stop bothering me with all your baby-making presumptions and let me live my life.

  94. Catty
    Catty June 11, 2007 at 7:00 pm |

    If you’re in a restaurant and the kid starts crying and can’t be consoled, you ask for the food to go and leave. I used to do this with my goddaughter, and I would apologize to people around me for the disturbance. I wouldn’t sit there try to reason with the child for an unreasonable amount of time. I wouldn’t give stink-eye to people that were giving me stink-eye. I would pack up the food, take her with me, and eat in the car or back home if need be. I would get the hell out and apologize. I loved exposing my goddaughter to museums, to symphonies, to movies, etc- the minute she starting getting loud or acting up, I was out of there to make sure that she didn’t disturb people.

    I’ll say “I’ll hate kids” sometimes out of frustration, just like I’ll say “I hate telemarketers” out of frustration. I’m not an unreasonable person- I expect children to act up. That’s what they do. I WILL get upset if the guardian/parent makes no attempt to curb disruptive and destructive behavior, or often- get combative when you even say a simple, stern “no” to their child.

    I don’t hate children, but I do hate entitled parents.

  95. Dr. Confused
    Dr. Confused June 11, 2007 at 7:06 pm |

    Are children, on average, as poorly behaved as this thread would lead one to believe? There’s a baby living in the apartment next door to me. It was screaming this afternoon. The last several months, if it weren’t for the stroller parked in the hallway, I would have forgotten the existence of the baby. I see children in restaurants, on the streets, and even in my office all the time. They’re usually quiet and well behaved.

    I have been physically assaulted in public before. Should I then decide that all members of the group this person belonged to are evil? (Which group? Women? White women?) Men have harassed me and have sexually assaulted me. It would be unfair for me to hold that against all men.

    But somehow, when a child does something insensitive, it becomes very easy to generalize that to all children (or all parents?).

  96. Goescrunch
    Goescrunch June 11, 2007 at 7:06 pm |

    If it helps, I tend to hate people in general, not just children. When I say, “I hate kids,” it is because I’m pissed off at some kids and am venting. It’s the same as when I say, “I hate men,” or when I say, “I hate women,” or when I say, “I hate stupid people,” etc. I’m certain there are quite a few who are just venting, and they aren’t really investing that much energy into actual “hate”. True “hate” requires effort.

    Mostly I’m indifferent, and just lack interest in interacting with too many others.

    Honestly though, I don’t care if someone hates women. I just won’t be their friend. I’ve never cared to go so far as playing thought police, telling someone who or what they can or cannot hate, or the reasons they can or cannot hate someone. I’ve had people tell me that I’m disgusting because I’m not a heterosexual, and not accept me based upon that reason. **shrug** Their loss, not mine. It’s only an issue when they infringe upon my legal rights, or try to harm me physically. They can call me whatever they like, but they need to leave my body alone, and my legal rights alone.

  97. Chet
    Chet June 11, 2007 at 7:11 pm |

    But somehow, when a child does something insensitive, it becomes very easy to generalize that to all children (or all parents?).

    If it was an inappropriate generalization, why would so many people – even the parents defending their children! – assert that such behavior was “what children do?”

    Should I then decide that all members of the group this person belonged to are evil?

    Did someone say children were evil? Maybe Roy can help you grapple with that strawman.

  98. Lotte
    Lotte June 11, 2007 at 7:13 pm |

    Roy, you asked why we “tolerate” it when people say they “hate children.” It’s the same reason we often say nothing when someone on the subway makes a sexist or racist or homophobic comment: We know they’re just going to turn their aggression on us, and we’d rather not deal with it. Surf over to Livejournal’s cf_hardcore (for people whose childfree stance — and by that I mean hatred of children — was so “hardcore” they weren’t satisfied with the original childfree comm), and you’ll see how very angry and cruel their rhetoric gets. If I hear someone say they “hate children” or “crotchdroppings” or “moos” or whatever, I know I am dealing with someone deeply unkind, and I end further communication with them. No point in bashing my head against a brick wall.

    To the people claiming they say “I hate children” but what they mean is “Children make me uncomfortable” or “I hate bad parenting” — THEN SAY THAT. Sheesh.

  99. justicewalks
    justicewalks June 11, 2007 at 7:18 pm |

    I have to disagree that disliking children really amounts to disliking their parents. Sure, parents of squawking, rambunctious kids in public could probably be doing a little more to control them, but only in very rare instances would an adult require, in the first place, the consternation of another person to keep him from tearing around the room yelling his excitement on having seen a glimpse of a cat, for instance. This isn’t just about bad parenting. Kids, in general, lack self-control.

    Having grown accustomed to living under a social contract, such as it is, I don’t like being around people who feel no obligation to uphold its tenets. I find it difficult to relax if I cannot be sure that current company will not shit, piss, slobber, or vomit on me; hit me; kick me; pinch me; scream unexpectedly and without reason; touch me; steady himself with a soiled hand on my leg; conspicuously pick his nose; or rummage uninvited through my bag should I presume to drop my constant vigil over it. While some adults might also be guilty of such behavior, I can safely, and without fear of painting with too broad a brush, say that every child, every single one, under a certain age (I’d probably say 2 or 3) can be assumed to be insufficiently socialized to abide by the social contract, regardless of the parents’ involvement.

  100. Nebilim
    Nebilim June 11, 2007 at 7:18 pm |

    I didn’t read all the other comments, so my apologies if someone else already said this.

    I think part of the reason is that we (referring to Americans…I can’t speak for other cultures) live in a very black-and-white society. You either fully support something or are adamantly against it. As a childfree woman, even though I’m indifferent to children (I tend not to actively notice them, or people in general, when I’m out and about), I feel like I have to say I hate and despise them because if I don’t, I’m bombarded with a mountain of “bingo-isms” that my fellow childfree brethren are all too familiar with. The media doesn’t help, as most of their precious few articles on childfree people focus on those who just LOVE children, but don’t want any of their own. I don’t love children. I don’t want to be seen as someone who does. But if I say I’m indifferent, it’s, “Well, you don’t dislike them, so you’ll love them when you have them!” It’s infuriating, to say the least.

    I think more blame needs to be put on the “parents” (I put the term in quotes, as real parents would not allow their children to behave like spoiled, uncivilized animals) who refuse to discipline or set boundaries for their children. But the child gets the brunt of the blame because it’s the visible cause of the disruption and the “parents” are generally nowhere to be found.

  101. Nymphalidae
    Nymphalidae June 11, 2007 at 7:23 pm |

    It sucks that kids get the shaft so much of the time, but that doesn’t mean we should give them all the rights and responsibilities of adults. Why would expect somebody who can’t even wipe their own ass to make decisions?

  102. Brooklynite
    Brooklynite June 11, 2007 at 7:26 pm |

    I dislike people who do the things that children are particularly prone to doing.

    Having grown accustomed to living under a social contract, such as it is, I don’t like being around people who feel no obligation to uphold its tenets.

    Why would expect somebody who can’t even wipe their own ass to make decisions?

    I forget. Are we still talking about kids, or have we moved on to open bashing of adults with disabilities now?

  103. RKMK
    RKMK June 11, 2007 at 7:28 pm |

    So, if you’re in a restaurant and you hear a kid crying, is that what you think of its parents? How do you know they’re not decent parents who happen to have a kid who’s tired and overstimulated?

    They’d prove themselves a decent parent by hauling the crying child out of the space right quick.

    I’m a WASP. I am completely open to mocking of WASPs, and our oft-dysfunctional ways, but I come from a stock of people that share the “children should be seen and not heard” philosophy. This train of thought has often been interpreted as denying children personhood, but in my family (both close and extended) it was regarded as a shared agreement that children are expected to behave in public spaces. No exceptions. Children are taught to be disciplined, and respectful. Tantrums are not tolerated outside the home (and rarely indulged inside of it.) I learned from a very early age not to scream in restaurants or movies, or I would be taken outside within 5 seconds to choose to either calm down or sit in the car with a book for the rest of the evening. By the age of 7, I was a respectful, socialized child who could be trusted to be taken out to a nice restaurant, or to a movie. Other people were never expected to tolerate me; my mother (a wonderful, loving person) was simply conscious of the fact that not everyone thought I was as cute as she did.

    I am no way scarred by my parents refusal to indulge in my tantrums; instead, I am habitually respectful and conscious of other people, of the responsibilities inherent in public spaces. I know that it is inconsiderate to talk in movies. I know it is inappropriate to scream in restaurants, or if I do not get my way. I am a mature, functional member of society, and I have been habitually acting this way since I was a small child.

    When I say I hate children, I am hating the parents who are letting their children scream and run up and down the aisle of the plane. As someone so snottily said above, sure, children have a “right” to be in these spaces – but so do I, and I do not run up and down the aisles of an airplane screaming and smacking people upside the head. (As much I as I may like too.) If your child cannot be trusted to act in a code of conduct becoming the situation, do not put them in it. If you think they can handle it, and you are proved wrong, reprimand and/or remove them from the situation. It is really so hard to do? And if it is, isn’t there a strong possibility that this is so simply because you have failed to do so in the past? Think about it.

  104. Raging Moderate
    Raging Moderate June 11, 2007 at 7:35 pm |

    I canNOT stand people who say “I hate kids.”

    Oh the irony.

  105. Chet
    Chet June 11, 2007 at 7:35 pm |

    Are we still talking about kids, or have we moved on to open bashing of adults with disabilities now?

    Being disabled is no more an excuse for inappropriate behavior than being a child is. If an adult is really so disabled that they aren’t responsible for their actions, then some other adult needs to be responsible for them. We do someone a great disservice when we grant them the privilege of living on their own when they lack the judgment to be able to do so. It’s called “neglect.”

  106. Deborah
    Deborah June 11, 2007 at 7:36 pm |

    When people say “I hate children,” what they usually mean is “I hate having to put up with other people’s children when other people won’t control them” or “I hate that so much of our public space has become child-oriented that everything has to be made child-friendly so I can no longer enjoy my adult pleasures.”

    Or, to put it another way, you are so accustomed to living in a fundamentally selfish culture and not being a part of a community or experiencing life as interdependent that when interdependence appears in tiny ways—such as hearing noisy children in public—you feel interfered with and resentful to the point of hatred.

    It does take a village, and we have created a culture in which a large number of individuals refuse to believe they are part of that village, and resent the village. It is no wonder we have a selfish brat in the White House; the attitude of entitlement is selfish and bratty.

  107. Paige
    Paige June 11, 2007 at 7:36 pm |

    For the most part, I agree with the original post–yes, people shouldn’t hate other people. (I thought everyone knew this?)

    My problem–and it’s not really a problem, I’m overstating–with this post is this:
    “in a world that sends a very clear message that children don’t count and don’t matter, it’s infuriating to see someone pile more hate on top of all that.”
    Woah! We must live in completely different worlds! Many many MANY laws in this country (United States) were made to protect children, reflecting that people here think that they DO matter and DO count. I personally feel like I have less rights because we need to protect children so much (I’m talking about how I can’t put what I want to into my own body because somebody thought that my personal consumption had ANYTHING to do with the lives and safety of children).

    I definitely think children & minors need more rights. I can’t tell you how powerless I felt as I watched my best friend fall victim to her crazy unloving alcoholic mother over and over again, and I’m sure that was nothing to how SHE felt. It is extremely unfair.

    However, I don’t think the solution is telling people that they shouldn’t hate kids. Of course no one should hate anybody, but if telling people that solved anything, our problems would have been over long ago. It seems like some people here want to take away someone’s right to express their feelings–and some people, though I doubt anyone here, really do not like children. Are these people going up to children in public places and screaming in their face “I HATE CHILDREN! THAT MEANS I HATE YOU, CROTCH DROPPING!”? Are they actively lowering children’s self-esteem, just because of their age? What about beating them? ‘Cause I thought they were just sitting around online, nonviolently expressing their feelings in a way that poses no harm to kids whatsoever. They are not the ones mistreating children, or making their lives hard, or blocking them from things that they should have a right to.

    I guess I just don’t think it’s a big deal when someone offhandedly remarks, “I hate kids!” Of COURSE it’s really tough to be a kid sometimes (it depends on where you are & who your parents are; you keep saying it’s so tough to be a kid, but I had the easiest time in the world, thank god!–I know it’s not that easy for everyone)! Somehow, I don’t think the fact that it’s tough to be a kid has anything to do with a few people on the internet not liking their tantrums.

  108. Chet
    Chet June 11, 2007 at 7:41 pm |

    It is no wonder we have a selfish brat in the White House; the attitude of entitlement is selfish and bratty.

    You mean like the entitlement displayed by people like you, who think they’re entitled to have the whole village drop whatever it’s doing to help raise their child?

    Yeah, that is fundamentally selfish, when you get right down to it.

  109. Corwin3083
    Corwin3083 June 11, 2007 at 7:43 pm |

    I hate children.

    Oh, in the abstract, I understand why children are necessary, and even good. But particular children? I detest them. It doesn’t matter how they behave. It doesn’t matter how their parents behave. I don’t want to have anything to do with them. I dislike them because they’re children.

    Am I going to do anything about this? No. Obviously not. (And frankly, I don’t much like you, either, for suggesting it.) Like I said, I understand why we need children. I’m even willing to do things for yours, as long as I don’t have to have any contact with them, e.g. pay higher taxes to fund schools.

    But I still hate children. And that doesn’t make me a bad person.

  110. Betsy
    Betsy June 11, 2007 at 7:46 pm |

    I don’t know where to begin. When you compare the hatred of children’s behavior that’s expressed in weblogs with forced prostitution and rape, that’s just laughable. Those of us who hate children and aren’t afraid to say so aren’t hurting anything but their parents’ feelings. Children behave differently than adults and it’s ridiculous to pretend they don’t.

    Childhood is a temporary state; it’s not like race or gender that is immutable. An individual is going to be the target of this “bigotry” for only a few years, then they join the dominant group.

    I’ve been a feminist all my life and one reason is that I think feminism includes the freedom to not be a parent if I don’t want to be and to not have people assume that just because I have ovaries I’m interested in their children or anybody’s children. I’m not. You know, my parents weren’t crazy about small children either. They were glad when I got old enough to be pleasant company.

    For what it’s worth, I vote for all school bond issues and want children to be cared for. I just don’t want to be around them.

  111. evil fizz
    evil fizz June 11, 2007 at 7:46 pm | *

    If you think they can handle it, and you are proved wrong, reprimand and/or remove them from the situation.

    And I wish you good luck with that strategy on transatlantic flights.

  112. evil fizz
    evil fizz June 11, 2007 at 7:48 pm | *

    You mean like the entitlement displayed by people like you, who think they’re entitled to have the whole village drop whatever it’s doing to help raise their child?

    But I still hate children. And that doesn’t make me a bad person.

    Is there a reason everyone’s so damn proud of their misanthropy?

  113. car
    car June 11, 2007 at 7:52 pm |

    Exactly how do you all propose that kids learn how to act in public if you don’t want them ever to be there?

    How do you think children will turn out if they absorb the message that most adults can’t stand to be around them?

    Barbara Kingsolver wrote an excellent essay called “Somebody’s Baby” about this very subject. It’s a little geared more towards funding support networks for families, but it also goes into the way people treat children in public as if they were toxic waste. I’ll quote a little bit of it for the flavor:
    “Presuming children to be their parets’ sole porperty and responsibility is, among other things, a handy way of delcaring problem children to be someone else’s problem, or fault, or failure. It’s a dangerous remedy; it doesn’t change the fact that somebody else’s kids will ultimately be in your face demanding now with interest what they didn’t get when they were smaller and had simpler needs. Maybe in your face means breaking and entering, or maybe it means a savings and loan scam. ”

    “Here in the land of plenty a child dies from poverty every fifty-three minutes, and tv talk shows exhibit teenager who pierce their flesh with safety pins and rip off their parents every way they know how. All these punks started out as somebody’s baby. How on earth, we’d like to know, did they learn to be so isolated and selfish?”

  114. beatrice
    beatrice June 11, 2007 at 7:53 pm |

    I took my six week old daughter to the post office today. She got annoyed, while we were standing in line. She screamed for a while. I’m sure it was annoying for many of the people in line – it was annoying for ME, that’s for sure – but without a live-in nanny, I have to take my kid with me when I run errands. Even if she screams, I have to get groceries, buy stamps, etc. I can’t shut myself up in the house with the kid until she’s reached some magic age where she’s allowed in society.
    The funny thing is that I know people who expect me to do just that. They don’t LIKE kids, and they seem to believe that their “right” to not be around children trumps my right to….you know. Leave the house occasionally to go somewhere other than the park or other child-oriented space.

  115. libber
    libber June 11, 2007 at 7:57 pm |

    I understand why children are necessary, and even good

    Some children are necessary but don’t forget that earth is already vastly overpopulated. I think people promote baby-making because they want more people like themselves. Americans want more americans, catholics want more catholics, republicans want more republicans, and so on.

  116. philosophizer
    philosophizer June 11, 2007 at 7:59 pm |

    this thread made me think about how much people have invested in thinking of themselves as good people. (it’s one of the few helpful things that comes from hating oneself – you already know you’re a bad person, so you don’t waste any energy trying to prove otherwise :) .) not everything you do, say, or feel is going to be good. you have to learn to cope.

    sorry, off topic. i’ll try to get back on topic by adding that the problem with having children is that you can’t give them back when you’re done with them. *that’s* why I hate children – i’m the opposite of most people, where i don’t have a problem with *actual* children, but with the idea of small people made out of other people that don’t make sense when they talk and are so easily damaged. they’re really frightening, when you think about it.

    but i don’t try to claim that this doesn’t make me a bad person – just add it to the list of my sins…

  117. C. Diane
    C. Diane June 11, 2007 at 8:00 pm |

    Deborah: Infants do not have a right to be at a midnight showing of Return of the King. (At least that baby’s parents took it out of the theater when it started to cry. Probably missed half the movie, though.)

    It’s not “hearing noisy children in public” that drives people batty. Kids running around in the park or their yard and making noise is one thing. Kids running around in restaurants or other places where quiet is to be expected and making noise is something entirely different, and it’s the LATTER we are objecting to.

    What’s so bloody hard to understand?

    (evil fizz, what, no love for Deborah’s misanthropy? Let me help:
    Or, to put it another way, you are so accustomed to living in a fundamentally selfish culture and not being a part of a community

    Like we don’t get the “OMG, you don’t want kids? You’re SO SELFISH!!!” all the freaking time.)

  118. Corwin3083
    Corwin3083 June 11, 2007 at 8:02 pm |

    It’s a facet of the modern age that people want to stop apologizing for characteristics that offend the majority, yet can’t be changed.

    Please, don’t suggest that my misanthropy is comparable in degree to anything that pretty much anyone else lives with. I know that it’s not.

    But it’s still not gonna change, I’ll still hate children tomorrow. And since I read this blog, regularly, I figured that I’d throw my point of view out there.

  119. Chet
    Chet June 11, 2007 at 8:02 pm |

    And I wish you good luck with that strategy on transatlantic flights.

    So the rest of us are just supposed to STFU and never think any bad thoughts ever about your poor judgment? Fuck off.

    Once as a kid, I fell asleep on an airplane and didn’t wake up until we were landing. Since I hadn’t yawned or chewed or anything, the pressure differential on my eardrums was excruciating. I remember bawling from the pain. Shit happens. At least now I have the awareness to be embarrassed about what a holy terror I was, and I wish I could apologize to everyone who had to hear it.

    Is there a reason everyone’s so damn proud of their misanthropy?

    It’s no more misanthropic to object to being asked to take care of someone else’s child – not asked, demanded – than it is to object to being demanded to gestate someone else’s fetus.

    Contraception was invented, and I and others use it, so that we don’t have our own children to take care of at this point in time. It should go without saying that I don’t want to fucking take care of your children, too. If it takes a village – maybe I don’t want to live in your village. Nannies get paid for that shit. I’m supposed to do it for free? (Parents don’t get paid either, I know, but at least they volunteered.) Because your child is going to grow up to be so fucking special that I benefit, somehow? I doubt it.

    If other unrelated people having sex suddenly obligates me to care for their children, explain how I don’t suddenly have the right to climb into their bedrooms and insist on contraception?

  120. car
    car June 11, 2007 at 8:03 pm |

    You mean like the entitlement displayed by people like you, who think they’re entitled to have the whole village drop whatever it’s doing to help raise their child?

    There’s a difference between expecting the village to help raise their child, and expecting the village not to act like a pompous ass when an infant is tired and hungry and starts to cry. Much of the problem is that people who aren’t around children much lump them all into one group, so the 8 year old who really should know better than to run around yelling is the same as the 3 year old who is overtired and having a tantrum who is the same as the baby who is hungry and crying. Children do have to learn how to control their bodies and emotions and manners, and it takes a lot of practice.

    I do not run up and down the aisles of an airplane screaming and smacking people upside the head. (As much I as I may like too.) If your child cannot be trusted to act in a code of conduct becoming the situation, do not put them in it. If you think they can handle it, and you are proved wrong, reprimand and/or remove them from the situation. It is really so hard to do?

    As was mentioned before, on a plane, yes. There’s really nowhere else on the plane to go. And would you like to explain to the two year old why her ears are bursting with pain? I’m sure she’ll listen to your explanation and quite rationally make the decision to stop crying about it.

  121. evil fizz
    evil fizz June 11, 2007 at 8:08 pm | *

    So the rest of us are just supposed to STFU and never think any bad thoughts ever about your poor judgment? Fuck off.

    Dude, grow up. My point is that removing a child from a tense situation is not always possible. Unhappy and/or obnoxious people in confined spaces are frustrating, but my point is that there is nothing to be done about it.

  122. car
    car June 11, 2007 at 8:09 pm |

    I really hope that none of the people who are so upset by the presence of children ever talk on a cell phone in public. Because that’s rude, and annoying, and distracting, and loud. Damn, I hate people who do that.

  123. libber
    libber June 11, 2007 at 8:12 pm |

    Much of the problem is that people who aren’t around children much lump them all into one group, so the 8 year old who really should know better than to run around yelling is the same as the 3 year old who is overtired and having a tantrum who is the same as the baby who is hungry and crying. Children do have to learn how to control their bodies and emotions and manners, and it takes a lot of practice

    Doesn’t mean everyone has to feel good about being around a 3 year old who is overtired or is having a tandrum. It’s (among other things) the expectation that I am not going to be irritated that irritates me.

  124. Bracken
    Bracken June 11, 2007 at 8:14 pm |

    . They set the bar pretty high, but I’m up to the challange, I think.

    It’s a high bar, but forget trying to reach it. Get off the dictionary you’re surely standing on, open it, and use it.

  125. Pepper
    Pepper June 11, 2007 at 8:19 pm |

    Speaking as a disabled (from birth) woman with two degrees, a successful career and a wonderful (NON-disabled thankyouverymuch) boyfriend I’m finding it very offensive that many people here are lumping all disabled people into the category of low-functioning, institution-bound, drool-drenched spazoids with nothing to contribute to society. And on top of that, comparing us to CHILDREN. Did you really think it was OKAY to make such comments, or did you just assume that none of us could read?

    What a truly fantastic way to show how enlightened you are.

  126. Chet
    Chet June 11, 2007 at 8:19 pm |

    So, no, I’m actually not an entitled parent.

    Fair enough, and I apologize. I didn’t see where you had said that in the other thread until now.

    But it certainly doesn’t obviate your extensive, breathtaking arrogance and entitlement.

    Children are not “stupid.” They lack education and experience.

    You could sit a 2-year-old down through a complete medical education and they still wouldn’t be able to perform surgery. It’s not just that they’re ignorant and inexperienced.

    Their brains literally don’t work as well. They have a debilitating brain disability; it’s called being young. They have a physiological detriment to their ability to reason, think, and exercise judgment. I don’t know why something so obvious is something you’re having a problem with.

    Your attitude towards children is exactly the kind I’m talking about- You’ve have a bad experience, and now you’re generalizing it out as though all children have done you wrong.

    I’m not the one generalizing. We wouldn’t describe that behavior as “acting like a kid” if it wasn’t how kids acted. I don’t understand how you can simultaneously excuse the behavior of all children as being a result of being a child, and then deny – out of the other side of your mouth I guess – that children, in general, act that way.

    The difference is that if I stood behind you shrieking during a movie, you wouldn’t generalize that to all 28 year old white males. You wouldn’t say “I hate white males.”

    I’ve not now, nor have I ever said “I hate children,” and I’ll thank you to stop pretending like I have. And again, I’m not the one generalizing. If that’s not how children – in general – act, then why are you and others rationalizing that behavior as “how children act?” You can’t have it both ways, Roy.

    I was drawing a comparison between bigotry towards children and bigotry towards other groups. I wasn’t claiming that it was exactly the same- only that we should be concerned about bigotry in all forms, and that I found it troubling that people felt entitled to ignore bigotry towards children.

    It’s not bigotry to object to inappropriate behavior. That’s all I’ve ever objected to about children. You’re the one who attempted to excuse that behavior as “how children act;” how is that not exactly the bigotry you’re accusing me of?

    Talking about the many ways that children are at the mercy of the world around them does not say that you are personally responsible for the things listed. Do you assume that everyone thinks you’re personally a rapist when we talk about the numbers of women who are raped every year?

    Oh, I’m sorry. I didn’t realize it was a complete non sequiter. I guess I should never pretend like your sentences have anything to do with those that have come immediately before, right?

    You’d call bullshit on someone who said “You know, I was thinking about the stuff Roy likes to do; incidentally, one in three women will be raped by a man in their lifetime.” I’m calling the same bullshit on you.

    So, if somebody is drunk in the bar and you find it annoying, do you feel like that person’s parent, too?

    When their behavior becomes a problem for those around them, yeah, I do feel like their parent, and I resent them for making choices that put me in that position. Just as I resent parents whose obliviousness puts me in the position of having to either control their rowdy child for them or suffer his or her behavior.

    You take a handful of times where something goes wrong, and you act like it’s the norm, and you demonize and denigrate children and parents as though they’re horrible selfish monsters.

    I’ve done no such thing, and now I offer you the same advice to read closer. I have no problem with children and parents the vast majority of the time.

    Congratulations on a post even more disingenuous and purposefully misrepresentative than the one that opened this thread, Roy. If this is the quality of discourse we can expect from your week here, I guess I’ll see all the rest of you in a week.

  127. Chet
    Chet June 11, 2007 at 8:25 pm |

    There’s a difference between expecting the village to help raise their child, and expecting the village not to act like a pompous ass when an infant is tired and hungry and starts to cry.

    If he’s tired and hungry, whose fault is that?

    There’s really nowhere else on the plane to go.

    Oh, I see. I have to STFU and listen to your bawling child, but you have the right to a flight perfectly free of my annoying objections. Fuck off. Add the expectation of a double standard to the rapidly growing list of bullshit parental entitlements.

    Unhappy and/or obnoxious people in confined spaces are frustrating, but my point is that there is nothing to be done about it.

    Except, apparently, demand that those frustrated people raise na’ry a peep about it. Your bad parenting suddenly ears you the right to a hassle-free flight? How the hell does that work?

    I really hope that none of the people who are so upset by the presence of children ever talk on a cell phone in public.

    Yeah, I don’t. I excuse myself to a secluded, out-of-the-way area and conduct my business quickly and quietly – because I’m considerate of those around me.

    And on top of that, comparing us to CHILDREN. Did you really think it was OKAY to make such comments, or did you just assume that none of us could read?

    Hey, remember the rule? “If it doesn’t describe you, it’s not about you.” If you can read this, you weren’t one of the disabled people being talked about.

  128. Sailorman
    Sailorman June 11, 2007 at 8:26 pm |

    I am sort of surprised nobody has said this yet, on such a parental thread, but:

    Hate is a Very Strong Word.*

    Heh.

    As a parent of three the “hate kids” thing doesn’t bother me.

    Why? because in the U.S., CHILD hate is different from “normal” hate. “normal” hate manifests itself in beatings; in rapes; in fights; in, well… “hateful” behavior.

    Hating kids, on the other hand? Usually dirty looks. A lot of “shushing.” Bad seating. Complaining, whining, voting against Little League using the town fields… it is nothing like the “normal” results of hate that we see every day. The term “hating kids” usually refers to avoidance behavior. It’s not overtly aggressive behavior. And as such, it’s not nearly as problematic as all those other kinds of hate.

    I don’t “hate kids” fortunately, because I have three. but I have an extraordinarily strong dislike for other people’s kids if they are behaving like hellions, and I do my damndest to keep my own kids from behaving that way.

    I mean, it’s not that hard. really. the first time my wife and I went out to eat with our (now 3 and 5) year old kids, we hadn’t been there 5 minutes before they cracked up. I left (with screaming kids), my wife got the takeout and paid the confused waiter, and we went home.

    Most of those hatred things come because parents (not the kids) make the decision that it is more important to please their children (or the parents) than to please random strangers. [shrug] It’s not that I’ve never done it myself, but if I do then it seems pretty obvious that the strangers will be pissed, ya? I don’t mind pissing people off sometimes (just like they don’t mind pissing me off–BOY do I hate smokers!) but I’m not going to dodge the results of my own decision making.

    *also, Never is a Very Long Time. I heard bot these things a lot growing up.

  129. car
    car June 11, 2007 at 8:28 pm |

    It’s no more misanthropic to object to being asked to take care of someone else’s child – not asked, demanded – than it is to object to being demanded to gestate someone else’s fetus.

    God. You’re not being asked to take care of it, you’re being asked to not pile on to the parents when a child acts up by calling them horrible people who obviously have no right to have children, to not yell at the kids in question, and to not sigh melodramatically and say how children knew how to behave in your day. It’s asking for a modicum of tolerance. Is it so much of an imposition on your life that maybe once a month or so you happen to hear a crying child for 5 minutes somewhere in the public arena?

  130. Anne
    Anne June 11, 2007 at 8:29 pm |

    When I say “I hate children” there are usually a couple reasons behind it.

    1) I say it when I mean I really hate the children’s unruly behavior mostly due to the irresponsibility of their parents. I understand how kids are – I used to be one, I have siblings and nieces and cousins and my friend’s children.I know there are times when kids will be kids and I expect and understand it. They’ll cry and have tantrums when they’re tired and they’ll do annoying, rude things because they don’t know better, but I know kids can also be taught to behave properly in public and there are places where adults shouldn’t bring children.
    1A) I don’t expect parents to stay locked in their homes until their children are older, but I expect them to either get a babysitter or just not go someplace that isn’t meant for children – like scary movies or certain restaurants. Parents who bring their children to inappropriate places are selfish and rude. Everyone else’s evening is disrupted or possibly spoiled by their rowdy, rude behavior and the children are subjected to environments that aren’t good for them.

    1B) Like I said, I understand and expect that kids will do annoying, rude things because they don’t know any better, but I expect the parents to do something to teach them or to even attempt to stop or curb their behavior and it pisses me off when they don’t.
    For example, I was running on a track in the park when a child suddenly jumped out from the bushes to run across the track to get to his dad, almost knocking me (and himself) over in the process. I realize that he’s just a kid and didn’t know any better, but how his parents dealt with it is what really got me. The father just looked at me with this somewhat vacant expression on his face that said “I don’t care.” He didn’t tell his kid to apologize to me for almost knocking me over and he didn’t tell his kid that it’s bad to jump out in front of any kind of traffic (foot traffic, bike traffic, or cars) without looking or waiting until it’s safe because people can’t always stop and he’ll get hurt or worse. He’s teaching and allowing his child to be rude, not care that he’s being rude, and to do dangerously stupid things.

    2) I say it when I’m not in the mood to gush over someone’s kid and those around me decide something is wrong with me because I’m a woman and I’m not gushing over a kid. Watching their reaction to me saying “I hate children” amuses me and then I’m able to cool down from their sexist comments.

  131. Brooklynite
    Brooklynite June 11, 2007 at 8:33 pm |

    So the rest of us are just supposed to STFU and never think any bad thoughts ever about your poor judgment?

    Why is it poor judgment to get on a plane with a child? In what sense is that “poor judgment”?

    Kids will cry on planes sometimes. Parents can minimize it, but they can’t prevent it entirely. If you say it’s “poor judgment” for a parent to take a kid on a plane, what you’re really saying is that you have more of a right to be on that plane than a kid does.

    And I’m saying that no, a person’s right to exist in public space is not contingent on his or her ability to ensure that he or she will never, because of circumstances beyond his or her control, inconvenience or annoy anyone else.

    When I’m out with my child, or my cognitively disabled sister, or my getting-on-in-years grandmother, we have an obligation to minimize the extent to which the behaviors that accompany youth, or disability, or age impose on others. But others have a reciprocal obligation to cut us some slack, and to accept some inconvenience or annoyance good-naturedly.

    It’s no more appropriate to get annoyed about an infant crying on an airplane than it is to get annoyed about a person in a wheelchair delaying the crosstown bus while he or she gets on and off. It’s not your airplane, and it’s not your bus, and if you don’t feel like accommodating the other passengers, you can just stay home and leave the public sphere to the folks who are capable of behaving like decent human beings.

  132. Pepper
    Pepper June 11, 2007 at 8:35 pm |

    Hey, remember the rule? “If it doesn’t describe you, it’s not about you.” If you can read this, you weren’t one of the disabled people being talked about.

    Oh, I see. It’s not ME you’re talking about, so why should I care? It’s nice to know that there are disabled people that it’s OKAY to make fun of. Be sure to pass that on next time you run into one of the spaz-os (assuming they can understand you, of course).

  133. Chet
    Chet June 11, 2007 at 8:36 pm |

    You’re not being asked to take care of it,

    As a matter of fact, Deborah is asking me to take care of “it.” “It takes a village to raise a child.”

    you’re being asked to not pile on to the parents when a child acts up by calling them horrible people who obviously have no right to have children, to not yell at the kids in question, and to not sigh melodramatically and say how children knew how to behave in your day.

    I don’t do any of those things. I’ve never, ever confronted a parent about their unruly child. A lot of times I wish I had, but I don’t have that kind of courage.

    Is it so much of an imposition on your life that maybe once a month or so you happen to hear a crying child for 5 minutes somewhere in the public arena?

    One our one night a month out? When my wife and I have blown our scant discretionary funding for the month on a nice, enjoyable, quiet dinner together and an interesting movie?

    Yeah, it is just a bit of a fucking imposition, thank you so very fucking much. What the hell is your baby doing at Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon in the first place?

  134. Chet
    Chet June 11, 2007 at 8:40 pm |

    And I’m saying that no, a person’s right to exist in public space is not contingent on his or her ability to ensure that he or she will never, because of circumstances beyond his or her control, inconvenience or annoy anyone else.

    Uh, as a matter of fact, it is contingent on a person’s ability to ensure that they won’t violate essential courtesies and boundaries. That’s why we imprison criminals. I’m not saying your child is a criminal.

    The circumstances might very well have been beyond the child’s control, but they certainly weren’t beyond yours. I do have more of a right to be on an airplane than you and your child – because I’m considerably more qualified, by virtue of age and experience, to ensure I won’t violate essential courtesies.

  135. Anne
    Anne June 11, 2007 at 8:54 pm |

    So the rest of us are just supposed to STFU and never think any bad thoughts ever about your poor judgment?

    In some instances, yes. If you’re on a plane that is a public, family area. Families have to travel sometimes. If I have a headache and there is a young child crying behind me I will STFU and deal because 1) I’m in a public, family zone. 2) a crying child can’t always help it and parents can’t always stop it. If I’m in a grocery store and a child is having a tantrum because she wants a piece of candy, I’ll STFU and deal and allow the parents to do what they need to do (which sometimes involves ignoring the tantrum) to teach the child not to throw tantrums anymore. It may be grating to hear it, but I expect it in those places and I don’t let it bother me.
    You can be angry when the child sitting behind you on the plane keeps hitting you over the head with their toys and their parents do nothing to stop them or apologize to you, but if he/she is just crying or making noise then, yeah, deal with it.
    You can be angry with a child is making a lot of noise in a movie that is meant for adults because that is an area they shouldn’t be. But if it’s a family movie, then you might have to deal with it.

  136. beatrice
    beatrice June 11, 2007 at 8:57 pm |

    Wait a minute – so you have more right to travel than I do, because my child may violate an “essential courtesy” by crying?

  137. EG
    EG June 11, 2007 at 9:03 pm |

    Doesn’t mean everyone has to feel good about being around a 3 year old who is overtired or is having a tandrum. It’s (among other things) the expectation that I am not going to be irritated that irritates me.

    I don’t believe anybody is asking you not to be irritated. I believe that what’s being expected here is that you act like the adult you claim to be, put your irritation in perspective, perhaps by contemplating how, when you leave the grocery store and go home, you don’t have to listen to the kid anymore, or turning your iPod up, or simply by activating that self-control you so pride yourself on, and realizing that your irritation isn’t such a big deal. You’re irritated? Well, y’know, a bus drove by and splashed me with water out of puddle the other day. I was pretty damn irritated. I didn’t think it gave me license to talk about how all adults are scumbag assholes who exist only to make my life more difficult and never, ever do anything useful. Welcome to the world. Sometimes other people do things that bug you.

