“I’m Not Prejudiced, I Just Don’t Like 25% of Humanity”

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Kids not welcome

What if I told you there was an article going around Facebook called 26 Reasons Women Shouldn’t Be Scientists, with photographs of women doing dumb things? And that the comments were full of men gleefully agreeing that women were idiots and they sure counted themselves lucky that they were able to work in a woman-free industry. What if I told you that some men are calling for a return of Male Only Dining Clubs and restaurants because they don’t like the fact that women talk and laugh loudly at restaurants. Or that they want Male Only flights because men are tired of women being late and causing flight delays? You’d think it was outrageous, right? And utterly wrong. It would be wrong even IF women ARE noisy at restaurant or late for flights. Right? I’m glad we’re all in agreement here. And I for one am glad that circulating such an offensive and misogynistic article would result in an uproar.

There is no such article. But that doesn’t mean discrimination is dead.

I recently happened upon 26 Important Reminders Why Birth Control Exists being posted on Facebook. It features 26 photos of children making giant messes. At first I assumed it was meant as a joke. Because, surely, some unexpected Crayola art on my wall is an infinitesimal inconvenience in light of the infinite worth of a human life. I mean, nobody ACTUALLY thinks that “they might spill paint on the floor” is a reason kids shouldn’t exist. Or so I thought until I saw the comments. And then I felt physically ill.

Because, for a lot of people, it wasn’t a joke. Statements like, “Exactly. This is why I’m never having children.” or “This is why animals are better than kids.” or “Thank God I’m sterile.” “This is why the only children I want have paws.” “Kids are sticky and they smell bad. F*** that.” graced the combox.

I’d like to write it off as just a handful of offensive internet commenters. But it’s not just a few people. There’s a whole movement promoting child-free spaces. I’m not talking about couples who choose not to have children. That’s a separate matter and it’s not any of my business. What I’m talking about is widespread and accepted discrimination against children. Blanket statements such as “I don’t like children” as if the millions of kids all over the world are all exactly the same and simply not to your taste. What I’m talking about are the pushes for child-free restaurants, airplane flights, church services, you name it. The idea that it’s fine to just “not like being around kids” giving you the right to never have to brush shoulders with any of the little beings who may inconvenience you with their messes, laughter, shenanigans, and wonder.  It baffles me.

Kids are just people and people are inconvenient. The lady with the shrieking laughter at the quiet restaurant. The man taking up the whole grocery aisle with his wheelchair. The teenager with Tourettes who keeps interrupting the church service. The waitress with an irritating voice. Wouldn’t it be nice if everywhere we went, we could avoid being inconvenienced or annoyed? Unfortunately, humans are inconvenient. But it doesn’t make them any less worthwhile. Should we ban irritating laughers from public places? Of course not. Should we ban wheelchairs in grocery stores because they make shopping trips more difficult? Obviously, that would be ridiculous. Can we request that the teenager with Tourettes not attend church with us because it’s distracting? No, that would be awful. Can people with irritating voices be removed from the food industry? C’mon. Every human soul deserves respect and dignity.

But what about the ill-behaved children with the bad parents? Can we exile them? Sure, parents hold a lot of responsibility here. Parents should use good judgement and teach children to be thoughtful of others. That certainly might include not bringing a two-year-old to that fancy restaurant after bedtime when he won’t be at his best. But banning children from restaurants won’t guarantee you an annoyance-free evening. The way that woman in the next booth eats her peas might just drive you nuts. Unless you want to become a hermit, you’re going to have to live beside other people.

And not wanting to be around children because you don’t like them is not “a personal preference,” as a commenter claimed on a post about my regrets over not inviting children to our wedding. A personal preference is taking your coffee black instead of adding cream and sugar. Disliking a huge swath of humanity is called a prejudice. And we wouldn’t stand for it if the horrible things said about children were said about any other group of people on this earth. I mean just imagine someone saying, “I don’t want to invite anyone over the age of 80 to my wedding because I just have never liked old people.” That’s not a personal preference, that’s ageism. Or “I don’t like eating at restaurants that serve people of X ethnicity.” That’s not a personal preference, that’s racism. Or, “I try to avoid women because I don’t like them.” That’s called misogyny. Why is it then acceptable to discriminate against children and say hateful things about them?

Life is messy. Kids are messy. But there’s no mess or inconvenience that could ever compare to the infinite worth of a human soul, made in the image of God. I don’t know how we’ve forgotten this. Never in human history have children been viewed as inconveniences instead of gifts, blessings for a whole community. People who spill paint, drop their sippy cups, and smear toothpaste on the bathroom wall are still people worthy of love and respect. No one has the right to an inconvenience-free life, but children do have the right to be treated with the respect due any human being–and that means you just might have to sit next to a child someday when you’re out and about. Who knows. You might realize that one quarter of humanity is cooler than you thought.

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After receiving numerous comments from the “brat free” community I’m unfortunately going to have to place some guidelines here. If you use hateful language about me or my family or other parents and children (that includes the offensive terms “moo” and “breeder” for mothers and “sprogs” for children) or offensive hate speech about racial minorities or the LGBT community, your comment will not be approved. Such language will have no place here. Disagreement is fine. Hate is not.

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  1. Hope says

    Thank you! I love that you’re adding to the conversation and a healthier creating culture. I have a feeling this idea is going to get a lot of attention.

  2. kimberly says

    This is so true — I have heard people say lately, “I don’t like children” and feel so justified in it. Maybe children aren’t your favorite group but there is a lot of this prejudice going around and I appreciate your speaking up about it. Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me” after all and treated them with dignity and respect.

  3. says

    “What I’m talking about is widespread and accepted discrimination against children. Blanket statement of “I don’t like children” as if the millions of kids all over the world are all exactly the same and simply not to your taste.”

    Nailed it.

    • Christine Doyle says

      “We were all children once.” It’s a pity that many adults have not progressed on from this stage of development with their attitudes.

      • says

        Yes, this, and we all (will hopefully or at least might possibly) grow old and need someone younger to care for us. Someone’s children will need to be your doctors and caregivers when you are in your old age!

  4. Mary says

    Such wise words, Haley. I feel so blessed to have a community of friends who love children and big families, when that is clearly no longer the norm in our country.

      • says

        Absolutely Sandra! Definitely one of the many side effects of a society that encourages birth control, abortion and selfishness. Somewhere along the way it seems like we forgot that people have souls and are not just a bunch of atoms that can be disgarded if they are inconvenient.

        Haley– What a great way of putting this issue into perspective! At the risk of sounding ridiculous, I have to say You Go Girl!

  5. Amy says

    Wow, just wow. I’d imagine if Jesus had read that, his comment would have been something along the lines of “The person that was never previously a child that was ‘loud/messy/annoying, etc.’ should be the next to comment.” Probably would have ended that pretty quickly.

  6. Elise says

    Thank you for writing this article. I have been struggling with how to charitably respond to some of the anti-child/child-free sentiments that I see popping up on social media and even among my own friends of late. I think you nailed it by providing a respectful, yet critical article on this disturbing trend.

    While I’m at it, can I also point out that I have noticed that lots of child-free types seem to act especially child-like, despite being in their late twenties, 30s, and beyond? Things like having a Disney-themed wedding, or having drunk water balloon fights/drunk slip n’ slide parties, or joining adults-only kickball teams…while all these things are fine by themselves (I guess), they seem to be most common among the “hipster, child-free, everything I do is ironic” sub-set of my peers. Is this possibly because adults possibly (gasp) benefit from being around children, and that when they’re not, they have some sort of inner-child that needs to be nurtured in some way? Again, this tangent is all speculation and probably varies widely from everyone else’s lived experiences, but it IS something I have noticed. I call it “Hipster-Peter Pan Syndrome”.


  7. Jason says

    Our culture has replaced child rearing with pet parenting. This is just a sliver of the pie, but I believe the rise of the “pet culture” is part and parcel to the “pro-choice,” sexual revolution. I believe you’d find that the vast majority of pro-animal rights are also pro-human abortion. Sick, twisted, evil. Satan is real, and he is doing a jig.

    • Daisy says

      I think you nailed it with this comment. If despise the word ‘pet parent’. I love animals, and have rescued several, but I am in no way their ‘mom.’ Owner? Yes, although I can see why that seems unnecessarily authoritarian and we all know that nobody ‘owns’ a cat. Guardian? Yes. Human? Yes. Parent? No. I parent my children because, unlike my animals, they will grow up to be independent contributors to society and need my guidance to get there.

    • Rose says

      We are very pro – pet in our home and are excited to bring our first child into the world and teaching her how awesome animals/pets are and how beneficial they can be to health and happiness. You are now demonstrating a prejudice by making such a blanket statement.

      • Jason says

        I am not speaking of people who love their pets. I am speaking of people who love pets to the exclusion of children – and by my anecdotal observations, that is becoming more common. That is the evil which Satan perpetrates….he has cleverly reduced our “humanity” by subverting our desire to raise children and diverting that desire into raising “pets.”

        • Vanessa says

          As long as we don’t belittle those who choose to have children, why is it a problem to love our pets or to have pets instead? I’m not married, but when I do, I can’t see myself having children. Golden retrievers, on the other hand, are definitely part of the picture. My sister is married and has a baby on the way, and I am excited for her to become a mother, and for me to become an aunt. I don’t demean your priorities so why can’t you accept mine?

          • Catherine says

            Perhaps you are not Catholic, but in the Catholic belief system you should not get married if you do not plan to be open to life and attempt to conceive children. It’s not a matter of accepting individual priorities, but of remembering and promoting one of the main goals of the Sacrament. (Not saying there’s anything wrong with having/loving/”parenting” pets, but it in marriage children absolutely should not be purposefully excluded.)

          • Carrie says

            I admit, the term “pet parent” bugs me, and the couple on the Petsmart commercial smiling with their “baby” makes me cringe. It’s not the fact that people enjoy animals over children, I don’t care which somebody chooses, and it’s not my job to police somebody’s ovaries (as much as they can police mine). But, it’s the fact that animals are treated as though they are human beings, and I despise when a “pet parent” jumps into a conversation about the hardships of raising children with statements like “I don’t have kids, but my dogs are like raising them.” A dog is a dog, and a child is a child. You can’t compare them (and you can’t leave a baby home alone while you work, or chain them outside when they’re being too noisy).

