Planes and Parenting


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If I wanted to be squished and kicked and unable to listen to my ipod over the din of a temper tantrum then maybe I would have gone to Philadelphia with Mrs. P and Dr. Doormat. Instead, I chose to attend a family wedding this past week. Big mistake. On SO many levels. Of course, the universe had to remind me that my life revolves around munchkins because my seat was directly in front of a family with two children under the age of six. My seat in particular was directly in front of the boy's seat. Boy looked about four or five and he didn't stop kicking and/or jostling my seatback for the entire three hour plane ride. Three hours of getting kicked in the back. Glorious. The litttle girl on the other hand, who looked to be three or four had three tempter tantrums throughout the flight. One hour into the flight and my devotion towards humans under the age of ten completely dissipated. I wanted to strangle the little tykes. As I sat there fuming though, I realized that it wasn't the kids' that I should be irriated at but the parents. These children had no concept that their behavior was affecting everybody else on the flight. Not only were they disrupting me, but they were loud enough to be heard by every single person on the plane and yet they seemed fully oblivious to this. And the mother? She would simply sigh and mutter soft words of lord knows what to them. The father on the other hand, said absolutely nothing. I know not all parents are cut out to be "bad cops" but for both parents to just sit there and allow their offspring to disrespect an entire plane full of people apalls me. It's rude and shameful. These parents clearly could not set boundaries nor could they discipline properly. The kids were wild. I'm not advocating corporal punishment but enough is enough. Mr. T, for all his faults would NEVER have had the gall to behave that way. And had he lost control of his emotions, we would have instantly been in a tiny plane bathroom having a timeout together and talking about his behavior and it's effect on the people around him. I know it's embarrassing when kids act out in public but that's no excuse for avoiding discipline. Children need to understand that there is a world outside themselves but continually catering to a child's inherently self-absorbed moods can't come to any good. Sometimes children need to be humored but any sort of public arena is not an appropriate time to do that. Mr. T knows that if he disrupts other people or is unable to behave in an appropriate manner, he will be removed from whatever social situation he's in. Granted that's not possible on an airplane but at four he is already beginning to understand that other people's needs are valid as well. Humans are inherantly selfish beings. Empathy is a learned trait and the longer children are allowed to behave as though they alone matter, the development of important social skills are delayed. Being able to function in any society involves having a degree of compassion. I see more and more that children are not taught the value of other people's feelings and it worries me. I hope for the sake of that mother that she comes to her senses because already those children are far too self-absorbed. I wish parents would realize that there's more to parenting than making your kids happy. Parenting is about teaching and children need to be taught, now more than ever, the art of compassion.


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