Keli Goff: Why Bad Parents Oppose Kid-Free Flights
Go.I've long believed that people who claim they don't like kids are misguided. It's not that they don't like kids. They just don't like bad parents.
I was reminded of this when I had yet another semi-silly discussion with well-meaning parents (on the fabulous HuffPost Live, no less) who believe that not only should their world revolve around their kids but every other person on the planet's world should too. Apparently some parents are up in arms over the movement towards child-free cabins on airlines, which some anticipate are merely serving as a possible precursor to child-free flights.
Here's a million-dollar question: what's wrong with that?
One would think that after the appalling story of alleged racist Neanderthal Rickey Hundley, who is accused of assaulting a crying baby on a flight, that more parents would applaud giving jerks like him the option not to fly anywhere near children (or humans in general for that matter) but no. There are parents who believe their children should be welcome everywhere -- even in places where people are willing to pay not to be near them.
Despite the fact that there are already couples-only resorts, (not to mention nudist resorts), opponents of child-free options tend to ramble on about things like "intolerance." But the definition of "intolerance" is "unwillingness or refusal to tolerate or respect contrary opinions or beliefs, persons of different races or backgrounds, etc."
Hmmm. So if someone is willing to pay for extra legroom for a more comfortable seat, and that same someone is also willing to pay for a child-free cabin to increase the likelihood of enjoying a quieter seat, but your superior opinion is that your kids are adorable and every person should be forced to see them as adorable too, and therefore should have to sit near your kids whether a person wants to or not, that would make you... what's the word? Could it be "intolerant?"
We all have to do our part to make living in this society as civil as possible. I agree with parents who get offended when adults swear in front of children on airplanes, or even loudly in a restaurant or movie theater. It's rude and it's tacky. But by the same token if you bring your five-year-old to a rated "R" movie, you're a bad parent. (Cue the obligatory: "And just how many kids do you have Ms. Goff, the parenting expert?" To which my standard reply is, "I've never been convicted of a crime, or been the victim of one, yet I write about the criminal justice system regularly and no one seems to think I need to have served jail time to at least have an opinion.") But if an adult chooses to swear at a rated "R" film, and your children hear it I would think that's unfortunate, but also your fault. (And for the record I saw the very R-rated Bad Santa in a movie theater and there was more than one small child in the audience. I shudder to think what they thought of the anal sex references.)
The same goes for if you try to force your children on to adults in other domains in which they don't belong. If New York can prohibit adults from visiting playgrounds (and ticket them for doing so), then airlines should be able to prohibit children from certain cabins -- as long as passengers are willing to pay for them, and as long as families are afforded just as many opportunities to fly comfortably to their destinations. Amtrak trains already have quiet cars, which are not explicitly child-free, but prohibit any noise above a whisper and explicitly prohibit cell phones. To be clear, I'd actually rather sit near a crying child than some loudmouth on a three-hour cellphone call while traveling, but that's me. I don't have a right to dictate how someone else defines traveling in comfort, and neither do you.
Even if you're a parent.
Because just being one, doesn't make you a great one. It doesn't make you perfect and it doesn't make you supreme commander of all things good and right in the world. It just means you've had the courage to take on the hardest job in the world, and for that I applaud you. But it doesn't mean that if I'd like to sleep on a cross-country flight I should be made to feel guilty for admitting that I don't want to sit next to your kid and am willing to pay a premium not to do so -- as beautiful, bright, and brilliant as they may be.
I completely agree. I think it's nice to be offered just like I'm not offended by adults only restaurants. There are times I would pay extra to not hear kids while we were out on a rare date night because I hear my kids all the dang time. What is there to be offended about by this? Take another flight? Sit in the kid friendly cabin?
First world problems.
Oh man. While I can see the article's POV, I personally would loathe flying on an airplane full of children just because I have a child. I don't agree with the 'bad parent' thing either. Granted, there are a lot of sucky parents, but then there are children who are special needs and while being special needs does not make a child bad, it is very much a challenge. Unfortunately, people automatically want to call parents bad or the child a brat when they don't know the whole story.
