Why Are Some Parents Morons?

by Mike Holman

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Katrina Onstad wrote a very interesting article about babies and their parents in a recent issue of Toronto Life. She looked at the phenomenon of parents who are too focussed on trying to project their own tastes and styles through their kids. There were several little “stories” sprinkled throughout the article told by parents on various topics. Two of them inspired this post.

Story #1 – Fine dining with a 3 year old

We went to Tomi-Kro one Friday night, and it was crowded so we sat at the bar. We drank wine, and Max (3 years old) had apple juice. Then Max had a bit of a tantrum – he kept asking for more ice. The bartender and all the staff were cool, but we got a mixed reaction from other people – a lot of really dirty looks in that passive-aggressive Toronto way, like they thought we were bad parents.

Tomi-Kro is our favourite restaurant – it has excellent food and is very expensive which is why we only rarely eat there. When we go there it’s a special occasion so we get a sitter and have a lovely meal. I wouldn’t even consider bringing my kids for dinner because the idea of chasing my son around a restaurant while my expensive meal is getting cold just doesn’t make sense to me. The other reason I wouldn’t bring my kids is consideration for the other patrons. In a nice restaurant, a certain level of behavior is expected and if you can’t meet that level then you shouldn’t be there. It doesn’t matter whether you are a three year old in the middle of a tantrum or an obnoxious 35 year old who has had too much too drink – either way you don’t belong there.

To be honest, it wouldn’t bother me if there was children in a nice restaurant, but if they started acting like kids (imagine that), then it would definitely put a damper on my dinner. I do enough diaper changes at home so that when I go out, I don’t want to have to interrupt my filet mignon to tell another parent changing a messy diaper that they missed a spot.

Story #2 – Riding streetcar with huge stroller

When I was hugely pregnant, few people would give me their seat on the Queen streetcar – like they were practicing selective blindness. These days I have a big, honkin’ all-weather stroller that only just fits onto the streetcar; the driver or another passenger has to help me on and off. So when people have to squeeze by or when Gabriel start screaming, I view it as payback.

I couldn’t believe this story. First of all – just because nobody gave up their seat to you when you were pregnant doesn’t give you the right to block the entire isle in the streetcar. Second of all – I don’t bring our larger stroller on the streetcar mainly because it’s just a lot easier to have a smaller stroller in a crowded public place. I like to call this concept “COMMON SENSE“. I have a big double stroller that I use for jogging, but I am extremely aware that it takes up the entire sidewalk so I go around anyone who is coming the other way. If I’m going anywhere in any kind of vehicle at all (car, bus etc) then I take the umbrella stroller which is very small.

What do you think – are these people the morons I think they are? Does this qualify as a “Mother’s Day post?”

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{ 45 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Emily

Yes, they qualify as morons! Ones who think they are entitled and the world owes them.

Yikes! I am with you on the nice dinner. I don’t want to go to a nice dinner and worry about being a mom and the kids. And the stroller on the streetcar is just plain obnoxious.

2 Canadian Capitalist

Where does Toronto Life find these people in the first place?

3 Four Pillars

Emily – I’m glad you agree.

CC – good question. The people in the real estate article you posted about were complete morons as well.

Mike

4 Ron@TheWisdomJournal

I’ve had my own children behave beautifully in a nice restaurant, only to take them to another and they behave horribly. We’ve also been to restaurants in other cities and didn’t know anyone who was a sitter. The restaurant thing is a hard call.

The stroller is a no-brainer. Payback? C’mon, are we adults here?

5 guinness416

It’s the fitting children into your pre-rugrat lifestyle, right? I sort of understand that, the kids who live across the street from me have never been on a subway or streetcar (and we live a couple of blocks from each); they’re very sheltered and babied. But there’s a right and wronf way of doing things.

(Anecdote: when I was a baby the management of Davy Byrne’s pub in Dublin’s city centre asked my parents to remove me. To this day no member of my extended family has ever darkened the doors of the establishment and my folks will go to their graves muttering about the decline of Dublin’s family atmosphere which started in 1977).

6 Jo

This month’s Toronto Life cover story is about young professionals and money – I gather there are more morons featured, though I have yet to read the article.

