Monthly Archives: October 2013

The magic word “no”

Children need clear, strict, and consistently enforced boundaries. With limitations and forbidden areas, they learn politeness and respect, get to know their place in the society (which in a healthy society is not on a pedestal, it is much lower than that), as well as stay clear of accidents and injuries. With proper enforcement of the boundaries, kids are able to learn all this at a very young age, more or less together with learning to speak their first language. In responsible societies, parents, relatives, siblings, and other people teach and enforce the boundaries using the magic word “no”, which seems nonexistent in kid-obsessed America, to the detriment to the kids, but also to the society as a whole.

American kids do not know what “no” means because most of the time they do not hear this word from their parents. If, however, a parent occasionally says “no”, he or she does not enforce it. This leads to two situations: the child does not learn what “no” means or it knows the meaning of the term but without proper enforcement grows in an atmosphere of impunity.

The best example from kid-worshiping America is saying that children throw food around as if it was an inherent characteristic and allowing them to do that not only at their everyday meals, but also in front of guests or in restaurants. Actually, kids do that only when their parents fail to teach them basic manners, and the society fails to enforce these manners in public places. It is very easy to eradicate the bad habit of throwing food. It is enough to grab the child’s hand, strong enough that it feels the adult’s power, but light enough that it does not get hurt, and say: “no”, “don’t”, “don’t do that” in the first second when the kid starts throwing it and every time it attempts throwing anything. It is not necessary to repeat the trick many times, twice or three times is enough for the child to kiss the bad habit goodbye. Kids are much smarter than Americans think. If proper teaching and discipline are instilled in them in their early toddlerhood, they will never forget it, just like riding a bicycle. It will become as natural as breathing air. I practiced it many times, at many occasions, all the relatives and neighbors as well, and millions of people all around the world do it too, successfully. There is no reason for Americans to be excused from using the magic word “no” in relation to the kid.

The same problem exists with obnoxious kids running wild and screaming in restaurants, stores, banks, or offices all over America. When in respectful and responsible societies, any attempt of this kind of behavior encounters a strict and firm “no”, Americans let their kids do whatever they want, no matter how offensive it is towards other customers or how much it disrupts other people’s work. Part of the problem is the parents’ obsessive fear that their spoiled precious snowflake will not love them unconditionally, but part of it is simple laziness and disrespect for all of the other users of the public space. It is very easy and effective to say: “no”, “don’t”, “don’t do that” in the first second when the unacceptable behavior starts, grab the kid, and strictly enforce it. However, American parents fail terribly to do it. Even if they occasionally mumble a faint “don’t run” when their spoiled brat nearly bumps into a waiter with hot drinks, they fail to enforce it. Instead of grabbing the kid and putting it on a seat to show it what “don’t run” means, they let it continue running wild, and the child does not even learn what “don’t run” means.

There are many, many situations in which American parents totally fail to say “no” and prevent their kids from offending other people, exposing other people to germs, disrupting somebody’s work or rest or from damaging somebody else’s property. They let their kids slobber on the produce in supermarkets, they let them take a bite of food from a buffet container and put it back for other customers to take, they let them destroy goods in stores, or let them yell and scream wildly on public transportation, to name just a few examples. They also buy tons of useless toys the deity kid requests that will damage our common heritage – the environment by ending up in landfills. They even damage their kids’ health by buying whatever junk food the kid wants, just because it wants. Saying “no” and enforcing it would not only stop the behavior but also teach the kids not to attempt it in the future. It would teach them that they are not alone in this world and that other people around them have to be respected. Unfortunately, without hearing “no” whenever necessary, American kids turn out totally rude, entitled and self-centered, unadjusted, and unable to live in a society without disrespecting it.

In all these and similar situations American parents use the excuse that they are trying so hard, while their actions (or rather inactions) show that they are not trying at all. They do not use the simple word “no” that would easily curb all kinds of disrespectful and undesired kids’ behavior as soon as it starts.

But it does take a village. It takes a parent to discipline a kid, but it also takes a responsible, participating society to enforce the rules and, if necessary, in case of a child’s transgression of the rules or a parent’s failure to impose order, to strictly require a parent or guardian to use the magic word “no” in relation to a disrespectful, disruptive kid. People offended by an unacceptable kid’s behavior should not be afraid to intervene whenever necessary. When the parents fail, the society has a right and duty to take action.

Adjust the kid to the world

In most cultures I know, a kid is born into a society that is set up a certain way and must adjust to it and respect its rules. In kid-obsessed America, in turn, the world is adjusted to the kid with all the disastrous consequences.

