Saturday, 31 March 2012

Adult attitudes and Childism

Adult attitudes

The feeling that other people are judging you by what your child does or what you let her/him do is very strong.  When Charlie was about 15 months we went to IKEA and he loved getting in and out of the cupboards, it was a great game, I posted a lovely picture of him popping out of a wardrobe on Facebook.  I was relaxed about it and so was his Mum.  IKEA is actually a child-friendly place and it was safe and easy for him to play in the shop (is there a connection between this and the fact that Sweden is said to have the happiest children in Europe?) Our experience is in contrast to the more common ones I have had when parents respond harshly to similar events in other shops.  The child is happy and moving freely about, doing no harm, looking at things, touching things and enjoying themselves. The parent has their eye on them, they are safe, but then the parent notices other people are looking and feeling judged puts on a show of authority, “Come here, stop running around, don’t touch.”  Sometimes this will be accompanied by a smack or a yank on the arm and the result is often tears.  This raises questions for me. i would like to know what you think. 

  • Why is it that parents feel that other adults will judge them if they see their children enjoying themselves in such ways?
  • Why do adults express their disapproval of parents who allow this freedom with looks of disgust?
  • Why don’t our shops and other public places make themselves more child friendly like the IKEA store?
  • Is these examples of how our childist society curbs spontaneity, joy and pleasure in the young and polices their parents?

Reflecting on the way parents often talk to their children in public places I wonder:
  • Why is it that adults feel they can talk to children, their own and other peoples, as they would not dare to talk to an adult?
  • Is the way many people speak to children an illustration of a childist society?


  1. Sue, I have just visited this blog of yours. First of all, I wonder whether I understand the meaning of the word "childism" in the same sense as you do: as a kind of discrimination towards children?
    If so, I would definitely answer your last question with a capital letter YES. Not only do adults think they are "superior" to children, but they make it evident by the way they address them. Charlie is still very little, but my 10-year-old son many times feels his opinions are disregarded by his school teacher. He raises his hand to speak, starts saying something related to the subject of the lesson, and the teacher says "that is not my point, MY point is...". Isn't education all about helping students make THEIR OWN points? At least this is the aim of P4K... This is what I feel, and I hope it answers your question in a way or another.

  2. I have the opposite problem: it seems wherever I go there are ill-mannered children running and shouting or throwing tantrums - in bookstores, libraries, restaurants, and other places where their behavior is a nuisance - and the parents either don't care or actually look around hoping other people are thinking this is cute. Lazy parenting is as bad as overly-strict parenting. In our family the rule is: the people at the next table should not be able to hear us - and vice versa. Maughn