« Obama and His Senate: Doing Nothing by Design | Main | Santorum and The Republican Nanny State »

February 14, 2012

Parenting in the Internet Age

By now, most of you have probably seen the video of Dad shooting his daughter's laptop full of holes after she posted a petulant, obscenity filled diatribe on Facebook. In the LA Times, the father talks about the response to his now viral YouTube video:

“I just had a friend run Good Morning America off my lawn.. grr.,” he posted to Facebook on Saturday, also saying that CBS called to offer him a show. That could be called a textbook “humblebrag,” by the way; the comment was public and got more than 900 responses.

In fact, even though Jordan turned off his phone and hasn’t been responding to media requests for interviews, you can still learn a lot about him on Facebook, because he hasn’t made a big effort to keep things secret. He’ll vote for Ron Paul. He’s got a stake in an online auction startup he’d like you to know about. He likes coffee and Krispy Kreme.

He’s also talked to his attorneys, and he doesn’t want you to copy his video: “Otherwise, the lawsuits start tomorrow morning.”

Oh, and one more thing: He says on his Facebook page that the police came to visit him after the video went viral. “The police by the way said ‘Kudos, Sir’ and most of them made their kids watch it. I actually had a ‘thank you’ from an entire detectives squad.”

Child Protective Services also apparently paid a visit to interview him and the daughter separately, and Jordan writes that the visit went well. “At the end of the day, no I'm not losing my kids, no one's in danger of being ripped from our home that I know of, and I actually got to spend some time with the nice lady and learn some cool parenting tips that I didn't know.”

I wasn't one of the many parents who were horrified that this man shot his daughter's laptop. It's an inanimate object he bought and paid for and his daughter was nowhere near him when he did the dirty deed. But once I stopped laughing, I couldn't help but be reminded of the most haunting videos I've ever seen about parenting:

When my boys were small, we got into frequent tussles about cleaning up their toys. They shared a bedroom and at times, keeping a path free of Legos, Tinker Toys, Matchbox cars and Brio train tracks seemed like an impossible task. One day when their father was deployed, I finally snapped. I gave them two hours to clean up their room. At the end of that time period, I announced, any toys left on the floor would be put into a lawn and garden bag and given to children who would appreciate them more.

Unsurprisingly, at the end of the two hours quite a few toys remained on the floor. Much to the horror of my small sons, out came the promised lawn and garden bag and into it went a LOT of their favorite toys. I relented - slightly - when my youngest's favorite stuffed animal turned out to be one of them. I let them each pick one thing, but the rest were promptly given away.

I'm not against tough rules, nor do I think it's a bad thing to become angry at one's own children. I can remember calling my Mom one day in tears over the constant contests of will with my oldest boy. I'll never forget what she said because it really surprised me:

"You love him, and yet he's making you extremely angry. If you let him think his behavior is acceptable, how will people who don't love him react when he treats them the same way?"

It seems odd to me that so many parents are afraid or ashamed to show visible outrage when their children behave in unacceptable ways. It's not anger that is problematic. It's losing control of your anger. I never got the impression that the Facebook Dad had lost control of himself, but (perhaps ironically) he is the one who best summed up what bothered me about his response:

...Jordan writes that he’d do it all over again -- except maybe without the cigarette. But he does wish he hadn’t called his daughter an “ass,” which he said was “rude and a bad example of a parent using the ‘Do as I say, not as I do’ philosophy.”

Calling his daughter an ass is far from unforgivable, given the provocation. What bothers me is that he responded to his daughter's passive-aggressive airing of private grievances against her parents in a public medium by retaliating in kind.

At its essence, parenting is leadership and the best kind of leadership is leadership by example. I wonder how his daughter would have reacted had he made the exact same video, but showed it to her privately and asked her to think long and hard (oh nevermind...) about whether it would be right for him to post it on YouTube for the entire world to see?

All parents screw up. Some worse than others:

Some biological fathers abandon their daughters; they get a woman pregnant and then leave her to change the baby’s diapers (after kindly offering to pay for an abortion, of course.) Apple founder and CEO Steve Jobs initially fell into this category: He got his on-and-off girlfriend pregnant and refused to be an active father for the first ten years of her life. Jobs eventually assumed his proper role as a father and he deeply regretted his early behavior.