In respectful societies, politeness is required from everyone, no exception. Children, from the youngest ages, are taught and trained the rules of polite behavior in the society. Wherever they are, they must adjust to the customs and rules in force in that society. When, for example, a kid is taken shopping, it must respect other customers. There is no running wild, yelling, screaming, or bumping into people allowed. Any unacceptable behavior would be curbed and punished by a parent, a relative, or an older kid, and in these rare cases of parental failure, the disruptive kid would be removed by the staff, to an immense shame to the parent.

The same applies to public transportation, street, theater, cinema, philharmonics, opera, museums, and a plethora of other culture-related places. The same applies as well to cafes, restaurants, other people’s homes when visiting them, parties, gatherings, waiting rooms, and many more. All of these places have their rules that apply to both adults and kids the exact same way. When yelling is forbidden or inappropriate, it applies to adults and children alike. When sticking one’s snotty finger into a cake is a serious faux pas, neither an adult nor a kid should do it. If holding silverware wrongly is bad manners, there is no exception for kids. When a child is too young to be physically able to comply with certain rules, it should not be taken to a place where these particular rules are in force. Too young to eat politely? It should not be fed publicly. The vast majority of children in respectful societies are able to comply with all the rules of politeness at a much younger age than their American counterparts.

In kid-obsessed America, people fail to adjust the kids to the world. They adjust the world to the kids instead. The results are deplorable. They do not teach children how to behave politely in public places or in other people’s homes. They do not require polite behavior either. Instead, they adjust the places to the kid. Certain businesses are the best examples.

I was shocked when I entered a car dealership in New Jersey to see a huge playground right in the middle of the building’s large open space, with no soundproof walls, actually, with no walls at all. There were kids there making outrageous noise and their parents doing nothing about it. To make it worse, the place was situated right next to the employees’ cubicles. I was appalled to observe how disrespectful it is of a business to put up a facility that encourages disruptive behavior and to expose customers to it. However, to expose office employees who cannot leave like offended customers can, and make them work in these conditions is much more disrespectful. They have to think, focus, write, and answer phone calls in this atrocious noise environment. It is very unprofessional to neglect the customers, the employees, and adjust the business to the rude kids’ whims. The kids should be adjusted to the situation that requires respect for the customers and for the people working there. They should be required to stand still and quiet next to the parents in respect of other people, or be removed immediately.

I saw the same idea in many banks, in many locations, distant from each other, which leads me to believe that it takes place all over the country. The only difference was that the playgrounds in the banks were smaller. Regardless of the size, however, the behavior they encourage is unacceptable for a place like a bank. Both customers and employees have to focus when thinking about money transactions, listening to or giving financial advice or reading an agreement they are about to sign. It is highly disrespectful of a bank to adjust its premises to rude, disruptive kids while it should respectfully serve the customers and require the parents to adjust the kids to the world, in this case to the purposes banks exist for. It is also shocking that the customers brainwashed by the kid-obsessed culture do not protest and do not require order to be imposed.

Play areas with toys exist also in waiting rooms in doctors’ offices and emergency rooms. This is even more unacceptable than placing them in businesses like car dealerships and banks for a simple reason: sick people go there. Wherever sick people are, silence should be strictly required and enforced. It is unacceptable to encourage kids to yell and scream in medical facilities where people are in pain, and the play areas certainly encourage this kind of rude behavior because it is a given that American kids are not trained to play respectfully, i.e. quietly. More than anywhere else, the kids should be adjusted to the world they are brought to in such places. They should be taught not only basic respect but also compassion for suffering people.

The idea of playgrounds in bookstores is equally appalling, although for a different reason than the same idea in hospitals. Bookstores as well as libraries are places that by definition should cherish an intellectual atmosphere, silence, and reflection that is associated with books. They should require respect for reading and knowledge and instill this respect in the younger generations at the earliest age possible. Silence should be strictly enforced, which applies to both adults and kids. All kids should be adjusted to the rules that for generations applied to bookstores and libraries and unconditionally required all people to be quiet and respectful in the facilities. Playground type structures that encourage rude, noisy behavior should never be placed in venues associated with knowledge and reading.

Kid-obsessed Americans have this ridiculous idea that a kid should be kept entertained in public places. This is wrong because in this kid-worshiping society kids’ entertainment is always associated with making outrageous noise. Kids should be above all taught, trained, and required to respect. A respectful kid is able to stand or sit (if there are no adults standing) still and quiet in a waiting room, a bank, or a bookstore for as long as the parents require and need to do their business. There is nothing wrong in bringing a book or a quiet toy, but the emphasis should be put on proper training that teaches the kids to stay respectfully still and quiet in public places regardless of having any entertainment. Moreover, the above examples clearly show that having entertainment for kids does not lead to their respectful behavior. To the contrary, it leads to disrespect and unacceptable levels of noise in places where silence should be a rule.

