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Parents Need to Stop Apologizing For This One Thing

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Parents need to stop apologizing for their kids on planes

This has got to stop. I remember seeing that first picture go viral. You know the one where the parents put together a small package of goodies for other passengers that “had” to share the plane with their baby? It included a note apologizing in advance for their baby being on the flight. I thought that first note was cute, but something just didn't sit right with me.

As time went on I started seeing more and more of these notes popping up on the Internet. Last week, my friend and blogger Derek received one of these pre-apology packages on a flight that he took (check it out on his Instagram here). I finally realized why these bug me so much. I am not of the opinion that parents should have to apologize for bringing their kids places, including on planes. Newsflash: People are actually allowed to travel with their families, and even their (gasp!) babies. Sometimes parents and babies even need to use planes. The last time I checked leaving your baby home alone isn't good for the kid, and you might just end up in jail as well. The alternative is taking the baby on the flight with you. Although for some parents this might seem worse than jail.

I know, sometimes babies cry, poop, make loud noises, or throw food at you. So do other people who travel by plane, so get over it. Invest in some earplugs or a good pair of headphones. Maybe you have never traveled with your own kids before. It is similar to trying to corral a spider monkey who has just mainlined three cups of espresso. Sounds fun, right? I have three children of my own and not once have I thought, “Hey, maybe I should drop everything, write a pre-apology note, and put together a gift bag for people on my flight.” My wife and I are usually too busy stressing out about packing for five people, dividing up carry-on responsibilities, and getting through security without losing track of a kid.

However, if this practice of pre-apology packets must continue, then there are some other passengers that I want presents from long before I expect a parent to hand me a gift bag.

I want an apology package from the lady who fully reclines her seat directly into my kneecaps for the entire flight. How about a little something from the guy who goes comatose next to me the moment the plane leaves the ground? It takes a contortionist just to slip by him to use the bathroom. While we're at it, how about a present from the foul-smelling passenger? You know, the person who either takes a bath in perfume or carries on the meal that you can smell from the front of the plane. Whatever the source of their odor, they are oblivious to the other passengers passing out around them.

Maybe what I’m suggesting is a bit ridiculous, but so is having to pre-apologize for bringing my baby on a plane. So let’s just stop with the apology notes and gift bags from parents, and also the judging looks from other passengers. The next time a baby is crying remember that maybe your habits are just as annoying to the person next to you as that baby is to you. Perhaps you might even go the extra mile and offer some encouragement to the weary parent. They are probably just wondering how they will survive the flight. Give a friendly smile, or even some kind words. 


The truth of the matter is my baby has just as much right to be on a plane as any adult. When we are flying, I do my best to keep the chaos to a minimum, but chances are I'm more bothered by my child’s crying than the guy across the row from me. If you want a noise free flight maybe you should pony up the money to rent your own private plane.

If my baby does lose it I will put all my energy, and whatever time is left in the flight, to calming him down and making sure it doesn't happen again. All most parents ask for is a little understanding and an extra measure of patience from others. I know many passengers are more than willing to offer this. This bit of kindness can do wonders to renew an exhausted parent who is in the middle of their stressful family "adventure." 

So the next time I'm flying I plan to cut other parents some slack, and I want to see the same from you. However, if you are one of those other passengers I mentioned I expect my pre-apology packet as soon as I see you board.

#fatherhood

27 comments:

  1. Seriously, I never understood that either. I feel like I should just remove my knees altogether before I board. That might be easier.

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  2. Yep. I've traveled with my kids since they were born, and never once thought to apologize for them in advance. If during the flight they accidentally did something biggish, like accidentally pull the hair of the person in front of them? Sure. But no pre-emptive sorries here.
    Seriously, I've had people look up at me (I'm tall) as I pass by, notice me sit behind them, then SLAM that seat back in to my knees so hard I've yelped. They don't apologize for actually physically hurting me. WTH? I don't get it.

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  3. People are so weird on planes. Glad to know you can relate and are with me on this!

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  4. I've started to see the "no apologies" posts and was inclined to disagree, as I like to be polite. Then I remembered the older woman who blasted my 3YO for pushing on her seat with his feet twice, without talking to me first. Now I'm more inclined to side with Bill Connelly's, "Fffffffffff#&! OFF!!!"

