Certain parents

I have found that if there’s one group in society you must be careful never to enrage, it’s parents. Not all parents, I must stress, just a select few that all too often seem to be the majority. Particularly if they’ve got their little bundles of joy with them at the time, heaven help you.

Two stories caught my eye recently that illustrate this point. The first comes from Toronto, Canada, where a couple were asked to leave a restaurant because their baby’s stroller was basically deemed an unwelcome insurance risk. Which it is. Those with skateboards and rollerblades can also be turned away due to wheels causing mishaps. It’s regrettable, but that’s the price we all must pay for encouraging a compensation culture. Children also realise that ‘where there’s blame, there’s a claim’ – £800,000 in compensation was paid out after children were involved in accidents at schools across Wales over the last five years, for everything from running into goalposts to slipping on ice. And who teaches them that? Exactly. Parents. It’s no wonder kids can’t have conker fights or climb trees any more.

As someone who resents having to carefully tip-toe around children who are in my way, not the other way around, in public places, for fear of invoking the wrath of blinkered parents, I say: good! Keep them at home or go somewhere designed for children where those without would never dare venture and surely then everyone can be happy, not least the child.

This slap across the face was fairly tame, though, compared to the ‘heartless’ Berlin coffee shop that banned strollers outright and, to make the point clear, erected a great big concrete post to make it impossible for them to enter. The coffee shop’s owners say they are happy to remove it for wheelchair users, however, which are arguably just as much a fire hazard in certain situations, to be fair. But let’s be honest, wheelchair users generally don’t throw ear-piercing tantrums and put you off your food by blowing theirs out of their nose while the proud parents expect you to find the nauseating spectacle adorable and glare at you with disgust in their eyes if you don’t. (These are the parents I’m getting at. Stick with me.)

The same Berlin restaurant, by the way, refuses to serve sugar, does not play music and provides a designated area for people to use laptops, if they must, away from the main area. Not that there’s WiFi available.

Is any of this such a bad thing? I mean, if you really think about it? I think that’s all fair enough. Like the quiet carriage on a train, you don’t have to sit there if you want to behave like a foghorn.

I happen to like peace and quiet. In these hectic, noisy times, tranquility is something to behold. It’s not easy to relax in a café, perhaps to read a book or reply to an e-mail, with someone else’s choice of music blasting away and the incessant tap-tap-tapping of keys interrupted only by the beeps of electronic devices we once used to be able to leave home without back when it was possible to make it to the end of any given day without having a nervous breakdown because your battery is running dangerously low, less still the shrill stab to the ear that is a screeching child. If customers don’t like the rules, they can always go somewhere else, preferably somewhere better suited to catering for increasingly large buggies that routinely bump into other people’s tables, spilling expensive drinks over expensive sandwiches, creating obstacles for those who have to navigate gingerly around their workspace because parents have redesigned the layout for their convenience with not a care for anybody else. Their coffee shop, their rules. If you’ve ever had a small, sticky hand reach for you when you’re in your best suit and trying to get some work done, your space invaded by a combination of metal and plastic and tiny legs kicking out rhythmically, you’ll understand. For many of us, baby-free zones are a good thing. Make that a very, very good thing.

So, for standing up to mothers who congregate in cafés, hogging all the free space and allowing their babies to create a constant din, tortuous in its frequency and repetition (because often they don’t even notice the noise their child makes because they’re too busy complaining about how tired they are) and just generally getting in your way, slowing you down and giving you a headache, the owners of this place are my newest heroes. Well done, Berlin. On behalf of the childless and child-free of this world, I thank you. You are right up there with old-school librarians everywhere whose hissing at the slightest noise brings a halt to inconsiderate disturbances and earns appreciative nods from fellow sticklers. Keepers of the peace indeed. How we need more of them.

Anyway, back to Toronto and a local human rights lawyer, unsurprisingly, quite possibly a parent with an agenda, jumped in (carefully – probably – so as not to wake the baby, unless of course the baby was already awake and in need of entertaining, in which case it was quite likely one of those exaggerated jumps with flailing arms and a raspberry blown on landing to prompt giggles) with a load of waffle about how denying someone service because they have a stroller could potentially be discrimination under the Ontario Human Rights Code. Or something.

Ugh. I’m not sure if ‘human rights lawyer’ repulses as much as ‘parent who thinks the world revolves around their baby’, but it’s a close call.

Is a stroller a human right? I don’t think so. Expensive must-have fashion accessory for competitive, somewhat lazy parents who could just carry their children, no doubt. Something that makes life easier, few would argue and fewer still would deny anyone this clever contraption. A bit like those electronic devices I was complaining about earlier, really.

Anyway, the parents are threatening legal action.

The next story is worse. Much, much worse. I’m going to put the gist of it in its own little one-line paragraph – in bold italics – for maximum dramatic effect. I might even underline. If you’re eating, please stop right now. Here it comes, you have been warned (but I won’t underline)…

Breastfeeding in a public place.