Jobs told his biographer, Walter Isaacson: “I wish I had handled it differently. I could not see myself as a father then, so I didn’t face up to it. But when the test results showed she was my daughter, it’s not true that I doubted it. I agreed to support her until she was eighteen and give some money to Chrisann [his ex-girlfriend] as well. I found a house in Palo Alto and fixed it up and let them live there rent-free. Her mother found her great schools which I paid for. I tried to do the right thing. But if I could do it over, I would do a better job.”

When Jobs married his wife, Laurene Powell Jobs, he brought his daughter into his own home and took her on a special father-daughter trip to Japan as he eventually did with all three of his and Powell’s children.

Jobs understood that his first daughter was still scarred by his behavior early in her life, even at his death, although they did reconcile. He told his biographer that the reason he wanted the biography was not to explain his entrepreneurial story with Apple: “I wanted my kids to know me. I wasn’t always there for them, and I wanted them to know why and to understand what I did.”

Parenting is a long process during which children are not the only ones who grow up. What matters most, in the end, is not that we are perfect, but that we are there.

Thanks to GlennS for the Steve Jobs story.

Posted by Cassandra at February 14, 2012 08:12 AM

Trackback Pings

TrackBack URL for this entry:
http://www.villainouscompany.com/mt/mt-tb.cgi/4054

Comments

Maybe we all just need to upgrade.
0>;~}

Posted by: Snarkammando at February 14, 2012 11:59 AM

It's not anger that is problematic. It's losing control of your anger.
:
At its essence, parenting is leadership and the best kind of leadership is leadership by example.
:
All parents screw up. Some worse than others:
:
Parenting is a long process during which children are not the only ones who grow up. What matters most, in the end, is not that we are perfect, but that we are there.

Amen. And if we are fortunate enough to become grandparents, we will have learned our lessons well enough to provide a wise word of support when needed, just as your mother did.

BTW, being the <strike>tightwad</strike> ahh, frugal individual that I am, I personally would not have wasted a mag of .45's on the laptop. Instead, I would have wiped the drive and given it to a charity. Waste not, want not.

Posted by: bt_Grandpa-Amos-McCoy_hun at February 14, 2012 12:07 PM

What parent hasn't wanted to take out his or her fatherly or motherly frustration with his or her children out on an inanimate object associated with said children? For example, daughter #4's boyfriend. Shooting a perfectly good computer, on the other hand, seems to me a trifle odd.

Posted by: spd rdr - practicing parental pinata, now at February 14, 2012 12:18 PM

What bothers me is that he responded to his daughter's passive-aggressive airing of private grievances against her parents in a public medium by retaliating in kind.

Well, it seems that approach had been tried as the father does imply that this was not the first violation. Anyway, I do seem to remember a certain editorial staff recounting how she could not get an unruly intern to stop biting her until she "retaliated in kind". :-)

Personally, I might have opted for a sledgehammer: More shrapnel.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at February 14, 2012 12:38 PM

Did I mention that a laptop gift to charity also merits a deduction at tax time?

Plus, such a maneuver would apply a chapping to one juvenile behind in the worst possible way knowing that her communications device and essential social link is now in the possession of a "cleaning lady", or similar.

Two stirds one bone.

Posted by: bt_Grandpa-Amos-McCoy_hun at February 14, 2012 12:54 PM

Well, it seems that approach had been tried as the father does imply that this was not the first violation. Anyway, I do seem to remember a certain editorial staff recounting how she could not get an unruly intern to stop biting her until she "retaliated in kind". :-)

I think that's a fair point, though I might argue that a 2 year old's ability to understand verbal communications is somewhat more rudimentary than a 15 year old's.... then again, maybe not :p

Posted by: Cassandra at February 14, 2012 12:55 PM

though I might argue that a 2 year old's ability to understand verbal communications is somewhat more rudimentary than a 15 year old's.... then again, maybe not :p

spd? You have some recent experience with this, no?

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at February 14, 2012 01:16 PM

spd, I would highly recommend not shooting your daughter's boyfriends on YouTube :p

I think most parents are more protective of girls than they are of boys in that regard. I'm not sure why, but I suspect it's because girls are too willing to give young men the benefit of the doubt long past the time when it's deserved.

The best advice I ever heard in this regard was, "Never make someone else a priority in your life unless you are a priority in theirs."

That kind of sums it all up for me.

****************

Plus, such a maneuver would apply a chapping to one juvenile behind in the worst possible way knowing that her communications device and essential social link is now in the possession of a "cleaning lady", or similar.

