Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Your Kid, Your Responsibility, Our Ears

Amy Alkon relates the story of a woman and her screaming 2-year-old son, who were thrown off a Southwest airlines flight (before takeoff) for causing so much noise. Southwest eventually apologized and gave her a free flight voucher. Alkon expresses my own opinion:

I know, I know -- because I am not a parent I cannot possibly understand how hard it is to keep a child from acting out. Actually, that probably has more to do with the way I was raised -- by parents I describe as loving fascists. As a child, I was convinced that I could flap my arms and fly, but the idea that I could ever be loud in a public place that wasn't a playground simply did not exist for me [...] It really does come down to this: Your right to bring your screaming child on a plane ends where the rest of our ears begin.

There have been times when I've had to leave a public place because my daughter was out of control. It's inconvenient, but my screaming kid is my problem, and other people shouldn't have to put up with her noise.

A parent has a duty to deal with his/her misbehaving child. No one else does.

HT: Instapundit


Anonymous said...

Pretty much with you here. I'm mortified by the idea of being "that parent" in a restaurant. My son is generally very good when we go places, and when he's not, if we can't get it quickly under control, we leave.

I don't know what I'd do though, if he had one of his rare bouts of bad behavior in a situation that was hard to get out of... you know, when you're already on the plane, and suddenly the screaming begins. It's more complicated than leaving a restaurant with your meal unfinished.

For that reason, I'm somewhat reluctant to test that sort of a situation.

Bro. Dave said...

Again with the apologies. Why did the airline feel the need to reward bad behavior with a voucher to fly again later? It's the parent's fault, not the airline's.
If you know your child is prone to acting out (and 99% of parents know this, whether they will admit it or not), then before you fly, go to your pediatrician and get a tranquilizer for the little brat.
P.S. to parents: No, your little darling is not as "cute" as you seem to think s/he is.

doodlebugmom said...

I bet that woman wanted her kid to stop screaming as much as everyone else did.

I don't think she was "rewarded for bad behavior" She paid for a service, the airline chose not to honor that.

John said...

She paid to be transported to her destination. So did other passengers. She didn't pay for the privilege of disrupting the eardrums of other passengers.

It would have kind of the airline to offer a ticked on a later flight for no additional cost, and the mother should have accepted such an offer with gratitude.

Had I been in her position, I would have hated to get off the flight. But it would not be unreasonable for flight attendants to insist that I get off if I was unable to quiet my child.

Eric Helms said...

Kids throw fits--I don't care how you were raised--if you think you never threw a fit when you were 3, 2, or younger, then it is only because you do not remember.

Often temper tantrums are the result not of bad parenting, but a parent setting appropriate limits on a child who is wired to be figuring out how to express his or her own will. There is so little compassion in this post and in many of the comments that I don't even know where to begin--tranquilizers?? Really? Is this an animal? You can't even give kids cough syrup, and bro dave wants to give him tranquilizers? Why not just punch the child in the face and allow them to be unconscious through the flight.

It may not have been unreasonable for the flight attendents to ask the family to get off the flight and wait for another--but it was also an act of compassion to give them a voucher realizing that the circumstances posed a real challenge. voucher/no voucher, I don't really care--these responses though are really harsh, and are far from the compassion showed by an airline.

Bro. Dave said...

Oh, so I'm the bad guy here? After I have paid $500 for a ticket that used to cost $350 (and don't get me started about those worthless frequent-flyer points!)... plus another $100 for my luggage to come along... and if I want to eat while I'm on the plane I am gouged for that too... not to mention the security checks... All for the privilege of being crammed into a seat that is only 15 inches wide with my knees jammed up under my chin.
So, yes, when I get on an airplane, I don't want to listen to a child screaming, especially if, as was reported, the child was so loud the pre-flight instructions could not be heard.
Southwest has a policy about disrupting flights -- in putting mom and child off the plane, they acted according to their policy. If I started screaming at the top of my lungs, I would expect them to put me off the plane too.
There was no need for Southwest to apologize or compensate them for anything. The mother should have apologized to the airlines and the other passengers.
But apparently Southwest Airlines is more considerate than me.