7 Al

I’m the daddy of 2 six month olds. My wife and I are comfortable that we’ve had to give up some aspects of our previous life (for now). It’s part of life that the restaurant going couple don’t seem to get. Either get a baby sitter or go to the appropriate restaurant.

The stroller thing I blame on the ‘I’m the center of the universe because I have a baby’ phenomena. My wife and I both have it, though it’s starting to fade. I don’t believe we ever did something as rude as the stroller lady because of it.

8 guinness416

Yeah, there are more morons featured, like the couple who commute from Cambridge (!) to save a few grand on their house purchase, the guy who thinks you need to make $250,000 to live in TO and the consultant who’s a couple of years out of college and “never eats at home”.

9 Canadian Capitalist

I picked up a copy of the latest Toronto Life after reading an article in the Globe yesterday. The Globe article said that TL got these people to talk about money after getting them drunk. Anything to sell a few more magazines, eh? But hey, it works because I picked it up. I guess we like to read about morons.

10 Leslie

Oh yeah, morons no doubt. When my kids were little, we practiced restaurant etiquette by going to MacDonalds–this was a big deal since we rarely ate out. I just don’t understand these parents who think they invented children and everyone should be in awe of their accomplishment. They should get over themselves and start behaving like parents–living an example of a considerate, responsible human being for their offspring.

11 The Faulk

I read that Toronto life article.

Some of it was perfectly reasonable, of course children should be allowed in stores just like anyone else. And what kind of person doesn’t give up a street car seat to a pregnant woman?

But the majority of the article seemed to about hipster style parents wanting to blend their new life style with their old one and the outrageous sense of offended entitlement they feel when people without kids dare to express an opinion they don’t agree with.

12 Kyle

The next time you see a child misbehaving, tell them where babies come from and that Santa isn’t real. That’ll teach those deadbeat parents.

13 Four Pillars

Al – congrats on the twins…

Everyone else – I think that’s a good point about some parents trying to keep their single lifestyle. I became a Dad relatively late (age 37) so it wasn’t hard for me to give up the non-kid lifestyle. Maybe it’s harder for younger parents?

14 Personal Finance & Tax Blog

OK so a night out with the family for dinner sounds nice, but Jack Astors is probably a better choice. The cost is not so high that I’d feel cheated out of a really good meal. My thought – take the kids to Astors and get a sitter for an expensive place.

The little strollers at $15 – $25 and a knapsack for the rest of the stuff is a better idea. A HUGE stroller is not warranted unless she has twins or a two or more small tots.

I have small children and have had to take the bus. It’s not easy, but if you plan right…

15 Nobleea

The people featured in this article give Toronto a bad name. Or at least, that’s what the rest of Canada hates about Toronto.

Pretentious yuppies.

I think that’s all that Toronto Life magazine features though.

16 ????

I have absolutely no problem giving up a seat or making room for a pregnant Woman or a parent traveling with small children.

That being said a few months ago I was coming home on the King Street car at 5:00 and it was packed. As in I only had one foot on the floor. The street car stopped at Spadinia and a pregnant woman storms in through the back doors (which they were let people on from) and announces “8 and a half month pregnant woman here). She stood on the steps preventing the streetcar from moving and began to chastise everyone on board.

At this point I told the woman that perhaps traveling downtown at rush hour on public transit wasn’t the wisest parenting move. What was she doing?

If she was coming home from work why didn’t she take maternity leave? Or maybe visiting a doctor, could she not have picked a non-rush hour appointment. Finally if it was infact an emergency or the like could she not take a cab. In fact I offered to pay for it.

There is a difference between frugal and cheap and putting your and your baby’s health in danger is disgustingly cheap.

17 Four Pillars

PFTB – I agree – just pick the right restaurant, there are lots of good ones that are more child friendly especially if you go early.

Nobleea – yup.

???? – Most pregnant women work as long as they can before giving birth so they have more time off after the baby is born. It sounds like she needs some work on her social skills though – she sounds extremely “entitled”.

Mike

18 Warren

Just so you don’t feel so bad, “Toronto Life” sounds a lot like “Vancouver Life”.

