33 responses to “Do Childless Folks Have a Valid Opinion About Parenting?”

  1. Briana

    Warning, I’m going play devil’s advocate. The thing is, I do think I know a lot more about parenting now that I’m a parent. What’s gets sticky is when we inform non-parents that they don’t have a valid opinion.

    I remember several years ago getting into a chat room argument (dear lord) with a mom who asserted that it was her right to let her children run around restaurants and crawl under tables. I thought that children should be taught to behave in restaurants, but she told me I had “no right to my opinion” because I wasn’t a parent and that if I didn’t like children crawling around on restaurant floors then I should be the one to stay home.

    The whole awful exchange made me feel a couple things. One was that I was a bad person for having an opinion (who can help that? it’s human nature), and the other was that I was a nobody. Not a mom? Who cares what you think? Put up with my kids and shut up.

    Since becoming a parent, I’ve remembered what this felt like and I try very hard not to under value someone’s opinion if they don’t have children. They have a right to not like being kicked in the seat, to enjoy their dinner out, to grocery shop without tripping over a running toddler. As much as I can, I make sure to put those people first by teaching my toddler how to behave in public and disciplining myself to not take the easy way out by letting him get away with misbehavior.

    Other issues, like what he eats and where he sleeps, isn’t as obvious to outsiders, but they can still think what they want. My sister thinks my 2 year old should be allowed a sip of her coke? Well, she’s right, one sip won’t hurt him. Someone thinks he should sleep in his own bed all night? They’re right, he should, we’re working on that believe me. Really, sometimes it’s outsiders who see the “big picture” and it’s us on the inside who make matters complicated.

    1. Kimberly

      Wow. I’m a parent and allowing your child to crawl around a restaurant is plain dangerous an neglectful.

  2. Renee Anne

    I, too, read Bruni’s article. And I, too, agreed with what he had to say. Unfortunately, I think that because he’s never truly walked the “dad” line, what he says doesn’t have as much weight as it would coming from you or me. I said many of the same things about parenting and raising children before I had one of my own and my friends with kids would tell me I had no idea what I was in for or what I was talking about. Now that I say the same things that I said BK (before kids), they applaud me for it.

    I don’t understand it. It’s just the way it is.

  3. Kayris

    I think, even if we agree with what the childless think, that they don’t always know how HARD that can be. When you have a newborn and a toddler and are beyond exhausted, sometimes it’s trickier to tackle a parenting moment than it seems. So that time that my son dropped a bowl of Cheerios a a restaurant and I apologized to the waiter and gave him an extra large tip and he said he didn’t mind taking care of it, perhaps someone across the room thought I was selfish for not picking them up.

    Or the time in an ice cream shop, when my toddlers chair collapsed when he sat on it, he fell and hit his head and spilled his milkshake and started to cry and woke up his baby sister, and I had to endure nasty looks from a girl in the corner on a laptop.

    Or last month in a shoe store when I raised my voice to my children to behave because “this is a shoe store. Not a playground. Sit down and be quiet for five minutes…or else…” And a college aged girl looked at me in horror.

    In short, I don’t think you need to experience something to have a valid opinion. But sometimes the experience itself can give added insight. Also, no matter what you do, someone will judge and think you are doing it wrong. I gave up caring what strangers think a long time ago.

  4. Susan

    I think the old adage “it takes a village” is pretty apt here. The problem is that we’re all on the defensive about child-rearing, assuming that any commentary is a criticism about who we are (since parenting has taken over our whole identity!). If we could put ourselves in the mindset (not that I always can, mind you) that we are all in this together trying to build a better society made of better people, where all adults have a stake in raising children who will be “better” adults, maybe we could listen to each other instead of playing a blame game.

  5. Melanie

    Denise, like you, I nodded all the way through Bruni’s article. In fact, even before I read your parenting.com response, I wondered if much of it had been cribbed from your book.

