It looks like United Airlines is back in the news. Less than a month after the controversy surrounding the banning of two girls from boarding their plane due to wearing leggings as pants, United Airlines has landed themselves in the middle of another scandal.  This time for enlisting security to physically remove a man from their airplane.

This isn’t another situation where a passenger was threatening the security of other passengers or the integrity of the company, but rather just a result of a randomized selection process to create enough space on the airplane.

Do I feel like that man should have been physically dragged from the airplane resulting in injuries? Absolutely not. But do I feel like he’s an innocent bystander in the storyline that unfolded? Again, sorry, but absolutely not. While America is busy complaining about the injustice of the man being removed, we’re forgetting that this injustice resulted from his lack of respect for authority and inability to follow the rules/directions.

I’m not advocating violence, agreeing with the manner in which the man was dragged from the plane, or even saying that I agree with United Airlines for asking 4 passengers to give up their seats.

Rather I’m sharing the lessons I’d like to instill in my daughter, to ensure that she isn’t metaphorically dragged from an airplane kicking and screaming one day because the rules don’t agree with her personal desires.

  1. Honor your word. If you promise to do something, follow through. What if I repeatedly promised my child a reward for complying with the rules (i.e. complete your chore chart all week and you get a movie night on Friday), but when it came time for her to cash in on her reward I refused to pay up. This would leave her with little confidence in my future promises and less likely to trust me. In return, it would teach her that she could make a promise to get what she wants, but reneg on it if it suits her. Had UA honored the agreement they entered into when they accepted the passengers money in exchange for a seat, none of this would have taken place.
  2. Be selfless. Put others needs above our own. 4 people needed to be on that flight to make it to work, hundreds of other people needed to be on that flight to make it to or from their destination for one reason or another. What everyone didn’t need? A public tantrum resulting in an injured man + a 2 hour delay.  Teaching my daughter to put others needs above her own helps to grow a nurturing and loving spirit in her. God gave his son so we could live forever and we can’t give up a plane seat? Had someone been selfless enough to give up their seat (and come on, not that selfless because they were receiving $1000 + a free hotel stay) then there would have been no random selection and removal of already boarded passengers.
  3. Have a voice [in the right context]. It’s so important to not blindly follow the masses into oblivion without stopping to examine our own personal convictions. But a public tantrum is not the way to ensure my voice is heard. After the tantrum ends or the dust settles on an argument, it’s important to talk to you about what we don’t agree with or what could have been done differently. I want my daughter to understand that her voice matters and she’s able to have her own opinions and have those opinions heard in a safe environment. Imagine if after following the rules and leaving the plane, the man complained to corporate about his treatment and dissatisfaction on the plane in a respectful manner. If they were willing to offer him upwards of $1000, chances are United Airlines isn’t that unreasonable of a company (and he may have gotten additional perks).
  4. Make a difference. Encourage your kids to help change the things they don’t like. Help them to brainstorm different outcomes and go through the channels to change those rules. We’re capable of making a difference in the world through handwork, determination, and respect. If my daughter doesn’t agree with something, I want her to stand up for herself. But not just by videotaping a scary scene and posting it to the masses. And not by throwing a public tantrum. And certainly not by physically injuring someone. But by educating herself on the laws and rules and advocating against the injustices. This will show her that her vote does count, her opinion does matter, that revolting against The Man isn’t the way to solve a problem, and violence is never the answer.

So no, I’m not choosing a side, shaming United Airlines, or saying the passenger deserved it. I am however advocating for our society to get it together and remember that just because a rule or law doesn’t agree with what we feel or want or is an inconvenience, doesn’t give us the right to ignore it and do what we want. Our children are ALWAYS watching us and they see the way we treat people and how we handle situations. What example are we setting?


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2 thoughts on “Dear United Airlines, Thanks for the parenting tips.”

    1. I totally agree! I may be biased because my husband’s a police officer, but I’m hoping this next generation has a little more respect for authority than the last.

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