More readers are putting in their two cents on the New York Times story about parents who get All Huffy when someone dares criticize their darling children for misbehaving (see “The Newest ‘Right’–for Your Children to Misbehave in Public,” Nov. 25, and the Mailbag for Nov. 28)
“My brother and his wife raised their son and daughter in a way to minimize conflict. They didn’t discipline the kids or make them do much of anything.
“Both the kids dropped out of high school. The daughter ran around and ended up pregnant. The son did finish high school, but seems to lack the social skills and drive to get a better job than what he has. Despite this, they’re nice kids and I enjoy their company. But they’re in their 30s and still living athome! And why not? They work at entry-level jobs and live in a middle-class home. They aren’t bad kids, but I can’t imagine that this is what their parents dreamed of for them. Every independent adult I know butted heads with his parents and looked forward to leaving the nest.”
“The children’s behavior described definately sounds completely over the top. I’m not disputing that many children are completely out of control. I would like to put in just one word for harried parents of small children.
“Even well-behaved, disciplined children have ‘days.’ Certainly mine did. Sometimes I’d get effusive compliments and sometimes I’d get dirty looks. Sometimes my kids deserved those dirty looks and sometimes they really didn’t deserve them at all.
“Because something else (than kids not being taught to behave) is true as well… there are not a few adults who simply don’t think kids should be out in public. No child could possibly be well enough behaved for those people. I’ve gotten scolded for not keeping my toddlers under control simply because the one was walking around (in a place where everyone was walking) and the other was bouncing in place on his toes. I think that something moving at knee height made this lady nervous but that’s not my problem.
“As much as people talk about the good old days when children were polite and well mannered, I think that there were more kids, as a percentage of the population than these days when most people have two. I think that normal children’s behavior was undoubtably better tolerated than it is today. It’s very easy for a parent to decide that they simply *can’t* win, because it’s true. Someone is going to complain no matter how lovely your child is behaving simply because they feel entitled to exclusively adult company.
“The parents reacting to a notice on a menu as ‘children not welcome’ may be responding to something real. And if they boycott the restaurant, I imagine the owner will be pleased.”
You make a stong point, J.P. Some people just plain don’t like children–or they just aren’t used to children live in a childless age. But the converse of that is that many parents aren’t use to children, either, and they don’t realize that kids need rules.