That was another thing that bugged me a bit. I didn't have any problem with Dad saying, in effect, "You only HAVE a computer because other people worked hard to buy it for you. Your childish inability to understand the relationship between work and rewards (coupled with your using something we gave you to embarrass and insult us behind our backs) tells me you're not mature enough to own a computer yet."

What I would really have wanted to talk to this kid about was her naive belief that things she posts on Facebook are private (regardless of what settings she thinks she has in place). That bothers me, and it doesn't help when Dad follows up by posting his experiences to Facebook too. Monkey see, monkey do.

Posted by: Cassandra at February 14, 2012 01:25 PM

Long time lurker. Great to see your blog back, Cass.


I think there is a time for a public "shaming", as the dad did. It was good to show his daughter's friends and the friends' parents that what his daughter posted was given a stern response. It helps those parents too by providing them a bargaining chip - "Do you seriously want us to do what that other dad did?"


That's not something that would be communicated in a private talk. There are alternatives that might get similar effects - such as a publicly posted apology from the daughter - but I personally believe there is a time for theatrics in parenting.


I'm also impressed with the values he's teaching his daughter by not profiting from his 15 minutes of fame. Principles aren't worth anything until they get in your own way.


(Not that I am a parent; I just have several nieces and have reflected on what my parents did for me)

Posted by: SirHamster at February 14, 2012 02:22 PM

Welcome good Sir! We are most glad to have you speak up.

Posted by: Sir Osis of Liver at February 14, 2012 04:08 PM

I think there is a time for a public "shaming", as the dad did. It was good to show his daughter's friends and the friends' parents that what his daughter posted was given a stern response. It helps those parents too by providing them a bargaining chip - "Do you seriously want us to do what that other dad did?"

I think it probably depends upon the child, and in this case I agree that Dad is probably the best judge of what will work with his daughter.

With my boys, I learned early on that what got through to my oldest, didn't work well at all on the youngest (and vice versa).

Sir Osis of Liver:

WHAP WHAP WHAP!!!! :)

Posted by: Cassandra at February 14, 2012 05:04 PM

We can't know about the particulars of the situation - I'm not inclined to look further than the bits I've ready by accident - but I, too, believe a better way to handle it would have been to show the video the daughter first, and not put it on the internet.

I think most parents are more protective of girls than they are of boys in that regard. I'm not sure why, but I suspect it's because girls are too willing to give young men the benefit of the doubt long past the time when it's deserved.

I am a dad, of two girls. Both now grown-up. Thank goodness. They both had guys sniffing around that I did not much approve of.

Anyway: _I_ was (and am) more protective of my daughters than of my sons because I remember what _I_ was like at that age.

Posted by: Brian Dunbar at February 14, 2012 08:31 PM

Growing up, I was more afraid of what my father might do to me than anything the police would do.

i saw the video on the news and was surprised that a .45 didn't do more damage!

Although this article applies more to young children, I found this article on the WSJ interesting - and why the author 9An American woman) thinks on the whole, French parents are better than American parents...

http://online.wsj.com/articleSB10001424052970204740904577196931457473816.html?mod=WSJ_hp_LEFTTopStories

Posted by: Bill Brandt at February 14, 2012 08:48 PM

well lets try it again -\

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204740904577196931457473816.html?KEYWORDS=french+parents

Posted by: wbco@sbcglobal.net at February 14, 2012 08:51 PM

i saw the video on the news and was surprised that a .45 didn't do more damage!

Just curious, but what were you expecting besides a .45 inch hole to appear?

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at February 14, 2012 09:56 PM

Yu-Ain - if a .45 hits your head it will blow half of it off. As an old Marine Sgt told me years ago, 'It's like throwing a brick though a plate glass window".

It doesn't go that fast as bullets go but it is heavy and when it hits something...

of course, I didn't see the back of the laptop ;-)

Posted by: Bill Brandt at February 14, 2012 11:21 PM

I've been watching this story since the first link appeared on my FB feed.

Not sure I'd ever go the route the father did (making video and posting it) let alone shooting something to make my point.

However, his video has given me food for thought and made for interesting discussions with folks I know. I'm finding the reactions fall into about 3 separate camps.