            Also, because I once saw a dog get taken from a homeless man to be sent to a shelter, while nobody blinked an eye at leaving a man on the street. Go ahead and have your pets (I have some too), but when people have more sympathy for animals than their own race, that’s a twisted society.

    • Banyansmom says

      I co-founded a non-profit rescue a number of years ago, and I think I can say that I know a sizable number of people in rescue in an area that includes three states and a Canadian province. Before I was involved in rescue, I was active on the board of a crisis pregnancy center. Although many of the rescue people I know are hard-core liberals, quite a few are seriously pro-life. *All* God’s creatures deserve to be treated with respect, dignity, and compassion. Humans are made in the image and likeness of God, to be sure, but I don’t have to demonstrate my acceptance of that truth by diminishing the importance of loving and responsible treatment of animals. Not every pet parent is childless, and not every childless pet parent is so by choice. I am grateful to God for giving me the love and companionship of my fur children, as I accept my childlessness as His will for me. And yes, they are like my children. They depend on me in the same way a human child would, and I am responsible for meeting their physical, emotional, and behavioral needs.

      I worry that the denigration of the “pet culture” as unChristian is being used as an excuse in some quarters (probably not here) for animal neglect and abuse.

  8. says

    This is perfect. Oh so perfect.

    What it honestly boils down to is the prevalence of selfishness. Nay, the celebration of selfishness. Somewhere along the line, we decided that our own comfort and pleasure are worth more than anything, more than the comfort of others, more than the well-being of others, more than the existence of others.

    It may start with what seems to be a “harmless” “personal preference”, but what it leads to, necessarily, is degradation of humanity. Shockingly, I would not be the least surprised if someone were to argue with the fact that all humanity deserves dignity and respect, because as soon as they become messy and inconvenient, suddenly all of that doesn’t matter.

  9. says

    Yes! Thank you. Ever since I became a mother I have been more and more aware of (and bothered by) this anti-child mentality. Just last week on vacation we tried to eat at a sushi restaurant, but they intentionally did not have any high chairs. Never had we experienced such a blatant attempt to exclude us from dining somewhere just because we are parents. Thank you for explaining why this is (in my opinion) so very rude and wrong.

    • Angela says

      In defense of the restaurant, if the owners are Japanese, they may not see the need for high chairs. In Japan, parents bring their own seat slings/portable chairs to restaurants. We lived in Japan for over 3 years and although my daughter was happily welcomed into all of the restaurants we went to, we did have to bring a seat for her. In fact, there were some places where (if it wasn’t busy) one of the women who worked in the restaurant would take our daughter and play with her while we ate!

  10. Melanie says

    I think you have a valid point but missed some important facts about those of us disinterested in children. I myself, am not a fan of children. Many ARE noisy, rude, messy, and just stress me out trying to make sure I don’t say something completely inappropriate. I don’t think saying that, in general, I don’t enjoy kids makes me prejudice or on par with racism. There are people that have raised their kids with manners and in limited amounts, I don’t mind being around. I think banning children from certain places is stupid, but we should be allowed to confront someone if they have an unruly child and ask them to leave, just as we would an adult that is acting in inappropriately. I also think it is important to recognize that some people just don’t want to be parents, and that is just as okay as people who do want to be parents. I have no desire to procreate for a multitude of reasons (none of which are as simplistic as because they would draw on walls with crayons)- and people that have honestly thought on the subject and made that decision should not be looked down on, just as someone who wants to raise a family shouldn’t be judged (unless they are a crappy parent).

    • Jason says

      There have always been people/couples who choose not to procreate – for lots of reasons. I think the point of the author, which parents like me probably sympathize with, is the over-abundance of people who choose not to procreate and, then, the attempt to segregate out families. As a father of 5, I’ve seen the looks we get by non-parent-types or even small-family parents – like we’ve overdrawn on our children account. My wife has been labeled a “breeder.” We see so many of the younger generations (we are probably Gen-Xers, in our early 40’s) that don’t see rearing a family as a the next step in life, but a “lifestyle” choice. And people like me, think that’s a shame. And I happen to believe that our and subsequent generations have grown up with such plenty and leisure (in our American culture) that it just seems like avoiding children is very selfish. That does not mean that ALL people who choose not to have a family are selfish, but I think the overwhelming prevalence to delay a family or even decide not to have a family is indicative a societal shift from selflessness to selfishness.

      • Andrea says

        I think it is a shame too (I am a millennial). There are so many people I know who choose the never-grow-up lifestyle and I try to convince them otherwise because I truly don’t want them to miss out! I don’t have any experience with people who are in a couple but choose not to have children, but if asked I would try to counsel them in the same way. Children are such a blessing (yes loud, lot’s of work, but everything worth doing is work) that people are depriving themselves of. Even people who didn’t like kids before are moved by and in love with their own babies.

        • Julie says

          No. It is a strong and healthy couple who can identify their psychological and emotional issues that would make parenthood a big mistake for the children and can resist societal pressure telling them they should and they’re selfish/immature if they don’t. “Deprive themselves?” This isn’t about THEM — it’s about the children brought into the world! The children who could be emotionally/psychologically/physically harmed along the way by parents who didn’t have the skills and capacity to handle it.

          The Church teaches that there are different gifts and states in life. We are not all called to be married with children. Those who don’t feel called to marry or have children are the butt of jokes, insulted as immature and selfish, treated as if they are incomplete and need to be fixed, or often just left out. Even though with the truly dreadful numbers of family violence cases, it is clear that some people don’t have the capacity for marriage and parenting.

          • Jackie says

            The Church certainly doesn’t say that all human beings are called to marriage- but she does teach that those called to it are to be open to life, as procreation is one of the main ends of marriage itself.

            I would argue that if a person feels they have substantial enough emotional and psychological issues to prohibit them from having children then they should consider that a calling away from marriage entirely?

          • says

            I have nothing but the utmost respect for people who understand the enormity of the responsibility of having children and choose not to do it. I do think, though, that everyone, parent or not, has the responsibility to care for the next generation. That can show up in different ways — offering a hand to a mother with her hands full, offering to babysit for friends, or even just smiling instead of scowling when kids are making noise in public. We’re all part of the village, and we all do benefit when those kids grow up and start contributing to society. It’s not fair to say (as some do) “I didn’t ask you to have kids, so why should I help you?” If everyone had that attitude, humanity would be gone in 100 years!

    • says

      One point I would like to address for Haley, and Haley please jump in if I am incorrect:

      Haley didn’t say that everyone should have children or should even want to. She specifically says that is a different issue, and, respectfully, says that is not her business.

      Also, there is a difference between rude and unruly children and chidlren just being children. Under a certain age, they are just being children and it is, in my opinion, a prejudice to sweep it under the rug of “I just don’t like kids.” I don’t think Haley was making an excuse for children without manners, or children not taught manners. That is something all together different.

  11. says

    Melanie – I think your points are valid, and from what you describe I don’t think you’re the audience Haley is trying to address. =) She even says it’s not her business why some people choose or choose not to have kids. You’re obviously not calling for a boycot of all people under the age of 16 in public places, etc. so most of the post just doesn’t apply.

    I think it’s totally fine to say “I don’t care for other peoples children”. I know I don’t on many levels, hence why I never took a job a teacher or care provider. Spending long periods of time with young children who are not related to me, or close to me through other family or friends sounds like a fast track to a lot of unhappiness, etc.

    But, one thing I’ve learned after having my own kids – it can be so much different when they’re yours. I would spend every waking moment with my kids, even when they’re melting down or being insufferable, but you couldn’t pay me enough to make it my job.

    What this author is trying to do is call out people who have really superficial attitudes toward kids – not wanting kids because they might spill their milk, draw on the walls or furniture or block up the toilet? And not wanting kids in public places because they might cause a scene? Honestly, I’d rather you ban college students first.

    It’s totally okay to discern that you don’t want kids, not everyone should (and honestly, I think some people out there could work on that issue), but to the point where people see everyone elses child as a hinderence to how they want to live their lives? Making blanket statements about all children using awful language (not you, just seen it out there) or purposeful excluding them from the ouside world. That’s just not healthy no matter if we’re talking babies, the elderly, the sick, or just the slightly annoying.

    I think you’ve got your reasons figured out, and that’s perfectly okay =)

    • Amy says

      See, I actually think Haley is saying that it IS an unfair prejudice to say you dislike children in general. I don’t agree; I don’t even think it’s automatically different when you have your own kids. I have a toddler and when he was born I did not magically transform into a get-down-on-the-floor-with-blocks, arts-and-crafts, every-little-waking-moment-is-beautiful, motherhood-is-the-pinnacle-of-my-life type of mother. I don’t really enjoy children in general. Sorry Haley. I respect them as people, but that doesn’t mean that I think every situation I’m in needs to be dominated by kids and that I should be excited about that or welcoming of it.

      Normally I like your blog a lot, Haley, but I get the impression here that you think your view of motherhood is the only right one to have. Not enjoying children does not equal being selfish or prejudiced.

      • Mary says

        I don’t think disliking children is on par with racial or sex-based prejudice.

        And I think the recent trend to ban children from restaurants is the result of an overinflated sense of parental entitlement, examples of which include pushing enormous strollers into tiny cafes (gotta admit, I’ve done that one myself), or bringing children to expensive restaurants in the evening. It is okay to have adult-only spaces. Though the comments after that article you read might have been alarmingly hateful, that doesn’t mean everyone who requests that children stay out of their space is “child-prejudiced.”

        I recently attended an awesome wedding with my four young kids. It was held outside, the ceremony was in a barn, and the bride assured me it was okay to bring my clan, all five and under, because if they made noise during the ceremony it would take the focus off her! Which was all so lovely. However, when I was told a few couple years ago that my nursing four month old could not attend another wedding, I totally understood. If someone wants a formal wedding and shells out thousands of dollars to achieve their perfect day, it is well within their rights to request that kids stay home, and doesn’t make them hateful or discriminatory.

      • Mira says

        I agree with you completely. I don’t dislike children in general, it’s just that I could always better relate to people my age or older – even when I was a child myself. I love children who I can relate to – for example, my friend’s niece is three-years-old and she is so funny, and articulate and a complete and utter joy to be around. Even though she’s a child – and a young one – I find her interesting and hilarious and I really want to spend time with her. I think of her as of my little friend. So it’s not that I don’t like children per se, I just treat them as little people – and I get along better with some people than the other. For me it’s a matter of personality match. “A CHILD” to me is just a stage of life, a part of a process of growing up, of becoming a person – a transitional phase, if you will – an extremely important one, for sure – but a phase.

