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.