    I do have more of a right to be on an airplane than you and your child – because I’m considerably more qualified, by virtue of age and experience, to ensure I won’t violate essential courtesies.

    In that case, I totally have more of a right to be on an airplane than you do, because not only will I not violate essential courtesies, but I will actually go out of my way to help out people having difficulties when travelling, including the difficulties of travelling with children.

  138. car
    car June 11, 2007 at 9:04 pm |

    I do have more of a right to be on an airplane than you and your child – because I’m considerably more qualified, by virtue of age and experience, to ensure I won’t violate essential courtesies.

    And I suppose mentally disabled people have no right to be on an airplane, either. Or physically disabled people who need a little more assistance getting in and out of their seats. That must be a lovely little world you live in, there.

  139. Linnaeus
    Linnaeus June 11, 2007 at 9:05 pm |

    It’s just a question of balance for me. Like a lot of things, that balance is constantly being re-negotiated.

    I don’t hate children. I don’t engage with them much, and that’s just fine with me, but I understand why other people do. That’s also just fine with me.

    Children need to be out and about. It’s how they learn about the world outside themselves. Sure, some spaces should be adult-only, and in my experience, they usually are.

    Yeah, some kids misbehave. It’s up to the parent to correct that behavior, but we are dealing with human beings who aren’t easily programmed, so sometimes the best efforts to curtail a child’s behavior fail. But I deal with it; I’m an adult.

  140. beatrice
    beatrice June 11, 2007 at 9:05 pm |

    EG, I’d have to agree with you there – you’ve got more right to travel, because you understand that living in society sometime means dealing with (oh NO!) children.

  141. Jenny Dreadful
    Jenny Dreadful June 11, 2007 at 9:06 pm |

    Chet, your position is ridiculous. Kids are going to be on airplanes and in restaurants and grocery stores because their parents need to get things done and can’t always shield them from ever having to interact with the public. Much of the time, the children will behave nicely, but sometimes, they will not. Giving yourself an aneurysm every time a pair of kids plays grab-ass on the city bus is not going to make them disappear. Why don’t you close your eyes, take a few deep breaths, and try to keep your cool until the little buggers are out of your sight? Why don’t you try to have a little empathy for their parents, who might be tired and overwhelmed themselves? Sheesh.

    I agree that kids can sometimes act like little shits in public places, and a lot of the time, I wonder what the Hell their parents are thinking letting the kid pitch a fit in the stationary aisle of the Safeway while they hum, seemingly oblivious, and flip through the greeting cards. But kids will continue to throw tantrums in grocery stores for probably as long as grocery stores exist and I’m not going to get worked up about something so utterly minor and so completely out of my control.

    Also: what are people who have kids supposed to do? Are they supposed to be insanely wealthy, wealthy enough to have their children whisked away by a team of nannies at the slightest hint of misbehavior? That’s not only not realistic, but keeping kids out of social situations probably isn’t conducive to teaching them how to handle those same social situations when they’re older.

    I wouldn’t jump on anyone who said that they hated kids because: I can relate, but when someone unleashes the fury that Chet just did at kids, at disabled people, at parents, at Roy, and other commenters, I have to figure that some people are just mean and nasty and it doesn’t have much to do with children at all.

  142. Chet
    Chet June 11, 2007 at 9:16 pm |

    Wait a minute – so you have more right to travel than I do, because my child may violate an “essential courtesy” by crying?

    Boy, there’s a funny bit of feature creep here, isn’t there? I believe the specific behavior in question was

    run[ning] up and down the aisles of an airplane screaming and smacking people upside the head.

    But, you know, keep being disingenuous and pretend like the slightest peep from your child is enough to set off my boundless rage. I’m sure that’s a good example for your child.

    To hear you talk, though, you’d think that it’s a regular thing for children to be screaming and carrying on in expensive restaurants.

    No, Roy. If you were hearing me talk, you’d know that I’ve said nothing of the sort. If you were hearing me talk, you’d know that it’s the attitude that I have no right to complain when it happens that I’m objecting to. I’m not saying it happens constantly. Thank god, it’s been pretty rare – because few parents display the breathtaking, arrogant sense of entitlement on display in this thread.

    Actually, children learn exceedingly well.

    Hey, what do you know, I never said they didn’t. Could you be more disingenuous? I still haven’t seen any 10-year-old surgeons, though. Why do you suppose that is?

    No, it’s true- you haven’t said “I hate children,” but it’s not a hard conclusion to draw.

    Hey, I tell you what. I took you seriously when you said you had no children, even though I found it hard to believe that anyone not a parent could display the breathtaking height of arrogant entitlement you’ve displayed in these two threads.

    How about you extend me the same courtesy when I tell you I don’t hate children? You’re proving the point I made earlier – if you don’t use the most glowing language to describe literally everything about children, it’s assumed that you “hate” them.

    In that case, I totally have more of a right to be on an airplane than you do

    That’s fine. If we’re ever on the same flight, you can have my seat.

    And I suppose mentally disabled people have no right to be on an airplane, either. Or physically disabled people who need a little more assistance getting in and out of their seats.

    Did you ever notice that they absolutely won’t seat those people right by the emergency exits? Why do you suppose that is?

    EG, I’d have to agree with you there – you’ve got more right to travel, because you understand that living in society sometime means dealing with (oh NO!) children.

    Ah, I see. But it also means your children never having to deal with the consequences of their actions on other people?

    How does that work, exactly? (Don’t bother, Roy, it’s apparently impossible for you to debate in good faith.)

  143. libber
    libber June 11, 2007 at 9:22 pm |

    I don’t believe anybody is asking you not to be irritated. I believe that what’s being expected here is that you act like the adult you claim to be, put your irritation in perspective, perhaps by contemplating how, when you leave the grocery store and go home, you don’t have to listen to the kid anymore, or turning your iPod up, or simply by activating that self-control you so pride yourself on, and realizing that your irritation isn’t such a big deal.

    Obviously, they’re not asking me that. They are expecting it. In fact, parents tend to expect everyone to behave the way you say you would: help them with their 4 children at the security check or gate, hold the baby while they take off their shoes, let them get ahead of you if they’re late for a plane, change your seat from a cozy window seat to a space between two fat men, and so on. It’s a certain really annoying attitude I am talking about.

  144. Brooklynite
    Brooklynite June 11, 2007 at 9:24 pm |

    Pepper, if you’re taking exception to the stuff I’ve said in this thread — and it seems you may be — I’d like to apologize and clarify.

    I don’t consider adults with disabilities to be “childlike” in any general way. I’m sorry if I left that impression. But I do believe that many of the arguments that have been advanced against children’s presence in public spaces are implicitly (and in Chet’s case explicitly) arguments against the presence of adults with certain disabilities in such spaces, and that it’s important to bring those parallels out into the open.

  145. Chet
    Chet June 11, 2007 at 9:25 pm |

    Kids are going to be on airplanes and in restaurants and grocery stores because their parents need to get things done and can’t always shield them from ever having to interact with the public.

    And to say that they shouldn’t ever go there is a pretty ridiculous opinion.

    Good thing it’s not my opinion. I don’t fret about kids tearing around the grocery store. I get pissed when adults bring their kids along to demonstratively-adult activities, like rated-R movies, and then expect everyone else to just deal.

    It’s selfish and rude, but raise a peep about it and parental entitlement – “I’m entitled to bring my kid anywhere I damn please and you don’t get to say word one about it” – goes into full swing Parental Persecution Complex. As can be viewed abundantly in these two threads.

    I agree that kids can sometimes act like little shits in public places, and a lot of the time, I wonder what the Hell their parents are thinking letting the kid pitch a fit in the stationary aisle of the Safeway while they hum, seemingly oblivious, and flip through the greeting cards.

    Oh, shit! Why the hell do you think it’s ok to HATE THE KIDZ0RS!!!!

    Also: what are people who have kids supposed to do?

    Not bring their bawling, bored 2-year-old to Three Kings. I don’t think I’m way off base on that. Nobody’s saying that parents have to sequester themselves in their damn bedrooms, and I’m getting tired of having to repeat that.

    If you’ll just goddamn listen for a second, all I’m saying is that there are adult activities where kids are not welcome. But the minute you object to a parent violating that boundary, you’re the asshole.

    It’s bullshit.

    but when someone unleashes the fury that Chet just did at kids, at disabled people, at parents, at Roy, and other commenters, I have to figure that some people are just mean and nasty and it doesn’t have much to do with children at all.

    See what I mean? I object to being misrepresented at every turn, as Roy and others have done, as you’re doing, and suddenly I’m the asshole. Consider yourself cordially invited to take a flying fuck at a rolling doughnut.

  146. Chet
    Chet June 11, 2007 at 9:34 pm |

    But I do believe that many of the arguments that have been advanced against children’s presence in public spaces are implicitly (and in Chet’s case explicitly) arguments against the presence of adults with certain disabilities in such spaces, and that it’s important to bring those parallels out into the open.

    God you all must think I’m a horrible person.

    I object strongly to the implication that all disabilities are identical. Clearly, that’s not the case. I object strongly to the impression that a parapalegic, for instance, is childlike in any way. Brain injuries and limb injuries are clearly fundamentally different, and anybody who implies otherwise just isn’t worth taking seriously.

    But neither is it worth taking seriously the position that no disability can leave you unable to be trusted to exercise judgment. A cousin-in-law of mine sustained a debilitating brain injury in early childhood; he requires constant supervision. He can learn, he’s learned some skills, and I don’t think any less of him as a person at the same time I recognize the deep tragedy of his circumstances. He simply can’t maintain the same inner life and consciousness that a fully-fledged adult is capable of.

    But none of that makes it any less annoying when he wanders around the house yelling “cake” as loud as he can. He can’t help it; but his parents can. I would never, ever object to it in their home or in a public place where that behavior wasn’t extremely inappropriate.

    But in the middle of a grown-up movie? You’re damn right I’d say something about it. The only possible reason he could be there is because of the selfishness of his parents. (His parents are selfless heroes, of course, and they’d never, ever do that.)

    That’s the proper response when someone has abdicated their responsibilities as a parent and guardian of someone not capable of making their own decisions or controlling their own behavior. That includes children, and that includes people with that specific class of physical disabilities – not all disabilities.

    But I’m not hopeful that this is the last time I’ll have to correct this rapidly-mounting series of misrepresentations.

  147. Jenny Dreadful
    Jenny Dreadful June 11, 2007 at 9:38 pm |

    Consider yourself cordially invited to take a flying fuck at a rolling doughnut.

    Ha! And we’re misrepresenting you as an asshole? Hilarious.

  148. Tin7
    Tin7 June 11, 2007 at 9:42 pm |

    How many African Americans act like asshats all the time? Not so many. Yet, that’s the very definition of an American child.

    The comparison to other groups is really off. It’s the behaviors and the expectations of our putting up with those behaviors, not the actual age to which the commenters respond.

    Crying babies are not the same as 7 year olds who refuse to learn about other people existing on the planet. As others have mentioned, it has much to do with parents, but I really resent children who are old enough to know better and still act like they are in diapers. I, in fact, hate them.

  149. EG
    EG June 11, 2007 at 9:42 pm |

    We wouldn’t describe that behavior as “acting like a kid” if it wasn’t how kids acted.

    Really? Right, because folk wisdom is always so very accurate. Does “act childish” mean “express enthusiasm and interest in the world,” “sit quietly by yourself and cut out paper dolls for two hours” or “learn everything there is to know about sharks”? No, it doesn’t. “Act like an adult”–does that mean harrass women on the street, drink too much, talk very loudly on cell phones in public places, talk very loudly right behind me when I’m at the movies, and commit murder? Because the overwhelming majority of perpetrators of such lousy behavior are adults. No. “Act like an adult” means “be on your best behavior.” So what does that mean? It means that adults control the discourse.

    I just want to stress a point that Roy made and others seem to be missing: acknowledging the fact that children are deeply disempowered is not the same as arguing that children should take over control of their own lives. It’s amazing to me that so many adults feel so threatened merely at the thought of acknowledging that kids have no rights. The fact that it may be for their own good doesn’t make it less of an imposition on the kids.

    I also don’t understand how so many people here seem to feel that they have superpowers and can tell whether a child is suffering from abuse merely by being in the same room. “I only hate the children who aren’t starving”? (paraphrase) One of the exciting aspects of being a child is that, since you can’t own property yourself no matter what, you can be subject to the most horrific abuse even if you live in a materially secure family. So starving kids in Africa get your sympathy, but you just know somehow that the kid having a meltdown on the airplane has never been physically abused, emotionally terrorized, or sexually molested? The fact is that children are vulnerable to this kind of abuse because they are children, regardless of where they live. Brilliant. I wish I were so clever.

    Many adults seem to confuse “places for adults only” with “places in general.” The grocery store is not a place for adults only. Neither is the post office. Neither is a local coffee shop. Leaving one’s house means that one has to deal with the appalling risk of actually dealing with people who do not fill one with delight. Why are so many adults such whiny babies about this fact of life? Sometimes, when I leave my house, I have to pass a hellfire-and-brimstone preacher on the corner. He bugs the shit out of me. Does this give me the right to talk about how much I hate all Christians?

    Watching their reaction to me saying “I hate children” amuses me and then I’m able to cool down from their sexist comments.

    Ah, so when you’re the victim of bigotry and prejudice, you cope with it by metaphorically kicking the people even lower on the totem pole than you are. Well, it’s honest, at least, if not admirable.

    Their brains literally don’t work as well.

    So now you’re a neurologist-pediatrician? Their brains work differently. You don’t spend much time with kids, by your own admission, but I do. Small children can often do amazing amounts of arithmetic in their heads. They learn and understand vast amounts of detailed information. Their memories are often far better than those of adults. Their facility for languages is unparalleled. Your assumptions about a group of people you clearly have little or no experience with are laughable.

  150. shfree
    shfree June 11, 2007 at 9:43 pm |

    Obviously, they’re not asking me that. They are expecting it. In fact, parents tend to expect everyone to behave the way you say you would: help them with their 4 children at the security check or gate, hold the baby while they take off their shoes, let them get ahead of you if they’re late for a plane, change your seat from a cozy window seat to a space between two fat men, and so on. It’s a certain really annoying attitude I am talking about.

    See, I wouldn’t attribute that set of behaviors to being typical of parents. Maybe typical of harried parents that will jump at the chance to take advantage of stranger’s goodwill, but there are non parents that do that shit too.

    I think what has me the most cheesed off about this discussion is the conflation of attributes from one to all. Just because I don’t like that kid that lives down the street from me doesn’t mean that I have the right to go around sneering at other kids. Or that because someone is an adult that they are automatically better behaved and socialized than a nine year old. And because some stupid parents take their babies to movies they ought not to, all parents are selfish and entitled by extension, and all children are spoiled and obnoxious to boot.

  151. Jenny Dreadful
    Jenny Dreadful June 11, 2007 at 9:43 pm |

    end blockquote. D’oh!

  152. car
    car June 11, 2007 at 9:44 pm |

    If you’ll just goddamn listen for a second, all I’m saying is that there are adult activities where kids are not welcome.

    And that’s a perfectly valid position to hold. The thing is, you’ve included such activities as using public transportation as adult activities where kids are not welcome. That’s going a bit too far.

  153. ks
    ks June 11, 2007 at 9:48 pm |

    I realize that 150-some comments in is a bad spot to just jump into a thread, especically as I probably won’t come back to it for at least another 12 hours or so, but Chet just needs to get over himself. Not all parents are entitled assholes, sometimes kids just act up. Sometimes they can’t be removed from the situation, and sometimes the parents just plain don’t want to. Doesn’t always make them bad parents. And you also have to live in this society with the rest of us, and if you don’t like that kids will inhabit public spaces, and act like kids when they do (however much that behavior is or isn’t mitigated by the parents), so get over yourself.

    I take my kids pretty much everywhere. They’ve been out to restaurants with my husband and myself. They’ve been to parties and to movies. If we had to pay a babysitter every time we wanted/needed an evening out, then we couldn’t afford the evening out. In fact, the only times we get to go out together without our kids is when my mom is visiting, which happens 2-3 times a year. We just got back from a vacation where they were on a transatlantic flight full of other people. In most of those situations, they are pretty well behaved, because we’ve taught them to be so, and if they aren’t we try to remove them from the situation. But sometimes removal is impossible or impractical. For instance, if I have a cart full of groceries and my toddler or my 5 year old has a tantrum, I’m still going to stand in line and get the groceries. Because I don’t have another hour to waste taking them home, waiting for their dad to get there, and then doing the shopping. So whoever else is in the grocery store will just have to deal for the 5-10 minutes it takes for us to get out of there. I get just as annoyed as anyone else when kids are misbehaving in public, especially when those kids are my own, but you just have to deal with it, because those kids are a part of society too.

    And when I say that I hate kids, it’s usually muttered under my breath and because I’m particularly frustrated with my own at that specific moment.

  154. Deborah
    Deborah June 11, 2007 at 9:50 pm |

    You mean like the entitlement displayed by people like you, who think they’re entitled to have the whole village drop whatever it’s doing to help raise their child?

    Since you don’t know me personally, you’re just lashing out. Which is fine, I used strong language, so a strong response is warranted.

    But just to let you know, I’m not talking about anyone raising my child. I’m talking about people not acting like spoiled brats when my child happens to exist near them. When my child happens to be playing within earshot. Or on a bus or a plane. Or in the store. You know, when he happens to be alive. When people think that “raising their child” means not actually driving children away, that’s selfish and bratty.

  155. EG
    EG June 11, 2007 at 9:53 pm |

    But it also means your children never having to deal with the consequences of their actions on other people?

    What makes you think that? Why do you assume that you’re the best judge of what consequences are most instructive to children, given that you clearly spend as little time with them as possible?

    Obviously, they’re not asking me that. They are expecting it. In fact, parents tend to expect everyone to behave the way you say you would: help them with their 4 children at the security check or gate, hold the baby while they take off their shoes, let them get ahead of you if they’re late for a plane, change your seat from a cozy window seat to a space between two fat men, and so on. It’s a certain really annoying attitude I am talking about.

    Why do you two think that what I have suggested–i.e. sucking up your irritation and acting like your much-prized adult selves–is somehow identical to actively helping out? Is your sense of entitlement so great that you somehow equate “not making life more difficult for parents who are already overstressed and kids who are already upset by hassling them” with “hold the kid and actively help out”? Because I never suggested that you do the latter. If you don’t like being around kids, the very last thing you should do is touch one. I suggested that you merely put your irritation in perspective. I do in fact help out parents and kid when they’re having a difficult time, because I like kids and I’m good at taking care of them. Which is all the more reason, by the way, that those of you who hate listening to crying kids on trains and planes and in shops should wish on every star you see that you wind up on planes and trains with me. I’m pretty good at calming the kids down, which is good for everybody.

    Not bring their bawling, bored 2-year-old to Three Kings

    So tell me, who do you think was more miserable on this occasion, you or the kid? ‘Cause I’m going to go ahead and guess that it was the kid. So why are you misdirecting your anger?

  156. Donna Darko
    Donna Darko June 11, 2007 at 9:53 pm |

    I don’t hate children or call them “brats” but resent the gendered societal pressure to have them. Personally, my mom let us know every day what a martyr she was for having us and taking care of us I lost interest in having my own.

  157. libber
    libber June 11, 2007 at 9:55 pm |

    I think what has me the most cheesed off about this discussion is the conflation of attributes from one to all.

    Booo to hasty generalizations. But this isn’t about one-to-all inferences. This is about (among other things) airline policies (go ahead and board the plane before everyone else, including pregnant women, disabled and elderly people, etc.) and society’s disapproval of single mothers and women (and men) without children (read: at least 2).

  158. EG
    EG June 11, 2007 at 9:59 pm |

    All the airlines I’ve ever flown offer early boarding to parents travelling with small children, the elderly, the disabled, and anybody else who needs a little extra time. I dunno what airlines you’re flying.

    There is a tremendous amount of social pressure on adults to marry and have children, but there is close to no material support for people who do have kids, and kids themselves are subject massive impositions and abuse. Children are fetishized in our society, but it’s the idea of “innocent” childhood that’s valorized, not actual children.

  159. Vanessa
    Vanessa June 11, 2007 at 10:00 pm |

    Oh, I see. I have to STFU and listen to your bawling child, but you have the right to a flight perfectly free of my annoying objections. Fuck off. Add the expectation of a double standard to the rapidly growing list of bullshit parental entitlements.

    Shorter Chet: If babies get to cry about it, then so do I.

  160. beatrice
    beatrice June 11, 2007 at 10:02 pm |

    Feel free to correct me if I’m wrong, but I thought the airline policy was to get people who needed extra time seated before general boarding so that a bottleneck in the aisle didn’t arise. I never saw it as “preferential” to people with kids, just common sense – get the kids/babies/etc. seated and out of the way before the milling hoardes get on the plane.

  161. Roy Is Guest Blogging At Feministe! at  justdreadful.com

    [...] And he’s inadvertently become quite the shit-stirrer, I’m pleased to report. Be sure to read his post [...]

  162. Deborah
    Deborah June 11, 2007 at 10:05 pm |

    Deborah: Infants do not have a right to be at a midnight showing of Return of the King.

    Actually, yes they do. But adults don’t have the right to disrupt a movie for any reason, whether by bringing in a crying infant or a ringing cell phone. And people who do either need to take it outside.

    It’s not “hearing noisy children in public” that drives people batty. Kids running around in the park or their yard and making noise is one thing. Kids running around in restaurants or other places where quiet is to be expected and making noise is something entirely different, and it’s the LATTER we are objecting to.

    I don’t know who this “we” is of whom you speak. If you, personally, never object to children being noisy in public places, or places where it can be expected that children will be present, then bully for you. As a parent and an aunt I assure you that your version of “we” is not everyone’s version of “we.” Many “we”s do, indeed, object to noisy children playing in the neighborhood, or being in the Post Office, or grocery store, or other public places where silence is not required.

    Like we don’t get the “OMG, you don’t want kids? You’re SO SELFISH!!!” all the freaking time.)

    I have never called anyone selfish for not having kids of their own, either on this thread or anywhere else. I said (and you quoted) that we live in a fundamentally selfish culture. I stand by that statement and I see nothing in that statement in any wise even similar to misanthropy. You read like you’ve got issues with the way someone else has spoken to you and are projecting them on me.

  163. Jenny Dreadful
    Jenny Dreadful June 11, 2007 at 10:05 pm |

    Shorter Chet: If babies get to cry about it, then so do I.

    Hilarious.

  164. Julie
    Julie June 11, 2007 at 10:07 pm |

    I’d love to know when parents in general became overentitled assholes who expect other people to do things for us. I have two young children, relatively close in age (a 3 year old and an 11 month old) and I don’t expect anyone to do anything for them. If someone holds a door for me when I am trying to get a double stroller through it, I am much appreciative, but I most certainly do not expect it. I don’t shove my kids in people’s faces, I don’t get offended if people don’t want to hold them, nor do I randomly ask people to hold them. In fact, I am actually kind of picky about who I expose my children to, because I am a paranoid and overprotective mom. I think my kids are delightful, but I don’t expect other people to. I don’t take them to “Le Quiet Bistro”, R rated movies, the ballet, etc… They are both generally well behaved, but they sometimes act up (well, actually more the 3 year old… my son is remarkably quiet, good natured and a total non hassle to take out in public) and you know what, there’s not always something you can do about it that minute. If we’re out of formula, the option of just leaving the grocery store with the 3 year old having a tantrum because I’m not buying her a donut does not exist. I promise to make it as quick as possible and do my best to calm her down in the meantime, but exasperated sighs or asking me to quiet my child (like I wouldn’t if I knew how to) does not help. I personally adore my kids, enjoy most kids and dislike a few specific children who act horribly.

  165. libber
    libber June 11, 2007 at 10:09 pm |

    Why do you two think that what I have suggested–i.e. sucking up your irritation and acting like your much-prized adult selves–is somehow identical to actively helping out? Is your sense of entitlement so great that you somehow equate “not making life more difficult for parents who are already overstressed and kids who are already upset by hassling them” with “hold the kid and actively help out”? Because I never suggested that you do the latter.

    And I never suggested that you did suggest it. I said ‘in fact’. I could have said ‘also’, ‘moreover’, ‘here is a further thought’, ‘here is another thing that annoys me’ …

    If you don’t like being around kids, the very last thing you should do is touch one.

    I never said I didn’t like kids. I initially admitted that I’ve sometime said ‘I hate children’ but I tried to explain what I meant by that. I certainly never meant for it to be read literally. I don’t literally hate children, only society’s presumptions pertaining to baby-making and the nuclear family.

  166. libber
    libber June 11, 2007 at 10:11 pm |

    Sorry, I fucked up the quotes

  167. Julie
    Julie June 11, 2007 at 10:13 pm |

    Oh, and yes I agree 100% that the expectation that all women should have and love kids is absolute bullshit. I make it a habit to never ask anyone when they are having kids, when they are having another one, or try to push my kids on them, it’s a)none of my business and b) not for everyone. I understand that. I also get annoyed at the constant bombardment of the idea that my life should revolve around my children or that anyone else’s life should revolve around my children. It’s ludicris. But there’s a big difference between expecting people to treat my children like actual human beings and expecting people to cater to my children because they are just so freaking special.

  168. Deborah
    Deborah June 11, 2007 at 10:16 pm |

    Contraception was invented, and I and others use it, so that we don’t have our own children to take care of at this point in time. It should go without saying that I don’t want to fucking take care of your children, too. If it takes a village – maybe I don’t want to live in your village. Nannies get paid for that shit. I’m supposed to do it for free?

    I invite Chet and anyone else to do exactly that; don’t live in a “village” with children, since they are of no value to you.

    Oh, but you should be certain NOT to avail yourself of any goods or services provided by anyone 25 or more years younger than yourself. You know, really replicate the “not in your village” thing.

  169. Vanessa
    Vanessa June 11, 2007 at 10:21 pm |

    airline policies (go ahead and board the plane before everyone else, including pregnant women, disabled and elderly people, etc

    And this policy actually makes little sense, in my opinion. Antsy children should actually get on a plane last, in order to avoid having to sit still doing nothing/staring at the ceiling/getting slowly freaked out as it takes 45 minutes for everyone else to board the plane. I learned this while travelling to see two sets of grandparents when I was in high school and supervising my much younger sister and cousin.

  170. EG
    EG June 11, 2007 at 10:23 pm |

    Exactly. When you’re 60, don’t use any doctors, lawyers, busdrivers, mechanics, nurses, plumbers, or salesclerks under the age of 40 (I know that Deborah said 25 years younger, but I go with 20). Furthermore, don’t see any movies made with the talents of people under 40, or any ballets, or any ballgames. Don’t drive on roads maintained by anyone under 40.

    Which shouldn’t be a problem, seeing as you don’t think you gain anything from the existence of children. Why should you get to reap the rewards of the hard work done by people who’ve devoted their time to helping those children become worthwhile adults?

  171. Raging Moderate
    Raging Moderate June 11, 2007 at 10:26 pm |

    Why don’t you try to have a little empathy for their parents, who might be tired and overwhelmed themselves?

    Because they don’t seem to have any for the rest of us.

    The thing is, you’ve included such activities as using public transportation as adult activities where kids are not welcome. That’s going a bit too far.

    I agree. I don’t think planes deserve to be on the list of places to keep your kids out of. Sometimes it has to be done.

    Yes, you have the right to bring your kids wherever you want, but I have the right to call you an asshole if you don’t properly supervise their behaviour. And I will. What’s wrong with that?

    Too bad Zuzu’s not around. I’d love to hear her take on this.

  172. daraine
    daraine June 11, 2007 at 10:28 pm |

    “I hate kids” is probably not the best way to express your annoyance at yet another spoiled brat, crying during a movie or making pee pee in the swimming pool. I make no apologies for using “brat” – it’s certainly not offensive where I come from. It is merely a description of behaviour.

    I admit that the fault is with the parents, reasoning with a two year old – a smack is far more effective. I know I’ll draw the wrath of the US parents – “smacking kids is wrong”. Boo hoo it works.

    No your child is not the bestest, most perfect ever and the lack of discipline at home leads to a disruptive learning environment in school. A teacher can’t even punish a child for misbehaving, because the parent shows up crying “X is an angel, he would never throw clay in class. How dare you criticise my pride and joy?” This I have experienced. Being a teacher in the culture of kid entitlement sucks.

    And Roy, juxtaposing white middle class Americans with kids from third world countries is mere sensationalism. The children in the third world are victimised – I’ve worked with them so I know – and your comparisons between 1st and 3rd world children is frankly patronising and smacks of naviete. You cannot lump all children together any more than you can lump all women, all blacks or all Asians together. A casual dirty look to an annoying little brat throwing mashed potatoes in a 4 star restaurant is not the same as child trafficking, rape or sexual abuse, begging or sleeping on the street. Saying children annoy me is not the same as smacking them around and giving them drugs to walk the streets and make money for their pimps. Distinctions are important.

  173. EG
    EG June 11, 2007 at 10:32 pm |

    I also don’t know where all these entitled parents are. Everytime I do something as basic as take a minute while walking down the street to open a door for a woman wrestling with a stroller, she’s so surprised can’t stop thanking me. Any time I help a woman with a stroller go up the stairs from the subway station, she’s shocked. Any time I stroll over to a crying baby on a train, chat with the parents in a friendly manner and ask their permission to try and distract the kid, they look like a once-in-a-lifetime miracle has taken place.

    I have a lot of experience with self-centered, entitled, asshole adults in general. I have no doubt that some of those asshole adults reproduce and then become asshole parents. But it doesn’t seem to me that parenthood is the deciding factor. It seems to me that being a jerk in general is the deciding factor.

  174. libber
    libber June 11, 2007 at 10:33 pm |

    I’d love to know when parents in general became overentitled assholes who expect other people to do things for us. I have two young children, relatively close in age (a 3 year old and an 11 month old) and I don’t expect anyone to do anything for them.

    Right, there may well be lots of parents who don’t expect anyone to do anything for them and their children. What frustrates me the most is the intense focus on parenthood and the expectations associated with it, just about everywhere you go. I don’t even like big family gatherings b/c you can be sure that children and marriage will be the only things on the agenda.

    And this policy actually makes little sense, in my opinion. Antsy children should actually get on a plane last, in order to avoid having to sit still doing nothing/staring at the ceiling/getting slowly freaked out as it takes 45 minutes for everyone else to board the plane.

    applaud

  175. Chet
    Chet June 11, 2007 at 10:35 pm |

    Stop being abusive to people you disagree with.

    I’m not being abusive. You’re simply perceiving the frustration that follows when someone has been as relentlessly misrepresented as you’ve misrepresented me. I mean it took you about ten posts to stop saying that I’ve ever said “I hate children.”

    I’ve not called you an idiot.

    No; you’ve simply implied that me and others like me are all kiddie-rapists. Stop pretending like your conduct in this thread – or in your post – has been exemplary. If you hadn’t been disingenuous from the get-go we wouldn’t have arrived at this tense situation.

    I’d like to re-introduce my remarks that, apparently, touched off this controversy:

    I appreciate how difficult it must be to raise a child with autism, and even though it’s a subject I read about frequently I have literally no idea what that must be like.

    But can we talk a little bit about parental entitlement? Maybe the people who so rudely interjected themselves into your parent-child relationship were just people like me – people who don’t particularly like kids, consider early childhood an unfortunate, stupid period of our lives, and have had the repeated, frustrating experience of paying 10 bucks for a movie or a quiet dinner only to hear nothing but someone’s mewling infant.

    But, of course, anybody who suggests that a child with problems being quiet maybe isn’t welcome in a quiet public space is considered the asshole. Because I think there’s an expectation among parents that the rest of us non-parents must find your child as perfectly angelic as you do and that we’re bad people if we don’t.

    I appreciate what an accomplishment it must be when you’re able to share a new experience with your child. But just being a parent, even a super-parent rising to the challenges of a child with a disability (and I’m not being sarcastic), isn’t an entitlement to shit all over people who consider loud, misbehaving children intolerable noise pollution. I don’t smoke pot with your kid at the playground, or leave porn at their schools; it would be nice if the kids wouldn’t scream in the museum.

    Oh my God! I’m unhinged! I’m personally abusive! I hate children!

    Oh, wait, except that I don’t. I’m sorry, Roy, if I don’t take your advice about reigning in my frustration at not being listened to (at best) and completely misrepresented by you (at worst.) My initial comments were more than conciliatory and delivered in the softest language I was able to summon. (I make no pretensions of being the world’s most facile communicator.) Since no one saw fit to address me in the same tone, I guess I decided to save time.

    You’re going off on it like it’s a regular thing.

    I’ve never said it’s a regular thing. I’ve never implied that it’s a regular thing. All I’ve said is that, if you have the naked temerity to object to it even once, you get branded a child-hating asshole.

    You know, like you’ve done.

    It’s the animosity you’ve got- the sense of entitlement that you’re showing.

    I think ten dollars for an R-rated movie at 9pm does entitle me to see it with patrons who appreciate paying attention, quietly.

    But, very creative to level the exact same accusation at me that I once leveled at you.

    Maybe you’re meaning to suggest that it’s just those few times when someone brings their kid to a movie they shouldn’t have that bugs you, but that’s not how it’s coming across. It’s coming across a hell of a lot stronger than that.

    Beyond my repeated, strenuous denials of intending to say that, what else can I do? The fact that you’ve been continually construing my remarks that way hasn’t helped the misperception, by the way. But please, by all means ignore your own participation in how I’ve been relentlessly misrepresented.

    I’m talking about people not acting like spoiled brats when my child happens to exist near them.

    I thought I’ve made it clear across two threads now that I think such people are asshats. I’m certainly not one of them.

    I have a personal space, even in public. Everybody does. All I ask is that your child respect that. Since your child probably doesn’t even understand the concept fully, they need some help with that. Which is why I’m looking at the parents about that.

    How much clearer do I have to be?

    So tell me, who do you think was more miserable on this occasion, you or the kid? ‘Cause I’m going to go ahead and guess that it was the kid. So why are you misdirecting your anger?

    You say that like you think I’m angry at the kid. How many times do I have to say that it’s the parents for whom I reserve my opprobrium? If not the parents, with whom should I be upset, then?

    Your assumptions about a group of people you clearly have little or no experience with are laughable.

    You’re right. I’ve never even seen a child. Certainly never been one. I guess my memory of thinking, when I was 6, that the “Underground Railroad” was an actual subway for slaves running between Maine and South Carolina happened to someone else.

    If babies get to cry about it, then so do I.

    By no means am I the only, or even the loudest, whiney titty baby on this thread. (Yeah, that was funny though. :D)

    I don’t take them to “Le Quiet Bistro”, R rated movies, the ballet, etc…

    If it doesn’t describe you, then it’s not about you. I don’t think you’re an entitled parent. Sounds like you’re an embattled parent. I wish more parents got it like you clearly do.

  176. EG
    EG June 11, 2007 at 10:35 pm |

    Smacking me didn’t work. I never stopped doing anything as a result of being hit. All it made me do was think very clearly “They’re hitting me because they’re bigger than me. But someday I will be big, and then I’ll put them in a nursing home and never, ever visit.” And yes, I thought that at quite a young age. Parents don’t hit kids because they misbehave. They hit kids because they’re small enough not to be able to hit back.

    On the other hand, I’ve spent quite a bit of time taking care of two-year-olds. I’ve never had to smack any of them to get them to stop doing something.

  177. Chet
    Chet June 11, 2007 at 10:37 pm |

    Oh, but you should be certain NOT to avail yourself of any goods or services provided by anyone 25 or more years younger than yourself.

    I can’t imagine what services a 2-year-old could possibly provide me, assuming I don’t wake up with an urgent need for finger-paintings by the pallet-load.

  178. Betsy
    Betsy June 11, 2007 at 10:39 pm |

    Roy, this piece is awesome and highlighted some really deep feelings that a lot of people have about children, how they fit into our society, and the social expectations placed (especially) on women in regard to them. Thanks for such a thought- and debate-provoking post.

  179. Vanessa
    Vanessa June 11, 2007 at 10:40 pm |

    libber: I had a much easier time dealing with my 10 year old sister and 6 year old cousin on a plane on the trip home when we were late and missed preboarding. Now I have my own toddler, and my husband and I were considering a plane trip to visit family this summer (which we realized we can’t afford, but whatever) and I was researching (well, reading free issues of Parent magazine) how to deal with it, and found that very same suggestion.

  180. Karen
    Karen June 11, 2007 at 10:41 pm |

    Thanks for the post Roy. This is a very important and very touchy subject for progressives, as evidenced by the number of people — small, but still there — who find nothing at all wrong with expressing their hatred of children. I find it deeply disturbing that anyone on a feminist blog would agree in any sense whatsover with any part of “I hate (fill in the blank with whatever group of humans having a particular trait)” As everyone else has said, it’s one thing to say that there are some places kids don’t belong, like fancy restaurants (although Europeans seem to manage this pretty well) R-rated movies, certain concerts, or clubs late at night. Those just the sensible “time, place, and manner’ restrictions that apply to pretty much every activity on Earth.

