Did you have to fight?

June 5th, 2011 in Business, Career, kids, mozilla, PlanetGNOME

Yesterday it was implied that I might not know everything about raising boys because I wasn’t in physical fights as a child. While I am sure I do not know everything about raising boys, I was startled to think that not engaging in physical fights would be a parenting gap.

I was even more taken aback to be told my career path was easier because I never had to engage physical fights. While I’m not afraid of controversy, I avoid physical fights. I consider that a wise decision that has advanced my career.

So I promised to get more data about people in “successful careers” like mine and whether they thought fighting was important or not.

I was able to find data on fighting in kids: fighting among school aged children is declining in the US. Whereas 43% of 9-12 graders had been in a fight in the past year in 1991, only 32% had in 2009. There is also a gender and race difference. 39% of boys had been in a fight and only 23% of girls.

But I did not find any data that broke down those that fought and what careers they ended up in.

So here’s a short survey for you. I will share all the data on my blog. (This survey is anonymous. I am not saving IP addresses or any other identifying information.)

Please take a minute to fill it out.

Create your free online surveys with SurveyMonkey, the world’s leading questionnaire tool.

19 Responses to “Did you have to fight?”

  1. Alexandre says:

    I was able to find data on fighting in kids: fighting among school aged children is declining in the US. Whereas 43% of 9-12 graders had been in a fight in the past year in 1991, only 32% had in 2009. There is also a gender and race difference. 39% of boys had been in a fight and only 23% of girls.

    Well, haven’t school rules in the US become considerably stricter lately? Couldn’t it have contributed a lot to that drop of fights?

    stormy Reply:
    June 5th, 2011 at 12:41 pm

    Yes, that’s probably some of it. But some kids will still find places to drink, have sex, smoke, fight, etc …

  2. d2kx says:

    Is that a joke or something? I have not been involved in physical fights so far and most (if not all) of the people around me have neither. And I really doubt I am missing out on anything.

  3. Colin says:

    Fighting and Career Success are both variables caused by bigger factors in a boys life such as their relationship with their parent(s), their neighborhood, their socio-economic status, and their self-esteem/ confidence (as far as their career success, education is a big factor too etc etc). While a lot of kids engage in fighting, it shouldn’t have any effect on their career success unless it becomes their response for dealing with conflict.

    Nine Lives by James Messerschmidt is a case study of nine adolescent boys, six who had engaged in violence, three who were non-violent and it shows how those who could manage conflict at school without resorting to violence had a better relationship with their parents, more mature decision making, higher confidence, and a better relationship with their peers. To me those sound like good indicators of career success.

    This was a very sociology influenced response. I saw this question posted on twitter and thought it was interesting, but I wasn’t able to find any direct research.

  4. Colby Russell says:

    Yesterday it was implied that I might not know everything about raising boys because I wasn’t in physical fights as a child.

    I’m surprised someone would feel that this person’s suggestion was in need of very much consideration. You should’ve decked ‘em.

    stormy Reply:
    June 5th, 2011 at 12:42 pm

    :) Maybe I could have made a point they would have understood that way.

  5. Torben says:

    @d2kx:
    Don’t confuse american (read: USA) enculturation with your european one. It makes perfectly sense that in a more violent culture a mother might question if she “weakens” her son by teaching him only civilised conflict resolutions while keeping him away from “how real men handle it”.

  6. S. says:

    I am also surprised that you take the criticism seriously, rather than (perhaps) laugh at the critics suggestions.

    If anyone engages in physical fights in a workplace, then it is misconduct and one or both (all?) would be subject to disciplinary sanctions.

    If children engage in physical fights, then they too should be punished (irrespective of “the other one started it”) because it is poor problem-solving behaviour. Sure, it is “a” solution, but the biggest bully is not necessarily the best leader or the best logician. Choosing solutions by physical force is a bad life-lesson – even for the loser.

    A further implicit outcome of the critic is that women should put up and shut up in the face of domestic abuse. There is no “parenting gap” in telling boys not to beat girls, and telling girls that there is no shame in admitting (and getting help) when hit.

    stormy Reply:
    June 5th, 2011 at 12:42 pm

    While I do not believe fighting helps anyone’s career, I do feel a need to try to convince this person.

