An Irrational Attitude of Hostility


Childisma prejudice against children on the ground of a belief that they are property and can (or even should) be controlled, enslaved, or removed to serve adult needs.

Prejudice(1) : preconceived judgment or opinion (2) : an adverse opinion or leaning formed without just grounds or before sufficient knowledge

b : an instance of such judgment or opinion

c : an irrational attitude of hostility directed against an individual, a group, a race, or their supposed characteristics

And then there’s this picture:

Selected comments from the Daily Mail’s story about the bags, in whole or in part:

“This is what educated, considerate parents do. People should applaud their consideration level, too often lacking in an overpopulated environment.”

“I’m not a fan of babies and it does annoy me when they cry. I know that they are babies and it’s what they do but still it’s like nails on a blackboard to me. If a parent even just said “look we have a baby it might cry I apologize in advance” I would think it was lovely but to give out some sweets, earplugs and a little note is so thoughtful.”

“I was on a virgin Atlantic flight once and there was a kid in front of me crying non stop people were getting annoyed huffing puffing etc. the air hostess asked the parent if she wanted to take her kid up to first class as there was a spare seat and she refused!!! The passengers around us started asking if they could take the seat instead lol.”

“Almost nothing worse than screeching children to set your nerves on edge.”

“When I travelled in first class with one of my twin grandsons, (my daughter was back in coach with the other twin) I worked at keeping the boy quiet. I quietly read to him, and soon he fell asleep. When we landed I got a round of applause from my fellow passengers.”

“What a sensible couple and great parenting – well done to them for pre-empting a perennial problem.”

“As a frequent long haul traveller, I welcome parents like this. Lovely babies, considerate parents, fab combination. Hope I get similar considerate parents later this week!”

“These are the sort of parents who will bring up their children to be well mannered and thoughtful.”

And some comments from/about the parents, same story:

(Caption)  “Christina Diaz and Michael Rubinstein were terrified of flying with their newborn twins, Jasper and Arrow, so they stayed up all night making goodie bags for their fellow travellers”

“I was really, really nervous about getting on the flight with them,’ Ms Diaz told the MailOnline”…

“There’s always that stigma of getting on the plane with babies because people get annoyed if they’re crying.”

“We didn’t want to encroach on people’s personal space when they didn’t have an option to go any where else.”

“There was a guy who I was eyeing that kept looking back seeing the babies and he didn’t look too happy. After she gave him the candies, he would look back and smile,’ Mr Rubinstein said. ‘That was definitely one person who was moved by it.’

As I see it, there are so many things wrong with this I don’t know where to start.  I suppose I will start with a comment I read on Facebook; that maybe all of us who disagreed with this gesture should consider the parents.  We all know how much anxiety a crying child can cause, so they found a way to keep themselves calm, allowing them to be more attentive to their babies.  Yes, I absolutely do understand that.  But if that’s the case, then the parents should have worded their note differently; they shouldn’t have written as if the babies were the ones worried about the flight.  Had the babies actually written the note, I think it’d have read more this way: “We’re twin baby boys on our first flight and we’re only 14 weeks old!  We don’t know CRAP about ‘best behavior’ you see, because we’ve only been here, on this planet, 3 and a half months.  We hope you have a great flight!”  Why write as if the babies are apologizing for being alive?

Why?  Because babies should apologize for being alive; at least in our childist society.  Babies and children should show that they are sorry to be here, so small and needy; and sorry that they cannot yet behave the way adults do (although I’m usually pretty happy that children don’t behave the way adults do, like when I mistakenly watch the news).  How can they show it?  Be being obedient.  By being quiet, silent even.  By offering affection on demand.  By not questioning.  By saving their youthful energy for times when they are not in the presence of those who no longer have it or appreciate it – adults.  Alas, babies cannot do this.  They cannot observe and respond to commands for submission; they cannot offer up a perceivable example of their regret and remorse (although some will argue they can)…so the next best thing?  To have their parents do it for them.

“…We’d like to apologize in advance just in case we lose our cool.”