    Having said that, I wonder if Chet and Co., including lots of people upthread, have the same problems with old people in public? After all, those of us in the 40 + Community are generally pretty unattractive, and above age 70 or so begin to have physical or mental issues that make us, well, unpleasant for the sensitive to be around. Is there really any difference between my 76-year-old father, who has arthritis in his legs and hearing loss that makes him talk loudly, and my five – year – old son, who is still working on always using that inside voice?

    American society is pretty goddam horrible to anyone who isn’t conventionally attractive and between the ages of 18 and 39. I would like to think that self-styled progressives would want to change this most disgusting facet of our system.

  181. Raging Moderate
    Raging Moderate June 11, 2007 at 10:43 pm |

    I’ve often wondered why so many parents let their children act like they do.

    But after reading all these comments by the bad parenting apologists, I’m beginning to understand.

  182. Sniper
    Sniper June 11, 2007 at 10:43 pm |

    I also don’t know where all these entitled parents are. Everytime I do something as basic as take a minute while walking down the street to open a door for a woman wrestling with a stroller, she’s so surprised can’t stop thanking me.

    I meet a few in parent-teacher conferences. They’re usually the ones who refuse to believe that their 12-year-old used a racial slur, or fought, or lied, or whatever standard middle-school crap we’re talking about. Sometimes they refuse to get their kids glasses or SPED testing because “he says he’s fine.” They’re the minority, thank dog. Most of the parents I work with do their best and are embarrassed when their kids act up. The bad parents do stick in the memory, though.

  183. EG
    EG June 11, 2007 at 10:43 pm |

    So, Chet, you don’t expect to live past 40? If that’s truly the case, than you have my deepest sympathies, in all honesty. But if it’s not, then I guarantee that at some point you will be calling on the services of someone young enough to be your child.

  184. Charity
    Charity June 11, 2007 at 10:45 pm |

    I loved this quote of car’s: “Yes, babies cry. Kids throw tantrums. Teenagers look at you funny. Elderly people walk slowly and sometimes talk loudly. Not everyone is a witty, cute twentysomething – it’s called all of humanity.” The world accommodates ALL OF US with all our quirks and needs and imperfections at one time or another, we’re just not very good at recognizing when we ourselves have warranted an accommodation or two. Further, life is not a zero-sum game, where the rights of parents strip away the rights of non-parents.

    Children exist. Sometimes they are loud, or disruptive, and in places you would prefer they not be. I think I used to be someone who was very irritated by all this…now I am just…not. Can’t say exactly how I made this transition, but I think age and not considering *myself* the center of the universe had a great deal to do with it. Or maybe mindfulness meditation? Dunno.
    I am not a parent, and I also resent sexist assumptions that I am dying to be a mother or am naturally “maternal” or nurturing, so I certainly can understand, and support, those feelings. But yet I manage to not treat, or even consider, other people’s children as an affront to my rights and my very existence–oh how important my existence is! Let me contemplate my divine *right* to enjoy “Smokin Aces” untainted by the voices of children…oh I’m sorry I just *took myself so fucking seriously I stopped breathing and the fabric of time ripped.* I mean, you are joking, right? I don’t disagree that children shouldn’t see those movies, but aside from your home, there is no such thing as perfectly “protected” space where intrusions like the sight and sound of other people are guaranteed not to occur. And there are few activities I personally consider so breathtakingly sacred that even a child’s full-on, prolonged temper tantrum could ruin them.

    Also…all these scenarios, of children repeatedly hitting people? Or putting their hands all over you? Or parents expecting you to drop everything and hold their baby, or ruthlessly cut you in line? Are either completely exaggerated, or so selectively attended to that they don’t deserve to be discussed as some kind of “norm” any more than adults / non-parents doing inconsiderate / physically destructive things do. They may be memorable, but they are rare…be honest. Kids making a lot of noise and kicking a seat is perhaps common in public, but hitting strangers on the head and picking their nose and wiping it on a stranger is, frankly, not.

    Oh, and Chet, on one hand you say you don’t confront inconsiderate parents because you don’t have the courage, but you also claim to have been met with anger and entitlement when you do “raise a peep” to parents. Which is it?

    Fabulous to see you here, Roy.

  185. libber
    libber June 11, 2007 at 10:48 pm |

    When you’re 60, don’t use any doctors, lawyers, busdrivers, mechanics, nurses, plumbers, or salesclerks under the age of 40 (I know that Deborah said 25 years younger, but I go with 20). Furthermore, don’t see any movies made with the talents of people under 40, or any ballets, or any ballgames. Don’t drive on roads maintained by anyone under 40.

    that’s a bullshit argument. Even if I don’t want to volunteer at hospitals, I am still entitled to a hospital bed if I get sick. That’s what taxes are for. That American politics sucks is a whole other story. Besides, the world is overpopulated. Why don’t more people (who like children) adopt children, and why don’t we invite people from overpopulated or poor countries to America (or wherever) to get an education or work as doctors, lawyers, bus drivers, mechanics, nurses, plumbers, …

  186. RKMK
    RKMK June 11, 2007 at 10:49 pm |

    If you think they can handle it, and you are proved wrong, reprimand and/or remove them from the situation.

    And I wish you good luck with that strategy on transatlantic flights.

    While I admit that removing children from flights is a mite bit difficult, if you have so little authority over your children that you cannot make them apologize and sit down when they are running up and down the aisle screaming and smacking people upside the head, then let me tell you, you have more pressing problems than the disapproving stares of the evil “child haters.”

    In the meantime, I suggest that if your child proves so uncontrollable in these kinds of situations, that you refrain from putting them on a plane again until they’re old enough to sit still for 7 (or however long) hours. If this means you can’t vacation in Florida for a couple of years, so be it, but gosh, don’t I hear a lot about the sacrifices parents make for their children?

  187. Brooklynite
    Brooklynite June 11, 2007 at 10:52 pm |

    “Why don’t you try to have a little empathy for their parents, who might be tired and overwhelmed themselves?”

    Because they don’t seem to have any for the rest of us.

    I was flying once with my wife and kid, and the plane was delayed. The kid — maybe a year old then, maybe a bit younger — started squalling, and I was bouncing her on my knee trying to soothe her. It wasn’t working, and as she kept crying I could see everyone glaring. I knew what they were thinking: “We’re not even on the plane yet and this kid’s already melting down. What’s wrong with her? What’s wrong with her parents?” If Chet had been there, he’d have ground his teeth town to stubs. I’m sure there were a dozen people in that waiting area who’d have sworn an oath that my wife and I were crappy parents with no empathy or consideration, and one of them may be posting to some blog at this very moment about our lack of empathy.

    But here’s what we knew that they didn’t:

    The kid was exhausted and hungry. There was only one thing we could have done to calm her — put her on the breast. But if we’d done that in the airport before we took off, she’d have filled up and zonked, and we wouldn’t have been able to rouse her to suck again on takeoff. If she’d slept through takeoff, her ears would have started hurting, and she would have been in agony. Chances are that she would have wound up too freaked out to suck, and since she’d have been full she wouldn’t have had much interest in the breast anyway. So she would have been in agony, and we wouldn’t have been able to do anything about it, and she would have screamed her lungs out for the whole flight.

    So we let her cry before boarding, and my wife put her on the breast a few minutes before takeoff. She sucked during the ascent, and the sucking equalized her ear pressure, and once she was full she fell asleep. Slept through the whole flight, just like we’d set it up.

    Which is a long way of saying that the parent who’s pissing you off may Have A Plan. Which is yet another reason to cut him or her some slack.

  188. EG
    EG June 11, 2007 at 10:53 pm |

    I don’t see how it’s a bullshit argument. If you claim that people raising children is of no benefit to you, then don’t take advantage of what they contribute to society. Paying taxes can only entitle you to hospital care if there’re enough people to staff the hospital. Money is not, in fact, the same thing as care. Adopted children are not magically better behaved than non-adopted kids. Even if everybody started adopting kids tomorrow (which is far easier said than done, by the way–adoption is a long, uncertain, expensive, and difficult process) you’d still have to put up with kids throwing temper tantrums.

  189. hk
    hk June 11, 2007 at 10:53 pm |

    I hate to have kids around me for any period of time. However, the same goes for a decent number of adults.

    No feminist reasons, just the way it is.

    I reserve the right to roll my eyes if they start screaming (same goes for adults), the right to ask to move tables if a little noisy one gets placed nearby (I tip well as an apology), and to not have any of my own. Oh yeah, and the right not to have to hold your baby or coo all over it (yep, it’s a baby).

    I do have sympathy to a point for the adults with children who are in some type of distress. The sympathy only goes so far, usually that point when the adult in charge doesn’t do anything to stop the behavior they have control over or condones the behavior.

  190. Chet
    Chet June 11, 2007 at 10:55 pm |

    Having said that, I wonder if Chet and Co., including lots of people upthread, have the same problems with old people in public?

    A girl that I knew was killed, violently, right in front of her boyfriend when she was struck by a car while changing a tire driven by a 90-year-old man. He didn’t even see her – just swerved a bit towards the shoulder and picked her off at 70 mph. Never even stopped. When they found him later, he thought he’d hit a rabbit or something.

    So I do have some problems with the elderly assuming that there’s absolutely no reason why they shouldn’t enjoy every single privilege that younger people enjoy. There are some aspects of public life that, due to declining physical condition, the elderly cannot safely participate in.

    Is there really any difference between my 76-year-old father, who has arthritis in his legs and hearing loss that makes him talk loudly, and my five – year – old son, who is still working on always using that inside voice?

    If your father insists on talking loudly during a movie, yes, I’ll respectfully voice my objections.

    Oh, and Chet, on one hand you say you don’t confront inconsiderate parents because you don’t have the courage, but you also claim to have been met with anger and entitlement when you do “raise a peep” to parents. Which is it?

    Both. Have you read either of these threads? The first thread Roy linked to was the very first-ever time in my life that I’ve voiced my concerns about parents who clearly think their parenthood should never be an obstacle to whatever they want to do, even if they have to bring the child in tow.

    The shitstorm I apparently called down on myself was very instructive. Take a look, if you like.

  191. Kim
    Kim June 11, 2007 at 10:56 pm |

    Chet’s about to have a tantrum.

    Where are his parents?

  192. libber
    libber June 11, 2007 at 10:59 pm |

    Having said that, I wonder if Chet and Co., including lots of people upthread, have the same problems with old people in public? After all, those of us in the 40 + Community are generally pretty unattractive, and above age 70 or so begin to have physical or mental issues that make us, well, unpleasant for the sensitive to be around. Is there really any difference between my 76-year-old father, who has arthritis in his legs and hearing loss that makes him talk loudly, and my five – year – old son, who is still working on always using that inside voice?

    I don’t know who is included in the Co. category. But I don’t have a problem with people in public, regardless of whether they are young or old (though I agree that there are certain places where children don’t belong — at R- and X-rated movies, for example).

    American society is pretty goddam horrible to anyone who isn’t conventionally attractive and between the ages of 18 and 39.

    Exactly my point (include single mothers and women without children)

  193. EG
    EG June 11, 2007 at 11:01 pm |

    If this means you can’t vacation in Florida for a couple of years, so be it, but gosh, don’t I hear a lot about the sacrifices parents make for their children?

    And if it means that you can’t attend your mother’s funeral? Or if it means that you can’t move to take advantage of a good job? Or that your partner’s grandmother never gets to see her great-grandchildren? Or that you can’t attend a professional conference?

    Or should parents just demand that everybody else in the world fly to see them? I somehow have the sneaking suspicion that if they did, you’d starting bitching about those “entitled” parents who expect everyone else to come to them?

    Why do you think that you’re entitled to a world without annoyance? I really can’t stand it when I have to watch people kissing and making out in public–drives me straight up a wall. But you know, I live in the world, and the world does not revolve around me. So sometimes, I get on a plane, and am seated next to a PDA-happy couple, and I can’t move to get away from them. I deal with it. What makes you so unable to deal with a crying baby?

  194. Chet
    Chet June 11, 2007 at 11:03 pm |

    Why do you think that you’re entitled to a world without annoyance?

    If we were talking about anybody else and any other kind of negative behavior, I doubt you’d be as blase. I think people are entitled to a world as free of intentional annoyance of others as they are a world free of rape and murder, but that’s just me, I guess.

    Bad parenting apologists, indeed.

  195. Vanessa
    Vanessa June 11, 2007 at 11:04 pm |

    Which is a long way of saying that the parent who’s pissing you off may Have A Plan. Which is yet another reason to cut him or her some slack.

    Exactly. I find it amusing/annoying that all of these people who dislike children to the point of avoiding them at every single opportunity apparently know exactly what good parenting looks like. Because, you know, of all their experience with kids.

  196. EG
    EG June 11, 2007 at 11:08 pm |

    So let me get this straight: children crying on airplanes is not only intentional annoyance (those damn babies! sitting up at night, meeting at their super secret hide-outs, rubbing their little baby hands together and saying to each other “You know how to really annoy the fuck out of those adults? Next time you get taken on an airplane, just start screaming your lungs out! Works every time!”), but it can be usefully analogized to rape and murder?

    Ok, Chet. You’ve jumped the shark. That’s too absurd to do anything but point and laugh at.

    If we were talking about anybody else and any other kind of negative behavior, I doubt you’d be as blase.

    Well, except for the actual example of annoying behavior I gave, right? Or is it that you don’t find couples sucking face in public annoying, so they don’t really count?

  197. Julie
    Julie June 11, 2007 at 11:08 pm |

    daraine- I don’t smack my children. At all. Sorry if that makes me a bad parent, but I don’t believe that having a child gives me the right to cause them bodily harm or pain. Other people disagree and that’s their perogative, but I will not do it. My dad smacked the hell out of us as children on a regular basis, and I can tell you what that taught me- that my dad is a scary fucking person to be avoided at all costs. I do discipline and my daughter knows there are consequences to certain behaviors, but I highly resent the suggestion that I must hit her to be an effective parent. There are choices besides hitting and letting her run wild. My son has yet to act in a way that would warrant discipline in any way.
    libber:

    What frustrates me the most is the intense focus on parenthood and the expectations associated with it, just about everywhere you go.

    If it helps at all, I think a whole bunch of parents share your frustrations. I had been married 2 weeks when I was asked when we were planning on kids. Not if, mind you (although that may be a function of knowing my personality, but I still found it presumptuous) but when and I was still in college when I got married. My daughter was 4 months old when I started getting the questions about when I was going to have another one. My son is 11 months old and I am all of 26 and I am already being told this is the time to decide if I want a third child. My sister is about to attend a top tier law school and is being questioned as to when she’ll have children, a question she is sick and fucking tired of answering. Sometimes I like to just get away with my husband, but the cult of mommyhood tells you that you are horrible person if you do. Some nights, I like to go out with my friends. This apparently also makes me a selfish bitch. My dad thinks I’m the worst mother in the world because I have a job. I got shit from my doctor’s office because I couldn’t get my son to them as fast as they thought was necessary because I had to pick the other one up from daycare. That’s something all women get- you’re an evil, selfish bitch if you don’t want kids, you’re a horrible, selfish bitch if you don’t revolve your life around the ones you have. You’re a drain on the taxpayers if you have too many, you’re depriving your children of siblings if you only want one. If people would just mind their own damn business about other people’s reproductive decisions in general, I think a lot of this would not be as prevalent.

  198. Chet
    Chet June 11, 2007 at 11:09 pm |

    Because, you know, of all their experience with kids.

    Good point. I guess all us kiddie-haters sprang forth, Athena-like, from our father’s foreheads, fully-formed (and dressed like those guys in 300.)

  199. car
    car June 11, 2007 at 11:10 pm |

    Most parents are decent people. Honest. If their toddler is throwing a tantrum in front of a lot of people in a public space, believe me, they are twice as annoyed as you and a hundred times more mortified. And if they give in and placate the child to stop the tantrum, they’re overindulgent and letting the kid get away with murder. If they ignore the behavior to get it to stop, then they’re neglectful. If they grab the kid and hiss at them that they’re really going to be in trouble when they get home (whatever that actually means), they’re abusive. They know that no matter what happens, they cannot win in the court of public opinion. They’re also probably operating on a long-term lack of sleep that most child-free people cannot even imagine. So yes, occasionally, even good parents will be at a loss as to how to deal with the situation at that very moment. It’s human.

    I recall one particularly spectacular toddler occasion in a store; one woman came up to me as I was frantically doing whatever I could think of to stop it and she said “That’s ok, hon, sometimes they just do that.” I burst into tears on the spot because it was the first time someone had shown me anything but contempt in such a situation. I have no idea who these mythical entitled parents are that keep getting bandied about here, but I certainly haven’t ever met one.

  200. Charity
    Charity June 11, 2007 at 11:10 pm |

    I think people are entitled to a world as free of intentional annoyance of others as they are a world free of rape and murder, but that’s just me, I guess. – Chet

    You don’t…actually believe that, do you?

    And yes I have read the threads, which is why I noted that you contradicted yourself. It wasn’t my failure to comprehend you that caused you to contradict yourself…you did that all on your own. But don’t get me wrong, I think you have really jazzed up the discussion and am glad of it.

  201. RKMK
    RKMK June 11, 2007 at 11:12 pm |

    EG

    What makes you so unable to deal with a crying baby?

    You’re being disingenuous. If you’ll note very carefully, the behaviour in question isn’t crying, it is running up and down the aisle screaming and smacking people. Which I have had the pleasure of experiencing not once, not twice, but three separate times. The last time, (on a flight that left at 5 am, for which I’d spent the entire night before at the airport, and had had no sleep) I had to restrain myself from closelining the brat on their tenth pass. A parent eventually showed up, all “Garsh, Tiffany maybe you’re bothering people,” and it was all I could do to bite my tongue and settle on a glare.

    I have a tolerance for babies, and very small toddlers. These are barely-sentient creatures with whom you cannot reason with. Anything that’s attending pre-school, or kindergarten and up? Zero tolerance for bad parenting. I’m sorry. If you cannot discipline your children, do not have them.

  202. EG
    EG June 11, 2007 at 11:12 pm |

    Right, Chet. It’s simply not possible that those of us who spend a lot of time with kids, take care of them, raise them, read books on parenting and child development, and know them individually might have a better idea, in general, of how to parent than you do. After all, you were a kid! Surely you know everything about the process for every other child imaginable! Right. That makes loads of sense.

  203. Vanessa
    Vanessa June 11, 2007 at 11:12 pm |

    Good point. I guess all us kiddie-haters sprang forth, Athena-like, from our father’s foreheads, fully-formed (and dressed like those guys in 300.)

    Yeah, because being a child is exaaaaactly the same thing as parenting one.

  204. car
    car June 11, 2007 at 11:14 pm |

    Good point. I guess all us kiddie-haters sprang forth, Athena-like, from our father’s foreheads, fully-formed (and dressed like those guys in 300)

    Because having been a child once is the same as raising one? Wow, that’s the best laugh I’ve had all day.

  205. Karen
    Karen June 11, 2007 at 11:14 pm |

    What Vanessa said.

  206. libber
    libber June 11, 2007 at 11:15 pm |

    I don’t see how it’s a bullshit argument. If you claim that people raising children is of no benefit to you, then don’t take advantage of what they contribute to society. Paying taxes can only entitle you to hospital care if there’re enough people to staff the hospital. Money is not, in fact, the same thing as care. Adopted children are not magically better behaved than non-adopted kids. Even if everybody started adopting kids tomorrow (which is far easier said than done, by the way–adoption is a long, uncertain, expensive, and difficult process) you’d still have to put up with kids throwing temper tantrums.

    I don’t claim that ‘people raising children is of no benefit to’ to me. But don’t tell me that people need more than one child per person in a Western society to make the world run smoothly. As for adoptions: of course, adopted children are not better behaved than non-adopted children. That’s not my point. My point is that there is no need to feel obliged to have your own children (especially in the plural). The world is too big already. If you want children anyway, then why don’t you adopt some? And don’t tell me that it’s because the waiting lists are too long. Getting pregnant and going through pregnancy takes 1+ years. If it’s too expensive, that’s another fucking problem with American politics (it ought to be covered by your health insurance).

    And I repeat: why don’t we invite some aliens (as they are legally called) to come and work for us if there is a need. And what happened to all the unemployed Americans?

  207. Greta
    Greta June 11, 2007 at 11:15 pm |

    No reason? What if your best friend is in town for just one night and the old gang is getting together for the first time in years and your sitter fell through and you think the kid will probably do okay and it turns out you misjudged? You’re free to consider that an inadequate reason, but I’ll feel free to be as pissed at you for staring daggers as you are at me for bringing the kid to the restaurant.

    And of course I’ll wind up getting the daggers even if my kid is behaving beautifully, because there’ll always be folks who see a kid in a nice restaurant and expect a tantrum, and have their evening out ruined by the expectation.

    Quit playing the victim. If your kid is a perfect angel, cool. You won’t get any icy stares from me. As ridiculous as I think it is to drag a young child into a restaurant after 8:00 p.m. that serves nothing under $20.00 and tables are in no way set up to accomodate a family, if you want to waste the time and money trying to pull that off, you be my guest. I don’t care if children are in my presence as long as they are well behaved and quiet, and in a place like that, they ought to be both.

    But if your kid starts having a meltdown, get your food boxed up and get out of there. It doesn’t matter if your friends are in from town. You chose to have children, you should alter your life accordingly rather than expect people to work around you.

    I haven’t seen Sin City, but my four-year-old has watched the 2005 King Kong, and if she’d been a little older when it came out we’d have seen it in the theater. Ditto for the first and second Pirates of the Carribean movies.

    Why have I exposed my kid to such violence? If you’re curious I can tell you. But for now I’ll just say that it was my considered opinion as a parent that letting her see these movies was appropriate, and if I think it’s appropriate, I really don’t give a damn that you don’t. And yeah, if I’d taken her to see King Kong in the theater, there’d have been a couple of moments when I would have covered her eyes and said “I don’t want you to watch this part.” I’d have tried to say it quietly, but I’d have said it.

    As long as you’re not one of those morons who screams about v-chips and rating systems and family-friendly programming and video game content and banning adult material and censoring whatever adult material you can’t get banned, well, then if you want to take your child into a totally inappropriate movie, go nuts. The worst ones are the parents who think they should be allowed to decide what’s okay for society based on their warped perceptions of what’s appropriate for their children, and that everything not included in that should be banned.

    I go to PG-13 and R rated movies after 10:00 in the hopes that I can avoid small children. I did not pay $9.50 to listen to a five year old yell, “WHAT’S THAT MOMMY?!” or, “WHY IS THAT MAN DOING THAT?” or, “I WANT SOME CANDY!” or “I NEED TO GO POTTY!” What you expose your child to is your perogative, but if the child is too young to comprehend the film without play by play commentary from their parents, then you shouldn’t take them, or at the very least, take them to a matinee.

    Me paying to see an R rated movie at 10:30 is, for all intents and purposes, an example of someone trying to cater to the parents. Really, it is. I could go to Finding Nemo at 1:30 p.m. and get uppity that a bunch of kids are being squirmy, loud little candy gobblers, but that would make me a rude idiot. Instead, I go see Sin City after hours, thinking that no decent parent in their right mind would bring a child under 15, and some dumb*ss still brings their toddlers.

    (Sin City is an extremely violent movie that graphically depicts rape, murder, and crime in a stylized format. If you think that exposing your child to that sort of material is okay, then you are a lousy parent. I’m not saying you specifically are a lousy parent, but anyone who does this is a lousy parent.)

    As I’m reading your comment, you seem to be saying that it is the responsibility of parents to communicate the concept of privilege to their kids. My point is that that’s the sort of moral lesson that is not going to have much effect on the average kid. It just seems like a variation on “There are starving kids in Africa!” “Well, they can have my green beans then!”

    The point I’m trying to make is that our pal Roy went on and on about how much it upset him that people hate children, then proceeded to reference statistics on third world countries. Give me a huge break. If someone walked up to me and said, “Man, I just hate those kids in Africa. It’s their fault for getting AIDS!” I’d probably punch them myself.

    So many parents lose sight of what’s really important. They’re so over-the-top materialistic and consumer driven, they think it’s the end of the world if their kid doesn’t get that XBox or Tickle Me Elmo Extreme. Watch the videos of people at the doors of Wal-Mart the day after Christmas – these freaks are willing to trample over people to grab their crap. No, it’s not the end of the world, but good luck telling them that. Unfortunately they pass the same selfish, self-centered attitudes onto their kids and that’s part of what makes them brats and those are the kind of kids people can’t stand, not the starving, emaciated orphans in Africa.

    Besides, it doesn’t matter if that has little or no effect on the kid. That’s no reason to overindulge their whims because they want every toy they see on TV.

    Or, to put it another way, you are so accustomed to living in a fundamentally selfish culture and not being a part of a community or experiencing life as interdependent that when interdependence appears in tiny ways—such as hearing noisy children in public—you feel interfered with and resentful to the point of hatred.

    It does take a village, and we have created a culture in which a large number of individuals refuse to believe they are part of that village, and resent the village. It is no wonder we have a selfish brat in the White House; the attitude of entitlement is selfish and bratty.

    Goddamnit. I am so sick of hearing about the village. I don’t mind Hillary but I could wring her neck for ever putting that out into pop culture.

    Isn’t it convenient how parents only call upon the village when it involves 1) the government giving them financial assistance from the village coffers for help in raising their kids, or 2) putting up with every tantrum, melt-down, hissy-fit, antic, or act of bad behavior? But whenever a member of the village tries to have a say in how that child is raised, they’re told to put up and shut up.

    If you want to see a great example of how well the concept of “the village” works, go to google news and type in the words “ice rink dad.” You’ll get plenty of results.

    A guy in Buffalo, NY tried to take his young son ice skating. For forty minutes, they were harassed by this terrible little ten year old brat who was slapping hockey pucks at both of them. The man tried to find the boy’s parents as well as get help from the rink security, to no avail. Finally he got so sick of that little punk being a rude-*ss little sh*t when he and his son were obeying the rink rules and had every right to be there and enjoy themselves, so he hauled the little prick off the ice.

    Well, OF COURSE, right after that happened, the boy’s pathetic excuse for a mother showed up. Amazing.

    The guy now stands trial and faces up to one year in jail for “endangering a minor.”

    So yes, it takes a village – to shell out money and sit by idly while future citizens of the village are allowed to grow up in a chaotic, out of control manner and go from being little monsters to big ones.

  208. EG
    EG June 11, 2007 at 11:18 pm |

    RKMK, yeah, that sounds annoying. But I’ve flown many, many, many times over the past fifteen years, and have only encountered wretched children once. I’ve dealt with crying kids quite a few times, so, yeah, I’m addressing the more common behavior. But even that pales in comparison to the number of times I’ve had to deal with asshole adults. So, if we’re generalizing, I’d say that it’s adults who shouldn’t be allowed to fly.

    Your not having slept the night before, though, while it makes your life irritating, really has no bearing on the kid’s behavior. Is there a reason you didn’t tell the kid to cut it out, or hit the stewardess call button to ask her to find the parents? I mean, if you were on the verge of tripping her anyway…

  209. RKMK
    RKMK June 11, 2007 at 11:20 pm |

    I’m sorry, y’all, you’re jumping on Chet unnecessarily here. My step-aunt and -uncle, who “spend a lot of time with kids, take care of them, raise them, read books on parenting and child development, and know them individually” are still miserable parents whose children are so spoiled and uncontrollable that (aside from witnessing their horrible behaviour myself) they’ve gotten sent home from school for being so incredibly disruptful that the principal has agreed that the teacher does not have to put up with their behaviour. Giving birth and living with children does not mean you are an authority on good parenting. Raising well-behaved children who can interact in the public space makes you a good parent.

  210. Elena
    Elena June 11, 2007 at 11:22 pm |

    Wow, a post I actually enjoyed on this blog! Great job Roy

  211. Brooklynite
    Brooklynite June 11, 2007 at 11:22 pm |

    If you’ll note very carefully, the behaviour in question isn’t crying, it is running up and down the aisle screaming and smacking people.

    I haven’t seen anyone defending parents who let kids do that. Hands up, anyone who’s defending parents who let kids do that?

  212. EG
    EG June 11, 2007 at 11:26 pm |

    But Libber, the issue under debate here isn’t whether people should have kids. It’s whether or not it’s acceptable to make nasty sweeping generalizations about the children who are here. Your views on population control…aren’t really relevant. That’s why issues of adoption aren’t relevant–kids are kids, adopted or otherwise. Who’s to say that little Tiffany who annoyed RKMK so much wasn’t adopted?

    As to immigration, it’s also irrelevant. Immigrants were children as well; their childhood just took place in another country. So, basically, what you’re saying is that you don’t want to put up with children, but you still want to reap the rewards of other people having put up with children in a different country. I don’t see how that’s any different.

  213. Vanessa
    Vanessa June 11, 2007 at 11:26 pm |

    Giving birth and living with children does not mean you are an authority on good parenting.

    I don’t think that’s what anyone was saying. (At least, that’s not what I meant.)

    I was more balking at the assertion of the multitude of people I face every time I go outside with my 1 year old who think they know how to raise my kid better than me. And the childfree (boy, is that a loaded term) people on this thread who seem to know the solution to a temper tantrum, despite disliking kids to the point of avoiding them at all cost. And Chet’s assertion that because he was a child, he knows how to keep them from having meltdowns.

  214. EG
    EG June 11, 2007 at 11:27 pm |

    Raising well-behaved children who can interact in the public space makes you a good parent.

    And when Chet does that, or even demonstrates any empathy or insight into what it means to do that, I’ll take his opinions on the matter seriously.

  215. Sonja
    Sonja June 11, 2007 at 11:28 pm |

    I know good parenting. I had a wonderful situation growing up, I respect mom for all that she did for me….

    But I still heavily dislike/hate kids. Not all of them, I’ll admit that I like some kids – for the most part I don’t judge individual children until I’ve interacted with them, but I’d rather not interact with them most of the time..

    Saying you don’t like kids isn’t equivalent to saying ‘I don’t like women/blacks/gays/etc.’ … it’s closer to saying ‘I’m not a dog person/I hate cats/etc’

    Kids stop being kids after a while. They grow up. But you don’t just stop being female/black/gay/whatever with time.

    Hmm.. maybe I’ll reevaluate my stance. It’s not just kids I dislike, it’s people in general. I much prefer dogs than kids.

    I just want to know why so many parents these days are reluctant do be just that – a parent. Why so many people are against spanking their kids, or any sort of punishment. I got spanked ONCE in my entire childhood, because my father’s ‘Angry Dad’ voice was enough that I’d put myself in my room. Kids aren’t developed enough to listen to reason. I’m not saying beat them, but if people were to give them a good swat once in a while instead of trying to ‘reason’ with a screaming five-year-old, there’d be a lot more well-behaved kids in public.

    Of course, if your kid listens and is well behaved and DOES listen to reason, there’s no reason to spank them, but honestly… if they’re screaming, talking back and slamming their door somehow that’s the only way to get it through to them that YOU’RE the one in charge, not them.

    Maybe all this anger of mine is misplaced. But the way my six-year-old ‘step sister’ has been brought up by her father, grandma and biological mom, it drives my mom, brother and I up the wall. (We just got custody of her, but her bio-mom spoiled her rotten) She is the most disrespectful, rude and bratty child I’ve ever seen. And she -does- get a good open-palmed swat on the butt when she throws a fit and won’t listen to reason.

    I guess what that last paragraph was meant to explain is that YES, I have had experience with kids. I remember my own childhood fairly well. And I don’t think I’d hate so many kids if their PARENTS did their job better, treated them with the proper respect but also knew when to give up reasoning and say ‘Enough, keep that up and you’re getting a spanking and going to bed without supper!’.

    I apologize for ranting here, to a bunch of strangers who likely just don’t care, or whose buttons this will push in the wrong way. Just had to let it out of my system.

  216. Nymphalidae
    Nymphalidae June 11, 2007 at 11:29 pm |

    The funny thing is, I think everybody on this thread actually agrees:

    1) There are some places kids shouldn’t be. This basically extends to things like R rated movies and fancy restaurants at 10 pm.

    2) Parents should exercise a basic amount of common sense with regard to when their child is being disruptive beyond what children normally do; i.e. crying because they are hungry is fine, running around screaming and hitting is not.

    3) Nobody has a problem with children in places like grocery stores.

    ***

    On the other hand, I don’t really feel that children are oppressed. At least, not those born to middle/upper class in 1st world nations. Children in 3rd world nations are oppressed because almost everybody there is. If by “oppressed” you mean “not allowed to do whatever stupid thing they want”, I guess they’re oppressed. By that definition, I’m also oppressed. I’m subject to other people’s whims all the time, but I don’t see any “ZOMG what about the grad students!?” posts.

  217. Kat
    Kat June 11, 2007 at 11:30 pm |

    I wonder what the Hell their parents are thinking letting the kid pitch a fit in the stationary aisle of the Safeway while they hum, seemingly oblivious, and flip through the greeting cards.

    My child has autism so we have had professional help with behavior intervention. One of the most effective ways to extinguish negative behaviors (not just in children with autism but all children and also in adults and animals even) is to IGNORE the negative behavior. When a parent picks up a child who is tantruming and runs them out of a venue, they might be solving the immediate problem (loud noise now) but are actually often ENCOURAGING continued tantrum behavior for the long-term by reinforcing the behavior (as in… “I don’t want to be at the grocery store, so if I cry, Mom will take me out of here…”). That is actually backtracking. The other component of that approach is positive reinforcement… in our case, we tell the kids before the activity that if they do well in the store, they will get a sticker or some small reward, and at the end of the week if they have earned so many stickers we will go to a movie or something else that is a real motivator for them. You probably won’t see that part. Obviously, there are times when a child does need to be removed from a situation, but next time you see a parent doing “nothing” consider that the parent may very well be doing exactly the right thing and give them a break.

    Likewise, one of the best ways to get someone acclimated to a specific environment (particularly an uncomfortable environment) is to continually expose them to the environment. This allows you to desensitize them to the stimulus of the environment.

    Clearly, it would be much more convenient to always be around children who have complete this sort of behavior intervention, but it is an ongoing process, and it doesn’t work unless you get them in the specific environment in which you hope for them to learn to behave in. Sure, you give them a lot of coaching at home about how they will be expected to act in the restaurant or the mall or the movie, but its really an on-the-job-training sort of deal. And, in our case, we didn’t take the kids to Cafe le Snob until we had mastered Friendly’s then Applebee’s, etc.

    On a side note, regarding autism, the numbers of children with autism are skyrocketing (now up to 1 in 150). Many of the children you see that are “misbehaving” are really displaying the manifestations of their disability. Like my son, most children with autism have a ‘transparent’ disability–meaning that they don’t ‘appear’ disabled. Which in and of itself can be disabling, because there is an expectation for them to act in an age-appropriate manner when they cannot. As we see the numbers of children with autism rise, we will all witness more episodes of autistic meltdowns in public. Please consider that next time you see a misbehaved child.

    airline policies (go ahead and board the plane before everyone else, including pregnant women, disabled and elderly people, etc

    People with small children in tow, or infants, are allowed to board before everyone else because they are required to install their car seats, which would be incredibly difficult with lots of other people on the plane. Because the car seats block egress from the plane, they have to be in the window seat, or on the big planes, in the center seat of the middle aisle so no one would have to trip over them in an emergency. Its sort of along the same lines as allowing those with seats towards the rear of the plane to board before those in the front seats.

  218. RKMK
    RKMK June 11, 2007 at 11:30 pm |

    I haven’t seen anyone defending parents who let kids do that. Hands up, anyone who’s defending parents who let kids do that?

    Hands up, anyone who’s responded to my post to with anything except asking me of why I’m unable to handle the minor irritant of crying babies when that’s not what I’ve said at all?

  219. Vanessa
    Vanessa June 11, 2007 at 11:31 pm |

    On the other hand, I don’t really feel that children are oppressed.

    Yeah I kind of agree. However, I’d say that parents, and especially mothers, get a hell of a lot of hate, especially from supposed “allies.”

  220. EG
    EG June 11, 2007 at 11:33 pm |

    I don’t see how children aren’t oppressed. They have no first amendment rights whatsoever. They don’t decide what they eat, wear, or when they sleep. They’re the only group of people in middle/upper-class first-world countries who can be legally struck. The fact that any or all of these things are necessary doesn’t make them any better to experience.

  221. Chet
    Chet June 11, 2007 at 11:36 pm |

    After all, you were a kid! Surely you know everything about the process for every other child imaginable!

    I certainly know more than nothing, which was your implication, thank you very much.

    Truly, if parenting is such a mysterious, occult process of which only the initiated could possibly aspire to any knowledge whatsoever, it must be a minor miracle at least that any of us have parents in the first place.

    You have told multiple people to fuck off and you’ve called me an idiot at least once. That’s abusive.

    In response to abuse, sure, I’ve done that. My posts clearly show an escalation of tension driven entirely by those responding to me. Or did you miss the accusations of “tantrums?”

    I’m attempting to be more polite, though. I’ll drop it if you do.

    It looks to me like most people understood that.

    In fact it looks like you were universally misunderstood, judging from all the people who have accused me of openly hating children.

    But, you know, keep trying to justify your disingenuity.

