Wednesday, October 3

Plane Etiquette and Children

Twitter recently stated that some airlines are considering "Kid-Free" areas on their flights.

There are certain restrictions that are good for mankind.

"No Smoking" is a brilliant policy for those of us eating in a restaurant or entering a confined area. Not subjecting others to tobacco, chemicals, or smoke mixed with a person's exhaled airborne-contaminants, is a kind thing to do.

However, following on from the "Kid-Free" travel notion and this begs for another question. Are "Kid-Free" flights a wise decision?

As an Etiquette and Protocol Professional, I am a member of several groups with 1,000+ Etiquette and Protocol Professionals worldwide. During one of our symposiums, Teri Haynes, a Business Credibility and Etiquette Consultant, had an excellent comment. I have expanded on her train of thinking, which went something like this;

"Kid-Free" on airlines removes the children from good examples and allows public acceptance of bad behavior. The misbehavior of children is often a result of poor parenting, a lack of discipline, and in some cases, a lack of knowledge. A lot of parents are clueless."

Think of all the dumming-down we have created in this country. The removal of cursive writing in schools is one such instance.

Not having children on airlines removes the individual from a potential role model and eliminates a classroom affect. The parents of those children learning new skills need the example that exudes from successful parenting.

Further examples of a lowering of our expectations and standards; rise on the stilts of our mind through our public education tests. Then we have casual Fridays in the workplace, which have evolved into casual Mondays-Fridays. Furthermore, sloppy attire when dining at a restaurant, in Church, and flip-flops adorning the feet more often than they should, rather than being kept for the beach for which they were intended.

Consider transferring your knowledge over to the next generation. Not everyone had or has a role model. Sadly, there are many poor role models out there. Before you are quick to judge a parent, why not create an opportunity to encourage and be empathetic.

Following on from the notion of airlines banning children on specific flights, my vote is against "Kid-Free" flights and "Kid-Free" areas on flights.

I have witnessed individuals with worse manners than children who are at their wits end with airborne confinement. Not forgetting, children need to have their physical and emotional needs met on a flight. They are a token for good if individuals know how to receive them and educate them.

In fact, let us look at what our Creator thinks of children. In Psalm 127:3 God reminds us that "Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward."

Kids are an asset not a liability. Moreover, they are precious in the eyes of the Lord as indeed they are for many good parents. What a privilege and a blessing to have little ones and an honor to take the responsibility and to raise them up in the ways of the Lord. Hundreds of wealthy persons would give half their estates if they could hear the cry of a babe born of their own bodies.

Indeed, children are our next generation and yet even here, with all the straits of limited incomes, our best possessions are our own dear offspring, for whom we bless God every day.

Almost 8-years ago now, we flew from the shores of Sydney, Australia to Chicago, USA. Ahead of us was a 23-hour flight and our son had just turned one. He was a delight! His need for constant hydration, food, diaper change, entertainment, and relaxation - cared for diligently!

To help parents who plan to travel or perhaps to encourage you to rethink your parenting in other areas that are challenging, I have set out some principles that have been tried and tested. The endorsement is the success rate over a span of thirty-plus years of parenting on and off.

Travel Tips
  • Be An InvestorInvesting time and energy into being proactive parents pays off! Leading up to the flight, we started training Caleb for an extended journey by creating times of confinement. We stretched the exercise until he was sitting in his highchair or on our lap for longer, happy periods.

This did involve a little discipline for both parties concerned.

  • Be DisciplinedDiscipline yourself to do what is right. As a parent or guardian, set time aside to think, plan, and prepare for events ahead of time. Create a schedule and let the schedule provide discipline in your life. Far too much time is wasted away on cell-phone usage, in particular text messages. Unfortunately, Face book and the likes, consume people’s time rather than the focus and attention needed for our responsibilities, duties, and the bigger picture of what is truly important in life, like telling others about Jesus.

When training Caleb for the flight, I would often have to gently and firmly say, "No, Caleb. Sit still. Let's look at this." Naturally, I used common sense and good judgment. His good behavior received a reward.

Moving onto a flight was merely a progression from our already preparedness. This brings me to my next point.

  • Be PreparedEnsure that you have plenty of water on the flight. Water hydrates. Drinks that contain sugar and chemicals dehydrate our bodies. The first sign of dehydration are dry lips. Keep the smile on their dial with lots of H2O.

Make sure you pack plenty of wholesome snacks. Once again, sugar dehydrates our bodies, as do chemicals. Packaged foods contain chemicals, with the exception of legumes. Many healthy alternatives digest easily and are pleasant to our taste buds. The objective is to keep your children hydrated and fed with nourishing foods that settle rather than unsettle them.

Comfortable clothing for your children is necessary. Layering helps you to adjust their need for warmth or cooling off. Massaging their little feet and legs is an enjoyable extra that would help ease their burden.

Fresh books and quiet toys that are new to their senses would benefit their attention span as well as the nose volume within a confined space.

Being considerate of others is transferable and indelible. Our next generation learns to be kind and considerate, poised and prepared, if we take the time to invest these principles.

When we take the time to be kind, they will be kind in time - Deborah Choma

  • Be FocusedRemember the agenda. Defer your own desires and provide the detailed attention needed to ensure a pleasant trip for everyone concerned. Be considerate of others. Unfortunately, there are some with little tolerance for children for various reasons. If need be and when it is safe for everyone involved, take your toddler for a walk up the aisle. Children love to scope their environment just as we do. This creates security for them and so does the way you respect and meet their needs.

  • Be KindTravelling can be tough. Be kind to your children and lower your expectations. They are a work in progress and so are we. There are options to create comfort during uncomfortable times. Perhaps you can come up with your own creative list.

In finishing, an expectation for a "Kid-Free" flight, in my opinion, is unrealistic and unlikely. Good behavior in babies and toddlers is unrealistic and unlikely if we as parents or guardians do not invest time and energy prior to and during travel. It is worth taking the time to invest into children's training, travel preparedness, and their emotional and physical needs. Otherwise, do expect some level of discomfort yourself and for others.

There are so many variables and we must not forget little ones with disabilities or health issues, just to mention a couple. The same principles for preparedness apply. They should be cared for in much the same way as I have already mentioned, with the addition of their individual needs and perhaps a natural or pharmaceutical supplemental to ease and ensure the comfort of the child and others on the flight.

Having realistic expectations when it comes to children is a great stance. Zero tolerance is unrealistic.

Be flexible and help if the need arises. I have often asked a mother sitting nearby if she would like me to hold her baby while she attended to the needs of her other children. It was the kind thing to do and most enjoyable.

As I pray this lesson your way, may I remind you to think about the needs of others, not the least, your own family members? How we care for those God has entrusted us with is the springboard to greater blessings.

Yes, Children are a heritage from the Lord. The effect of receiving them as such is in our trusting God for their provision and safety, and in our consulting Him concerning them.

Children are a permanent record of their parent's wisdom. They are transmitters of their parents' virtues to another generation; for well-trained children become, in their turn, wise parents.

One of my favorite Bible verses that renders more precisely and supremely the preceding principles, is found in 1 Corinthians 14:40 "Let all things be done decently and in order."

Take the time to plan and pray for your trip. You will accomplish more than order in your journey.

Onward and Upward!

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