That’s right. I’m sorry, I don’t care how natural it is or how amazing, I don’t want to see it. Masturbating is natural, but thankfully people don’t start doing that as soon as you’ve sat down opposite them on the bus.

But it gets even worse.

If you’re wondering what kind of public place, wonder no more. It was a swimming pool. That’s right, a swimming pool. In Manchester, England. The militant mother was in the pool, breastfeeding away proudly (as she should be, because it’s a wonderful thing to do and I’m never going to get into an argument about its merits), with her husband and older child who have seen it all before. But she was in a swimming people. With other people, complete strangers, who don’t know her or expect to see her with baby at her breast. Paying customers, old and young alike. Trying to swim and stuff. Which is what swimming pools are for.

Outraged to be told by a lifeguard and then a manager that, as well as indecent exposure, breastfeeding in a swimming pool is unhygienic and akin to urinating (a bit harsh), the humiliated and distressed mother (but not so much that she couldn’t immediately tell the press all about it), with that familiar air of importance that new mothers so often have, has kicked up such a fuss that the local council is now obliged to investigate the incident, vowing to take immediate action on any member of staff found to have behaved inappropriately towards Mrs ‘I should be allowed to breastfeed wherever I want’. In the latest in a long line of damage-limitation exercises, the council cleverly, yet annoyingly, brought out a sympathetic breastfeeding mother to speak on its behalf (I don’t think she was breastfeeding at the time, but you never know), who spewed out the boring political correctness that we have all come to expect: mothers should be free to breastfeed wherever they choose… so there. Ha!

But why shouldn’t she try to be discrete? Could she not have fed her baby in the changing room or poolside café (not the toilets, as was suggested, that wasn’t very nice) and spared the other pool users the awkwardness of this tedious maternal exhibitionism? Would she have liked her children to witness another mother breastfeeding, or to accidentally and unknowingly ingest that mother’s bodily fluids as they innocently paddled by? She wouldn’t have been allowed to feed her baby bottled milk, after all, and what if the baby had dribbled or vomited in the pool? They do that quite a lot, so I’ve heard, babies.

Spare me the attention-seeking martyrdom, please. Too many people crave publicity these days and if it leads to indulgent media debate or some form of compensation, so much the better. How I hate all that.

Yes, the UK’s Equality Act 2010 states that it is unlawful for a woman breastfeeding in public to be treated unfavourably (and thankfully covers more important issues of discrimination based on a person’s race or disability), yet surely there’s a time and a place for it. To many, breastfeeding in a swimming pool isn’t the place at any time of day.

A poll on the local newspaper’s website, the Manchester Evening News, shows that the majority of readers feel it was right that she be told to stop breastfeeding, so clearly I’m not alone. Likewise, a poll in the Toronto Sun unanimously voted that banning strollers from restaurants does not count as discrimination and should be up to the restaurant owner.

But that will not do.

The parents are threatening legal action.

I thought having children was meant to lower one’s self-absorption level. Obviously not in this case.

Not satisfied with the extra-wide parking bays, the specially-adapted supermarket trolleys, the provision of high chairs wherever food is served, the free public transport, and all the other things that exist purely for the parent’s convenience; ignoring the summer holiday clubs provided free of charge along with the other taxpayer-funded freebies some parents might be entitled to (for example, Healthy Start vouchers in the UK that can be exchanged for free vitamins, milk, fruit and vegetables); and forgetting the generous parental leave and fact that mothers and fathers always get priority when it comes to Christmas holidays, which their co-workers resent, parents still demand even more.

Did the little ones want to be fed in a swimming pool or parked up tableside in a pokey restaurant? Probably not. Probably no more than they’ll want to learn how to tap dance or play the trumpet a few years down the line. That’s self-entitled and selfish parenting in my book when a calmer, quieter, more relaxed environment might be better for all parties, not least the child (but mostly selfish people like me).

I’m saying nothing about babies on planes. Nothing. Ever.

It looks to me as though taking small children out in their prams and buggies, with all the necessary baggage, is a total pain. So stay at home wherever possible. It’s 2013 and you can get groceries delivered now. Why leave behind a trail of destruction in shops or sticky mess in restaurants for others to clean up before babies know how to behave?

While I obviously acknowledge and salute the considerable sacrifice of sleep, privacy and beer money, I just wish certain parents – you know who they are, we’ve all seen them – would stop rubbing the rest of our noses in it with their smug parental elitism and moral superiority. You had a child. Well done. That was the easy bit. Now please teach him or her some manners, and when to be quiet, so that you don’t make visiting any public place insufferable for those of us who just want to be able to get in and out quickly without the need for painkillers or wet wipes. Or in the case of those in the swimming pool with you as you breastfeed, a bucket to throw up into. I hate to break it to you, but it’s not all about you and your little darling.

With apologies to responsible, considerate and sometimes embarrassed parents of mostly well-behaved, funny, charming children.