Pat said...

If the mom had opted to get off the plane, she would have been out the price of the fare. When you travel by public transportation, you have to accept that there may be unwanted distractions. If you want complete control over your environment as you travel, then drive your car. A crying child cannot be helped at times. What if it had been an autistic adult who made unusual noises? Or a person with Tourette's? The airline was wrong to put them off the plane, what happened was not intentional and it is a natural part of life. I once sat next to someone on a long flight (Dallas/Ft worth to Hawaii) who was traveling with twin toddlers. When one was asleep the other was awake, and vice versa. When the mom drifted off I entertained the little girl. Would I have preferred to nap also? Sure, but it wasn't meant to be. I believe God put me there to help that mom, and I had a lot of fun with a delightful little girl in exchange. If someone had tried to help the mom and distract the child, who knows what would have happened? Instead of just prejudging and saying she must be a bad mom raising a brat.

I wonder how many of you who responded negatively are the same ones who, when encountered with a fussy child in church will glare at the parent and make them feel unwelcome? No wonder we have difficulty filling our churches with new young adults and families.

The Thief said...

It's obvious that Amy, who John is quoting, is not a parent.

I, like jockeystreet, am mortified by the idea of being "that parent" but sometimes I am and sometimes my kids are "those kids" - not usually, but they have their moments.

Thankfully never on a plane.

But it's not as simple as good parent/bad parent.

Keith Taylor said...

Bro. Dave,

The list you put up is exactly why I travel by train every chance I can. Sure, it takes longer, but the comfort and luxury of riding the rails is so much better than the cramped masses of people in a plane. The coach seats on a train are the same size as the first class seats on a plane, the dining car serves you on china plates with table cloths and sliver ware, and if a scream kid is sitting next to me, I simply get up and go to the club car and have an ice cold Miller Lite. If I am going to Chicago I take the "City of New Orleans out of Memphis", if I'm headed to the NE, it is "the Crescent" out of Birmingham. oh, and did I meantion that you don't have to practically strip down to your underwear to ride a train?


Pat said...

Keith has the right idea. I took Amtrak all the time when in college; and used to travel a lot from NY to DC as well. But now I have greater time constraints.

bob said...

Pretty much it's too late to stop a child from acting this way in public if you wait until you're in public to teach them the right way to behave.. The child must know that this is unacceptable behaviour before you head out in public. A child will only act this way if they have been allowed to in the past.

Frantz said...

I suffered through a Paris-Montreal flight (7 hours) with a screaming 3 year-old a few seats away from me.

And guess what. I got over it.

Children, by definition, will misbehave. They don't know any better. Any parent who claims to have complete control of their child -- especially a child under 4 years old -- is lying or delusional.

Having to sit in a confined space next to a child that has a screaming fit isn't especially pleasant, but one would think that adults would be able to handle it and get on with the rest of their lives once the ordeal's over.

As for the "I don't pay to listen to screaming children" argument, I don't recall reading anything on my plane tickets that guaranteed me "noise-free flights." If the damn thing takes off and lands in one piece, I pretty much call it a win. The day they offer noise-free flights (at 2000$ a pop, quite likely) and a screaming 2 year-old is allowed on board, then you've got the right to complain. Until then, do what mature adults do: deal with it.

Wabi-Sabi said...

The problem with blaming the parent here is what about the other adults in the plane? We all have a role in helping the children around us. I'm quite sure the mom was just as upset that her little one was pitching a fit, but rather than casting judgment those other adults should have lent a helping hand and support.

Jesus had some pretty stern words for "me first" people and didn't seem to mind when children were around. I don't recall him telling the Disciples to give the children's parents a voucher for a free sermon later when the children came up to him.