Parents vs. Non-Parents

Beach Sanctioned Hijinx

There’s a reason that many people with no children feel compelled to hate on the people with children.  I’m not saying they’re right but they could be well within a reasonable shot of being right.  In the interest of world peace and acting like I’m thinking in my local globe, I’ve compiled an agreement between parents and non-parents.  This agreement will be called, “How to Be an Awesome and Upstanding Human Being.” (Working title.)

Let’s start with the basics for those who do own children:

  1. Your child is special like a snowflake.  To you.  Not necessarily to those around you.  It is not cool when you speak really loudly in hopes of getting complete strangers to notice how cute junior is being.  It’s desperate.  If they notice, cool.  If not, focus on searing your child’s cuteness into your own mind to use a reference when your snowflake is being awful.  It is essential, trust me.
  2. The obvious places for kids to not go are actually places your kid should not be taken to.  For instance, movies that are not intended for them even if you really think it’s ok for them to watch.  I have no interest in telling you what your child can and cannot watch.  Just don’t make me watch it with them.  It’s so very hard to block out your child firing off questions about sex and/or violence and then listening to you having “that talk” with them because you’re a supergreat parent and want to be open with them.  Also take note: there are family friendly restaurants and there are family unfriendly snooty-pants restaurants.  C’mon.  Be a sport.  I’m rarely let out into the snooty-pants adult world, and when I am, I don’t want to feel like children surround me.  Even though your child is a snowflake. (And please – tip your server a little extra when you bring a kid in.  They’ll end up cleaning a little extra or managing a little extra or any number of extra things involving children and food.  An extra few bucks makes world peace.)
  3. I know meltdowns are stressful.  They are stressful for you, for the kid, and for everyone around you.  They are also inevitable.  They’ll happen in public.  Your job is to manage the temper tantrum, and if you cannot, your job is to get that kid to a more private space.  It’s not only a great way to show your child that the behavior is not ok, it’s also a great way to tell your fellow-man that while you love your little snowflake, you understand that they may not.  This is a good time to use that image of them being cute (see #1), and wait it out in a car, outside under a tree, or in an alleyway next to a dumpster.  Just make it as non-public as you can.
  4. Stroller etiquette is essential. Simply put, just because you have wheels and precious cargo it does not mean that everyone has to get out of your way.
  5. Turn your kids video games down in restaurants, subway cars, airplanes or any other place where sound is shared.

Now, on to those who do not own children:

  1. I love my kid.  I’m proud of my kid.  My kid is like a snowflake to me.  Please don’t sweat me if we are enjoying something together in public, and the laughter, running around or general love is flowing in a raucous way.  Stink eye is a total buzz kill.
  2. If I take my kid somewhere that the obvious demographic includes children, you’ve got to make a little space for my kid to be childish.  For instance, the old fart who kept telling Roan to be quiet during an outdoor screening of The Muppets Take Manhattan – you could use a little love in your heart.  Possibly you found the plot complicated and hard to follow, but I do believe my son laughing and whooping it up every time Animal was on-screen was right in line with the theme of the night.
  3. Meltdowns and temper tantrums are super hard-core stressful for me as a parent.  I know it’s grating to hear someone’s kid flip out.  And while I do my best to handle it, pacify it, redirect it or totally bribe my way out of it, as long as I am trying, you’ve got to give me a few minutes to try to manage it before I pull the plug on whatever we were doing and heading home.  Your mad-dogging me does nothing to help.  Trust.
  4. When there’s a stroller involved in my life, could you just make a little room?  I know it’s big; I’m the one pushing the giant thing.  But there are only so many options, and jet packs for kids have yet to be invented.

So the list is by no means exhaustive but it is a start for peace talks.  There are things I remember thinking I’d never do as a parent that I do all the time now that I am a parent.  There are things I now see parents do that drop my jaw.  I’d love to hear what I missed, on both sides.  Leave your ideas for “How to Be an Awesome and Upstanding Human Being” in the comments.