        But I’m not afraid to say that I really dislike rude, ill-mannered, almost feral children – then I have to remind myself that it’s not the kids, it’s the grown-ups who are to blame. Kids don’t know better. Even when I think that perhaps, maybe, potentially a kid – not a toddler, perhaps a five-year-old or older – can or should perhaps, maybe, potentially already know that a certain behaviour isn’t acceptable or that he/she could perhaps observe and see that not everyone is behaving in a certain way – even then they get a “pass” from me – for the lack of better word – because I tell myself that they weren’t thought better.

        So, really, I cannot say that I like or dislike children – I can only like or dislike people. Kids do have a huge advantage though: they can change as they grow up and get older – and that is a beautiful thing to see. I’m always happy when an ex-“wild child” becomes a delightful young person – and I make a point never ever to “remind” them of their past little-less-than-stellar behaviour – instead, I compliment their new, better behaviour. Which makes them happy.

        As for your comment about turning into a motherhood-is-the-pinnacle-of-my-life type of person: I don’t have children of my own yet, but I do know that I will try to do my best to keep a sense of self when I do – God willing – have them. I think it’s really important to have your own interests as well because I have adult friends whose parents turned them (their kids) almost into idols and now, when the kids are no longer kids, when they are grown-ups – their parents don’t know what to do with themselves and they say things like – “Now that you don’t need me anymore, you’ll leave me and – shock, horror! – go live your own life!”- I mean? Isn’t that the whole point?! To help little people become big people and live THEIR life just as their parents lived theirs?

        I used to feel guilty and I was stressed that I really, really, really don’t like „playing“ – as in with dolls, or cars – I didn’t know how to „play“ even when I was a child myself – but I love reading, and going to parks, and doing puzzle, and playing boardgames, and looking up different things on maps, and doing crosswords and sewing and watching movies and baking – so those are the things I will offer to my future children – those are my interests I will gladly share with them. Playing with dolls and cars – I’ll leave that to children their own age – their siblings, cousins and friends. If they later on show an interest into something else, I’ll respect it, and encourage them to keep at it, and I’ll do my best do support them. But I won’t pretend that those things interest me – if they don’t – because what kind of message is that?

        I would also like to say that I totally agree with Molly, Mary and Bernadette.

        • Jessica says

          I pray that when you do have children you soften your position a little on playing with them. When your 3 year old looks intently at you and asks you to please play dolls or cars with them, I doubt you will deny said request.
          “But I won’t pretend that those things interest me-if they don’t-because what kind of message is that?”
          The message is that your child’s interests matter to you and it’s an important one. Healthy relationships do not revolve solely around one persons interests.

          • Mira says

            You’re right. I really doubt I’ll deny their requests to play with them when they are little too. I’m really bad at refusing a small child’s wishes.

            But you’re also right when you say that healthy relationships do not revolve solely around one persons interests.

            I don’t see a need to pretend to be interested in something if I’m not. I can be supportive and helpful and encouraging. But as much as I’d like it, science will never be interesting to me as much as sewing and knitting and boardgames are. Why would I say it is?

          • says

            I have two kids and I don’t play on the floor with cars either. If my kids want to play with me, we find a game they and I both enjoy. If they want to play cars, they have each other! But they just LOVE sharing my interests (science, books, crafts) and don’t seem to feel deprived because I don’t play puzzles or whatever. They never even ask; those are things they like to do on their own.

      • SophieEvans says

        Yep yep yep!! It isn’t prejudice to not like being around children. Nor to choose to make your private business a child-free place. Children are not welcome everywhere. They’ve never been and they don’t have a right to be anywhere and everywhere, especially if they can’t behave appropriately. Parents refuse to address bad behavior and say oh it’s so cute these days. I don’t need to be around badly behaved children. Children who have manners are few and far between these days. It’s wrong to say those of us who don’t have children and don’t enjoy being around them constantly or enjoy being in places they are not are being selfish. Parents are selfish. You want to bring your noise and mess everywhere without thought for others. You think you have some right to go anywhere just because you want to. You think everyone should be welcoming to your children. So what if we were all children once? When a single person says “When I was a child . . .” you discount advice because that person doesn’t have children and apparently doesn’t understand human behavior. You’re ridiculous, parents.

        • Haley says

          SophieEvans, your statements are full of generalizations. Such as “Parents are selfish.” And describing children as “noise” and “mess” in misunderstanding the value of human life. It sounds like you are speaking from a place of hurt because you feel like you have been discounted. I am sorry you’ve felt that way.

    • says

      But, and maybe this wasn’t clear, I’m not saying I dislike children in general and I don’t think Melanie is speaking in the broad terms that Haley is refering too either.

      I’m not comfortable taking care of or being surround by large numbers of kids (think teacher, camp conselor or large amusement parks) and that has more to do with just understand 1) my own comfort level and 2) my skills as a person when dealing with certain age groups. I also don’t prefer to be around kids I don’t know in part because it’s very easy to get frustrated or judgemental when you don’t know anything about the child and why they’re melting down or acting the way they do and dealing with unfamiliar children in those situation is not my strong point.

      However, I don’t jump from “Please don’t ask me to babysit for the friend of your friend” to “I abhor children and everything that reminds me of their existence”. I’m not going to introduce myself as a babysitter to the new family at church, but I’ll coo over their adorable children and be supportive and encouraging if their toddler is having a rough time one Sunday over and over again.

      • Bernadette says

        This might sound funny, but I think there isn’t a problem with the feeling of not-liking-children, but there is with phrasing it that way.

        For example, I think it would be wrong for me to say, “I don’t like the elderly.” Now, the truth is, I have always felt a little uncomfortable around the elderly (other than relatives I know well). I don’t hate them, think they should be banned from malls and restaurants and flights, or wish they didn’t exist. I just feel awkward, have trouble knowing what to say, etc. Visiting nursing homes is a great charitable act, and elder care is a great vocation for some people … but those things just don’t really suit my personality and I wouldn’t be good at them, and I think that’s okay. The same goes for other people in regard to children, I think. I LOVE babies and toddlers, and worked in daycare and have children. But I get that that is not for everyone, and that’s okay too, I think. (Beyond openness to life if you are a Catholic).

  12. Erin says

    Loved this and very timely considering a recent convo on another Catholic group where it was validated that it’s ok to not invite children to Catholic weddings and it’s “ridiculous” to claim that such a thing says anything about the way a person views children and/or marriage. I just really think our society is ageist. We don’t value children and it’s no wonder that so many Catholics don’t uphold the teachings of the Church when the world, including many in the Church, don’t value children.And why don’t we value children? Because of their behavior. We are also a culture based on behaviorism. We only value people for their behavior. And we expect everyone to act the same way. We expect children to act like adults even though God designed their brain to function otherwise. And I just listened to some stats on Catholic radio about the percentage of babies with Down Syndrome who are aborted . But what do we expect with this attitude of behaviorism and placing value on people based on their behavior.

  13. says

    This reminds me of a video made by Fr. Robert Barron where he discusses people claiming to be “afraid” by children and linking it to a lot of recent horror movies wherein the protagonist is a child.
    I think it’s a sad consequence of the institutionalisation of our lives (bear in mind that I live in Scandinavia where institutions are the name of the game. SAHMS are nearly unheard of and are only just making a comeback). We overwhelmingly spend time around our own age group in daycares, kindergartens, schools, high schools, universities and other institutions of higher learning, the workplace etc. People become so used to not being around children that when they are they have no idea how to react. I also think that people who aren’t used to being around children sometimes react disproportionally to typically child-like behaviour like running around and making noises as if they expect children to behave like adults and anything except from that is what they consider bad behaviour.

    I also think that you can quite easily find people who argue that women shouldn’t be scientists or a lot of other professions in some of the darker corners of the internet, but that’s an aside.

    (Please bear in mind that this might be a little black and white. I don’t think institutions are all bad, but I do think that my society as a whole could do more to foster cross-generational community).

    • Elaine says

      I find your point about institutionalization forcing everyone to be with their own age group and therefore avoid age groups they are not comfortable with to be interesting. In the US it may not be as bad, but that is part of the reason I decided to homeschool my children. Instead of their “tribe” being kids in their own age group, their “tribe” is family members of all ages. My kids have no problem striking up conversations with adults and seniors, or playing with kids younger than they are, and tend to be remarkably well behaved in public. In the same way, institutions separate out the older generation as well. I remember visiting a village in India where an honored grandmother was being cared for in a small dirt floored room. Clean and bright, it seemed so much more civilized than the urine-soaked wards of the nursing homes I had visited in the US. When we are separated from our fellow human beings who may be different from us we are separated from our humanity it seems.

  14. Celia says

    Thank you for writing this. I’ve also come across many, many people who don’t understand the difference between a bratty (gosh, I hate that word, but I’m going to use it anyway) kid with parents who don’t parent, and a kid who’s melting down because he or she is hungry/tired/sick/etc. and whose parents still have to buy food at the grocery store or forego dinner.

    I get so uncomfortable with the “XYZ reasons for birth control” articles. We should never give up on children. And kids are smart! They KNOW when people don’t like them and are mean. What are we teaching kids as a society? 🙁

  15. Tara says

    Preach, sista! This article is showing up all over my Facebook newsfeed. You’re putting words to something that many people feel but can’t quite articulate.

  16. Kate says

    Thank you! While I wouldn’t be excited over a baby in a nice restaurant after bedtime, I would take that over an adult that has had too much to drink and is carrying on. The adults are much louder and should know better. I have had MANY more dinners & flights disrupted by grown men and women who don’t know their limits than by children. Anyone who wants to exclude children from places should probably make sure that they are never the ones drinking too much and ruining the environment for everyone else.

    I can’t believe there even would need to be rules about where you can and can’t bring children! Common courtesy would have parents not bring children certain places unless they HAVE to (flights, yes, movie theater, no), and the people around them offer grace and help when a baby or toddler isn’t doing well on a flight. For the record, we always leave our two year old home with a sitter before going out for nice dinner, because it’s more enjoyable for us too to have an evening to relax.!