    Clearly Bruni has a journalist’s great powers of observation, speculation, and imagination, presented in a readable and compelling fashion. Does he have the *right* to judge, criticize or offer advice? It’s a tough nut when I agree with him to say otherwise and I’m a bit torn, but I’ll offer up my own experience.

    My sister had her children almost 19 years before I had mine, and I distinctly remember having some strong opinions about some of her methods. To wit, she breast fed her second daughter until *gasp!* she was 11 months old and I thought this was some sort of weird neediness on her part. I remember feeling quite sheepish when my own daughter wasn’t fully weaned until she was nearly two. It worked for us.

    Another example was getting similar criticism from my brother, who felt that me co-sleeping with my daughter until 11 months was another kind of neediness. For me, it was convenience, intuition, and again, something that worked for us. Ironically, they had two kids a few years after mine, and their daughter still sleeps in their family bed at over a year.

    Lastly, my twin has a son very close in age to my daughter. Being close, we talked about a lot of parenting techniques and what we found was that what would work for one might not work for the other.

    I guess my point is, parenting on the specifics comes down to situation, personal preference, and the personalities involved. I’m sure parents of more than one child can attest that often times their strategies must be different for one child than another. It is *so very easy* to say a person “should” do this or that, but entirely impossible to do so with any degree of precision until you have done it yourself, not just as a parent, but even so far as a parent of that particular child.

    Bruni has every right to lament, on a macro level, about the results of hyphenated gerund parenting, perhaps every right to speculate how it is the current parenting trends created “Millennials” with all their sense of entitlement. I did it before I became a parent and continue to do so afterward. I’m not so convinced I can consider him an authoritative source of parenting advice when he’s never actually done it. Akin to you bristling at marriage advice from a Catholic priest, I’m not sure I’d get sex counselling from a eunuch, take wine selection suggestions from a teetotaller either, or dog obedience classes from someone who has never had a dog.

    I’m afraid Bruni’s article, as much as I agree with the substance of it, can only be considered anecdotal.

    1. carmelite

      Exactly! Walk a mile in our shoes, childless folk, walk a mile.

      By the way, I was pretty darned judgmental of parenting techniques before I had my own too! Most of what I thought was right has completely changed since then. Thanks Denise! You have played some part in that process!

  6. Sabrina

    I don’t ever EVER comment on someone else’s parenting (at least not to their face, I might think it in my head or tell my husband later). Before I had kids or now that I have one– you don’t know what it is like to be that person, in that moment, with that child. What works with my son might not work for yours. I will saying regarding Bruni’s article that he clearly doesn’t understand the psychology (insanity!) of toddlers if he doesn’t understand giving them so many “options.” If it’s between offering your 2 year old a choice between two different foods, or tell them “this is what you are eating” and endure a tantrum, I’m pretty sure he’d come on board with all the options quickly!

  7. Kimberly

    Yes. They have a right to their opinion. Most everyone has an opinion on the president even though they have never been president. People have a right to an opinion on whatever they please.

    I have a child and happen to agree with the NYT writer. I think the same way now about child rearing as I did well before I had a child.

  8. carmelite

    I have to say, I get REALLY irritated when non-parents judge parenting styles. The worst, though, for me, is when people complain about crying babies on airplanes. That’s not something a parent can help, and is such an expression of self-centerdness on the part of childless adults, in my opinion. What do they expect the young of our species to do, stay hidden out of sight? Don’t they realize they were once crying, pooping, spitting-up infants too, and someone wiped their bottoms for them and held them tenderly through their tears?

    Sorry, but this gets me a bit wound up. To be honest, I think the real problem is how age-segregated our society is. In some cultures, even some modern European cultures, it is quite common for almost all social activities to be multi-generational affairs. In the US, you rarely see that kind of thing. I think that children in more integrated cultures are often better behaved, because they have to mix with others of all ages, and, consequently, the whole community participates in raising them. Childless adults in that kind of community have been participating in childcare since they could carry younger siblings and cousins, and are not as easily put off by normal child behavior, and may even put out a little effort to help a parent who is struggling.

