Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Is breaking the law a deal breaker?

Every morning and every afternoon I see parents at my kids' school break the road rules. At the P&C we said we'd write down their number plates and report the offenders to the office, but if I was doing this I wouldn't be holding my own kids' hands as we walk in to school. I wouldn't talking to my kids and other families because I'd be too busy policing. Often I'll speak to someone as they pull over on the school crossing, or double park at the back of the school or do a u turn over the double yellow lines. I'm not sure it does any good. It just makes tempers rise - mine included. The people who break the rules tend to do it repeatedly so I conclude that they either don't care, or just don't believe the rules apply to them. And on rainy days, like we've just had, they seem to think there are no rules at all.

This morning I saw the mother of a child we know pull over on the crossing to drop her child off. We have accepted an invitation to their child's birthday party on the weekend. The thing is, now I'm not feeling goodwill and that I'd be contributing to the social success of the party, because I don't want to be friends with someone who thinks it is ok to break the road rules. I don't want my kids to think it is ok to ignore it when their friends break the rules. I wouldn't want to hang out with parents who drink too much, or drink drive, or are texting while driving, or who steal or who cheat on their taxes or cheat on their spouses.

Now, as a school we have notices in every newsletter about the road rules. We ask parents to drive safely. We ask that they set a good example for their children. We work with RTA and the police to make the signs clear and install road calming devises, and I've written to local council to ask for a kiss-and ride section at the back of the school as well as the front. We have exhausted every option to enforce the rules, without publicly naming and shaming, and still the parents break the road rules.

So, is breaking the road rules a friend deal breaker? Should I let people know that if I see them breaking the law, I don't want to be friends?

1 comment:

Motherhugger said...

My friend offered me this advice along the lines of 'you catch more flies with honey', which is worth considering. A kind and wise friend.
'It is hard to think of the best way of getting people to change their behaviour. It is more likely that we can influence and change them if we are in a relationship with them. There is a theory of cognitive dissonance in psychology which could be helpful. It goes something along the lines of “I like X and she is a very helpful class parent, my child likes her child too, on the other hand she told me I was breaking the law” the person weighs up what to make of this dissonance and we want them to end up thinking “so maybe she is right and that law is important – I think I shouldn’t break it”. We want the scales to tilt our way – this is more likely if they value us.'