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We Need To Talk About The Unrealistic Expectations People Have Of Kids — And Their Parents — On Flights Leave a comment


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We’ve seen the viral videos of passengers outraged by crying babies on a flight. Some of us have even chuckled at them, but rapper Chika isn’t laughing at the idea of kids being kids in the air. The 26-year-old artist went on an unhinged rant directed at a woman who brought her crying twins on a red-eye flight (one that leaves at night and lands in the morning). Her rage stemmed from her having to deal with the interruption while in first class. She apparently “bought $34 wifi at 4am” just to take to social media to vent about the woman and her children. 

“You already had them up past bedtime. IDC the circumstance. Take yo a– to economy at least,” the Grammy-nominated MC wrote in one part of her rant. We are not going into the rest of what Chika said, because quite frankly, her statements are so derogatory I don’t want to repeat them.

Granted, it is annoying to have your sleep interrupted by a child whether you’re living with them or on a late-night flight with them. But calling the baby (or babies) and mom out of their names seems like extreme, misdirected anger. 

The topic of kids causing disturbances on flights is an inviting one to explore, especially because it’s been a recurring theme among viral videos nowadays. In April, a grown man had a complete meltdown on a flight because of a crying baby. So, my question is, what is the expectation for kids on flights? And is it realistic?

It seems Chika’s expectation is for noisy kids to “at least be in economy.” And the angry man’s expectation is that they shouldn’t cry at all. So to answer my last question, no, I don’t think people’s expectations of kids on flights is realistic or even fair for that matter.

I think the solution is pretty simple: We as a society need to have a better understanding of what is developmentally normal for children and be more compassionate towards kids and their parents. Here’s why. 

First of all, it is developmentally appropriate for young children to cry and have tantrums, especially when they’re under the age of five. Most of us–parents included–don’t even know what behaviors are developmentally normal for a child. If we did, we’d know that asking a kid whose brain isn’t fully formed to have the same control and composure as a fully-developed adult sets everyone up for failure. 

These unrealistic expectations also put unnecessary pressure on parents. When you think about it, many of our parents probably pinched us when we made noise at church or gave us a hot slap for having a tantrum at a restaurant because they were embarrassed. Sometimes it was less about the behavior of the child and more about what people would think of you as a parent. God forbid you be seen as a someone who doesn’t discipline their child by complete strangers. I as a parent have been in that situation before and harshly lashed out at my child, when what he really needed was some empathy. Just last week he completely lost his composure in front of a restaurant full of people because the Lego house he built broke.

However, conscious parenting is teaching me to ignore the judgmental stares and show my child compassion when he’s acting out in public. Well, more often than not at least, because I still pop off sometimes. I remind myself he’s usually doing the best he can. Plus, it’s not fair to punish my son because I’m afraid of how other people will judge my parenting. 

Am I saying all this to say parents should ignore their kids crying and showing out in public because it’s age appropriate? Absolutely not. I am saying kids are little humans with big feelings and endless needs who require patience and not a hot slap because they’re disturbing adults. They need time to grow, develop, and learn how to control their emotions, communicate, and adopt appropriate outside etiquette. Parents also need time to learn how to handle their kids crying and tantrums and the same approach won’t work for every circumstance. The learning ground for both the parent and the child will sometimes be public places. Sorry.

Yes, I get it, it’s not your job to care about parents and their kids because as Chika said, you shouldn’t have to deal with the consequences of someone else’s “sexual promiscuity.” But, unless you’re going to live on an island or buy yourself a private jet, you have to co-exist with children. The crying ones too. 

If you’re still struggling to understand why you have to deal with crying kids, remember you were once one. You may also want to read The Whole-Brain Child to learn about the psychology of kids and what behavior is age appropriate. You’ll learn a lot about how your brain works too and why you don’t always control your emotions in a way others find acceptable.

A final tip is to learn some emotional regulation (insert meditation, journaling, and whatever else) so you’re not so undone by a child crying that you have a bigger tantrum than they do.


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