Author: FEd

Features Editor of David Gilmour's official blog, The Blog ('Features' previously being its rather naff title), affectionately - or lazily - shortened to 'FEd'.

56 thoughts on “Certain parents”

  1. Phew! That was some whinge but with good intent I might add.

    I have a blended family of four but if I am with t’other half sans kids, I seek out eateries/drinkeries that are, by and large, kid free. So good on you for speaking out on this oh so PC subject. And kids on planes?……….

  2. Absolutely BRILLIANT FEd!! My ribs are aching from laughter.

    I’m saying nothing about babies on planes. Nothing. Ever.

    As much as I understand the physical mechanics of why babies often cry on flights, it is ‘smother-worthy’ nonethless – especially on long-haul flights and probably one of the only times I would beg the mother to publicly ‘stick a boob in it’!

  3. Conkers? Really??? What a delightful looking game!!

    I had to look it up, and I had such a good laugh! I only know of one park nearby that has sufficient (Chinese) Chestnuts for the game! The American Chestnut trees went practically extinct in the US from the Great Chestnut Blight that wiped out Chestnuts nationwide in the early 1900’s. It was a tremendous cultural loss still felt by Americans! 🙂

    Thus the likely extinction of the game of Conkers in the US and this wonderful way of thickening the skull and practicing yer aim! There is actually a wikipedia link for the game!

    I could not find a wikipedia link for 2 equivalent games that my whole neighborhood knew: pine cone wars (the closed spiny ones really hurt) and to escalate a skirmish, horseapple bombing from above!

    They are also sometimes called osage orange or bois d’arc, but all Texans pronounce them twangily as, “BOW-dark.” We had a 20′ high treehouse in one giant horseapple tree that produced death-from-above-ammunition annually. The typical horseapple is resinous, heavy, as hard as a cannonball and just as large! It still amazes me that, minus a few scratches, bruises and lumps, no child was ever seriously hurt! Pine cones were less deadly and for small artillery barrages over autumn leaf fortress walls.

  4. Hey FEd,

    after reading the above, it seems to me that you’re missing responsibility and common sense in people. Why reduce that only to members of the species homo sapiens that have reproduced their selves?

    On-topic:

    I don’t think that I need to comment the compensation stuff. This is obviously wrong. Regarding strollers, I actually never cared about it, when our children were that young. We almost never went to restaurants or cafés with them because of smoking (which was allowed then) and because we seldom felt we would be relaxed enough. I’m all for letting the owners to decide who the customers will be…

    As for the breastfeeding in a swimming pool case, I think that the mother was after publicity and press coverage. Is there really one mother that breastfeeds while lying in her bath tub? Haven’t they heard anything about hygiene? Do they feed their older children or eat themselves in public swimming pools?

    Again, it’s all about common sense and as it seems we lost that some time ago.

    Regards

    Taki

  5. Well said Fed, no appologies necessary. We’ve had the same debate, after a ruling said, that cafes are allowed to refuse mothers if breastfeeding. And a couple of hundred women breastfeeding collectively on the square in front of the city hall in Copenhagen as a protest. 🙂

    One thing puzzeles me at little bit, though: Some debaters have said how very disgusted and sickened they feel if watching breastfeeding. Bare breasts (and bare skin, and even other more private bodyparts) in public are not that rare! In commercials, on the side of buses and so on. How breastfeeding can cause such a big fuss, I don’t understand. Come on – it’s only breasts.

    Lene (who was a very discrete breastfeeder some years ago) 🙂

    1. One thing puzzles me at little bit, though: Some debaters have said how very disgusted and sickened they feel if watching breastfeeding. Bare breasts (and bare skin, and even other more private bodyparts) in public are not that rare! In commercials, on the side of busses and so on. How breastfeeding can cause such a big fuss, I don’t understand. Come on – it’s only breasts.

      That’s a very fair point. I have to agree with you.

  6. Arrggh!! This is just one more example of the growing intolerance towards children in our Western society and why the birth-rate is dropping dramatically (except in France thanks to their brilliant, child-friendly policies). Very disappointing, as well, to find it on David Gilmour’s blog of all places, eight children-strong, bless them. I will defy anyone ready to swear none of them ever had a tantrum in public. On at least one occasion Polly Samson brought a baby along on a public occasion because she was still breast-feeding and all power to her.

    If you chaps cannot get past women’s breasts being used for their primary function, grow up and get over it. Most women are very discrete while breast-feeding in public, in fact people hardly notice. Go on behaving like over-sexualised children and old geezers like you will have nobody left to pay for their pensions.

    You probably knew this piece would rile some folks and it has!

    Bella

    1. It has nothing to do with shock, disgust or warped sexual petulance because breasts are being used for their primary function. I already said that breastfeeding is a wonderful, beautiful and natural thing. I have no issue with that at all.

      It has everything to do with militant mothers wanting the world to know they’re doing it and kicking up a fuss when it causes offence, which it clearly does in various public settings, and complaining noisily when they’re asked not to. There are more important issues of discrimination to be dealt with rather than wasting time on uppity mothers who expect the whole world to make way for them.

