FLINT TALK New Mag
When Parents Collide
Several weeks ago, two women got into an argument "after a dispute over foul language" outside of Neithercut Elementary School in Flint, Michigan.
When Parents Collide
By A. Hall is a guest blogger
Several weeks ago, two women got into an argument "after a dispute over foul language" outside of Neithercut Elementary School in Flint, Michigan. While arguments between people happen often, and sometimes with good reason, this one quickly culminated in the absurd and horrifying, as one woman proceeded to run the other over with a car, prompting her arrest and the woman who was hit being listed in critical condition. While violence is never acceptable, being driven to violence over profane language seems utterly absurd and sadly indicative of American culture's desire to censor everything in life other than one person physically abusing another, a trend made more than clear in our movie and television ratings systems for the last several decades.
Though according to the article no children saw any of this, if they did, I'm sure they would've been horrified, too. When parents fight in public, it's almost always an embarrassing, deeply uncomfortable experience for older children and a terrible example to set for younger children, who likely still see their parents as major influences on and models of behavior in their short lives.
When I see parents melt down publicly now, I feel as sorry for their children as I feel angry at the parents for exploding. I know that my own parents' behavior (and, at times, anger) shaped how I acted at many points in my life, and I still feel terrible about the temper tantrums I threw in elementary school, at piano lessons, and even as late as middle school, when I yelled at a room of children and stormed out over something likely insignificant at best.
Watching parents fight - almost invariably in a conflict of values and about what their children are exposed to, like the argument about language at Neithercut - is watching two misguided people's personal views clash in the worst possible way. It is destructive, regressive, and ensures not that something will change in their favor but that anyone who sees it (and anyone within earshot, and anyone they know) will make sure that the parents responsible for disasters like this incident will never be taken seriously again.
Young children have been proven to mirror the behavior of their parents (or guardians, or step-parents, or other caregivers). Given that parents are among the first people that they're exposed to, watching parents fight has the potential to send messages to their children that this is how one should act when unsatisfied with an outcome or unable to process a situation rationally, which will in turn prompt the child to behave in a similar manner at some point in its life (and that moment will unavoidably come at some point, as no one can live forever without being disagreed with, wronged, or at least convinced that they've been wronged by someone).
While being driven to run someone over is an extreme example, it's a disgusting, unpleasant thing and it sets a terrible precedent for everyone involved. Being rational - or simply choosing not to hit someone with a car - would have likely worked out better for everyone involved.
Flint Talk Writer: A. Hall