Monday, 6 April 2009

Child Proof

Those of you who have been following comments on the Midas Touch blog post will have seen that it has turned into an impassioned debate about the issue of young children in cafes and pubs.

I have some sympathy with both sides of the argument. Of course parents have every right to use the cafes, restaurants and family-friendly pubs in the area and to bring their youngsters in with them.

On the other hand, I can understand the ire of those who find their quiet civilised drink or bite to eat ruined by toddlers running amok and screaming for England.

Let us not lose sight of one very important fact. The problem here is not with every toddler that is brought into such premises. The problem is with the irritating minority of parents who are either so unable to control their offspring or so oblivious to the rights and needs of others that they ruin things for the rest of us.

I have been in 'Berties' and 'Cuppaholic' many a time and seen very young children sitting happily and engaging with their parents and it is a joy to behold.

Yet I have also endured the tantrums and screaming that can often make Costa Coffee an unbearable place to be during the daytime.

This is not really an argument about parents and children. It is an argument about good old-fashioned respect (or lack of).

Until we can all learn the important art of mutual respect, the argument is only going to intensify.

4 COMMENTS (Add Yours Now!):

Jo B said...

I saw a sign in a cafe window once that said "we don't mind children but we do mind parents that don't mind children"

G said...

Thought that I would try the Midas Touch today. Totally empty apart from my friend and I. Tried to order some coffee only to be told that the machine was not up and running yet as they had only opened last week! A quick exit was Costa Coffee which was better than I had expected after all the reports I had read here!

NS said...

I agree that respect is needed on both sides, WP. I acknowledge that some parents let their children run amok and really disturb other patrons to an excessive degree and that is not on. However, I have seen people give dirty looks and make loud, derogatory comments about children if they so much as get up from their table or speak louder than the Hushed Tones they deem acceptable.

In British society, it seems to be perfectly acceptable to treat children as pariahs and the amount of stress it brings on good, decent parents who are just trying to go about their day and keep everyone happy is unnecessary. I know mums who won't take their children anywhere that is not specifically kid-friendly and this severely limits their options on where they go and how much practice their kids get at learning to behave in public spaces. We complain about rude teens who don't know how to behave but is it any surprise seeing as they don't get much practice when they are small? A little sympathy and kindness to a parent dealing with a tantruming child wouldn't go amiss. Perhaps if parents didn't feel so condemned and under pressure all the time they wouldn't need to let their kids run amok in Costa so they can have a 10-minute break from the stress involved in keeping them from "disturbing" others all the time.

I used to feel grumpy about children in public before I had my own and am now ashamed at how dismissively I behaved towards parents and how clueless I was about what is normal behaviour for small children.

Andrew said...

NS, well said, i totally agree with you. How ARE kids supposed to learn to behave if they are looked down upon and prohibited from interacting in public by people who moan at the mere presence of children. I feel so awkward taking my 1 year old out in worcester park as i know, and i can see, the looks that people give when they see a pushchair come through the door. Not all kids are unruly, and for people to tar everyone with the same brush, and sit in absolute anticipation of the distruption that might not actually happen just makes parents feel really uneasy and its not fair.

Babies cry, full stop. It doesnt mean that that parent is a bad parent by any stretch, nor does it mean that that kid will grow up being a tear away, they simply need to get used to being out in public and learn to behave appropriately, but unfortunately, we arent all born with that natural ability!

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