      And never mind pensions, that boring old argument. Some of us actually want the birth rate to drop for the sake of our planet and its finite resources, but that’s another thing entirely.

  7. I’m with you on this one Fed. OK, maybe in a slightly less frazzled way – I suspect you’ve had more bad experiences in coffee bars than me – but as to the general principles, no argument. (Before I move on, did I read this correctly … “If you’ve ever had a small, sticky hand reach for you when you’re in your best suit and trying to get some work done”? Fed, I have imagined you in many guises over the years, but working in a suit?? Never!)

    Anyway, those of us who made the wise decision to live child-burden free, devoting our resources to re-issued Floyd CDs and two seater sports cars, are entitled to continue such enjoyment outside the confines of our homes. I would go further indeed. It’s time to start adjusting the tax system to recognise the drain on resources and harmful emmissions associated with excessive progeny. Let’s start having tax credits for being childless instead of child benefits for a start. It’s enough that we have to pay for educating the little beggars (although to be fair this does keep them off the streets and out of chimneys) without also subsidising their crisps, Coke and mobile phone habits. The idea that we need children as some sort of economic driver seems pegged back in the years of industrialised labour and Imperial cannon fodder, and I have no doubt we can always recruit a few more immigrants from less fortunate countries should the labour market over-heat. Parents may also be over-estimating the willingness of the current younger generation to be in any way willing to support them in their dotage. Most 15 year olds would happily confine their parents to an Albanian psychiatric Institution (with due respect and apologies to any readers currently in one of those) than have to wash the dishes or tidy their bedrooms so look out for some draconian euthanasia laws in about 35 years time.

    As for breastfeeding in the swimming pool, I think the decisive point here is that mothers should not be disadvantaged. If I were allowed to eat a pork pie in the pool with the associated high-risk of a little blow-back, then it would be fair enough but I’m not sure I would be pitching up to a pool where all the punters were freely snacking away.

    Ditto the mis-use of human rights as a substitute for doing whatever you feel like. Human rights legislation has been hard won. We cannot allow it to be hijacked and demeaned by trivial try-ons any more than we should confuse the excesses of an invasive and prurient press with “freedom of speech”.

    1. Fed, I have imagined you in many guises over the years, but working in a suit?? Never!

      It was a long time ago, to be fair.

      Let’s start having tax credits for being childless instead of child benefits for a start.

      Amen to that, brother. Surely we save the economy a small fortune by not having children yet paying for other people’s through our taxes.

      Love your second paragraph, by the way. Hilarious. And yes, I literally applauded it.

    2. Was so terribly tempted to insert a link to “If you’re happy and you know it clap your hands.” 😛

  8. Well said, Bella! I wish we could know how David felt about this post. I haven’t posted for a while FEd, but when Marcus told me about this and I read it, I felt very compelled to respond.

    There is SO much I could say to argue all these points with you, but to be honest and as always, with all due respect, you’re quite ignorant. You said it yourself, “On behalf of the childless and child-free of this world…”

    I don’t care how much you’re around kids, until you have your own you won’t understand. And in case you didn’t notice, animals are here for procreation, humans included. More people have kids, are will have kids then won’t, so I think you’re in a minority here.

    With that said, I can appreciate having places where kids aren’t allowed. I have 4 kids, Lord knows I need to get away from them from time to time. I have no problems with restaurants, coffee shops, movie theaters that are kid-free. After all, here on California, movie theaters, once a week, have a kid day, where you can bring babies and toddlers to the movie (it’s obviously much noisier then a typical show), there are also Playcafes, coffee shops set up with large kid play areas. So why not have places kid-free too? But restaurants should just buck up and say they’re kid free, rather than asking people to leave because of a stroller or put up a ridiculous pole to discourage people. I’ve been asked to leave my stroller outside, but surely have never been asked to leave.

    However, public is public. More people have kids then don’t, if you don’t like it, it’s you who should really stay inside.

    ~Erin

    1. I don’t care how much you’re around kids, until you have your own you won’t understand.

      How patronising, first to assume there is an inevitability to having children and second, that until that precious time comes, nobody is able to “understand” or be entitled to an opinion on parenthood. Seems strange that nowadays so many different agencies, most obviously teachers and social workers, are given the heavy responsibility – and frankly, often do a better job – of basic parenting than the actual parents ever did. These people can’t all be parents. I know many who aren’t even though they’d probably be really, really good ones. Thank goodness they’re allowed an opinion and the opportunity to step in and turn children’s lives around for the better.

      Maybe that’s why there are so many damaged and out-of-control children. Because their parents brought them in to the world before asking themselves if they’d truly be able to understand them and just what they were letting themselves in for. But then, according to you, how could they possibly have understood anyway? Scary.