I'm not sure having family with kids air travel could even happen, logistically. Would they fly only at certain times? What about emergency flights because a family member passed away? What if it's for medical reasons to fly to another hospital asap?
The article is mostly wishful thinking.
I took it as there would be one cabin that you couldn't have children in but the rest of the available seats you could?
The "my child is a precious snowflake and the world should accept and revolve around them" thing is bs and drives me nuts. Children need to learn that their are expectations of behavior in certain places. Some of those places are optional - like restaurants and movies - and some are not - like planes. If someone wants to pay extra to avoid children in non-optional places like planes they should be able to do that. As long as my ticket price stays the same.
I do think that there are (optional) places that children should not go until they are old enough to behave. Small kids do not belong in movie theatres and fancy restaurants. They won't enjoy themselves, nor will the people around them. DD is 4 and we recently went to a grown up restaurant for DSD's birthday. (The first time since she was a baby that we didn't go to a kid place.) The entire extended family took turns entertaining her so that she wouldn't be bored and make a ruckus. We felt it was our responsibility to make sure she was good, not everyone else's responsibility to put up with her. She may be my precious, but she is no snowflake that needs coddling. There are expectations in this world and there are places she won't go till she can meet those expectations.
There's something about the tone of this article that rubs me the wrong way (we should be supporting child free cabins so psychos won't assault our children? Should we also have women free places so that psychos don't assault women? Or maybe we could blame assaults on psychos instead?) But aside from the tone, if people want to pay extra to not have to sit with kids, that's fine with me. I probably wouldn't do it, but I can understand why some people would want that and it doesn't really bother me. I will say that I find the tone of a lot of the "child free" stuff to be off putting, like all children are monsters and all parents are jerks and people shouldn't have to be subjected to even being in the same room with people they dislike (despite the actual behavior involved.) But I don't disagree with the content of the message usually.
-Alissa, mom to Tristan (5) and Reid (the baby!)
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I do not like the way the article is written, but agree with the basic premiss overall. There is definitely a large number of parents that do not think their children should be required to act appropriately in social situations. (just spent the weekend with a family like that)
Dh and I are heading to Bora Bora this summer to celebrate our 15th anniversary and I might be willing to pay for this option. I wouldnt on a normal basis for regular flights, but I am really looking forward to some kid free times.
Molly, Morgan, Mia and Carson
I do not believe it is any more fair to discriminate based on someone's age than it is to discriminate based on the color of their skin. If a child is so badly misbehaved that he or she needs to be kicked of the plane, then that is one thing. To punish all children and parents of children just because of your age is very discriminatory.
I can see the appeal of childfree cabins, although pretty much all flying I have done has had one cabin...
Robbie is a good flier, his first plane trip was at 13 months and other then trying to jump into the flight attendants arms when we were leaving (she was trying to high five him, he thought she wanted to hold him...) you would have not known he was on the plane. I am a horrible flier, the pain I get in my ears from cabin pressure (and I do everything I can to stop the pain) makes me want to scream.
The one thing that I do disagree with is the mention of the jerk hitting the baby on the flight as a reason this service is needed. If he had not been drunk as well as a jerk then the incident might not have happened. I might get a lot of flack for saying this but alcohol should not be on planes at all.
Children do need to learn acceptable behaviour and will not learn it if they are not exposed to different situations. The parents that drive me insane are not the ones you can see that are trying to deal with whatever behaviour but the ones that let their kids make a huge fuss, wander around restaurants, disturbing other people and then get mad when their child gets hurt or someone else has to comment to them to look after their child. I have sisters like this. The worst offender commented on how well Robbie was behaving at our niece's wedding (he was 2) while the other kids were running around like banshees (including her grandchildren), I simply said that we have expectations and if Robbie was acting out or needed a break we would have taken him out.
Sean (38 )
Robbie (8 )
Bailey (April 2, 2011)
"The soul always knows what to do to heal itself. The challenge is to silence the mind." Caroline Myss