Parent or child?

I’m going to write about something incredibly trivial that winds a lot of people up. Many justifiably.

In recent years supermarkets have come up with an innovation, parent and child parking spaces. As a parent with a baby I have found these spaces incredibly useful. Sure I could cope without them, but they do make life a whole lot easier.

However there is a tendency for people to use these spaces when they don’t have a child of any sort with them. Lets be clear we’re not talking about disabled people unable to get a disabled space, or people parking at 10pm at night, in a storm when most of the car park lighting has inexplicably failed and half the spaces are empty anyway. We are talking about peak times during the day when the car park is busy, and perfectly able-bodied people. So now, I’ve set the scene.

Anyway however much detail I’ve gone into describing the abusers of P&C spaces, this post isn’t really about them. Or is it?

Sorry, this is going to get horribly meta.

What I’ve noticed is that on occasion, parents put out by the selfish minority will have a moan, and rightly so. Trouble is that these moans often attract the weirdest of people. Nasty, unpleasant, and antisocial people who seem actively put out by the very existence of car parking spaces reserved for parents of small children.

Now I can quite understand that some people don’t see the point. Yes my mother coped without these spaces when I was a baby, but the thing was she coped without a car full stop. What I don’t understand is the people who are vehemently and angrily opposed to parent and child spaces, to the extent they feel the need to put down anyone who raises the slightest objection to the abuse of them.

Maybe these commenters are just the perpetually angry nutters that David Mitchell writes about here. But they do seem numerous. Often they raise spurious examples of the sorts of people who would be put out by the spaces.

It is true that there is no law protecting these spaces. But a petulant cry of “there’s no law against it” isn’t a valid justification for a stroppy teenager’s actions, and is just silly coming from anyone over the age of 21. Yes stores extend these spaces merely as a courtesy in order to attract custom, but that does nothing to the legitimacy of these spaces. Supermarkets are entitled to set terms and conditions for the use of their land, providing it is prominently advertised. Sure they rely largely on goodwill and good manners to police these spaces. But does that mean able bodied people who use the spaces to avoid a slightly longer walk or scratches on their expensive car aren’t being anti-social and selfish? No. Not one but. The opposite in fact.

Do I buy the argument that these commentators are merely outraged on behalf of the elderly or disabled and are not personally put out by the existence of parent and child spaces? No. In fact I think it terrible that they use others as a proxy in order to create a fig leaf for the childishness of their own views. It often seems to be a case of being annoyed by someone getting a perk that is not available to them, and then scrabbling around for reasons to justify their petulance.

When not traveling with Matthew it always amuses me to see, perfectly able bodied people, jostling around for the spaces in the quarter of the car park closest to the store entrance. I giggle as I drive into a space in the quieter end, collect my trolley from the park nearest the car, and walk into the store while they are still searching for the elusive close space.

There are stores with covered walkways that enable parent and child spaces to be sited further away and leave some prime, non-disabled spaces for others. This is a good implementation of the idea and I have no problem with it: where it’s the most practical solution. If it’s just being done solely to mollify the sort of nasty, selfish, aggressive individuals who have their noses put out of joint by the mere fact stores show a bit of consideration to those of us with small children, then I really object.

These vile aggressive people do not deserve appeasement.



  1. Mark Clapham

    Misdirected aggression built up from dealing with nightmare parents who use 'I have a child' as an excuse to barge past or through everyone else and generally be obnoxious? Or is it just that people are now so obsessed with their own freedom to do what they like that they feel they have the right to do anything, providing there's no-one actively trying to stop them? Either way taking the parking spaces is just dickery.

  2. Ed

    P&C spaces became more important when P&C both needed to walk around but have no control about opening doors gently. THe P&C spaces at least warn daft drivers that P&C might be around. But now you've given me a dilema. Is it right for me to encorage P to bump the trolley into the car of the selfish and lazy looser who has taken the sainsburys space reserved for us?

  3. Rankersbo

    I think there is an element of extreme freedom, where any attempt to tell someone what to do is seen as evil and authoritarian.I don't advocate vigilante policing of these spaces, particularly given the fact car seats can be removed. (I don't reccomend removable baby seats either, but that's another story.)

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