    2. LOL Erin! What happened to all those wonderful British ‘men-only’ clubs where we could send all the grumpy old geezers and get on with important things in life?! It really makes me laugh to see most of the [childless] men agreeing as if women actually encourage their children to have public tantrums.

      And all this fracas about one woman who is suing a swimming-pool for not allowing her to breast-feed. Welcome to our Brave New World where law-suits are a dime a dozen and often for far less valid reasons than breast-feeding.

      I’m with you Erin: if so easily offended by nature, the gentlemen should stay home! Yes, it is surprising to see this post on David Gilmour’s blog but we will not hold it against him. 😉

      ~Bella

      1. Yes, it is surprising to see this post on David Gilmour’s blog but we will not hold it against him.

        How very gracious of you. I’m sure he’s relieved.

    3. been away for a while but i’m with erin on this, while i respect your views there……..

    4. And in case you didn’t notice, animals are here for procreation, humans included

      Humans sometimes create music, if you did not notice.

  9. Cars with ‘Baby On Board’…or worse, ‘Little Princess On Board’ stickers.

    Pull over and let me past!!!!!!!

  10. LOL, you’re funny Fed. I don’t have kids thankfully, and I agree with you because I’m anti social too.

    Yeah, put your breast away and keep yer sproggs at bay, that way us childless chaps will have a peaceful day. Hurray.

  11. This is exactly the sort of parent that my wife and I avoid being. We work hard at being responsible and considerate of others, and we are teaching Madison to be the same way. When Madison (she’s 21 months old now) lets out an ear-splitting shriek in a restaurant, we take her out to the car and sit there with her until she stops. This is a new thing for her, and has happened a couple times now because she thinks it’s funny. We’re teaching her that it is not funny.

    Madison is walking now, but when we used a stroller we would either put it at the table like a chair, with the girl still in it, or would fold it up and place it in a corner (with the girl in a high chair). One time when our table WAS in the corner, we put the stroller underneath the table.

    We have never breastfed, because this is an adopted child and our doctors have advised that we should not. But if we did, we would not do it in a place where others would be offended. When we take Madison to the pool, we do NOT feed her there. Her food stays in the car, where we can bring her if she gets hungry. We would not bring our own food into the pool area, and we do not bring her food there either.

    We really wish other parents had this same level of consideration for those around them. What a wonderful world this would be…

    1. Thank you for that, Dan. From what you’ve said in the past about Madison and the joy she brings, I expected as much from you (if that’s not rude of me to say). I should hope Madison will grow up noticing many more people smiling at her and taking an interest in what she has to say, and being confident enough in herself to dismiss the assorted grumps who will always find a reason to glare in annoyance and impatience at someone or something – and that can only be a good thing for an impressionable child learning about the world around her. (But hey, what do I know? Apparently I’m not allowed an opinion and wouldn’t be able to understand what’s good or bad for somebody else’s child because I don’t have one of my own.)

      I knew this wouldn’t have to become an angry squabble between those with children versus those without. Such a shame that some people get so unnecessarily defensive. It kind of proves my point about certain parents thinking their voice is the only one that should be heard, because they’re parents, even if what they’re saying offends, upsets and inconveniences everybody else and could even end up costing some of those people their jobs and businesses.

    2. FEd, I am writing about my family and the things that we do to be considedrate of others while teaching our child to do the same. It saddens me that there are people who find your opinion intolerable. As though you are somehow wrong for asking that people consider others when raising their children. These are teachable moments, as in the example of taking Madison out of the restaurant when she is not behaving appropriately. Children need to know where the boundaries are, and it is up to parents to teach them where they are.

      As an educator, I can usually spot the children who have not been so taught. They’re the ones who are hard to be around.

    3. (But hey, what do I know? Apparently I’m not allowed an opinion and wouldn’t be able to understand what’s good or bad for somebody else’s child because I don’t have one of my own.)

      FEd, I don’t want to offend you, of course, and I know you could very easily put me down on this one, so I’ll just quote Einstein (or is it someone else?). You wouldn’t put down Einstein, would you? 😉

      “In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. But in practice, there is.”

      Does that make sense? And this has nothing to do with not being allowed an opinion.

      I think most parents are doing their best to bring up their children, it’s not always easy these days. And whether you like it or not, children are our future.

      But yes, I know, this post is about ‘certain parents’…. And to think that ‘certain parents’ are even cat owners… What an awful world we live in, eh? Shh… Louis!

      1. I think most parents are doing their best to bring up their children, it’s not always easy these days. And whether you like it or not, children are our future.

        Yes, but all the more reason to teach manners, boundaries and to be good role models. In the two examples given, the children had no say in whether they were breastfed in a pool or wheeled into a restaurant. There’s nothing to suggest they were misbehaving in any way. Were the parents setting a good example to their children? Will those children grow up to be the ones who think it’s acceptable to bawl on the train or throw temper tantrums in the supermarket? Will they encounter more hostility throughout their formative years than other, less rambunctious children? I don’t know, but maybe.