    You don’t like being called on your behavior, and you don’t like that I find your attitude offensive.

    I’m happy to accept correction when I’ve transgressed. I’m not happy to accept such correction from a disingenuous hypocrite. While you’re complaining about my behavior, you’ve taken no steps to address my valid points about yours.

    I was bothered by your attitude towards children. I started reading up on children, and found a bunch of stats that really surprised me.

    “I was really bothered by Roy’s attitude towards women, and I started looking up some stats. I was surprised to learn that one in three women will be raped in their lifetime!”

    “Oh, I had no idea you would think I was calling Roy a rapist and a misogynist! I’m sure everyone knew what I meant.”

    Yes, Roy, I rather think they did. I see I’m not the only one who picked up on your subtle attempt to equivocate people who aren’t bad parenting apologists with pedophiles.

  222. libber
    libber June 11, 2007 at 11:39 pm |

    But Libber, the issue under debate here isn’t whether people should have kids. It’s whether or not it’s acceptable to make nasty sweeping generalizations about the children who are here. Your views on population control…aren’t really relevant. That’s why issues of adoption aren’t relevant–kids are kids, adopted or otherwise. Who’s to say that little Tiffany who annoyed RKMK so much wasn’t adopted?

    As to immigration, it’s also irrelevant. Immigrants were children as well; their childhood just took place in another country. So, basically, what you’re saying is that you don’t want to put up with children, but you still want to reap the rewards of other people having put up with children in a different country. I don’t see how that’s any different.

    Please keep things in perspective, EG. We were discussing a particular argument, viz. if you don’t feel like having children of your own and you don’t feel like helping others with theirs, then you’re not entitled to the services that will be provided by those children when they grow up. Immigration and adoption issues are clearly relevant here. For, your argument presupposes that we need to make more babies who can take over when we get old. My point in bringing up immigration and adoption was that we don’t need to make more babies for the world to continue (not for a while anyway)

  223. Chet
    Chet June 11, 2007 at 11:40 pm |

    I appreciate how difficult it must be to raise a child with autism, and even though it’s a subject I read about frequently I have literally no idea what that must be like.

    And when Chet does that, or even demonstrates any empathy or insight into what it means to do that, I’ll take his opinions on the matter seriously.

    That’s right, EG, keep pretending like I’ve never showed any empathy for the challenges of parenting, especially parenting the disabled.

  224. EG
    EG June 11, 2007 at 11:41 pm |

    Truly, if parenting is such a mysterious, occult process of which only the initiated could possibly aspire to any knowledge whatsoever, it must be a minor miracle at least that any of us have parents in the first place.

    Do you honestly not know the difference between claiming that parenting is a mysterious occult process and observing that people who have experience parenting probably have greater insight into how to parent well than people who don’t? I don’t go around telling the people at Starbuck’s how to foam milk, not because foaming milk is a mysterious occult process, but because, you know, they actually have experience doing it, and I don’t. Parenting is considerably more complex than foaming milk.

  225. Nymphalidae
    Nymphalidae June 11, 2007 at 11:41 pm |

    next time you see a parent doing “nothing” consider that the parent may very well be doing exactly the right thing and give them a break.

    Actually, this is exactly what I assume when I see a child throwing a tantrum in a grocery store – that they are doing the right thing. My parents always ignored us when we threw tantrums. When my little brother first arrived from the Philippines he didn’t have any concept of cold, so when he threw a tantrum he took all his clothes off. The first time he did that in the car my mom just stopped in a parking lot and opened the door, and his clothes went back in in a hurry and he never did it again :D

  226. Raging Moderate
    Raging Moderate June 11, 2007 at 11:41 pm |

    You chose to have children, you should alter your life accordingly rather than expect people to work around you

    .

    That’s it in a nutshell.

    I think it’s a generational thing. The previous generations understood that having children required sacrifice (like not going to movies or fine restaurants). The current generation has been conditioned to believe that they can have it all.

    I don’t see how children aren’t oppressed. They have no first amendment rights whatsoever. They don’t decide what they eat, wear, or when they sleep.

    Wow. Do you let your kids decide what they eat, wear, or when they sleep?

  227. snatchjohnny@hotmail.com
    snatchjohnny@hotmail.com June 11, 2007 at 11:43 pm |

    What bothers me about the phrase, “I hate children.” is not the words themselves, but rather the hypocrisy. For fudge-sake, you were children once too!

  228. EG
    EG June 11, 2007 at 11:45 pm |

    We were discussing a particular argument, viz. if you don’t feel like having children of your own and you don’t feel like helping others with theirs, then you’re not entitled to the services that will be provided by those children when they grow up. Immigration and adoption issues are clearly relevant here. For, your argument presupposes that we need to make more babies who can take over when we get old.

    No. My argument presupposes we need to raise children who can take over when we get old. Adopted children need to be raised. Immigrant children need to be raised. So they’re not relevant. Further, my argument was not “if you don’t feel like having children of your own and you don’t feel like helping others with theirs, then you’re not entitled to the services that will be provided by those children when they grow up.” It was “if you claim that you don’t want to have to deal with children in the public sphere at all, then you’re not entitled to the services that will be provided by those children when they grow up.”

  229. EG
    EG June 11, 2007 at 11:50 pm |

    Wow. Do you let your kids decide what they eat, wear, or when they sleep?

    RM, why do you think that my acknowledging that kids get a raw deal means that I think they should have all the responsibilities of adults? Where have I said anything like that?

    The previous generations understood that having children required sacrifice (like not going to movies or fine restaurants).

    Do you have any reason to believe this aside from some kind of idealization of past generations? Because there was some pretty crappy parenting going on in past generations, believe you men.

    Actually, in previous generations, going to the movies was an entirely different experience. A movie would be shown on a loop and people would come and go as they pleased (which is where the phrase “this is where I came in” comes from). Prior to the advent of television, practically everybody in cities went to the movies every weekend. That’s not “everybody except for the kids.” It’s everybody.

  230. Sniper
    Sniper June 11, 2007 at 11:51 pm |

    What bothers me about the phrase, “I hate children.” is not the words themselves, but rather the hypocrisy. For fudge-sake, you were children once too!

    Yeah. Back then I really hated a lot of kids. Of course, they were all assholes.

    As endlesssly entertaining as the rounds of the parenting wars always are, it makes me a bit sad to see all this vitriol. It would be so much nicer to see it directed at people who flout leash laws. Those fuckers!

  231. libber
    libber June 11, 2007 at 11:52 pm |

    my argument was not “if you don’t feel like having children of your own and you don’t feel like helping others with theirs, then you’re not entitled to the services that will be provided by those children when they grow up.” It was “if you claim that you don’t want to have to deal with children in the public sphere at all, then you’re not entitled to the services that will be provided by those children when they grow up.”

    Why does ‘I don’t want to have to deal with other people’s children in the public sphere’ entail ‘I am not entitled to the serves that will be provided by those children when they grow up’? I don’t see the argument. Could you fill in the missing premises?

  232. Vanessa
    Vanessa June 11, 2007 at 11:53 pm |

    I think it’s a generational thing. The previous generations understood that having children required sacrifice (like not going to movies or fine restaurants). The current generation has been conditioned to believe that they can have it all.

    And this is what I mean about mother-hating. Because guess who it was in previous generations making sacrifices and staying home with the kids? Women. Mothers.

    Who these days have somehow gotten it into their heads 0that they can ‘have it all; and, you know, leave the house. Which sometimes involves taking the children with you.

  233. Rochel
    Rochel June 11, 2007 at 11:53 pm |

    I would like to point out as someone who has worked in retail that a poorly behaved child is the rule, not the exception. I worked in a bookstore and AT LEAST once a day a kid would be set loose, unsupervised in the store. Every day books in the kids’ section would be ripped. Gift sets would be opened with many items destroyed or missing. I would walk by and see a parent sitting down reading, not even glancing at their child running amuck and throwing around books. YEAH a lot of parents DO expect you to babysit their children. The parents here might not but the EXPECTATION by MANY PEOPLE is still strong. There are LOTS of rude people in the world. For example: all the people who have public cell phone conversations.
    For the record I have a strong aversion kids. I feel very guilty about this. I am currently helping my dying mother take care of her children. I do all the right things. I read to the kids, make them dinners, cart them around, play with them, etc. I loath every second and this experiance has lowered my desire for kids (amazing considering I never wanted them before). I am curious if anyone has an advice as to how to actively make one’s self like kids.

  234. RKMK
    RKMK June 11, 2007 at 11:53 pm |

    I believe this comment was in moderation, and didn’t see it until now:

    RKMK, yeah, that sounds annoying. But I’ve flown many, many, many times over the past fifteen years, and have only encountered wretched children once. I’ve dealt with crying kids quite a few times, so, yeah, I’m addressing the more common behavior. But even that pales in comparison to the number of times I’ve had to deal with asshole adults. So, if we’re generalizing, I’d say that it’s adults who shouldn’t be allowed to fly.

    Agreed. People who cannot behave in a public manner ought to be reprimanded. And people seem to have no problem (or at least less of a problem) with people criticizing other adults for their behaviour. But when it’s a child who’s acting like an asshole, and you express the opinion that they’re out of line and their parents ought to parent, OMG, YOU’RE A CHILD-HATING BIGOT. Which is the attitude I believe both Chet and I find most repulsive.

    Your not having slept the night before, though, while it makes your life irritating, really has no bearing on the kid’s behavior. Is there a reason you didn’t tell the kid to cut it out, or hit the stewardess call button to ask her to find the parents? I mean, if you were on the verge of tripping her anyway…

    Actually, it really does. It was an early-morning flight. Most people on that plane looked very tired, if it was impossible for a cognizant adult to simply intuit that (simply by the hour and time of the flight) that if there were any time that a plane full of people would be more tolerant of a small child screaming and running up and down the aisle, 6 in the morning was not it. It is common sense, common courtesy. The fact that it was allowed to go on for 20 minutes before her father decided to do anything about it was unacceptable.

    Why didn’t I say anything to the child? Or find the parent? Again, because I was exhausted, scared at my impulse that I was on the brink of striking a small child, and was afraid that at that very moment in time I didn’t have the energy to articulate my issues with a parent who cannot possibly comprehend that their little darling is pissing off an entire plane, who might take offense, who might start an altercation, whatever, when all I wanted was some goddamn peace and quiet and some coffee and to start my vacation in peace.

    The stewardess saw the kid running around, and was hesitant to say anything to her either – you never know what freak show entitled parent is going to show up and scream at you for disciplining their kid in their absence. People are touchy about their kids. As this thread clearly demonstrates.

    Thank you, Roy. Thank you so much for reinforcing why so many kids annoy the hell out of me, and why I hate their parents so. goddamned. much.

    - Out.

  235. Nymphalidae
    Nymphalidae June 11, 2007 at 11:54 pm |

    I don’t see how children aren’t oppressed. They have no first amendment rights whatsoever. They don’t decide what they eat, wear, or when they sleep. They’re the only group of people in middle/upper-class first-world countries who can be legally struck. The fact that any or all of these things are necessary doesn’t make them any better to experience.

    I’m not sure why anybody is supposed to care about this so-called oppression. Perhaps this attitude comes from my own parents who responded to “You’re the worst mommy ever, I hate you!” with “Yes, I am a mean mommy. But it’s because I love you. And your children will say the exact same thing.” And now I understand why I couldn’t do certain things and am grateful that I turned into a functional adult. In fact, if I ever have kids I plan to oppress them in exactly the same way, and I’m sure they will wail and gnash their teeth just like I did. Such is life. Why don’t you QQ some more?

  236. Chet
    Chet June 11, 2007 at 11:55 pm |

    Who these days have somehow gotten it into their heads 0that they can ‘have it all; and, you know, leave the house. Which sometimes involves taking the children with you.

    Vanessa:

    Nobody has a problem with children in places like grocery stores.

    Keep reading it until it sinks in, I guess.

  237. EG
    EG June 11, 2007 at 11:58 pm |

    People who don’t have kids of their own don’t have to deal with kids in their own home; obviously that’s only right and fair. But if you can’t be bothered to put up with the unavoidable annoyances of children’s existence, what entitles you to reap the eventual rewards of their existence? Raising children takes a lot of effort and work; if you don’t have kids you’re freed from much of that. But if you don’t wish to accept children as members of society, and put up with the occasional irritation that that’s going to cause, so that you want a child-free world, why should you reap the rewards of the work and effort put in by the people who have accepted that part of community membership?

  238. Vanessa
    Vanessa June 11, 2007 at 11:59 pm |

    Chet: was that something that RM said? Because I was responding to him, not you.

  239. Vanessa
    Vanessa June 12, 2007 at 12:00 am |

    And no, Chet, your sarcastic, condescending tone doesn’t make you seem like a jerk at all.

  240. evil fizz
    evil fizz June 12, 2007 at 12:01 am | *

    You chose to have children, you should alter your life accordingly rather than expect people to work around you.

    That’s it in a nutshell.

    The overwhelming majority of the population will, in fact, have children. Is there some reason we’ve got to leave them out in the cold and pretend that the interests of parents must always be subordinated to those who don’t have kids in tow? I mean, you chose not have kids. Is there a reason your status is superior to those with kids?

    And I don’t think anyone here is arguing that having children means you make no adjustments, just that it’s highly unreasonable that to exclude parents and children from the public arena.

  241. Chet
    Chet June 12, 2007 at 12:03 am |

    Chet: was that something that RM said?

    Neither; I was simply trying to indicate that the strawman argument about us asserting parents have no right to ever leave their homes children in tow was demolished before you posted.

    But if you can’t be bothered to put up with the unavoidable annoyances of children’s existence, what entitles you to reap the eventual rewards of their existence?

    I think paying thousands in property taxes that support local schools, regardless of whether or not I have a child in attendance, counts for something, right?

    Oh, I forgot. It’s your children’s world, and the rest of us slobs are so graciously permitted to rent in it, by your leave.

  242. Chet
    Chet June 12, 2007 at 12:04 am |

    And no, Chet, your sarcastic, condescending tone doesn’t make you seem like a jerk at all.

    Don’t try to out-condescending-sarcasm me. I assure you you haven’t had the practice.

  243. Kat
    Kat June 12, 2007 at 12:05 am |

    But I’ve flown many, many, many times over the past fifteen years, and have only encountered wretched children once. I’ve dealt with crying kids quite a few times, so, yeah, I’m addressing the more common behavior. But even that pales in comparison to the number of times I’ve had to deal with asshole adults.

    This is my experience too. And yet we endured the judgment of the perception that children-run-wild-on-flights all the time. We lived in Hawaii and had family on the East Coast so for years took very long (11-14 hour flights) back and forth with kids. My son is fabulous on a plane, and even as a toddler never made a peep. Flying is his “thing”–he loves flying. And yet I can’t tell you how many times some crass adult would see him sitting with a few rows of them and make a snide remark, or very loudly (to make sure we heard) ask the flight attendant to find them another seat. It was very rude and very unjustified as my son never caused them a moment of irritation or discomfort.

  244. Raging Moderate
    Raging Moderate June 12, 2007 at 12:06 am |

    RM, why do you think that my acknowledging that kids get a raw deal means that I think they should have all the responsibilities of adults?

    Parental guidance is a raw deal?

    What should we do to free children from this oppression?

  245. EG
    EG June 12, 2007 at 12:06 am |

    I’m not sure why anybody is supposed to care about this so-called oppression.

    Because it might generate some understanding of why children behave the way they do. It might provide some insight into their experiences of their lives.

    It’s not a question of “you’re the meanest mommy in the world!” It’s a question of understanding the power dynamics that underlie adult-child relationships. The very same power dynamics that leave children vulnerable to the worst kinds of abuse are present in normal adult-child relationships, and in my experience, being aware of the existence of those power dynamics is absolutely necessary to making sure that I, as an adult, use my power responsibly rather than abusing it.

    And people seem to have no problem (or at least less of a problem) with people criticizing other adults for their behaviour. But when it’s a child who’s acting like an asshole, and you express the opinion that they’re out of line and their parents ought to parent, OMG, YOU’RE A CHILD-HATING BIGOT.

    It depends on how you phrase your criticism. If you say “I was on the airplane with the most wretched, ill-behaved child in the world,” I don’t know anybody who would call you a child-hating bigot. If you say “Goddamn crotch-droppings, useless pieces of crap,” then, yes, I would. And before you accuse me exaggerating, I have seen exactly that kind of rhetoric.

  246. Nymphalidae
    Nymphalidae June 12, 2007 at 12:06 am |

    People who don’t have kids of their own don’t have to deal with kids in their own home; obviously that’s only right and fair. But if you can’t be bothered to put up with the unavoidable annoyances of children’s existence, what entitles you to reap the eventual rewards of their existence? Raising children takes a lot of effort and work; if you don’t have kids you’re freed from much of that. But if you don’t wish to accept children as members of society, and put up with the occasional irritation that that’s going to cause, so that you want a child-free world, why should you reap the rewards of the work and effort put in by the people who have accepted that part of community membership?

    Right, because old people don’t have anything of value. Certainly they don’t have anything that young people might want, like money or accumulated years of wisdom.

    Also, creationists shouldn’t be allowed to use any technology or anything that was produced from any technology that was invented after 1859.

  247. libber
    libber June 12, 2007 at 12:06 am |

    if you don’t wish to accept children as members of society, and put up with the occasional irritation that that’s going to cause, so that you want a child-free world, why should you reap the rewards of the work and effort put in by the people who have accepted that part of community membership?

    But now I think you are exaggerating. Very few commenters have said that they ‘want a child-free world’ or that they ‘don’t wish to accept children as members of society’. All I said was that I don’t want to be expected to help out. If you want to contribute to the world’s overpopulation, then that’s your problem, don’t count on my contribution.

  248. Charity
    Charity June 12, 2007 at 12:13 am |

    Duh, Vanessa! “Having it all” means getting to 1) stay home OR 2) go to the grocery store! I *knew* feminism was all about choices! How is it, Chet, that if this (your comment above, re: the grocery store) is truly representative of your values and beliefs, and you frequent this blog, that talking about *children* is the thing that has gotten you all shades of rankled? Wouldn’t all kinds of other woman-y rights stuff have sent you over the edge long ago?

    “Why does ‘I don’t want to have to deal with other people’s children in the public sphere’ entail ‘I am not entitled to the serves that will be provided by those children when they grow up’? I don’t see the argument. Could you fill in the missing premises?” – libber

    libber, sorry to butt in, but I believe the missing premises had something to do with someone’s comment about wanting *nothing* to do with the “village” comprising parents with children, in response to the “it takes a village” comment. So, I guess the argument EG was making was something like, if you don’t want to share the hassles of the village (i.e. want “nothing to do with it”), neither should you share the rewards / *fruits* of the village (the services / social value ultimately provided by the once-children of the village). EG can correct me if I’ve misstated.

  249. Nymphalidae
    Nymphalidae June 12, 2007 at 12:14 am |

    What if you raise a crappy child who turns out to be a drain on society? Does that mean that you’re still entitled to the resources of everybody else’s good kids – you raised a kid right? What if you’re a Nobel Prize winning physicist but never interacted with any kids because you were too busy inventing cheap, clean power? Are you still not entitled to the services of everybody else’s kids?

  250. Vanessa
    Vanessa June 12, 2007 at 12:14 am |

    Neither; I was simply trying to indicate that the strawman argument about us asserting parents have no right to ever leave their homes children in tow was demolished before you posted.

    It wasn’t a strawman, it was hyperbole. But thank you for drawing attention away from the actual point of my statement.

  251. EG
    EG June 12, 2007 at 12:17 am |

    Right, because old people don’t have anything of value. Certainly they don’t have anything that young people might want, like money or accumulated years of wisdom.

    Where did I say this? I was originally responding to this:

    It should go without saying that I don’t want to fucking take care of your children, too. If it takes a village – maybe I don’t want to live in your village….Because your child is going to grow up to be so fucking special that I benefit, somehow? I doubt it.

    Now, since most parents don’t go over to hostile-looking strangers and demand that they actually do any of the things that constitute taking care of children, such as changing diapers, making peanut butter sandwiches, teaching reading, I can only assume that Chet was referring to the fact that sometimes grown-ups have to put up with kids behaving obstreperously in public. (If he does have experience of parents actually going over to him and trusting him with their children, then that is some shitty parenting right there, and dangerous enough that calling the cops might not be a bad idea.) He then went on to claim that he won’t benefit from the child’s life. If that’s the case, then I am merely suggesting that he and others of that opinion stick to what they said. If you don’t think that you’re going to benefit from the kids maturation later in life, and that that excuses you from having to put up with the occasional inconveniences of children existing in the public sphere, then go ahead and do without those benefits.

  252. Sally
    Sally June 12, 2007 at 12:21 am |

    The previous generations understood that having children required sacrifice (like not going to movies or fine restaurants).

    Honestly, I have absolutely no evidence for this, but my sense is that the biggest difference is in availability of babysitters. There may also be a difference in who’s considered an acceptable babysitter. I started babysitting in the evening when I was 11 or 12, which I think would not be kosher these days. Also, I charged $2.00 an hour, which went up to $2.50 when I hit high school. In the mid-’80s, these were affordable prices for middle-class parents. I think it’s way harder for parents these days to find acceptable people to look after their kids while they go out for dinner and a movie.

    My parents definitely went to the movies when I was a kid, leaving me with a high-school-aged babysitter. They also had fairly frequent dinner parties, during which I was banished to my room. I loved these, because afterwards I got to eat left-overs while my parents cleaned up and gossiped about their friends. These are some of my fondest memories, actually. So no, my parents were not under the impression that having kids meant they had to give up any semblance of a social life.

  253. Nymphalidae
    Nymphalidae June 12, 2007 at 12:24 am |

    Duh, Vanessa! “Having it all” means getting to 1) stay home OR 2) go to the grocery store! I *knew* feminism was all about choices! How is it, Chet, that if this (your comment above, re: the grocery store) is truly representative of your values and beliefs, and you frequent this blog, that talking about *children* is the thing that has gotten you all shades of rankled? Wouldn’t all kinds of other woman-y rights stuff have sent you over the edge long ago?

    It was actually me who brought up the grocery store. I used it as an example of places where children are expected, because every single person has to go to the grocery store. I could also have said “I expect to see children at science museums” or “I expect to see children at the mall”. Mostly it was to recognize that nobody was arguing that children and parents should be locked away from the public. You can, in fact, have it all. Just get a sitter if you want to go to a midnight showing of the Rocky Horror Picture Show.

  254. Charity
    Charity June 12, 2007 at 12:29 am |

    Nymphalidae, that comment of mine was in response to Chet’s #244. As in, he used the grocery store comment as evidence that no one is forcing parents with kids / women with kids to *literally* stay at home. As in,we also think it’s OK if you go to the grocery store, so quit yer whining!!

  255. Cutlass
    Cutlass June 12, 2007 at 12:31 am |

    Very few people want to remember their own childhood. They have been raised to not remember 5 years ago, let alone 10 or 20. As a result they don’t remember how much of a burden they were, and seem to assume they just sprang out of the womb as adults. It’s a wonderfully narrow view, and it coincides with an unfortunately decline in the quality of parenting. I shudder to think what the next generation of “disenfranchised youths” will target for their animosity.

  256. EG
    EG June 12, 2007 at 12:33 am |

    Actually, Charity explained it far more succinctly than I did!

    What if you raise a crappy child who turns out to be a drain on society?

    Yep, life is full of gambles like that. But note that I didn’t say: you have to have children in order to reap those benefits. I essentially said that you shouldn’t act like a jerk about the existence of other people’s children if you expect to reap those benefits. The odds are that you won’t turn out a kid who’ll be a drain on society. If the numbers of people who are a drain on society outnumber productive members of society, then society stops existing. On the other hand, now that you mention it, I wouldn’t mind of Donald Trump, Paris Hilton, and other such drains didn’t get any further social benefits, so I can see the temptation of the idea…

    Also, creationists shouldn’t be allowed to use any technology or anything that was produced from any technology that was invented after 1859.

    Well, I’d be right behind any suggestion that creationists refrain from taking advantage of any medical and scientific developments based on evolution.

    I think paying thousands in property taxes that support local schools, regardless of whether or not I have a child in attendance, counts for something, right?

    I don’t have kids, so you can knock off the “it’s your children’s world” rhetoric.

    You mistake the purpose of taxes: they’re not quid pro quo. They’re designed to fund projects of worth to the community as a whole, including parents and children, who make up the majority of our society. I’d be pretty shocked if you didn’t reap the rewards of some tax-funded program that I don’t get any immediate benefit from.

    But no, as I said before, money isn’t care, and it isn’t any substitute for dealing graciously with the irritations of everyday life. Paying taxes that go toward local schools entitles you to the benefit of the existence of local schools, which means that children aren’t running wild in the street during the day, a benefit that I would think you would appreciate. But if you’d like to tally up how much of your money has gone toward local schools and other such amenities, then sure, reap the amount of benefits of that financial value. It should take about an hour and a half.

  257. Chet
    Chet June 12, 2007 at 12:40 am |

    As in, he used the grocery store comment as evidence that no one is forcing parents with kids / women with kids to *literally* stay at home.

    Going to the grocery store is what we were talking about. It was an example of the fact that nobody here has said that women, particularly women with children, have no place in the public sphere.

    I can’t imagine where you got the idea that I don’t think women should ever leave the home. But I suspect if you start reading my posts and paying attention to what I’m saying, instead of trying to misconstrue me in the most misogynistic way possible, you’ll see that.

    Wouldn’t all kinds of other woman-y rights stuff have sent you over the edge long ago?

    Yeah I guess it would, if I were a misogynist dickweed. Since I’m not, it didn’t. But congratulations on the most incomprehensible post all night.

    libber, sorry to butt in, but I believe the missing premises had something to do with someone’s comment about wanting *nothing* to do with the “village” comprising parents with children

    Hrm, further misreading. Allow me to clarify, if you’re actually interested in discussing in good faith – the village I don’t want to be a part of is the one where I’m obligated to provide child care to other people’s children, for free.

    And I really didn’t think that was so hard to understand. It’s bad enough that mothers are obligated to provide millions of dollars worth of uncompensated service to their children, but at least it’s something they volunteered to do. Somehow I’m under the same obligation, now? Deborah seemed to think so when she was calling us all “selfish.”

  258. Chet
    Chet June 12, 2007 at 12:44 am |

    They’re designed to fund projects of worth to the community as a whole, including parents and children, who make up the majority of our society.

    I agree. Since I’m helping fund the the project, I don’t see from what basis you would attempt to cut me out of the benefits, i.e. a future society of educated adults. What, because I’m insufficiently grateful?

    Thanks for proving my point, I guess. (And I have another rejoinder appropriate for your general sentiment but I don’t think Roy wants me to use it.)

  259. SJ
    SJ June 12, 2007 at 12:46 am |

    I hate how society revolves around children and reproduction (in fact, as some commentators pointed out, reproduction more than children).

    This is from the wayback, here, but it always catches me short when people say this, because we’re sexual creatures who reproduce by means on sexual reproduction. So from a biological perspective, things do revolve around reproduction.

    That said, I’m glad that both men and women sometimes have the choice not to reproduce. I just think there’s a reason some of us are so into children and humping and stuff. It’s my density.

  260. libber
    libber June 12, 2007 at 12:49 am |

    You mistake the purpose of taxes: they’re not quid pro quo. They’re designed to fund projects of worth to the community as a whole, including parents and children, who make up the majority of our society. I’d be pretty shocked if you didn’t reap the rewards of some tax-funded program that I don’t get any immediate benefit from.

    But no, as I said before, money isn’t care, and it isn’t any substitute for dealing graciously with the irritations of everyday life. Paying taxes that go toward local schools entitles you to the benefit of the existence of local schools, which means that children aren’t running wild in the street during the day, a benefit that I would think you would appreciate. But if you’d like to tally up how much of your money has gone toward local schools and other such amenities, then sure, reap the amount of benefits of that financial value. It should take about an hour and a half.

    Look, there are lots of issues here which get intertwined. Paying taxes should be sufficient — maybe not in a shit-ass republican world but in a better one. We pay, you (who like to devote your whole life to child rearing) provide. We (who have less than 2 children) will provide something you (who have 2+ children) won’t be able to provide.

  261. Vanessa
    Vanessa June 12, 2007 at 12:49 am |

    Going to the grocery store is what we were talking about.

    But it wasn’t what I was talking about. I was talking about RM’s comment about people – read ‘women’ – from previous generations were ‘smart’ enough to know that having children involved ‘sacrifice’ but now they think they can have it all.

    I think the majority of this thread has been a series of misunderstandings brought about by the snarky nature of the internet. Thank you for reminding me why I was talking a break from blogging.

  262. EG
    EG June 12, 2007 at 12:50 am |

    What, because I’m insufficiently grateful?

    Because, from everything you say, you behave like an entitled brat when you are the slightest bit inconvenienced by the existence of children. As I pointed out, your taxes buy you the benefit of having children not running wild on the streets. Not much else.

  263. Ledasmom
    Ledasmom June 12, 2007 at 12:52 am |

    I do love the idea that the people with the beautifully-behaved, quiet kids and the people with the screaming wailing terrors are necessarily different people. Quite often they are the same people, with the same kids, on different days.
    Whenever I hear someone without kids claiming to hate them, I think to myself: You have no idea. You cannot possibly understand true child-hate until you have put two exhausted children to bed and found yourself in front of the refrigerator muttering, “Ice cream? Nope, not there. Alcohol? Nope, not there. Dammit!”

  264. EG
    EG June 12, 2007 at 12:55 am |

    I disagree, libber. Paying taxes is one aspect of accepting that children are members of society with a presence in the public sphere, but it’s not the only aspect. Paying taxes is not sufficient.

  265. Charity
    Charity June 12, 2007 at 12:57 am |

    Chet, cool your jets man. I am thoroughly digging you! I want you to stick around, and I don’t want to hurt you. Re: the village comment, I was filling in a point made by EG, who basically then said I was accurate in conveying her point, so…what was the problem again? I never said the original “village” comment was YOUR comment (although I guess it was, since you got defensive), or said that you were obligated to do anything. I still don’t think you’ve really clarified just what it is that you feel someone is “obligating” you to do when it comes to helping raise other people’s children.

    In pointing out that you identified the sole choice of the grocery store as evidence that parents aren’t confined to the home in your comment #244, I fail to see how that translates to “Charity said Chet thinks women should be confined to the home.” I merely pointed out that…you identified the sole choice of the grocery store. My comment to Vanessa was tongue-in-cheek. I guess we have abandoned all semblance of nuance?

    And if you think I’m incomprehensible, I’ll take that to mean I’m doing just fine, given your preferred debating “style”.

  266. Aerik
    Aerik June 12, 2007 at 12:58 am |

    Wow. Thanks for writing this Roy! I often have the same feelings running into people who express resentment at children and blame them as burdens, and instead of treating them as human beings, treat them as tools while they can (and I really go against that). and I think you really put it together well here.

  267. belledame222
    belledame222 June 12, 2007 at 1:06 am |

    Just wondering:

    I mean, one difference between hating children and hating whatever other group is that we all once -were- children.

    so, “inner child” mawkishness aside, i do wonder: is it also disowning a part of ourselves?

  268. belledame222
    belledame222 June 12, 2007 at 1:07 am |

    i mean, i have to cop to this: screaming kids drive me crazy.

    but part of it is irritation because sometimes it reminds me that -i- feel like screaming, and i’m not socially at liberty to do so.

  269. Lauren
    Lauren June 12, 2007 at 1:10 am |

    When I hear “I hate children” I hear “I hate women.”

    Why? By and large the majority of childcare around the world, even in our entitled, privileged, Tickle-Me-Elmo, X-Box entrenched America, is in the hands of women.

    Thus when I hear “I don’t hate children, I hate their stupid parents for not controlling them,” I hear a message that women are stupid and incompetent. And fuck that. Especially when it is embraced WITHIN the feminist community.

    All this shit about taxes and movie theater behavior is merely a facade for more socially acceptable misogyny.

  270. Lauren
    Lauren June 12, 2007 at 1:12 am |

    Yeah I guess it would, if I were a misogynist dickweed. Since I’m not, it didn’t.

    I am not a douchebag if I maintain that I am not a douchebag.

  271. pb
    pb June 12, 2007 at 1:15 am |

    As a second grade teacher, I’ve been reading this thread with some interest. It seems that a lot of people’s judgments about children are based on limited interactions with children in public places or extensive interactions with children who are related to them. I have no children of my own, but I interact with a large number of children over long periods of time and get to know them and their families quite well.

    At the risk of being deemed a “mommy-hater,” I think that the whole “I hate children” thing is a clumsy way of getting at a very important conversation about families, good citizenship, and the importance of good parenting.

    Over the course of my career, I have met many charming, respectful, hard-working children. I have also met a staggering number “brats,” and it almost always follows that children with bad manners have parents with bad manners. For example, in the beginning of the school year, I was perplexed by M’s constant interrupting – how had she passed 1st grade without learning to raise her hand? I called a parent-teacher conference, which was less of a conference and more of a 45-minute harangue by M’s mother during which I was barely able to get a word in edgewise. Perhaps M interrupts to be heard at home? Kids who get swatted at home hit other kids. Eight-year-olds who are still having weepy temper tantrums often have parents who cave to that kind of pressure. I’m not talking about three-year-olds or kids with disabilities – I’m talking about genuine bad behavior that stems from a deep lack of respect for other people.

    I know parents who let their kids get away with everything. There are 8-year-olds in my class whose parents take them to see R-rated movies, buy them violent video games (I’m not in favor of censoring video games for adults, but what do I say to the mom who actually went out and bought her kid Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas “because he just had to have it”?), and take their side no matter what offense they may have committed? I am 100% serious when I say that there is a teacher at my school who is being sued for “harassing” a student because she hauled him into the office when she caught him throwing toilet paper bombs onto the ceiling of the bathroom.

    I don’t hate children. What I hate is spending so much time trying to inculcate some basic respect and interpersonal interaction skills in half of my students while the rest of the class gets cheated by having a frustrated teacher, and everybody loses out on learning time. Admittedly, a big part of primary education is learning how to interact with others, so I don’t begrudge some amount of community-building and conflict-resolution education, but I’ve had it up to here with seeing children destroy property, hurt one another, order their parents around, throw tantrums, and refuse to follow basic rules, just to have their parents come in and defend their little angels against the injustice of fair punishments.

    I say, if you trash the bathroom, you clean the bathroom. If you grafitti the kindergarten playground, you get a bucket of paint and a brush to put it right. If you punch someone in the face during recess, you miss out on recess. And no parent-as-white-knight rushing in to save you. It happens all the time, and I am tired of it.

  272. libber
    libber June 12, 2007 at 1:16 am |

    This is from the wayback, here, but it always catches me short when people say this, because we’re sexual creatures who reproduce by means on sexual reproduction. So from a biological perspective, things do revolve around reproduction

    doesn’t mean society must revolve around reproduction. sex need not lead to reproduction.

    I disagree, libber. Paying taxes is one aspect of accepting that children are members of society with a presence in the public sphere, but it’s not the only aspect. Paying taxes is not sufficient.

    What else do you want? I don’t ask people not to care for their children or to get a baby-sitter when they go to Olive Garden or Starbucks. But I am not going to change the kiddo’s diapers for them or smile when their kids ruin my afternoon.

  273. Coldorderful
    Coldorderful June 12, 2007 at 1:18 am |

    The thing that pisses me off is when people hate on other people’s parenting skills. Sorry, but just because that kid is yelling in the store doesn’t make his parent bad. Kids get tired, they get hot, they get grouchy. And it’s easy to say they should leave if you;ve got an SUV parked outside, if you took the bus and can’t hire a sitter due to finances, what are you supposed to do? Kids can’t help many of the things they do, adults are adults and should be able to deal with the trauma of not having a perfect life by not acting like children and, say, tuning out the noise. I don’t actually have kids, but I don’t think they come with some kind of magic wand. I just saw a local blog that was condemning a kid’s mother for letting him go to the bathroom on the street. Okay, sure, nobody wants public urination. But I’m familiar with that area, and unless you can pay to go into a restaurant, the nearest public bathroom is at least 1.5 miles away, farther depending on the time of day. I really doubt a 2 year old with a full bladder is going to be able to walk that far, she probably can’t carry him that far, and it’s not a very high income/high car ownership area, oh and if she tries to get on the bus, god forbid he has his accident there, then she’ll really be hated on. There are logistics that people don’t take into account in the rush to be superior.

  274. libber
    libber June 12, 2007 at 1:28 am |

    if you don’t want to share the hassles of the village (i.e. want “nothing to do with it”), neither should you share the rewards / *fruits* of the village (the services / social value ultimately provided by the once-children of the village).

    If I wanted ‘nothing to do with it’, I would complain about paying taxing. But I am not complaining about that (in fact, I’d be more than happy to pay even higher taxes if only I knew they’d go to starving and sick children rather than insane wars). Nor am I complaining when people take their kids out. Just keep me out of it, and (friends and family) stop talking about kids and marriage whenever we get together (try such topics as world hunger, pollution, the insanity of the Bush administration, etc.).

