Some of us were apparently absent for the part of the parenting course where we learned that good moms and dads don’t let their children fight. And even more importantly, we don’t stand on the sidelines egging our teenagers on in brawls with other kids. Hopefully you know that, I know that, but there are plenty of folks out there who skipped class that day.
Prime example: this dad running around in Tampa, Florida, by the name of Philip Struthers. Now, Phil is a grown, 41-year-old man who got caught on video hollering like a prepubescent fan at a Hulk Hogan main event as he encouraged his son in a street fight. So hyped up was he that he failed to notice he was being filmed, and that there video is what led to his arrest for felony child abuse and a misdemeanor count of contributing to the delinquency of a child.
Dang dad. For all that, you might as well got in a swing yourself.
Seems the younger Struthers was engrossed in a Teen Boy Battle Royale over a girl while his one-man cheering section screeched for him to “knock him out,” “slam his head on the ground,” and “punch him, punch him.” (The video has now been removed from YouTube.) It’s unclear where the other teen’s ra ra squad was while the footage was being shot — maybe they had better sense not to a) be there to support underage fisticuffs and b) get caught on video doing it if they were there at all.
The sad, scary, unfortunate part of this whole trashy tale: Struthers’ case isn’t an isolated incident. A Florida mom was also slapped with child abuse charges after she coached her daughter’s fight from the sidelines. April Newcomb, 39 — and way too old to be so dismally simple — was heard telling her 16-year-old girl to “punch her in the f--ing body.” How classy.
Felony charges against Newcomb were subsequently reduced to a misdemeanor, but my first question is: what the heck is going on with Florida parents? Is it the sunshine? Is it bottled-up road rage from so many elderly people crawling along the highways? Is it like a page from The Crazies where the government is spreading some weirdo virus that’s making everyone lose their bloomin’ minds? If I click through one more of these stories about Florida parents gone wild — and there is a disturbing lot of them — I might need to hitch a plane south to launch an investigation Anderson Cooper-style.
But secondly, and most importantly, it’s a sad state of affairs when an adult, especially a parent doggone it, stoops to not only condone the wild child behavior of unruly kids, but goes full throttle to participate in it. It makes me wonder what the rest of their home life is like if this is just what’s been captured on tape and spread through the viral wonderworld of the Internet. Man, family dinners must be a real hoot.
Folks are always coming at me for being judgmental but dangit, I’m judging: it’s our responsibility to set a better example for our kids than to play into primitive behavior and cheer it on. Even if instinct gets the best of them and they do resort to blows, it’s your job as a parent to step in there and teach them a better way to resolve the issue. At least one that’ll keep them out of suspension and/or the clink. They both might need to get knocked upside their own heads if that’s the best and optimal way to get a point across.
Were these parents wrong for cheering their kids on? Is there any circumstance where you would let your kid fight it out with another child?
Image via YouTube