As summer travel approaches, many families will fly with young children, some for the first time. Flying with young children can be anxiety-inducing for the calmest of mothers, let alone the rest of us. One mom, though, recently took to TikTok to encourage fellow travelers of parents flying with their little ones to show compassion and empathy, rather than eye-rolls or rude comments.
Jennifer Fulwiler, a characteristically fast-talking comedian, Catholic author, and mom of six, posted a humorous TikTok video on May 27 titled simply “Flying with Kids.” She began by saying:
If you’re flying with young children this summer and they become noisy, please take a minute to say to say to the other passengers around you, ‘I am so sorry that this is not something you are used to.’ You know, in a lot of cultures, the sound of fussing babies is seen as a sign of abundance and God’s blessing.
Instead, our dumb, post-modern culture sees babies as a burden. We expect women not to bring their babies into public spaces like restaurants, churches, or planes — or to get them to behave perfectly when they do.
Fulwiler continued, “This philosophy is not only sad and the sign of a dying culture, but it places insanely unreasonable expectations on moms.”
She further added, “A truly thriving culture would welcome those babies and all the inconveniences that come with them, and see their upbringing as something the entire community should joyfully support.” And with families likely to be traveling more over the summer, she had a suggestion for other airline passengers. “So if my babies start melting down on this flight, please know that I am way more stressed than you are, and maybe just give me a kind smile that says ‘Hey girl, you’re doing a great job, your babies are welcome on this flight, and we are all in this together,” she concluded, adding jokingly, “Are you going to eat those pretzels?”
Fulwiler’s tongue-in-cheek remarks speak to the fact that mothers and families need compassion, love, and support. But in a world that often views childbearing as simply one lifestyle choice among many, rather than the fundamental continuation of the human race, a tendency can creep in to think that parents with fussy babies are just getting what they signed up for.
While this kind of isolationist, every-man-for-himself thinking helps no one, genuine compassion for those who continue to show up for their children each day builds up society, and acknowledges the reality that every single person needs support from others in order to thrive.
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