Safe Zone Report: When Parents Argue

Twenty-two youth attended the forum, ten of whom were guests invited by youth from The Know. In a brief survey conducted during the forum:

  • 91% have seen their parents/guardian argue more than once.
  • 36% have seen their parents/guardian fight physically more than once.
  • 45% said their parents/guardian usually fight/argue in front of them.
  • 41% said their parents/guardian usually fight/argue behind closed doors.
  • 32% said they have had to step in during a verbal fight between their parents/guardian.
  • 18% said they have had to step in during a physical fight between their parents/guardian.
  • 50% said during arguments/fights, they usually take their mom’s side.
  • 9% said during arguments/fights, they usually take their dad’s side.
  • 18% said they have had to comfort blings as a result of their parents/guardian fighting.
  • 32% said they usually leave the house when their parents/guardian argue and fight.
  • 41% said their parents are separated and/or divorced.
  • 55% said they have friends whose parents argue and fight more than once.

The youth pointed out that the majority of arguments occur over disagreements about money, the children’s conduct, infidelity, and home maintenance tasks, among a variety of other issues. While the youth agreed that sometimes arguments can help parents vent and express themselves, most arguments tend to get out of hand and only make things worse.

In assessing the survey results, youth shared stories about physical fights and leaving the house. One youth explained how she has often had to use herself as a shield so that her mother would not physically hurt her father, while another youth explained (after the forum) that whenever his parents fought, he would leave the house to abuse drugs.

In an activity called “I Hate It When You Guys Argue!” the youth had the opportunity to openly express their pain and frustration, which as a result, brought almost everyone in the room to tears. The outline of a person was drawn on a large piece of paper and posted on the wall. The youth were encouraged to walk up to the outline and speak to it as if it were their parent, and the first words would be, “I hate it when you guys argue.” The youth faced the paper with his/her back to the group, while the group listened, observed, and provided moral support.

[pullquote_right]The youth had the opportunity to openly express their pain and frustration which brought almost everyone in the room to tears.[/pullquote_right]

All the participants who went up to “speak to their parent(s)” became very emotional which revealed they were in a lot of pain:

  • One participant mentioned that she became afraid when her father began leaving in the middle of night that she and her sisters would sleep by the door to make sure he could not leave, or to wait for him to come back.
  • Another participant expressed pain and anger toward her mother for not being strong enough to stand up against her stepfather, who is committing infidelity.
  • Another participant was upset at her mother for mistreating her father, who is sick and aging.
  • A last participant expressed that she and her younger brother hide in their rooms because they hate when arguments happen, and that someday, she plans to leave home and take her brother with her.

The powerful testimonies of these participants resonated for everyone. It was clear that many young people experienced pain and stress daily as a result of the adults in the household who fight and argue too much.

To that end, the youth developed a 7-Point Manifesto for parents who need to heed the advice and concerns of young people:

  1. Think about us.
  2. Think twice—is the argument really worth it?
  3. Be committed to one another.
  4. Don’t go and on (when you argue)—leave the past behind.
  5. Don’t argue, but if you do, try to argue with a smile (at least).
  6. Don’t get physical, no matter what.
  7. Compromise.
The kNOw Youth Media
The kNOw works to support and equip young people with the journalism and advocacy skills they need to tell their stories and the stories of their communities.

In 2006, over 25 youth began participating in weekly after-school writing workshops where they congregated in the hallway of a two-story building in West Fresno and learned the essentials of creating media and telling their stories. The group evolved over the next five years and is now proudly recognized as The kNOw Youth Media.

Through our program, we create opportunities for our youth participants, who in turn create long-term positive change in their communities. Our approach weaves youth development and youth media innovation to produce our biannual youth publication, multimedia projects, and community forums.

The kNOw began as a project of New America Media, which was the country’s first and largest national collaboration and advocate of 2000 ethnic news organizations. In 2018 The kNOw became a project of Youth Leadership Institute.

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