Recently a news story came out about parents who were taking their first flight with their infant daughter Madeline. Assuming the flight would be terrible for those around them, they packed goody bags filled with candy and ear plugs and an apology note. While I don’t know how little Madeline handled the plane, the goody bags became a Reddit sensation and now more parents are following suit, packing goody bags for people next to them.
This, my friends, is total bullshit.
These parents, trying desperately to appease the people around them, went above and beyond. Obviously, they are generous and thoughtful people, but their motives are misplaced. After all, they are apologizing when there is nothing to apologize for. They took a baby on a plane, a vehicle of public transportation. Why would people complain about this?
Yet they do complain, in droves. Apparently I like to get worked up over trivial things, so I always read the comments sections on controversial subjects. This one was as insane as only a group of 1,000 anonymous posters can be. Comments ranged from wanting a child-free zone on planes to banning any child under the age of two from flying (since, you know, families don’t need to travel…) Of course, parents fired back, some with excellent points, but the general consensus was that child-free travel was an excellent idea. It seems airlines are listening. More and more are adopting “Quiet Areas”, places on the plane where you can pay extra to not have to sit with kids.
Anger with a baby on a plane is just one little incident in the growing pushback against children in public spaces. More and more restaurants are banning kids (while welcoming dogs…), some movie theaters are following, and stores are enacting No Child policies. It’s becoming more commonplace every year.
It would be easy to blame this all on people like the commenters who think you should ban children from flying, but in reality, we parents have created this problem. Changes is parenting styles over the past two decades have led to children who have way more power than any wee one ought to have. Restaurants are banning children, not because they hate kids, but because obtuse parents bring their children to eateries clearly designed for adults and allow them to ruin everyone’s meal. Movie theaters don’t want babies in the auditoriums (your three-month old should never be in a theater, I don’t care how badly you want to see the next Hunger Games installment.) How many people are going to want to linger in a shop with your screaming child? It makes financial sense why public places want to enact No Child policies. After all, they’re in it for a profit.
There’s an easy fix to all of this: Attentive Parenting. It is rare that people get upset with a loud or misbehaving child on a plane when the parent reacts immediately. Same with restaurants. Be ready with diversions (all praise be to the iPad here), don’t go out to eat during naptime because you have a sudden hankering for sushi, and be prepared to take your child out of the restaurant if they start acting up. These simple things, taken from the parenting habits of yesteryear, are golden when it comes to respecting those around you when out with your kids.
So parents, instead of trying to mend fences with over-the-top gestures like providing goody bags on a plane to placate strangers, let’s just employ common sense. Watch what your kid is doing. Don’t let them act like little Napoleons. Remember, your child’s antics are only cute to you.
Besides, I like flying, and I’d prefer not to be delegated to the rear of the plane in the “Child Friendly” section every time we take a family vacation.