KC Davis Brilliantly Explains Why We Need More Child-Accessible “Third Spaces”
It’s not just for the kids, it’s for everybody, including parents and child-free adults.
Society has not exactly set up parents for success when it comes to taking kids out into the world, especially here in the United States. In fact, some places are literally banning kids from being present.
While there are many places made for kids (indoor playgrounds, parks, etc.), many everyday places like grocery stores, restaurants, public restrooms, etc. are often not made with kids in mind even though parents often have to bring their kids there — simply because kids are part of our lives.
Kids struggle in these non-kid friendly places, making their presence harder for both the parents and other adults, and often they are blamed for their behavior, boredom, or disengagement. But in reality, are we forcing kids to get along in a world that doesn’t consider their needs? Even in places “made” for kids, some everyday features (like bathrooms) are still not designed for kids.
A world not designed for kids is the norm, which is frustrating in and of itself. However, one TikTok mom pointed out the true hypocrisy in this world with no child-accessibility — and how great life can be for everyone when establishments take the extra effort to make kids feel welcome.
Popular author, therapist, and TikTok creator — KC Davis — pointed out that, sure, this world doesn’t exactly cater to kids. So, then why does society expect them to behave, adapt, and be “upright citizens” the minute they become a legal adult?
Davis begins her viral clip by sharing that she took her kids to a public pool which also had a toddler pool for younger kids.
“They met some other kids and they played for like two hours and I sat on the side with my feet in, and I engaged with them and talked to them, but mostly I just watched them play and I was there when they needed me,” she began.
After the pool, Davis took the kids to a restaurant that came equipped with a playground outside. Davis relaxed, watched the kids play, and everyone had a great time while getting the meal they needed.
“This whole day, they were calm, regulated, happy kids. They were stimulated enough. They were in environments that were accessible to them. They were having social connections, and they were happy and not being nuts, and I was getting enough space to feel regulated and patient and engaged with them,” she explained.
Davis explains that, in a world designed for adults, parents often take their stress out on their kids, which leads to guilt and feelings of inadequacy.
“And it really made me realize that so much of our struggles as parents, feeling like we're bad parents, feeling like we're irritated, irritable, like we're impatient, like, you know, we're touched out, we're over-simulated,,like so much of that we are made to feel as though that is a failing on our part, that we're not good enough parents, when really it's a failing on society's part.”
Davis continues on, noting that there are not enough “third places” for kids to just be kids.
“There are not spaces that are accessible to children, and when we talk about accessibility for children, it's always centered around really just accessibility for the parent,” she explains.
Even in these “kid-friendly” third spaces — like toddler pools or the library — Davis explains that most of these places, literally made for kids, still do not have accessibility.
Davis said, “My daughter walks into the bathroom and says, “Why are there no small potties here? Why can't I reach the sink and wash my hands?’ And it's really unfortunate because children deserve accessibility.”
Davis goes on to call out the hypocrisy of society that does little to make this world accessible for young kids, but at the same time, expects those same kids to be respectful, decent humans who “act like upstanding citizens.”
“They are permanent citizens of our community, and we wonder when children grow up to be teenagers and why aren't they responsible and respectful. Well, we never treated them like they were true citizens of our community, and then we expect them to just you know upon 18 start acting like upstanding citizens,” she said, going on to explain that, in her opinion, a positive domino effect would occur if this world was made for kids, too.
“Children deserve accessibility. Children deserve to be in public. Children deserve third spaces and we would be better parents if they had it and they'd be happier kids if they had it and we'd be a better society if we had that.”
Several TikTok users commented on Davis’ video with their own opinions on her take.
“Childfree person here. CF ppl complain about a lack of childfree spaces but we need more child oriented spaces to make better citizens!” one user wrote.
Another adamantly agreed with Davis’ notion and said, “1000000% yes. And where I live, if it’s not a public park, there’s not really anywhere to take kids that don’t cost and arm and a leg admission. 🙃”
One user pointed out an obvious fail when it comes to third spaces not truly having families in mind.
“So many parks here with no bathrooms. How are families supposed to be there for more than an hour?” one user wrote.
Another TikTok user pointed out that not all societies of the world are as negligent to the needs of kids as America.
“That’s how life is set up in Spain. Playgrounds with cafes everywhere,” they wrote.
Another user replied, “Yes same in France. Also all restaurants have kids menus.”
Someone else chimed in and said, “We had such an easy time in Spain last year with a 2.5 year old bc of this. We sat at the restaurant and he played in within sight. Amazing.”
Those TikTok users are spot on. Several moms have shared their overseas experiences on TikTok showing that parks and cafes were made with parents and kids in mind to make the experience enjoyable for all involved.
There’s also a train in Norway with an entire train car dedicated to families and children with kid-friendly food and Peppa Pig marathons.
Debates often center around if there should be “child-free” flights, restaurants, etc., but what if instead of banning kids from these third spaces, society welcomed them with open arms? Like Davis points out, when kids feel like they belong in third spaces, parents can also feel more relaxed and regulated which leads to an overall happier and more functional society.