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UK foreign resident claim the country is not child-friendly and kids are expect to ‘do as they told’

A woman who has lived in the UK for 15 years has criticised British people for their attitudes to children, claiming they’re ‘treated as an invconvenience’ by their parents and strangers alike.  

The unnamed ‘foreign person’ shared her opinion on the British parenting forum Mumsnet, claiming people in the UK don’t coo over children in public, but make no secret of their disapproval if they misbehave.  

She asked if it’s a hangover from the Victorian era, to expect them to always be well behaved and ‘do as they’re told’. 

Other critcisms included low breastfeeding rates, lack of affordable childcare and fewer options such as holiday camps and clubs.  

While some parents agreed, others said it was a matter of not wanting children to misbehave in public, rather than not liking them. 

One foreign resident in the UK sparked a debate when they claimed on Mumsnet that the UK was not child-friendly (stock image)

The parent said they felt the UK didn't let children be children and were expecting them to always do as they were told

The parent said they felt the UK didn’t let children be children and were expecting them to always do as they were told 

The person, who had been living in the UK for the past 15 years, explained why they feel culture in the UK is not child-friendly. 

‘Generally kids aren’t accepted to be kids,’ she said, adding: ‘They are expected to be quiet (ish) if out and about eg in a restaurant or a cafe.’ 

She said that it’s not commonplace to see British mothers breastfeeding in public, citing that the country has the lowest rate of breastfeeding in the world. 

This is backed by a 2018 study which found that 34 per cent of babies were still being breastfed at age six months in the UK, compared to  62 per cent in Sweden. 

Parents were split, with some saying they agreed and that other countries were nicer to children, and others saying the UK was no different

Parents were split, with some saying they agreed and that other countries were nicer to children, and others saying the UK was no different 

The commenter also went on to claim that children in the UK are expected to ‘do as you’re told,’ which she feels is a ‘weird expression in itself’, and means that they can ‘never show a wild side’.

She also claimed that if you’re out in public with children in other countries, they’re doted on by strangers, but not so much in the UK.  

‘If on a train or other public spaces people tend not to engage with them even with babies (where I’m from there would be talking and smiling and general admirations) or they make faces, huffing and puffing etc if the children “misbehave”,’ she added. 

And to prove her point further, she pointed out British parent’s habit of complaining about their children as a form of banter.  

‘On top of that there aren’t many affordable childcare options or things like holiday camps and clubs (I know they exist in bigger cities sometimes but it isn’t the same),’ she added. 

Some said more places were making an effort to be dog-friendly than they did to be child-friendly

Some said more places were making an effort to be dog-friendly than they did to be child-friendly 

‘Overall it’s no place for young people! Does it come from the Victorian “kids are to be seen not heard” thing? 

‘Again where I’m from kids are celebrated as the future here they are mostly treated as inconvenience.’

British parents had lots of thoughts about these claims, with some agreeing the UK is not as child-friendly as other countries.   

‘People seem to accept any old s*** (literally) to make places dog friendly. But kids should be seen and not heard,’ one said. ‘I really hate the performance moaning about your kids too.’ 

Others said there was nothing with children learning to behave, and that the UK had more changing stations than other countries

Others said there was nothing with children learning to behave, and that the UK had more changing stations than other countries 

‘I never really got the difference until my eight-year-old broke a plate at a posh restaurant in Spain,’ one said.  

‘We were telling her off as we’d been telling her not to mess with it but waitress was over in a moment to give her a hug and man from next table gave her another plate. 

‘And I thought: “Oh she’s a distressed child and that’s what they see, not a parenting failure – you’re showing us up!”,’ they added. 

However, many said there were no difference, and that it was a matter of educating children, rather than not being child-friendly. 

‘What’s wrong with children being expected to be quietish in restaurants or cafes? It’s respectful to other diners,’ one said. 

‘I’m in the south and everyone makes a fuss of children Where on earth are you?’ the parent asked. 

Another said they’d spent a two week holiday abroad changing nappies and feeds her child on her knee because ‘not a single place had a highchair or changing table, unlike here where it’s basically a given’.

They were friendly though to be fair,’ she added.

‘What is wrong with children learning how to behave?’ one asked. 

‘I think people in this country love to see children running around in a playground, at the beach, in the countryside etc, but don’t want to see that behaviour in a restaurant or cafe. I don’t understand how that is a problem. 

‘I’m in the cold, unfriendly south and (*gasp*) people talk to babies here too,’ one said. 

‘Really? Perhaps it’s where in the country you are? I’m also in the north of England and all three of my children got masses of attention from strangers as babies and toddlers (including current baby),’ one mother said.

‘I’ve also never had a problem breastfeeding in public. Unlike in Greece where I was asked to face a wall so no one could see,’ she added.  

‘I’ve found France to be more non child-friendly than the UK in my experience. I’ve been many times as I have friends there and it’s common for parents to regularly shush their children as they are expected to be quiet in public. It doesn’t mean they don’t like children though, it’s just a different culture,’ one claimed. 

Some said they didn't recognise the foreign parent's description at all and that the UK was in fact 'child obsessed'

Some said they didn’t recognise the foreign parent’s description at all and that the UK was in fact ‘child obsessed’

‘I can guarantee most people here love their children just like in every country in the world. Our culture is different to the one you were brought up in,’ one said. 

‘That’s all. How are the mothers treated in your home country? Are they expected to do everything to provide this happy child friendly experience,’ they added.  

‘Children being expected behave in restaurants is far from unique to the UK. It’s a good thing,’ one said. 

‘Compared to what country? I find the UK far more child friendly than many European countries’ one mother said. 

‘In my experience we have great access to baby change, kids menus, spacious tables, kids activities, pram spaces and activities than any other city I’ve been to,’ she went on. 

‘Also, try the US… Even Orlando wasn’t great, with limited high chairs, menu choices abs general attitudes to smaller children,’ she concluded.


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