In preparation for todays' coffee chat, I have been thinking about how our generation views child rearing, in comparison to previous generations.   Recent events in my personal life has seen me butting heads with those who are more "children should be seen and not heard" generation, and my own, which appears to be much more hands on.    I am finding there is very little tolerance towards children these days, and I am not sure if it is because behaviours have become more disruptive -- OR have parents become too lenient -- thus making it harder to enjoy them.    Is this the final straw in the breakdown of the family unit:  indifference towards our greatest future resource.   Have we become so selfish in our singular pursuits, that children have just become an annoying burden; ever distracting, ever in the way.   Would life truly be more enjoyable without them?

Some certainly think so.  There are many married couples these days who opt not to have children.  They pull no punches - they can't have the life they want with children.  Fair enough I say.   Wise that you are so self-aware.   Carry on.   Then there are those who want them kicked out of specific restaurants and banned from First Class on airplanes.   It's like a new kind of segregation -- but against the most innocent.    I know, believe me....I have endured a first class air trip with a screaming baby.  Yep - pretty awful, not a pleasant trip.   So, um....how much worse was it for that poor mom: knowing everyone was silently cursing her offspring.   It's a baby!!  They cry.  Get. Over.It.   Interestingly enough, not one person offered any assistance.   Where is the love?   Why is our first response to bitch and moan......rather than to empathize and show compassion?   Walk a mile, folks, walk a mile. 

I for one am tired of the looks of disdain I receive if one of my children misbehaves in public.  I cannot control their behaviour all the time.  There could be any number of reasons why said fit occurred.... I don't always figure it out in the moment.  Plus, I'm outnumbered!  I do not lack in discipline and I am not stupid.   Certainly I make mistakes.   Many in fact.   And I should be allowed to -- how else would I learn?   Apparently, it was all done perfectly prior to my joining the parenting club.  How lucky for them, there was no one around to rub their noses if they made a mistake.   Go ahead.....cast a stone.  I Dare You.

I am certainly not going to learn anything from you, Miss High and Mighty, who grabbed hold of my child and lectured him --- whilst his father was present and requested you to release him.   True, we let our guard down for a few moments, but I am sorry ----- most children cannot sit quietly through an hour and half restaurant seating watching adults converse and get their drink on!!   He was bored - nigh to death.   But did you use your years of experience to help the situation?  Practical suggestions offered? Nope.   Did you give the parent a chance to handle the situation, thus reaffirming their authoritative role?  Nope.  In fact, you undermined our authority.  You taught my child that he does not have to come to his father when asked; if someone who appears more authoritative has a hold of him.   In showing no confidence in our ability to parent, you also stole a little bit of his own confidence in his parents.   Congratulations: You just set him up to be a victim.   So, I ask you....if I am so stupid, how come I see that, and you, with all your superior knowledge, do not?

I say, ole gal....you may have more wisdom through experience than us, but you cannot pass on that wisdom whilst looking down your nose at us.  

Kids get cranky.  Kids misbehave and throw tantrums when they don't get their way.   They test the boundaries.  They are Supposed to do that -- it's how they learn.   It will happen to every parent at some point.   We call them "Teachable moments."  Sometimes you get it right, some days, you don't.   Some children have other issues that control their behaviour.   But unless you are in some kind of dialogue with the parent, you have no right to judge.  How dare you assume to know the entire situation.    Please, Please, please..... If you feel the need to interfere - check your motives and your attitude at the door first.   Reach out in love - not with criticism.    I've often thought how much easier a tough situation would have been, if someone had laid a gentle hand on my arm and softly spoke to me, rather than criticising, or worse --- the dreaded "tsk, tsk" with eye roll.    I always try to discipline or correct my children in LOVE.....wondering how much nicer, and more tolerant adults would be, if they did the same.

 Aside from all that, one of my favourite bloggers over at Kiddothings was tagged to make an interesting list regarding the following subject:

Young Kids Should be Banned From..
(because, yes - even though I love them, there are certainly some things that are No-Nos)

1.  Probably top spot on most lists.....sugar, sugar, sugar...as in, control the amount.  My kids would eat junk all day long if allowed.   Once they get a taste of the good stuff, it is hard to break it.

2.  TV/video games.  again, probably another high one on most lists.  Clearly we all know too much is not good for anyone.   My kids will have days where they might only watch something while I cook a meal -- then other days where they'd sit all day.   As long as it evens out to a moderate amount, I'm ok with that.   And absolutely certain shows (arg, Spongebob....but just because he's annoying) are OFF Limits.   
As for video games.....they don't exist in this house.  No game console, Gameboy,  Nintendo DS whatsoever and probably never will be.   It's bad enough the kids would be too easily distracted, but with Wii......I'd lose Left Brain too.

3. Harsh chemicals, dyes, food additives, etc. etc.   This is a new one we are working on in this house.  We have pretty much got rid of any food containing tartrazine -- which to their horror (enter aforemented temper tantrums) meant no more Kraft Dinner of Dora Fruit chews.    We've changed the laundry soap and cleaners to greener options. 

4.  from immersing themselves in what I refer to as "barnyard behaviour".   Yes, kids can run wild and get loud at times.  It should be good fun.   But manners, courtesy and respect should never fall by the wayside.  Yes, Monkey Boy it is quite a talent that you can now burp your ABC's while making fart noises with your armpit.....but we save those talents for the privacy of home, Not East Side Mario's. 

5.  eating in front of the TV.   You want your teenager to come talk to you during those tough years?  Great...start by having conversations at the dinner table.  Nightly!   We allow Friday nights as Family Movie/Pizza Night.   All other meals (except summer picnics obviously) at the table.  Together.  Sitting.  Till your finished and excused. 

6.  their parents bedroom.  Seriously,  I find it very hard to be romantic with smelly diapers in the garbage, their toys on our dresser, goldfish cracker crumbs in the sheets, and little fingers scratching at the door.   I've given up privacy in the bathroom....can I not have this please?

7.  situations they are not mature enough to handle.   Or, as I often say, setting them up to fail.   Certainly, increase their responsibility as they age....but be fair.   Example?   Don't expect my 6 year old to watch his 2 younger sisters when I am visiting, because you want my undivided attention.  Not fair.

I could probably think of a few more, but this post has gotten quite long (still with me?), and the coffee cup is empty. 

Please, I am curious as to your thoughts regarding how children are treated these days.  And feel free to make a list of your own and share.