Pet peeves about how we deal with children here in the US

As those of you who read my blog have likely already figured out, I have no problem speaking whatever is on top of my mind.  This post has been steaming in my head for some time, but I avoided writing it as I have a feeling that it will offend some people.  If this post does offend you, then I can't say I'm sorry.

As many of you know, I have serious issues with how children are treated in this country. By many people, children are treated as liabilities and nuisances, not as the miracles they are. Sure, kids can be bad and misbehave, but that's what kids do. 

So, getting to my pet peeves, there are two practices that I only see in this country that I find abominable.  I'm sure some of you still reading this have done one or both of these in the past.  I'm sure some of you will probably disagree with this and continue to do them in the future.  But if this post influences one person at least somewhat, it will be successful in my eyes. 

The crying method

This, supposedly scientific method, is practiced by a large number of people to make their kids sleep in their own beds and not the beds of their parents.  I know a number of people who did this, several of whom on recommendations from their pediatricians.  The method is simple - put the kid in his/her bed and then go into your room and lock the door.  The poor kid will come running to your door and bang on it, but you do not let him/her in.  After a week, the child will no longer come to his/her parents' room.

Personally, I believe that any pediatrician that recommends this method should be stripped of his/her license and the parents placed in jail - it is that cruel.  Think of this - you are everything to that child - a best friend, a loving guardian, a protector.  When they are scared, you are the one they turn to.  So what have you taught the child by doing this?  You have not taught them to sleep in their bed.  You have taught them that they can no longer depend on you as a protector.  They come to your bed at night because they feel the need for comfort and protection.  When you deny this, you are telling your children that they can no longer depend on you.  I suspect this is one of the primary reasons that family bonds are not strong in this country.

As long as my kids ask for me for protection and comfort, I intend to provide it.  I see no need in forcing kids to spend the entire night in their beds if that frightens them.  In our case, we used to lay down in their beds with them until they fell asleep, then go to our bed.  Our younger one now almost never comes to our bed, while our older one will still often come in the middle of the night.  When he does come, we allow him to sleep in our bed, though occasionally we move him back to his bed when he is asleep.  This allows us to have some privacy while still comforting them when they need it.

Loud children in public places

My goal when my kids are out and about is to prevent the following things.

1) That they don't kill themselves or each other

2) That they don't destroy anything or hurt anyone.

3) Kids have two volumes - loud and louder.  If possible, I try to keep them at the loud volume.

If I achieve these goals, I am happy.  We travel a great number of places with our kids.  We did take one vacation (Dubai) without them, which we regretted - so ever since they come with us on every vacation.  Around Seattle, we almost always take them wherever we go.  Sure, my wife and I will go out together sometimes and when we do take them out we try to go to restaurants that cater to kids.

However, it is a known fact that kids scream, have tantrums, and can be noisy.  Kids naturally do this.  My older son (4 years) has been to eight countries outside of the US.  My younger son (3 years) has been to six.  In not one of them did we ever have an occasion where a non-American/Canadian said anything to us or our child.  On the contrary, they were welcomed wherever we went and the locals often smiled at them, patted their heads, and sometimes gave them candy.  This is certainly not the case in the US.

For some reason, many individuals here think this is an army boot camp.  Our kids can be quiet for three hours, but a subsequent five minute tantrum gets us a rebuke.  To be honest, I am downright sick of it and no longer respond kindly.  Generally when my kids are having tantrums, my goal is to ease the tantrum. Sometimes this involves teaching a lesson.  For instance, many times when my kids want candy I am not going to give it to them - because they already had enough.  No matter how much my kids scream, I will not give it to them.  Instead, I try to take their attention away to something else to calm them down - but sometimes this takes awhile when they are particularly stubborn.

When you interrupt me trying to calm my kids down to tell me they are noisy, you are not telling me anything new and you are being extremely rude.  In other countries, when my kids have fits locals sometimes make silly faces and try to calm down the kids themselves.  This is most welcome and appreciated.  So the next time you are sitting near a noisy child, avoid saying anything about it.  The parents are already aware of the situation and are handling it in the way they feel is best.

Comments (6)

  1. Shadowin says:

    I hope you don’t try to ease your child’s fit while inside of a movie theater. I really can’t stand people who are so rude as to not take their children out of the movies until they calm down (particularly when it’s a Rated-R movie after 9pm… this happened recently).

  2. Travis says:

    If your going to post/rant about how not to do things, at least post your opinion on how it should be done!  Specifically "The crying method", how would you get the child out of that habit?

  3. jscalev says:

    Shadowin – I also agree that children should not be in R rated movies. Whenever we take kids somewhere, we make sure it is someplace for them – not just for us. However, if you are going to a G rated movie then you’ll need to live with it. Huge tantrums usually require us to take our kids from the theater, but short outbursts and talking are ordinary.

    Travis – Why do you need to get the child out of the habit? As long as they seek us for protection and comfort, we should supply it. Why have children if you are not prepared to be there for them?

  4. Manoj says:

    I couldn’t agree more with Joe on both the points.

    Well said – "As long as they seek us for protection and comfort, we should supply it. Why have children if you are not prepared to be there for them".

    I wish there were more people in US as sensible as you are.

  5. Travis says:

    Protection from what?  The boogy man?  Most homes are safe from harmful entities.  Especially homes with children.  Or at least they should be.

    Most married couples are “intimate”, how do you handle that?  Kick the kid to the curb while you get it on for a couple hours then re-invite the child in?  What happens if the child knocks on the door during that time?  Are you still there for them?

    Will you still have the same opinion when the child is 5, 8, 10 or 12?  Same practice?

    I’m not advocating the “locking the door” method one bit.  I’m simply curious as how other parents handle that situation.

  6. jscalev says:

    Travis, it seems to me that you do not have children so perhaps you should hold your comments until then.

    Many things are frightening to children that seem harmless to us. For instance, my 3 year old is frightened of chickens and believes they hide waiting for him. We tell him that chickens are nice and not harmful, but still hold him when he is scared.

    In terms of staying intimate, the easiest way is to lay down with the child in his/her bed until he/she is asleep, then go to your bed. Our kids always have slept for several hours before waking up.

    The fact is when you have kids you need to be prepared to be there for them. The minute you have a child, you no longer own your schedule, they do.

    I think that is the thing that most disgusts me about many people here – they find kids ‘inconvenient’ for them. In terms of age – 5,8,10, or 12 I plan to be there for my children as long as they require it.

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