If you have children, don’t complain. About anything. More specifically, if you’ve chosen to have kids you also need to accept the fact that your children will probably consume the best years of your life and that you have no right to inconvenience complete strangers with them. In other words, please stay at home.
If this all seems a bit insensitive let me explain: my college newspaper has recently published several letters arguing about whether it’s appropriate to bring small children into public spaces. Not surprisingly, those against bringing children to places like movie theaters have pointed out that they are noisy and disruptive to other patrons. What is surprising, however, is that those on the other side of the issue seem to feel that their actions are justified simply because “parents sometimes like to go out and do things.”
Obviously, I side with the former, but it still always surprises me when I come across people who act like they’re doing all of us a favor by having children and we should all be accordingly sympathetic. Don’t misunderstand: I do believe that having children can be a rewarding experience and it’s something that I look forward to doing someday. Yet, when people choose to have kids it also seems like they should be realistic about that choice. Obviously, that means doing fewer fun things, but it also means that a lot of people without children aren’t going to want to have you and your family around very much. When it comes to movie theaters, restaurants, etc., I frankly don’t think children should be allowed. Or at least, they shouldn’t be allowed during prime hours when everyone else is trying to spend a night out. If that means parents have a harder time, so be it; that’s all part of the job.
Certainly this isn’t a black and white issue and society benefits by being accommodating. I know, for example, that if I go see a matinee of Harry Potter there are going to be noisy kids there. On the other hand, I would never go see a matinee of Harry Potter. In fact, when it comes to movies, I generally try to avoid anything that could be remotely described as “family oriented” because nearly every time I go I end up paying more attention to the crying babies and talking toddlers than the actual movie. This is particularly frustrating because there are “family oriented” movies I’d like to see. My solution has been to go late, as I’d expect 11 PM showings of these movies to be kid-free. Alas, that is so rarely the case.
There are, of course, many people in the world who have children due to unfortunate circumstances: rape, teen pregnancy, faulty birth control, etc. These are sad circumstances. However, if the victims of these events were the only ones bringing their children to places they ought not to be, it’d be rare that we’d hear crying babies at inconvenient times. The problem, in reality, is that there are many people who have chosen to have children who also impose their children on unsuspecting strangers. I’m sure those children are beautiful and wonderful. I’m sure they bring great satisfaction to their families. I’m sure they’re the apples of their parents’ eyes. But please, don’t force the rest of us to participate in your parenting woes.