When I was a child, I loved animals (and still love them), especially the little ones of all species. My mother once told me: “Do not approach a female animal when she has her puppies or kittens, she may scratch or bite you because she may think you want to hurt them”. No animal has ever bitten or scratched me, and I did not understand my mother’s warning until I moved to kid-obsessed America and had my first encounters with aggressive parents of extremely rude kids.
In a respectful society, if you point out child’s inappropriate behavior, it is an incredible shame for the parents that they failed to teach it respect so terribly, that a stranger has to request them to impose order. They apologize to the stranger and discipline the kid immediately. These situations do not happen too often because kids are generally polite and only on rare occasions strangers have to intervene, but shame, apology and discipline are a typical reaction.
In kid-obsessed America it is the opposite. Parents do not want to admit their failure. They refuse to admit their kids’ rude or offensive behavior. They consider their kids the center of the universe entitled to do whatever they want, wherever they want, and to whoever they want, and turn very belligerent in defense of this undue entitlement.
For example, if you request them to do something as basic as make the kid stop yelling (not crying, just yelling out of its whim) in public transportation or in a waiting room, instead of politely complying, they turn hostile. If you request them to hold their kid running up and down the aisles in a restaurant or on a plane, instead of apologizing for their failure, grabbing the kid and putting in a seat, they become aggressive.
There are some regional differences between the above described Northeastern United States plus California and, for example, Texas. Texans, when asked to bring their kid to order, comply, with that “o.k., o.k.”, pronounced in a sulky tone as if they were doing you a huge favor. However, they still fail to admit their fault or failure and do not apologize or do not make the child apologize for the disruption they caused.
Why is it so?
One of the reasons certainly is self-centeredness of both the parent and the child. The parent was worshiped as a kid by kid-centered parents and society, and grew up with the sense of entitlement of someone who is the center of the universe. The kid is currently awed and glorified the same way or worse, and the pugnacious parent defends the kid’s usurped “right” to overtake all the public space with no regard to other people.
Another reason is a simple lack of manners. Ill-mannered people raised ill-mannered children and overreact when their lack of manners is pointed out.
There is one basic difference between the female animals my mother referred to and American parents: the former defend their offspring when it faces real danger and the later get hostile with no reason, out of simple entitlement.
The result is lamentable. The hostile reactions to kind requests for respect harassed polite people into silence. Pugnacious parents throw their weight around and other passengers or customers became too scared to demand the minimum of respect. This is very harmful to the whole society, but also to these kids themselves. Instead of learning peaceful and respectful coexistence, they learn that they are the dictators in all places, for all people, which leads to deplorable results.
People should not be afraid of pointing out rudeness and demanding respect. The belligerent parents may be initially very aggressive, but when encounter resistance, they give in. Their favorite attack to a polite request is yelling “mind your own business!”, which gives in to a simple, calm but strict “this is exactly what I am doing; it is my business to be respected by your kid and you must make it quiet / make it stop touching me / hold it, right now!”
After the first couple of times I was shocked to encounter a hostile “mind your own business!” reaction instead of a respectful and ashamed apology, and left speechless. However, the next time I had a ready answer, and I assure you, it really works. I tested it on the most aggressive and spoiled Manhattanites. Do not be afraid to demand your rights to be respected.