Lately there’s been a lot of discussion about a bunch of airlines offering child-free flights or banning children from first class. The bans are either cheered or frowned upon, and often we get reminded that we were once children, too. (No shit?) What people systematically fail to realize is that children are not the people that we’re annoyed at. They are the annoyance, yes, but they are not the cause for us getting annoyed. Nobody can blame a child for acting like a child, but what is the annoying, angering, frustrating and “I will punch someone in the face if that doesn’t stop” -part of it is bad parenting.
I personally don’t care if the child is hanging off the over head lockers as long as there’s a parent hanging onto the child pulling him down and apologizing for their child’s behaviour left and right. It would still be annoying, but not nearly as angering as a child slightly kicking at the back of my chair without the parent doing anything to stop it. (I must now confess that I haven’t, personally, been in this situation on a plane, my back has been kicked in a buss but not on a plane. I’ve been lucky during flights having all children behaving so well that I hardly noticed them, or having them shriek fairly far from me) so I haven’t been in a bad need of child-free flights myself. However, in all instances of bad behaviour by a child, there is a clueless parent who does not seem to understand a thing about proper parenting. It’s the exact situation as it is with a badly behaved dog: the reason is always holding the other end of the leash. Yes, all kids and dogs behave badly from time to time, but it’s the parent or owner who has to react to it, swiftly, strongly and with authority. If they fail to do that it’s going to be angering (and especially in the case of dogs, potentially dangerous).
So really, the ban on children to create child-free flights is not due to children, but parents who fail to control them. It would be about time for parents to start checking their parenting and see if they are really taking other people into consideration. This is NOT about hating children. Even the unruliest children behave well when they are with a person who are behaving like an real authority. I give you an example from my own childhood. My class at school was considered to be the worst behaving, the most wicked, the most tough to control bunch of brats ever. When ever something was broken at our school, our door was the first to get a knock. In reality what we had was a bunch of highly intelligent, energetic and eager to please children, who had lame parents, not to mention our 5th grade teacher who was a complete loser of a man. He had no authority what soever, and his idea of control was to draw a “decibel meter” on the black board with the needle pointing East. Every time we saw that drawing, even the tamest of us (myself included to the tame ones) laughed at him. It was pathetic. Although I had respect for most grown ups, he was the most useless piece of **** I’d ever met and I truly hated him for his lack of authority. Yes. You read that right. I hated him for not controlling us better. I despised him. I still do. I have no respect or pity towards that slither of a man.
However, when my mother came into the room – she was one of those involved parents – everyone was in check in a second. She commanded respect, not by force, but by respecting us, and expecting the same kind of respect in return. She did not believe in the “bad class” or “bad kid” rhetoric, she believed in proper parenting. Once she decided she had to talk to my class because this piece of uselessness teacher couldn’t get any hold of us at all. Not only did she get us to shut up for the day, her influence carried through until the end of the year because she asked us to behave. Of course, when she was gone, we we weren’t exactly angels but we self-disciplined ourselves somewhet out of respect for her. The reward would be that we would get to do a trip at the end of the year if our teacher would have reported we had behaved well enough. In all honesty, I don’t think the reward was really that much of a enticement as it was to make my mum proud of us. Every kid loved her and respected her, because she understood children. And I tell you, that it would have never in a million years occurred to me to kick a strangers seat during an air flight, and if I had done it, I would have known about it.
The child-free flights thing is a question of one thing only: respect, and more importantly the lack of it. Kids don’t respect their parents, the parents don’t respect their kids, the fellow passengers or the flight crew. Once the respect issue is sorted out, kids will be behaving well enough to fly anywhere with anyone – even the Queen of England. Unfortunately parents today tend to think that now that we can’t smack kids around there’s no other way of controlling them and using that as an excuse for their failure to discipline. Beating children always was the response of a weak parent anyway.
And don’t you now tell me that since I don’t have children I can’t possibly know how hard it is to discipline them. For one thing I don’t care how hard it is. You had to have one, so you deal with the consequences. If you can’t do it, don’t blame us for not having the same amount of “understanding” for your children as you do, but take it for what it is. You suck at it, and either you learn not to suck or you deal with the rolling eyes and apologize a lot. Your choice – again.