  275. Greta
    Greta June 12, 2007 at 1:31 am |

    When I hear “I hate children” I hear “I hate women.”

    Why? By and large the majority of childcare around the world, even in our entitled, privileged, Tickle-Me-Elmo, X-Box entrenched America, is in the hands of women.

    Thus when I hear “I don’t hate children, I hate their stupid parents for not controlling them,” I hear a message that women are stupid and incompetent. And fuck that. Especially when it is embraced WITHIN the feminist community.

    All this shit about taxes and movie theater behavior is merely a facade for more socially acceptable misogyny.

    Oh build a bridge and get over yourself, Gloria Steinam.

    Notice the use of the word “parents.” If someone said, ““I don’t hate children, I hate their stupid mothers for not controlling them,” then you’d have an argument. But you don’t.

    Your reply is sexist in and of itself because you’re trying to make it all about women, when it’s not. Sorry toots, but there are some men who do at least half of the childrearing in the family (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/19092063like this one) and I’d wager to say there are quite a few men who are the better parent in the parenting equation.

    You would think that fathers stepping up to the plate and doing their fair share would be seen as a good thing since women are always saying how men should be more hands on with raising their children and willing to help. You know, equality and all that jazz. But then some (stupid) women go on to complain they feel disenfranchised as a mother because their husbands have a better way with their kids. You just can’t win.

    The overwhelming majority of the population will, in fact, have children. Is there some reason we’ve got to leave them out in the cold and pretend that the interests of parents must always be subordinated to those who don’t have kids in tow? I mean, you chose not have kids. Is there a reason your status is superior to those with kids?

    And I don’t think anyone here is arguing that having children means you make no adjustments, just that it’s highly unreasonable that to exclude parents and children from the public arena.

    Out in the cold? Please, spare me the violins.

    People who don’t have kids are not superior to people who do, but the same is true vice versa.

    Look, no one is saying you can’t bring your kids out in public. You can, and hell, you don’t even need permission. But there are varying levels of “public,” get it?

    For example, if I walk into the Olive Garden at 6:00 p.m., there’s a good chance I’ll be seated next to a couple of parents whose toddler is crawling around under the table, their baby is crying, and their five year old is mad that the crayons given to her were dull and in boring colors. I would even expect it, and I’d have no right to complain.

    If I made reservations at 9:00 for the most expensive restaurant in town, the kind of place that requires semi formal dress, has its own sommelier, every table is for two, and the diningroom is lit mostly by candlelight, I should not have to put up with crying babies or fussy toddlers.

    If I go to the 3:00 p.m. showing of Ratatouille on a Saturday, then I should expect to encounter loud kids, possibly a few crying babies, parents getting up and down to take their kids to the bathroom, etc.

    If I go to the 10:50 showing of The Departed, then I shouldn’t have to put up with parents passing back and forth on trips to the bathroom for their kids, or crying babies, or distraught toddlers who can’t handle the violence, or a parents trying to explain to little Johnny why that man shot that other man…

    Get it?

    I don’t understand why this trend of taking your children anywhere and everywhere suddenly popped up. My parents left me at home with a sitter and went out for several hours and I was never emotionally detatched or maladjusted or withdrawn or scarred for life because of it. They did eventually take me out but they gauged my maturity level and went to the appropriate venues. As I got older and proved I could behave and handle the situation, they exposed me to more places. They taught me how to act at home and then took me out in public rather than doing it backwards and expecting everyone else to put up with it because their daughter needed a learning experiece. *rolls eyes*

  276. Kimberly
    Kimberly June 12, 2007 at 1:35 am |

    A good argument, Roy, but not one that will change my mind. I still hate kids. I still find reproduction to be disgusting (who wants a parasite growing inside them?) and childrearing to be an inconvenience. In a technology-based society, we ought to be able to find alternate ways of creating the next generation than to condescend to biology. What would be more liberating to both sexes than that?!? (Plus, poof! The problem of children — and childhood — disappears. If adults are still horrible to each other after not having to endure childhood, then it’s a sure sign that we’re all doomed.)

  277. gaia
    gaia June 12, 2007 at 1:36 am |

    EG – as a parent I will never forget the nice man who grabbed the front of the stroller as we were struggling up the stairs at the Oklahoma State Fair.

    I will never forget the couple who smiled tolerantly at my child as he continued to stand up and wave at them in the restaurant (I say continued – it was probably 3 times total, but it was mortifying to me) even as I kind of blame them for encouraging the behavior I was trying to correct.

    I will never forget the wonderful woman in WalMart who reassured me that all kids sometimes throw tantrums and told off the person who told me he would stop if I’d just swat him.

    As a person, I get annoyed when the person in front of me allows the door to shut in my face, whether I’m pushing a stroller or not (actually, I used a baby bjorn so there was no stroller, ever). It’s called common courtesy. You hold the door until the person behind you can grab it (and if you’re the person behind it, make a freakin’ effort to grab it).

    As a parent, when my child acts up, I’m mortified. And I’m extremely grateful when an adult jokes with my child to get him in a better mood. I’m very grateful when an adult reminds my child to be more careful in a nice tone of voice. Sure, I tell him but I’m just his Mom, it has more impact from a stranger (all I ask is that you try not to use a rude voice but even then I’m grateful).

    I’m very appreciative of the village. I don’t expect everyone to participate in it, but if you don’t and a teenager mugs you, well, that’s karma.

  278. Lauren
    Lauren June 12, 2007 at 1:37 am |

    doesn’t mean society must revolve around reproduction. sex need not lead to reproduction.

    True. But when straight people fuck they’re likely to get pregnant eventually. Use birth control? Great! Good on you! I fight for mine too!

    Whenever the anti-child wars break out in the fem-o-sphere I have to redirect people to this post. Pretending that parenthood doesn’t carry social stigma is, again, a pillar of socially-accepted misogyny.

  279. Jenny Dreadful
    Jenny Dreadful June 12, 2007 at 1:41 am |

    You would think that fathers stepping up to the plate and doing their fair share would be seen as a good thing since women are always saying how men should be more hands on with raising their children and willing to help. You know, equality and all that jazz. But then some (stupid) women go on to complain they feel disenfranchised as a mother because their husbands have a better way with their kids. You just can’t win.

    Who are you referring to in this paragraph?

  280. Lauren
    Lauren June 12, 2007 at 1:50 am |

    Oh build a bridge and get over yourself, Gloria Steinam.

    I like the Gloria Steinem thing. I needed a compliment.

    Notice the use of the word “parents.” If someone said, ““I don’t hate children, I hate their stupid mothers for not controlling them,” then you’d have an argument. But you don’t.

    Your reply is sexist in and of itself because you’re trying to make it all about women, when it’s not.

    I also like the link to MSNBC; since I’ve never read anything on parenting before I was totally clueless! Thanks! I also polish my beamer with a diaper and wipe my kid’s ass with Time magazine.

    Yes, it’s great when dads take on the primary responsibility for their kids’ care. Is it not sexist to give them a gold star for doing so? Also interesting that a term was phrased for parental competition in the home. Is “mom blocking” the new “cock blocking”? Great choice of article!

    Dads do it too! is a red herring. Show me the research on 50-50 “equality and all that jazz” division of labor and we’ll talk about how the disdain of children isn’t linked to disdain of women. In the meantime, if you want to talk about dads who stay at home with the kids, we can talk about how they report feeling feminized and made to feel like lesser men because they aren’t performing their socially accepted male duties.

    I don’t understand why this trend of taking your children anywhere and everywhere suddenly popped up. My parents left me at home with a sitter and went out for several hours and I was never emotionally detatched or maladjusted or withdrawn or scarred for life because of it. They did eventually take me out but they gauged my maturity level and went to the appropriate venues. As I got older and proved I could behave and handle the situation, they exposed me to more places. They taught me how to act at home and then took me out in public rather than doing it backwards and expecting everyone else to put up with it because their daughter needed a learning experiece. *rolls eyes*

    I’m sending your folks a book of sparkly stickers right now.

  281. libber
    libber June 12, 2007 at 2:02 am |

    True. But when straight people fuck they’re likely to get pregnant eventually. Use birth control? Great! Good on you! I fight for mine too!

    Depends on the kind of fucking you engage in. Besides, most women (who have no trouble getting pregnant) get pregnant when they wanna get pregnant

  282. Vanessa
    Vanessa June 12, 2007 at 2:05 am |

    Thanks! I also polish my beamer with a diaper and wipe my kid’s ass with Time magazine.

    Lauren totally wins the thread.

  283. EG
    EG June 12, 2007 at 2:10 am |

    What else do you want?

    Well, as I’ve said before, acceptance of the fact that yeah, sometimes you’re going to have put up with children being irritating, and not making their lives or their parents’ lives more difficult than they already are by huffing angrily, rolling your eyes, talking about how “bad” the parents are, or any of the other stuff I’ve seen self-righteous people without kids do. Acceptance of the fact that there are very few places where you have the right to go and not encounter kids. Extending a certain amount of the benefit of the doubt to parents; perhaps there’s a reason they’ve made the decisions they’ve made, even if they’re not the decisions you would have made. General human decency. That kind of thing.

  284. libber
    libber June 12, 2007 at 2:10 am |

    Lauren kindly redirected us idiots to a post from 2004 — thought I’d hate it but I actually liked this part:

    To be fair, the commenter who said that was responding the weak argument that we have a social obligation to take care of children because they are the next generation and will pay for our retirement, run our nursing homes, etc. etc. Again, I say no. We have a social obligation to children because CHILDREN ARE PART OF SOCIETY. As they are young and dependent, the obligations of adults towards them are greater than theirs towards us. But see, they do grow up (if our obligations are fulfilled), and then they take on social responsibilities too, including caring for us when/if we ourselves become dependent. This is a nice thing, but it is not the REASON we should take care of children, it is merely the logical consequence of doing so.

    This clearly challenges Charity and EG’s “service argument”

  285. Lauren
    Lauren June 12, 2007 at 2:10 am |

    Besides, most women (who have no trouble getting pregnant) get pregnant when they wanna get pregnant

    And some of us just end up pregnant.

  286. belledame222
    belledame222 June 12, 2007 at 2:12 am |

    Can I just ask: do y’all remember how you behaved/were treated when you were in public, when you were kids?

  287. libber
    libber June 12, 2007 at 2:22 am |

    And some of us just end up pregnant.

    That’s still a choice you had at some point (unless it was somehow forced upon you)

  288. Sadie Sabot
    Sadie Sabot June 12, 2007 at 2:24 am |

    Deborah Says:

    Or, to put it another way, you are so accustomed to living in a fundamentally selfish culture and not being a part of a community or experiencing life as interdependent that when interdependence appears in tiny ways—such as hearing noisy children in public—you feel interfered with and resentful to the point of hatred.

    well said.

  289. Vanessa
    Vanessa June 12, 2007 at 2:24 am |

    Can I just ask: do y’all remember how you behaved/were treated when you were in public, when you were kids?

    Honestly – not really. Although I do have a vivid memory of once accidentally stealing a package of goldfish crackers (I forgot I was holding them as we went through checkout) and then feeling afraid that I was going to go to jail or something. We lived in Indiana so I had to be 4 or 5.

    Also, I remember once having an accident because I really had to go to the bathroom and my dad was wrapped up in playing the Star Wars arcade game at the mall. You know, the one with the line graphics of the Death Star trench run. Ah, the relaxed parenting style of baby boomers…

  290. EG
    EG June 12, 2007 at 2:24 am |

    Libber, I’m beginning to think that you’re deliberately misconstruing my argument. As I’ve explained, I was responding directly to a post in which Chet argued that as children would not grow up to be of value to him, he was absolved of all responsibility to behave respectfully towards them. My point was that if that be the case, he was more than welcome to put his money where his mouth was and indeed, do without those future services.

    The argument that we owe children care and respect because they are members of society is a much more hard-line argument, and one that is actually much more in tune with my own leanings. The idea that children need to somehow justify their existence by being of value to society presupposes that children are not themselves members of society, which, as you point out, they are. The point that they are particularly powerless members of our society and thus they are entitled to adult care, kindness, and respect, rather than derision and dismissal was, in fact, the point of Roy’s post, and of the comment of mine that he quoted in it.

  291. Lauren
    Lauren June 12, 2007 at 2:26 am |

    This clearly challenges Charity and EG’s “service argument”

    Yes, it does. But it also clearly denotes that as a society we should all be invested in raising healthy, educated, and engaged children.

    However, I called no one an idiot.

  292. EG
    EG June 12, 2007 at 2:27 am |

    And since, once my previous comment gets out of moderation, we are indeed where I came in, having come full circle to the actual point of Roy’s post, here’s where I’ll check out.

  293. Lauren
    Lauren June 12, 2007 at 2:27 am |

    That’s still a choice you had at some point (unless it was somehow forced upon you)

    What’s your point?

  294. libber
    libber June 12, 2007 at 2:33 am |

    What’s your point?

    that sex need not lead to reproduction

  295. Lauren
    Lauren June 12, 2007 at 2:38 am |

    sex need not lead to reproduction

    I’m pretty sure this section of the blog confirms your suspicions.

    Unless what you’re really saying is that having kids is quaint and you’re above that shit.

  296. Alix
    Alix June 12, 2007 at 2:39 am |

    Y’know, I agree with you. I admit to sometimes saying “I hate children” after a particularly bad encounter with one, but I say I hate a lot of people, and I really don’t.

    Actually, no. Currently, I hate all patrons of the library I work at. I’ll get over it by the end of the week, though.

    I don’t think there’s a problem with hating the idea of children, though. (By “idea of children”, I mean both the idea of having children yourself and the societal image of children, and women’s roles in producing/caring for them.)

    I am a member of a few childfree groups, mostly venting/ranting communities for people to blow off steam, and I see a lot of child-hatred there. A lot of it, honestly, seems to be redirected hatred/anger at the parents who let the kids be disruptive or whatever; I know from teaching sunday school and working at the library that the people most likely to react negatively to any request that they or their party behave properly are parents (mothers AND fathers, before anyone gets mad at me) and groups of teens.

    A lot of it is also people forgetting how children learn, and how they behave while young. I never really forgot; I have younger siblings I took care of; mom and dad constantly told me stories about my own temper tantrums as a child; like I mentioned, I’ve worked with kids in some form since, well, my siblings grew up. It amazes me how many people can say, with a straight face, that they never, ever acted up like that in public when they were little. Yeah, right. And I’m the President.

    Like I said, I think a lot of child “hatred” is actually anger. Anger at a society that constantly pushes childhood as some wondrous good, and childrearing as the only worthy job of a woman. Anger at parents who don’t control their kids (and there are plenty). Anger at the societal boundaries that make it difficult to confront a parent (no, I’m not making this up). Anger at the children, because the person angered has bought into the idyllic whitewashing of childhood that society pushes, and believes that he was never that bad. Anger at themselves for being annoyed.

    And I’m rambling, so I shall shut up.

  297. Vanessa
    Vanessa June 12, 2007 at 2:48 am |

    And to whomever is managing the moderation queue – kudos! But you should totally go to bed already.

  298. libber
    libber June 12, 2007 at 2:54 am |

    I think a lot of child “hatred” is actually anger. Anger at a society that constantly pushes childhood as some wondrous good, and childrearing as the only worthy job of a woman. Anger at parents who don’t control their kids (and there are plenty). Anger at the societal boundaries that make it difficult to confront a parent (no, I’m not making this up).

    yes, right on. especially ‘anger at a society that constantly pushes … childrearing as the only worthy job of a woman’

    I’m pretty sure this section of the blog confirms your suspicions.

    Unless what you’re really saying is that having kids is quaint and you’re above that shit

    Fair enough. And no, I’m not saying I’m above ‘that shit’. I’d be lying.

  299. Coldorderful
    Coldorderful June 12, 2007 at 2:54 am |

    Notice the use of the word “parents.” If someone said, ““I don’t hate children, I hate their stupid mothers for not controlling them,” then you’d have an argument. But you don’t.

    OMG! Yeah! If we conspicuously use the word “parent” rather than “mother,” then we can pretend that we’ve fundamentally altered the distribution of primary child care responsibilities in the country. Yay!

  300. libber
    libber June 12, 2007 at 2:58 am |

    If we conspicuously use the word “parent” rather than “mother,” then we can pretend that we’ve fundamentally altered the distribution of primary child care responsibilities in the country

    If we conspicuously use the word ‘mother’ rather than ‘parent’ then we can contribute to the gender schemas and make sure they persist

  301. Donna Darko
    Donna Darko June 12, 2007 at 3:00 am |

    Yay! for Dr. EG and Roy!

  302. Vanessa
    Vanessa June 12, 2007 at 3:02 am |

    If we conspicuously use the word ‘mother’ rather than ‘parent’ then we can contribute to the gender schemas and make sure they persist

    Oh come on, that’s a little disingenuous. Correctly appraising the reality of a situation, that it’s mainly women who do the bulk of childcare in Western society, doesn’t make that situation persist.

    It’s not the Candyman or Beetlejuice. It won’t not come get us if we don’t say its name.

  303. Lauren
    Lauren June 12, 2007 at 3:03 am |

    If we conspicuously use the word ‘mother’ rather than ‘parent’ then we can contribute to the gender schemas and make sure they persist

    If we ignore it it will go away by itself!

  304. libber
    libber June 12, 2007 at 3:10 am |

    If we ignore it it will go away by itself!

    Let’s not change how we talk. it’ll make all the difference!

  305. Vanessa
    Vanessa June 12, 2007 at 3:16 am |

    Let’s not change how we talk. it’ll make all the difference!

    Don’t you see how changing the language in this situation is ignoring the reality of the situation just a little bit?

    It would be like pretending domestic violence isn’t a situation where women are primarily the victims. Sure, we need to change the fact that women are seen as helpless victims all the time in our culture…but meanwhile, women are being victimized in out culture.

    And yes, childcare shouldn’t be done more by a parent of a particular gender in our culture, but right now that’s the case. It’s not a problem that will be fixed by changing the language. In fact, changing the language to be gender-neutral allows misogynist turns of phrase to be more prevalent. Just whose crotch do you suppose a crotch-dropping is coming out of? No one refers to children as ‘sperm-tumors’ or something like that.

    This all seems like it has drifted off topic.

  306. Vanessa
    Vanessa June 12, 2007 at 3:17 am |

    And I notice I’m sounding somewhat incoherent and my typos are steadily increasing. Time for bed.

  307. Lauren
    Lauren June 12, 2007 at 3:19 am |

    Are you tired, libber? You seem to have run out of snide one-liners and now you’re edging on trite and kind of senseless. Didn’t you have a point upthread? Or is this a last-word thing?

  308. Greta
    Greta June 12, 2007 at 3:35 am |

    Good lord. This thread has completely veered from being about hating children, to hating women. I suppose you couldn’t expect any less from someone like Lauren, who seems to have drank quite a lot of something before she got on and started making the outrageous claim that disliking children = mysogyny. Sorry but if you want to stretch it that far, you’re already so whacked out that no amount of debate or discussion is going to change your mind.

    I think I’ve said all I can say now. There’s nothing worse than arguing with a woman who is hell bent on making everything about how society hates them and further hates them by hating anything associated with them.

    Roy, thank you for your… engaging… commentary. It’s been interesting, to say the least.

  309. Auguste
    Auguste June 12, 2007 at 3:59 am |

    I’m a father who does, in fact, take about 50%-ish of the responsibility, or maybe more, and guess what I get for it? Oohs and aahs. (See, I’m even fishing for them now, and I don’t mean to be!) The closest thing to criticism I get is that I don’t enforce gender roles strictly enough, an accusation which receives exactly the amount of attention from me it deserves.

    Anyway, when my son was about six months old, I was home with him while my wife was at a baby shower or the like, and I called to ask her a question (I think I wanted her to bring home alcohol of some sort). My uncle, who was holed up upstairs during the chick party, said “Are you calling to ask where the formula is?” I said, “Well, no.” “Oh,” he chuckled, “I know when my kids were babies and I was home alone with them, I had to ask where everything from diapers to pajamas were.”

    See? I have anecdotal evidence too. Demographics are what they are, and most caregivers are women. Drive-by parenting is done to women. Disapproving glances are given to women. Men just have to avoid dropping the kid on hir head.

    And Greta? You’re kind of a condescending asshole, aren’t you?

  310. Katherine
    Katherine June 12, 2007 at 4:01 am |

    Chet,

    That children can be relied upon to act like children only makes parents more culpable, not less, for incorrectly gauging their child’s ability to handle quite, adult situations.

    Well, I wasn’t saying that you can’t criticize parents who bring children to upscale restaurants or R-rated movies. Those are adult venues. But as far as non-adult venues go, parents can’t always drop everything to remove a crying kid; they have to get the bill or go through the checkout, etc. And in the time it takes to do so, lots of people like you are going to get irritated and assume that they are bad parents.

    And “children acting like children” doesn’t mean that most kids scream and throw tantrums wherever they go. I work in a shoe store, and there have been two or three times in my memory when kids have acted out of control and the parents did nothing to stop it, but the vast majority of the time, they’re fine. They have nothing on the obnoxious adults, I’d say.

  311. MiragerT
    MiragerT June 12, 2007 at 4:03 am |

    What a fantastic post Roy!

    Lauren: I would add this post to the mix also.

    http://bitchphd.blogspot.com/2005/04/moms-at-work-over-there.html

  312. Linnaeus
    Linnaeus June 12, 2007 at 4:04 am |

    I think it’s martini time.

  313. Vanessa
    Vanessa June 12, 2007 at 4:11 am |

    Woo!

    The comment below mine will be the last comment in this thread.

  314. “Acting childish” - from Feministe at  Hoyden About Town

    [...] amily, interblog and bigotry. There’s a long and involved thread on Feministe right now about the much-bandie [...]

  315. Katherine
    Katherine June 12, 2007 at 4:50 am |

    When I hear “I hate children” I hear “I hate women.”

    Yes. Childcare was (and still is, mostly) women’s work, and of course women are supposed to anticipate the needs of their child so that they NEVER INCONVENIENCE ANYONE EVER.

    I was a very easy-going kid, but I remember my mom being incredibly nervous about what adult strangers would think of my behavior in public. And I definitely remember getting flak from adults merely for existing. So, even though I don’t have kids (and am not too certain I want them) I tend to err on the side of sympathy.

  316. Auguste
    Auguste June 12, 2007 at 5:01 am |

    It would be like pretending domestic violence isn’t a situation where women are primarily the victims.

    But – but – hey! That’s exactly what the misogynists do! That’s weird.

  317. Azundris
    Azundris June 12, 2007 at 5:02 am |

    It’s the attack of the boy bloggers! It’s sowing dissent amongst us! It’s divide et impera! Hail the alaaaaaaaarm! : )

  318. Coldorderful
    Coldorderful June 12, 2007 at 5:09 am |

    If we conspicuously use the word ‘mother’ rather than ‘parent’ then we can contribute to the gender schemas and make sure they persist

    Yes siree, the best way to change the status quo is to not address the gender schemas in any kind of specific way, but to just pretend they’re not there and pretend that generalized statements are neutral regardless of situational reality. As a Mexican American, when I see someone say “we need to build a wall to keep out the immigrants” I take that as substantially different in meaning and intent from “we need to build a wall to keep out the Mexicans.” After all, immigrants include *all kinds* of nationalities, and I think person number one clearly means we need to crackdown on British and Canadians with expired visas, personally.

    There’s nothing worse than arguing with a woman who is hell bent on making everything about how society hates them and further hates them by hating anything associated with them.

    Well, that’s too bad, because there’s nothing more fun than arguing with someone who spends half her time bemoaning the sense of entitlement experienced by stereotypical spoiled, materialistic, over commodified brats who should be considering how lucky they are to have safe drinking water, and the other half whining about being an oppresssed victim because my expensive meal just doesn’t taste the same when there are rugrats in the vacinity and oh dearie me, my matinee was ruined by someone walking up the aisle, it was torture, pure torture, oh me, oh my, there are other people, they exist without permission, it’s supposed to be all about me. Meeeeeeee…

    Auguste, I work in a store and have definitely noticed a different reaction to guys who are alone with kids when they have tantrums and women who they are alone with kids when they have tantrums. With the guys, it’s more of a “that poor man–of course he doesn’t know what to do, why would he?” The visceral hatred and anger tends to be somewhat less visceral. :)

  319. magickitty
    magickitty June 12, 2007 at 5:09 am |

    You know… I’m glad I live in Canada. Or maybe I just live in a very polite and well-behaved city, because I have never see the kind of “entitled parents” referred to during this thread.

    Anyway. I hope I find myself in Chet’s Café Unsympatico one night, sitting right behind him. My son has a voice that make teeth fall out – especially when I tell him that chocolate is a treat, not a meal.

    And Greta, when you say “toots” to a feminist, it’s pretty much game over.

  320. Auguste
    Auguste June 12, 2007 at 5:14 am |

    I think people are entitled to a world as free of intentional annoyance of others as they are a world free of rape and murder, but that’s just me, I guess.

    Wow. It may not be just you, Chet, but you and anyone else who thinks it is* absolutely wrong. And close to, if not all the way to, minimizing rape and murder, by the way.

    * Are? It’s late.

  321. Meg Thornton
    Meg Thornton June 12, 2007 at 6:26 am |

    Do I hate children?

    I get annoyed that two of the four medication containers I have to buy on a regular basis come with compulsory “childproof” lids which I have difficulty with as an adult. I dislike being stuck in an airliner with a screaming baby (and since there’s no such thing as the “child-free flight” here in .au, there *will* be at least one baby on any flight, and that child *will* start screaming when the air pressure changes make their ears hurt – it can’t be avoided). I’m not keen on having to stand on the train between 3.30pm and 4pm, when all the kids are going home from school, particularly if I’ve been spending the day looking for work and my feet hurt. I find it invasive when I’m on public transport and I am bombarded by the noise of a couple of teenagers holding a very loud conversation. I get irritated when I’m out at a restaurant trying to enjoy a quiet dinner with my partner, and there are a couple of young children at the next table making a racket.

    I find a lot of my problems with kids, though, boil down to noise levels. I’m badly affected by excess noise, because I’m one of these people who has to concentrate hard to follow a conversation in a noisy environment. Too much noise literally tires me out. Children (and immature adults) tend not to have that much volume regulation, or much understanding that not everyone is like them, or indeed that not everyone is interested in them. Combine this with a lot of modern environments, which have a lot of hard surfaces, causing noise to bounce off everything, and even the quietest group can create an absolute racket. But even realising that the problem is with my surroundings and not with the children themselves, I still get annoyed by the noise levels.

    I tend to get around the problems, because they’re *my* problems. The childsafe lids on bottles and jars I can’t do anything about. If it gets too annoying, I’ll have a words with the local pharmacist, and find out whether there’s any way of getting a different packaging of the medication. The screaming baby on the airplane is something I just have to live with – the parents can’t do much about it, the kid isn’t really to blame, and s’welp me, I sometimes sympathise with the poor tyke myself. I try to time my entry to and exodus from the city so that it’s either before or after the school rush (thus meaning I’ve a slightly better chance of a seat, and a slightly lower chance of having to listen in to someone else’s conversation). Oh, and if I come home from a restaurant feeling knackered, it’s a sign to avoid the place next time around. I love both of my nieces (and I’m getting to like the pair of them more and more now they’re safely out of toddlerhood, too – I really have problems relating to kids between the ages of 6 months and 6 years), and I’ve so far avoided strangling anyone else’s kids. I won’t be having any of my own, though, because I’m really not keen on the notion of parenthood. Kids make noise, and I have problems with lots of noise.

    But no, I don’t hate children. I just have a problem with the noise they make. It’s my problem, so I take measures to deal with it myself.

    [Context: Australian, female, childfree by choice, 10 years retail experience, one younger sibling, two nieces (12 and 7).]

  322. Ledasmom
    Ledasmom June 12, 2007 at 6:52 am |

    I suppose you couldn’t expect any less from someone like Lauren, who seems to have drank quite a lot of something before she got on

    What? And she’s not sharing with me? Dammit, Lauren!

  323. car
    car June 12, 2007 at 7:31 am |

    Damn, Roy, first guest post and up to over 300? Impressive.

    Allow me to clarify, if you’re actually interested in discussing in good faith – the village I don’t want to be a part of is the one where I’m obligated to provide child care to other people’s children, for free.

    That’s the disconnect I don’t get – how is asking people not to be judgmental assholes “provid[ing] child care to other people’s children” again? You’re not being asked to provide child care. You’re being asked to be tolerant of children in public spaces.

    Trust me, I don’t want you trying to provide any care to my children. Just stop acting like I’m single-handedly causing the end of civilization as we know it because I took my kid to the matinee of Meet the Robinsons and then stopped by Friendly’s to eat on the way home but misjudged how many snacks he’d need by then and he got a little fussy until we got served.

    To push the “women” angle – I was thinking about this last night after I signed off and went to bed. Have you ever noticed the difference in how men with children in public are treated compared to women? Man alone with tantrumy child – people cluck sympathetically, go try and help him out, tell him what a good job he’s doing taking care of the kid like that. Woman alone with tantrumy child – people act like she has multi-drug resistant TB and is hacking all over them.

  324. Goescrunch
    Goescrunch June 12, 2007 at 7:50 am |

    Chet makes a good point with:

    Contraception was invented, and I and others use it, so that we don’t have our own children to take care of at this point in time. It should go without saying that I don’t want to fucking take care of your children, too. If it takes a village – maybe I don’t want to live in your village. Nannies get paid for that shit. I’m supposed to do it for free? (Parents don’t get paid either, I know, but at least they volunteered.)

    Ooh, very good points there. It definitely no longer “takes a village”. We’re in an age of nannies, baby-sitters, and the like. If they want the sort of situation where it “takes a village”, they can start a group living situation. Buy a big house, several of them live together, then there’s always someone home who can watch the kids. Then they can go out together, and they always have enough to discipline the kids.

    Unless they are like my sister, and do the whole Permissive Parenting thing… ugh…

  325. shfree
    shfree June 12, 2007 at 8:08 am |

    One thing that hasn’t been mentioned, is that we take our daughter most places we go not only because we can’t often afford a sitter, but because we like being with her. Getting her used to different environments and how to behave in them makes her better socialized, and having those skills are important for adulthood. And the vast, vast majority of the time she doesn’t act out, and she didn’t even as a toddler. Which the people that were around her when she did have a hissyfit don’t see, because they aren’t around her all the time, and making a fuss draws attention and dealing with frustrating situations without a meltdown doesn’t.

    I think the majority of parents do do right by their kids, and how they are bringing them up. Those parents and their kids rarely stick in the memory, and that is why the broad brush paints crappy parents and obnoxious children as opposed to the other way around. And that is why I get so up in arms when people say “I don’t like kids” or “parents are doing a crappy job” when it is really about very specific individuals who display behaviors they don’t like. And that has been happening a LOT in this thread.

  326. Sheelzebub
    Sheelzebub June 12, 2007 at 8:22 am |

    I like other people’s children (I’m like Catty with my niece and nephew). If I had my own biological spawn, they’d be hellions, just like their mother.

    Greta, keep it up, and this childfree slut will get laid, get pregnant, and go to every goddamn public place you are with my hyperactive drama-queen (or drama-king) spawn. Oh, yes. I will.

    Given how some adults act in “adult” venues (see this article for more of that), I’d rather see kids.

  327. “I Hate Children” « In One Ear…

    [...] ppt!  I get to hand em back to the parents. Anyways, I thought this was a great bit of blogging over at Feministe.  There were 34 comments la [...]

  328. tinfoil hattie
    tinfoil hattie June 12, 2007 at 8:45 am |

    Everyone else may have gone to bed by now, but I’ll throw in again anyway.

    Ledasmom, you crack me up on EVERY thread of EVERY blog I find you on.

    pb, kudos to you and your hard work. I see examples of every exhausting thing you’re talking about at my 4th grader’s school. It’s insane. Their last day of school is next Fri. and they’re having a 3-hour party complete with pizza, soccer, “water play,” etc.

    And they just had “field day” — all day — last Tues. The teachers should not have to deal with this over-indulgent crap, at this fairly wealthy, heavily parent-influenced school.

    But I digress.

    Kids are here & they’re not going away, all the great ideas about why they should go away notwithstanding.

    Own your stuff, people. If you’re sick of hearing your relatives ask you why you’re not having kids, tell them that. Why turn that into “…and THAT’s why I HATE kids!” Stand up for yourself. “None of your business” and “I don’t discuss such personal decisions” are fine rejoinders. Saying you “have to” defend yourself against rude relatives and friends is a cop-out. No, you don’t.

    As for kids misbehaving: Same day, same kids, different behavior: One man admonished my kids for taking too long/goofing around at the water fountain when other people were waiting. While I privately felt like he could have been a bit nicer about it, I wasn’t bothered that he reprimanded them while I was in line getting tickets for the (god help me) spring break tour bus in DC.

    A little later, waiting for said bus, my kids were quietly waiting in the 85 degree heat, minding their own business. Younger son was in fact sitting on the ground, drawing in the dirt next to the sidewalk. Suddenly, a tour person directed us to cross the street from where we were waiting to go to a different bus stop. I hollered at my kid to get up, get up, get UP! but before he could, a woman blindly tripped over him, then kicked him and said, “Jesus Christ! Get the hell out of the way, kid!”

    No excuse for that.

    So the world is full of nice people and assholes, and we have to deal with it. If you expect all parents to be bad parents, that’s what you’ll find. If you expect all kids to be bad kids, that’s what you’ll find. If you expect all adults to be intolerant assholes who hate your kids, ditto.

    And I’ve never asked a stranger for ANY help with either of my kids, so I’m not buying the “and parents expect you to HELP them!” crap either. Conversely, I have been exceedingly grateful to every person who ever offered me some help.

    Finally, if you don’t want to gush over babies, don’t do it. Just because others “expect” women to do such things doesn’t mean you have to comply.

    And yes, “hating” children is misogynist, sorry, Vanessa. For that, IBTP.

  329. Hawise
    Hawise June 12, 2007 at 8:49 am |

    Late to the party ( could have been first but hey, stuff happens) but about ‘hating children’ is a real eye opener.
    As a mother with an autistic son, I have grown a pretty thick skin when it comes to the disapproving glares of the populous at large. Heck, half the time I don’t know what will set him off and the other half I have no choice but to be there with him in tow. My general response to people who have a problem with children out in public is stuff you. My son is a citizen and has the right not to spend his whole life locked up for no better reason than being small and generally ignorant. He will grow and, with some help, he can be taught. It is the ‘some help’ issue that sticks in my craw. Whining about badly behaved children and smirking that you could do better (or will never try because of some rationalization) is not helping. Children are a reality and a few words will often solve many problems. Tell the child in small but clear words how their behaviour bothers you- not THEM but what they are doing. Most children are not really aware how their actions effect people, once they know they do better. If you really can’t interact with children, then back off or find someone who can. Offer a parent help, so that they can deal with the situation instead of yelling at them for doing nothing.
    If you want to see more children behave civilly, then you have to model civility. That is how children learn afterall.

  330. Goescrunch
    Goescrunch June 12, 2007 at 9:18 am |

    car said:
    I really hope that none of the people who are so upset by the presence of children ever talk on a cell phone in public. Because that’s rude, and annoying, and distracting, and loud. Damn, I hate people who do that.

    I do too, actually. ^_^ I wish everyone would just text message. I also hate seeing people chat on cellphones while driving. That’s stupid, and not safe.

    sailorman said:

    Why? because in the U.S., CHILD hate is different from “normal” hate. “normal” hate manifests itself in beatings; in rapes; in fights; in, well… “hateful” behavior.

    That’s basically the point I tried to make. It’s not like we’re running around clubbing them like baby seals. ^-^ BTW, thank you for being one of the cool parents.

    Roy said:

    Maybe you’re meaning to suggest that it’s just those few times when someone brings their kid to a movie they shouldn’t have that bugs you

    I know you were talking to Chet, but the whole reason I quit going to the movies was because I was tired of going to see violent/offensive rated R movies in which at least 5 different parents brought their children, anywhere from the age of infancy to the age of 8. We’d end up with anything from constant crying of terrified children, or constant, “Why is he/she naked?!” “Why are they wrestling naked?!” “RUN LADY RUN!!!” Ugh… I could understand if they were children’s movies, but these were definitely NOT children’s movies.

    Karen said:
    American society is pretty goddam horrible to anyone who isn’t conventionally attractive and between the ages of 18 and 39. I would like to think that self-styled progressives would want to change this most disgusting facet of our system.

    Um, what? It has nothing to do with children not being attractive. I’d be kind of worried if that was someones complaint. o_O With the elderly, I tend to have a lot of respect for them, even when they’ve gone all senile. By that point, they’ve invested a lot of work and effort into life, into the system. That’s a bit different.

    EG said:

    But if it’s not, then I guarantee that at some point you will be calling on the services of someone young enough to be your child.

    That’s not always true. My dad was 79, and he didn’t need the services of someone young enough to be his child until he was shipped off to be pronounced dead. That’s also a generalization.