  17. says

    I agree with this completely, but I have to wonder whether some of the negative attitude is being perpetuated by parents themselves.I think that it has become commonplace for parents to complain about their kids and joke about what a burden they are. – it’s in the media too.

    I know that there have been times when a childless friend of mine has come over (we have three, going on four) and sees me in a complete state of overwhelm and exhaustion and really not exuding “Children Are a Blessing” all over the place, but she’s also been witness to really sweet times with my kids as well.

    I think that if you don’t already have a strong desire to have children, being witness to the effects and sacrifices of parenting can seem downright frightening to someone who doesn’t understand the love and fulfillment that accompany all the messes and sleepless nights.

    On the one hand, I think that there should definitely be honesty about the challenges in parenting, but on the other, I think that we should be careful in how we present these things because sometimes it DOES foster preconceived resentments in other people.

    • says

      I competely agree! I do think parents are doing everyone a disservice when they constantly complain about their kids. Who would want to be pro-child when it seems like even their own parents can’t stand them?

  18. Lilla says

    This is why we follow your blog, Haley. You have your priorities straight, your head on your shoulders and you write so eloquently. I hope you won’t mind if we quote you the next time we run into someone who is rude toward us and our toddler.

  19. says

    Very, very good point Sarah. How do we strike that balance between being real and being negative?

    In past generations, it was very bad manners to ever complain. I think that’s wise. Your dear friend who has seen the less glorious side of life with young children certainly knows you are doing your best and you love those children dearly, even on the bad days!

    So often the “being real” drowns out the most beautiful part of that self-sacrifice. The culture has a hard time with self-sacrifice of any sort. We can say: “I haven’t slept past 7 in years, my house is a disaster, I know “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” by heart, and I spend my free time researching potty training methods. AND I REGRET NOTHING!” And they’ll think we’re deluding ourselves. What is the motivation/reward/point for all this craziness? The culture has a really hard time seeing it. I don’t know the solution. Being genuinely positive is probably a good way to be, even you never make any “converts” by it. Congratulations on your coming fourth child!

  20. Reginald Van Der Slythe III says

    1. Businesses should have every right to ban certain people from their restaurant, because it’s their business. Of course, if they do so they shouldn’t be surprised if they lose a lot of customers. I notice in the case of kids, though, that this doesn’t seem to be the case. Seems rather telling.

    2. It is a personal choice. I personally choose not to hang around children if their parents have not bothered to discipline them in a way that curbs their tendency toward misbehavior. I also choose not to hang around adults for similar behavior. I guess I’m prejudiced against adults now, too?

    3. Related to that, when will we discuss the writer’s prejudice against childfree people?

    4. Better yet, can we stop debasing the meaning of the words “prejudice” and “discrimination”? That might be for the best.

    • Anne Sweden says

      1. Yes, businesses do have that right. However, doesn’t it make sense to put limits on behavior rather than setting an arbitrary age limit? And as for lost business, you might on shaky ground there. I’ve quit going to several places that stopped making accommodations for children, regularly have to turn down “adult only “invitations, and so forth. It DOES make a difference, and families DO notice and go elsewhere. My friends tell me the same thing so I know it’s not just me.

      2. Haley (the author) didn’t dispute that people could make choices about who they could hang out with. She simply said it is not acceptable to DISLIKE other human beings because of their age.

      3. The writer has no prejudice against child-free couples. She has posted before on this subject with balance, understanding and grace.

      4. When someone is subjected to hateful speech, exclusion or intolerance for NO OTHER REASON than their age, how is that not discrimination and how is this “debasing” the word? In America, seniors have legally become a protected class; this is based solely on their age. Violate certain laws and you have committed an act of discrimination.

    • Hannah says

      I agree. I’m sure other parents also agree. To everyone their own, I don’t see the point of getting worked up and clutching my pearls over what other people think, as I am not insecure.

    • says

      I think Haley is making a useful analogy between age and race to make a point about “acceptable” and “unacceptable” prejudices. I do NOT think she is in any way equating the fact that parents of toddlers sometimes get the side-eye in restaurants with, say, segregation. If you read this blog much you’d know to give her the benefit of the doubt on that score.

  21. Julie says

    Honestly, I think that some of this is blowback against the prevalence of the other extreme shown — that it’s perfectly fine to take children everywhere at any time. Well, no, it’s not — for the sake of everyone involved.

    I am Gen X and my parents had my godparents or a sitter watch me if they went out late, to a fancy restaurant, or any movie that wasn’t G-rated. As for weddings, there were occasions when they were very formal affairs and young children weren’t invited. That was fine and understood.

    What exactly is wrong with adults sometimes having some time away from their children? And why isn’t it healthy for children to spend time with others, too? Don’t parents get that if they want an occasional date night that’s child-free, their insistence on bringing their kids to fancy restaurants and inappropriate movies at other times infringes on others’ enjoyment of the same?

    And that’s how we’ve gotten here. Because parents won’t employ empathy, common sense, and discipline in some cases, policies have to be put into place.

    There are many, many age-related restrictions in society that we simply deal with because, no, we can’t always do and have what we want when we want it. Children need to learn that, too.

  22. Sarah says

    The author is right about some of the fault being with the parents… badly behaved parents who are the whole reason others want to ban their children.
    I would love if there a select few restaurants that didn’t allow children, not because I hate children, but because screaming doesn’t help me digest my food, the last time I tried to have a romantic dinner with my husband it was ruined by a couple near us that brought an actual infant with them, and ignored their poor baby while he screamed the entire time, they didn’t try to pick him up or soothe him or anything! We spent almost a hundred dollars for a meal that was ruined not by a baby, but by some parents who couldn’t be bothered to pick up their crying baby.

    • Amy says

      Agreed. My husband and I were fortunate enough to be able to move tables the last time this happened to us (seated next to a loud, whiny, hungry preschooler demanding WHERE’S MY PASTA in a quiet, fine dining restaurant). I’m sorry your meal was ruined!

  23. says

    I wish the people who are so quick to criticize “bad” parents would stop and think what a difficult job our society has made of parenting. Parents aren’t allowed to discipline in public (and no matter how you do it, someone is ready to tell you you’re doing it wrong.) Parents can’t ever, even for five minutes with the doors locked and the AC on, leave their children in the car to run in anywhere, despite this statistically being SAFER than buckling the child into his car seat and driving down the road (and no one criticizes you for THAT). Parents can’t park the stroller outside the store (this is common in Sweden, for example), but shouldn’t bring the child into the store either. Mothers shouldn’t nurse in public, EVER. Parents who take their child out to a restaurant are horrible people infringing on the rights of other diners, parents who stay home are selfish, parents who work are selfish, etc., etc., etc. Seriously, people? And let me just say, that EVERY SINGLE TIME I have tried to get a sitter in the last FIVE years, I have called between five and ten people and gotten perhaps two responses (if I’m lucky) both of which were “Sorry, I’m too busy.” So am I just supposed to never go out in public until my children can be left home alone? And I notice that Society is anxious to make that decision for me, as well. I, apparently, am less able than They are to determine the maturity and abilities of my child. I think that if Society wants people to parent, Society should get out of the way and assume that parents will do a good job of it, and that Society doesn’t need to be peering over our shoulders and criticizing every decision we make. So just remember, all you people out there who can’t stand ill-behaved children in public, that the parent is probably actually doing a good job, and you’re seeing just a glimpse that does NOT give you a whole-picture idea of what children and parenting are really like. Anything a person can do will involve messes and discouraging days. The last thing anyone needs when he’s discouraged is for someone to tell him it’s all his fault, and that he isn’t qualified for the job and really shouldn’t have tried it to begin with. Especially someone who has never tried the job in question, and actually knows nothing about it whatsoever.

    • Katie says

      Yes yes yes to this comment Elizabeth. Those are completely my thoughts as I’m reading through the comments. I hear so often people immediately judging the parents if a child is acting up. They rarely know the circumstance but when there’s a crying toddler/child it’s almost always the parents fault. Sometimes a child is just difficult, sometimes it’s an off day, and it is amazing how one bad nights sleep or interrupted nap can completely turn a normally very well behaved child into a monster. This does not mean I’m a terrible parent or don’t know how to discipline my child!

      As for the rest of the article, Haley, it was absolutely wonderful as always and I love it!

    • SophieEvans says

      Whatever. Society isn’t forcing you to do anything. You are responsible for parenting and doing it properly. And there are plenty of bad parents out there with noisy, messy, all over the place children who do nothing when their children are throwing things or clanking things are shouting or being rude. NOT good parents. You can tell.

  24. Anonymous says

    I’ve been mulling something over, and please, don’t think of me as a troll for asking this, but – when people say they don’t like animals, or even specifically, they don’t like dogs, it’s usually accepted without any labeling of prejudice.

    I am in no way trying to compare children to animals; I realize there are major differences between the two. However, I really don’t see how one expression is a personal preference and the other is somehow prejudice. Animals vary by size, temperament, and level of inconvenience, just like children. But if someone says that they’re not an animal person, most people just accept that.

    I’m struggling with your sentiments here, Haley, much as I struggled with the wedding post. Yes, there’s a lot of terrible, hateful words about there from people who go far, far beyond disliking children. But I don’t think it’s prejudiced to say that you don’t like children. Some people have personalities that just aren’t cut out for dealing with children. It’s rather like how some mothers are all about the baby stage, and others toddlerhood, and others the tween years. Are they prejudiced then, for having an age preference?

    On the one hand, I get what you’re saying. Children are special and so important. On the other hand, I think that you’re very narrowly focused here, and condemning anyone who has a different point of view than your own. Not liking children is a personal preference. Some people I know who feel that way are still invested in society – they aren’t soulless monsters going around calling parents breeders and viewing their pets as children, as some like to claim.

    I really think you’re falling into the trap of acting just like the people you’re condemning here. You want people to be more broad-minded about children and acknowledge that people are different, but you’re failing to realize that there are people out there who have very different temperaments than you.

    And there are men-only clubs, just as there are female organizations, senior living centers, and hotels which cater to people without children. It’s not discrimination; these things exist because people have natural preferences. They may not be preferences that you share, but again, I think that you’re trying to force your point of view here as being morally right.

    I’m usually a fan, but in this instance, I think that you’ve got a bit of tunnel vision on this issue and aren’t looking at it from any other perspective. These posts have been a little too dogmatic for my taste.

