As many of my friends may know, I'm not a very social person. Oh, sure, I joke around with friends and family quite a bit, but I'm not very outgoing outside of the classroom or my circle of friends. I even get claustrophobic in large crowds. But that doesn't mean I don't like to go out to a restaurant or go see a movie: until now.
One of the realities of today's society is lack of tolerance. Perhaps I was naive when I was little, but I never noticed the rancor that can be spewed forth from other people as they judge parents, particularly parents of children with autism. There seems to be a backlash of sentiment against parents for the behavior of their children.
Now, I can understand that there are some children that do not have any structure because their parents are either not bothered or do not know how to provide that structure. As such, children try to push against boundaries that are not there, causing issues with their behavior. Hence I highly recommend watching ABC's Supernanny, because great tips are given in each episode in handling children and helping parents become parents.
But lately people have become downright intolerant of the needs of children. The Daily Mail ran a story on a family who's 2 year old daughter was insulted by staff members of a local restaurant, and it was written on the check. The family, horrified, encountered no satisfaction from the staff that night, and subsequently refused even the owner's apology and invitation to dine free the next week. The restaurant has subsequently fired the staff member responsible, but still sentiment ran free and clear in the comments to the story: children (those little monsters) should be seen and not heard, and preferably not seen.
So, this leads to an impossible situation: children are not welcome in society. As such, parents need to have a place where a controlled, positive social interaction can occur. They can't go out to the restaurant, so they bring the restaurant home. Entertaining at home with friends and their children is becoming the safe, accepted normal practice, for the benefit of the children.
Should it be this way? That's a matter of opinion. As a father of an autistic child, I've heard my fair share of criticisms from unknowing, ignorant strangers, unaware of my child's condition. My wife and I rarely go out together with the children, and this is part of the reason. There are even some restaurants I avoid specifically because of bad experiences with staff and patrons, and others we frequent because of good experiences with staff and patrons. But often, we find it more convenient to remain at home.
So while I like the idea of a small home, it's a difficult to justify in the current social climate. We are so worried about including other nationalities, sexual preferences, and racial groups into our society, we forget that the most under-represented portion of the population (or children) are people too. Perhaps it's time society chewed on that.