    As far as I’m concerned, childless adults in our society should take some responsibility for helping to raise our children. It is a community responsibility. If they are doing their part, then their opinions should have some weight. Otherwise, they can keep it to themselves.

    1. Kimberly

      I disagree with you on this. It’s not just babies crying, it’s kids kicking the seats of others and acting crazy. I think that unless it is an absolute dire emergency, a plane is no place for small kids. Not only are they going to be miserable, but the adults they are disturbing are going to be miserable too. It’s a small tube that is stuffy and crowded. I think it’s a bit selfish on parents part to cart cranky infants and ill-behaved small children on a plane. I think that they are the ones who are selfish to impose their children on others. They paid to fly just like you did, except there is a good chance you are holding your child or sharing your seat, which makes the situation even harder.

      It is also not a community responsibility for people to help raise your children. If it were a community responsibility you wouldn’t get defensive when someone corrects your child in public or tries to give you advice. Others did not sign up for your child. Just like others did not sign up for mine.

      I don’t have a lot of tolerance or empathy for people with misbehaved kids because I raised my child the way people like the NYT author thinks they should be raised and she never threw a tantrum in public, ever. She never kicked other’s seats in the movie or anywhere else. I never wimped out and said I was tired and others should cut me some slack, or that parent-less kids just don’t understand. That is an excuse that people use not to raise their kids in an acceptable manner. Defensive parents who won’t listen to the opinions of others are usually the parents with the kids crawling under tables and acting like maniacs.

      The attitude that childless adults can’t be right because they don’t have kids is holier than thou and dismissive. I feel like it’s a bit immature as well.

      1. carmelite

        I guess we are just going to disagree on this, Kimberly. I do agree with the NYT writer as well, as to how kids ought to be behaved and raised, but we don’t live in an ideal world. Some children have behavior problems that are completely unrelated to parenting efforts: autism, ADD, and other developmental disorders. I know a parent whose son has autism who has been repeatedly fussed at by others about his son’s behavior in public. He has been told, point blank, that he just should not bring his son out in public, to places like zoos, or museums, or even parks. Is this really the kind of world we want to live in, where children, the disabled, and anyone who makes our lives less comfortable or pleasant is relegated to living on the outskirts of society, or hiding in their homes?

        Admittedly, this is an extreme example. But I think it is indicative of a larger attitude of intolerance and selfishness. It’s true, no one else signed up to have my kid, but we are all signed up to live in these communities together, and that requires some degree of helping one another to clean up messes and remedy errors that may not be of our own making. Don’t we ask our kids to pitch in to help their families, even though they never signed up for membership? Why do we make them do chores to maintain a household they have no vote in, and never decided to join? Could it be because, whether they choose to be or not, they are part of the human race, part of their community and part of a family. As members of society, we all owe it to one another to support and help each other. Very few of us can do this all on our own, and who would want to? If you find yourself in the position where things have gone well for you, so far, and you have not had to fall back on the kindness and support of your community, count yourself lucky.

        I took an airplane flight with my infant son to go and stay with my mother, because, at the time, it was the best choice for us. I was living far from my family, and my son’s father had turned out to be a useless alcoholic who was no help at all. My son had constant, all-day colic. Few of my “friends”, who were themselves mostly childless, stepped up to help me at all. I went to stay with my mother because I could not raise my constantly crying son alone, in poverty.

        Now, did I make some poor decisions that landed me in this untenable situation? Of course! Who has not made a few poor decisions in his/her day? Was that anyone else on the airplanes’s fault? Not at all. That doesn’t absolve them from a human imperative to have compassion for those who are struggling to find their way. What did they know of me and my circumstances? Some women are raising children that are the result of rape, and have very little support or help. A slightly less than pleasant airplane flight is not a terrible thing for someone to have to cope with, in the grand scheme of things. If my son was bothered by a baby crying nearby on a plane, I’d tell him to suck it up and think how hard it might be for the parents and baby (maybe I’d use kinder language to explain this to him, but you get the jist:).