    • Jeni says

      Because children are human beings with as much worth an dignity as any human being. Dogs are animals. I don’t care how much you love your dog, dogs do not have inherent worth because they are not endowed with human dignity.
      The fact that this is blatantly obvious shows how much our culture is in the crapper. It’s mind boggling.

  25. says

    Maybe a bit off topic:

    When adults who “don’t like kids” treat kids with disdain (eye rolling, annoyed looks, going over and saying something mean to the parent), the last thing that the child thinks is, “That person doesn’t like children in general. Probably a personal preference.”

    No, instead, the child is thinking, “That person doesn’t like ME.”

    Children are people. People with real feelings, with distinct personalities. We all were children once.

  26. Anonymous says

    There’s two separate issues here; you’ve got those who dislike children, and thus do not plan on having any, viewing that noisy/bad behaviour in children in public is extremely annoying, and usually not dealt with fairly (for example, if I was to throw food everywhere, or start bawling my head off in the middle of a restaurant, the establishment would likely throw me out- not so with children) . These are the people who don’t want to have children because of the mess- the people you’re condemning the FB posts of, who say nothing more than “I don’t want kids because I couldn’t deal with them”, usually.

    Then you’ve got the caustic, hyper-aggressive CF people- the kind who use stupid terms such as “moo”, who should be taken as an aggressive minority and shunned. Or just ignored as you turn the other cheek.

    Please don’t lump everyone together; this is similar to how I don’t assume everyone says “Oh, you do want kids really” or “You’ll change your mind”, or healthcare authorities in my country saying “We do not offer the most reliable form of sterilization or offer any forms at all to anyone under 30, because you may change your mind” (bear in mind until very recently you needed to have three children AND be over 30). There is, I feel, a real argument to be made by the CF people; if you can ignore the caustic tools who label people “moos”, “breeders” et al., then you have a crux of “I want control over my body. I do not wish for children, and I am trying to be responsible about this, but I’m not allowed to be, because society tells me that I should want children! I also find that children are given too much leeway for bad behaviour in public. Because of this leeway given, I will attempt to avoid children.”

    Sure, child-free restaurants are not a good idea. Neither is labelling CF people selfish (common accusation), or those that love children “Moos”.

    At the end of the day, I don’t like most children, and I don’t think I’d be a good parent. Thus, I try to avoid children, and do not plan on having any. For this, society says I’m selfish, amongst other things, and that I’m stupid, or that I’ll change my mind. This ties in mainly with sexism; the concept that every woman wants children (notably easier for men to get sterilized) is at the root of this, I feel. There’s also issues with what I feel is overleniency on public misbehaviour of children, but that’s unlikely to change, I feel.

  27. Lindsay says

    Wow. Wow. Wow. Amazing. Perfect.
    That was a fantastic article, and I wish the world could read it.
    Some people in the world need to respect the fact that, sadly, life is not just about their own personal contentment at all times.

  28. Crux Fidelis says

    It is stupid and illogical to say “I don’t like children”. However it is not illogical to dislike the way some parents allow their children to disturb the peace of others. As a result of the free expression espoused by Benjamin Spock and others in the 60s everywhere seems to be a playground nowadays – supermarkets, restaurants, – even church. So many modern parents seem to be loath to curb the behaviour of their offspring. Children should be taught to be considerate and mindful of the needs of others.

  29. Daniel Salisbury says

    Hi Haley,

    Excellent points throughout. In the few hours this has been up, it’s provided a saddening exposition of prejudice, not just against children, but against childbearing adults.

    I’ve been told before that I didn’t want enough children, or that I wasn’t having children soon enough. Most people would agree that this is an overstep and is offensive. In fact, sharing this story rightly leads to outrage and frustration among 90% of those that hear it.

    However , the other side of this coin, discrimination and abuse of people who choose to exercise their fertility to a greater degree than what may be the current norm, is rampant and widely accepted in terms of social behavior.

    If I speak ill of a woman because she is pursuing a fruitful career or not married by a certain age, I am justly condemned. However, if in the same circle I speak ill of a woman who has elected to stay home and responsibly raise a large number of children (and has the audacity to expect to be viewed as a functioning, normal and dignified member of society) I will likely find many friends. This is reprehensible and has to stop.

    I do not endorse irresponsible conception or parenting. I support business operators who do not tolerate parents allowing their children to cause chaos unrestrained in their establishments. But the painting of whole groups of parents based on the actions of these ill suited or ineffectual parents is the hallmark of real prejudice.

  30. Steph says

    Haley, I wasn’t sure if I would agree with this when I saw the title, but bravo. You respond so eloquently to that FB.

    I can see many reasons for not having children. I think people who choose not to have children should be supported in their decision, even if it is because they personally think kids are inconvenient.

    But I agree with you: children are just people, and I think much of the “anti-child” movement is grounded in a fantasy of control over the world. It may not be the sort of fantasy that leads to violence or oppression, as in the worst forms of misogyny or racism, but it belies the sort of “me me me” individualism that has spread around our country and that causes real harm to people.

    Thank you for opening this discussion!

  31. says

    Thank you for addressing this. I saw the original article, which I believe was meant to be ironic, but unfortunately many people showed their hand with their comments. The truth is that with the acceptance of abortion, children have become marginalized. If it’s okay to kill a child before they take their first breath, certainly it’s acceptable to say prejudicial things about them. We, sadly, live in a society where people believe it’s okay to approach a woman in a grocery store with four beautiful children and ask her in a snide manner if all these children are hers or if she knew how to prevent this (having children) from happening again, leaving the mother angry and insulted and the children old enough to wonder if there’s something wrong with them.

    In a society where abortion is readily available and acceptable, it is no surprise that making prejudicial and hateful comments about children is prevalent. We have lost respect for the basis of society: the family and the amazing children that will one day give humanity another chance to get it right.

  32. Zuzanna says

    Good points.
    However, in my country there’s such pressure on having children that such attitude you describe is almost inexisting.

    I agree noisy children aren’t any more annoying from noisy adults and it’s simply discrimination. Personally I find children noise much more bearable 😉

    I just think some parents should use some common reason when taking their children out, because in most cases children are overly noisy when they are tired or uncared of. I have impression that sometimes people forget that little children get tired and bored much faster than themselves. It’s not only the noise but also it’s unpleasant when I see a little child is tired while their parents decide to enjoy themselves. It’s probably an overreaction, because when you don’t have kids you tend to get freaked out by such things.

    But when it comes to some events like concerts, in fact nobody who makes noise is tolerated, because it does spoil the event for others. As for Catholic holy mass (I don’t know how about other Churches), it’s important to participate and focus during whole liturgy, so there is a huge difference between somebody with a Tourette who focus but can’t help saying something aloud, and a child who just doesn’t participate in the mass. Of course such matters should be explained tactfully to believers.

  33. Sarah says

    I literally love every word of this article! I have always thought there is something wrong with this way of seeing things, yet never knew the right word for it! I am a stay at home mom of 3 -soon to be four- and prior to that I taught kindergarten, and daycare. Society treats me like I have wasted my life because I spent it entirely with children. I love them so much, I would not have it any other way. Blessings! thank you for writing this!

  34. Kelsey says

    I haven’t read all of the comments, due to lack of time, but Haley, I really appreciate what you wrote. And I totally agree. Some of the comments I did read through were written by people who argue that they really don’t prefer to be around children but are not “anti-child” per say. To that I will say, (and I realize I will not be recommending myself to these people,) why on earth does your “preference” matter on this issue? We all have preferences of various levels of importance, but I am so sick and tired of people thinking that their individual likes and dislikes are even significant in the grand scheme of things. The particular issue of children being “preferred” or not can only go back so far as the widespread acceptance/availability of birth control and abortion. I’m NOT saying that everyone should relish playing kiddie games with children or enjoy their interrupions, etc., but I think it’s totally misguided and disgusting to treat children as something that can or should be avoided.

    I just had a conversation with my mother last night about couples that choose not to have children. She thinks differently on this matter than I do, and she seemed to think that I was condemning these couples. I’m not; I can’t know all the circumstances of their decisions, and like Haley said, it’s not my business. But I can have a rational opinion on the matter. Children are a gift and, furthermore, a necessary and natural part of humanity. I am so troubled by the mindsets of those who think otherwise.

  35. says

    As a childfree person who was directed to your article I have to say that you seem to argue your case with more eloquence than most. While I couldn’t swallow your “human soul made in the image of God” line -my religious views being far less orthodox than yours – I commend you for being able to argue your case so much more intelligently than the usual “childfree are spawn of satan” article that one reads so often.

    However, I take exception to: (Quote) And not wanting to be around children because you don’t like them is not “a personal preference”

    I’m sorry, but it is. In your case, you like children, and chose to have them. As far as I know there is no Western country that prevents someone in your position from doing so. In fact, most of them will actually you pay you money and give you tax breaks to do so, in order to buy your vote. But your choice is not universal. There exists many who (a) have no wish to produce or nurture children, and (b) find them unattractive, revolting or intrusive. Should the wishes of these people not also be respected?

    Your analogy with racism (or scientists) is spurious in the extreme, for this reason. All humans are subject to certain constraints. Human rights are not universal – they are modified by the rights of other humans. For example, you might have the right to freedom of speech, to worship in your own way or read whatever books you like, but you do not have the right to run a jackhammer at 3AM or shoot off a pistol in a crowded theater. The price we pay to live in society is that we must behave in a certain manner. If a scientist, or (insert whatever race a bigot dislikes here) started throwing food around in a restaurant, screaming at the top of their lungs in a crowded plane or urinating on the floor they would be evicted. If an adult, perhaps because of a mental illness, could not refrain from doing such things a system exists both to protect them and protect others from their actions.

    Children are in the same position. Their mental development is not such that they can behave in an acceptable manner. Therefore, those that choose to produce them contract to both protect them and prevent their excesses being problem for others. There are some parents that do this, but, sadly, many regard their duty as completed once they give birth. And others are forced to have their lives ruined by parents that let their children run wild. Surely the adults that support these children – buy way of taxes, or working to provide the infrastructure that children use but can’t be expected to pay for, – are entitled to some rights for their services. The rights to their own likes and dislikes, at least.

