I think most of us have been told, “If you throw the first punch, you lose the argument.” For this Write Anything Wednesday, I have to say this: That is the some of the stupidest advice anyone could give to a kid.
Now, hear me out.
I am aware of the overall message, but I don’t like that advice because it’s lazy. I was told that by my mother and it pissed me off. And, what made it worse was when that advice was paired with, “But be careful what you say because someone can hit you for it.”
Wait, what? When you’re a kid and you hear that, you’re rightfully confused because you think your mom or dad just contradicted themselves.
“Well, why is it all right for some jerk to hit me when I can’t hit them?”
“I’m just saying that—”
And later on, that kid might feel like his hands are tied behind his back when he has to deal with other kids. He might not know how to deal with disparaging words [without a little help] and he doesn’t want to “lose” a war of words. He’s trapped.
You know, if we’re going to be really honest, losing a war of words just doesn’t compare to getting your butt kicked. I guarantee you, if one kid was talking trash, he would forget everything he said if the other kid beat him up.
Yes, of course, it’s wrong to throw the first punch. It’s wrong to hit someone unprovoked. It’s wrong to hit someone just because they said something you didn’t like.
We should use our words, but how often are kids told that part? How often are kids taught how to effectively use their words to verbally defend themselves and get out of trouble?
How often are kids taught to physically defend themselves and avoid trouble? This is a part missing from the conversation.
You see, when parents tell their kids not to throw the first punch, that should be the start of a long-term conversation. It should not be the conversation and there needs parts where parents warn about bullying and verbal harassment.
I honestly think that kids should be taught to verbally and physically defend themselves. Or, they should know how to escape.
Now, I understand that some parents are against violence period. And there are kids who might not be comfortable with learning how to fight. In both cases, I guess that’s not an option.
But at the very least, kids need to be taught how to deal with harassment. Parents can’t be there all the time but good advice from a parent has a remarkable effect.
They just shouldn’t be left with, “Don’t throw the first punch because you lose the argument,” because it kinda has a profoundly negative effect. That might not be the intention, but a moral lesson should never be partially done.