Women Need to Stop Apologizing For Bringing Children on Flights

A few weeks ago I boarded a flight with my two kids in tow. The flight was full of kids heading to the sunny island of the Turks and Caicos. Within seconds a smiling adorable baby head popped up over my seat and began to giggle. Moments later her mother turned around and immediately apologized for bringing the baby on the flight. You know what ladies, you all need to stop apologizing for bringing your children on flights.

Let’s face it, almost everyone you sit next to on a flight is annoying. Whether it’s the guy who insists on reclining his seat so his head is practically pressed against your chest or the complete stranger who wants to tell you their life story for the entire duration of your 6 hour flight. No one is the perfect flyer and that includes your kids.

The issue is that by setting these ridiculous standards of behaviour for our children and pre-emptively apologizing, it makes it seem like you are in the wrong for bringing your child on an airplane. The truth is you are not in the wrong at all. You paid for a ticket and even if your child is in your lap, that ticket includes your child’s flight. Some would argue that travel is a privilege and not a right but once you’ve bought the damn ticket it is your right to use it to get yourself and your child from A to B.

Like most of you, I’ve seen the viral posts about people handing out “apology goodie bags” before the flight with chocolate and ear plugs. I absolutely hate that idea. You don’t owe people on the flight anything and your children are not inherently bad humans you need to apologize for even before the flight takes off. Sure your kid may freak out on a flight but how about the person who insisted on eating chili the night before the flight or the guy that downed 6 shots of whisky in the airport lounge.

The message we as women are sending is out that parents should be apologetic for allowing their kids to travel and the notion of this is simply ridiculous. As a community of women, it’s time to stand up for our families and our right to take our kids wherever the hell we want to at whatever age we please.

My heart was broken reading this Facebook post recently from one of my favorite blogs,  A Little Moxie. A mom of three boarded a flight that ended well with some chaos in between. At the end of a flight, a man stood up and said “you should teach your kids to be more quiet on plane”. Mariah, the mother who is deaf, didn’t hear him at first so he continued to repeat the statement. Luckily in this situation the women around her rallied against him and showed her some support.

Listen, motherhood is hard. We all know that. Travel with kids can also be pretty difficult at times. The woman in front of me could have kept her baby at home and travelled to the resort with just her older child. But you know what they would have missed? All those nights, I saw their baby who was just old enough to walk , strolling hand in hand with her family smiling at the sunset. They also would have missed seeing her eyes light up when Elmo, a character at the resort, walked over for a hug. They would have missed a period of valuable family bonding time that will continue to strengthen the bond of their family well after the flight home was over. So next time you sit next to a child on a flight, say hello and let those parents know you are available if they need help. If you don’t want to do that, at least take a deep breath, choose a good movie and before you say a word to the parents of a crying child, take a moment to get over yourself.

What do you think mamas? Feel free to comment below.

15 Comments on this post

  1. You’re absolutely right. It’s someone’s child, for goodness sakes! I will remind my kids to be polite and respectful in public places and on flights especially, but we have to realize that kids will laugh and talk loud sometimes. They are kids after all!

    Maria / Reply
  2. AMEN! ? You are absolutely right and I’ve encountered way more bad adult travelers than kids!

    Sarah Hirsch / Reply
  3. Preach it! What gets me is that many of the people on the plane are parents themselves…how about a little compassion and understanding. I rather listen to a baby cry then deal with many other types of travelers who have no excuse for their behavior.

    Tamara / Reply
  4. As someone who just endured several hours of a child (yes, child – probably 5 yrs) screaming her head off during a 13 hr flight I have to disagree. The mum (sat in front of me) appeared to do nothing to try to calm her distressed daughter, claiming “she’s just tired, there’s nothing I can do”. Please at least TRY to control your screaming child for the sake of other people trying to sleep.

    Louisd / Reply
    • Agree. I just experienced the same thing twice in a month. All the parents did was sit and look at the kids.
      Didn’t try anything to pacify them. No bottle, no toy, no snacks, no rocking, nothing. That’s what frustrates me.

