Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Bigotry Against Children and Families

The recent news story about the restaurant owner who yelled at a crying toddler in her restaurant has unleashed another sad storm of internet bigotry against children and families.  My newsfeeds have been inundated by people applauding the unacceptable and abusive behavior of this so-called businesswoman and suggesting things like restaurants that do not allow children.

It pains me that society is still so bigoted against children.

It pains me that so many people seem to think it is their "right" not to have to "have their evening ruined" by the normal behavior of the young members of our society who cannot consistently behave like adults and should not have to do so.  

There is the side of it that devolves into parent-bashing, of course - the people who gripe that if parents "would parent" their kids and teach them to "behave", it would be different, but this is ridiculous.  One public interaction tells you pretty much nothing about a family dynamic and parents who succumb to public pressure to make compliance the sort of parenting emphasis that it must be to prevent all public outbursts on the part of a child who is not really at a developmental stage to be that self-regulated are actually usually harming their children's normal psychological development...and usually end up with teenagers who do some pretty awful things when they are not being watched. 
Parents who decide that they can't emotionally abuse their child enough to keep their every squawk in check and must check out of public life and stay at home until their children are old enough to be perfectly quiet in public also harm their children and themselves by denying them the experiences they need to develop the skills of navigating and participating in the world.  These are not acceptable answers to bigots not wanting to have to hear a normal child learning how to navigate their emotions out in the world.

It is not just parent-bashing, though - it really goes deeper.  We live in a country that acknowledges, however badly in practice, that you are not supposed to discriminate against people of different genders, different races, people with disabilities or the elderly.  People do it all the time, unfortunately, but they are aware that the behavior, when overt, is considered morally unacceptable (when not overt, people still make all sorts of horrible excuses to themselves).  People are totally fine discriminating against children, though.  Our culture has no trouble at all with the idea of segregating them and failing to accommodate for their involvement in public life at every turn. 

It is shameful and horrible for the old tropes are definitely true - the children are our future and it does take a village.  When the village wants to lock you out instead of include you, the future looks pretty grim.

1 comment:

Andrea said...

Well said and an excellent point that I haven't heard anyone make yet. I encourage you to develop this into an essay and submit it (say to the Washington Post On Parenting Column or New York Times Motherlode). It's an important argument and needs to be heard.