    Stephen Smoogen Reply:
    June 5th, 2011 at 5:47 pm

    Usually people with sorts of problems are not going to be rationally convinced in any form. Having spent many a round trying to do so I have found it easier long run to let them go on their way. [In the end these sorts of viewpoints can only be changed by the person holding them IF they want to change. And it usually takes life hitting them with a 2x4 to do so :/]

  7. “I was even more taken aback to be told my career path was easier because I never had to engage physical fights.”

    Whaaaaaaa?! Any educational or IT/Software environment where that would be even a minor factor sounds extremely dysfunctional to me. Absolutely so if we’re talking about physical intimidation. Nor can I understand how fighting would instill any special indirect benefits.

    It’s such a bizarre claim I’d really like to know more of the background of how someone could say that.

    Really, the only way it even begins to make some sense is if you broaden it into some kind of statement on white-collar vs manual-labor careers. In that context, sure. I can see an argument for saying IT is physically “easier” than, say, being a beat cop, migrant farm worker, or recruit in the military. But it sounds like this wasn’t the intent?

  8. David says:

    …seriously? I find this post bizarre. I’m a male programmer, and I’ve never been in a physical fight in my life.

    I was raised by a single mother and if she “didn’t know everything about raising boys” for not having been in fights, then I can only imagine I’m better off for it.

    As for career paths, I can’t think of any intersection whatsoever between the two subjects.

  9. dDD says:

    I recommend around three weeks at a martial arts course. I doubt that this person knows how to fight either. Unlike films, the first correctly executed punch normally wins…

  10. Danilo says:

    To anyone who has suggested that they might be a correlation, you should have punched them in the face! :)

  11. Danilo says:

    s/they/there/

    FWIW, I am only trying to say that any correlation that you might find is entirely coincidental due to, I am guessing, a small sample you’d have; I have filled the survey in, but with a sufficiently small (or simply appropriate, because random people of internets could never be considered a “representative”) sample, I am sure you could come up with a correlation between chicken soup consumption and career “success”.

  12. Resorting to physical violence is a sign of helplessness, not one of strength. It is typically paired with low self-confidence that needs to be reinforced by violence. Very often the reasons for increased aggression lie in the family, things that exhibit pressure on the children and that they are helpless against (e.g. divorce, alcohol abuse by a parent etc). A child growing up in a healthy family, with adequate personal and social skills should never need to resort to violence. And this child is definitely in a better position to succeed in life than one who couldn’t master his issues and instead developed the worst solution possible.

    (Note that I said “succeed in life” rather than talking about careers – it is absolutely not the same thing.)

  13. Well, I also think that “fight” and “fight” are two different things… ;-)

    The fights I had with my brother as children were nothing I would characterize as “fist fight”, we never wanted to hurt one another (and rarely really did) but just “show who is stronger” – and as the four-year-older one, I soon started to lose there. I was better verbally, but not physically – well, I guess, as children, everyone needs to find out where his strengths and weaknesses are.

    In school or public, and when we grew up, we both were intelligent enough to keep off any fights. Though it’s bullshit that we wouldn’t see or have those in schools over here in Europe – actually, they’re increasing from all I hear from teachers. I still think though that everyone who needs to get involved in fist fights in any public, including schools, is stupid – and everyone who fights to hurt someone else has not understood life.

  14. wwwhack says:

    Sounds to me like your friend is confusing getting in fights and learning how to fight… I might make the leap that self confidence has some relation to career choices. Training for a fight gives you sort of a base layer of security in uncomfortable situations… For a more ‘cerebral’ child perhaps confidence in their own intelligence might provide similar benefits.

    Still sounds like hooey to me.

  15. Chris Hubick says:

    I think this depends of if we are talking offensively or defensively here.

    My school environment ran on prison house rules, where if you were identified as being weak, then your social stature would be reduced while you become a persistent target of bullying.

    In hindsight, my life at the time would likely have been much improved had I understood this and engaged in a few strategic defensive (physical in response to physical or verbal) fights as a result.