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  5. Yes. I'm of the opinion there are much worse people on planes than babies. I'm more than willing to apologize if my kids does something wrong. I just don't want to go into it pre-apologizing and expecting something to happen.

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  6. I really don't see a need to apologize in advance. These people need to realize that kids are gonna cry, they are gonna be full of energy. If they have kids I would love to see their perfect baby on a plane!!! If not they need to get over it. We all paid to be on that plane and I am sure the parents with small children are paying not only money but their own sanity as well. Shit my problem usually is yje adults the kids behave better than they do :)

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  7. I agree, adults are many times much less well behaved

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  8. I'm one of "those other passengers." Screw your "pre-apology". You want to get by me sitting in the aisle seat and trying to get a little rest? How about gently tapping my elbow, I don't mind.

    As to your whining about my reclining, well, you're the one who chose to fly coach on a domestic airline, cheapskate - what did you expect?

    Apply your "pony up" directive to yourself and buy a better seat if you're unhappy with the one you agreed to buy from the airline.

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  9. Stan, I'm flying with all three of my kids later this month. I would love to sit next to you.

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  10. Where the hell do you fly that the other passengers throw food, poop, cry, and scream at you? are you a schizophrenic? Don't be an asshole. Screaming children are annoying. The other 9 children on the plane had no problem shutting the hell up... so why cant your kid?

    probably because youre sitting around writing really shitty articles instead of teaching your kid not to be a spoiled brat.

    i agree with not apologizing for your kid, but don't turn it into a pity parade that allows your child to act like a chimpanzee.
    i have serious concerns for your mental health.

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  11. I disagree to a point. If a person feels compelled to make a pre-apology package, why the objection? They probably suspect what's coming and want to build up as much good will as possible. I do a fair amount of travel and feel a bit of dread when a family of small kids approach as kids will be kids. I just deal. If a parent wants to give a goody package I say "Awesome" and "Thank You." If they don't, that's fine too. Pointing out the knee issues or sleeping aisle-neighbor rudeness doesn't necessarily hold water since, even though it happens, it doesn't make misbehavior ok. To me, it is like saying the right of the guy in the car next or behind you with the loud music and bass right to do that is ok even though it infringes on my right not to hear it. Yes, I know the parents are probably stressed out about bringing their kids on a plane. However, if a parent is conscious of the people around them and they want to do the packet thing, why the objection?

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  12. Cut/Paste from Huffpost blog comment section:

    Beau Coffron, you even said it yourself, you and your wife stressed out packing for you and your kids. Now imagine the parents that did this goodie bag (in the picture) that you so carelessly and arrogantly bashed on. They have a 2.5 year old, and a 9 month old. In your bizarro universe, you assumed that they didn't stress over packing the toys, the diapers, the formulas, the clothes etc. The fact is these parent went through the same hell you went through and was even thoughtful enough to make the goodie bags, lug it to the airport (along with all the kids stuff they had to schlep + their own stuff) and pass it out amongst their neighboring passengers. What do you do? You belittle them and make fun of their efforts. Then you basically criticize them by implying they have too much time on their hands. These parents tried to do something that they thought would make the flight go easier on everyone. Your somehow decide to write a smarmy article to encourage people to make fun of parents like these and bash them for their well meaning efforts. Well done Beau! Well done indeed. You win the internet dude.

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  13. I'm not going to even spend another second formulating a response to this because it is clear you are not interested in a conversation.

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  14. Thanks for your response Jay. It is not even the packet but it is what is represents. There seems to be a growing sentiment in our culture that we need to apologize for bringing our kids places, or that kids need to act mature instead of 2 years old. I am going to do everything I can to keep my kids from buggin other people. The point of the article isn't to shame another parent, it's to point out the stress that we as parents already feel. The majority of parents are doing the best they can in those situations. I am just asking for more patience from fellow passengers because we are trying our hardest. I brought up the other rude adults because I encounter them way more than out of control kids and if we are going to be traveling together lets all try and think of others a bit more and not just ourselves. That being said I will never pre apologize for what my kid might do (the packets), but I will always apologize after if they are losing it around others and having a meltdown.