        I guess, when I think about it, whether you are childless or a parent is really beside the point. The point is this: who has the right to cast the first stone? It’s just possibly a bit more galling for me when the stone caster can have no idea at all what they are talking about, such as childless people who judge parents.

        In most societies, the world over, it is considered, at least to some extent, a community responsibility to raise children. Heck, even in our rabidly individualistic culture, we still pay taxes so that all kids can attend school (we do whine about it constantly, though). I feel that our society is lacking an education for young people about how to interact with children and the elderly? We are so militantly age-segregated these days. Even two kids who are pretty close in age, maybe only a couple of years apart, are usually segregated by age into grades at school, on separate teams for sports, etc. When are young people ever supposed to learn about how to interact with those who are younger than them? When do they learn to play more gently so the little kid can join, or to lose a little bit so someone smaller can win? When do they learn that their needs may have to take a back seat to those of the baby simply because the baby is a baby, and is helpless and small? Many of our kids don’t even grow up in large families anymore, where they can practice some of these skills at home. Many grow up a lot later than they used to, in fact. In our grandparents generation, Older kids were expected to help care for younger kids in their own families and neighborhoods, and young adults were usually all parents already themselves. So many people these days make it through their twenties without ever having to put anyone else’s needs before their own.

        1. Kaye

          Community is one thing, but wanting people take responsibility for your child is another. If I wanted to be responsible for a child (and not be paid for it), I’d have my own. I will gladly help someone I see in need, regardless of age, if I’m able to. However, I am not going to drop what I’m doing to be a babysitter. Just as I don’t expect anyone to take responsibility for myself and family, I don’t take responsibility for others unless I chose to.

          “So many people these days make it through their twenties without ever having to put anyone else’s needs before their own.”

          And this is bad because…? Are we all supposed to have children by the time we’re twenty?

          “When do they learn to play more gently so the little kid can join, or to lose a little bit so someone smaller can win?”

          So let me get this straight: Because someone is “smaller”, someone who’s “bigger” should always be required to “play nice” so as not to hurt their little feelings? The world does not work that way. Children cannot be a part of everything. That’s why places like bars have age restrictions (or are supposed to anyway). And what does the child learn? That they win just for being little? How long does that work?

          I remember being told a few times as a child I could not do something because I was too young. I might’ve cried, I might have not, but either way, I got over it and found something I could do.

          “Don’t we ask our kids to pitch in to help their families, even though they never signed up for membership? Why do we make them do chores to maintain a household they have no vote in, and never decided to join? Could it be because, whether they choose to be or not, they are part of the human race, part of their community and part of a family.”

          No. It’s because they don’t have a choice until they’re able to support themselves. You do realize that most kids grow up and move away, correct? The day I moved out, I stopped doing chores at my parents’ house. I still visit, but unless I mess up something or offer help, I do not do any work around their house nor do they come over to my house and do work around mine unless they feel like offering.

          However, chores are entirely different from taking responsibility for someone else’s child. What if that kid decides to run into the street and gets hit? Is it the community’s fault for not watching him, despite that only two people had him? No.

          It is not selfish to refuse responsibility for something that is not your fault, but it is selfish to expect to pick up your responsibility because “it takes a village” (until the village has a disliked opinion, of course). I am capable of putting others’ needs before my own and I often do, sometimes to the point that my own needs are ignored or neglected and I literally have to be told to take care of myself.

          “Older kids were expected to help care for younger kids in their own families and neighborhoods, and young adults were usually all parents already themselves.”

          Again, it is not bad that this has changed. Many of my friends and I are older siblings and only one of us does not resent basically having to be a second caregiver to our siblings. That’s because that particular friend and her sibling get along and her sibling is independent. One of my friends went to another state because she tired of having to watch her siblings. We don’t all need (or want) to be parents when we haven’t even been legal adults for long. I have nothing against young parents. However, if someone were to ask me why didn’t have a child in my twenties, we’d have a problem.

          “Many of our kids don’t even grow up in large families anymore, where they can practice some of these skills at home.”

