Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Thoughts on Traveling with a Child

Now that I am getting ready to become a parent I am spending more time thinking about the parenting that I see in the world around me.  I have always been opinionated about traveling with small children. In my opinion children are very rarely taught how to behave in public and when it comes to long travel trips by plan or to resorts and vacation destinations small children are completely up rooted and taken away from their norms. Everyone gets a little on edge when they are out of their comfort zone but little children don’t have the life skills to cope with these changes well. While sitting on the plane on our way to Hawaii for our “Baby Moon” there was several people on the plane with their small children. Some of the children made their presence known before they even got on the plane. While in flight the entire coach section of the plane was disturbed and inconvenienced by these children. Aside from the distressing noise (I am really glad they were not sitting behind me) that they continuously made they were running up and down the aisles of the plane too. My favorite part of the trip was when the whole family tried to cram into the bathroom to change the smallest child’s diaper. It was then that I realized that there are no changing tables on the airplane. The parents left the door to the bathroom open (so that they could all fit in there) the entire time, exposing us all the airplane bathroom smell and to the smell of the contents of the diaper for several minutes. Let me just say that neither of these smalls was welcome or pleasant!  In contemplating this situation which I had the unpleasant chance to experience, I realized the only other options would be to change the diaper on the floor of the plane or the seat of the plane which would still expose the plane to the smell of the diaper…Still not a pleasant alternative!!! This strengthened my resolve not to fly with my children until they are old enough to understand how to behave and entertain themselves but also use the bathroom on the plane.

This led me to thinking about the fact that both my family and my husband’s family all live on the opposite coast from us. If I am stubborn and refuse to fly with a small child that means grandparents and aunts and uncles will not get to see our child for several years unless they fly to us. I also have to ask the question of what do I do if we have another child before the first one is ready to fly? I have to face the reality that both of my children may miss out on building a relationship with their family. Although it may seem easier for them to fly then for us there is also an age and health factor to take into account. Our parents are aging and with that comes a natural decline in health. Is it fair for me to withhold visitation with their grandchildren unless they subject themselves to a flight? At the same time, my small child has not built up immunity to all of germs and viruses that travel through the closed air systems on the plane, not to mention the change in altitude and what that does to your sinuses, is it fair to put mom and baby through all that stress?

I don’t want to be unfair to my children or to my family, however, I don’t feel the need to place my child or myself under undo stress or risk. Is this a no win parenting situation? How much of this is myselfish wish not to experience more stress then I need to and how much of this is truly thinking about my child and others?  How do I compromise without completely giving into my personal standards? 
I think that I will be spending much more time in thought and prayer on this subject...           

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