      RMcK / (in reply to Louisd) Reply
    • Yes. I agree completely, I had a child across the aisle from me screaming so loudly for an 11 hour flight that from hour 2 through completion I could not hear any music or video I was listening to with the earplugs in, the volume at max and my hands pressing pillows over my ears. The mother did nothing, the entire compartment was suffering. I’ve had oral surgery that was more enjoyable. Parents don’t need to apologize for bring children, they need to address the behavior, your apology means nothing if you are doing nothing about what you are apologizing for.

      dw / (in reply to Louisd) Reply
  5. a balance …. i get it that kids will be kids and sometimes they grizzle and whine or perform .. and it may be that the k id is too young genuinely for discipline or the parent knows that any attempts to pull Junior up short will end in a display of screaming sh*tfits that will make whatever he or she was doing before, vastly the lesser evil. However what really gets me is when a parent clearly doesnt care what their kids get up to and they dont have an excuse such as another baby to attend to. You may have concluded that ignoring your screaming child is the best strategy but that is for when you are alone on the ranch, not in a public space where people cannot retreat.

    CAROLYN / Reply
  6. I think parents should make an effort to entertain and supervise their children. I also hate parents who sit away from their kids intentionally. I have children and agree we have a right to fly as a family. However, I also believe parents have an obligation to parent. I am not talking about infants crying or children talking a bit too loud or lagging a bit too much. that said a 10 year old kicking the back of another passengers seat while the parents sit in first class…..I am just saying as a mother of two of you know your kids fight plan accordingly when we fly my daughter and I sit in front of my husband and son because he has a tendency to swing his legs and I don’t want anyone else bothered. My kids also have a tendency to argue so we keep them separated. I’m about curtesy all around. I know a baby/toddler does not have control of their emotions. However I also know that my children know how to behave in a library and a plain ride is much the same.

    Amber / Reply
  7. Or just realize that when you have a kid, your life should be over and you should be relegated to a far away corner of the world where your pregnancy and maternity times doesn’t screw up businesses and burden your Co workers and that you should have to drive everywhere in a big SUV or go by boat leaving decent people quiet time on the plane.

    Ava / Reply
  8. A crying baby or a loudly talking/laughing child are to be expected. Many fliers often volunteer to help entertain kids on long flights. But there are also parents who put on their headphones and let their kids run wild. They think the price of their kids’ tickets requires everyone else on the plane to tolerate food throwing, seat kicking, hanging on the back of seats, etc. I was on a flight recently where Mom and Dad sat together on one side of the aisle and their 3 kids (all appeared to be 8ish and younger) sat together on the other side of the aisle. They had cocktails while their kids shouted and fought for the whole flight. These are the families that make us cringe whenever kids get on the plane. The usual kid stuff is okay with almost every air traveler.

    Pat R / Reply
  9. I love this article. As a mom I don’t know how to teach my son how to be in the world other then taking him out into the world. Life is tough when your learning about the world. There are times I can’t handle it, how do I expect a toddler to do that. And when you comment about a Child’s behavior do you realize you are attacking that child how is that anger going to improve the situation. And when people comment on a child do they realize that they have now become the loud mouth child in the plane? Their mother should have done a better job of teaching them to be quiet.

    Leslie / Reply
  10. In 1990 my friend and i got on a flight from SF to Cleveland with our six children between 9 and 6. I’ll never forget the look on everyone’s faces when we walked to our seats! So funny!

    Mary Kay / Reply
    • I get that a lot! Luckily my kids have flown enough that by the end people are always commenting on how good they were. Have had one mishap flight that in the end was an undiagnosed ear infection. Would love to have a friend to travel with!

  11. Its infuriating in a way that this becomes a gendered issue, that women have to apologise for the children……it men AND women to create a child. Even more fundamental than this though, is the fact that each and every one of us has been a child – if you object to the presence of children around you, maybe you should tuck yourself away in a cave, your preciousness about your own feelings would indicate a lack of maturity and grace. I’d rather be sat next to a nice kid, even if they’re a bit excitable than a grump or a drink or a pompous idiot!

    Fiona Fleming / Reply
  12. Forget all that about what the baby would have missed children have a right to travel like anyone else .People are so obnoxious and arrogant you don’t like children on airplane ….take a bus or you stay home .

    Lou Anne Johnson / Reply

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