    They don’t decide what they eat, wear, or when they sleep.

    o_O Because… they are children. Are you talking about TEENAGERS? I agree they deserve more right to making some independent choices in their teens, but actual children are just too young for that sort of thing. Children are too impressionable to be given too many of those kinds of rights. Then all they’ll be doing is eating candy all the time, dressing like the latest bad influence the music industry is promoting, and staying up at all hours. I will agree that hitting kids has gotten ridiculous. Too many parents seem to think spanking means “beat within an inch of their life”.

    snatchjohnny said:

    What bothers me about the phrase, “I hate children.” is not the words themselves, but rather the hypocrisy. For fudge-sake, you were children once too!

    Don’t worry, I didn’t get along with children then either. I was a books and adult -person. ^_^ I’m consistent.

    – ——–
    Also, a quick history correction on the LJ community “cf_hardcore” since someone slurred the reason behind its creation: It wasn’t created because those in the original community weren’t allowed to show a greater hatred of children. It was created because the original community was allowing parents in, and people who weren’t “sort of” childfree (in other words, they called themselves childfree, but they were pregnant and planning to give birth). CF_H is for those who are damned certain about being childfree, no “if’s”, no “and’s”, no “but’s”, no “or’s”. The founder of the community set it up in a pretty fiery fit one day after blowing up over one particular “childfree” woman who was planning to give birth, and I agreed that she made many fine points, and told her I’d be one of her first members. Eventually, after the mod of the original community started letting parents take over, to the point of talking about their kids often, to the point of constantly making snide comments that it’d be different if it were OUR kids, I finally just got fed up and left to start interacting over at cf_hardcore. I eventually became a co-mod. Eventually the founder snapped, deleted the community in a snit, then brought it back, handed it over to someone else, and she stepped down. All in all, it has nothing really to do with proving what “awesome” child-haters we are. That’s the whole point of having “The Central “kids we like/nice kids we saw” post”. It’s a way to show that we’re not all about the evil KID HATES. It’s a rant community. A place to vent and let off steam. Holy crap, sometimes we have some pretty off-topic discussions too.

  331. Alix
    Alix June 12, 2007 at 9:20 am |

    Tell the child in small but clear words how their behaviour bothers you- not THEM but what they are doing. Most children are not really aware how their actions effect people, once they know they do better.

    Bingo. Works every time on the kids I deal with at the library – even the ones I’ve seen people sneer at as “problem children”.

    If only it worked on adults…

  332. Brooklynite
    Brooklynite June 12, 2007 at 9:28 am |

    Here’s one last thing:

    My job as a parent isn’t to make sure that my child’s next tantrum ends after ten seconds rather than ninety. It’s not to keep my kid in her seat for the entirety of a five-hour plane ride. It’s not to keep her from making a mess with the sugar packets at the restaurant. If I can manage all that, fabulous. But it’s not my highest priority.

    My job as a parent is to do what I can to shape my kid into a decent adult. If that process requires, in my estimation, a three-minute tantrum at the art museum or seventeen laps up and down the airplane aisle or a mound of Splenda next to the dessert fork, that’s a price we’re all going to have to pay. I’ll be mortified while it’s happening, and I’ll apologize if I can — and if we do the Splenda thing I promise that I’ll tip you forty percent and try to clean up before leaving — but I’m in this for the long haul, and I’ve gotta do what I’ve gotta do.

    In a few decades you’re going to be on line at the supermarket, and you’re going to have left your glasses at home. You won’t be able to remember exactly what your doctor said about sodium and the cashier will be no help and you’ll be holding up the line and somebody will be glaring and somebody else will be muttering and you’ll just be trying to buy yourself some goddamn tomato soup.

    If all goes according to plan, my daughter will be the woman on line behind you who reads you your coupons and the soup can, and goes and changes the high-salt soup you wound up with for a can of the low-sodium Campbell’s, and stands between you and the folks who are glaring at you for taking so long while you’re counting out your dimes and nickels so they don’t rattle you and make you lose your count.

    If you’re on a JFK-Seattle flight in a couple of weeks and there’s a four-year-old sitting behind you, that’s my kid. If she kicks your seat, and I hope she doesn’t, try to keep in mind that she’s on her way to visit her great-grandmother in the nursing home, and that the seat-kicking is a part of the process of turning a squalling baby into the nice woman who helps you figure out your coupons. That’s what I’m working toward. That’s the person I’m trying to build.

  333. car
    car June 12, 2007 at 9:31 am |

    If you want to see more children behave civilly, then you have to model civility. That is how children learn after all.

    Exactly. If you model sneering and snuffling and complaining about those lousy kids and ewww, I don’t want to sit next to those rotten things and I shouldn’t have to put up with that, they’ll have a much harder time growing up to be adults who can interact with others. Then you can complain how the checker at the grocery store is rude and inconsiderate and conveniently forget it’s because she saw people just like you treat her that way her entire life.

  334. Ledasmom
    Ledasmom June 12, 2007 at 9:32 am |

    Ledasmom, you crack me up on EVERY thread of EVERY blog I find you on

    I win! I win!

  335. Sailorman
    Sailorman June 12, 2007 at 9:42 am |

    # Nymphalidae Says:
    June 11th, 2007 at 11:29 pm

    The funny thing is, I think everybody on this thread actually agrees:

    1) There are some places kids shouldn’t be. This basically extends to things like R rated movies and fancy restaurants at 10 pm.

    2) Parents should exercise a basic amount of common sense with regard to when their child is being disruptive beyond what children normally do; i.e. crying because they are hungry is fine, running around screaming and hitting is not.
    (emphasis added)

    Not really. A loud, hungry, crying kid is… a loud, crying kid. Kids (including my own) don’t get less annoying merely because they have a “reason” to be loud. The LOUDNESS, not the intent, is what’s annoying to people.

    I think what is driving Chet so insane here (other than the constant misrepresentations of his position) is that people are refusing to separate the intent of the parent/kid from the experience of the public. Does the parent “have a plan” that involves their kid crying? How the heck is anyone else supposed to know that? And if they DO have a plan, what on earth does that have to do with whether their kid is being annoying NOW?

    There is a HUGE, ENORMOUS, difference between
    “Sorry my kid is being annoying, he’s hungry and I’m getting food right now”
    and
    “My kid’s not being annoying, he’s just hungry.”

    the “why” doesn’t change the “is.”
    —————
    Roy, this “not all kids are like this” thing is really ridiculous. The frequency with which children do the behaviors identified here is so much larger than the frequency with which anyone else does it that it is reasonable to assign children the blame. I mean, please: what percentage of crying people in theaters are adults? What possible relevance does your “semi truck” analogy have, and why are you (who started the thread) even trying to deny classifications of kids as a group?
    ——————-

    Vanessa Says:
    June 12th, 2007 at 12:49 am

    Going to the grocery store is what we were talking about.

    But it wasn’t what I was talking about. I was talking about RM’s comment about people – read ‘women’ – from previous generations were ’smart’ enough to know that having children involved ’sacrifice’ but now they think they can have it all.

    It is probably correct that parents (usually women) who had responsibility for their children in the “old days” were on average considerate and aware of annoyance to others, whether theoretical or real. This is the “all about me” generation now.

    # EG Says:
    June 12th, 2007 at 2:10 am

    What else do you want?

    Well, as I’ve said before, acceptance of the fact that yeah, sometimes you’re going to have put up with children being irritating, and not making their lives or their parents’ lives more difficult than they already are by huffing angrily, rolling your eyes, talking about how “bad” the parents are, or any of the other stuff I’ve seen self-righteous people without kids do.

    It is not self righteous to be annoyed by other people’s behavior. And the “not making it more difficult than they already are” thing is pretty funny, considering that a screaming baby makes things “more difficult” for everyone in a 50 foot radius.

    Self-righteousness is when you expect everyone else to understand your motivations, your “parental plan,” and your kids’ “needs,” while simultaneously denying them the right to be annoyed at your screaming kids. It’s usually PARENTS who are self righteous.

    You can still do what you want. You just shouldn’t bitch about other people’s perfectly normal reactions to it. Come on, fellow parents: own your decisions. Stand up and accept your choices.

    Do I take my kids on planes? Yup. I do everything I can to keep them happy. I break every family rule (eat in junk food heaven, you can color on your hands, you can suck on a lollipops for the entire 4 hour flight.) I time it for their best time of day (not mine.) they’re usually perfectly quiet.

    Are they still, sometimes, obnoxious?

    yup.

    And while that’s not really OK with me–which is why I make all that effort to avoid it–there’s nothing I can do.

    But.

    But I do not deny other people their right to dislike what my kids are doing; their right to think I’m a bad parent, or their right to shoot me dirty looks.

  336. Sharon
    Sharon June 12, 2007 at 9:45 am |

    Also…all these scenarios, of children repeatedly hitting people? Or putting their hands all over you? Or parents expecting you to drop everything and hold their baby, or ruthlessly cut you in line? Are either completely exaggerated, or so selectively attended to that they don’t deserve to be discussed as some kind of “norm” any more than adults / non-parents doing inconsiderate / physically destructive things do. They may be memorable, but they are rare…be honest. Kids making a lot of noise and kicking a seat is perhaps common in public, but hitting strangers on the head and picking their nose and wiping it on a stranger is, frankly, not.

    Sure. But people saying “I hate children” or calling kids “crotch droppings” is so rare as to DEFINITELY not merit an entire post on how horrible and bigoted these (basically non existent?) people are.

    As a parent, how many times, honestly, have you been accosted by an irate feminist yelling at you for daring to bring your children into public? By them getting into your child’s face and yelling “I hate children– LIKE YOU!” Has that ever happened?

  337. mk
    mk June 12, 2007 at 9:46 am |

    All of this really reminds me of Ilkya’s post from a while back- if we’re not talking about you, why are you getting so defensive on someone else’s behalf? In this case, it works two ways: If you’re not a parent dragging your kid to a 10 pm R-rated movie or insisting that your child throwing Kix all over the airplane is just a perfect angel and wouldn’t you like to hold him oh sure you would!–then we’re not talking about you. And if you’re not someone who shoots parents dirty looks for no reason or says (actually says) you hate all children or calls them crotch droppings–we’re not talking about you either.

    I think it’s perfectly valid to call someone on hatred, no matter who the target may be. I’d love to be in a society that was working toward erasing hatred of all groups and individuals rather than endlessly justifying it. Disliking an individual is vastly different from hating a class of people, and justifying hatred can lead to justifying discrimination and abuse.

    Anyway. Late to the party cause I told myself I had to read all the comments first. I love kids, plan to have my own, and am on the fast track toward working with them professionally. That doesn’t mean I haven’t had annoying experiences with them, or that I think I wasn’t annoying when I was a kid. I just don’t think it’s okay to hate anybody. But maybe that’s because when I was growing up, “hate” was a forbidden word in my household.

  338. Ursula L
    Ursula L June 12, 2007 at 9:51 am |

    What bothers me about the phrase, “I hate children.” is not the words themselves, but rather the hypocrisy. For fudge-sake, you were children once too!

    I don’t particularly care for children now. But I didn’t like children when I was a child, either. I generally preferred sitting and listening to the adults talking (and participating in the conversation if I knew enough about the topic to do so) than running off and playing with the kids. This started very early. My first memory is talking to my father about politics (Three years old. Carter-Ford election.)

    The fact that I was once a child doesn’t really have much to do with it. Kids aren’t the sort of people I like, for a wide variety of reasons. The concept that it’s hypocrisy to dislike kids because you were once one yourself doesn’t really make sense to me – kids have certain limitations, which make them annoying, even to other kids.

  339. Brooklynite
    Brooklynite June 12, 2007 at 10:10 am |

    MK, I think a lot of what’s going on with the parents here is that we do get a lot of grumbling and dirty looks when we’re doing our best trying to wrangle a kid. And the folks who’ve said they don’t want to deal with kids at a 10pm R-rated movie haven’t said that taking your kids to the same movie at 8 or to a PG movie at 10 is okay — what they’ve tended to explicitly endorse is Olive Garden and G-rated matinees.

    So those of us who are parents know that we get grumbled at in the situations that fall between Chuck E. Cheese and the ballet, and we note that the folks who are complaining here about kids at the ballet mostly pointedly aren’t defending little kids’ presence in the art museum and the folk-music concert and the 7pm showing of the PG-13 movie.

    When folks start saying “kids are fine in [obviously kid-friendly place], but keep them out of [obviously kid-unfriendly place]” I get twitchy, because I see it as a rhetorical move designed to lay adult-claim to the stuff in the middle without having to explicitly defend it. That may not be what’s intended, but it sets my Spidey-sense tingling every time.

  340. Lauren
    Lauren June 12, 2007 at 10:11 am |

    As a parent, how many times, honestly, have you been accosted by an irate feminist yelling at you for daring to bring your children into public?

    Unfortunately, only in the feminist blogosphere. That’s why it’s so disappointing.

  341. Charity
    Charity June 12, 2007 at 10:28 am |

    Sharon, you missed my point. I’m not a parent. I AM a feminst. I don’t think it’s common for parents to encounter irate feminists either (and I don’t think it’s fair to limit “irate” to feminists because it seems most people’s objections to children, as stated here, have NOTHING to do with feminism. My point was that I don’t think these outrageously dramatic interactions with other people’s children, these egregious examples of children’s and parents’ behavior, are as common as some people here are making them out to be.

  342. Faith
    Faith June 12, 2007 at 10:29 am |

    Roy,

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for this post. You’ve put into words what has been bouncing around my head for months.

    I fully support anyone’s right to not have children. But not wanting children and feeling you have the right to hate them on principle is appalling, as are many of the comments on this thread.

  343. justicewalks
    justicewalks June 12, 2007 at 10:38 am |

    The rarity of a child acting out at 9:00 in a nice restaurant makes bringing up that as an example of why it’s okay to say shitty things about children as ridiculous as if I try to denigrate all truck drivers because one truck almost ran me off the road.

    Children acting out in nice restaurants at 9 pm is only rare because parents usually don’t bring them. If parents brought them to nice restaurants more often than they already do, kids would be acting out in nice restaurants more often, because acting out is a symptom of insufficient socialization. Insufficient socialization is a condition we are all born into, so we can safely say that all children up to a certain age are insufficiently socialized and, therefore, not pleasant company.

    You cannot say this about truck drivers, or any other adult for that matter. A fully socialized truck driver who nevertheless cuts you off is an asshole. On the other hand, a small child who gives you a great big open-mouthed grin while eating, or reaches his soiled hand into your hair from the next booth, is just being the animal he was born, rather than the person his parents will eventually socialize him to be. These are 2 entirely different situations.

    No one should be made to feel bad about generalizing children’s social ineptitude. Why should we pretend as if adults are just as prone to unsocialized behavior as children, who have literally yet to be fully socialized?

  344. Sailorman
    Sailorman June 12, 2007 at 10:51 am |

    # Roy Says:
    June 12th, 2007 at 10:03 am
    Chet and others have said that they’re not talking about kids being kids, say, at a McDonalds at 4:30 in the afternoon. I can’t remember the last time I heard a kid crying in an R-rated movie.

    You seem to be conveniently ignoring that MANY people in this thread–me, too, FWIW–have had that exact experience. Fairly often, for me–I think 2 out of the last 4 movies I went to had kids in them.

    You know what I REALLY can’t remember? I can’t remember the last time anyone actually did something to me, or said something to me, that suggested that any “hatred” of my kids was anything other than a desire for a bit of quiet.

    Since we’re going on anecdotes here, how about a few?

    Can anyone–Roy or anyone else–actually discuss what these eevil child haters actually do? Do they make snide comments? Shoot daggers from their eyes? Complain?

    Live by the anecdote, die by the anecdote.

    The last three times I went, though, I was bothered by people talking loudly to the person sitting next to them, or talking on the phone.

    Sure, adults rarely cry or throw a tantrum during a movie or in a restaurant, but that doesn’t mean that adults aren’t just as loud or obnoxious in other ways, and with more frequency.

    So?

    If we’ve said it once, we’ve said it 1000 times: the existence of another area of concern does NOT invalidate this area of concern. It’s a bullshit argument.

    I’ve been bothered at nicer restaurants a lot more by loud obnoxious people abusing their server than I have children. I’ve been bothered a lot more by some jerk playing his radio too loud on the plane than I have by crying children. I’ve been bothered a lot more by people on their phones at inappropriate times than I have children.

    Great.

    You’re missing a few things, though:
    First, nobody is telling you you shouldn’t be annoyed, or hate’/dislike those folks. You’re free (IMO) to hate people who speak loudly on cell phones. You’re also free to hate adults.

    Second, you’re being blind to rates (I have to believe this is intentional; you can’t have really missed this.). Yes: adults can be annoying. Adults can disrupt a fancy dinner. But they do it with far less frequency than do children. There are just more adults at “adult events.”

    You are assessing frequency incorrectly. Any randomly-chosen group of 8 adults has a pretty low probability of disrupting things. Any randomly chosen group of kids has a much higher probability of disrupting things.

    If there are 8 kids and 200 adults in a room, chances are that the disruptive person will be an adult. that has nothing to do with disliking kids’ propensity to disrupt things.

    Here’s an illustration of how ridiculous this is: “Rapists recently released from jail are much more likely to rape than people not in that category. However, they make up only a tiny percentage of people who rape daily. Therefore it is improper to worry more about them.”

    Does that make sense? Of course not: What we are concerned about is their high propensity to rape, not their small % contribution to overall rapes.

    Adults are not immune to being distracting, offensive, annoying, or rude.

    Would you mind citing something where anyone has said that? Or implied that? Because otherwise, I call straw man.

    The rarity of a child acting out at 9:00 in a nice restaurant makes bringing up that as an example of why it’s okay to say shitty things about children as ridiculous as if I try to denigrate all truck drivers because one truck almost ran me off the road.

    First, your belief in rarity is probably wrong. After all, you have never had a movie disrupted. So your experience doesn’t seem representative, hmm?

    Second, see my argument re frequency, above.

    Saying that children will sometimes act up is fine- that’s true. They will. That’s like pointing out “it’s hard to see around trucks because they’re so big.” Okay, sure. That’s true, too.

    You’re really stuck on that “truck” thing, but it’s not an apt analogy. And when you quote the argument as “Saying that children will sometimes act up is fine” it confuses me; that’s not an accurate representation of either side of the debate in this thread, as I’m sure you know.

  345. EG
    EG June 12, 2007 at 10:52 am |

    My dad was 79, and he didn’t need the services of someone young enough to be his child until he was shipped off to be pronounced dead.

    I find that hard to believe. He never watched a ballgame being played by people young enough to be his kids? Or bought groceries from a check-out clerk young enough to be his kid? Or used an elevator maintained by someone young enough to be his kid?

    It is not self righteous to be annoyed by other people’s behavior.

    No, but it is self-righteous to act as though you have some god-given right not to be have to put up with it. It is self-righteous to claim to know everything about good parenting when you have no hands-on childcare experience. It is self-righteous to act as though your annoyance entitles you to be nasty to other people.

  346. Sharon
    Sharon June 12, 2007 at 10:56 am |

    My point was that I don’t think these outrageously dramatic interactions with other people’s children, these egregious examples of children’s and parents’ behavior, are as common as some people here are making them out to be.

    And I totally agree. I also think it’s overblown to say that there’s a real problem with people going around saying “I hate children.”

    Personally, I hate ‘Mommy Drive-Bys.” I think they’re a way to keep women in check by telling them they’re not good enough at their ‘one true calling’. I don’t agree with people who say “I don’t hate kids, I hate the parents” because anyone with an ounce of sense knows that kids have bad days and it doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with their parents.

    But, I think it’s acceptable to resist a very strong societal expectation to have children by being upfront with the fact that you don’t want them and, gasp, maybe don’t even like them. And I don’t think that’s bigoted.

  347. Hawise
    Hawise June 12, 2007 at 10:59 am |

    When folks start saying “kids are fine in [obviously kid-friendly place], but keep them out of [obviously kid-unfriendly place]” I get twitchy, because I see it as a rhetorical move designed to lay adult-claim to the stuff in the middle without having to explicitly defend it. That may not be what’s intended, but it sets my Spidey-sense tingling every time.

    I’m with you Brooklynite. It is hard for me to accept how restricted we try to be about children and where they can be. Having to deal with my son’s difficulties, I have to take him to places that he MAY need to go to teach him how to behave in those places. We introduce him slowly to more ‘adult-centered’ places because he has to adjust but we do it. Yes, as a parent, I try to make concessions- off-hours, slow times, whatever but he needs to interact outside the home- he can’t cross-generalize and so he needs the specific experience.
    As for the ‘Me generation’, this slides both ways. As parents we can’t expect the world to revolve around our needs, they are transient. As adults, we cannot expect to have a childfree world offered us on a plate.

  348. Wishy Washy
    Wishy Washy June 12, 2007 at 11:00 am |

    Wow, I’m way too late to this, but I’ll weigh in as someone who’s currently gestating and about to become a parent this fall.

    For the record, I am not one of those people who gurgles and coos at all babies; but neither was I one of the vociferous “not me! I never want a kid!” people either. Children are simply a fact of life, and something that each individual or couple must choose to go forward with, or not, for their own reasons.

    HOWEVER…

    Non-parenting drives me absolutely batshit crazy. I cannot tell you the number of times I see an ill-behaved child in public and a parent who will not discipline them. It is not the child’s fault. Some parents, namely those who are obsessed with the Cult of the Child and *particularly* those who are very privileged for whom the child is another point on the resume, go on and on about the Wonder and Innocence that is Childhood – and they use that as a rationalization to let the kids “express themselves” right on top of anyone or anything in sight. Or maybe they’re too tired and have given up.

    I really feel that some parents have lost sight of the fact that childhood is not an end in itself. If you just want to enjoy a baby or small child and how adorable they are, and are not prepared for the very serious responsibility of *shaping a future adult* with sane, happy and responsible adulthood as the goal – or worse, feel that any kind of discipline is too restrictive and “spoils” the beauty of childhood – please don’t have them. Babysit on occasion and spoil them rotten – be a beloved Auntie or Uncle – but please don’t be responsible for shaping them on a daily basis.

    I for one hope that I will be willing to interrupt my cherished dinner plans to remove my son (we just found out it’s a boy) if he is throwing a tantrum and explain that that’s not how we act in grown-up spaces like restaurants and if he continues to do it he won’t be taken to a restaurant again until he’d older. That may sound draconian to the Cult of the Child folks, but on me it worked very well when I was growing up, and lo and behold I turned out to be that kind of kid adults LOVED to be around and never failed to include in invitations to otherwise grown-up parties. It is not other people’s jobs to parent for me, or to expect to live around us as though the world were our own living room or playground and they can just accommodate us or shut up. And if anyone thinks that a little expectation-setting, and enforcement thereof, somehow kills the joy of childhood, I feel sorry for them. Giving a child the skills to interact with, and be accepted by, society is a great gift to them that can only serve to allow them to enjoy more of life.

  349. EG
    EG June 12, 2007 at 11:05 am |

    the existence of another area of concern does NOT invalidate this area of concern.

    It does if it demonstrates that the original “area of concern” is only being sectioned off out of prejudice. If somebody says “men are raped, too!” it has no bearing on a discussion of women and rape because men are raped at an infinitely smaller rate than women. But adults are not pains in the ass at an infinitely smaller rather than children; in my experience, adults are far more annoying far more often than children. Which suggests to me that the problem isn’t that children are disruptive, but that people are disruptive.

    Children are too impressionable to be given too many of those kinds of rights.

    Goescrunch, I suggest that you read back over the many comments here and find the two or three separate places in which I explained over and over again that acknowledging a power imbalance is not the same as advocating that it be done away with. The fact is that kids live their lives under a system that provides them with no control over basic daily decisions. Acknowledging that fact goes a long way to understanding why they flip out over seemingly insignificant things.

  350. EG
    EG June 12, 2007 at 11:10 am |

    OK, so those of you who feel it’s OK to be hateful toward and about children because they interrupt your late-night R-rated movie screenings, tell me, how is that in any way the fault of the children? Are they making the decision to go? Are they paying for the tickets? Is it possible for them to leave if they wanted to?

    I guarantee you that the kids are going to be more traumatized by the experience of seeing Pan’s Labyrinth than you will be by their presence in the theater (the kids who were in the theater when I went to see PL didn’t make a sound; that didn’t make it OK to bring them).

  351. libber
    libber June 12, 2007 at 11:10 am |

    The closest thing to criticism I get is that I don’t enforce gender roles strictly enough, an accusation which receives exactly the amount of attention from me it deserves.

    we live in a pathetic world

    It is not self righteous to be annoyed by other people’s behavior. And the “not making it more difficult than they already are” thing is pretty funny, considering that a screaming baby makes things “more difficult” for everyone in a 50 foot radius.

    Self-righteousness is when you expect everyone else to understand your motivations, your “parental plan,” and your kids’ “needs,” while simultaneously denying them the right to be annoyed at your screaming kids. It’s usually PARENTS who are self righteous.

    You can still do what you want. You just shouldn’t bitch about other people’s perfectly normal reactions to it. Come on, fellow parents: own your decisions. Stand up and accept your choices.

    Applauds. For a moment there I thought I was the only person in the world to feel that way.

    No, but it is self-righteous to act as though you have some god-given right not to be have to put up with it.

    Put up with it? God-given? I have a right to be annoyed, even if it is not god-given.

  352. Cynthia
    Cynthia June 12, 2007 at 11:17 am |

    When my husband and I dine out, we go prepared for the possibility of disruptive behavior. If it’s early in the meal, we asked to be moved. If halfway through or near the end, we either ask for dessert to go (if we want it) or smile and get out our unobrusive noise-cancelling earbuds and iPods. Cell phone talkers, overserved patrons and obnoxious children all become just another bit of inconsequential background noise. Since we’re facing one another, one of us is always alert for the server and switch off the volume if we want anything else. Sony makes very affordable NC earbuds – I highly recommend them!

  353. lizvelrene
    lizvelrene June 12, 2007 at 11:18 am |

    I hear a lot of that “children should be seen and not heard” argument in these discussions. I feel a lot like Ursula in 348 (didn’t particularly like kids even when I was one) but that’s a ridiculous stance, and it does put the onus on the mother (always the mother!) to keep the kids quiet and out of sight so daddy can read the newspaper in peace. Or so the childfree can eat dinner without being exposed to certain people in a place that’s supposed to be open to the public. No one wants to create a disturbance, but it’s kids doing what kids do, and they have a right to the public space as well. I don’t like yuppies on cell phones, but that’s why I don’t invite them back to my house.

    Anyway, I feel the frustration of having to explain OVER AND OVER AGAIN that no, I really, honestly, no kidding, don’t want kids. It’s not a minor thing, it’s a perpetual attack on the way I live my life and I have to put up with it any time I interact with family members or sometimes coworkers. But it’s plain to me that society’s pressure to reproduce, or NOT to reproduce, does not extend to support for children, something that gets covered all the time in reproductive rights discussions. Once the kid’s out, you’re on your own. I had plenty of experiences as a kid to convince me that society at large didn’t care about us – our literally crumbling school buildings were a great example. For years my town tried to pass tax levies to build a new school that had enough space for everyone and a little less asbestos, and for years people voted it down because they couldn’t tolerate a property tax increase equivalent to a meal at McDonalds a month. We really took it personally, probably more personally than it was meant to be, but still. My significant other’s years in a lousy foster care system is another great example. Maybe if the village did a BETTER job of raising children, offered more and stronger support for parents, provided safe and supportive environments for children, there wouldn’t be so much rancor. Reducing the focus on women as baby-makers and getting a REAL focus on nurturing children would make everyone an awful lot happier, in my view. That ought to be something everyone can agree on (but it’s probably not).

  354. Cynthia
    Cynthia June 12, 2007 at 11:19 am |

    Apologies – “unobtrusive”. My nails are getting too long!

  355. libber
    libber June 12, 2007 at 11:20 am |

    in my experience, adults are far more annoying far more often than children.

    Right, especially their parents.

  356. Natalia
    Natalia June 12, 2007 at 11:20 am |

    Once as a kid, I fell asleep on an airplane and didn’t wake up until we were landing. Since I hadn’t yawned or chewed or anything, the pressure differential on my eardrums was excruciating. I remember bawling from the pain. Shit happens. At least now I have the awareness to be embarrassed about what a holy terror I was, and I wish I could apologize to everyone who had to hear it.

    Chet, I’m going to ask for your forgiveness for going all armchair-psychologist on you here, but I can only hope that you’re exaggerating. You want to apologize? For something that happened years ago? To people who probably don’t care or remember? For something that wasn’t even done intentionally?

    Forget about hating kids, I’d say you’re having some sort self-hate thing going on. Naturally, I’m being facetious. But perhaps you can see my larger point:

    EVERYONE (and Chet) – Shit happens. If you go out in public, no matter what age you are, you may cause someone discomfort. It’s part of being human.

    I mean, geez, I’m terrified at even the idea of having my blood drawn, and I had to do a blood test in a foreign country, where I didn’t speak the language and couldn’t even explain my fear to anyone. There was a line of people behind me, all of them watching me sob quietly as the needle was inserted into my arm. The nurse was so aghast that she started yelling at the doctor (it was explained to me, later, that she thought he was hurting me). Were a bunch of people disturbed? Yes. Was there a lot of discomfort? Yes. Was I embarrassed? Yes. But that’s life. You deal with it, and move on. I blubbered out my apologies, and perhaps some of them were understood, and perhaps not.

    There are going to be accident and mis-haps and embarrassing situations and annoyances – and the best you can do is deal, and maybe even cut those around you a little slack from time to time. For sure, there are people in this world who are jerks who probably don’t deserve your sympathy – but they’re part of life too. Who knows? Perhaps you’ve acted like a jerk to someone earlier, without even noticing or meaning too, and the universe has just course-corrected itself.

    (Yes, I know I’ve just turned into Dostoevsky, and I don’t care)

  357. justicewalks
    justicewalks June 12, 2007 at 11:23 am |

    Again, though- most of the time children don’t do those things. They do them more often than adults do, sure, but, again and again and again- how many children do you see every day who don’t do a damn thing to you?

    Honestly? None. At the very least, every single child of a certain age or younger that I have ever encountered has stared openly and conspicuously at me. Most children and ALL toddlers stare rudely and unhindered at me in grocery stores, movie theaters, restaurants, banks, cook-outs, baby showers, museums, in traffic, on planes, in restrooms, at parks – wherever I go, really. Now, I don’t know about you, but I consider staring to be rude and uncivilized behavior, and yet I’ve never had a parent tell a child who was staring at me how rude it was or admonish that child to look elsewhere.

    Still, I don’t blame the parents for their child’s lack of decorum. I know that until the child reaches a certain level of awareness, telling the child not to stare at people would be as effective as telling a dog not to lick its ass. Adults, on the other hand, know better than to stare and I can, without fear of social reprisal, verbally castigate an adult starer.

    That – the fact that adults can be held to social standards – is why I prefer the company of adults to that of children. While I’m more likely to express my preference by saying, “I can’t stand kids,” rather than “I hate kids,” the sentiment is virtually the same, and I won’t apologize for that.

  358. Sniper
    Sniper June 12, 2007 at 11:26 am |

    But, I think it’s acceptable to resist a very strong societal expectation to have children by being upfront with the fact that you don’t want them and, gasp, maybe don’t even like them. And I don’t think that’s bigoted.

    There was a time that I actively avoided children because every time I interacted with a child – I mean every single fucking time – someone would say, “you’ll be a great mother” or “when are you going to have one of your own?” When these comments came from relative strangers I ignored them, but with relatives I’d reply that I didn’t want kids. This inevitably led to the “you’ll change your mind” speech or the “smart women should have children for the sake of society” speech, or the “kids change everything” speech. Maybe it was because I lived in a small town full of family and friends-of-family, but it seemed like from about age 21 to 26 everyone wanted to know what was in my uterus.

    It got to the point where I’d say something like, “I’d rather poke my eyes out with a stick” just to cut the conversation short. Nothing else seemed to work. The thing is, I don’t hate children and never have. Actually, I tend to judge children as I judge other people – on a case-by-case basic.

    What I do hate is that notion that if you don’t have or want children you are broken/evil/inferior. When this idea is extended to the you’re-evil-for-not-loving-my-child view, it’s really fucking obnoxious, and yes, I’ve met plenty of parents who expect their child to be universally adored, although they are the minority.

    Anyway, my $.02. I just wonder how much of “I hate kids” thing is defensive.

  359. EG
    EG June 12, 2007 at 11:27 am |

    So now staring at the people around them is an example of “bad” behavior on the part of children? Somehow, being looked at is an incursion on your being in a public space? But it’s parents who are entitled, not people who somehow feel they have the right not to be looked at when they go out in public?

  360. Wishy Washy
    Wishy Washy June 12, 2007 at 11:28 am |

    EG – don’t mistake being annoyed towards the parents as being hateful toward the children. Believe me, the first thing I think of when I see a small child whose parent has brought him/her to an inappropriate movie is not “ew, a kid,” but rather, “WTF was that parent thinking? why didn’t they get a babysitter, why do they think it’s appropriate to bring their little kid here?!” Yes, it may be the screams of the child that are the trigger that set off annoyance, but the blame (at least in my case) is placed squarely on the parents’ shoulders. But yes, as many posters have pointed out above, no one feels comfortable saying anything about a child’s behavior anymore because we have all had our fair share of run-ins with parents who are hostile to the notion that we didn’t like it when they let their small child wander over to our restaurant table and start banging on it (I kid you not, this exact thing has happened to me) and the standard defense on their part whenever I have screwd up the courage to utter a courteous “hi, would you mind calling your kid back over to your table? thanks.” is “Why are you so hostile? I feel so sorry for you that you hate children so!” I am *going to be a parent* myself. I have never been one of the set of people who uses terms like “crotchdroppings” and “shitting out a kid” or whatever, and yes it hurts my feelings to hear such terms especially as I am the one whose crotch is going to be intimately (and probably painfully) involved in bringing our son into the world. Yes I know exceptions happen and sometimes you get stuck in a grown-up type space with a tired or angry kid because you couldn’t get a babysitter. Sometimes. But you can’t expect people not to be annoyed. I can’t speak for others, but I never feel any hostility towards the actual child him/herself.

  361. RKMK
    RKMK June 12, 2007 at 11:30 am |

    I’m sorry Lauren, I respect you and oft agree with you, but:

    When I hear “I hate children” I hear “I hate women.”

    Just… no. You may note that when I was complaining about the young girl running up and down the aisle on the plane, I referred to her father coming up 20 minutes too late to mildly restrain her. I referred to both my step-aunt and -uncle when describing my hellion cousins; they are co-conspirators in spoiling and refusing to discipline them. I will be the first to admit that I know far more deadbeat or useless fathers than I do deadbeat or useless mothers – my own biological father being one of them. But when I say “bad parents”, I mean “bad parents,” in a completely non-genderized description of behaviour or skills. Please don’t inject my opinions with a misogyny that is not there.

  362. EG
    EG June 12, 2007 at 11:32 am |

    But what we’re talking about here is actual hostility toward the actual child, which many people here seem to be justifying by talking about the ways in which children annoy them.

    Again, wildly different experiences. I’ve dealt with strange kids being annoying; I’ve told them to behave themselves, and I’ve drawn their parents’ attention to the problem. Once a mother screamed at me. But, you know, big deal–sometimes people are jerks. I’m not running around claiming that it is not, gasp, impossible for me to venture a peep to children who are sticking their hands where they shouldn’t because that bad mommy was mean to me.

  363. Seth Gordon
    Seth Gordon June 12, 2007 at 11:36 am |

    Brooklynite @ 342: Nail. Head. Bang.

  364. justicewalks
    justicewalks June 12, 2007 at 11:40 am |

    So now staring at the people around them is an example of “bad” behavior on the part of children? Somehow, being looked at is an incursion on your being in a public space?

    Wow, if you don’t know that there is a difference between casual observance of your surroundings and full-blown slack-jawed staring, well, I can only say that I hope you aren’t raising kids to have those same shoddy values. Staring at people is rude. I’ve even seen it referred to as ‘leering’ when it was a man doing it to a woman, but it’s somehow supposed to be less rude when it’s a kid doing it?

    I suspect, though, that you know there’s a difference between seeing and staring, and you were just being disingenuous.

  365. car
    car June 12, 2007 at 11:40 am |

    You can still do what you want. You just shouldn’t bitch about other people’s perfectly normal reactions to it.

    There’s also a difference between perfectly normal and polite. Of course, you’re annoyed. That doesn’t mean you should glare or make rude comments, because yes, it does make things more miserable for everyone else.

    And the “not making it more difficult than they already are” thing is pretty funny, considering that a screaming baby makes things “more difficult” for everyone in a 50 foot radius.

    And your annoyed comments at the time help how? Definitely, people actively acting annoyed does make it more difficult for everyone else. I was waiting with my two children on a plane that was delayed, and delayed, and delayed, and we were all stuffed into the walkway because we had been on the plane for so long, then they let us into the walkway but not back into the terminal, and it was entirely miserable. My kids were taking it quite well, but a woman 15 feet or so away was talking loudly into her cell phone and to everyone around her OVER AND OVER AND OVER about how awful this was, and how horribly they were treating us, etc. etc. etc. One of my kids finally complained to me about her, and I took that golden opportunity to say loudly that yes, it was rotten for all of us, and some people like to complain when things like this happen, but see, it isn’t really helping anything, is it? It’s just making us all feel worse.

