In a new book called Childism: Confronting Our Prejudice Against Children, late psychoanalyst and scholar Elisabeth Young-Bruehl discusses what she calls "childism," something she defines as the general way our culture views children as inferior beings and thus sets them up for a lifetime of inferiority complexes. The book looks fascinating and while reviews suggest I might not agree with her overall premise (she believes every time a teacher assigns too much homework, they are being "childist"), I do agree with the idea that our culture is childist.
We talk a big game about being family-friendly and that we appreciate "family values," but when it comes down to it, people seem to hate children and the mamas who produce them.
Maybe it's because we live in a culture that celebrates the individual over the community, but there is often the strong sense that "your kid and your breeding habits are not my problem." And sure, I agree. If we take out the fact that MY KIDS WILL BE WIPING YOUR GERIATRIC BEHIND good sir who just slammed the door in my face at the grocery store. But I digress. Here are a few examples of child-hating I have seen just in recent months:
- The Stroller Eye-Roller: What is it about double strollers? People just sneer at them when they see us coming down the sidewalk. I get it, they are big. I know this especially because I am usually the one pushing it. But come on, do you really have to mumble under your breath about my SUV sized stroller and my selfishness? My children are loud, but not that loud. I CAN HEAR YOU.
- The Disturbed Citizen: My kids are generally well-behaved in public, but we sometimes stay out too long past nap time or we try to run too many errands in a single day and the result is meltdown city. I am fine with this. I get my kids out of the cart and leave as quickly as possible. But I can't count the number of times I have been on my way out the door and someone has made a snide remark about "breeders and their screaming brats" or some other nonsense. Hey you! Over there with the cellphone saying my kids are loud! Yeah, you! Guess what?! Your "conversation" is far more rude and disruptive than my kids are any day. Take that!
- The "Adults Only" Bridezilla: I am a complete hypocrite here because I had an adults only wedding. In my defense, I was 25. I didn't know any better. Also, I don't like having my kids at weddings, so even if you do me the courtesy of welcoming my children, I will almost invariably leave them with a sitter. After all, mama can't get her drink on and dance the Mambo with kids in tow; however, for an out of town wedding where I don't have any local sitter, I may have no choice. Unless you provide a sitter, "adults only" weddings are pretty childist.
- The Childless Facebook Friend: What is WRONG with the people who constantly say they hate kid photos on Facebook? If you don't like to see children smiling and adorable on the book that has a face, maybe YOU are the one with the problem. Don't click if you don't like it. Jeesh.
- The Starbucks Door Slammer: Generally, I believe in the art of holding doors. If I see an elderly woman, I hold the door. If I see a man who has too many bags, I hold the door. If I see a PERSON who needs HELP, I hold the door. But some people seem to love to slam doors on parents just on principle. A friend told me she was once jammed in a door with her double stroller, weighed down with groceries, and a man jumped over her stroller to get out the door. It's just bad manners, people.
- The Subway Riding Hipster: This is a controversial one since some people believe they're entitled to the seat if they get there first. And I agree. But I also believe MORE that we are a community of people and we should love our neighbor and help them while they're in need. This translates to: Stand up, please, you oblivious hipster wearing suspenders and a bolo hat. Your able body can take these jerks and stops better than a mom's nine-month belly can if she falls.
- Old Ladies in Public: A friend told me that recently she was in the CHILD'S section of a concert when a couple of older women came up to her daughter and told her to be quiet. "I am trying to listen," the woman said. Mind you, she was in the kids' section, not the other way around. Maybe there should have been a "killjoy old lady" section, too?
What ways have you experienced child hate?