          So if a child doesn’t have 4+ siblings, they can’t practice sharing or such? That’s weird. I only have one sibling, yet I have no problem with sharing, empathy, putting my needs second or most else. And what about school? You know, the place where they’re surrounded by twenty other kids in a classroom?

          “As members of society, we all owe it to one another to support and help each other. Very few of us can do this all on our own, and who would want to?”

          I would because I don’t like owing anyone anything nor do I like being owed anything. The only thing I owe is to act like a decent human being. That does not mean taking on someone else’s responsibility for the sake of “community”. I would actually be embarrassed if I could not take care of and help myself, let alone children I brought into the world on my own choice.

          1. Carmelite

            Kaye: “So let me get this straight: Because someone is ‘smaller’, someone who’s ‘bigger’ should always be required to ‘play nice’ so as not to hurt their little feelings? The world does not work that way. Children cannot be a part of everything. That’s why places like bars have age restrictions (or are supposed to anyway). And what does the child learn? That they win just for being little? How long does that work?”

            No, I don’t think little kids should win all the time. When kids are playing pick up sports games, though, in mixed age groups, it is natural for older kids to alter the rules a bit for the younger ones, or to lob them a softball now and then. I don’t think this teaches little kids that they win just for being little. I think it teaches everyone that we are all playing with different strengths and weaknesses, and, if we want to play together, then we need to adapt to accommodate one another now and then. Of course there are some activities that are just for adults. I love going to the movies without my son. It’s great to have breaks from the kids here and there. Bars may not be the best example, though. Alcoholism is actually much less common in countries like France, where bars are less common and parents tend to drink at home, at dinner, with their kids. Seeing adults drink in moderation, with meals, in a community setting, tends to encourage responsible drinking habits, evidently.

            “No. It’s because they don’t have a choice until they’re able to support themselves. You do realize that most kids grow up and move away, correct? The day I moved out, I stopped doing chores at my parents’ house. I still visit, but unless I mess up something or offer help, I do not do any work around their house nor do they come over to my house and do work around mine unless they feel like offering.”

            Yes, but do you not help to clean up messes in your own home that are not always yours? Do you not pay taxes to have your streets kept clean and in good repair? Do you not report for jury duty? The reason my son does chores is, at least partly, because I want to teach him that he has a duty to his community. That’s why he doesn’t get paid to do them. Allowance is a separate issue. Right now, his community is his household. When he becomes older, his community will be different and bigger. No, he will not likely spend a lot of time cleaning my house once he is an adult, unless, of course, I become too sick or too old to do it all myself. In that case, I sure as hell hope I have raised him to be compassionate enough to help me.

            “Many of my friends and I are older siblings and only one of us does not resent basically having to be a second caregiver to our siblings.”

            I’m sorry that this is your experience. I was an older sibling and cared for my younger siblings quite a bit. I did have moments of resenting it when I was younger. It actually caused me to wait much longer to have my own (this can be considered a side benefit, in my opinion), because I had some glimmer of how hard it would be. I’m grateful for the experience now, though, because it has helped me in the raising of my own son. Also, my very kind and responsible younger siblings are now wonderful aunts and uncles that care for my son on a regular basis. Free of charge. I hope to do the same for them when they have their kids in a few years.

            “I would because I don’t like owing anyone anything nor do I like being owed anything. The only thing I owe is to act like a decent human being. That does not mean taking on someone else’s responsibility for the sake of “community”. I would actually be embarrassed if I could not take care of and help myself, let alone children I brought into the world on my own choice.”

            This is obviously your choice. You strike me as a fiercely independent person who has felt that independence too sharply curtailed, at times, by the demands of others. I, personally, would feel very sad to live like that. What I am trying to talk about is not a sense of “owing” one another anything. This was not the best choice of words, on my part. What I am trying to say here is that I believe we are all best served in serving one another as well as ourselves. Some of us have much to give, and some of us have very little. Often we just have very different gifts. I think we are all enriched when we give what we can and look upon others with as much compassion as we can muster rather than leaping to judgment. I have no money right now, because I am a single mother and am in school. My parents have taken me back into their home, free of charge, until I can finish my degree. I hope I can repay them someday, though they don’t expect it of me. My Dad tells me regularly that it is so special to him to have me living here. He wants us here because he loves being with us, and he has very little money himself and still works long hours. Right now, I give back by cleaning house, by giving hugs, by volunteering at the local hospital, and by refusing to judge others who I see who may be struggling. I never thought I would end up in this position, but here I am, and thank god for the kindness of family, friends, and strangers.