  366. EG
    EG June 12, 2007 at 11:45 am |

    I’ve even seen it referred to as ‘leering’ when it was a man doing it to a woman, but it’s somehow supposed to be less rude when it’s a kid doing it?

    That’s because there’s an implicit threat when men stare at women, because we live in a culture of male violence against women. Are you claiming to feel threatened by children staring at you? We don’t live in a culture of child violence against adults. Quite the contrary, really.

    But no, I don’t see what the big deal is about kids staring at you.

  367. Sally
    Sally June 12, 2007 at 11:48 am |

    So now staring at the people around them is an example of “bad” behavior on the part of children? Somehow, being looked at is an incursion on your being in a public space? But it’s parents who are entitled, not people who somehow feel they have the right not to be looked at when they go out in public?

    Yeah, I’ll bite. I’m going to bet that justicewalks is visibly disabled. And no, I don’t think that disabled people are evil or entitled or anything else bad for thinking that they should be able to go out in public without being made to feel like circus freaks.

    Having said that, I know several visibly disabled people who prefer children’s open curiosity to adults’ awkward looking away behavior. And I do think that the problem that justicewalks mentions is an issue with the parents’ discomfort. If they tell their kids not to stare, they’re mentioning aloud that there’s something being stared at, and most grownups feel that it’s rude to acknowledge physical difference.

  368. Sally
    Sally June 12, 2007 at 11:52 am |

    I’m going to bet that justicewalks is visibly disabled.

    Or, now that I think of it, fat. Or a person of color in a place where almost everyone is white. Or otherwise someone who is physically marked as “different”.

  369. EG
    EG June 12, 2007 at 11:53 am |

    Well, if that’s the case, it’s obviously a different story. When I’ve been with kids, I have indeed been on the embarrassing-losing-battle front of explaining to a five-year-old that it’s not polite to stare at the teenager in the wheelchair. I was so surprised and grateful when the teenager in question came over, introduced herself, and said to the kid that she noticed her staring and wondered if there were any questions she had.

    That was kindness truly above and beyond the call of duty. What’s interesting is that when I was living in London, there were numerous ads taken out by disability rights groups talking about how dehumanizing it is when people look away from or through you because of your disability, which suggests to me that adults and children are equally rude to disabled people, but in different ways.

  370. car
    car June 12, 2007 at 11:56 am |

    yet I’ve never had a parent tell a child who was staring at me how rude it was or admonish that child to look elsewhere.

    I don’t doubt that you haven’t seen it happen. But how do you know they didn’t say that quietly, or as soon as you were out of visual range? That is a particularly hard one to nagivate – if the parent says loudly right then and there “Don’t stare at her”, well, that’s bringing even more attention to the person in question, which is counterproductive. Also, it sounds like I’m being snide, but parents are taller than their kids. They aren’t always staring at their children’s faces to see where the kids are looking and if they’ve been looking at the same spot for more than 3 seconds. Often a parent only notices that the child is staring when the child makes a comment about it.

  371. capitalsfn
    capitalsfn June 12, 2007 at 12:11 pm |

    Also late to the show, but I want to highlight a couple posts that I think talk to a larger issue that hasn’t been addressed as much as I would like. Having had a few sociology courses in college, maybe I’m over-analyzing this in those terms, but it seems that a lot of the issues that society has is due to constraints that society puts on people in the socialization process. Remember how Mikey got yelled at last week for saying that he might want his kids socialized in a gendered way?

    So I guess my question and concern is why are we excluding little people because they don’t fit into “proper society”? I’m sure the Christian right doesn’t like seeing people who are going through a gender transitioning process, but that doesn’t give them any right to exclude them or say that they hate them.

    This really gets back to the original point that Roy said about the power relations. I think magickitty made some good points about in comment #28:

    I think hater-people are jealous of children, because they’re living lives without the “filters” that adults have. They are completely impulse-driven, until we hammer that out of them. My three-year old pitching a fit because the science centre’s closing and we have to go home? Well fuck, I’d pitch a fit too, if I didn’t have the behavioural training not to. I envy him his total, uninhibited expression of emotions.

    When people complain about children’s behaviour, I think they’re just resenting the fact that they themselves can’t run around like idiots/be themselves/etc. When I think of the free child I used to be, and all the restrictions and changes made to my personality as I had to become an adult, I’m pretty damned resentful too. But I don’t blame kids for it.

    I’m still fairly young, don’t have children, but very much do want them. And when I have them, I want to figure out how to raise them in a way to be respectful of other people, but not buy into the whole socialization process just because other people want them to.

    Also, props to EG in #156 and Brookylnite in #350.

  372. Jennifer
    Jennifer June 12, 2007 at 12:17 pm |

    Here’s the problem I have with all this: adults need spaces to be adults. Where do we have in the world to just be with adults? Not everyone can entertain at home, not even those without kids. Even parents need time to chill with the big people- so where in this world can we chill with our age group?

  373. Sailorman
    Sailorman June 12, 2007 at 12:42 pm |

    Roy Says:
    June 12th, 2007 at 11:26 am

    You seem to be conveniently ignoring that MANY people in this thread–me, too, FWIW–have had that exact experience. Fairly often, for me–I think 2 out of the last 4 movies I went to had kids in them.

    No, I’m not. I’ve asked several times how often these things happen. You’re the first person to suggest that it happens frequently. Chet, in fact, specifically said that it doesn’t happen frequently to him.

    My point was that you have “asked people” how many times it happens… but you seem to be asserting that it’s exceedingly rare: “I can’t remember the last time…” So, which is it? If I remember 2 times, does your opinion change?

    I don’t think hating children makes one evil- just a bigot. If you’re not a child hater, then, as Chet pointed out- I’m not talking about you.

    This ignore the question I asked. You initially tried to link things like total control of children and vulnerability, to kid-haters. Even ignoring the extraordinarily obvious point that the people with total control over kids are generally their parents and not childless kidhaters, So then, as you see it, then it seems now we’re having a conversation about
    -a minuscule subset of people
    -who are upset by a minuscule subset of children
    -who, in an even more minuscule subset of people, exhibit behaviors that are somewhat unpleasant?

    christ, that’s ridiculous. If you think your original post was over the top, and you want to back off from it, ‘fess up. Don’t try to impose these arbitrary limits on what you said.

    And if you hate all adults, I think that makes you- *drum roll*- just as much a bigot as if you hate all women/men/Native Americans/handicapped persons/homosexuals/transgendered/blacks/elderly people/etc.

    Straw man! Can you stop doing this? It makes it quite difficult to argue with you.

    You seem to be missing something: I haven’t told anyone that they shouldn’t find a kid who is running up and down the aisle of a plane annoying, either. You have every right to find it annoying when a kid is screaming during a movie. You completely fine to find it annoying if a kid comes up and hits you or pulls your hair or whatever.

    I can’t search the comments to confirm this, so I’ll trust you.

    Politely put, if this is true you haven’t made it especially clear. “Not telling” is quite different from “disavowing.” And I think you’re dodging.

    I don’t think that being annoyed by those behaviors justifies bigotry towards children. I don’t think it justifies using terms like “crotch dropping” to refer to them. I don’t think it justifies taking every conversation about children as an opportunity to complain about the rare instances when there was an annoying kid in a restaurant later than you’d have liked.

    Bigotry is usually reserved for situations where it is undeserved.

    and this comment is crazy.

    First of all, now you’re calling disruption “rare” when just in this very post you had no opinion. Which is it?

    Second, you wrote the freakin’ post!!! How the fuck can you complain about the discussion when you started it?

    Look- you don’t have to like children. I’m not telling you that you should, and I’m not telling to go have any, or go out of your way to help people with children. I’m not telling you that you can’t find some of the things that children do annoying. I’m not telling you that you can’t complain when a kid does something that is particularly annoying.

    So then what are you saying?

    Looks to me like you’re saying:

    it’s OK to be annoyed–even really annoyed–so long as you don’t use the word “hate” and so long as you pretend not to notice the shared characteristics of the people who annoy you.

    If you’re going to argue that the kid-haters are bigots, and taht this is inappropriate, you can’t simultaneously concede the reasons behind their dislike of kids.

    I’m saying that children being children doesn’t excuse bigotry towards them.

    Hold it!!!!!!!

    IS IT TRUE OR IS IT NOT TRUE that “children” as a class exhibit certain behaviors, which are reasonably identifiable and definable?

    If it IS true, then please stop calling people who dislike those behaviors “bigots.” That has a negative implication, and people are fully entitled to dislike any behavior, or behavior set, they so choose.

    If it IS NOT true, the please drop the “… acting like children” dreck.

    I don’t think that some of the annoying things that tend to come with getting old is an excuse to practice bigotry towards the elderly, either.

    Straw man, again. Other than perhaps one reference, we’re not going there in this thread.

    here, let me try:

    Do you think we should avoid hating people with a known propensity to rape just because it might be bigoted? I don’t.

    That’s my point. All of this talk about “Well, children sometimes do things that are annoying” is distraction, and that’s what I’ve been trying to point out. That’s not the point.

    I am not completely sure what you’re saying here. You seem to be implying that frequency of annoyance is irrevelant…?

    Everyone already knows that children sometimes do annoying things. That’s not news.

    Would it be news if children suddenly started acting like adults? Because that’s what some folks here seem to be claiming.

    The question is whether that justifies open bigotry towards children. I’m saying that it doesn’t. I think that there are people who’ve got a thing against children and they’re overstating the things that children do.

    OK, so then it’s open season on what “overstating” is. Which is odd, because I thought you just said IN THIS POST that it didn’t matter.

    As someone who has (apparently) never, not once, experienced a disrupted movie, for example.. I submit that your own interpretation of “overstating” is simply wrong.

    There are over 300 comments here- you’ll have to pardon me if I get slightly overwhelmed in trying to respond to a lot of the things people are saying, and if I get distracted and lose my footing a bit. I was thinking I’d be lucky to get 30 responses- and I’ve got over ten times that.

    The excuse didn’t work for Mikey, and it doesn’t work for you. You can concede, but you can’t claim you’re right merely based on ignorance of your opponents’ positions.

    My point, ultimately, remains the same: I think that bigotry towards children is every bit as repulsive as bigotry towards other groups. I find bigotry towards children particularly odious because children are such a vulnerable group already.

    Children are MOST vulnerable to the people who, as a class, are LEAST biased against them (their own parents.) They are, generally speaking, LEAST vulnerable to the people who have the MOST bias against them (single kidhaters.) Kids are also very well distributed across every conceivable scale of privilege other than age and size.

    What you’re hearing in these 300+ comments (approaching 400, I think) is that a loot of people think your generalized comparison between kidhating and, say, racism/sexism/etc or other biases is wrong.

  374. Lauren
    Lauren June 12, 2007 at 1:01 pm |

    Just… no. You may note that when I was complaining about the young girl running up and down the aisle on the plane, I referred to her father coming up 20 minutes too late to mildly restrain her. I referred to both my step-aunt and -uncle when describing my hellion cousins; they are co-conspirators in spoiling and refusing to discipline them. I will be the first to admit that I know far more deadbeat or useless fathers than I do deadbeat or useless mothers – my own biological father being one of them. But when I say “bad parents”, I mean “bad parents,” in a completely non-genderized description of behaviour or skills. Please don’t inject my opinions with a misogyny that is not there.

    That’s fine, I was intending to speak more generally. I tend to use the term “parent” myself instead of mom or dad or whatever, because I think it’s important to be inclusive of all parties in the raising of a child. Lots of reasons why.

    However, when we get to the point of using hateful terms like “crotch droppings,” uh, whose crotch is this kid dropping out of and why is genitalia a factor in reference to the child? It’s hateful shit that reduces women, yet again, to the function of their body parts by proxy of their children.

    Not everybody on this thread uses or used that kind of language. And I’m sympathetic to the defensiveness in feeling that everybody’s trying to get women to reproduce even after they’ve indicated they have ABSOLUTELY no interest in doing so whatsoever. Ever. Ever, ever. It’s irritating, appalling even, to be reduced to your bodily functions in any social context — which is the other side of that coin that I resent, calling parents breeders or kids goddamn crotch droppings, of all things, or expecting women to reproduce, merely because of some social signifier, like marriage or a certain age, or what have you.

    And yes, I maintain that all this is misogyny.

    Overall, my point, which I obscured last night when I was up way too late and totally irritable, is that when people talk about how they dislike children because of poor parents, in a system that is set up to where mothers/women are primary caregivers, I conclude that the judgement is placed on a woman’s supposed incompetence. When we judge poor parenting from an outsider position, considering the ridiculous notions about “ideal” parenting and “ideal” motherhood (again, who tends to be the primary parent), the judgement is twofold:

    1) we judge women personally for being unable to control a situation that is often uncontrollable, because 1a) children are little people with ideas, wants, and needs that sometimes conflict with the parent’s and often can’t be rectified immediately or without compromise on somebody’s part, which takes time and finesse, and 1b) small children use the skills they have to get what they want and need, which means from the time they’re born, crying, whining, and throwing a fit is the best way to indicate a want or need that is not being met since they have lesser mastery of the language, and 1c) this is developmental and for the most part out of the control of the most apt parents.

    2) We reinforce the notion that there is one kind of parenting or one kind of child that is acceptable in various social situations, all of which, according to these shared anecdotes, are heavily dependent on several shades of context and subjectivity, and that any parent who doesn’t produce this child is in some way defective. ESPECIALLY in a culture that continues to reinforce the idea of an ideal parent, again, usually an ideal mother.

    But finally, my problem with the conversation at the root is the idea that parents are somehow raising their children in bad faith, ignoring the needs of those around them, and pawning their kids off to strangers at every opportunity. I’m a cynic, yes, but also a pragmatist, and I recognize that people do what they can with what they have in the best way they know how.

    Am I immune to occasionally lacking parenting skills? Nope. But I don’t expect to be berated if my son has a bad day. Nor am I immune to shooting daggers at the kid who’s being a dick to his mom at the doctor’s office. Children are people, they are a part of society, and they deserve to be treated with dignity from all parties, as does everyone else. The end.

  375. Kristen
    Kristen June 12, 2007 at 1:14 pm |

    1. With regard to the I hate children thing…

    I don’t hate kids. Most of the time they’re a great deal of fun to be around. But sometime they are annoying. And when I get annoyed I have said that I hate kids. You’re right. It’s sloppy. But as someone else pointed out “hate” and “love” are overblown words. I also say from time to time that I hate smokers, republicans, televangelists, telemarketers, or dog-owners because from time to time a person from these categories will do something that is typically associated with that group that happens to be annoying. The point is while I shouldn’t say I hate children, the fact that I do isn’t evidence of widespread bigotry against children any more than there is widespread bigotry against dog-owners.

    2. With regard to the women and children discussion:

    There was a time that I actively avoided children because every time I interacted with a child – I mean every single fucking time – someone would say, “you’ll be a great mother” or “when are you going to have one of your own?” When these comments came from relative strangers I ignored them, but with relatives I’d reply that I didn’t want kids. This inevitably led to the “you’ll change your mind” speech or the “smart women should have children for the sake of society” speech, or the “kids change everything” speech. Maybe it was because I lived in a small town full of family and friends-of-family, but it seemed like from about age 21 to 26 everyone wanted to know what was in my uterus.

    Nope. I live in DC and get that from perfect strangers. I’ve just learned to smile.

    3. On Child Abuse

    The real issue isn’t cranky people on a plane shooting nastly looks at a mom. The real issue is the level of child abuse and the inability of our society to do anything about it. I work regularly with child advocacy agencies trying to protect children from their abusive parents. All to often I hear a judge discuss the “right” of a parent to a child…but rarely do I hear about a child’s right to be free from harm. This is not a 3rd world problem. This is an American problem. Four percent of children have claims of child abuse brought to the attention of authorities. Three million children last year. And those are just the ones who either told someone or had visible signs of abuse.

    It’s too easy to get bogged down in the “children are annoying” and “people wanting me to have children” is annoying arguments.

    What we really need to discuss is how to protect children.

  376. belledame222
    belledame222 June 12, 2007 at 1:16 pm |

    I like the whole “I deserve to not be bothered by screaming kids in fancy restaurants, I’m paying good money to not be bothered by people acting irrationally and having tantrums” riff, I think everyone can probably relate to that really, I mean from the customer side, of course.

    There was a funny article in this collection of food writing essays I have; a guy talks about he and his wife deciding to take their two year old to one of the fanciest restaurants in town. Amazingly, every time she starts to go into one of her two-year old behaviors–I want this, I’m gonna slide under the table now–a waiter instantly appeared to take care of her every need. Apparently they managed to keep her placated throughout the entire meal. No screaming.

    What the author concluded from this was that actually, billionaires are a lot like two year olds. They get their every whim attended to immediately and apologetically, pitch a hissy fit if it isn’t exactly right -right now-, and accept this as their due.

    What fancy restaurants failed to realize, says the author, was that sooner or later people with -actual two year olds- would figure this out and take advantage of it.

  377. belledame222
    belledame222 June 12, 2007 at 1:17 pm |

    and once again, I wish to complain about the constant bigotry against scarecrows. Not -everything- is a straw man, people. There are about 6,000,987 other logical fallacies out there; use ‘em. Thank you.

  378. justicewalks
    justicewalks June 12, 2007 at 1:23 pm |

    Thanks, Sally. You are right about my appearance on several levels, and I am glad to know that some people agree that I should not be made to feel like a circus freak because of it.

    That’s because there’s an implicit threat when men stare at women, because we live in a culture of male violence against women.

    No, that would be what makes a man’s leering threatening. Even if I weren’t afraid, thanks to the rape culture, that a leering man might rape me, leering would still be rude, which is the charge I levied against the same behavior in children, despite the straw man you’ve erected in honor of my ostensible fear of children’s deadly glares. I didn’t say anything about threats or endangerment at the hands of children. Do I really have to be threatened in order to feel insulted or imposed upon?

  379. rocketdyke
    rocketdyke June 12, 2007 at 1:26 pm |

    well, this is what i want to know. i live in nyc. i have to ride the subway. it is a FREQUENT – i’d say at least once weekly – occurrence to end up seated next to a child who is climbing all over the seat, who doesn’t want to sit still, and who is getting their dirty shoes on my nice work clothes. what should i do if the guardian of the kid does NOTHING about it, which i’d say happens 1/2 of the time. when it seems obvious that the person with the kids sees what this kid is doing and does not even attempt to keep the dirty shoes off my clothes, is asking the guardian to please keep the kid’s shoes off my clothes a total affront to their ability to parent? is that an insult to ask them to do something that i perceive they are not doing in order not to get my clothes dirty? should i address the child? ask the kid, will you please keep your feet to yourself? this seems to usually only piss the guardian off. i genuinely want to know, what am i supposed to do in that situation in order to not be a hater? my general tendency, honestly, is to want to get up and get away from the kid and the dirty shoes, to put myself into a space where i don’t have to be touched by some squriming kid and dirty shoes on my way to work. i would definitely prefer the world where the squirmy kid with dirty shoes was not sitting near me.

    this whole thread also makes me think of the time i was on the subway on my way to work and a whole classroom full of kids – probably around age 7 – piled into the train to go to a museum. there were lots of empty seats, so i ended up completely surrounded by all the kids who squished onto the seats. that wasnt so bad, but the one kid right next to me was annoyed because the little girl next to him had a back pack on. he kept pushing her and crying and whining that he didnt have room, that he wanted more room in his seat, that he was uncomfortable. and the teachers were trying to keep track of everyone so they couldnt really pay attnetion to him. i finally leaned into him after he kicked me for the 5th time while trying to push his neighbor away, and i said, look, kid, i know youre uncomfortable and you want more room on the train. you know what? so does everyone else. we’re all uncomfortable and crowded. but you know what, we’re all going to work, while youre on your way to have a fun day at a museum, so just sit still and think about how lucky you are. after that, he was still and quiet for the rest of the ride.

  380. libber
    libber June 12, 2007 at 1:31 pm |

    That’s fine, I was intending to speak more generally. I tend to use the term “parent” myself instead of mom or dad or whatever, because I think it’s important to be inclusive of all parties in the raising of a child. Lots of reasons why

    That seems to contradict what you were saying last night. Make up your mind.

    Nope. I live in DC and get that from perfect strangers. I’ve just learned to smile.

    What about “I don’t want children” or “mind your own business” or “fuck off” (depending who you’re talking to). Or in family gatherings: “excuse me, but did it ever occur to you that some women may be unable to reproduce?” — then give them a fake smile. That will shut them up.

  381. Read-Ems at  Shakesville
    Read-Ems at Shakesville June 12, 2007 at 1:32 pm |

    [...] Chet Scoville: Wrong Threefer: Belledame222 and Lauredhel think about hating children. Bradley: Feminism and Marriage (A Note to Men) Ted: [...]

  382. Lauren
    Lauren June 12, 2007 at 1:39 pm |

    That seems to contradict what you were saying last night. Make up your mind.

    It would be contradictory if you were reading selectively or being a douchebag.

  383. kidlacan
    kidlacan June 12, 2007 at 1:46 pm |

    thank you, sailorman, for putting clearly what i am too fuddled to phrase.

    i have several times been called “a bigot”, or “bigoted against children”, simply for stating that i dislike being in their proximity when they are displaying the behaviours GENERALLY CLASSED UNDER THE HEADING of “being children”. strangely, though, no one calls me “bigoted against cell-phone owners”, or “bigoted against SUV drivers”, or “bigoted against rude people”, if i express my dislike of them OR of their behaviour. children, depending on age, do have a lower ability to choose the behaviours they engage in, but disliking the behaviour all the same does NOT make one a bigot. it’s a perversion of the word, to the point of making it lose meaning.

  384. Reba
    Reba June 12, 2007 at 2:03 pm |

    I say, if you trash the bathroom, you clean the bathroom. If you grafitti the kindergarten playground, you get a bucket of paint and a brush to put it right. If you punch someone in the face during recess, you miss out on recess. And no parent-as-white-knight rushing in to save you.

    I say that makes perfect sense and you might want to come teach at one of these small schools on the prarie. We could use you here and school rules don’t even tolerate open rudeness, much less disruptive behavior. There are some parents who spoil their kids and who are in denial, but not quite as many. Maybe the fact that we’re all struggling to get by makes us feel less entitled in general. I don’t know, but I’m sure there’s a sociology paper in there somewhere.

    I just know that all the kids who come to my house abide by the rules of my house, even when those rules differ from the ones their parents impose. No one gets to play video games rated M in my house. You can’t be intentionally cruel. You have to ask if you want something or be laughed at by your friends when I calmly point out what a rude little thing you are. You get one warning and then you get kicked out. When you apologize politely, at a later date, you might be invited back. My children may negotiate for you, but you have to own up to your bad behavior. This actually is a village and we DO take a hand in raising each other’s kids.

    Is it idylic here? Nope. We have anhydrous amonia all around us, so there are meth heads. There is ignorance, bigotry, abuse and the usual villainy that people perpetrate on other people, though a touch less because our cops are really bored and more than willing to come out for your run of the mill domestic dispute – or haul your kid home after curfew. But for some reason, my kids have reasonably polite friends. Maybe it’s because the rude ones have all been banned…..I can do that because I’m the parent.

  385. libber
    libber June 12, 2007 at 2:04 pm |

    Lauren, what the fuck were you trying to say in post 312 then?

  386. Hawise
    Hawise June 12, 2007 at 2:07 pm |

    justicewalks- you present a difficult case for a parent in society, because you are absolutely right that you should not be made to feel like an outsider due to conditions outside your control. Yet for a child you represent something outside their worldview and thus the staring. Yes, it is rude to stare but unless someone helps them put you into place in their world then it will happen. The sooner someone helps them process the information the sooner they can go on to the next challenge. If you can do it, great- small words, nothing scary and you help them; if you can’t do that then you have to accept that they are going to take awhile to place you and you may not like the end result. I can prepare my child for a million different things but inevitably when we walk out the door it is a million and one that we will encounter. I don’t expect people to help raise my child but if they can help raise his experience base then everyone wins.

  387. kidlacan
    kidlacan June 12, 2007 at 2:12 pm |

    i’m also fairly certain that one’s opinion of the frequency of annoying kid behaviour differs with perspective. i work retail. i could catalog each annoying kid event of a typical day to provide a clearer picture of what one actually does have to deal with in the public sphere. i get assaulted or harrassed by children approximately three times an hour, over the course of an eight-hour workday. accordingly, i flinch instinctively whenever one hoves into view. sometimes i have the rare pleasure of being proven wrong. sometimes kids are awesome. when they’re in public, though, they’re usually not. sure, that’s usually because they are tired, hungry or overwhelmed, but again, THIS DOES NOT MAKE IT BETTER. sorry.

    it’s a reaction based in experience. i’ve come to expect constant annoying behaviour from all members of society — as i’ve said, i work in retail, so that is pretty much what i do. children IN PUBLIC tend to be prone to unpleasant behaviour, more than most other groups IN PUBLIC, and so i tend to want to avoid them. i fail to see how this is being a bigot. is it expressing my dislike that makes me a bigot, or is it the act of avoidance that makes me a bigot — the dislike itself?

    i might add, also, that i’m not exactly getting in Hypothetical Kid’s hypothetical face and yelling “I HATE IT WHEN YOU DO THAT YOU STICKY LITTLE BASTARD”. i’m sorry for allowing my dislike of being stared at, sneezed on, kicked, hit, groped, drenched in juice, crashed-into-at-high-speeds or screamed at to occasionally become palpable, but what the hell else am i supposed to do?

  388. Lauren
    Lauren June 12, 2007 at 2:16 pm |

    In #395 I was telling you to argue in good faith or shut the fuck up.

  389. Frumious B
    Frumious B June 12, 2007 at 2:17 pm |

    I see a couple of themes in these comments.

    1) “If you weren’t prepared to _____, you shouldn’t have had children!”
    Are you all aware that birth control fails, or isn’t available, or isn’t negotiable?

    2) “Get a sitter when you go out!”
    Do you have any idea how much sitters cost these days? It’s like $40 in my area! Jeebus!

    (I still hate kids, even though some of them are starving.)

  390. Kristen
    Kristen June 12, 2007 at 2:17 pm |

    What about “I don’t want children” or “mind your own business” or “fuck off” (depending who you’re talking to). Or in family gatherings: “excuse me, but did it ever occur to you that some women may be unable to reproduce?” — then give them a fake smile. That will shut them up.

    I’ve never been successful with option number one. I end up in this endlessly annoying conversation about the difference between thinking other peoples children are fun and wanting to devote a significant portion of my life to creating and training one. Two and three have come to mind, but there is usually a child present! :)

  391. Reba
    Reba June 12, 2007 at 2:27 pm |

    And for the record, I am, in fact, that obnoxious woman who talks to your child when s/he is misbehaving in stores and tells them to cut it out and listen to mom/dad/whomever. I am the one who makes the face to make the baby stop crying so you can try on your shoes. And I am the one who says to the woman with a toddler and infant who have reached the end of their ropes at the end of the shopping trip “I remember days like that” so they know they aren’t alone or bad people.

    Yeah, I’m basically rude enough to intrude. Funny thing is, most people don’t seem to mind so much. Okay, except when I say “Dude? Seriously? You’re taking your KID to see that movie?” Then they hate on me. Go figure.

  392. Lin
    Lin June 12, 2007 at 2:31 pm |

    1) “If you weren’t prepared to _____, you shouldn’t have had children!”
    Are you all aware that birth control fails, or isn’t available, or isn’t negotiable?

    Quite. We’re also aware of various sex acts and abortion.

    Having a child is still a choice.

  393. libber
    libber June 12, 2007 at 2:34 pm |

    Are you all aware that birth control fails, or isn’t available, or isn’t negotiable?

    use the pill. when used correctly it’s 100% reliable.

  394. Wishy Washy
    Wishy Washy June 12, 2007 at 2:36 pm |

    rocketdyke – right on about the subway thing, with the flailing kid in the seat next to you and the caretaker who does nothing even if the kid kicks you. I have wondered how to handle that too. I usually just move and shoot daggers out of my eyes at the caretaker. Often they shoot daggers right back, maybe assuming I hate children or something. I’m too chickenshit to say anything. I’m even more surprised that it still happens to me now that I’m visibly pregnant. I suppose that goes to show that such guardians/parents are not representative of guardians/parents in general and in fact not only do they not care about teaching their children to be aware of the comfort of others, they don’t even care about the comfort of one of “their own,” a fellow guardian/parent.

    Good response to the museum kid. Maybe I will use that some time.

  395. Jill
    Jill June 12, 2007 at 2:38 pm | *

    use the pill. when used correctly it’s 100% reliable.

    News to me. And I worked as a sexual health educator for a pretty long time. Care to provide any sources that say the pill is 100% effective?

  396. Kristen
    Kristen June 12, 2007 at 2:43 pm |

    I’m a cynic, yes, but also a pragmatist, and I recognize that people do what they can with what they have in the best way they know how.

    Lauren, I am here to take your cynic status back. No one who believes that people do what they can with what they have in the best way they know how is a cynic. I’m afraid you’re an optimist.

    Next you’ll be quoting Maya Angelou – “You do what you know, and when you know better, you do better.”

  397. Sailorman
    Sailorman June 12, 2007 at 2:44 pm |

    Roy,

    Clarify and confirm time before we go any further.

    Your first point is stated multiple times, verbatim, as “bigotry against any group is wrong.”

    Your second point, as I understand it, is that the behavior of children as a group is either a) not any different from anyone else; or b) different but insufficient to justify dislike/hatred/prejudice against children as a group. I’m not sure whether you’re arguing a or b.

    Your final point seems to be that children are in a poor position and thus deserve special treatment. It’s not clear whether you are referring only to U.S. children or whether you are referring to children worldwide.

    Let me follow up on the “bigot” thing first. You say bigotry against ANY GROUP is wrong. Do you mean that precisely as you said it? Yes, i know you have said it many times, but I ask because I suspect your answer will be “no.” After all, it seems fairly simple to identify groups who most people would agree are “open season on hating”; child pornographers, murderers, etc.

    Alternatively, maybe you’re just using a different definition or application of “bigoted.” After all, “bigot,” like “racist,” means lots of things in the blogosphere depending on who is writing.

    So: How are you using “bigot?” What, in your view, makes a kiddie-hater a bigot? If you don’t think rapist-haters are bigots, what’s the dividing line?

    Re your second and third points, I’d like to confirm that I have the summaries correct before I write more.

  398. Vera Venom
    Vera Venom June 12, 2007 at 2:45 pm |

    Re Post #285: I don’t like being around children. I avoid them whenever possible. We have nothing in common, we have nothing to talk about and all of my toys are too dangerous for them to play with.

    And, from my child-free privledged position it seems like being a parent would suck at least part of the time. My friends with children can never go anywhere, they never have money to do anything (owing to constant child-related expenses: after school activities, sports, orthodontial, etc). They are always tired, always overworked and frequently run ragged with constant errands and chores. I’m sure there’s a magical world* of parent/child bonding that goes on in the home that more than makes up for this that I am not privledge to see. That’s cool. I know little about children, nothing about raising them and it’s going to stay that way.

    It is because of my ignorance about parenting and my desire to absolutely never become one that I do the things the gaia mentions in her post. I always hold door open for people with bulky cumbersome strollers (which is all of them). I always pick up the toys/bottle/pacifiers kids chuck aside. I always help a parent struggling to haul all the kid-related crap up stairs or whatever. All that crap.

    To me, it’s the least I can do to make someone else’s day a little better. I think that being a parent is a rough, so I don’t see the value in making things harder for them with disapproving looks or whatever.

    Sure, I don’t appreciate children in adult spaces; don’t like having to put up with someone else’s screaming/tantrum-ing kid. But, it’s kind of hard to believe that there are so many parents that are just horrible, neglectful or lazy parents. To me, it’s more likely that you’ve caught them on a bad day, or on the kid’s bad day, and so cutting them some slack is probably in order. I’m not always on my best behavior either.

    (That said, when it gets out of hand getting the kid out of there is the best thing to do. )

    * – that’s not meant sarcastically

  399. Jill
    Jill June 12, 2007 at 2:46 pm | *

    And to whomever is managing the moderation queue – kudos! But you should totally go to bed already.

    That would be Roy. Thanks, Roy! You have made my life substantially better, as this thread is almost 400 comments in, and as of yet no one has yelled at me for “censoring” them because I’m not up at 4am checking the mod queue. You are a guestblogger extraordinaire.

  400. Kristen
    Kristen June 12, 2007 at 2:47 pm |

    use the pill. when used correctly it’s 100% reliable.

    Um…wow…you must have had one of those underfunded sex-ed classes. I have an IUD which is more effective than a tubal ligation (at my current age) and it isn’t even 100% effective.

  401. La Lubu
    La Lubu June 12, 2007 at 2:48 pm |

    So those of us who are parents know that we get grumbled at in the situations that fall between Chuck E. Cheese and the ballet, and we note that the folks who are complaining here about kids at the ballet mostly pointedly aren’t defending little kids’ presence in the art museum and the folk-music concert and the 7pm showing of the PG-13 movie.

    When folks start saying “kids are fine in [obviously kid-friendly place], but keep them out of [obviously kid-unfriendly place]” I get twitchy, because I see it as a rhetorical move designed to lay adult-claim to the stuff in the middle without having to explicitly defend it. That may not be what’s intended, but it sets my Spidey-sense tingling every time.

    Boom. Shot. There’s a lot to comment on in this thread (and that’s an understatement), but this comment by Brooklynite really nailed it for me, in terms of the problems I have as a single mother who willfully appears in public with her seven-year-old daughter, and not just for “necessary” trips like the post office or grocery store, but for fun, we-are-members-of-the-community-too trips to restaurants and movie theaters. There seems to be an assumption on the part of many childfree folks of what I would consider to be really exclusionary or strict parenting practices as being the only “proper” way to parent.

    I’ve never seen Sin City, so I can’t say as to whether I would find it objectionable or not for my daughter to see it. But when I took her to see the 8:00 PM showing of “Ghost Rider”, I overheard passive-aggressive commentary from some of the other patrons in the theater (y’know, the decidedly un-sotto voce “isn’t that movie too old for a child?” and “it’s 8:00PM!”). And I can’t help but think what is going on in the minds of people that think a movie based on a comic book is inappropriate for kids. As it was, it was a full house, and probably one out of every six people in the joint was a child under ten, so it’s not like I’m flagrantly violating community standards or anything.

    See, that’s it in a nutshell—who has the power to determine what the “community standards” are? There is full consensus on what constitutes bad behavior—hitting, screaming, etc. No argument about that. But like Brooklynite said, beyond that we have different backgrounds that inform our practices. My mind boggles at the idea that coffeeshops, sidewalk cafes, bookstores, good restaurants (especially those that don’t have a wall between the bar and the eating area, because children shouldn’t see a bar), etc. ought to be adult-only. That’s insane. It’s weird to me to think that I shouldn’t take my daughter to see the “Rocky Horror Picture Show”; I mean hell, doesn’t that seem pretty much custom-made for the grade-school sense of humor? I still think it’s bizarre that people think children shouldn’t go to weddings or funerals. And parents of feministe readers banished their kids to their room during parties? That’s weird. It seems Victorian to me. Why are feminists supposed to take Victorian child-rearing practices as our own?

    And let’s face it, the mass media plays a role in all this too. We’ve been inundated with so much imagery of the “ideal parent” (as Lauren put it), in easy to swallow thirty minute to two hour sound bites. The “ideal parent” doesn’t resemble most of us, physically, economically, culturally, intellectually, artistically, emotionally—who the hell are these one-dimensional no-character-having characters that we—the living, breathing, flesh-blood-and-bone parents—are supposed to live down to?!

    There’s so much intersecting baggage here, it deserves several posts. I can’t help but think some of the redirected hostility towards children is really hostility towards—not only women transcending certain boundaries, but folks of different cultural backgrounds “intruding” on, or challenging–even changing— majority cultural norms. ‘Nother words, that WASPy middle-class types have to share a certain amount of public space with folks who don’t share the same norms. Hence, my tendency to get the hairy eyeball from people because my Sicilian-American parenting practices aren’t “American” enough, heh heh.

    And….what Lauren said. Everywhere on this thread.

  402. car
    car June 12, 2007 at 2:49 pm |

    Again, the selfishness is stunning. “YOU chose to have that thing, so YOU take care of it.”. Yes, I am. 24/7, thanks. I’m not asking you to take care of it, I’m only asking you not to be an ass towards it or me when we happen to be participating in society. Particularly, I’m asking you not to pre-emptively be an ass regarding the fact that the child exists when it hasn’t done anything to annoy anyone, knowing that the only way it will learn how to negotiate society politely is to see it modeled by everyone else. Is that so much of a burden, given that sooner or later you will be relying on everyone else’s children? (see EG, 177)

  403. RKMK
    RKMK June 12, 2007 at 2:53 pm |

    OK. I was thinking about this over my lunch hour, that on the whole, my attitude towards children is similar to that I hold about dogs. (Hold on, let me finish!) I am A Cat Person. I pretty much love all cats: their cute furry little faces, their purring, and the cuddling. I even think they’re cute when they’re being aloof and snobby; it seems dignified to me, or part of their personality. I will allow that some cats have been mistreated or neglected, or are just mean, and screech and scratch and are otherwise nasty; however, by and large, I love kittycats of almost all temperaments. Cats, as a species, appeal to me much more than dogs.

