Are the British intolerant of children?
The old fashioned view that children should be seen and not heard is still alive and well in the UK according to new research.
The National Family and Parenting Institute says Britain has one of the worst records in Europe for being "family unfriendly". Parents believe restaurants make them feel unwelcome, and people running public transport do little to help.
The report also highlights big differences between Britain and the rest of Europe in terms of maternity leave pay, leave for fathers, working hours and childcare.
Do you think the UK needs to become a more family-friendly nation? What are attitudes towards children like in your country?
Living in a country where children are idolized, pampered and spoilt I have to admit that I am extremely intolerant of children. However, my dislike really comes to the fore when my enjoyment in cinemas, restaurants and pubs is ruined by the bawling and tantrums of some 'little Napoleon' who deserves a good belting instead of a cuddle and a 'there-there'.
Ed, Brit in Italy
In Amsterdam, as you would expect, there is a very tolerant attitude to children. They are encouraged to explore, test and work things out. However, with this comes the very strong Dutch responsibility of not hurting or affecting others. I am happy to report that their are very few "commissions" or "legal battles" to get things to work this way, just the realisation that they are not little demons, but small people that are great fun to have around.
Matt, Amsterdam, Netherlands
Most definitely. Having lived in the USA for the last 5 years with my family I see a completely different attitude here. We have no issue taking our children into restaurants or anywhere else in the States. When we visit the UK it is very noticeable that families still have a difficult time unless they want to constantly eat at McDonalds!
I was on holiday last year with my wife and 2 year old and was astonished at the lack of consideration. No one offered them a seat on the tube despite seeing that standing was quite uncomfortable for the two of them. Things were not much better at restaurants either. People obviously saw a woman with a child at McDonald's and yet didn't even think about giving up their seat. Unfortunately, the UK seems to be like the town in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, where all of the children were removed.
We currently live in the USA and have two small children. Everywhere we go in this country, restaurants, state parks, museums, etc, all go out of their way to make children welcome. This makes economic sense as well as our lives much easier. I'm afraid to report that this has been one of the most noticeable differences between living at home and here in the US. With regret I can only endorse the findings of the report.
Jeremy, United States of America
What Rubbish! As a married man who chooses not to have children, I have lost my married person allowance and am no longer considered a family by the Blair government. British fathers work the longest hours in Europe well so do the rest of us men and after work I want a quiet drink in a pub or a nice meal in a restaurant without screaming children everywhere. If you chose to have children you chose to make sacrifices.
I like many people find children noisy, and extremely annoying. Before anyone shouts me down for being intolerant, I have chosen not to have children... ever. I simply don't want the children of other people spoiling my evenings in restaurants, cinemas, or more increasingly - pubs. I know they can't help it, but there have to be areas of sanctuary, where people like me can go, who can't stand the sight of kids. Additionally there have to be places where families can go too. Preferably well advertised, so that I can avoid them!
I am sick to death of being expected to 'suffer the children' in public places. I do not want children of my own so I certainly do not want my life constantly interrupted by wining, crying, badly behaved off-spring appallingly managed by incompetent and disinterested parents. There are suitable places to take children and there are very definitely places where children should not be allowed. Why should everyone else have to put up with families who clearly don't give a damn about how socially acceptable they are, who seem unaware that they spoil and ruin events and environments? It's arrogant, selfish and unfair.
Nick, London, UK
When you have children, it is your job to bring them up in a responsible manner. However, in the UK this seems to be almost forgotten! Children are pushed into a corner and told to be quiet. What do their parents expect them to do? They will scream and make as much trouble as they think they can get away with, of course! Then other people tell the parents to sort the kids out or get out! If the parents respected their kids in the first place, this would not happen.
John - THE father!, Warwick, England
When my mother took our family on social outings, she was often congratulated on how well behaved and well mannered her (five) children were. Travel the European continent and you will find that almost all children encountered are well behaved, heed their parents' wishes and are respectful of their elders, as we were when we were children. English parents of today, wherever they go, let their obnoxious brats run riot, then seem to have the attitude that if you (the unfortunate observer) don't like it, go elsewhere!
Chris, Isle of Man, British Isles
I am astonished by some of the comments on this page. Yes Britain is generally inflexible for families both at work and leisure compared to France where we live now. Children are more accepted socially in restaurants/ bars etc and they are no better or worse behaved over here. But I never imagined that there was such a blatant anti-child portion of the adult population in Britain. Take Nick Hardy or Anon's (chicken) comments for example. I am therefore convinced that Britain will in fifty years time be a nation of old childless whingers. Yes parents are responsible for taking children in hand when they misbehave but please don't slag off kids just because you don't want any. Nick and Anon and others like them were obviously angelic children who never put a foot wrong in public. Get a life!