            A documentary film came out recently called “Happy.” The film explored recent discoveries in the research on happiness, and one of the most consistent findings was that people are happiest when they have supportive, strong communities. Friends, families, and societies that value their members are healthier and happier. There are many wonderful things about modern american life, but you’d be hard pressed to make the case that we are good at creating strong families and communities. Another finding was that one of the things that is most likely to make us happier is doing something kind for others.

            I do think, in general, that it is a societal responsibility to care for children. Of course, it is the parents responsibility to be the parent. No one else can or should do this (excepting, of course, abusive or neglectful situations). Children, though, are not like property or pets. They are living human beings in need of adult help to survive and grow. They come into this world via the decisions of two people, but how they turn out effects everyone, not just those two people. You can blame and judge parents all you want. You can say “well, they had the kids so they can handle the mess and keep it out of my way,” but that won’t necessarily help anyone, least of all the children themselves. Some kind words or a helping hand, on the other hand, could make all of the difference.

      2. SEE

        Well, I have 5 sons that were raised by the same parents. Funny, they all behaved differently in public. I had one child that would have tantrums for reasons I couldn’t even fathom. He’d be sitting in the grocery cart content until, BAM, tantrum. I also had a child who was a perfect angel all throughout childhood. Both children grew up to become well-manner, bright young men.

        Children are people, they have different personalities and are going to respond differently to situations. As a parent, you have to be flexible and realize that children’s behavior is not always a reflection of you. Judgemental people (Kimberly, I’m looking at you) will not be able to grasp that fact. Children are in the process of learning how to behave. Learning means that they haven’t nailed it down yet, and you can expect some disruptive behavior…even in public…with others watching.

        1. Carmelite

          Yes! Right on.

        2. Lauren

          Well said.

      3. Lauren

        Yikes! “Holier than thou?” We all have our moments, as your rant makes apparent.

  9. Kayris

    Actually, when I flew, I paid for my kids seats. Is the money of a childless person somehow worth more than mine? Also on a flight with us was a woman who held her baby that SLEPT the entire time. We were more disturbed by the guy who drank too much and got into an argument with his wife, and the teenager listening to music with nasty lyrics far too loud that had to be asked by the flight attendant multiple times to turn it down. There are ignorant people in all places. Some of them let their children kick the seats in front of them. And some of them complain because a baby cries for a few minutes at takeoff. Banning children from all flights unless its an emergency? Ridiculous and short sighted.

  10. Kayris

    My kids are my responsibility and I don’t EXPECT anyone else to help me raise them, other than their father. But I would hope to raise them in a compassionate world where people are willing to give you the benefit of the doubt and a kind smile, instead of judging someone to be lazy or a bad parent. Children or no children, you never have any idea what that persons point of reference is. Maybe they had a bad day or maybe they just received bad news or maybe they have struggles you can’t see. Maybe I’m too naive to expect a world like that.

    1. Carmelite

      Yes! This is what I was saying. Perhaps I am unduly influenced by my own point of view. I had strong parenting opinions before my son was born, and they have changed radically since he arrived. More than that, though, I have simply developed a much deeper level of compassion. Compassion for parents, for kids, and for everyone. Even as a single adult, though, I was never the kind of person who sneered at people because their child was crying and disrupting my airplane flight. That kind of behavior, I think, indicates a distinct lack of empathy, and a lack of the kind of insight that you are describing. People so often forget that most of us are doing our best at any given moment, and we would all be best served by helping one another rather than judging.

