Last year I wrote about my own personal experience on a flight from Paris to Seattle seated across the aisle from a food-throwing, wailing 18-month-old whose mother did little to manage him. My frustration only increased when I asked the flight attendant for assistance and was told that I, and all the other unhappy passengers around the child, were free to find alternative seating if it was available. The blog I wrote afterwards resulted in quite a bit of lashing out from mothers who angrily defended their right to bring poorly behaved children onboard and to breast-feed openly. I was accused of being anti-family and anti-child.
Fast forward to April 2012 and suddenly it’s all over the internet—childfree flights being requested and being provided. I first noticed it on April 1st when WestJet announced their new program, “Kargo Kids” in which children would be put in the cargo area of the plane, provided with toys, a trough-feed, and allowed to run and play freely, thus providing a serene ambience for adults on board. Of course, it was an April Fool’s Day joke, but what a hilarious image!!
But it’s not a joke that just this week, Malaysia Airlines announced that they will provide a childfree seating area on one of their flights starting in July. A recent poll coming out of the United Kingdom revealed that over 50 percent of adults advocate for childfree flights, and almost two-thirds of those surveyed indicated that loud children are the biggest in-flight annoyance, bypassing bad food and limited space.
So, what does this mean in the childfree world?
To me, it’s an indication that family-life is losing it’s place as the all-revered lifestyle choice. The luster has worn off, and people are seeing parenting and time with kids as what it truly is, a mix of pleasant and unpleasant times. It’s a time when having a child does not mean that one will have special privileges, such as being rude in a public place, leaving work early to go to a soccer game, or getting special tax breaks. Individual accountability is on the rise, and I see this as a great thing. As for the childfree community, most of us are quite happy to give tangible and emotional support to parents who are taking their job seriously, but we’re not going to freely open up our wallets and remain quiet when we see people producing children with no intention of being responsible parents.
More demand will come for childfree travel. Elena Mathis started a travel service just for this purpose, named Childfree Travel (go to childfreetravel.net). I’m predicting that her phone will be ringing soon with folks wanting to go to resorts that cater exclusively to adults and not to families.
We’re going to see more and more societal changes as a result of the childfree community speaking out! Who can possibly predict where it will go. Perhaps it will be the childfree woman asking for a 3-month paid leave of absence after observing her same-age peers taking this time off for maternity leave. Or it might be the childfree adult insisting on having Halloween eve off so that he can attend a special party, leaving a parent to work. And tax breaks — the illogical system of rewarding people for producing children, with a extra break for each one, is on the way out. Add to this the policy in many states to provide health insurance right away once a young adult announces that she is pregnant but leaving all those who are practicing birth control uncovered. What’s fair about that policy?
Changes in childfree and child friendly policies are happening daily and at a rapid pace. As a childfree adult, I challenge each of my peers to speak out assertively for what you want and need. As our numbers grow, we will be heard!!
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