A baby’s cry is likened to an adult losing his cool?  A baby’s cry is her way to communicate – one of the very few ways she can communicate.  Even when a baby is screaming despite being soothed, she is trying to tell us something.  I find it dangerous to imply that that is comparable to an adult, with the capacity to speak and make clear choices for himself, completely losing his temper.  Think about it!  When a baby cries, it is much like when an adult loses control over himself and gets very angry.  No it’s not!  And to imply that it is, is prejudiced.  It’s an irrational attitude of hostility directed against babies as a group, and their supposed characteristics.  It’s training our minds to view babies and their language as intrusive and inconvenient, and the majority of us are buying into it.

Just read the comments:  Educated, considerate parents know enough and think enough of others, to spend their time and money preparing bags of candy and earplugs for their fellow passengers – those who don’t do this are ignorant and self-indulgent.  Babies crying is like nails on a blackboard to me; please just approach me and warn me you have a baby with you, and that it may cry.  I was on a flight once and my grandbaby fell asleep; the other adults were so proud that I’d kept him controlled, they applauded me!  Babies crying is a constant problem – has been since the beginning of time, and will be til the end.  And, my favorite (I stopped on page 2/3, because I caught the general gist…though there were many people who spoke up for the babies):  “These are the sort of parents who will bring up their children to be well mannered and thoughtful.”

Why are these the sort of parents who will bring up their children to be well-mannered and thoughtful?  Because in our world, well-mannered and thoughtful are code for trained and subdued.  That comment, to me, meant that these are the sort of parents who will know enough to teach their children their place in society, at the bottom of the totem pole.  These parents won’t raise children who will feel they should be true to themselves, as they are; they will raise children who know we expect them to be true to who adults allow them to be.

That’s what this is really about – who adults will allow babies and children to be.  Of course we liken a baby’s cry to an adult’s loss of temper – they both make adults feel the same way.  Uncomfortable, anxious, annoyed.  When one adult makes another adult uncomfortable, what can they do?  Depending on their relationship with that person, they can ask the person to stop; or they remove ourselves; or they can offer assistance.  But what do they truly want to do, when someone is really making a scene?  They often want to put an end to it, immediately, on their terms.  We can’t though, because other adults have power, just like we do.  If only they couldn’t speak, right?  If only they were so small and helpless that we could demand they shut up, intimidate them into doing it.  If only they had less power and we could dictate which behavior and language is acceptable from them.  If only they were babies or children.

Finally, there’s this comment (excerpt), from my blog’s Facebook page, after I’d posted this picture: “Just because we know our babies should have the right to cry, doesn’t mean we have the right to be indulgent about it…”

Yes, yes it does.  I don’t feel like I’m being indulgent, but I will always allow my babies to indulge themselves – because they know no different.  I don’t feel our babies should have the right to cry – I know my babies absolutely do have the right to cry.  It should not be viewed as permissive to allow a baby to cry in public, no matter how small the space; I just cannot relate to that.  This shouldn’t even be a conversation.  But it is, because people don’t realize that all the cheering and warm feelings so many have for that picture, is nothing less than what happens at sports games: Us vs. Them.  Adults vs. Babies and Children.  That’s right, you guys, this is how you do it.  Don’t board a plane with babies and expect us to accept you.  There is a division between us and we don’t want that to be forgotten.  Their presence alone inconveniences us, and we want that recognized.  You’re in the club, parents – we know you get that it’s all about us and what we desire.  It feeds into the mentality that children are lesser, and that we as adults should be praised for contending with their intrusiveness.

I am so sorry these parents worried so much over flying with their children.  I am more sorry that they chose to address their nerves this way; however well-intentioned they were.  Children are of a lesser class in our society, and that is heartbreaking.  Gestures like this are dangerous fuel for the inferno of hatred against youth.  It may rage quietly, unnoticed; but I feel it everyday.  Instead of cheering these parents on we should all look deeply at why they did this, and why so many are touched that they did.  That so many feel this is how people should treat one another – adults should readily realize our inherent aversion to small, young people, and we should attempt to minimize the damage caused by having them around.  No thank you.

I don’t start staring at people with babies in the airport, calculating how much of a nuisance they’ll be once we’ve boarded.  Not only do I remember that I was once that size; but I never forget that they are human.  They are not “encroaching on our personal space” – this is our planet, everyone’s including babies and children.  They are entitled to the same rights and privileges I am.  I can speak when I want to, in whatever language suits me.  I can express myself however I feel I need to, within the confines of the law.  Babies and children are subject to unwritten laws as well, dangerous notions that speak to a general dislike of children and make some parents feel embarrassed to have them in public – and led to the creation of these “care” packages.