  11. Brenda

    Wow, Denise, I have enjoyed reading your blog for about a year now, but I have to say this was a really insulting article. You basically just said my thoughts about raising children are completely worthless because I haven’t had a child of my own. You said it yourself, that most of your ideas on raising children were formed before you even had kids. Why is that? I think it’s because a lot of our ideas come from our own childhoods. We base a lot of it on both the good and bad, to guide us in what we’d do similarly or differently from our parents. You said you’ve tweaked your ideas now that you have kids, as we all tweak our ideas with experience. But you didn’t do a complete overhaul. And just because I don’t have kids, my thoughts are completely invalid? If your argument is that you have to have kids before your ideas are valid, what is that magical turning point? Is it the moment you give birth? Does your baby or child have to reach a certain age? Or do you just have to experience a certain number of hours of sleep deprivation or change an allotted number of diapers? You’re blogging about raising your kids and hoping people will buy your book and use the ideas, but your kids aren’t grown yet. You’re ideas could still be considered unproven. At what point are your own ideas valid?

    I believe most parents are just trying to do the best they can to raise happy and healthy children. It’s hard work, and I understand and respect that. I would never tell someone what they should do, and I would never want to make someone feel I was judging them. But I’m going to continue to share my thoughts and idea with friends and family when they seem appropriate. To say my ideas are invalid because I’m not a mother is not only insulting, it’s closed-minded.

  12. A.Roddy

    I agree with a comment on The Stir. The writer is basically saying get off the Mommy Bloggers, quit ripping ech other apart on forums and use this time to spend with your kid. As far as experience, just because a person has experience in something doesn’t mean they’re the best ones for advice. Would you ask Britney Spears for parenting advice? Would you have asked Liz Taylor for marriage advice? I may not have kids but I know how my generation was raised. I see kids run amok on the street and parents on drugs. So yes we know a little about what not to do. And you never know why someone doesnt have children.

  13. edj

    Once while we were traveling in Morocco, my son got the flu. He threw up on a crowded train going to the airport. I was mortified! I had nothing to clean it up with. He’s a great kid who never kicked airplane seats (and we traveled a lot on planes; he had his chances) and never ran wild through restaurants or annoyed adults by his mere presence–in fact we were often complimented by complete strangers on his behaviour. But he puked on the floor of a crowded train. It was horrible.
    The Moroccans, used to more communal living, didn’t turn a hair. One woman even kissed him, poor love, obviously sick. They babied him, fussed over him, managed to get him a Sprite. A man said to me, “Why are you so upset? This is a part of life.” No one else cared.
    This is mostly in response to some of the other comments. Things happen. Life is messy. Toddlers, even the most perfect ones, have tantrums sometimes. Adults, even the most rational ones, do too sometimes. (I once worked in a mall during Christmas so I know whereof I speak) I think there’s a lot of age-related prejudice out there. Frankly, it’s not help by the amount of permissive parenting.
    Like you, my basic parenting philosophy hasn’t changed much with the advent of my own children. But my level of compassion has.

  14. Caro

    So Kimberly, you don’t think anything in your posts comes across as holier than thou or immature? How extraordinary.

    I don’t know where people get the idea that they should be treated with kids gloves on an airplane. It’s public transport, folks. If you’re too delicate to be inconvenienced by other human beings, get a private plane.

    1. Carmelite

      I wish there was a “like” button. I’ll just have to write it, I guess. LIKE!

  15. Louisa

    Being a parent or a nonparent is not that black-and-white these days. I married a man whose twin daughters were eight years old, though I met them when they were 3 1/2. While they lived with their mother, I saw them pretty regularly, although I never nursed a baby, weaned, or changed diapers. At age 15, one of the girls left her mother’s home (ran away, actually) and lived with us during high school. I know a lot about parenting a troubled adolescent.
    So, am I allowed to express opinions or not? I have a lot of opinions, but I am careful about expressing them. I’m glad Bruni expressed his point of view; I believe he speaks for many of us who feel uneasy about saying much in the defensive climate we live in.