1. Actions do have consequences. If warnings and prior punishment doesn't seem to teach the lesson, then the parent must be prepared to take the next step. Most everyone in this group agreed that they wouldn't (maybe) have to guts to do what he did. ;-)

2. (paraphrased from 3 different conversations) But If I do something like that - they'll really hate me! I want my son/daughter to be able to talk to me and something like this might drive them away. Besides - what they say on their FB page or with all their texting is their business not mine! *took me a LONG time to pick my jaw up off the floor after that one . . .

3. Then there were the parents who understood that consequences do need to happen. But were of the mind that all of this can be discussed. And the more discussion the better. As a parent should never ever raise their voice to a child as it could likely cause issues down the road. *my reply to that was - so if we don't ever raise our voices to our children or anyone else for that matter, if we don't ever show those other messy human emotions like anger and disappointment, don't you think our children will be in for a rude awakening when they are treated so carefully by others when out in the world?

My daughter has a cell phone (which stays at home as the school doesn't allow them), a Nintendo DS, and a Nook. I caught her last night playing the Nook and DS instead of doing her homework. I told her that if I catch her doing that again - the DS and the Nook go away. Period. Her homework and other work come first. Period. She got it then. But I know she may test me on it in the future.

IMO what the father posted, and his follow up as to how his daughter handled the consequences tells me this: Yes, we must be the Parent. We must have the leadership in the family. Actions such as wrong-doing, disrespect, and going against house/parent rules must be dealt with. Our children will survive the consequences of dealing with the punishment that fits the actions. Our children will survive the "shock" of their parents getting mad at them and showing how disappointed they are in the child's actions.

Do I agree with shooting the laptop? No not necessarily - *tax deduction please! LOL

Do I agree with that father filming the video and posting it? Pretty much. From everything I've read and from watching that video - it seems like this was the last straw after his daughter pushing past and stomping all over the boundaries they set. It seems like it took something like this to really get his daughter's attention. And to really get her to realize how incredibly disrespectful and rude she has been to the family, to Linda, and likely to many other adults the family comes in contact with.

Do I hope and pray that I never have to get this drastic with my daughter? Yes. Will I be showing her the video? Yes, this weekend and we'll discuss all of it. I hope we'll both gain by the discussion.

Ok - so long comment . . .errr blog post maybe??? LOL

Posted by: Nina at February 15, 2012 08:07 AM

of course, I didn't see the back of the laptop ;-)

I bet there's not that much damage there either. Your head is a fairly hard, but relatively brittle. It's filled, mostly, with fluid which being uncompressable transmits energy exceedingly well. This causes a much larger exit wound than entry wound (though I still think the Sgt. was exaggerating).

A laptop, on the otter heiny, is mostly plastic. And what isn't plastic is very thin metal. Both of which are excedingly malleable and soft. I bet the bullet barely even slowed down. The phrase "Hot knife through butter" comes to mind.

It's why, if it had been me, I'd have gone with the sledge. Much more dramatic.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at February 15, 2012 08:46 AM

I showed the vid to the VES last night. At first she was shocked that he actually shot the laptop -- because "those things cost a lot of money, Mom".
Then she said, "You wouldn't do that."
I asked her if that was because it costs so much money and we all know what a tightwad Mom is.
She said, "No. You would have taken the laptop away waaayyy before that."
And she's right.
I have taken away many things of lesser and greater value when she has repeatedly tested the limits of my patience wrt the rules of the house. And, Lord help me, I have given her the same speech that I so hated hearing from my parents when I was her age:
[all together now] As long as you live under my roof....
However, I believe that while I insist that the rules be obeyed, I am not so totalitarian as to not be willing to discuss reasonable explanations and expectations. She knows that I take my job as her Mom very seriously. She also knows that I am just as human as she is, and that I make mistakes, too. Most importantly, she knows that there is a method to my madness, and, while I will always share my reasoning with her, she is still expected to obey the rules -- even if they seem bogus or outdated to her mind.
Fortunately for me, she makes being her Mom a pretty easy job most of the time.
0>;~}

Posted by: DL Sly at February 15, 2012 09:26 AM

You can educate kids to the dangers all you want but the reality is once they become teenagers they disregard everything you tell them and are far more likely to do as their peers do.

Posted by: lovely baby at November 27, 2013 01:23 AM

Post a comment

To reduce comment spam, comments on older posts are put into moderation 5 days after the last activity. Comments with more than one link also go into moderation. If you don't see your comment after posting it, try refreshing the screen. If you still don't see it, your comment is probably in the moderation queue.




Remember Me?

(you may use HTML tags for style)