    Personally, I’ve never felt a need to tale myself elsewhere because of the way someone else eats peas or laughs, or because of their race. The sight of a baby, dribbling food down its cheeks, howling at the top of its lungs or waddling around in the curious, unstable motion of the young gives the wish to be elsewhere, fast! There are certain places designed for those who do not wish to be around children to frequent – could not people who have chosen to procreate respect this?

    • Bernadette says

      I think it depends what is meant by “personal preference.” Not to have children, or seek them out, or work in a field where you deal with them frequently, is a personal preference. But not to ever, ever be around them — is just not practical or realistic.

      I agree there are places where children don’t really belong … in bars, out late at night, adult rated movies (I actually think movie theaters are unsuitable and unhealthy for all young children, regardless of the movie showing). I like to think that if a child is in some of those unsuitable places, it’s an usual situation for the parents, and unavoidable, or done for some good reason. If I don’t want to eat in a restaurant full of noisy kids, I don’t go to Friendly’s. If I go to Friday’s at 9 pm on a weekend, I don’t expect to see babies and kids … but I know that I have occasionally had to take my baby to less-than-suitable places at less-than-appropriate-times due to traveling or other unusual circumstances. (And I would try to get the babies to not be too disruptive, or take them out if I had to; I hope most parents would.)

      So I guess I see a big difference between not-going-out-of-your-way-to-be-around-kids and wanting to outlaw kids from large swaths of public life!

      • says

        Bernadette I have to say that this makes a certain degree of sense. There are places perfectly suitable for children – restaurants set up to cater for them, for example. I don’t think too many adults (even, as I gather from my occasional lurking there, at “Bratfree”) that think it reasonable to complain at McDonalds or Chuck-e-Cheese , if they are disrupted by children screaming. But I (or, presumably, they) *do* have a right not to go to such places.

        Unfortunately your hope (that parents remove disruptive children) is rarely realized. Unfortunately the source of much of the childfree/parent discord is that all too often, parents simply allow their child to cry, scream, run around, or otherwise spoil the enjoyment of others and make no effort to restrain them. It’s understandable that parents think that their child is the center of the universe – but others, who do not share those genes don’t feel the same way.

        Banning anyone from public places if their behavior disturbs others is a perfectly reasonable move. And (see mine, earlier) unfortunately children are prone to do this. And many adults do not think a screaming child is cute… sorry, but it’s a fact.

    • says

      I’m just curious where you think children should be kept from? Should there be no family restaurants or children’s sections in libraries or play structure in parks? I’m genuinely curious where these infractions are taking place.

      • says

        Molly, you probably did not get the chance to read my earlier comment as it hadn’t been moderated at the time. I think parks, child friendly restaurants, play areas, theme parks, etc are perfectly reasonable places for children to be. However, if an adult does not wish to go there, and acts on their wish, because they dislike the company, surely they have that right?

        I can’t act as a spokesman for the childfree in general, or the “Bratfree” site (presumably their opinions vary as much as any other group) but for me, the infractions take place in areas like exclusive restaurants, bars, movie theaters showing non-childfree movies. Public areas like planes are an interesting case. People with children sometimes have no choice but to use them, but people also have a right not to be harassed. Maybe a soundproofed “family” section on flights might be a good idea.

        I guess where the childfree and the reproducer (just what *is* an acceptable word here btw? I dislike “breeder” and other pejorative terms) differ is that the childfree regard having children as another optional lifestyle choice, whereas many parents feel that it is somehow a heroic act entitling them to special privileges. To be frank, the “miracle of birth” thing starts to seem a little tired in a world with 7 billion plus people.

          • Bernadette says

            Thank you. Molly, for clarifying that! Not all parents are “breeders” or “reproducers” — adoptive and foster parents are parents, too! And of course, sometimes aunties, grandparents, and friends are helping care for children and must go out into the real world with them at times 🙂

      • Kelsey says

        I agree that there may be places/situations where it is more appropriate for adults only to be present. I also agree that parents should take responsibility for their children and restrain them from outlandish or dangerous behavior. However, a baby “dribbling food down its cheeks” or “waddling around” is not displaying poor behavior, and the parents cannot and should not be expected to “correct” something like that. That is ridiculous. Of course, you may choose to excuse yourself from that situation, just as someone may choose not to visit their great-grandmother because she likewise dribbles food down her face when eating or has difficulty walking. But you know what? Those hang-ups are your problem, and honestly I would say that, in the interest of living a full life, you may want to get over them. The idea that people can “liberate” themselves from dependents and others who make them uncomfortable – it’s not liberating at all. You are restricting yourself to the company of the select few you find least offensive and most promoting of your immediate enjoyment. I pray for all of our sakes that the next generation is more tolerant of these “unwanteds,” or we’ll all be in a pretty sorry spot when we find ourselves in diapers for the second round.

  36. Doriann says

    It is absolutely is wrong to say you don’t like children!!!
    We do not have the right to indulge every aspect of our temperaments, personalities, view points etc….
    It’s wrong for parents to indulge in a nice dinner out with a cranky child in tow, just because they should “have the right to do what they want . ”
    It’s wrong for an adult to roll their eyes and other wise make parents with cranky kids feel uncomfortable because they have a “right to say what they feel.” Free speech is a legal term not a moral one. No one has the moral right to express everything they feel. (Unless, of course, you are a baby;)
    We all need to grow up. A little self-denial goes a long way.

  37. Katie Strand says

    This is such an awesome article. I couldn’t believe the 26 Reasons Birth Control Exists one. As a preschool teacher I have instigated some of the biggest messes I’ve ever seen! More than once I’ve gone to school Saturday to clean up the Friday art. I also end up washing paint out of children’s hair and from behind their ears far more often than I would have expected.
    As far as children being banned from places I cannot believe it, especially church services. Our parish had a cry room for many years but during a remodel the parish had it removed, at least half of our parish is composed of young families, so it only made sense. But I rather enjoy the buzz of noise so many young children create. It has never been so bothersome as to get a comment at the council and I know several families that drive farther to attend because they feel so welcome.

  38. Jack says

    I can see this issue from both sides. I’m 22, in college, not married. I can understand being frustrated by unruly kids in public places (I work in retail, so I’m no stranger to the situation). But I highly doubt any parent worth their salt actually *approves* of such behavior. I know parenting isn’t easy, and when a little kid is acting up, the last thing te parent needs is some stranger’s passive-aggressive comments about how “some people need to control their kids”.

    • Jeni says

      Exactly. What’s worse behavior is an adult who knows better passing judgement on a situation they likely know nothing about.

      Coming from the lowly exhiles of special need parenting world, there’s a lot of behavior we special needs moms can’t control. We’re talking disabilities here. Sure in a vacuum every kid should be taught respectful behavior yada yada.

      BUT UNTIL YOUVE WALKED IN A SPECIAL NEEDS MOMS SHOES–watched your kid suffer, suffered for your child, had your heart broken and been humbled by judgemental strangers who have no empathy whatsoever — say nothing, don’t judge anyone because you never know what hardships and what road blocks are in their way.

      If everyone learned empathy (this is why special needs kids are the best and biggest blessings around) then the world would really know love — which is on par with self sacrifice.

      You can’t have love without sacrifice. Just can’t. Sorry.

  39. says

    Hi Haley…I thought your post was really well done. I am not going to read all the long comments because they’ll just make me mad…but I want to say…weren’t we ALL children at one point??

    Enjoying your blog 🙂

    • Julie says

      Yeah, we were, and I think that’s part of the point. There is NO way I would have gotten away with the behavior or the sense of entitlement that permeates the displays many of the children today put on in public. Going out to eat was a treat and a privilege, and we weren’t even taken to restaurants until we understood that fact and would behave accordingly. Same with shopping. If I whined or begged, we were out of there and I would be standing in the corner when we got home. I didn’t have to do that often.

      I raised my son the same way and it was more difficult because I was a single working parent in grad. school and had no family nearby to help. I had to do a lot of problem-solving, find creative solutions, and build a network of support. My son knew that we had to be a team and that things worked well with cooperation. There was no entitlement, except love. It makes a difference.

      I kind of don’t blame young people who fear children and parenthood when they see how out-of-hand the sense of entitlement and expectations have become. Everything, from birthday parties and vacations to clothing and toys, is over-the-top compared to how my generation was raised. And everything is organized and controlled by adults — even playtime! “Play dates?” Really? We just walked up to other kids’ houses, knocked on the door, and asked if they could play.

      So, yeah, we were children and we remember. That’s why we don’t get this.

      • Mira says

        Thank you so much for your eloquent and succinct comment!

        I agree with everything you wrote wholeheartedly.

        It seems you raised your son right. He is lucky to have had such an amazing mother. 🙂

  40. says

    I love kids. I love hanging out with them. I love it when I see parents doing their best to raise good citizens and happy people. I also feel that for a *premium* there should be kid free places. It seems like rated R movies would be that place, yet people do bring kids to them.

    The thing is that there are already “kid free” places, but irresponsible parents take them places they shouldn’t go. The problem is not the kids, kids are awesome. The problem is parents that don’t understand where or when kiddos aren’t appreciated, and the ones that do a disservice to their kids by not teaching them to act well in public.

  41. Seconal Sally says

    As someone with Aspergers and sensory issues, I can’t stand being around anything that screams/cries/does other loud, unpredictable things for no good reason. That includes a number of animals, machines and people–some of whom happen to be children.

    It’s ridiculous to walk into a store and see screaming kids hanging off shelves and being destructive. That comes down to bad parenting mostly, but as they say “kids will be kids”. Fine, we were all children at one point. But as a consenting adult, I have the right to live peacefully without the ruckus and mayhem that (many) children inevitably create. I chose not to have kids for this very reason…why should I be subjected to someone else’s snotty screaming mess? I’m not forcing anyone to live my childfree lifestyle, so why should you be able to force your children into my existence?

    For the record, I don’t hate kids. I just value peace and quiet and order and solitude. Kids can be funny, sweet and intuitive beyond their years and we could all learn a lot from them. But that doesn’t mean I should HAVE to accommodate them everywhere I go.

    Childfree people are still the minority in this society. We are pressured by family, friends, co-workers and the media to have children constantly. We’re treated as if something is wrong with us for not wanting to reproduce. When we say we don’t want kids, we’re told “You’ll change your mind!” Ever heard someone say that to a pregnant woman?

    Parents are finally getting a taste of what it feels like to have their lifestyle scrutinized, and yes, it sucks. I wish people on both sides would respect each others’ decisions, but it goes both ways.