It is different in Europe, where places like restaurants, gyms, and beauty salons with playgrounds exist. These, unlike the businesses in America, are geared and marketed towards people with kids, which is what distinguishes them from other restaurants, gyms, and beauty salons marketed to the general public. These businesses found their niche and cater to a certain clientele, providing additional services, i.e. babysitting in a separate room while the parents are having an adult conversation over dinner, are exercising or having their manicure or hair done. These places clearly advertise their goal and services, and it is impossible to confuse them with general ones. Catering to people with kids does not mean that kids can be rude and wild. I know a case of kids being removed from a restaurant for people with kids for acting as rudely as an average American child. They were adjusted to the world and removed for violating the rules of politeness.

People should never adjust to kids on public transportation. They should never give up their seats for a kid (unless the kid is disabled). The kids should be adjusted to the world which requires respect for adults, especially the elderly, and give up their seats for adults. Passengers should strictly request the kid to stand up or for the parent to remove it from a seat whenever there is not enough space for adults. If parents want to bring kids on public transportation, they must adjust them to the world.

Drivers should never be required to watch particularly for kids released wildly on roads just because their parents are too lazy to supervise or train them. The kids should be adjusted to the world in which roads are for vehicles, and they should either watch for cars approaching or stay within the parents’ property. Most societies in the world are set up this way and only in kid-obsessed America signs “Caution: Children at Play” exist as proof that Americans adjust the world to the kids.

The kids should be adjusted to the world and strictly be required to respect the rules. The world should not be adjusted to the kids and by no means should it be adjusted to their rudeness, disrespect, and lack of manners. Kids adjusted to the world grow up to be polite

adults as one must never forget that ill-mannered kids (the ones to whom the world was adjusted) grow up to be ill-mannered, entitled adults. Customers should not hesitate to require to impose order and remove rude kids. They should also not be shy and boycott the businesses that adjust to kids’ rudeness. They then should inform the manager or CEO why the company lost their business. There is nothing that gets the business’ attention better than loss of money other than bad publicity, which usually also results in loss of money.

The “trying hard” excuse

There is a new fad promoted recently by the media in a very importunate way. It appears its goal is to make people accept extreme rudeness when it comes from a kid or a parent or to manipulate them into feeling guilty whenever they require the minimum of respect in public places. Its main message is that parents try so hard to make their kids respectful in public places like churches or supermarkets, and they should be praised for the simple fact that they have a kid instead of being brought to order for failure to make the said kid respect other users of the public space. Parents try so hard? Let’s look at it closer.

In kid-obsessed America, all sorts of public places are full of extremely rude kids running wild, yelling, screaming, throwing food all over restaurant dining rooms, bumping into people in stores or on the street, slobbering food products that are subsequently sold to unaware customers and doing so as they enjoy unlimited impunity. They are always accompanied by an adult, in most of the cases a parent or both of them, but get away with all kinds of unacceptable behavior simply because these parents do absolutely nothing to enforce respect and politeness. They do not “try hard”, they do not try at all. Even the fact that these kids are so rude tells a lot about their parents: they do nothing to raise their kids, to teach them basic respect and manners, or to discipline them before bringing their bundles of germs to public places.

I am pretty sure that everyone who has lived in kid-obsessed America for some time saw, and especially heard, outrageously rude kids in restaurants running through the aisles, throwing food around, sticking their snotty fingers into other customers’ food, or into buffet containers,  accosting other patrons for attention, and above all screaming and yelling at the top of their lungs. These kids do not go to restaurants alone. They are brought there by their parents, and these parents have a duty to control their children. Out of countless times of seeing unacceptably rude kids in restaurants, I have never seen a single case of a parent trying to discipline the kid for any type of rudeness and make it behave respectfully. I do not even mention any trying “hard” because they were not trying at all. They were enjoying themselves, selfishly oblivious to their ill-mannered progeny disrespecting other patrons and ruining their evening out.

In respectful cultures, these problems usually do not happen because responsible parents teach their kids manners before bringing them out. If, however, as an exception, a kid is trying to be rude, the parents bring it to order immediately, in the same second when the unacceptable behavior starts, and this includes removing it from the premises instantly to end other people’s exposure to it. This is the most efficient way of teaching a kid what is unacceptable: curb the behavior in the same second when it starts. The kid will most likely never do it again. However, American parents never try to bring their rude kid to order, even if they claim they are “trying hard”. There should be no mercy and no excuse for them. They should be strictly required by the business to leave immediately if they do not want to respect other people. Respectful customers should strictly require the restaurant to remove them or cancel their orders and leave.