        That being said, and with genuine respect to all parents (because I hope everyone considers parenting to be quite possibly the hardest job in the world, which is why many would do well not to attempt it – myself included), I think few would argue that it’s now easier than at any time in history to be a parent – in the First World, anyway – because of all the guidance/interference, financial support and assorted aids and gadgets and really cool toys available. So I’m not buying the argument, if indeed anyone is trying to make it, that parents need more privileges because it’s a hard job. As if being allowed in a certain restaurant or to breastfeed in a swimming pool will make a difference to that.

        We all should give people with children space where it’s needed and bite our tongues instead of grumbling at the first sign of restlessness, but as for accepting breastfeeding in swimming pools, I feel that’s just expecting too much.

  12. Bella, I don’t see Fed’s posts as an example of growing intolerance towards children. I see it as an example of someone being tired of other people behaving badly, (parents – not children!). The issue is not breastfeeding as such, but someone breastfeeding in a pool, and then suing the place, as far as I understand.

    Actually, my experience is that children/families are beeing glorified. Think of all the curling children these days.

    This is not about bringing children to public occasions – but behaving properly, I think.

    1. Bella, I don’t see Fed’s posts as an example of growing intolerance towards children. I see it as an example of someone being tired of other people behaving badly, (parents – not children!)

      Thanks, Lene. Much the same can be said for the attitudes and actions of certain motorists, dog owners, shop assistants, cyclists, pensioners in post offices, teenagers at bus stops… But this one’s simply about certain parents in restaurants and swimming pools – and the response has been wonderfully mixed.

      Thanks, everyone. I’m getting a sore face from smiling so much.

  13. Woah! FEd brokeout the megaphone and knee high leather boots to smash in their windows and kick in their doors!

    Hey, I’m a parent of three kids and know what you’re talking about. What you presented was a matter dreadlock of issue-strands that I could tease apart if I weren’t so tired right now (partly from parenting). Needless to say, I don’t get the impression that these militant parents are totally off in their fight for what they consider as their personal freedoms. There’s a push and pull here in redefining what is acceptable in western society as far as child rearing is concerned. A real problem I think is getting too far to the extreme on either end of whatever the issue is. Your rights end where someone else’s begins.

  14. How patronising, first to assume there is an inevitability to having children and second, that until that precious time comes, nobody is able to “understand” or be entitled to an opinion on parenthood.

    Your original post is just as patronizing, if not more so. And it’s not patronizing to say more people will have children than won’t…that’s just a plain and simple fact, it may come off with arrogance, but it’s not. I study science, and fact is fact. Anyone with kids will tell you; you can be around kids, study kids, babysit kids, think you know everything about kids and how you want to parent, but when the child actual comes you realize you had very little idea of the whole truth of it. I love football (the American kind), I watch lots of games, lots of sport talk shows, read magazines, but do you think that makes me able to speak with say, players, on the same level as them? To know what they go through? Of course not! THAT would be patronizing.

    The problem with your argument is it’s very much a slippery slope. Maybe we should have decibel limits in places too, if you laugh or talk to loud, you’ll have to leave. Or maybe all the women should have to wear niqab. Or maybe we should go back to the way the USA did things and make restaurants colored and white. I know you didn’t say any of those other things, but just as there are plenty of people that may support your feelings, there are just as many people (if not more) who would love these other things as well. Unfortunate and ignorant, like your original post. So where does it stop?

    1. And it’s not patronizing to say more people will have children than won’t…

      That isn’t the part that was referred to as “patronising”, this is:

      I don’t care how much you’re around kids, until you have your own you won’t understand.

      And it is patronising, patronising and completely missing the point. Whether you happen to live with children on a daily or (sleepless) nightly basis or not has absolutely no bearing on your right to an opinion on what is or isn’t socially acceptable and/or age appropriate.

      (From an ex-breast-feeding mother of 3 who never felt the urge to whip one out in public.)

    2. The problem with your argument is it’s very much a slippery slope. Maybe we should have decibel limits in places too, if you laugh or talk to loud, you’ll have to leave.

      Valid point, but a tad extreme. There will always be many more places open to families than the example from Berlin. For the custom they bring in, if not the love of children and fear of pushy parents.

      Certain parents could simply make a little more effort not to be quite so self-absorbed and self-entitled. That would do it.

      And who knows? Society, instead of bashing those who don’t have or want children, might one day show them (small families, too) a little more respect instead of treating them with suspicion and disappointment.

  15. I should point out that the story of the Canadian couple with the stroller didn’t happen in Toronto, it happened in Brampton. Since I live in Brampton myself (the restaurant at which this happened is just ten minutes from my house), I just wanted to point that out as we don’t really like being lumped in with Toronto, despite being right next door to it!

    And while I agree with the comment about compensation culture, I should say that we don’t have a compensation culture here in Canada such as that which exists in Britain these days. Despite that, I have to admit that I wasn’t at all surprised when that couple said they were going to sue. The couple had also planned a protest of the restaurant but I haven’t heard anything more about that so I am thinking that they dropped that idea.

