When two people (for example friends or family members) choose to spend their free time together, it is generally a mutual decision, and both parties are expected to enjoy this social interaction. Nobody is expected to spend their free time with some person whose company they do not enjoy. If said person is an adult, that is.
When said person is a child, some parents will want to turn every person around them into their free babysitters, and they will try to dump their kid on any random person of their choice. And when somebody says that, no, some private event or some privately owned real estate is going to stay child free, then parents complain about accessibility and imagine that they are getting discriminated.
Some people just don’t like interacting with children. In my case, the main problem is noise. For me how unbearably irritating some noise is depends upon two criteria: loudness and irregularity. Silent and regular noises (snoring, ticking clocks) do not bother me much. Loud and regular noises are unpleasant but bearable. The same goes also for silent and erratic noises. But what I absolutely cannot tolerate are loud and erratic noises. For me baby screams are the single most unbearable, irritating, and annoying noise in existence. Kids make really loud noises. On top of that, said noises have irregular patterns. A kid will shut up in order to breathe in only to start screaming yet again.
When kids get a bit older, they will keep on making loud senseless noises that resemble human language but have no clear sentences. Those are also annoying. When they finally learn to form proper sentences, they will still lack the ability to understand that in some places, like public transport, they ought to speak silently so that only their conversation partner could hear them. Instead, all people who are nearby will be forced to listen to the “wisdom” of a young child who really has absolutely nothing interesting to say. But they sure speak loudly and all the time.
Children make noise even while playing. They yell, scream, stomp their feet, throw stuff around, laugh, and even talk way too loudly. Until a child is finally old enough to shut up and stop making constant noise, their mere presence is a pain to endure. And their company becomes pleasant only when they are old enough for intelligent conversations, at which point they are close to being grown up anyway.
Of course, I do not blame children for any typical childlike behaviors. It’s not their fault and they have no choice about how they behave. I also know that sometimes parents cannot make their babies stop screaming regardless of how hard they try. Thus, I blame neither children nor their parents. Nor do I wish any child harm. I think that all people have rights to not get abused and opportunities to try to have happy lives. As far as I am concerned, people who enjoy parenting are welcome to have children. I am also fine with paying taxes so that kids would get access to education and healthcare. Overall, I prefer all children to have happy lives.
I just do not want any children in my personal space. I do not want to be forced to spend my time with some child.
Public spaces are open for everybody. Children have a right to play in public parks or use public transportation. I expect to encounter kids whenever I leave my home. I also navigate the world so as to avoid them as much as possible. For example, I do not go near playgrounds in parks, and if there is a kid inside a train, I will go further away from them. Just like children have a right to use trains, I have a right to choose where I want to sit in a train (as far away from screaming kids as possible).
Private spaces and privately organized events, on the other hand, have never been open for anybody who expresses a desire to show up. And if I were organizing some event, like a birthday party, said event would be child free. The unique needs of parents would not be accommodated, and I would actively discourage people from coming together with their children.
I expect that my “no kids allowed” policy will prompt some parents to not spend time with me. Parents usually want to spend their free time together with their children, which means going to places where kids are welcome. Either that or they won’t be able to find a nanny anyway. Besides, every parent ought to value their children higher than their friends or distant relatives. I see absolutely no conflict here. On one hand, there is me who doesn’t want to spend time with children. On the other hand, there is a parent who does not want to go to events/places where children aren’t welcome. Thus two adult people mutually agree to not spend time together because of different preferences. Everything is great, and nobody has a reason to get grumpy and complain about the other party.
Until parents start whining about accessibility and how their kids are entitled to be accommodated and welcomed with open arms everywhere. For example, online you can find parents complaining about how their children ought to be invited to birthday parties and provided overnight accommodation in their relatives’ homes. But why? If some parson does not want to spend time with somebody else or does not want somebody inside their home, why should they be obliged to offer an invitation anyway?
People who want to smoke indoors aren’t allowed in my home. Unmasked anti-vaxxers aren’t welcome either. My aunt’s partner (they never legally married, so I cannot say “husband”) is not allowed inside my home, because I dislike him as a person for numerous reasons, for example, he attempted to hit me many years ago. My dogs aren’t allowed in my uncle’s home. I usually like to take my dogs with me when I go out, but I always ask for permission beforehand, and I accept the fact that many people do not want me to take my dogs along when I visit them. I do not complain or whine about how my dogs are well-behaved and definitely do not have fleas; instead I just accept the usual common sense agreement: “their home, their rules.”
But somehow kids must be exempt from such common sense rules and welcomed everywhere. Why? What makes them so special?
Let’s assume a parent successfully coerced me into spending time with their child. What am I even supposed to do with this kid? Listen how they enthusiastically tell me that they just learned how to write their name? That’s not interesting for me. Play with the kid? That’s not enjoyable for me.
For me, the best case scenario would happen if the kid sat silently in a corner and stared at their mobile phone or gaming console all the time (although lengthy screen time is unhealthy for children). But even then their mere presence would be somewhat disturbing. I would have to keep them in the corner of my eyes. Whenever they wanted a snack or went to the toilet, I would have to watch over them so that they do not get any opportunities to destroy my property.
Moreover, after a parent has forced me to spend my time with their child against my will, they will have rather high standards about how they want me to treat their kid. Not doing anything illegal (aka child abuse) is not enough. They want their kid to be happy and entertained. They want me to be friendly and warm towards the kid. As if I were a good actor…
Due to their young age and few learning opportunities, children are uneducated about various topics, but they aren’t stupid. They are perfectly capable of figuring out that some person does not like them. When I was five years old, my mother left me for several hours in a hospital room with two people. One of them was my aunt; the other was a random stranger who was sharing said hospital room with my aunt. This stranger didn’t frighten me or do anything to hurt me. Instead, she merely chose to ignore me and wasn’t friendly. I instantly figured out that this person didn’t like me and wanted me to be gone sooner rather than later. I have vivid memories about this incident, because I was uncomfortable being with this stranger who clearly didn’t want me there, and I eagerly waited for my mother to come back and take me away from this place.