I wonder, too, if the babies had cried the entire flight.  After all the parents’ effort, the babies performed well and didn’t make a fuss.  But what if they had?  What if they’d screamed, vomited, messed their diapers through their onesies?  Hm.  I’ll bet these bags wouldn’t have meant anything to all those delighted passengers, or to the man who snapped the picture.  I’ll bet his caption would have read more like, “Parents of screaming babies thought candy would help us sleep better.  Nice try.”  Probably, no one would have cared at all, or the parents would have been mocked; because the ultimate objective wouldn’t have been accomplished – that of getting on with life the way we would if there were no children or babies around, or if evidence of their presence was kept at a minimum.  Because according to our society’s thinking, children are property, and can and should be controlled, to serve adult needs.  Childism is alive and well.

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I'm Kimberley, work-at-home single momma to two girls, Ryleigh, 9, and Logan, 3. The Single Crunch is the story of our journey from a lifestyle saturated in mainstream ideals to an organic existence, and learning to love each other, ourselves, and any living thing, unconditionally. I'm passionate about breastfeeding, unschooling, single parenting, writing, grief, childhood abuse, childism, and natural living. I write about all this and whatever else moves me, which is a lot, and I throw in some funny on the regular. I'm humbled and grateful to have you reading, thank you. I hope something here will help you in any way.

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17 Comments on “An Irrational Attitude of Hostility”

  1. Danielle
    September 12, 2012 at 1:02 pm #

    This is brilliant!

  2. September 12, 2012 at 1:33 pm #

    YES to all of this. I saw that picture going around facebook the other day, and I couldn’t believe that some parents would go to such great lengths to apologize for their children. Babies cry. It’s that simple. There is nothing wrong with it, and nothing that needs to be apologized for.
    In the past, I remember being out with my son when he was a baby, and feeling like I should apologize to people for his noise levels or behavior, and every time I did, it always felt awful. Then I realized why that was. It’s because babies and toddlers are noisy creatures. They don’t understand social expectations; especially the unrealistic ones that say that babies and children should be seen and not heard.
    Thank you for such a well-written and thoughtful post! I’m so glad I found your blog!

    • September 12, 2012 at 1:37 pm #

      Thank you, Kantal! You are right on, babies cry. It’s that simple. Hurts that not everyone feels that way.

  3. Krystal
    September 12, 2012 at 2:08 pm #

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading this. I remember flying across the country by myself with my daughter who was only 6 months at the time. I remember friends telling me I should give her Benadryl to make sure she was quiet during the flight, but I decided not to… it’s silly to think I should medicate a child to prevent them from crying.
    I recall feeling incredibly nervous to fly alone with her because I didn’t want to “disturb” anyone else, but I was lucky she didn’t make a peep! BUT the second time I flew with her shortly after her 1st birthday, with my husband who just returned from Afghanistan after a year long deployment… mind you, who had never been in public with her during a fit… yeah, that was a different story. I was the ONLY one who could comfort her. She was uncomfortable, over tired, and didn’t like being confined in a very small space.. I don’t blame her at all! My daughter cried, fussed, whined and I felt horrible, especially because my husband wanted to help so badly to soothe her but had no luck. At this point, I didn’t feel like I needed to be apologetic to A lot of people forget that we were all babies… toddlers… a CHILD at one point in our lives! I will never ever apologize for my child being uncomfortable and frustrated due to their limited communication. I don’t think any parent should!

    • Krystal
      September 12, 2012 at 2:10 pm #

      ***apologetic to fellow passengers ***

    • September 12, 2012 at 9:25 pm #

      Thank you, Krystal. I agree; no parent should have to apologize for their children because as you stated, we were ALL children once. Thank you for your comment!

  4. September 14, 2012 at 8:43 am #

    If you had a flight when you were sick with a cold, do you think you might apologize to the person next to you for sneezing the whole flight?

    I think… It’s not unreasonable to apologize for something that doesn’t require an apology. Especially on an airplane. You might apologize for bumping someone, which is inevitable, or for having to get out from a window seat to use the restroom. Airplanes are anger-making machines, and a little unnecessary courtesy is like grease.

