London Underground 

I recently shared a photograph of my children on the tube after a unpleasant experience which prompted me to ask the question “Was I wrong to ask for a seat for my children?”. 

I received a mix of responses, a few inferring neglectful parenting and assuming that I am somebody with an attitude problem raising self entitled, disrespectful children, too occupied with my own ‘first world problem’. Amongst some of the more hateful and judgemental comments I was able to find a few balanced ones, and I am sharing some of these below, after receiving consent for sharing their comments with first names only. 

Toni shared her experience of asking for a seat when pregnant. “When I was 7 months pregnant, I was standing on a packed tube. I wouldn’t normally ask for a seat, but it was hot and stuffy and I felt really faint. I asked a guy if he would mind, and he got irate and told me that people ‘in my condition’ should not even be on the tube in peak hour as others are trying to get to actual work! (Which is where I was going to, too).”

Jason shared his experience as somebody who always gives up his seat to those in need but has sometimes unintentionally offended others. “You are completely right to expect that someone would offer a young child their seat, there should have been loads of offers of a seat. Unfortunately the underground brings out the worst in people. I always offer up my seat to kids, elderly passengers, expectant mothers and anyone who looks like they need the seat more than me. I have offered my seat to other people on a few occasions and been dismissed rather rudely for reasons unknown, like I have caused offense somehow. It is also perfectly acceptable to ask for someone to give up their seat.”

Kate addressed those against giving children a seat. “I’m so disappointed by the amount of selfish and unkind comments on this thread. How did we get to a point that it’s ok to be so dismissive of small children? If they had hurt themselves, would those of you saying you wouldn’t give up your seat to them feel in anyway guilty? I guess not.”

Danni shared why she would have previously never considered giving a child a seat on public transport, “I always automatically give up my seat for someone elderly or disabled but to be honest, it’s never occurred to me to give up my seat for a child. I think maybe it just doesn’t occur to people that children would also need a seat. Not out of ignorance or being horrible, but maybe because they’re young and fit. This post has given me a different perspective for the future.”

This small selection of comments showed that when it come to etiquette on public transport there is mixed understanding as to what constitutes a need for a seat, other comments on the post highlighted an opinion related to a right to a seat based on being a paying commuter or not. You can find the original post on my Facebook page. Feel free to contribute to the conversation there, as well as comment on here.

Do we have a problem when it comes to etiquette on our public transport system? 

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