It’s no secret that the sound of screaming children on airplanes is the worst. It’s difficult on all the passengers, but particularly difficult for the parents of the screaming children. And, I don’t think life is particularly enjoyable for the screaming child either. I’ve been that parent more than once. So, how can you remain sane? …and, how can you support other dads in those moments of enclosed chaos?
Dads with screaming children are undoubtedly feeling their fair share of eye-rolling, sarcasm, and general disdain from fellow passengers. When you or a nearby dad is in a crisis, remember the following four principles.
1) Each of us was once a child.
The Golden Rule is a great place to start. Particularly because every traveler was once a child. We once had ears that wouldn’t pop. We once wanted a snack our parents didn’t have. It will benefit everyone if we treat these grumpy little fliers the same way you wish you had been treated.
2) Children disarm tension.
For every one grumpy child, there are five others who are making us laugh, sharing random stories with their seat neighbors, and just being generally likeable human beings. Flying can be a stressful and isolating experience. Children regularly bring out the very best in all of us. It would serve all dads to remember how great kids are.
3) Our future hinges on children.
To get really serious for a second: CNN reports that the birth rate in this country has reached record lows. The baby shortage has economists and politicians in a panic, as the societal implications of an aging population are cataclysmic. In Jonathan Last’s book What to Expect When No One’s Expecting, he outlines a grim future for a country short on little ones. Last compares the trends in the U.S. to places like Greece and Japan, countries that now sell more adult diapers than baby diapers. Children aren’t nuisances. They are our life rafts. We literally won’t survive without them. If we care about our future, we should do everything we can to encourage these children and their parents along—particularly in those lowly moments of airplane chaos.
4) Serving hurting people feels good.
There’s a reason we’re obsessed with healthy foods, workout regiments, and vacations. We love to feel good. But the science is clear that serving others is the best way to produce happiness. A family with a screaming toddler might feel first like an annoyance, but perhaps that struggling family is an opportunity to increase our happiness. An encouraging word or an assuring smile to your fellow father will go a long way for them …and for you.