    • Haley says

      “I wish people on both sides would respect each others’ decisions”

      Then I suggest that you don’t refer to other human beings as a “snotty screaming mess.” Children have every right to be in public places. That is hardly “forcing children into” your “existence.” Other people do exist and live and walk out about in the world. I’m sorry that it’s so difficult for you to be around children, but it seems very unreasonable to expect 1/4 of the population to stay inside so you don’t have to encounter them. No one has that right. Even as a “consenting adult.”

      • Alan Smith says

        Hate to mention it but children and babies DO spend most of their time screaming and almost inevitably have mucous streaming from their nostrils. However much you may disagree with the person’s opinion you can’t fault the accuracy of the description.

        • Haley says

          Alan, if a child is spending “most of their time screaming and almost inevitably have mucous streaming from their nostrils” they should be taken to see their pediatrician. None of the dozens of children I spend time with on regular basis spend most of their time screaming or have runny noses unless they are ill. It is a completely inaccurate description of children. Furthermore, I stand by the claim that referring to a human being as “someone’s mess” as “Seconal Sally” did is inappropriate and highly disrespectful.

        • says

          Hate to mention it, but unless they’re sick most babies do not spend most of the their time expelling mucus and screaming. There is no accuracy in that description.

          An accurate decription would that babies do not have the ability to communication via spoken language and therefore use crying and sometimes screaming to address issues like hunger, pain and discomfort. And babies do have the ability to care for their own bodily functions, therefore normal bodily functions like expelling mucus, acid reflux and diarrhea are more noticable. None of these things are being done on purpose purely to inflict discomfort or inspire anger in another member of the population.

          • Alan Smith says

            Please note I commented not on the ethics of the babies in question – I do comprehend that creatures with undeveloped brains cannot be fairly judged by adult standards – but on the accuracy of Sally’s description. The fact that a baby can’t help its nose running or its ear-splitting wails does not make it any more pleasant to be around.

          • Haley says

            Regardless, what you claimed is an “accurate description” of babies and children is far from accurate, Alan, as anyone who has spent time with children can attest.

    • says

      You don’t want to be around my kids – you think they’re a snotty, screaming mess.

      Is it okay if I don’t want to be around you and your Aspergers and sensory issues – I think you’re just a weirdo?

      No, it’s not okay. In fact, I’m pretty sure that you’re a great person and though I may need to learn about you and what works best for you it would be worth the effort. I wish you felt the same way about children. I wish you afforded them the same dignity.

      • J.V. says

        Seconal Sal, this thread in the comments touched a nerve with me because my youngest brother has Aspergers. He is an adult now, but as a child he was quite difficult – his struggles to follow social cues and “acceptable behaviour” meant that many times people would cast disapproving looks at us in public, and I remember strangers thinking that he was “spoilt” or “immature”. That experience taught me that you can never know why someone is behaving in a way that doesn’t fit with what you expect or want from another person. The shop assistant who doesn’t smile when serving me? Maybe their dad is dying. A co-worker who gets frustrated when I make an honest mistake? Maybe they have an anxiety disorder and are under the pump. Child who seems to be throwing a tantrum when their parents should just do a better job of disciplining them? That might have been my (beautiful) brother …

        I don’t think we can be prejudiced against people because they make us uncomfortable.

        Thanks for reading my little input 🙂

        (I’m replying to you via Bonnie because I think she makes a good point.)

  42. Doriann says

    Hi Haley,
    Wow, I’ll admit that I have been somewhat distracted by this “debate” for the past 2 days. As a mom of six, between the ages of 2 and 11, I am fairly used to the anti-big family thing. I am aware that a group of people think that a least 4 of my children are products of “irresponsible conception.” My children may at times be to loud in the grocery store, but there “annoying ” behavior is far less ordinary than the annoying behavior of undisciplined adults . We are often subjected to such inappropriate comments as “you need a tv in your bedroom” or “that one looks like he could be the mailman’s son.” Adults seem to have no problem mentioning to us that it is irresponsible to have that 3rd baby when there are so many poor children who need homes. I wonder if I could open a “no adults allowed who don’t know how to keep their mouths shut ” store.
    I was unaware, however, that there is such a thing as people who feel that they have the right to not be bothered with children. ( your log cabin in the woods, ok… But in public? No way)
    I was kinda angry about these guys until I read a comment about how 7 billion lives can’t all be miracles, and now I think I’m just sad. This is a far greater problem. Being annoyed that parents bring their poorly behaved kids to expensive restaurants can’t possibly cause the anger and hateful terminology that I have seen related to this post. If someone can’t see the dignity in each new life , how on earth can they see the dignity that they were created with? If you can not see the dignity in parenthood, how can you see the dignity in your own vocation? If dignity in general is something we earn than it is something that we can easily loose. What a sad way to live.
    May I suggest that we pray for those people who don’t like kids, and those people who don’t like parents with imperfect children ? Maybe we could offer each other cheerful encouragement when we see someone struggling with their child’s crankiness in public?
    Being a parent is a learn as you go job. I am sure all of us imperfect parents have room to improve. But, in my experience, judgmental comments and looks don’t help anyone become a better parent.
    Thank you for this post.

    • Laura says

      Hi Doriann,
      This is just a little off topic, but what do you think when people point out that there are many poor children who need homes? Have you had this fact pointed out to you many times or just one memorable occasion? I’m on the opposite side of the spectrum from you- I have a small family and not by choice. Adoption is something that people often bring up in response to families struggling with infertility. I’d really love to hear a mother of many’s thoughts/justifications for pursuing biological parenthood many times over. I mean, I know about the Church’s teachings on the unitive and procreative wonders of married sex…. but what do you think when someone says why have so many kids when you should be adopting (beyond just feeling offended, or that the person is implying that your children shouldn’t be here).

      Congrats on your big family. To be clear- I am not someone who would suggest you were being immoral by giving birth to children instead of adopting. I am just a part of a population that is often encouraged to adopt and have often wondered why that suggestion is pointed so strongly at people with infertility when it seems to have the same relevance to just about everyone

      Haley- I hope you don’t mind me asking a slightly off topic question.

      • says

        I have a small family, not by choice as well. People need to be “called” to adopt. Adoption is a wonderful thing, but can be very complicated and full of it’s own issues and not to be taken lightly. We, of the small families, should be able to say honestly whether or not we feel it is the right direction for our family. For some it is, and for others it may never feel “right”.

        We all want those children to have loving, safe homes, but it doesn’t mean that we’re meant to be that provider.

      • Doriann Kozak says

        Hi Laura,
        This suggestion has been made a few, memorable times. I agree the logic seems to apply to everyone. I would suggest the logic is poor.
        Truthfully, my husband and I aren’t against the idea. (We love children! Even the ones who cry and have runny noses;) If we could afford overseas adoption we would seriously consider it. If our children were older we would be open to the foster/adoption system in our state. Neither of these are realistic options for us, and neither would alter our moral obligation to accept the lives our Lord has sent us “naturally.”
        The Church’s teachings on the sanctity of Life and the holiness of the sex when truthfully reflecting the relationship of Christ and His Church, are all I need to confirm the morality of giving birth to more than two children. would you allow me to expand a bit?
        Human Life is good. It is the greatest created good here on earth. The earth itself is finite, my two year old has an immortal soul. She has infinitely more worth than all the planets, animals, moon and stars combined. I am quite sure that heaven rejoiced when she was conceived less than eight weeks after her sister was born. Many people gave us the scornful “how could you let this happen” look. Many others wanted to give us pity for our misfortune. But I am sure that heaven knew her, loved her, and could never do without her, even though she is an “unplanned “sixth child. When I come before the Lord in judgment, I am sure that I will not hear “Well Doriann, numbers 1 and 3 are ok, but I could have done without numbers 2, 4, 5, and6.”
        My children, all children, are the greatest good, greatest hope of this world. Isn’t it my moral obligation to add to the good of the world in all ways I am able, and my vocation calls me too?
        Laura, I think adoption is also a good, but it is a call too service, and not a call “save ” someone. You are not being selfish by wanting more children naturally. Wanting to grow the Kingdom of God not selfish, its holy. If Our Lord is calling you to adopt then He will put the desire in your heart, and the ways and means within your reach.
        May I make one more point. ..
        I know families who have adopted children from both overseas and through the state. I don’t believe that any of them look at their children as someone they “rescued” from poverty. They look at their children the way I look at mine, as a totally undeserved blessing from the Father. We are blessed so much more by all of our children than we could ever bless them.
        Please know that you will be in my prayers today.
        May God bless you on this journey.

  43. says

    Stuff like this makes me want to go live in the middle of nowhere with my family and never have to see any more people ever for the rest of my life!

  44. Laurel says

    Haley, thanks. I’ve always liked kids, and my husband and I want our own. But I’ve also always been one of those people who’s so annoyed by “running loud and wild” kiddos in public places. I think it’s mostly because I was a painfully shy kid raised never to DARE to do anything that would embarrass my mother in public, so “hey why can’t they just CONTROL their kids the same way?”

    The more I read your blog (and other blogs by moms and dads just doing their best to lead their kids to Jesus), and talk to my kid-blessed friends, the more my heart opens. They’ve opened my eyes to what it truly means to be a parent, and that there is no “perfect child” formula. There’s only consistent hard work and more love than a person ever thought they could feel.

    I don’t like to admit this, but the irritation still shows up first at really rowdy kids. But slowly, I’m learning to let compassion take over instead and realize I have no more claim over this public space than anyone else.
    Truly destructive actions do have to be addressed by management.
    But in the smaller moments, when it’s simply that rambunctious little one who wants to meet everyone in the place while his mama does her best to soothe the new baby AND keep her eyes on the kid that’s “unleashed”… maybe, just maybe, I can let all that bundled-up energy refresh my spirit.

  45. Cecilia says

    Haley, I didn’t comment when you first posted this because I didn’t feel a need to. I agreed with you, and I had no idea this would rile up so many people. But it did, and I want to thank you for writing this post. I agree with you, and I am grateful that you had the courage to say this and the writing ability to say it so eloquently. Thank you for this. It is beautiful.

  46. says

    I agree 100% children are people, too, and should be treated as such. A world without children would quickly die off. It’s absurd that some people think their right to not be annoyed is greater than a child’s right to exist and be in public.