    One thing that bothered/saddened me about the note was the desperation of the parents. It’s ok to worry about bothering other people, but the level of anxiety displayed is depressing. And staying up all night making goodie bags? The parents of 14 week old twins just cannot afford that much sleep.

    Another thing that rubs me the wrong way is that the anti-child commenters don’t seem to realize this is above and beyond, not “see, this is how every parent should act!” I think it’s kind of a cute gesture, but it’s extra, not expected. I’ll be flying with my 16 month old next month, and I will be bringing a box of ear plugs (which I DON’T think I’m obliged to do) and I’ll do my best to keep him from bothering other passengers (which I DO think I’m obliged to do). But he’s a toddler. If he screams the whole flight I’m not going to feel guilty about it, or like I’ve failed.

    I will apologize though. It sucks being stuck next to someone screaming on an airplane, and I AM sorry… Even though I and my son won’t have done anything at all wrong.

    • September 14, 2012 at 9:05 am #

      I would certainly apologize for sneezing during a flight; but I don’t feel a baby crying is anything like sneezing. That was my point here, that a baby crying is more like you or me talking during a flight. Would you apologize for that? The fact that so many fail to see that a baby’s cry is just how they communicate, not something that we should feel a need to offer an apology for, is what saddens me. They don’t need us to tell others we’re sorry, in my opinion. I totally get that others may feel that way, but I wouldn’t help to further it by actually apologizing. I’d look at them and smile maybe, but to me it’s just a part of life and needs no mention at all. People should be used to it by now, 2012, when the world has seen billions of babies come and grow. But we aren’t I suppose.

      • September 14, 2012 at 9:21 am #

        If I could only speak in a yell, I would certainly apologize to the people around me, before continuing my conversation. I think part of the trouble we’re running into is that there are a range of reasons to apologize. There’s sympathy, like when someone tells you they’ve had a terrible day, and you say you’re sorry, and there’s guilt, when you’re sorry for something you’ve done wrong. Apologizing for a crying baby is (ideally) neither of these things. It’s the awareness that your child is causing the people around them discomfort, through no one’s fault. And that’s not a bad thing. Awareness of how we affect those around us is important whoever we are, and it’s absolutely something I intend to pass on to my children. Children have the same rights as adults to communicate and exist, but they also have the obligation to gradually take on the same social responsibility as adults. That means parents aren’t immune to agknowleding that their kids are bothering other people. Of course, that same social responsibility requires those adults to agknowledge that the children and parents can’t necessarily help it, but the anti-child people seem to have forgotten that.

      • September 14, 2012 at 2:51 pm #

        Meagan, I don’t feel that a crying child should cause us so much discomfort that we feel an apology is warranted, at all. It’s a normal part of life. To me, the fact that they can only communicate distress by crying is even more reason to not have to apologize for it – they can’t help it. I agree with giving another person an understanding smile, but I think that babies are exempt from any obligation to observe social tact. They can’t understand it. I don’t agree with training baby training, at all. Especially not training them to learn a message as dangerous as, “Even if this is the way you were created, if it’s bothering someone else, you should feel sorry.” I am not immune to knowing if my children are bothering someone but if someone is bothered by my baby crying, it truly is their problem, and I don’t mean that to be harsh or rude. But babies crying is not, to me, something that should cause others discomfort, and I do feel that apologizing for my baby would be a sort of agreement on my part that it should. Most of us have been trained to feel that it’s something worthy of an apology, but I plan to not pass that belief on to my children.

      • September 14, 2012 at 6:00 pm #

        (I’m not sure where this will appear… This is in response to your latest comment)

        “Babies crying is not, to me, something that should cause others discomfort” This statement doesn’t disagree with my opinion, it disagrees with science. We are biologically hard wired to not just be uncomfortable with the sound of crying, but to be upset by it. Never mind that it’s loud and can actually be painful if you’re close by, we’ve modeled sirens and alarms after the sound because it’s an *alarming* noise. It doesn’t matter if you’re the child-hater glaring at any newborn who makes a peep or the most sympathetic mother in the world, agknowledgeing your toddler’s frustration without shushing or trying to shut down her tears, the sound of a baby crying raises your blood pressure, it brings out stress hormones. It’s GOOD that the sound of crying upsets us, I’d worry about someone who was truly unbothered by the sound of crying. I think that kind of universal physical reaction is significant discomfort, and to not acknowledge it is oblivious at best, potentially downright rude.