    So, let’s talk about dogs. Do I hate dogs? No. Given a choice between a cat or a dog, I’ll choose a cat in an instant, but my attitude towards dogs is generally neutral and situationally- or context-dependent. I generally find that dogs are far more prone to making messes, being smelly, sticking their nose into your crotch, barking barking barking, and licking when licking is not welcome. In a more extreme situation, I have been attacked by a Chow Chow and have a scar on my arm to show for it, while I have never been similarly attacked by a cat. I do not like stories of pit bulls who kill children; I also don’t like dog owners who haven’t trained their dogs. But some dogs I love – a friend’s well-known dog, for example, or the pictures of happy puppies being cute at CuteOverload.com, or a friendly well-behaved pup that I meet on the street. I can understand their appeal to others, and sometimes enjoy being around them myself, but I, personally, don’t want a dog.

    But I don’t think I’m bigoted, for crying out loud.

    And the way I feel about kids is straight along those lines. I generally prefer the company of adults (a population that contains assholes). I do not want children of my own, at least not for the timebeing, and I don’t care to babysit or hang out with other people’s kids all the time. I also do not want to have to remind other people to mind their children, as much as I am annoyed by dog owners who don’t stop their pets from jumping all over you. Hypotheticially, if someone (not blind) brought their damn dog to the theatre, and it barked, I’d expect them to leave. Am I making myself clear, the distinction here?

    Just, stop calling us bigots. It’s ridiculous.

    I miss Jill and zuzu.

  404. La Lubu
    La Lubu June 12, 2007 at 2:54 pm |

    Also—point taken on the “when are you having kids” interrogations. I’ve been there (I gave birth at the extremely advanced age of 32). However, this isn’t an either/or scenario; mothers are picked at constantly for not adhering to one standard or another. It’s a damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don’t. And I’ve had far more public scrutiny, interrogations, negative assumptions and just plain ill-feeling directed my way after becoming a mother than I ever had before. Part of that is because I’m an “unwed mother”—but married women go through that wringer, too.

  405. libber
    libber June 12, 2007 at 2:55 pm |

    News to me. And I worked as a sexual health educator for a pretty long time. Care to provide any sources that say the pill is 100% effective?

    No, but I’d be happy to provide sources that say that the pill is way over 99% effective when used properly. And doctors say that it’s more likely to be 100% effective when used properly (b/c of all the ways it protects you)

  406. Lin
    Lin June 12, 2007 at 2:57 pm |

    1) “If you weren’t prepared to _____, you shouldn’t have had children!”
    Are you all aware that birth control fails, or isn’t available, or isn’t negotiable?

    Quite. We’re also aware of various sex acts and abortion.

    Having a child is still a choice.

    And before we get to the “my morals/religion/whatnot won’t allow an abortion therefore I don’t have a choice argument” I’d like to say: that’s still a choice.

    To follow those morals where they lead.

    To follow that religion.

    It might have been a choice made way back when and one you’re still letting direct your path in life.

    But, it’s still a choice.

  407. libber
    libber June 12, 2007 at 3:03 pm |

    I gave birth at the extremely advanced age of 32

    Maybe I am totally ignorant but I thought 35 was extremely advanced age.

  408. libber
    libber June 12, 2007 at 3:07 pm |

    Um…wow…you must have had one of those underfunded sex-ed classes. I have an IUD which is more effective than a tubal ligation (at my current age) and it isn’t even 100% effective.

    Close enough. Besides, I said “when used correctly”. you can’t read?

  409. Brooklynite
    Brooklynite June 12, 2007 at 3:09 pm |

    Just, stop calling us bigots. It’s ridiculous.

    Let me ask you a question, RK. Do you think it’s possible for a person to be bigoted against the elderly? If so, what form might such bigotry take? What attitudes or behaviors would you describe as suggesting anti-elderly bigotry?

    And to move away from bigotry, how would you characterize a person who expressed vocal disgust about the frailties and incapacities that often come with old age? Would you consider such expressions of disgust, made in a public forum, to be reasonable and appropriate, or churlish and offensive?

    None of these are trick questions, and none of them were composed with anything you’ve said here in mind. I’m curious to hear your answers, though.

  410. justicewalks
    justicewalks June 12, 2007 at 3:10 pm |

    …if you can’t do that [persuade a toddler of your overriding humanity, despite your appearance] then you have to accept that they are going to take awhile to place you and you may not like the end result.

    That’s just it, Hawise. I have accepted that. Like I said, asking a child of a certain age not to stare is like asking a dog not to lick its ass. It’s not going to happen. Which is why I don’t like kids. They can’t be held to reasonable standards of politeness and courtesy, so I avoid their company. It is not my responsibility to discuss my appearance, or anything else, with rude children in order to socialize them. If I wanted to socialize children, I’d get a job in education or give birth to a few of my own.

    As things stand, though, children are free to be rude for as long as their parents are willing to indulge it, and I am concurrently free to dislike them for it. I’d say their rudeness has more of an effect on me (and my friends, who feel even more discomfort than I do when children stare at me with mouths agape, let alone when they reach into the next booth to put a soiled hand in my hair) than my dislike for children has on them.

  411. Brooklynite
    Brooklynite June 12, 2007 at 3:10 pm |

    And Sailor, I’d be interested in your responses, too.

  412. Vanessa
    Vanessa June 12, 2007 at 3:18 pm |

    As a parent, how many times, honestly, have you been accosted by an irate feminist yelling at you for daring to bring your children into public?

    I don’t know about feminsists specifically, because I’m not a psychic and not that many people actually wear signs advertising their political viewpoints, but do people make my life hell, all the time? Actually, yes. And the tongue-clicking. The eye-rolling, the dissapproving glares. The comments, ranging from the ‘helpful advice’ (Baby should have a hat on! You know, breast is best!) to the downright rude.

  413. Jill
    Jill June 12, 2007 at 3:20 pm | *

    Close enough. Besides, I said “when used correctly”. you can’t read?

    How does one use an IUD incorrectly? I mean, the doctor inserts it, and you just check the string once a month, right? Kind of hard to fuck up. Yet women on IUDs do occassionally get pregnant.

    As for the pill, yes, it is highly effective when used correctly. But like any other type of medication, “99.7 percent effective when used correctly” does NOT mean “99.7 percent effective when used correctly for every person who uses it.” There are people whose bodies simply don’t respond properly to the pill, who use the pill regularly and correctly, but whose hormonal balances drive the pill’s efficacy way, way down. A good friend of mine is one of those people — she was on the pill for years, until she started getting abdominal pains. It turned out she had an ovarian cyst, and that because of hormonal imbalance, her pill had essentially stopped working. Luckily she caught it in time and didn’t get pregnant, but the idea that the pill is 100% effective for everyone when used correctly just isn’t true.

    And as for 99.7% is the same as 100%, well, that’s not quite the case. .3 percent may not sound like a lot, but given how many women use the pill as their primary form of birth control, that .3 percent is a decent number of actual women.

  414. ks
    ks June 12, 2007 at 3:22 pm |

    Fruminous:

    I see a couple of themes in these comments.

    1) “If you weren’t prepared to _____, you shouldn’t have had children!”
    Are you all aware that birth control fails, or isn’t available, or isn’t negotiable?

    2) “Get a sitter when you go out!”
    Do you have any idea how much sitters cost these days? It’s like $40 in my area! Jeebus!

    1. Exactly. My two were planned, but since I seem to be one of those superfertile women, if I have even one birth control failure, I can almost guarantee that I’d end up pregnant. And a lot of people are lucky enough to have access to, or the option of, any sort of birth control. So kids aren’t always ‘planned’ or ‘chosen.’ Sometimes, stuff just happens.

    2. Also true. I live 400 miles away from my nearest able bodied family member. There are exactly two teenagers that I know who I would trust to babysit, and they are very busy all the time with other things, not to mention, very, very expensive. So, really, the only times the husband and I can go out together without the kids is when family is visiting (and then we feel really guilty because, really, my mom and/or sisters didn’t travel all that way just to watch my kids, his mom is elderly and can’t, and his closest to us sister generally won’t) or when we’ve just gotten our tax refund and can afford both the night out and the babysitter. So, on the rare occaisions we do go out, we tend to just take the kids with us. Oh well, I guess that makes us horrible, entitled parents to feel like we should not have to be confined to our house, the playground, and McDonald’s for the next 10 years.

  415. Kristen
    Kristen June 12, 2007 at 3:22 pm |

    Close enough. Besides, I said “when used correctly”. you can’t read?

    When used perfectly the pill will result in 5 pregnancies per thousand within the first year of use.

    That’s not close enough for me.

  416. jfpbookworm
    jfpbookworm June 12, 2007 at 3:28 pm |

    I find a lot of my problems with kids, though, boil down to noise levels.

    This is me as well. I’m hypersensitive to sudden loud noises in ways I suspect most people are not. Cellphone conversations don’t typically bother me in the same way, because what gets me isn’t the volume so much as the suddenness, and I’ve only encountered a few adults whose conversational voices hit that particular button. (I find the cadence of typical conversation relaxing, actually.) Some (not all) children, however, can reliably find that level of sudden volume that causes irritation or physical pain. (Fireworks, gunshots, thunder and car alarms are also pretty good at triggering this reaction in me.)

    I think a lot of people don’t have this particular sensitivity, either because it’s not common or maybe because repeated exposure has dulled the sense. I’d say parental reaction is about fifty/fifty – half the time the parent either doesn’t notice or doesn’t act on it, and half the time they tell their child to stop shouting or to use an “indoor voice.” And occasionally, I get berated for my expression of discomfort. (Probably not often enough to be significant, but those times are certainly memorable.)

  417. Lauren
    Lauren June 12, 2007 at 3:34 pm |

    Lauren, I am here to take your cynic status back. No one who believes that people do what they can with what they have in the best way they know how is a cynic. I’m afraid you’re an optimist.

    Next you’ll be quoting Maya Angelou – “You do what you know, and when you know better, you do better.”

    Kyra, quoting Maya Angelou is amateurish (all present company excluded) and I would never do that. Let me rephrase: I believe that people do what they can with what they have in the best way they know how, but do it poorly. Intent matters to a point, especially since childhood and parenthood are on learning curves.

    And Jill, that was me up all night. I took liberties and totally blame the insomnia.

  418. Lauren
    Lauren June 12, 2007 at 3:37 pm |

    Shit, now that I think about it I use a version of that Angelou saying with my seven-year-old. FOILED!

  419. Vanessa
    Vanessa June 12, 2007 at 3:38 pm |

    What La Lubu said (in #415)

  420. Lauren
    Lauren June 12, 2007 at 3:42 pm |

    RKMK, I do think the bigotry accusations are problematic to a point. I was actually thinking about the dog-person thing today too — almost brought it up but you beat me to it.

  421. RKMK
    RKMK June 12, 2007 at 3:47 pm |

    Brooklynite -

    Oddly enough, I do not feel compelled to answer your questions. I am sure there are people who are intolerant or impatient when dealing with the elderly. I’m sure there are people who are uncomfortable with old people because they do not like dealing with people whose mortality is much more evident than their own, or simply because they feel they can’t relate to them, have nothing to speak to them about, and this makes them uncomfortable. I’m sure this manifests itself in a manner of ways. What I am not sure about is what this has to do with what I last wrote at all.

    You have children. You love them. That’s fabulous. But I have every right to be annoyed if your child is kicking my seat, or screaming in my vicinity, or throwing food at me in my expensive dry-clean-only clothes in a fancy restaurant, and I frankly don’t care if you’re offended by that. In fact, I frankly won’t care if you’re offended if I feel it’s necessary to tell you your child is out of line, and I expect you to control them – though I usually don’t do this because I rarely want to confront people about what should be fairly obvious, and it’s not worth the aggravation of potentially being told that stopping your child from tossing his food at me stifles his creative aura, or whatever new-age mumbo-jumbo is currently floating about. My life is too short; I don’t want to spend it dealing with ill-mannered, inconsiderate children and their parents who think that rest of us just need to be sympathetic and understand. I am allowed to be annoyed, and it does not make me a bigot. GOD.

  422. libber
    libber June 12, 2007 at 3:49 pm |

    How does one use an IUD incorrectly?

    I wasn’t talking about that. I was talking about the pill.

    .3 percent is a decent number of actual women.

    sure but given that each women has only about a 5 day window each month during which she can get pregnant, how many women are we talking about? All I wanted to emphasize was that women are in charge of their bodies — which means, they can, for the most part, decide whether or not they wanna get pregnant.

    When used perfectly the pill will result in 5 pregnancies per thousand within the first year of use.

    so you are assuming that everyone who is failing to respond to the pill will get pregnant?

  423. Sailorman
    Sailorman June 12, 2007 at 3:50 pm |

    Brooklynite, they’re pretty complex questions but I’ll try to answer them as concisely as I can. Will you please answer them as well so we can compare?

    FWIW, I’m using a definition of bigoted that essentially equates to holding an unjustified prejudice against some group of people, or acting in an unjustified manner towards that group. IOW, I am not using Roy’s “any group” definition.

    # Brooklynite Says:
    June 12th, 2007 at 3:09 pm
    Do you think it’s possible for a person to be bigoted against the elderly?

    Yes.

    If so, what form might such bigotry take? What attitudes or behaviors would you describe as suggesting anti-elderly bigotry?

    Hmm. I honestly don’t exactly know; I’ll think on this some more.

    I generally include the reasonableness factor when evaluating bigotry. So I’ve seen people bitch about old people on the beach because they don’t like to look at them–bigotry, I think. OTOH, i’ve heard people bitch about elderly drivers because they’re more unsafe–not bigotry in my view.

    And to move away from bigotry, how would you characterize a person who expressed vocal disgust about the frailties and incapacities that often come with old age?

    Fairly normal, actually. I know a number of old people who do it themselves. I don’t especially want to become a “drooling vegetable who can only shit and eat”; neither does my (senior) mother or my (extraordinarily old but fully functional) grandfather. And that phrase came from him, not me. I realize it’s considered offensive by some; I’m only quoting it to demonstrate my perception of why it’s normal.

    Would you consider such expressions of disgust, made in a public forum, to be reasonable and appropriate, or churlish and offensive?

    If it was specific? Churlish. It’s not considered nice to tell people to their face that they are pissing you off. (with kids, this seems to be at the heart of the problem.)

    If it was general? Reasonable and appropriate. I don’t subscribe to the concept that things should be “disallowed” from discussion. If I’m disgusted by old people (I’m not,) what should I do? Stay mute?

    Back to kids for a moment: When speech is general in nature and is not inciting action I have a hard time saying it is inappropriate. I think it is almost impossible to consider hatred of a voluntary characteristic to be inappropriate or bigotry or what have you.

    I see a lot of people here bitching about kids, but I don’t see anyone inciting others to action or promoting any behavior (other than “having a feeling of dislike”) that is problematic. Top me that’s a pretty good “not bigotry” sign.

    I also place a lot of weight on the fact that the class referred to in this thread is not immutable. That’s almost enough all on its own to get a “no problem” rating. Not only are children mutable by definition (they age and mature) but even the fullblown kidhaters here don’t mind children in “obviously child-centered” places. And even outside those places, there seems to be at least some consensus that “well mannered” behavior is not worthy of opprobrium.*

    That means that the class who is “oppressed” by the dislike in this thread has the ability, if they so choose, to avoid it. (and before you respond that the reverse is also true, it’s not: if there were really no kids in “adult” spots like fancy restaurants and late movies, I suspect this thread would be a lot shorter.)


    I’m also not sure this is a great analogy,
    because old people differ from children in one very crucial fashion: They get worse, not better. “Try again in a year” or “just wait and you’ll be able to ___” or “don’t worry, you can do ___ some day soon” don’t apply to old people.

    Society recognizes those two differentials. Asking someone to leave a restaurant has different import if they will be able to return, vs. if it’s the last time they’ll even eat out again.

    Old people really are, usually, doing the best they can. Sometimes they’re rude, or assholes, or sexist, just like everyone else. And if their behavior is controllable then I think it’s perfectly OK to be annoyed at them, just like everyone else.

    Children–especially the children referenced in this thread–are usually NOT doing the best they can. (I include the parental interaction in this framework for a moment.) Often, they are not acting to their full potential even based on their immediate situation. My children are often noisy when they are capable of being quiet.

    And of course they are almost never acting ot the potential of the adults they will become. As a result, denying them access based on a lack of skills is functionally less discriminatory than for most other classes.

    *I just needed an excuse to use “opprobrium.” I love that word. :)

  424. Mickle
    Mickle June 12, 2007 at 3:58 pm |

    As the children’s librarian at a library that is not only so tiny that you can hear every whisper, but that was completely unfriendly to children in the recent past, I feel like I should have something profound to say. Especially since I’ve also worked in the children’s section of a large bookstore for several years and consequently have had more than my fill of children who just need to go home and go to sleep.

    But mostly I just want to say that I agree with Roy on the whole hating children thing. You may mean that you hate being around them or hate how their parents are raising them, but that doesn’t mean that it comes across that way. Most importantly, it’s not like the kids don’t feel your hate. The teenagers especially. And unlike us – the adults who care for them – they don’t always understand where your anger and frustration is coming from. The teens just know you are treating them like defective adults, they aren’t quite old enough to understand that it’s not their fault that you suck. The five-year old just knows you one more glaring adult, and not necessarily that you are upset about his/her behavior.

    And as far as why even the good ones behave the way they do, it’s not that they are stupid – or even always that they are uneducated or inexperienced, either. It’s that they are different. Their minds literally work in different ways. It’s also that even the privileged ones often don’t have the material advantages most adults have.

    Teens don’t loiter where they shouldn’t and do stupid stuff just to make you crazy, they do it because they don’t have a place of their own and because they need to make mistakes. The sixth month old doesn’t reach for your hair because he or she doesn’t understand personal boundaries, he/she does it because she/he is learning that there is physical separation between people in the first place.

    No one’s requiring that you like being around children.* But we do ask that that you treat them with respect and do whatever you can to make sure that you don’t make them feel hated.

    And sometimes that means realizing that the social contract that requires that people respect personal boundaries also asks that adults model patience for children who are obviously incapable of it at the moment.

    Slightly off topic:

    Although I’m not too keen on the premise of the show, one of the things I find really fascinating about SuperNanny is that she doesn’t just teach parents that they need to not be afraid to discipline, she also makes it very clear that parents need to do their best to model respect – even during discipline – if they ever expect to get it from their children.

    I think that’s good advice for all of us. (myself included, I know my patience has been worn through at time, to no ones advantage) Tell the eight year to knock it off, but do so both firmly and politely. (and tell them, don’t just glare at them) It tends to get a much better response than anything else.

    *Ok, yeah, some people do. A lot of people think women in general should. I agree such people are stupid and deserve scorn. But it’s them that deserve scorn, not children.

  425. Sniper
    Sniper June 12, 2007 at 4:00 pm |

    My life is too short; I don’t want to spend it dealing with ill-mannered, inconsiderate children and their parents who think that rest of us just need to be sympathetic and understand. I am allowed to be annoyed, and it does not make me a bigot. GOD.

    Heh. And the next time someone lectures me about the transformative power of childbearing I’m going to roll my eyes, and there nothing anyone can do about it!

  426. Kristen
    Kristen June 12, 2007 at 4:01 pm |

    “When used perfectly the pill will result in 5 pregnancies per thousand within the first year of use.”

    so you are assuming that everyone who is failing to respond to the pill will get pregnant?

    I have no idea what you’re trying to express here. Statistic: With perfect use, 5 women in 1000 DO become pregnant during the first year of use.

    Not might….DO.

  427. RKMK
    RKMK June 12, 2007 at 4:01 pm |

    RKMK, I do think the bigotry accusations are problematic to a point. I was actually thinking about the dog-person thing today too — almost brought it up but you beat me to it.

    Thank you, Lauren.

  428. Alix
    Alix June 12, 2007 at 4:03 pm |

    I just wonder how much of “I hate kids” thing is defensive.

    A substantial amount of it. For a lot of women, the messages they get from society are: you either love kids and want to have them as fast and as frequently as possible, or you hate kids and need to be shown the error of your ways. Either way, no one leaves you the hell alone.

    On a different note: I hate people. People, as a class, exhibit certain kinds of behaviors that I cannot stand. They annoy me.

    And yet, I’m aware enough to note that that’s not only extremely self-righteous of me, it’s bigoted. I’m working on it.

    All of you who hate children need some self-awareness. You’re self-righteous bigots. It’s not the end of the fucking world. Once you admit it, you can work on it.

  429. Jill
    Jill June 12, 2007 at 4:08 pm | *

    And before we get to the “my morals/religion/whatnot won’t allow an abortion therefore I don’t have a choice argument” I’d like to say: that’s still a choice.

    To follow those morals where they lead.

    To follow that religion.

    It might have been a choice made way back when and one you’re still letting direct your path in life.

    But, it’s still a choice.

    …so? Maybe I’m missing something, but just because something is a “choice,” it doesn’t mean that others have the right to treat you like shit. It’s my choice to work outside of the home — that doesn’t mean that my boss has the right to harass or discriminate against me. It’s my choice to practice my religion — that doesn’t mean that my government should be able to place me in a lower social class because of it. And it’s some peoples’ choice to have children — that doesn’t mean that they should have to take second-seat to everyone else, or that they and their children have less of a right to public space than you do.

    Which is why this whole “reproduction is a choice” and “birth control is really effective” argument is pretty stupid.

  430. Jill
    Jill June 12, 2007 at 4:10 pm | *

    And Jill, that was me up all night. I took liberties and totally blame the insomnia.

    Ah, sorry dude. But thanks!

  431. Bracken
    Bracken June 12, 2007 at 4:13 pm |

    It’s a high bar, but forget trying to reach it. Get off the dictionary you’re surely standing on, open it, and use it.

    *rolls eyes*

    It’s called a typo, Bracken. But thank you for adding so much to the discussion.

    “I hate children.”
    It’s a saying, Roy, but thanks for adding so much more for people to argue about on the internet.

  432. Kristen
    Kristen June 12, 2007 at 4:17 pm |

    On a different note: I hate people. People, as a class, exhibit certain kinds of behaviors that I cannot stand. They annoy me. And yet, I’m aware enough to note that that’s not only extremely self-righteous of me, it’s bigoted. I’m working on it.

    Okay, perhaps a basic question. But why is it bigoted to hate people in general. Perhaps I’m using a quirky definition of either bigot or hate, but I think of bigoted as being “unwilling to grant or share social, political, or professional rights.”

    There are days when I hate people, as a group. When I read a book like “Reading Lolita in Tehran” or fail to convince a judge that this girl’s stepfather is really raping her (because he says he’s not and her mother says he’s not) or when I walk in to a store with my husband and can’t get service or someone calls security to follow us around (he’s a minority)….I HATE people. I don’t want to remove their social, political or professional rights…but I wish for a moment that they would all just stop being such bastards.

    I try to be the optimist [that Lauren clearly is (j/k)], but some days it just doesn’t work for me.

  433. Christina B
    Christina B June 12, 2007 at 4:18 pm |

    Sorry, I haven’t read the entire thread. However, when I was younger, I would say directly “I hate children.” It was partially a reaction to people trying to push me into a stereotype because I am a woman. I would say “I don’t want children.” They would say, “you will change your mind.” “I hate children,” the words and the attitude were an exaggeration of “no, I am not going to have children.”

  434. libber
    libber June 12, 2007 at 4:20 pm |

    With perfect use, 5 women in 1000 DO become pregnant during the first year of use.

    Perfect use? Where did you get this from?

    this whole “reproduction is a choice” and “birth control is really effective” argument is pretty stupid

    do you rather wanna portray women as victims, who have no choice, who just become pregnant accidentally, as it were? What happened to the “let’s change how we think about ourselves”

  435. Jill
    Jill June 12, 2007 at 4:21 pm | *

    Libber, you’re being really unnecessarily rude. Please curb it or I’m going to moderate you out of this thread.

  436. Jill
    Jill June 12, 2007 at 4:24 pm | *

    (Libber — the above comment was in reference to many other things you’ve said in the thread, not your comment directly preceeding mine).

    do you rather wanna portray women as victims, who have no choice, who just become pregnant accidentally, as it were?

    But no one is doing that, which means that you’re beating up the strawman. People are saying that kids exist. Women have kids. Whether that was a choice or not doesn’t really matter in a conversation about how society treats those women and their children.

  437. libber
    libber June 12, 2007 at 4:27 pm |

    Libber, you’re being really unnecessarily rude. Please curb it or I’m going to moderate you out of this thread

    moderate me out if you want to but it’s equally rude to say someone’s argument is pretty stupid, maybe unsound, but stupid?

  438. Jill
    Jill June 12, 2007 at 4:28 pm | *

    Perfect use? Where did you get this from?

    Google is your friend. But try here, here and here.

    Failure rates refer to specific statistics. “Perfect use” has an actual meaning. And, as the above links demonstrate, “perfect use” doesn’t mean “no one gets pregnant.” Also, to borrow from The Well-Timed Period, we don’t live in Perfect.

  439. Erika
    Erika June 12, 2007 at 4:29 pm |

    My issue with children, and the reason I profess to “hate” them, is that there’s nothing I can do in the presence of a badly behaved child. I can tell an adult off. I can tell an adult to STFU. If the adult is physically aggressive, I can call the cops. I can’t do any of these things to another person’s child. If a parent refuses to do anything about his or her out-of-control child, that’s it. There’s no recourse.

  440. Mickle
    Mickle June 12, 2007 at 4:30 pm |

    RKMK

    You are fucking comparing children to dogs for crissakes. I don’t have to go back and read anything else you wrote to call that bigoted.

    Unlike dogs, children are people.

    Unlike dogs, children have a right to do things like…..make use of my library.

    Their rights may not negate yours, but your rights do not negate theirs either.

    So yeah, you have to deal with the fact that they want to get on myspace just like they have to deal with the fact that you want to pay your bills online. And yes, you are being an ass if you expect them to get off. You’re the adult, don’t leave your bills until the last damn minute.

    And yes, you have to deal with the toddlers running around and getting into stuff they shouldn’t just like they have to deal with the fact that only part of the library is safe for them to wander around in. Yes, babies and their parents need to deal with the fact that crying is annoying for everyone, but everyone else needs to deal with the fact that babies need to be with caregivers – and that caregivers have the same rights you do.

    Yes, you have a right to to expect a certain amount of respect – but so do they. And the fact that you both have rights doesn’t mean that “fair” translates into treating you the same. You don’t get to kick babies out of the places you want to go just because they understand less about the world than dogs do.

    Because they aren’t dogs, and that mean they have rights dogs don’t.

    And did I really need to say that?

    If babies don’t belong in certain places (and there are places they don’t belong) it’s because of more than just you being annoyed at what they do.

  441. Jill
    Jill June 12, 2007 at 4:31 pm | *

    moderate me out if you want to but it’s equally rude to say someone’s argument is pretty stupid, maybe unsound, but stupid?

    Well, we can get into the details of whether it’s more rude to call an argument stupid or to infer that someone can’t read, but this is my house, and if you’d like to stay here than I’ll simply request that you not be completely rude.

  442. Reba
    Reba June 12, 2007 at 4:35 pm |

    Speaking of choice, doesn’t it follow that if we choose to have kids we’re going to take them to movies and museums and concerts and restaurants (providing we can afford any of that), on planes, in a box, with a fox, etc.? And that they will, in fact, encounter other people there, some of whom won’t be thrilled to see a kid? It’s my job to teach them how to behave, and I try, but what I think is acceptable may not be acceptable to you and if that’s the case, you’re going to think my kid is a brat when I’m thinking he’s just a kid.

    I choose not to listen to or allow in my house music with lyrics I think denegrate women – should I get to piss and moan every time I hear that on the subway or when a car drives by or in the mall? Or should I suck it up and be glad that I don’t have to deal with it in the spaces over which I have some control?

  443. libber
    libber June 12, 2007 at 4:37 pm |

    Jill, the sites say something different. here’s a quote from one of them:

    The combination pill has a failure rate of 0.1% when used perfectly and the progestin only pill has a failure rate of 0.5% when used perfectly. A failure rate of 0.1% means, that 1 out of 1,000 women who are taking the combination pill perfectly (at the same time every day without missing a day) will get pregnant in one year (assuming 150 sex acts per year). A failure rate of 0.5% means that 5 out of 1000 women will get pregnant with perfect use of progestin only pills. Both of these methods of birth control are highly effective when used perfectly

    The combination pill: 0.1% effective when “used perfectly”. 1 out of 1000. That’s the one most people call ‘the pill’. The other one is more frequently used during breastfeeding, and the like.

  444. Jill
    Jill June 12, 2007 at 4:43 pm | *

    Actually, Libber, people use the term “the pill” to refer to contraceptive pills generally, not just the combination pill. Regardless, both types have a small failure rate — but still a failure rate. Even a .1 percent failure rate translates into thousands of pregnancies a year. I’ll also point out that human beings, by nature, are not perfect.

    And I’m genuinely curious: What does this have to do with the argument? Why does it matter if parenthood is a choice? Should parents expect to have fewer rights just because it’s something that they choose — especially when it’s something that the majority of people choose? And what about the fact that accidental pregnancy does happen? I know you’ll point to abortion, but I’d say that it’s pretty coercive (and anti-choice) to argue that someone should have to choose between undergoing invasive surgery and retaining the same rights they had before.

  445. Reba
    Reba June 12, 2007 at 4:44 pm |

    I compare children to dogs, and I have two kids. For years I have said that if you can’t raise a good, well behaved dog (ferret, monkey, whatever), then your chances of raising a good kid are pretty slim. Nothing bigoted about it. Some people don’t like dogs. Some people don’t like kids. Dislike the little blighters all you want.

    I only object to saying that one hates children because I think the word has all sorts of implications from tolerance of benign neglect to willingness to cause harm. No, I’m not saying that anyone here has professed such or is likely to engage in such, what I am saying is that the history and use of the word has led to such things becoming acceptable. And much the same way I don’t like violent video games or movies because I think they make violence less shocking, I don’t like the word hate used casually because it makes real hatred seem more commonplace.

  446. Mickle
    Mickle June 12, 2007 at 4:47 pm |

    Just to be clear, RKMK, I’m referring to the last few lines of your comment, not the general argument of cats vs. dogs. I still think it’s a kinda stupid argument because asking you to put up with kids in addition to adults is different than asking you to put up with dogs as well as cats. But it was the comparing a dog barking in a theatre to the proverbial baby crying was just way too much.

    Yes, the baby should probably leave as well, but it’s not the same thing at all.

    Although personally, regarding the whole theatre thing, if there was one thing I wish could be magically teleported out of every theatre, it would be adults with cell phones – not crying babies. Even most of the teens I see know enough to use texting and even hide the light of the cell phone under their shirt.

  447. Kristen
    Kristen June 12, 2007 at 4:47 pm |

    Libber,

    I read you the statistical information that came from the specific form of birth control I used before I got an IUD. I can’t google it for you since its sitting in my desk, you’ll have to trust me. The combination pill statistics are not applicable to each and every type of pill. There are different levels of hormones in Yasmin than there are in Ortho. I should know, I’ve tried almost all of them. In any event the point was not that women are not responsible for pregnancy, the point was that accidents happen. Even when you’re being responsible.

  448. libber
    libber June 12, 2007 at 4:49 pm |

    Well, we can get into the details of whether it’s more rude to call an argument stupid or to infer that someone can’t read, but this is my house, and if you’d like to stay here than I’ll simply request that you not be completely rude

    now, you’re being completely unfair. When I said “you can’t read” it was in response to this:

    Um…wow…you must have had one of those underfunded sex-ed classes. I have an IUD which is more effective than a tubal ligation (at my current age) and it isn’t even 100% effective.

    “you must have had one of those underfunded sex-ed classes” is not rude? but yes, you’re right, it’s time for me to leave.

  449. Jill
    Jill June 12, 2007 at 4:50 pm | *

    And re: birth control pills, other factors can influence their efficacy. Certain antibiotics, for example, can decrease the pill’s protection.

  450. Mickle
    Mickle June 12, 2007 at 4:50 pm |

    Reba

    That’s not the same type of comparison. That’s more like saying that you can’t learn to walk before you learn to crawl. Which isn’t strictly true, but is usually the case.

    RMKM was implying that being forced to deal with kids was similar to being forced to deal with dogs. It’s not.

  451. Mickle
    Mickle June 12, 2007 at 4:58 pm |

    Or rather, the difference is that your statement implies that someone who can’t demonstrate a certain amount of patience in dealing with animals will find it impossible to demonstrate enough patience when dealing with children.

    Again, not strictly true, but very different from implying that children have no more right to be in a theatre than animals do.

  452. libber
    libber June 12, 2007 at 4:58 pm |

    What does this have to do with the argument? Why does it matter if parenthood is a choice? Should parents expect to have fewer rights just because it’s something that they choose — especially when it’s something that the majority of people choose? And what about the fact that accidental pregnancy does happen? I know you’ll point to abortion, but I’d say that it’s pretty coercive (and anti-choice) to argue that someone should have to choose between undergoing invasive surgery and retaining the same rights they had before.

    o.k. on my way out the door: here is what it has to do with the main argument. if you choose to have kids, that’s your choice. you have the same rights as before but so does everyone else (!) and yes, abortion is almost always an option. you don’t have to have an abortion but that’s another choice you have. And abortion need not be invasive surgery (especially not if it is done early enough)

  453. RKMK
    RKMK June 12, 2007 at 5:10 pm |

    *eyeroll*

    You are fucking comparing children to dogs for crissakes. I don’t have to go back and read anything else you wrote to call that bigoted.

    I had a feeling someone would get try to get offended like that. It’s called an analogy. Rest assured, I do not tie children up outside with a bowl of food or water overnight, nor to I bathe them with hoses. Though I hear they like that.

    This little display of irrational and overreaction to an analogy is a sign that I’m officially done with this thread, methinks.

  454. Brooklynite
    Brooklynite June 12, 2007 at 5:19 pm |

    Sailor:

    I generally include the reasonableness factor when evaluating bigotry. So I’ve seen people bitch about old people on the beach because they don’t like to look at them–bigotry, I think. OTOH, i’ve heard people bitch about elderly drivers because they’re more unsafe–not bigotry in my view.

    Depends, though, doesn’t it? If someone’s making a statistical argument, or expressing a concern, that’s one thing. Holding the view that all people over the age of 70 are unsafe drivers would strike me as pretty bigoted.

    I don’t especially want to become a “drooling vegetable who can only shit and eat”; neither does my (senior) mother or my (extraordinarily old but fully functional) grandfather. And that phrase came from him, not me.

    Yup. And I don’t consider the disgust itself to be particularly problematic — particularly when it’s coming from someone who’s close to the situation. When it’s used to denigrate or shame a class of people, though, I’m not as comfortable with it.

    When speech is general in nature and is not inciting action I have a hard time saying it is inappropriate.

    What about cruel?

    even the fullblown kidhaters here don’t mind children in “obviously child-centered” places. And even outside those places, there seems to be at least some consensus that “well mannered” behavior is not worthy of opprobrium.

    I’m with you on opprobrium. It’s a great word.

    As for the rest, I don’t think we have that consensus, even in the case of “well-behaved” children. If we do, that’s great.

    And my argument is that it’s inappropriate to say that people should only participate in public life if they’re “well behaved” if your standard of good behavior is one that only robust young adults with no physical or cognitive disabilities can reasonably be expected to reliably meet.

    It’s obnoxious to glare and tap your foot when the 80-year-old on line in front of you at the supermarket takes longer than you’d like to count his or her change. It’s obnoxious to sigh and cluck when someone with Tourette’s syndrome vocalizes at a public meeting. It’s obnoxious to complain when a bus driver has to come to the back to extend the platform that lets someone in a wheelchair board. It’s obnoxious to refuse, without good reason, to give up your seat to someone who’s nine months pregnant. It’s obnoxious to make a fuss when someone in a movie theater reads an occasional subtitle to a companion, or repeats an unusually quiet line of dialogue.

    When a person does any of these things — and I’ve seen people do all these things — they’re the ones who are being disruptive. They‘re the ones who are interfering with everyone else’s convivial use of shared space. It’s their entitlement, not the minor accommodations and indulgences that others may require, that offends and annoys me.

    I’m also not sure this is a great analogy, because old people differ from children in one very crucial fashion: They get worse, not better. “Try again in a year” or “just wait and you’ll be able to ___” or “don’t worry, you can do ___ some day soon” don’t apply to old people.

    There are plenty of disabilities from which a person is likely to recover, but discrimination on the basis of those disabilities is still discrimination.

    Let’s say a college graduation is held in a venue that’s not wheelchair accessible. Does the family member who misses it because he broke both his legs have less reason to be angry than the one who misses it becaus