  47. Anna says

    Children are people, and they do have rights. They have the right to be protected and loved and cared for. However they do not have the same rights as adults because they are not yet emotionally, intellectually or behaviorally mature enough to take care of themselves, make good decisions or conduct themselves appropriately in public. This fact is reflected in the laws of countries around the world.

    There are many annoyances in life created by people other than children. But unlike a child, that 30 year old in a wheelchair or the 80 year old holding up sidewalk traffic with a walker waited his turn and has the right to the same rights all adults have. A child has not. Even the most well behaved baby cries. Even the most wonderful toddler will throw a tantrum from time to time. It’s what they do – no one is blaming them for that.

    What people are asking for are spaces they can go where they can be assured of avoiding this type of behavior which really is the exclusive domain of children. Nice restaurants where the ambiance and pleasure of a $150 meal isn’t shattered by a shrieking infant. Airplane flights where adults can get some sleep. Movie showtimes (particularly when they’re late at night and/or have an adult rating) that are free of child-caused interruptions. These are reasonable requests.

    Part of the problem is that many parents have the attitude that they are doing the world a favor by having children rather than simply propagating their own genes, and it’s the world’s job to be understanding if their child has a fit in public rather than trying their absolute best to limit their children’s impact on other people. This attitude only increases the desire of people like myself to seek out child-free spaces where I don’t have to be subjected to unpleasant child behaviors.

  48. Jessica says

    The level of ignorance in a lot of these comments from the anti-child group is just laughable. As a parent of 2 young children, I do agree that not every space is appropriate for them. Expensive restaurants, theaters, nail salons, etc. But there are a lot more of us parents trying our hardest to raise our children right then they seem to think. Perhaps they should get to know some children a little better rather then judging them all based on the fussy snippets they might see in the course of a day.

  49. abcdaysofbeingamom says

    It takes alot of boldness and setting your face as flint to write this post. I agree with you 200%. The bible is a reference and there are sooooo many scriptures about children, one is; “Children are a gift from the Lord”. We were once children, we grew through babyhood to become adults so why treat the ones who are at the stage we were 30 plus years ago? We want to take a house and the owner says “no children needed”, well I have a child so that house is not for me.
    God is my standard any day anytime devoid of what standards this world will set.

  50. says

    I don’t know if this comment will shed any light on the issue, and I’m not saying that every commenter who said they didn’t want kids because of the mess had this reasoning, but maybe this will spark a little thought and a whole lot of vulnerable truth. Also, please read the whole thing before deciding my internet fate.

    I am 28 years old and I do not have children. (I was, however, the sole caretaker for two of my nephews for over a year and half so I have “parented”.) On a normal day it isn’t uncommon to hear me, or a friend I’ll call Carol, to say something like, “I don’t have kids because I like to give myself a facial in peace” or “Hear that screeching? That’s why I don’t have kids.” One night she and I were talking and sipping margaritas to congratulate ourselves on finishing our books by deadline. Somehow, the conversation starting getting kind of intense and real, which happens with friends. At one point she said, “You know, I always wanted to have a baby.” When I asked her why she hadn’t (she’s beyond menopause now) she said, “I didn’t have anyone to have kids with.” I was kind of quiet for a minute but I finally told her, “I can’t have kids.” When I was a teenager I had to have a surgery that removed my ovaries. I actually would love to have a baby. I always wanted to have kids. Sure, there are options like adoption, but that doesn’t make reality any less difficult.

    The point I’m trying to make is this: sometimes when someone has seemingly trivial reasons for a big decision, maybe there’s something they aren’t telling you. Maybe there’s something painful going on for that person and it’s easier to be flippant than honest with complete strangers. Maybe all some of those people are doing is trying to convince themselves. Most people do not actually hate children.

  51. Heather says

    This isn’t a “hate” post – just an opinion from a mother with 3 children of my own. My oldest is headed off to college in the fall. As a family we do not care for going out to eat and having an unruly child nearby. It is unfair to the patrons of the restaurant as well as selfish of the parents to expect others to deal with their issues. Our children were always well behaved in a restaurant. Bad behavior was NOT tolerated and our children KNEW it. All three of our children attempted the behavior I have witnessed in public eateries. We first told them their behavior would NOT be tolerated. If it continued one of us would leave the table immediately and take the child to the car where they waited for the rest of the family to finish their meal. This really only had to happen once or twice for the kids to learn. THE best part is that my kids (even as young as 7&8) used to look with disgust as unruly children run around the tables, scream, yell and toss food haphazardly. YES children DO do these things, but good parents teach them this is unacceptable. Remember – we are raising citizens of the future and common courtesy is expected. It is no different than banning smoking in bars and restaurants it is bothersome to those who want to enjoy their meal. Just like it is rude to speak on your cell phone in a restaurant some adults still can’t comprehend that. In this economy when people spend their money out to eat they want it to be a pleasant experience. It is only expected that others abide by common courtesy. It isn’t prejudiced towards children – it is expecting the general public to behave properly and it is a parents responsibility to admonish poor behavior and reward good. If your children can not behave, then leave them home.

    • Rachel says

      I agree with a lot of this article as well, but I also share this sentiment. I have three young children whom I homeschool, and love spending time with. I spend much of my time with them, and don’t even get four hours at a time without any one of them during the night because of health issues.

      Then, when I have paid for a babysitter for the evening, and go to a nice restaurant to eat, I expect not to have to listen to tantrums or screams while I eat.

      Once when our older children were still toddlers, we were sitting in a restaurant when one of them got very upset. My husband asked me to go outside with the child until he was calm. My first reaction was that I had paid to be here, and everyone else can just deal with it or ignore it. But I realized that, yes, we all have paid to be there, but let’s not spoil the atmosphere of pleasant dining for everyone.

      As a mother, I cannot sit and enjoy my food when your child is screaming and being generally disruptive. Please be respectful of the environment, and if your child is not ruining the environment for others, I say by all means, take them to that fancy restaurant. But know when to remove him/her for the sake of the others.

      Just two months ago, I had a very traumatic miscarriage. In an effort to console me, my husband took me out to eat, and there in the restaurant was a mother of a new baby who was not happy to be out in the cold world at age 4 days. You imagine for yourself the rest of my meal sitting there while that entitled mother finished her food, then proceeded to visit with her guests while her baby kept fussing.

      It’s all about respect – both ways!

    • Kelli says

      Amen! I agree. I would welcome well-behaved children with open arms nearly anywhere. But sometimes parents need to learn when to remove their children from locations when they are being disruptful to the point of disrespectful. Especially if those locations are not family-oriented. If I go to Chuck E Cheese, I expect screaming kids, messes, and craziness. If I’m at church, I want to be able to hear the sermon, not your child. If I’m on an airplane – I could care less since you can’t leave – just don’t employ the “cry it out” method there and I’m good (heck, I’ll even hold the kid if YOU need a break!) I think a lot of people are just losing sight of respecting everyone and instead saying that they want inclusion and respect by being able to allow their kids to do anything anywhere. Um, what about teaching your kids respect for others? Or that there is a time and place for everything? Kids are kids – let them be kids! ….just have the ability to be aware of your surroundings and if you need to utilize that “cry room” at church or take a second outside so talk to your child about how to best address their frustrations. If a parent knows and utilizes those things, then bring on the kiddos!!

  52. says

    I’ve never thought of it as prejudice before. That was an interesting spin. Good food for thought.

    I will say, I once visited a church that would not let my daughter in the sanctuary (no kids under 2) and I was pissed off. That is discrimination. And un-biblical. And I still get angry thinking about it.

  53. Theresa says

    I have noticed also that most people feel very inconvenienced by having children, even those who claim Jesus as their Lord and Savior. After having 2 boys I was asked if we were going to try for a girl or many assumed we would stop having children after 2. I replied that we planned on having more children with out any intention of aiming for a girl…the looks and comments I received were quite interesting. Many people couldn’t believe that I didn’t have a great desire for a female child and also that since I didn’t have that desire that we would/should only have the 2 children we have. I’ll take what God will bless us with! I can understand why many people choose to have only 2 children because to raise children correctly is a lot of work, especially if both parents are working, but to mock people or to say off the wall things to people who have more children or those with what is considered an extreme amount like 10 is just prideful and self-righteous. Children are a blessing from the Lord that require a lot of time, energy, money, etc., but they also offer and give so much more in return! I love my boys and I pray that God would bless of with more children. There are so many people who want children and they cannot have them, so let’s be loving and leave our judgements to ourselves. Those who love and who want to honor Jesus need to realize that their perspective on children should reflect the Bible and not the opinion’s of the world!

  54. Kelli says

    Wow – I knew there were posts about not wanting kids, but I didn’t think people took it to that extreme. Yeah, I don’t want a screaming child next to me at a restaurant, but what some of the non-child peeps are saying is crazy! I think some might need to try saying they would like a more respectful society – which includes not only them being accepting of kids (because, you’re right, they’re annoying just like all ages of people sometimes), but also that when kids act in a way that is highly disruptive in key places (screaming so loud no one can hear a sermon, running and touching in an art museum with priceless pieces, etc.), they should respect the environment and remove the child. But if a kid is making noise or fidgety or otherwise being perfectly normal and respectful – then who cares!? I’m a teacher – I understand more than most that kids are kids. But sometimes I need a break from screaming and messes and other reasons some people don’t like them, so I sympathize with the opposition – because I can’t afford to pay out the nose just to have a quiet evening out at some upscale location, which tends to be the only adult-only space I can get. But their hateful language and call for so many kid-free zones is unrealistic and kind of mean….

  55. Karly says

    Well said! I don’t have my own children, but I fiercely love my nieces, and prior to them, my much younger sister, and I’ve always been sort of appalled at the view people take that 1. Children have on and off switches that parents can just flip whenever they want and 2. that parents need to somehow simultaneously never punish their children while keeping them well behaved, never bring them out in public while exposing them to diverse experiences, never leave their kids in the car while never bringing them in a store, never leave their kids alone while not allowing their kids to run their lives. It seems exhausting to me.

    This is, of course, separate from the discussion of whether or not some people should have children: I don’t think everyone is cut out to be a parent, and that’s completely fine. And the people I know personally who have made that decision are fine with kids in a general sense.

    I just don’t understand the extremists who seem to literally think kids are the worst thing in the whole of human existence, and not just, you know, tiny people. And they are prolific on the internet these days.


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