Drugging Your Kids on a Flight: Is it Wrong?

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In a recent conversation at a social gathering, there was a fairly intense dispute about how parents should fly with their children.

Many parents were very concerned about their children’s restlessness and discomfort in flight, and whether the passengers and crew would be upset and annoyed if their kids cried or fussed or were cranky — all that one would think are natural consequences of flying, for kids and adults!
In response, these parents wanted to sedate the kids.
But other parents basically said that if passengers could not be compassionate and understanding about a child’s distress or restlessness, they needed to “get a life.” These parents were understanding of the stress a crying child can trigger, but were adamantly opposed to sedation of any kind.

So I ask, would you sedate your child on a flight?
Are parents who do, wrong?
Internet chatter indicates that many parents “drug” or sedate their kids on planes so they’ll be less bothersome for the parents, flight attendants and fellow passengers.
The “drug” of choice seems to be Benadryl, and while it does calm kids, often putting them out for hours, it has awakened others to what might be a “child abuse” practice.
Or is that stating it too strongly?
The testy responses to an About.com posting on the subject suggest the issue is a “hot button” topic.

Many respondents said they would never sedate their child, and that doing so is a failure in parenting, an inability to creatively help a child adjust to air travel.

boy-sad-planeIt’s easy to argue that anyone who has ever flown with an inconsolable infant or child would understand why a parent would use medication. But the problem may be less about fussy kids, and more about our collective lack of patience as a society.

Have we become so sensitized to what other people think and expect of us, that we would go against our parenting principles to “keep the peace” and not be seen as insensitive or an ineffective parent to others?

Doctors tend to think that the only reason to even consider giving a child a sedative, is if the experience is too stressful for the child, not because of the discomfort of other people on the plane. But “stressfulness” may well be determined by our own social comfort level….and not what the child is actually experiencing.
Perhaps parents traveling with children should simply forget about what passengers think?
Easier said than done of course…

So, do you sedate your child when you travel by air? Would you sedate your child on a flight, and under what conditions?
How much do you worry about what other people think?

Please let us know.

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