I don’t know if anybody has seen this in Canada, but at every US mall/large store there is special up front parking for “young mothers”. I think that’s over the top. Children are an important part of society, just like everyone else!

Don’t get me started with the “baby on board” signs. :)

19 ThickenMyWallet

I have read both TL and Vancouver Life and their cousins to the south (Vegas, Gotham etc) I won’t buy any of them if my life depended on it. They do outrageous pieces just to egg people on and the people they feature represent about 0.5% of their respective cities.

Stop blogging on TL stories! You’re only encouraging them!

20 Four Pillars

Warren – we have those signs in Canada as well. I have to admit I’m ok with them. Trying to shop with 2 little kids ain’t easy. I actually wanted a “baby on board” sign when my son was born…:) Luckily I never got around to getting one.

TMW – you’re right – they are trash!!

21 Shevy

Well, there’s a sense of “entitlement” and then there’s common sense and good manners. Unfortunately the latter two seem to be seriously lacking in a majority of people.

For example, generally people who are riding the bus are doing so because they don’t have another option. Mothers with infants and small children need to be able to get to work or day care, take their older ones to school, do necessary errands, go to medical appointments, etc. and to do all the above in a timely way. If you can’t afford a car, only have 1 that dad requires in his work or whatever, you need to be able to take mass transit. It’s not realistic for people to expect them to stay home, take expensive taxis, or travel at off-peak hours. They aren’t on the bus because it’s fun or because they want to tick people off–they just have to deal with real life.

That means sometimes you’re going to run across a mother with a stroller and possibly another small child. Finally transit systems are making their buses, trains, etc. handicapped and stroller accessible.

So everybody needs to do the decent thing. Able-bodied folk need to stand up and fold up the disabled seating, the mother needs to get on as quickly as possible, park the stroller in the space, lock the wheels and either sit down with the other child in her lap or stand and hold the child on her hip or support him against her leg.

Healthy young people who don’t stand up for the elderly, disabled, pregnant women or mothers with strollers are jerks. The ones who really get my goat are the high school/college age ones with earphones who pretend to be asleep.

But the mother who got on a busy bus one day last week with a double stroller, sat down on the disabled seating instead of folding it up, took the toddler out of one of the stroller seats and sat him beside herself, while leaving the double stroller blocking the aisle runs a close second. She rode for a number of blocks chatting to her toddler in French and ignoring the problem people were having getting around the stroller.

So, it’s not just one side or the other. Everybody has to do their best to be considerate.

22 Warren

I don’t think anybody is disputing that healthy young people should give up their bus seat to the disabled, elderly, or pregnant women. However when one of these groups starts beaking off about it, they instantly lose all of my sympathy.

Ditto for any other situation. The “baby on board” just says to me that the person in that car thinks their kid is more important than anybody else. Every car is carrying around at least one human being.

23 Nurseb911

Mike,

You have to shadow me for a day when I’m in the Children’s ER…you want to see dumb parents? They pretty much ALL find me during my shift!!!!!

24 Four Pillars

Shevy – you should have kicked her a$$! (the lady with the double stroller)

Brad (Nurse911) – no thanks! :)

Mike

25 DividendMan

I’m probably going to get flak for this – but I don’t think anyone should have a right to have children.

Just like with adoption, people should be assessed for their finiancial and social standing before they are given the right to take on this huge responsibility.

It might sound orwellian, but hey, if all these morons are having kids, those poor little ones start off with a handicap!

26 Four Pillars

DM – in theory that sounds like a reasonable idea. The only problem is that good finances and good social standing don’t necessarily add up to good parents.

However, I do think there should be a law that anyone who is featured in a Toronto Life article shouldn’t be allowed to have kids. :)

27 fathersez

These featured people are just pains.

They’ll be pains on the bus, in the office, with their neighbours and in the mall.

Unfortunately there are a large number of them. I just tell myself that I shall not go down to their level and move away as soon as possible.

Trying to advice them is too risky.