  16. I have found that if there’s one group in society you must be careful never to enrage, it’s parents. Not all parents, I must stress, just a select few that all too often seem to be the majority.

    Looks that way, yep.

  17. It’s not about a god given right or what’s natural! This is simply about manners, class, and respect for others. You privately decided to have kids, so make your child raising a private matter also. I have a kid and will never do anything to pester the people in public places. If my little boy can’t be peaceful and calm in public, I return home! It’s my baby, not anyone else’s to deal with.

    By the way, I feel the same way about smokers. If you are the only one smoking in a group of people, put it out and wait until they’ve left!

    1. By the way, I feel the same way about smokers. If you are the only one smoking in a group of people, put it out and wait until they’ve left!

      Quite right, Jeff. A disgusting habit.

      I was also thinking about smoking, actually. Specifically smoking bans and how, since, places have become much more family-friendly. I wonder if my fellow non-smoking grumps preferred places to be full of smoke or the sound of children.

      I’d have to choose the latter.

  18. I humbly ask fellow bloggers that before we go throwing our stuffed toys out of the crib (cot) and rubber ducks out of the bathtub, please read, re-read and then re-read FEd’s post again. And while at it, we should all take a moment to read the Guidelines and DISCLAIMER below.

    It appears to me that responsible parenting and respect for others’ is the topic at hand …

    However, public is public. More people have kids then don’t, if you don’t like it, it’s you who should really stay inside.

    Call me ignorant but I just don’t understand this comment and it comes across to me as intolerant.

    1. Thanks for that, Pavlov.

      No really ….

      On a theme, I’m reminded of the second section in the AHM suite …

      1. Oh, we did have some fun in the chatroom with this. I don’t think I’ll be able to listen to the Rolling Stones’ ‘Ruby Tuesday’ for a while without blushing (now that it’s ‘Booby Tuesday’).

    2. ‘Twas a wonderful chatroom session it was! In hindsight, I should’ve brought out my vuvuzela or it’s not-so-distant cousin, the bazooka. 😉

  19. I’m all for a call for all parents behaving themselves and looking after their children better, but you are coming across as more than a bit of a grump, FEd. In particular, the bans on strollers is a bit ridiculous when you look at the reasoning. If you are going to tell parents to be less lazy and carry their children, you should also tell the parents and non-parents alike to give up all wheeled modes of transport and tell them if they can’t hoof it to where they are going then don’t bother going at all. And if you argue it’s the liability, then I’ll argue that the liability of every other wheeled mode of transport, including that of wheelchairs, is going to be far higher than that of a hand pushed stroller.

    Maybe I’m being a bit of a grump too, but as someone who does not have kids myself I think it is part of everyday etiquette to be willing to tolerate the woes of well-meaning parents. About 15 years ago I was on an airplane next to a screaming baby, and her parents were obviously frazzled and embarrassed about the situation. Being younger and less tolerant I was starting to think the same thing as some of my fellow travelers were saying out loud, if you can’t keep a baby quiet on an airplane then she shouldn’t be in one in the first place. Well long story short, after she quieted down I got to speaking to the parents, and it turned out the baby was flying to a hospital I live near (Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia) to have heart surgery. What was I going to do, tell those people they are bad parents and should have stayed home and let their child get operated on at a hospital not qualified to do the surgery in their hometown to spare my ears on a 100 minute flight?

    Yes, there is room for better etiquette on both sides. I find that by practicing good etiquette on my part tends to prompt others to return the favor. Not always, but usually.

    On a side note, the pool incident should have been a simple solution. No food in the pool, no exceptions. If they question it, refer the complainer to the Baby Ruth scene in Caddyshack.

  20. Boy, this blog subject went fast. My two cents worth:

    Double wide strollers? Why? They make them one in front and one in back. They seem to hold the infants/children safely. How logical is a double wide (side by side)? Aisles in stores, most sidewalks, and my biggest dismay walking trails in parks: can not accommodate the width. On a trail in my favorite park; some areas are barely wide enough for a person to walk down let alone a women with a double wide. And the women that tend to have these strollers are very full of themselves and looked at me as if I was the problem. There is nowhere to go off the trail except into the rocky creek bank or onto the plant life on the side of the cliff (hopefully no poison oak). So it made me wonder about these people’s self righteous attitude and what their offspring are going to grow up thinking. It seems that once the trail narrowed to a single lane that they would turn around.

    Breast feeding is very positive for all concerned. I do not think it is fair to judge others why they do or do not. But I found it can be done discreetly even in public. A receiving blanket covering infant and mother is always respectful for all that might be near by. Wearing clothing that is designed for such purpose so one does not need to disrobe to feed the little one always helps.

    When I hear infants/children acting up in public; I am just grateful the little one is not mine to worry about and feel for the parent.

    Michael Kelly’s comment was on the point regarding the infant needing heart surgery and had to fly to get there. We never really know why someone is doing something. It is not our place to judge. But it seems to be what us humans do best. Is judge. I would say usually incorrectly.