32 thoughts on “Parents vs. Non-Parents

  1. I have kids. Two LITTLE ones. I agree totally! I’ll add this:

    To people with kids… Please remember that children’s little minds are still developing. This means that it’s primarily up to you to help them navigate through the world of social interaction, set boundaries and be a good example because they simply aren’t always capable.

    To people withOUT kids… Please remember that children’s little minds are still developing. This means that it’s primarily up the parents to help them navigate through the world of social interaction, set boundaries and be a good example, but by being an understanding bystander you can help take a little weight off of the parents’ shoulders and contribute to the greater good.

    O.k., enough opinions for me for one day. I’m done!

  2. Welcome back. missed your posts. don’t know how you found the time to get this back up with all you are doing for your family.
    Love you Mom

  3. I agree with everything you said. Especially the video game item. I think many parents think the zipping and powing sounds are acceptable but they make me want to go nuts. Great post, a step towards world peace.

  4. From one of those folks who does NOT own children, thank you for making this so objective and diplomatic. I went through a phase in my younger years during which any noise or boisterousness from nearby kids made me cringe and grit my teeth. I can actually enjoy them now, and more often than not sympathize with the occasional tantrum (I’m also freaked out by the crowded subway, little one, and I’d like to be screaming right along with you).

    As with anything else in life, everything’s good in moderation. There’s a fine line between kids being kids and kids being obnoxious little demons, and your rules for both sides seem to find a nice, tolerant balance along that line. Now, how will you get this out to the world at large?

  5. This was cathartic to read! Clare had the biggest freak out of her little life this past weekend–morphed into something feral right there in front of God and everybody. Blurg.

    But I’m really commenting just to say, psst, your kid really *is* special like a snowflake 🙂

  6. In honor of your post, hereinafter “heretofore” will be the new hereafter.

    Heretofore, I had not been thinking a great deal about the aforementioned hereafter.

    But these days (and, at my age, undoubtedly henceforth) when I enter a room, I have a hard time remembering what I’m here after.

  7. To parents:
    Your child may like to explore his environment, but that does not mean you should allow such child to destroy displays, throw merchandise on the floor, etc. and not pick up after that said child.
    To non-parents
    Kids hands get everywhere, and although we try, we don’t always see what mess little junior has made. So realize, I am trying to stop him from grabbing everything and destroying your precious displays, but I only have two hands, and usually one of them is holding the item I ran into the store to get. Please don’t give me the stink eye, adults make the same messes too and if I had two free hands your sweaters would have been unfolded by an adult rather than a child.

  8. Hey, parent-type people… don’t ask me WHY I don’t have kids at (insert age here) so quizzically. Maybe I didn’t want them. Maybe I couldn’t have them. Maybe my husband couldn’t have them due to cancer. Maybe Down’s Syndrome runs in my family in every live birth after age 35 and I just didn’t want to take that chance. Maybe a zillion other things happened that are none of your f’ing business, when it comes down to it. Don’t don’t DON’T gush about how it’s life-changing, best thing ever since sliced bread, you can’t imagine life without kids if you don’t know me or why I don’t have kids. Don’t tell me there’s plenty of kids to adopt. Would you ask why I don’t have a left breast? Where my eyeball went? Why the hell are personal questions regarding childbearing okay, then? And while you’re at it, your kid kicking the back of my seat in Economy all the way to Mexico? Seriously not cool.

  9. Jodi for President! A fantastic post, even by the standards of your many fantastic posts.

    I remember picking up my 4-y-o son from his chair at a Red Lobster (no comments on restaurant choice please) and carrying him out to the parking lot when he wouldn’t take direction to stop his fit-pitching. He got the message really quickly then as we had our chat on the bench out front, and it’s a message that has (mostly) stayed with him in the 12 years since.

  10. As a non-parent to parents: Why is it when your child in the next booth lures me into a game of peekaboo you make them sit down and be quiet and “stop bothering” me? I’m all proud of interacting with a child for once and then you act like I’m corrupting the kid. What ARE the peekabo rules with your special snowflakes?

