Sitting at the pond, observing my four year old’s attempts at mastering the art of flotation, I watched a scene play out that I have seen time and time again: During swim class, there is no swimming in the area marked out for the lesson (which includes the dock), and every single day there seem to be parents who feel their children should be exempt from this rule.
Today, it was a mother who, upon being told by a lifeguard that they needed to be outside the buoys, responded “Well, we need to leave town in 30 minutes, and they want to play on the dock- they aren’t bothering anyone.” Except, of course, that they were, as they were about eight years old and running through the swim class full of toddlers. Plus, you know, rules.
Unfortunately, it seems as though more and more people feel entitled to break rules, be they unspoken or otherwise, when it comes to their children. The thing is, popping out a child doesn’t make them, or you, any more special than anyone else, and acting as though the sun shines out of that squishy little tushie? That just makes you a jerk. Here are some other places I’ve encountered parents who seem to think the world revolves around them and their children:
1. The Movies. Don’t bring your beautiful three month old miracle to a 10PM showing of a horror flick. Your child WILL wake up and disturb others around you. No, you are NOT entitled to go see the film just because you want to. Hire a babysitter. Watching a movie in a theater is not a right, and disturbing others is just obnoxious. This also goes for bringing young children into late night shows where they will either be terrified or disruptive- just don’t.
2. Bars. I am shocked I even have to write this, but having witnessed quite a few people (especially in NYC) feel completely comfortable bringing their young ones into what should clearly be adult only establishments, and it makes me wonder what these parents are thinking? Why would you: 1. Want your child in that environment, and 2. Feel as though it is appropriate to bring them to a venue where other adults congregate to imbibe spirits and likely be away from children? You aren’t that special. Leave your precious snowflakes at home. (Obviously some bars are totally family friendly, especially in the early evening. I’m not talking about those).
3. Inappropriate restaurants. There are family restaurants. Lots of them. Go to those.
4. When there is an age/height requirement at a venue or attraction. There is a reason for it, and arguing (often loudly and at someone who likely had no hand in the decision making) about why your darling child who is a clear six inches too short to ride that ride should be allowed on it, just makes you an entitled brat. It’s called safety — no one is trying to personally inconvenience you by enforcing the rules. If you’re the person willing to argue and harangue people over the rules, you’re probably also the type of person who would sue if something then happened to little Johnny after you forced the issue.
5. Weddings or other events that are specified at “adult only.” Nothing is more irritating than hosting a gathering which is clearly labeled “adults only” and having a friend or relative decide that this rule does not apply to them. No matter what your rationale is- couldn’t find a babysitter? Wanted your kids to see out of town relatives? It doesn’t matter. The host is the person who calls the shots, and imposing your little uninvited darlings on the event is both unfair and flat out rude. If you can’t bear to leave behind your kids, don’t go to the event- accept that your kids aren’t welcome everywhere at all times.
6. Planes/trains/public transportation. No one would ever say you can’t bring your child on planes or public conveyances; that’s asinine and impossible. However HOW you bring your child is very important. Don’t be that parent that brings a high maintenance toddler onto a plane for six hours without being prepared for it. From my experience, no one gets upset with the parents (and are far more patient with the kids) who are actively trying to keep their baby/toddler/small person entertained and calm throughout the flight. People get pretty darn ticked off with the parents that seem to have no concern for their precious little bundle’s decision to repeatedly kick the back of the seat in front of them, or play their movie at full volume without headphones. Don’t be a jerk: Just because you are on an airplane doesn’t mean you aren’t supposed to be a parent.
The moral of the story is that you and your offspring aren’t that special. Be a decent parent — nay — a decent person- and do the right thing.
Your kids will be better for it, and you won’t be “that mom” or “that dad” that everyone can’t stand.
Doesn’t that sound nice?
Related post: 10 People Who Make Parenting Harder