29 November 2009


My biases should be apparent on this issue. I have small children and we regularly fly to California to spend time with my wife's family. It is the only logical way to transport my family of 4 (soon to be 5) to the west coast. I read this op-ed from the L.A. Times where writer Amy Alkon expresses frustration at parents who travel with screaming children on airplanes.

I got a visceral reaction to the piece. Alkon isn't a parent, so doesn't understand the dilemma parents deal with when they travel with small children. During the entire flight I am consumed with keeping my children happy. Sometimes this is IMPOSSIBLE, but we do everything in our power to help the kids behave. I know not every parent tries as hard, but I imagine that most do. There is one section in particular that I take issue with. In describing one incident where a mother and child were removed from a Southwest flight, she says the following-

Parents like Root and others who selfishly force the rest of us to pay the cost
of their choices in life aren't just bothering us; they're stealing from us.
Most people don't see it this way, because what they're stealing isn't a thing
we can grab on to, like a wallet. They're stealing our attention, our time and
our peace of mind.

There is a sentiment here that urks me. Bringing children in the world is not ennobling or worthy to Alkon. It is a selfish choice, which inflicts pain on other people. She limits her comments to airplane travel, but it could easily be extended to the use of natural resources, housing choices, and other issues. I just don't like where her ideas could go.


A.J. said...

I travel a lot for work (and life). I have no kids (yet). I have seen it all ... and I always feel bad for the parents because I know there is nothing they can do. If they could, they would. If the kid knew better, it would stop as well. For some reason, it helps me not get annoyed by the situation. It also helps that I know one day I will be the parent and will feel just as bad for all the people around me when my kid has a melt down. Honestly, who expects "peace of mind" on an airline flight? If you want it, pay extra for the 1st class ticket. Or just don't fly.

Although I think the article is a waste of LA times space, I thought Root's kid was actually not sitting down properly in the seat and running around when the doors closed, therefore violating FAA rules. Maybe I am not remembering correctly.

Jlowryjr said...

It could be. I actually had not heard of Root's situation in particular. She may have been one of those that won't put their foot down.

I once spent three hours of a five hour flight in the galley. The flight attendants (on WestJet) were more accomodating than any I'd ever met. I was trying to get my then-10 month old to sleep.

Thank goodness she is a better travler these days.