We have situations where two people (an adult who dislikes children and a kid) mutually does not want to share each other’s company. Nonetheless, parents are adamant to dump their kids upon every person in their vicinity, including people who do not like children. How comes? Are parents really incapable of realizing that not every single person on this planet adores their kid? Or do they just care about their own comfort and convenience? For example, they want to go to some privately organized event together with their kid, and they couldn’t care less if the host does not welcome said child’s presence.
In addition, children often cause property damage by breaking stuff. People who share households with children usually childproof their homes room by room for two reasons: (1) to prevent the child from accidentally hurting themselves; (2) to prevent the child from breaking valuable and fragile belongings. But people living in childfree households never bother making their own homes safe for and from children.
If some property gets damaged, who will pay for it? A while ago I heard about a person whose expensive musical instruments were destroyed by their relatives’ child who managed to find scissors and was left unattended for just a few minutes. Of course, parents didn’t agree to pay several thousand dollars to the person whose property was destroyed by their kid. And what can a victim whose property got damaged possibly do in such cases? How do you force parents to open their wallets? Sue them? As if that was realistic…
Parents won’t even fix minor damage caused by their children also in cases where they could afford to shoulder the bill. Next to my home there are some potted flowers. A while ago two kids damaged these flowerpots while playing. Their father didn’t care, and stated that it was accidental and his children meant no harm, therefore all this property damage they caused was somehow (?) not their fault or his problem.
In addition, what if a child accidentally got hurt while inside my property? My home has never been intended to be safe for children. The chances are that I would have to deal with angry parents criticizing me for storing dangerous chemicals in places that are easily accessible for a small child. Moreover, my dogs do not like to be touched in certain specific situations. They also defend themselves with their teeth when hurt. If a child were to pull my dog’s tail, the chances are that this child would get bitten. I can bet that parents would blame me in such case regardless of how much I warned them beforehand that they absolutely mustn’t allow their kid to get anywhere near my dogs.
Letting a child in my private space would cause me plenty of stress, various risks, and zero rewards. Thus, that will not happen. I don’t need avoidable problems.
Then there’s also the question of respect. Friends or family members ought to respect each other’s preferences. For example, I dislike extremely loud music or the taste of onions. If somebody tried to force onions down my throat or subjected me to loud music, I would consider that as deeply disrespectful. I also dislike interacting with children. If some person refuses to respect my preference and attempts to dump their kids upon me, then such a relationship isn’t worth maintaining, and I am better off cutting ties with such people.
My impression is that many people dislike interacting with children, but, unlike me, they usually phrase it differently. Instead of admitting that it is normal for children to express certain behaviors, they blame the child for, well, being a child. Since they do not enjoy interacting with children, instead of distancing themselves from children (like I do), they try to change the child and turn this child into a miniature adult.
We can look at the language itself and certain proverbs like “children should be seen and not heard” or “spare the rod, spoil the child.” And then there’s the phrase that every curious child must have heard countless times: “Stop asking so many questions.”
But why should kids stay silent? Why shouldn’t they be active? Why shouldn’t they ask questions? Puppies and kittens are very active, playful, and noisy. Why do people want (or expect) human children to be any different? How come that many children who engage in typical childish behaviors are labeled as poorly educated? Why are they punished for behaving like children if that’s what they are?
And then there are the controversies about ADHD (Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder). ADHD is estimated to affect about 6–7% of people aged 18 and under when diagnosed via the DSM-IV criteria, however the prevalence drops to less than 2% when diagnosed via the stricter ICD-10 criteria (that are used in different countries).
Is it really possible that 7% of all children are sick? When some disorder affects so many people, maybe you are labeling as an illness something that is perfectly normal? How is it possible that some societies label 7% of their kids as sick while other societies label only 1.5% of their children as having a mental disorder? What’s up with those 5.5% of children who would be labeled as sick in one society but healthy in another society?
ADHD symptoms themselves are odd. Children with ADHD may have trouble paying attention, controlling impulsive behaviors, or be overly active. A child with ADHD fidgets and talks a lot, they find it hard to sit still for long. Smaller children may run, jump or climb constantly, interrupt others a lot, or speak at inappropriate times. It is hard for the child to wait their turn or listen to directions. They can be easily distracted, forget things, fail to pay attention to details.
To me all of those sound like perfectly normal behaviors for children. Why shouldn’t children be active? Why should children be willing to sit still and pay attention to something boring for prolonged periods of time?
I understand that dealing with active and noisy children is annoying for some people (myself included). And teaching a child who doesn’t want to pay attention to your boring lectures is indeed hard. But who said that raising and teaching children ought to be easy and pleasant? Who said that children ought to have personalities and behaviors that their caretakers deem desirable? Who said that there is something wrong with a child if they are something other than an adult brain in a smaller body? More importantly, I do not think it is healthy for child’s development if their caretakers punish them for childlike behaviors.
Instead of seeking fault with children and trying to correct their instinctive behaviors, I prefer to just plainly admit that I do not like interacting with people who exhibit typical childlike behaviors. As for people who chose to become parents or caretakers, they signed up for it so they might as well accept kids for who they are. They should spare their rods and accept that they will be not only seeing but also hearing their kids a lot all the time and very loudly. And those of us who do not like interacting with children are better off staying away from them.
At the end of the day, if I keep my distance from children, I know for sure that I won’t hurt any of them. And I do not want to hurt children. Thus I am better off leaving tasks like babysitting for people who are more patient than I am and who, presumably, like children.