I recently watched a YouTube video produced by "Cut," a popular channel based in Seattle that features people completing challenges, answering questions, and participating in games created by Cut. The video was titled "Match Baby to Parent" in which strangers were tasked with pairing up infants to their parents that were in the room. Something that stuck out to me at the beginning of the video was one of the strangers, who as soon as the task was explained said: "I don't like babies... they're literally parasites." Albeit extreme, this phrase (or related statements) are fairly common to hear nowadays. People who label themselves as not really "kid people" or confidently claim that they just hate kids can be found anywhere.
To be honest, a few years ago I was one of those people. I didn't really enjoy being around kids... most of this feeling was from being stressed while babysitting kids during my early teenage years. I had no clue how to relate to kids, keep them entertained, or discipline them in an appropriate manner. I was very quick to turn down babysitting opportunities and join the anti-children bandwagon. It wasn't until a few years ago that I read somewhere how observant kids were and how much they are affected by these kinds of people.
Let me give you an example. If a child persistently asks curious questions, perhaps why it rains, how do you think the following phrases compare in how they impact the child? "It doesn't matter, I don't really know. Now stop asking me questions and go play somewhere else." versus "Well, it rains because sometimes the clouds get really full of water and they need to put it somewhere. Do you like playing in the rain?" I think if you witnessed both these scenarios happening, you would be able to see a difference in how the child reacts. To be able to encourage kids to ask questions and explore the world and to simply enjoy being young is nothing short of simple human kindness. Kids are people too; we cannot treat them like annoyances or pests. It is understandable that kids CAN be handfuls (and I'm sure any parent reading this can agree), but you must humbly remind yourself that you were no different from them. Kids look up to adults, and it is our responsibility as a community to provide an environment where they can grow and find confidence in who they are. If you are one who identifies as non-child tolerant or doesn't want kids, that's honestly okay. But the difference is found in how you treat the children you meet. Regardless of how you feel about younglings, you need to respect them like you would respect any other person. If you meet eyes with a child in public, you can smile them at them. Don't scowl or look down at them; give a small wave and continue on with your day. Know how much kids are affected by how adults treat them. Because to them, you are their world and their future.
"What we desire our children to become, we must endeavor to be before them."-Andrew Combe.