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Domestic CP - December 1999

Montreal Gazette, 7 December 1999

Keep those brats in line, parents

By Elizabeth Bromstein
The Gazette

A year or so ago, I wrote a column about the fact that I do not want children, and I think that column sparked more negative reaction than any other I have ever written.

The letters about how selfish and unenlightened I am came in droves, featuring passages like "I feel sorry for you," and "I would hate to be you," followed by self-righteous babble about how I have no idea what I'm talking about and until I squeeze out a kid I'll never know the joy, and "My little Melvin has changed my life and brings me so much joy and ooh, he's so brilliant and blah, blah, blah."

I learned that my desire not to have children is somehow an attack on someone else's decision to do so. If I were to get psychoanalytical about it, I might come to the obvious conclusion that this response is caused by a questioning of one's own life-changing choices and subsequent defensive reaction, because hey, if you're really happy with your choices, why should mine bother you? But I'm no psychology expert.

And of course, this works both ways. Just because I don't have the desire to or feel capable of devoting my life to shaping another (and I do admit that this might be subject to change; even though it seems utterly impossible, never say never) doesn't mean I care whether you do. If, however, you do make the decision to have a child or several, please learn some parenting skills.

It's time someone said something about your children. I have just about had it up to here with them (please note that the author is touching her forehead even though you can't see it) and soon I'm gonna swing my arm and I don't care who I hit, then we're gonna turn this car around and go home.

Worst Parenting Ever

I am convinced that we are living in the era of the worst parenting the world has ever seen. And far be it for someone with no children to be handing out parenting citations - but people! Some things are just obvious, even to the evil childless.

For example, it is not polite to inflict your child on other people. Just because you love it and think it's cute doesn't mean I am going to automatically feel some sort of affinity with it. This means that you do not let your child wander about screaming and crying and/or whining in public places. This happens all the time.

Last week I was on the bus when a man got on with his children. The daughter (about 3 years old) was upset about something and decided to march to the back of the bus, stand next to me and wail at the top of her lungs while her father (I assume) laughed and called her name softly for about 10 minutes. Nobody seemed to know whether to find it endearing or not. Everybody just sat there looking around with uncomfortable half-smiles on their faces until I yelled, "Would you please come get your kid?" at the man, who stopped smiling and stared at me as though I had ripped off my clothes and started speaking in tongues. I do not find your screaming brat cute. For Pete's sake, tell it to sit down and shut up.

My parents would never have let me get away with such annoying behaviour and neither would those of the friends I polled on the subject, all of whom are equally disgusted with the way people are letting their kids behave these days.

Some Discipline, Please

My friend Rebecca came home from a visit to Santa Claus the other day, irate with the amount of parents who stood by and watched their little beasts push her 4-year-old daughter in order to get ahead in line.

And Aaron, who's been working in the ER at the Montreal Children's Hospital, tells me he can't believe the way children talk to their parents, telling them to shut up and that they're stupid, while the parents just stand there and look uncomfortable.

Don't be afraid of discipline! Children need discipline.

Canada's corporal punishment law, which allows the use of reasonable force in disciplining a child, is being challenged this month. Does anyone else see the irony in this? Knowing right from wrong is not instinctual. Obviously, if we need a law to tell us not to beat our kids, morality comes from fear of consequences.

If adults are that horrifyingly stupid, how can we expect children to know the difference? Action and reaction go a long way (i.e. If I do something wrong, my bum will hurt).

People should not harm their children. That it does not go without saying is pathetic. But that does not mean you do not have to control them. The little monsters people are raising these days are going to grow up to need much stricter laws than the ones we have now to keep them in line, and that's not fair to the rest of the world.

So, please, keep them in line when in public places.You decided to have them. They're your problem not mine. Deal with it. If I wanted to listen to screaming brats, I'd have my own, thank you very much.

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� Colin Farrell
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