  11. Parents, please don’t seat your small child in the open seat next to me on the train then leave them there because you’ve found a seat within sight distance. It’s for your own good as well as mine. When left with a small child for any period of time, I feel the need to strike up conversations about school and toys and Santa Claus. You never know where that could end up.

  12. Pingback: i’m not a mom… « Butterflies and Tumbleweeds's Blog

  13. Isabel – great points. To that, I would add, don’t ask me when I’m going to have kids. As if I have control over that (I think there are so many people with kids out there who never had to TRY to have them, so they think that you can just decide one day and then conjure them up out of your wishes and thoughts). You can ask if I want to have kids, but not when it’s going to happen. Or, you can ask that only if we can go back in time and I can ask you, “So, when the hell are you finally going to go through puberty?”

    The stroller thing, oh the stroller thing. It’s TERRIBLE where I live. While I fully appreciate that you have a huge stroller with precious cargo in it, that doesn’t mean you can pretend I don’t exist and fail to make eye contact while you play a game of chicken with me and your precious cargo that you know I can never win. Just because you have a kid does not mean you’re more special than everyone else – and in so many cases, having a kid really seems to make the parents feel like they’re the ones who should get all the special treatment, with the kid relegated to sidekick or accessory.

  14. OMG I am soooo glad you wrote this!!! BOTH #2’s are top on my list. case in point, The hubs and I went to dinner for V-Day albeit wasn’t the EXACT day. It was the friday before but in my world, that is set aside as “date night”. We go to what I would consider a VERY nice restaurant in my neck of the hood and wouldn’t you know it? kids. Lots of kids! Honestly I know this is selfish of me but I don’t even want to SEE kids on my date. I am infact, a parent. I have 3 children of various ages and I have NEVER taken them out to a nice place for dinner on a Friday or Saturday night. It’s just not nice in my book. Any other night is fine, just not Fri or Sat. those two nights are reserved for adults only.

  15. Pingback: Pistols and Popcorn » Prizes and Rage. Together at Last.

  16. This article is excellent for the parents and for those who are looking to adopt children. Excellent work! If you want to order personal checks of your own style and design or for your kids then you can consider checks of a good check printing company.

  17. It’s really a cool and useful piece of info. I am happy that you
    just shared this helpful information with us.
    Please stay us informed like this. Thanks for sharing.

  18. Good day! I know this is kind of off topic but I was wondering which blog platform are
    you using for this website? I’m getting tired of WordPress
    because I’ve had issues with hackers and I’m looking at options for another platform.
    I would be awesome if you could point me in the direction of a
    good platform.

  19. To “The Queen”:

    I know this post is darn near 5 years old. But, I actually have an answer for you, if you ever see this. The reason we tell our kids to “stop bothering” you, is that for every one person that doesn’t mind interacting with my child, there are 10 others that DO. We don’t know which one you are. In an effort to please society and ‘control our little demons’ we are obligated to tell them to stop, to teach them social manners. Because, even if you tell me ‘oh, I don’t mind’ (which is great, if you really truly mean it), I still have to tell them no, because we have to practice consistency. THEY especially don’t know which people care, and which people don’t. So, we have to stop them from playing peek-a-boo with everyone, so that they know they are never supposed to do it. It gets confusing if they are allowed to do it some times, but not other times.

    Thank you,

    Mom of 3

  20. However, that will never fly if you want to be considerate in the modern work place.
    If you’re a first time spa goer, this article will give you an overview
    of how to be a good spa customer. We thought
    we’d skirted it because, when we got engaged,
    we barely knew anyone with kids under 10.

  21. Well panic disorder that is that when you invest nowadays when installing your stairs these are planning to keep working for
    a lifetime. This is one from the explanation why it is critical to use beautiful things.

    Idea 1 – Remodel in, not out – Don’t blow out the spine or side of your property
    using a big fancy addition (if you do not wish to live there many,
    many years).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *