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Brats in public? Or little darlings? Readers react

Readers react to our story on children misbehaving in public with their own tales of outrageous behavior. But the kids aren't always to blame, it's the parents, many said.

My, but you have things to say.

Our story on kids misbehaving in public touched a nerve, inspiring hundreds to e-mail us with their opinions and several hundred impassioned posts on the message board.

E-mails included tales from readers who'd been run over by rogue children with shopping carts, been hit in face with balls, disrupted during their dinners out and had hot coffee spilled on them on flights. "If I ever win the lotto, I truly believe I will start an airline that does not allow anyone under the age of 18 to fly on it," one reader wrote.

Many said they don't blame the exuberant kids, they're miffed at the parents who allow them to run amok in inappropriate places. "They are raising future adults who are rude and obnoxious," a reader said.

But yet, kids aren't the only ones who can be disruptive, another reader noted. "If some restaurants are going to start banning exuberant kids, they should also deny rowdy adults from dining there."

Read on for more reader response:

Kids are tough to deal with but the parents are really what is aggravating. I recently had an experience in Target where a 10-year-old kid came running down the main aisle at full speed. Needless to say she knocked right into me and ran over my toes with the cart (yes, it hurt). She stared blankly at me and then proceeded to walk away. I asked her, "Don't you think you should apologize for running into me?" Out of nowhere came her father barreling out of left field. "Hey, that's my kid you're talking to!" We got into a nasty exchange. This is the reason that people hate other people's kids — because the parents cannot think or act logically. Their reactions are all completely emotional based on what makes Suzy or Johnny happy, regardless of how burdensome it is for the rest of us.

Children are children. I think parents have become more permissive these days either because they're too tired or lazy to control their children or too afraid. Reprimand your child or spank them and you stand a chance of becoming vilified by the public and/or government. What makes the difference these days is that more parents are willing to inflict their energetic brood on the public rather than stay home with them. I don't go to children's restaurants ... but I think I have a right to expect to eat a meal in a restaurant without either a baby screaming at the top of his lungs or small children playing and having tantrums. Just as a restaurant gives me the choice on whether or not I wish to be exposed to smoke, I wish I had the same right to choose if I wanted to be exposed to uncontrolled children. As a result, I will often choose to sit in the smoking section since that reduces the chances of having children seated near me. (And by the way, groups with children should NEVER be seated in the smoking section. Children shouldn't have to worry about whether or not their air is clean.)
Bill, Atlanta

I do think some parents allow their children to run amok. But I have to say I see much more bad and rude behavior by adults. If young children are going to be banned from restaurants and such — are rowdy, drunken adults at restaurants to be thrown out too? If you are going to ban one group some people see as disruptive, businesses need to nip bad behavior by adults too.

Whether to bring your children along with you to any activity or place requires a sliding rule based on how generally disruptive the children tend to be during exciting situations and the appropriateness of exhibiting rambunctious enthusiasm while out. Bringing an infant to any movie theater is inappropriate. They cannot discern what's going on and the loud noises from the movie can scare them into crying fits. Maybe Grandma or a sister will watch tot while the parent goes to a movie with an older child. Same goes for fancy restaurants. Let your kids run with their friends, neighbors and cousins at each other's homes. That's the best time to let them get their ya-yas out.
Pauline, Solomons, Md.

I'd just like to send a few lines out to let you know what it is like to have a kid with a disability (ADHD) and have to be in public places such as the grocery store or the doctor's office. I'd given up on ever eating at a real restaurant or taking him to a movie until he was over 7 years old. I'm completely out of the parent loop at his school because I'm the frazzled and cranky mother of "that undisciplined brat." I've had to endure some humiliating public admonishments from other adults who have no idea of what I'm going through with him, as if it is any of their business in the first place. At one point someone told me that "it takes a village to raise a child and I'm exercising my right to discipline your child as I see fit!" So I hope that if the issue of our children's public behavior is to be resolved, please don't let the village idiot set the standards.
Dianna, Wilton, Calif.

If children are running amok and are screaming and shrieking all over your favorite store or spot, blame the parents. Why is it that 25 years ago this wasn't a problem? Because parents knew what discipline was and used it to enforce behavior. Children today are cuddled to death and parents are to blame for allowing such poor behavior.

I have seven children between the ages of 15 and 2 and one more on the way. I do believe most of children's behavioral problems stem from the parents. I take my children pretty much everywhere. We go to the movies, eat out and go shopping. But we don't take them to R-rated movies. We don't take all of them to sit-down restaurants. We leave those times for when my husband and I have our date night.
Michelle, Rancho Cordova, Calif.

I don't think we are less tolerant of kids being kids as much as we hate the parents who don't teach them how to behave in public. They are raising future adults who are rude and obnoxious.
Ramona, Albany, N.Y.

On a recent flight from Washington, D.C., to San Diego we had the pleasure of having three out of control children in front of and next to us. The boys in front, ages 6 and 10, had zero attention spans — books, videos, games all were tossed on the floor or thrown across the aisle to their mother who was oblivious to their actions as was their father, who was sitting next to them. By the end of the flight, I was ankle-deep in candy wrappers, juice boxes and other debris they had thrown on the floor under their seats, despite repeated passes by crew members to collect trash. At one point, a crew member had to stop both boys from jumping on the tray tables in an attempt to get to the aisle. Meanwhile, their sister insisted on hanging on the back of her dad's seat — "to hug him" which included stepping on my husband and knocking his coffee off his tray table and into his lap as he had the misfortune to be seated behind her father. When he politely asked her to not do this — to please sit down as the seatbelt light was on — her mother started to scream at him that he was a monster who was abusing her daughter (age 9 or so). Fortunately, other passengers stepped in and several asked a crew member to quiet the children down, as repeated requests to the parents had no effect. It was an interesting way to start a vacation. If I ever win the lotto, I truly believe I will start an airline that does not allow anyone under the age of 18 to fly on it.
Kathy, Bloomfield, Conn.

I believe children should be allowed to be children. Unfortunately, many parents want to include their children during all public activities and believe that everyone should be as pleased as they are that their children are sharing the experience. As a result, many people have become resentful of and angry at having children in adult venues. There are many opportunities to teach your children how to behave in public environments and parents should take advantage of these. It is unfair to expect children to behave as little adults and unfair to subject the rest of us to their bad behavior when they can't meet their parents expectations. We used to take our three children to nice restaurants very early in the evening or to restaurants that catered to families. However, we still tried to respect the other diners around us.
Karen, Colorado Springs, Colo.

I have two kids who, for the most part, are well behaved. Occasionally they get a little loud but I am quick to put a stop to their actions. My view is that if I can hear a child two or three tables away, they are too loud! I have been waiting for a table in a neighborhood restaurant and heard a behemoth screaming and throwing a fit and pleaded to the hostess not to put me near them because you are paying good money to eat and for the environment so if yours is interrupted then you feel cheated!!
M.L., San Antonio

When I go to a restaurant, movie or other public places, I do not want to hear crying babies, and children. I want peace and quiet!
Carol, Pearce, Ariz.

As a parent of a 6-year-old and a 3-year-old, I make tremendous efforts not only to discipline my kids, but to teach them to respect the needs of others around them. There are places where kids can make noise, and there are places where they need to adapt to the social norms of their environment. It irritates me when I see other parents acting as if everything their children do is OK because they are children. Generally, these are the same people who speed through parking lots, let their cell phones ring in movie theaters, and get into the express line in grocery stores with too many items. Unfortunately, their kids are going to learn the same lessons and grow up behaving the same way. Any imbecile can have a child, but being a parent is a title only some of us can claim.
Aaron, Anthern, Ariz.

Kids are indeed more out of control, and more indulged, than ever. We grow more and more selfish as a society. Parents care about careers, houses, cars and consumer items, In short, they are focused more than ever on money and the things it buys them. With little time or attention for their children, they indulge their offspring by letting them be out of control and they expect other people to endure the results.
Peter, Phoenix

When my wife and I take my children out they always get complimented on how good they act. I never thought they acted exceptionally well until I noted how other children around them acted. I blame the parents of these little monsters for not making them behave. By that I mean teach them how to act politely in public. My wife and I have spent a lot of time teaching our children manners and from the compliments they receive, I think the effort has paid off. Please spend time with your children and teach them how to be polite to others. The golden rule really works — it just takes practice.
Greg, Waterford, Pa.

On more than one occasion I have been eating out and have seen children running all over the place. They have run into me and others. Sometimes these are older children who should know better. But even with the smaller children, I just don't think they should be running up and down the aisles. In a fast food place, I tend to tolerate it. On the rare occasion when I go out with my husband to a nice place, it's another story. We tend to try and get seated in an area where there are not any small children around. If I am paying a lot of money to have a nice quiet evening, I just don't want some kid, mine or anyone else's, screaming at the top of his lungs. Even worse is the grocery or department store when the kids are running, pushing buggies, etc.
Jaclyn, Los Angeles

The problem is not with the kids making noise or being unruly. The problem is with parents who either don't discipline their children at home, or suddenly stop being parents when they take their children out. I worked in restaurants for years and it is extremely easy to tell who are the good parents and who are not. The children of good parents are well-behaved, respectful and do not scream in public places. The bad parents' kids are a nightmare who not only disrupt other diners but the employees as well. If I had a nickel for every time a bad parent asked me (the waiter) to tell their kid "no" or "sit in your seat," I could have paid for college without waiting tables. You need to pass a test to drive a car in this country, perhaps there should be a test required before becoming a parent as well.
Chris, Bushkill, Pa.

While waiting at the drugstore recently, I was hit in the face with a ball tossed by a child. This was directly after his mother had told him to put the ball away. There is no discipline (ramifications for bad behavior) for a large number of children today.
Larry, Alexandria, Va.

I have had it with baby spawners that refuse to "parent" their product! Saturday night we endured a child — a 9-year-old — in a restaurant bar full of cigarette smoke. The "guardian" remained busy chatting up a male at the bar at 10 p.m. Management did nothing. I reported my dislike while the kid danced in the open area and eyeballed other customers attempting to dine.
P.K., Wilmington, N.C.

I don't dislike children in general, I simply find it intolerable when a parent knowingly brings a child (who is prone to crying, yelling and generally "misbehaving") to a public place like a restaurant, the movie theatre or any public place where a quiet atmosphere is appreciated. Children on planes are even worse because they're guaranteed to cry as the plane is climbing to a cruising altitude and you cannot simply exit the plane like you can a movie theatre or restaurant. I generally blame the parents for assuming everyone else will be complacent with their undisciplined child.
B.K., New Jersey