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Kids are people too, let's start acting like it. (Thoughts after reading the comments)

Parenting isn't an easy path, and it's not a choice that should be made lightly, but one thing that makes it infinitely harder is this persistent, pervasive belief in the US that kids don't belong in public spaces.

You see examples of this all the time. People complain about kids on airplanes, in restaurants, in stores, at the movies and in comment sections, you'll see people "joke" that the only kid-friendly spaces are at their own homes.

In the comment section of an Eater article posted today, you see this playing out in real time.

Note - this is allegedly a joke, but it's a joke in poor taste and it's not a joke for so many people. There are people that get legitimately upset when they see kids or hear kids, and it's not just boomers. This thinking contributes to parents and kids being treated like garbage when they're in public, often for the crime of simply being parents and kids. It's gross and damaging to both groups.

Thankfully there were many people that responded to this "joke" saying basically what this post will: that kids are people that deserve to be treated with respect and kindness.

Parents understand more than most, and more than you'd think, just how irritating a kid's whining, crying, and mess-making can be, but the thing that we, as a culture, need to do a better job remembering is that they're children. They've been on the earth for maybe a couple of years and are still figuring out how to be people. Yes, the crying and mess-making is irritating, and yes, parents need to be the ones to step in and do what they can do help their kid navigate a stressful situation and in the case of mess-making, help clean as much as is reasonable.

Of course, not all parents do this, not all parents do a good job of this, and there aren't very many support systems in place that enable the kind of parenting that allows for a good job of this.

But what is absolutely not helpful is dirty looks, judgment, and frustration and the kid expressing age and developmentally appropriate behaviors. Much like people who scream in traffic or at servers or at employees, small children do not know how to regulate their emotions. They don't know how to feel anger and frustration -- it's a massively big feeling that they're feeling for some of the first times in their lives -- and they certainly don't know how to emotionally regulate to what you deem (as an adult!) is a "functional level," especially not quickly.

But unlike the adults who scream in situations that do not require screaming (most!), children can, and are learning to function in society.

What they, and their parents need, is support. Support comes in many forms. Here are a few of my favorites:

  • Minding your own goddamn business.

  • Offering a kind look.

  • Getting the door.

  • Practicing patience and self regulation when a crying child interrupts your day (deep breaths and mantras work great, parents are doing them too).

  • Getting the fuck over yourself. You'll survive a few minutes of crying, the parents are working on it and so is the kid.

We all want peace and quiet and spaces that are welcoming. Sometimes kids interrupt peace. Sometimes adults interrupt the peace. Kids are fucking people too and we need to grow up and realize that. Kids deserve respect, kindness, and spaces to be children.

Not all bars or breweries are welcoming to kids, not all parks are welcoming to adults, but we need more places that welcome parents and kids so we can build the community many of us crave so deeply.

When we exclude kids, we exclude mothers, which excludes women, which upholds the patriarchy even more. Is that really the world we want to create?

Get the fuck over yourself, be kind to kids, treat them like people. It's really not that hard.

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