28 Looby

True story with a Vancouver twist: my friend and I were in a store when a loud voice from the doorway proclaimed “a little help with my stroller, thank you” aimed generally into the store. As we were nearest we went over to see what assistance she needed, only to discover her baby was in fact a white poodle, with bows.
The truly depressing aspect is that I have lived here long enough to not even be surprised but I sincerely hope she never has any human “children” I imagine she’d be insufferable.
As for children in fancy restaurants, please no, I’d rather find the poodle at the next table.

29 Four Pillars

Looby – lol.

That story beats the two I posted about.

Poodles….ha!

30 Enough Wealth

I woulldn’t eat at an “expensive” restaurant with, or without, the kids. But I think anyone who’s willing to pay to eat there, is entitled. If they bring the screaming kids with them, so what?

And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with bringing a stroller (even a large one) onto public transport. Those who don’t like it probably also resent there being bicycles on the road!

This isn’t to say that parents shouldn’t make an effort to keep their kids’ behaviour appropriate to the situation, and taking the stroller on the streetcar should be in order to get the kids from A to B, not to seek revenge on those who didn’t give up a seat for pregnant passengers!

31 Four Pillars

Enough Wealth – great point about not eating in expensive restaurants – they are an incredible waste of money.

That said, I don’t agree that the high prices include being able to bring a screaming baby with you.

You’re right about bringing a stroller onto public transport but there has to be some reasonableness (new word) about it. Revenge shouldn’t be a factor (or motivation?) as you point out.

32 Sally Villarreal

I agree that the need for “payback” is ridiculous. But I think you need to be little more patient with the Apple Juice Kid.

While you need to attempt to stop your kid’s tantrum, it leaves you in a bind. Give in to the kid to shut him up (reward him for his tantrum) or stay strong and teach her that she can’t get what she wants by screaming (and piss off everyone else around you.)

Also, I’m not familiar with the restaurant you are talking about, but some people seem to think that when you have kids you should never leave home with them. I understand there are some places you don’t take children (R-rated movies for example) but you’re going to encounter them on planes, at the grocery store and in restaurants.

Sometimes I get annoyed with the little kids screaming around my apartment complex, but then I think about how little room they have to play and I feel sorry for them.

Basically, we’ve all been kids once, and most of us will grow old. I think we need to be patient with both.

(This comes from someone who doesn’t have children. I don’t know if that makes me more or less credible.)

33 Four Pillars

Sally, it’s a really nice, really expensive restaurant.

I agree you can’t give in to kids having a tantrum, but my opinion is that they shouldn’t be in a restaurant like that in the first place.

Mike

34 telly

Teaching your kid a lesson at an expensive restaurant without regard to other paying customers is just not the right place. In fact, even a lower end (Jack Astor’s) can be annoying.

My husband and I sat at a table 2 ft. from the next. The couple next to us had a SCREAMING baby (I’m not exaggerating) and the woman turned the baby away from her so that it was facing my husband (both tables had one long extended bench to share) and continued to eat her meal. The baby couldn’t have been more than a foot and 1/2 from my husband’s ear. :(

We asked to be moved because we literally could not hear one another over the screams. Please teach your kid a lesson elsewhere. As far as I’m concerned that’s not much better than had she lit a smoke.

I’m guessing most normal parents would have taken the kid outside or to the washroom to settle him / her down at that point.

35 Four Pillars

Telly – that’s just ridiculous.

I would have taken the kid outside.

36 Michael G.R.

“So when people have to squeeze by or when Gabriel start screaming, I view it as payback.”

Payback?

Wow, collective punishment certainly is not a dead concept.

..and the wheel turns. These random people tha she pisses off now are more likely to piss off other random people if they also have the same mentality as her, and so on. Very mature.

37 Four Pillars

Michael – hopefully those other people are more mature than she is (fairly likely).

38 Big Cajun Man

My kids wouldn’t eat at any nice restaurant, they are too expensive to feed at home, and yes these Granola Crunching throw back hippies are Morons.

I go out to dinner to get AWAY from MY kids, why would I want to sit next to YOUR kids?

–C8j

39 Living Off Dividends & Passive Income

your use of the word “moron” is a bit understated!