        Now, it could be that I’m just using the wrong word here. Apology implies fault, but the words “I’m sorry,” don’t necessarily. I think it’s important to acknowledge that a baby crying is upsetting. That doesn’t mean I think we should admit fault, or suggest that babies shouldn’t cry.

        No, I don’t think babies are oblidged to observe social tact, but I do think they are obliged to learn social harmony, that’s part of being a member of a community. That doesn’t mean they can be expected to change their behavior, it takes years and years! But it starts with them seeing mom and dad show respect for the feelings of others, even total strangers. I think kids need to learn that their feelings are valid and important… But so are other people’s.

        It occurred to me while debating this with you that I don’t think I follow my own “rules” in every instance. The very people that think they are entitled to an apology won’t get anything resembling one from me. Because if I see someone glaring at me and my amazingly adorable boy the second we set foot on the plane, before he’s even had a chance to do anything sweet or annoying, they’ve already decided to opt out of the social contract. It’s the people who smile, who are compassionate or helpful, these are the people that make up my temporary community, and these are the people who I will turn to with sympathy, with a shrug and a rueful smile, and say, “Sorry about that. And thank you.”

  5. September 14, 2012 at 1:50 pm #

    I applaud the liberated thinking behind this. I agree with you and yet, I know that I have many many times, apologized for my children’s lack of “adult” behavior…which I know is insane and irrational. It comes from my own insecurities and my own desire to be accepted…probably because I was NOT allowed to be myself as a loud, energetic and spirited child. If we brake this cycle NOW, maybe we can raise children who will grow into adults without shame in their being over their feelings and instincts, maybe they will grow up to trust themselves and trust their intuition and their bodies…and they will not just “do as they’re told”. I have had to reshape my thinking to understand this in my core, and I refuse to raise another generation who lives their life for the approval of strangers rather than from the heart.

    • September 14, 2012 at 3:02 pm #

      Annette, same here! I used to get so embarrassed when out with my eldest, if she didn’t act just like I was acting, or like I wanted her to. It unnerved me to see her behave like a young, silly child…and I concluded the same thing you did – that it was my own insecurities and my desire to be accepted. I do not have to pass this on to my daughters. My girls love to be social but they each have a strong sense of self. If the way they are caused someone to not accept them, so be it. I was just like my eldest when I was younger but I was trained into being someone else, and I just don’t want to do that to my daughters. It is very hard, I still catch myself reminding them in public, but I try always to question it. There’s a big difference between a 9yo and an infant, I know, but they are both children. And, getting back to this post, I just feel infants are exempt from ANY expectations we as adults have of them. It makes no sense to expect anything from a baby, but whatever she is doing.

  6. September 17, 2012 at 5:17 am #

    I’m disappointed that we live in a society wherein parents are SO AFRAID of other people’s ire that they feel the need to apologize ahead of time for the probability that their children might cry & annoy others. It’s one thing to, yes, be considerate of other passengers’ discomfort (I’m all for the ear plugs), but the fact that we assume (correctly) that the default setting for adults is that they respond with hatred, anger, & irritation toward helpless infants is truly sad. And furthermore that these adults can be successfully bribed with candy & a pre-apology is even worse. Why isn’t empathy the default setting?? It’s just so weird to me. Maybe the note & candy was just a way to connect to with others first–before pissing them off, & thus hoping for kindness on their part. Personally, I think people should be kind BEFORE & WITHOUT any bribery, apology, or candy. :)

  7. Meredith
    October 2, 2012 at 11:13 am #

    This attitude is very common and when I was a new parent I felt the need to constantly apologize for my kids, even as babies! Now I am more confident in things but it still saddens me when people are ignorant or unfeeling.

    I homeschool and yesterday I took my three boys to a local museum on a field trip. My 8 month old daughter was in the stroller making her adorable “I can use my voice to talk now” noises when another patron (woman in her 40’s) came huffing up to us very upset and demanded that I give HIM a pacifier immediately to keep HIM quiet because the noise was echoing all over the place. Then later a docent scolded me and my 9 year old son because he was HOLDING his sister and that was dangerous. He was crestfallen. I was too. Sigh.


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