I’m really interested in two articles that recently appeared in the New York Times and the Washington Post. Both pieces discuss the puzzle of having children and taking those children to new places whether it be on vacation (featured in the NYT segment) or out to dinner (WaPo).
One of the seemingly uniform struggles parents are facing whether it be on an airplane, at a restaurant or at a hotel is the uncomfortable stares they automatically receive upon entering that place with a child in tow. What I find really compelling is that these articles always feature a segment of how to’s. When to leave, how to placate fellow airplane passengers, how to keep children entertained. I think this reflects that parents are trying to both expose their children to much that our world has to offer but also trying to be respectful that there are other people in it.
And even though there is much attention paid to the respect of others, 55 of the 68 comments featured replies like these:
“I don’t care how prepared you were – your kids belong at HOME with a babysitter when you’re at a fancy place. PERIOD. End of discussion.”
“If I make a reservation at a fine dining establishment and they seat me next to toddlers, I’m leaving. Pure and simple. I love my 2 year old and 4 year old niece and nephew, but I don’t want to go to Doi Moi with them. This whole country is about children. There is nothing that is not off limits to them or created to cater to them. Can’t we at least have fine dining? Please? Can parents give us that at least?”
“Sometime over the last twenty years parents of young children decided they could afford expensive cars, homes, gadgets, but not babysitters. They show up with their babies in carriers and toddlers on every evening of the week at nice restaurants well past baby and children bedtimes and seem genuinely surprised with the meltdowns.”
Admittedly, I was surprised at the vitriol of the comments, but that’s what I get for reading comments on a news site. While we are happy to use a babysitter for a night out and frequently do so there is also so much enjoyment in spending time exploring with our child. So what do you think? Is it self-centered of the parent to bring their children? Or should well-behaved children be welcomed? Is there a middle ground?
* Next week, I’ll be featuring a mini guide to Walt Disney World with my favorite resources, tips and travel suggestions. Admittedly, one of the biggest draws for a family trip to Disney is that some of that pressure to fit in, to not get the looks, to allow a child to be a child (vrooming matchbox cars and all) is relieved.