40 ioana

Ok, screw you all, deal? I’m going to take my kid to a restaurant if I wish to. My kid is an important person in my life, and I actually enjoy spending time with him. He’s not a luggage or some sort of inconvenience that I shut out of my life when I don’t feel like it.

As for huge strollers, yes they’re annoying, but plain strollers are sometimes necessary.

Giving up your seat for a pregnant woman or an old person, or a sick person on the streetcar is not a requirement, of course, unless you want to be not-an-asshole.

cheers,

41 Mrs Pillars

ioana: Maybe your kid is really laid-back and well-behaved in restaurants where many people want to enjoy a meal in relative peace. We have two inexpressibly precious, wonderful little people in our lives who have so much energy and joy bubbling out of them they can’t help but be noisy and bursting to be active. If we take them to a restaurant, it’ll be a kid-friendly restaurant – you know the type that has colouring pages for their placemats? and save the fancy bar/restaurant visits for those evenings when Grandma is available to babysit. That gives us a chance to connect as a couple. It also saves causing indigestion in other restaurant patrons since Mike and I are fairly well-behaved.
Where you get the idea that civic-spirited people who leave their kids at home instead of dragging them off to restaurants after bedtime won’t give a pregnant woman a seat on the bus is beyond me. Seems to me such people would be more likely to offer her a seat.

42 Pipes

Oversize SUV strollers are much like cars, no? Would you drive your car into the supermarket, would you drive you car onto the streetcar or bus? NO! You would park your damn car in the parking lot like any sensible adult. What is it about having a kid that turns people’s brains to mush???? And what is it about having a kid that makes those mush- brained fools think that everyone else wants to share their mush??

43 Wychwood guy

I have two kids, and I try at all times to teach them to be respectful of others. The people in the TL article are caricature, intended to elicit passionate debate – looks like they succeeded. There is no one way of raising kids properly. If a parent wants to dress her kid in ACDC shirts, then so be it. Want to go to dinner with the kids? Probably not a great idea if the overall mood of the place indicates a more subdued or intimate environment – but hey, people make mistakes. If I was there, and my kids threw a tantrum, I’d try to correct them in a patient and loving manner. If it takes a few minutes to settle them down, so what? Why would you as a parent put the needs of others before your own child? That makes no sense. Baby on board sticker? Yes, to that parent the baby IS more important than anyone else on the road, and rightly so! Spend your life worrying about not offending others or what others will think of you as a parent – waste of time. Get your priorities right and put those who matter most in your life on top when you make your decisions.

44 Lauren

The “payback” comment unfortunately does not surprise me–there’s a bizarre sense of entitlement among modern parents. People naturally do not react well to that, and it results in these parents acting extremely defensively before they even try to make a point, as ioana did, increasing the hostility of the exchange–because they feel like everyone is out to get them due to the reactions to their past thoughtless behavior, so they wind up doing bizarre things like exacting “revenge” on people they’ve never even ridden the streetcar with before.

The very idea that people want expensive restaurants to remain adults-only spaces is in any way equivalent to shutting your child out of your life makes no sense. The fact that I don’t think your kid belongs in Cipriani doesn’t mean I think he should never be allowed to leave the house. Kids do better when they have limitations on what they can and cannot have, and they need an understanding of the fact that there is an adult world to which they don’t yet belong. That’s why I love that some restaurant owners are now flat-out refusing to let kids in. It is not an establishment for children, period. People who don’t like it can go elsewhere. Those establishments will definitely not lose business, as most people feel the way the majority of these commenters do when it comes to the lack of adults-only spaces these days.

45 Carolyn

Fascinating conversation. I’ve been on both ends of all these circumstances and have only one thing to say: Treat others like you want to be treated.

Courtesy is a two-way street and we are NOT entitled to disrupt everyone around us for our own benefit. When people ask me what I want for my kids to do in life, I say I want them to be productive members of society. Because personal happiness at all costs isn’t conducive to large groups of people living in harmony. Happiness isn’t a goal but it does come from being nice/courteous to other. I don’t should it come at someone else’s expense the way these people in TL seem to think.

Revenge? On who? the rest of the world? Grow up people, you are not the center of the universe.

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