  21. Democratic, progressive human society tends to defend minorities, and this is right in my vew. Democracy as a “majority rule” becomes a sort of turned upside-down actually. I don’t know how much FEd’s or anyone’s posts here can really help, but certanly it’s much better to speak of such kinds of problem than don’t.

    And oh I found ocasionally funny expression “to join the majority” that means (if I anderstand correctly) “to die”. 🙂 So I’d better join FEd (even not if completely agreeing).

  22. Dear FEd, this post of yours was well needed, thank you. 🙂

    By the way…

    “Masturbating is natural, but thankfully people don’t start doing that as soon as you’ve sat down opposite them on the bus.”

    Unfortunately it happens already, every day, in India.

    The problem is, in my opinion, people don’t have a place to stay anymore, be it the crisis, or the fall of once essential priorities, or the lack of concepts of “home” and “privacy”, obsolete these days apparently.

    Some grew up without this concept altogether, feeling totally wild and free to do their business in public, and the spread out consumption of Ecstasy, from the teenager to the grandma, is not helping I suspect… at least around here in Amsterdam…

  23. FEd, I saw this on Yahoo and I thought of you. :))

    As a boss, maternity leave is a nightmare for employers (You can skip the article and get straight to the comments if you want!)

    I agree about parents getting too many privileges in the workplace. I work in an office and I’m always expected to cover for someone just because they have kids and I don’t! My hubby’s in the military and it’s the same for him. We rarely get to spend any holidays together because we’re always covering for those who have kids!

    The cost to my company to bring in temporary cover from agencies isn’t cheap. Usually the rest of us pull together and just about get by. Just as the restaurant in Canada could go out of business if someone sued the owners because they fell over a baby’s buggy (and it wouldn’t be the buggy’s fault!), any small company could go out of business just from having to pay all the maternity leave and agency staff brought in to cover those who are off!

    Political correctness gone mad! If I was boss, I wouldn’t hire women with kids or women who intend to have kids. Then I’d get taken to court! It’s all one way in favour of the mother now. That’s not equality.

    Rant over!

    1. Thanks for sharing that, Fran. Strong views on both sides, I see.

      It certainly is a legal minefield – with only one winner, it often seems. I’m not sure that’s what the Suffragettes envisaged when they were having rubber tubes forced up their noses.

      Thank goodness all these blessed children are going to make all our lives so much more comfortable once we reach old age (when we’re shuffling about, looking for something canned to eat, in our cramped shoe-box flats that look out over yet more high-rise hovels where there were once green fields lined with trees. If we can see through the smog, that is. If we can see at all, once all the vitamin-rich fruit, vegetables and nuts have been stockpiled and recreated in labs for the rich to fight over.)

      Oh wait, they won’t be paying our pensions. That’s another myth. We just get back a little of what we paid in throughout our working lives, if we’re lucky to live that long.

      In that case, let’s just hope they put their heads together and find a way to inhabit another planet to over-populate and decimate once this one’s completely barren.

      Good God. Is it Friday yet?

    2. Sorry, but certain comments/replies make me nauseous (and no, I’m not pregnant). Or maybe, if it’s humour, I don’t get it.

  24. I wouldn’t hire women with kids or women who intend to have kids.

    Quite right, make them stay at home until the kids are through school. Most of them will be hitting the menopause by then anyway so not only will you not have the inconvenience of them needing time off you’ll be able to save money on the heating too. Win-win.

  25. I wouldn’t want this to descend into a sexist morass so my proposal would be that men of child bearing (i.e any) age stay at home and watch TV all day eating crisps with any children whilst the women go to work. This way women would get a great sense of fulfilment and employers would actually get some work done.

    Men would also be very unlikely to breast-feed in swimming pools and if they caused a nuisance in coffee bars you could punch them without feeling so bad about it. Probably.

  26. Misbehaving is misbehaving, parents or not parents. You took two extreme examples that is hard to argue with, but then you ended up asking people with small children to avoid public places or travelling etc. etc.?? I have two and no grandparents available, they behave most of the time, sometimes they don’t, they are small, it is natural, but I won’t renounce having a normal sensible life, a family lunch every week, an holiday from time to time, we are doing our best, but we can’t avoid some noises or to take a bit more space… staying home until the kids are behaving? Is this what you are proposing? Sorry, nonsense. It is like me turning around and telling you “if you like peace and quiet, stay home”, it would be stupid of me to ask… tolerance my friend, common sense, always, your post does not help it.

    When is David Gilmour coming back so that we can all start talking about interesting topics?

    1. When is David Gilmour coming back so that we can all start talking about interesting topics?

      Sorry, but for now I’m afraid it’ll have to be more of the same random shit that everyone has an opinion on and might even find amusing if they note that tongue is always firmly in cheek. It’s the best I can do, sadly. Not ideal, I know. Take it or leave it.

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