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  15. I never bashed the parents who wrote this. I asked all parents to stop pre apologizing for traveling with their kids. I also never assumed they didn't stress about the trip. Quite the opposite. I think they were extremely stressed which made them create this package. If parents weren't so stressed, and people more patient) then these pre apology packets wouldn't be necessary. I think you missed the point of the post. It's not to shame those who have done this (I have a friend who did this exact thing), it's to point out the pressure that parents feel in situations like this. I think if there was more patience, and less dirty looks, from fellow passengers then it would make the flight better for everyone. And for the record I have observed that adults are way more rude on flights than kids are. I will also never Pre apologize for taking my kids on planes, in restaurants, or anywhere else. I will, however, apologize after the fact if their behavior is out of line.

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  16. I can appreciate that; however, I also appreciate that some parents (never ran into them myself) are trying to be proactive in deterring the possible ill will a baby's behavior could engender. With your situational scenario much more likely (apologizing after the fact) people usually have to deal. I agree that families have the right to travel using whatever means available to them (planes, trains, automobiles, etc.) and others needs to deal with it; preferably with kindness, politeness, and patience. This would make it better likely for all. With that being said, the tone of the article spurs a reaction as you are telling someone (Derek, etc.) to stop with being proactive in influencing goodwill. You're taking the "better to ask forgiveness than (a sort of) permission" approach is the standard. Yes, a 2-year old is going to act like a 2-year old which implies some unpleasantness as a possibility. Most reasonable adults can understand and appreciate this ... as well as rightfully dread this. Parents of other kids as well might shudder as another family approaches. Stereo crying babies comes to mind. Regardless, kindness is warranted. As far as your article goes, if someone is considerate enough to make the gifts for others around them ... don't be drinking the Hateraide. That kind of action (a rarity) should be applauded. To them I say "Rock on!" That doesn't mean I'm going to be shooting you daggers because your toddler is kicking the back of my chair. Just don't be expecting me to be thinking about daisies and puppies the entire time either. I, like most people, will just deal with it. BTW, the effort to minimize the imposition and apology is appreciated.

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  17. If parents feel they need pre apologize for airplane rides which usually are only bad for younger children; (At least it was in my case) then parents of unruly children in restaurants should also. I think apologizing before hand is ridiculous & people who don't have kids need to be a little more understanding. My mother who had Alzheimer's was ten times worse......only a few times did I feel it necessary to explain & apologize for her outbursts.

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  18. That's funny, no where in the picture you showed did the parent "Pre-Apologize". They thanked the other passengers for their patience. You conveniently twisted their words to fit your snarky article and mocked them for their efforts.

    "it's to point out the pressure that parents feel in situations like this. I think if there was more patience, and less dirty looks, from fellow passengers then it would make the flight better for everyone"



    In a perfect world of unicorns and rainbow lollipops, yes. Unfortunately, we don't live in that world. How many travelers do you know pack earplugs? If you were traveling alone and a screaming kid is near you but the parent(s) were good enough to give you earplugs, you would turn them down and tell them to stop handing them out? Really?


    Obviously the parents were stressed out, that is friggin why they made the goodie bags in the first place! The goodies bags are a way to de-stress themselves a little more and make sure other passengers don't get pissed at their kid, but you seems to miss the point on that. The parents did this to try to ensure a more smooth flight for everyone which in their mind would give them a less stressful time. If YOU don't want to do this, that is totally fine, no one is asking you to do so. But why write an article to tell people to stop making these goodie bags when you really meant to ask other passengers to be more understanding to you as a parent? Why tell other parents to stop doing this when that really wasn't your point?


    If I am given a goodie bag, I certainly would not feel they are "Pre-Apologizing" for anything, rather I would feel they are being extra considerate of other around them and that is a good thing. But the way you wrote your article, you basically tell people that is a bad thing. Why is this bad? Is it better to be inconsiderate and just expect people to give you a break because you are a parent? NO ONE said you need to "Pre Apologize", you assumed that parents who do this are children apologists.


    You won't pre-apologize for your kids, great, don't break your hand while patting yourself on the back.

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  19. Actually - I like this trend. Parents need to start being more self-aware. Nobody else likes your kids and nobody appreciates it. This teaches children manners and if you're against that then you're a shitty parent.