Another example that most likely everyone has seen is extremely rude kids on planes, yelling, running wild up and down the aisles, kicking the seats in front of them, or slobbering other passengers with their hands sticky of saliva. As a frequent flyer, I have never, not even once, seen a parent discipline his or her kid for doing any of the above. They not only do nothing to bring the kid to order, but also become extremely aggressive when requested to do so by an offended passenger or by a flight attendant. They use their “it’s just a kid” or “kids will be kids” excuses and belligerently defend their precious snowflake’s usurped “right” to be rude. Respectful kids of respectful parents do not scream or kick other people’s seats and if they exceptionally try to do it, they are curbed by the parent in the same second when they start.

The most egregious American kid’s behavior I witnessed on a plane was the one that was screaming and yelling aggressively, jumping like a monkey on the back of the seat in front of it every ten or so seconds hitting the passenger sitting there on his head, and beating (!!!) its parents. The parents seemed so proud of the offspring they produced that when given “the look” by many passengers, returned plastic smiles with messages on their faces saying “just look at what a miraculous wonder we produced”. They obviously did nothing to end the appalling behavior. They did not “try hard”, they did not try at all. They were so infatuated with their obnoxious brat that they seemed to want to force it on everyone around. I required the flight attendant to impose order, and only thanks to her intervention all the wild behavior ended.

Kids acting in an unacceptable way in supermarkets and stores are also a common view in kid-obsessed America. Screaming wildly, slobbering on the produce, throwing objects, destroying goods, running wild, and bumping into people is unacceptable but widespread. The lazy, oblivious parents ignore their offspring’s behavior completely. They do not “try hard”, they do not try at all. If they had the minimum of respect for other shoppers, they would have curtailed the unacceptable behavior immediately, or taken the kid outside and brought it to order there. However, they are too entitled to do it. They selfishly continue shopping and make it not only miserable for everyone else but also cause a health hazard for people who buy the products with their kid’s saliva, snots, and germs on them.

Also, in American churches kids behave in an unacceptable way, similar to the behavior anywhere else as described above. Their parents fail to teach them respect, to discipline them, or to remove them. Again, they do not “try hard”, they do not try at all. The purpose of a church service is a respectful and pensive worship of whichever God one believes in. Church services are not to worship a kid deity (other than baby Jesus in the case of Christians), or to succumb to its whims and get exposed to its unacceptable behavior and germs. I was shocked, driving by churches during service times, to see numerous kids being kept outside by a few adults who were doing it, as it seemed, as a job. Later on I learned that it was indeed a job, whether on a professional or volunteer basis. I was shocked to learn that it is a common assumption to keep kids in day care-like settings while the adults are attending the service. These kids were old enough to be required to sit or stand quietly and respectfully not only for an hour but also for a couple of hours in any place accessible to other people where respect for the other people is required. Their parents failed to have taught them that and preferred to leave them out. They were not trying hard, they just passed the problem onto somebody else, and these kids did not learn that they should be respectful. There are also parents who do not leave their kids out but take them inside and allow them to ruin other people’s experiences with God. These are not trying at all, either.

When I was taken to church as a kid, kids of all ages, including toddlers, were strictly required to stand still and quiet during the whole service. They were also required to give up their seats for adults, and it was strictly enforced, except for the service for children when they had priority seating. The kids’ service did not mean a kid could be rude, it only meant the intellectual level of the service was adjusted to the youngest minds. When a kid exceptionally tried to be disruptive, also during the kids’ service, the preacher required the parents to remove it and did it publicly, right from the pulpit using the microphone for everyone else to hear. It was an extreme shame for the parents to be brought to order for being disrespectful and an effective measure to provide peaceful services. It was not the “old good days” thing as that society still conducts services the same way now. When I travel to different countries and go to services of different denominations (driven by a traveler’s curiosity of the culture, not for worship), I never see or hear children being rude or being kept in separate places to prevent rudeness. They are strictly required to have basic respect just as I was.

The authors of the articles that promote the fad of more acceptance for extreme rudeness should rethink what they write because they have two problems. First – the information they spread is simply not true because parents not only do not try hard; they do not try at all. In these very few exceptional cases when they seem to try a little bit, they give the kid an order, let the kid totally ignore it, and do nothing to enforce it, thus, setting themselves for a total parental failure. Second – kids’ rudeness in public places is absolutely unacceptable and should never be promoted in the media or otherwise as normal kids’ behavior or as a behavior that should be accepted or excused by polite people. This approach is very harmful, not only for the society, but also for the kids themselves. Every attempt of unacceptable kids’ behavior must be curbed immediately when it starts. The society should strictly enforce order and respect.