The news media and the net are awash in opinions about Gerry and Julie Kulesza, the couple whose 3-year-old daughter Elly threw such a tantrum before take-off on an AirTran flight that the airline removed them from the flight.
Many of those opinions are blisteringly critical of the Kuleszas’ parenting skills. It is really astounding how many people feel qualified to judge the parenting skills of people they’ve never met and know nothing about except that their daughter threw a bad tantrum in an airplane.
Here are some clues for those people:
- Three-year-olds throw tantrums.
- Even the best 3-year-olds with the best parents sometimes throw tantrums.
- Some kids’ tantrums can last a very, very long time.
- Kids who are in the habit of throwing tantrums are more likely to do so in unfamiliar situations or when surrounded by strangers.
- Trying to calm down a child having a tantrum usually makes the tantrum worse.
- Kids throwing tantrums is not a sign of bad parenting.
Alas, there is still room to criticize the Kuleszas’ actions, albeit perhaps not their parenting skills. Here are some clues for them:
- You don’t have the right to delay an entire plane full of people while trying to calm down your daughter’s tantrum.
- Delayed flights have repercussions not only on that flight but on many later flights handled by the same plane.
- When you were unable to calm down your daughter and get her buckled in her seat, it was perfectly reasonable for the airline to ask you to leave the plane. In fact, they didn’t really have much of a choice.
- When your child is being unreasonably disruptive to others, it is your responsibility to remove your child. You have no right to place the needs of your family ahead of the needs of many others. Would you refuse to remove a shrieking child from a movie theater?
- The airline did their best to accommodate your family after removing you from the plane. You should have worked with them instead of spitting in their faces.
- Calling a newspaper reporter to make a stink about what happened was just stupid. What did you expect would happen when you did that?