I was talking with a friend recently about the issue of children, and how they are thrust upon society as a collective whole. It’s kind of a recurrent theme for me, I know, but I came to a realization as I was talking with this person about how terrible children are in the retail environment. And that realization is this:
When an awful child is raised, it grows up into an awful person.
I realize that this is a pretty basic thing, but I hadn’t really thought of it this way. I know a number of people who lack all perception of boundaries and respect, and I just realized that it’s because they had been raised that way, in a world centered wholly around them in which they were never asked to have consideration for others. So bad parents don’t just annoy the people who have to deal with their children when they are children, they also contribute to a systemic breakdown of society.
And they also do their children a grave disservice, because awful people tend to have trouble making friends, establishing connections, and, you know, functioning in society. Thus, I put forward the argument that bad parents really need to clean up their act for the benefit of their own precious little angels, not just to spare the rest of us. Because once those people reach adulthood, it’s too late. You can’t modify their behavior, because it’s simply too entrenched.
Now, I must digress for a moment and expound upon the nature of a “bad parent.” I think that there are two kinds of parents. There are people who abuse/torment/neglect children, who should not be allowed to have children, and who really should just be taken out back and shot, or abandoned in a pit of vipers on live television, or something. Those people are awful, despicable people, and they’re going to get what’s coming to them, someday.
Then, there are the parents who genuinely do mean well for their children, and seem to care about them, but just don’t know how to raise children. These are the “Mendo Mamas,” as we call them (although they aren’t limited to Mendo). They are the all-organic-handmade-harvested-by-native-peoples-all-natural-crunchy-granola-me-me-ME parents. These are the people who almost seem to have children for fun, as an accessory, who want to retain their immaculate yuppie lifestyles while also indulging the desire to have a child. The parents who have self entitlement sticking out in every direction, who refuse to discipline or teach their children, while screaming at people who dare to suggest that their child might be endangering itself/annoying someone/about to break something/etc. These are the parents who raise entitled, bratty, self-centered children, and these are the “bad parents” I am talking about here.
I think you know the kind I’m talking about. You know, when the kid throws down its juice glass in your restaurant and the mother weakly says “oh, honey, that’s not nice,” and puts it back, and the kid does it again, and then starts screaming because it doesn’t want to be there, and the mother says “oh, kids, they’re just so cute!” Or the parent who shrieks “DON’T TELL ME HOW TO RAISE MY CHILD” when you gently pry the unsupervised child’s hands out of a light socket/off a $4,000 lamp/away from the dog which is about to bite it.
These are the parents who insist on dragging their children everywhere, even when they are obviously miserable, and who make a big production about it. When the children scream in a retail store and other patrons blanch, the parents glare. When they run amok around a restaurant with no supervision, causing the host to look slightly faint, the parents look on indulgently while they continue boozing and yakking. When they race up to properly leashed and controlled dogs/horses/whatever and get bitten/kicked because the animals are frightened, the parents have the audacity to get angry with the animal’s handler. Because the entire world revolves around those parents and their children, and everything must be organized for the benefits of those parents. For their convenience.
And, the thing is, those kids are freakin’ annoying. Like, really, really, really annoying. And this type of parenting is so common these days that if I am heading into a store/restaurant/bank (true story!)/post office/whatever and I see children, I turn right around and leave. And I’m astonished and floored when I meet a child who is polite and respectful, with parents who do set boundaries and expect to see them followed.
There’s this “it takes a village” attitude that some people seem to have, and that’s fine, but you can’t let your children run wild in the village. That’s not actually how it works. The whole idea behind this philosophy is that good people are responsible, sensitive to the needs of others, courteous, and they contribute to society because they have been taught to do so. Failing to control your children and whining about the hardships of parenting while everyone else chases after the child you can barely be bothered to keep it out of the street? That’s not parenting. That’s just greedy self indulgence.
Those of us who dare not to have children and to express disinterest in them are constantly criticized for our choices, but honestly, all other issues aside, I wouldn’t want to bring a child into a world where he or she will be surrounded by selfish, rude, nasty people who have no idea how to act civil, and recoil in horror and anger when they are corrected, because their parents never taught them how to interact in the real world. When I was growing up (in a village) in Greece, everyone did participate in the raising/disciplining/education of children, and you know what? I learned that I needed to respect other people. That it was easier to be kind than to be cruel. That by paying attention to others, I could indirectly benefit. That when someone asked me to do/not do something, I should comply. This “village” that the Mendo Mamas are in is a pretty far cry from my village.