Mike the Psych's Blog

What if psychologists ruled the world? In real life?


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Princess on board – is that really a good thing?

“Have you let kids take over your life?” asked The Times’  Janice Turner – appropriately in the paper’s “Body + Soul” section – as the gist of the article was that they had done just that.

As I read the article I was agreeing more and more and getting quite annoyed. (It was in  half-term week after all).

A colleague and I used to meet regularly in a cafe bistro for a coffee and a glass of wine to catch up on mutual business matters. The cafe had big leather settees and proudly advertised wi-fi facilities which was great for nomads like us – a perfect mobile “office” and we could invite clients and colleagues to join us for lunch.

Then disaster struck – they introduced a kiddy menu (but not for them as there is probably more profit in a small portion than an adult one).

Now the place is crowded out with mums and kids in those over-sized “off-road buggies” which take out everything in their path. The noise level has increased and drowned out the background music – and that’s just the mums on their phones never mind the screaming kids. The staff often have to clear up the mess left by the kids around the settees (sticky drinks and leather – not a good combination) and not a laptop in sight.

And in an alternative venue I discovered that the mirror above the washbasin is fixed so low on the wall that any adult has to bend double to see in it (I had similar experiences in Wales but that’s a different story). It was put that way for the “little people” apparently (and no, we’re not in Ireland either).

We misinterpret “family friendly” as “child friendly” and over-indulge them, allowing them to dictate our lives rather than helping them adjust to the adult world. And as Turner points out other countries may be considered more family friendly but they expect children to fit in and be courteous.

Here we seem to be determined to raise a generation of accessorised little people with over-inflated egos, because they only ever receive praise, well on the way to developing a sense of  narcissistic entitlement. Simon Cowell needn’t worry about running out of X-factor wannabes any time soon.

As a parent I think I’ve done my share of tax-driving kids to activities and events but every time I see a car, or more probably a SUV, with a “Princess on Board” sign in the back, it makes me want to call social services and report a severe case of over-indulgence and parental self-flagellation.

Updated 15 February 2011: Seems I’m not the only person who gets annoyed when kids run around in restaurants. A report on the BBC News web-site reveals how attitudes vary and which restaurants welcome children. So you now know which ones to avoid.