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  20. I generally like children, and when I don't, I'm just happy they are not mine and move on. We have to be careful people, if this trend continues we'll have to pass out goodie bags in supermarkets, restaurants, malls, and heaven forbid, blogs where people post the most rude and senseless comments! People complain about rude and annoying behavior from children, yet we are subjected to the ugly looks and rude comments from adults who can't find it in their hearts to show compassion to another human being who is probably trying their best. Don't worry, I'll start a new trend for you, I'll call it "I'm happy for you" if the worst thing you have encountered in your life is an upset child on an airplane.

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  21. This is a nasty and rude article. As an avid traveler, I do have patience with children and babies but not neglectful or wussy parents. I have experienced a situation in which a mother slept the entire flight while her child continuously cried and kicked my seat for four hours. God forbid society has respect and politeness for others and that is all that the notes signify. Its the writer's choice to have kids but I don't view that kids have the same rights as adults. If your kid can't handle a five hour airplane ride than plan trips closer to home. Common sense and respect is what is missing in this arrogant mother's rant. I will agree that there are certain times with children that one does not have control but acknowledgment of the situation to others that are being impacted is the least a parent can do to make the situation better for themselves and others. My husband and I were flying back from Europe recently and a little autistic girl screamed the entire flight directly in front of us due to her ears hurting from the pressure. The parents had our assistance and empathy during the entire eight hours due to them being classacts and taking the time to explain to us (because we were being impacted by their daughter) the situation. They were classacts because they were aware of their surroundings and aware of others. This author is rude and arrogant.

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  22. Jay, thanks for your comment. I can see where you are coming from. My wish is that the stress of flying would be so little that notes like this wouldn't even be necessary. Let me make clear that I think parents should be proactive in trying to minimize their kids' disturbances. I am not saying kids should do whatever they want. Those parents who let their kids be run amuck and just ignore them should get the dirty looks. I think most parents are doing their best to just get their kids through the flight with as few problems as possible.

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  23. You know what I think is funny? How you email me, calling me names and swearing at me, because your first comment didn't show up right away. Then I respond to you telling you why it didn't show up, why I didn't comment within minutes of you posting, and then reassuring you I would allow it when I had a minute. Then, you never replied back. How about I reply to this comment when you have the courtesy to respond to the email I sent you.

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  24. Thanks for commenting Jennifer. I hope pre apology letters become unnecessary, no matter where parents are, because it means we all are having more patience and understanding with each other.

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  25. NatG I think that would be an awesome trend! My hope is actually that we can all have more patience for each other so that none of these letters need to be written at all.

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  26. I'm not sure who you're talking to here, but I assume it's me and I'm a dad not a mom. If you have patience with kids and parents who are trying hard, that's awesome. More power to you. I wouldn't have patience for a parent who sleeps while their kids' wreak havoc either. I have experienced that most parents are trying their hardest to make it through the flight. However, I disagree with you that parents should keep their kids closer to home. Sometimes this just isn't possible. I also disagree that kids don't have the same rights. They absolutely do, especially if the parents have had to buy a ticket for their child. I really don't know how you came to this conclusion.

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  27. My apologies for calling you a Mom...I read your article in the Huffington Post so it was confusing on which parent wrote it. As I stated in my response, as long as the parent is responsible for their child, most passengers or patrons will be reasonable over a child being upset but there seems to be too many who think its their right and the child's right to impact other strangers comfort and space whether it's the stench of an unchanged diaper or screaming child. That is not the case....whether you are a drunk on a plane or a sleeping mother, you are in the complete wrong if it impacts others. There is nothing wrong with the notes that parents are doing now days. It shows manners and signifies that they are aware of other people around them and not just focused on themselves. Again, I understand that there are some cases that children have to fly but if your toddler can't handle a five hour flight just so you can go to Disney Land than common sense dictates that you travel somewhere closer. Children have rights but they don't have the right to impact others while the parent is being passive or neglectful of their responsibility in public places. I agree to disagree with you on the point you made in your article. There is nothing wrong with acknowledging to others that you appreciate their discomfort due to your crying child. Most passengers do notice but are too polite to say anything. I feel politeness should always be reciprocated, especially by those causing the disturbance even if its unintentional such as a tired child. It makes for a better society.

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