Letters To A Natalist World: What Every Parent Needs to Know in Terms of Social Child Behaviors
A while back, I found a fantastic website for dog-lovers. I’m still exploring the contents of the website, but what I really like is the recipes section. I’m not an avid chef at all, but when I do cook, my favorite meals are those that I can share with the whole family, including my dear Molly. I was therefore thrilled to find a number of dog-healthy recipes, some of which would be delicious for human consumption with little or no alteration (I loved the real fruit Popsicles.). So go check out the website, dog lovers.
Gushing over a doggie site isn’t why I’m writing here today. No, the reason that I’m writing is because of a short article that I found on etiquette for dog-owners that really caught my attention. The following is the text of that article in its entirety.
When you think of your dog, you probably view him or her as another member of the family, just a bit furrier. Many dog lovers become so attached to their canine friend that they mistakenly start to believe that everyone is fan of dogs. Sadly, not everyone is as head over heels about your dog as you are, so it is important that you understand the importance of exhibiting proper dog owner etiquette.
Any time that your dog is away from home, or interacting with other people, you need to understand how to practice good social behaviors with the dog. Using good dog owner etiquette simply means that you are giving others’ respect by taking their feelings into considerations in regards to how they feel about your dog.
The following are a few simple tips to keep in mind if you want to maintain a positive relationship between your community and your dog:
- Always keep your dog on a leash when you leave your house or yard. Some dog owners think that they do not need a leash because their dog is always extremely well behaved and would never stray away. Well, the leash is not just for you and your dog; it’s for other people. Some people, especially if they are walking their own dogs, become very uncomfortable around an unfamiliar dog that is not leashed.
- Pick up after your dog. One of the most important ways to show respect to your neighbors is by picking up your dog’s droppings. Always keep plastic bags with you on your walks so that you can keep your neighborhood clean. You can quickly find yourself with an enemy if your neighbor finds your dog’s waste on the bottom of their shoe.
- Try to keep your dog quiet. Of course, dogs will bark, but try to be conscious of those around you. If your dog is outside barking excessively, you might be able to ignore it, but others probably cannot. Try your best to calm the dog and prevent too much barking.
- Don’t take your dog with you everywhere that you go. Your friends or relatives may have invited your over, but that does not necessarily mean they want your dog staying over too. Some people are allergic, or simply do not enjoy your dog as much as you do.
- Try to make sure your dog is being polite during introductions with other dogs, or with people. You might think the dog is cute when it excitedly jumps up to greet someone, or plays with another dog, but that behavior can make other people very uneasy. If your dog is playing too rough with another dog, there could be an injury and a lot of animosity between you and the other dog owner.
If you are unsure about any dog behavior situation, always stop and consider the other person’s feelings. Most importantly, if you feel that you have broken a dog owner etiquette rule, apologize. Apologize sincerely, and take steps to prevent the indiscretion from happening again.”
Can everyone agree that this all seems very reasonable? As someone with a dog, I sure can. It’s all common-sense, responsible behavior, right? This was written by a dog-lover on a site for dog-lovers, and it doesn’t seem the slightest bit surprising, out of place, or controversial.
However, can you imagine reading a similar article written about human children on a typical mommy/parenting blog?
“Your child is your family. It’s natural to be very attached to him or her. However, some parents becomes so attached to their children that they mistakenly believe that everyone else will adore them as well. While your world may revolve around your child, the real world does not. It is therefore important to understand the importance of having proper social etiquette when it comes to your children, at home and in public.
The following are a few tips to help you achieve this:
- Always keep your children under control. This is as much for your child’s sake as it is for the sake of other people. Some people think that they don’t have to maintain control their kids because their kids are “well-behaved” when they really aren’t/can’t be all the time, or the parents have a skewed idea of what proper behavior is and think that other people should see the child’s misbehavior as “cute.” The truth is, members of the public will be bothered by an out-of-control child.
Sometimes parents even fail to pay close attention to their kids and will claim to have “only looked away for a second” if the child is hurt or snatched up. So keeping control of your child is also about that child’s own safety.
- Always pick up after your child. Ensure that your child does not leave toys in neighboring yards or on public property (in parks, on roads, in apartment hallways, etc) and that he/she does not leave excessive messes when dining out in public or when visiting other people’s homes. If your child can not or will not pick up after itself, that responsibility falls on you.
- Keep your child quiet. Of course children make some noise, and most people will understand this, but please try to be considerate of those around you. Screaming, crying, noisy toys, and excessively loud talking can be very irritating and disruptive to other people. Controlling your child’s noise level, or removing them from a given situation if you can not do so, will help keep the peace. This applies to public places as well as your own property if you have close neighbors.
- Don’t take your child with you everywhere you go. You may have been invited for a visit or gathering, but that does not always mean that your child is welcome as well, so please ask first. If you must, politely decline the invitation.
Additionally, there are some places in public such as movie theatres, bars, and certain restaurants, and some dog parks where bringing very young kids along is simply not appropriate. Use good judgment and respect the rules.
- Try to make sure that your child is being polite in interactions with other people as well as with animals. You may think it’s cute when your child screams and runs around in play, or stares at or reaches at strangers, but this might bother other people and, in the wrong environment, may result in an injury (your child may trip someone or be tripped by someone if left to run around in stores, for example.)
If you are unsure about your child’s behavior in a situation, stop and consider the feelings and needs of others around you. If you feel that you have broken a parenting etiquette rule, apologize sincerely and endeavor to prevent repeat incidents. “
If such an article on What Every Parent Needs to Know in Terms of Social Child Behaviors ever was published (on a site the received a sufficient amount of traffic from parents,) I would expect a few cheers from some moms as well as childfree people (whenever we got wind of it,) for sure.
However, there would no doubt also be a strong, vocal backlash. The article would be flooded with comments from defensive mothers decrying ageism and insisting that children are people too (which no one denies but is irrelevant anyway.) Additionally, there will always be some moms who will respond by insisting that people without kids (because no matter who wrote the article, people without kids will be the ones blamed) just “don’t understand,” and should stay home if we don’t want to deal with unruly children (perfect angels, as they will no doubt tell it.)
Within a week there would be at least one angry article written in response, wailing about an imaginary anti-family society out to get moms. Fathers, I would imagine, would be a minority in any discussion on the matter at all as tends to be the case with such things.