FACEBOOK PARENTING: for the parent who forgot who was supposed to be the grown-up

So, a video has gone viral today of a father punishing his daughter for a post she put up on FB about him and what she saw as her unfair life.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kl1ujzRidmU&list=UU6OSygSHWSo4pbV5ttl2YPg&index=1&feature=plcp

A teenaged girl, who knew her parents couldn’t read her Facebook status updates, bitched about her parents nastily on Facebook. And her friends commented. And Daddy “You should remember that I’m an IT guy” found out.

I posted this on FB myself because I was actually shocked and appalled by it. The conclusion (SPOILER ALERT—he SHOOTS her laptop and tells her that she’s off electronics for the foreseeable future and, oh yeah, she has to pay him back for the bullets) really stunned me. But there are those who have been praising him for giving his daughter a wake-up call from her delusions of “privilege”.

So…

Okay, I’ve been thinking about this for a while…and here’s my thought. What wake up call did she need? He does say that she hasn’t applied for any more than one job—but we know nothing of this girl. I had the same problem with my oldest trying to get him to find work—he finds the process incredibly difficult and overwhelming. He is terrified of every step of the process of job hunting, of applying, of interviewing. After months, I literally walked up to a buddy who managed a comic store and said “Hey, when are you giving my kid a job?” and when he did, my kid worked and worked and worked. He wasn’t lazy—he was scared and confused.

And, I don’t believe that the father says that she did not do any of the chores assigned to her—he does say that they have to be on a list for them to get done. But again—we don’t know the situation. No teenager alive wants to prioritise chores over phone calls, computer time etc. so if a list gets her to do them fine. (One of my kids can’t even follow lists—he has an LD that affects his sequential memory and we literally have to tell him things one or two at a time. Over and over again).

What he’s mad about is that she bitched about him on FB. Was it rude? Oh, lawdy yes. Was it obnoxious and hurtful? Yep—but she was a silly angry teenager giving into impulse and saying ridiculously stupid things to make herself feel better, to build herself up and feel like she has power in a world where she doesn’t.

So her dad made an 8 minute video to post on FB, and YouTube, and in that video he shot her laptop. (It’s worth noting that Daddy “I’m an IT guy” has no privacy settings whatsoever on his FB account. More than a few people have wondered aloud if we’ll eventually discover that this is some fake for reasons not yet clear).

So…tomorrow, if some kid at school makes fun of her (and by golly, someone will after all THIS), what does she do? Does she get to trash the kids’ locker? Does she get to pour a drink over the person’s head? (A friend said, “It’s no wonder the kids acts badly—look at who she’s learning from.”) ALL this kid do was post a stupid rude rant on her FB wall to her friends. Her child-friends. How many of them are there who read her posts? At most, maybe a couple hundred teenagers? Now, the entire world gets to read her post.

This, at the very heart of it, is still about a grown man’s feelings being hurt by a child and the reactions of other children (her friends).

And…here’s the thing that just weirds me out the most:  he posted this in public. On YouTube. Why? he wanted to tell his daughter that she was being a spoiled brat? Tell her. Hell, shoot the laptop in front of her. But he made a video and posted it to YouTube. (And on the YouTube video, he links to his Facebook page so that viewers can read all the comments there! He is not at all shy of the publicity here.) To me, there’s no way around the fact that this doesn’t get past being about his ego and feelings.

This isn’t parenting. Parenting doesn’t require an audience.

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14 thoughts on “FACEBOOK PARENTING: for the parent who forgot who was supposed to be the grown-up

  1. I can understand his frustration. I know a kid who is never happy with anything their given, no matter how nice, name-brand and immediately procured the item is. There are times I want to say “Hey, if you don’t like it, someone else will.” and ship all off to a group home or charity somewhere. Of course, they aren’t my kid, so I can’t. But I probably would, if they were. And a part of me gave a little “hoo-yah!” when I heard about this (I haven’t seen it) because there are a lot of entitled people out there that I wish I could convince how fortunate they are to have what they have.

    But your right. Doing it in public, making it a big ol’ show, that’s where the line is. It’s like those parents who would drag their kids on Sally Jessie Retched-Byotch or whatever her name was and the televise them being humiliated at bootcamp to teach them a lesson. Parenting is not a circus performance and I’m glad you wrote this. It was a check to my baser urges.

    +1 mom points for you. 🙂

      • I totally and utterly understand the anger–I’ve had that anger. There is nothing more frustrating than feeling like you’ve given your all to your kids but they don’t appreciate you at all. Trust me–I’ve had my teenager roll his eyes when all I’m trying to do is ask how his day has gone at school. I’ve had him be an absolute ass after I’ve driven two hours to help him buy a copy of the extra-special video game he wants with all the special codes when money has been really, really tight and I’m feeling vaguely sick that I’m not sure we can afford it…and then he asks for something else.

        And I’ve had moments where I’ve given in to that anger and I’ve yelled. Or sworn my head off. Kicked a chair once. But then, eventually, I’ve apologized for my behaviour and said, “Hey, I indulged myself in my anger and I should not have. But here’s what’s wrong with YOUR behaviour.”

        There are no quick fixes. There is no “I shot my daughter’s laptop and now everything is OKAY because she understands.” Not for a single freaking second. He may know better than to put it on YouTube next time…but there will be a next time and it will be sooner rather than later. Because he has taught her one really important lesson, “It’s not about you, it’s about ME.” Because he did this because HIS feelings were hurt…about her rant which was about how SHE feels like no one considers her and does what she wants. He should be proud of himself–she’s really got that one down pat.

    • Because he hadn’t heard of “talking”?

      I completely agree that her rant was inappropriate–but I also wonder just how “public” it was. He says–this was posted on her Facebook. She’d blocked her parents–I’m betting that she has privacy controls on her FB. She did not say this to him or his wife. She did not leave them a note for them to read. She had a venting rant to her friends–which is what kids do. Hell, he might find out at some point that his wife has complained about some behaviour of his to her friends–does he get to shoot something of his wife’s?

      You can’t regulate attitudes, you can’t control how your child thinks or talks. Is he going to listen to her conversations with her friends to make sure she speaks about him in a respectful fashion? Is he going to record her phone calls?

      Frankly, this is not how I want to teach my children to deal with those who are disrespectful. The only equivalent would be using a sledgehammer to kill a fruit fly.

      • My thoughts exactly. (Here via Eden’s link on FB!) Sure, the daughter may be (and probably is) an entitled brat, but…if this is how she’s taught to deal with conflict – with FIREARMS! – we already know where she’ll be in ten years’ time, and we’ll know who to blame for it. This whole thing smacks of a reality TV pitch, which would be far less sad than it being how the guy actually parents his kid. I suspect, unfortunately, it’s the latter.

  2. Finally got around to watching the full video.

    I agree with everything you’ve said. In addition, his statement that “this bullet’s from your mom” turned it, for me into him not just shooting the laptop, but treating the whole thing like they were shooting her in effigy. We, your parents, are symbolically pumping YOU full of bullets from a semi-automatic handgun. Yeah, lots of “tough love” in that.

    • It actually doesn’t seem to be much a stretch, to my mind, to interpret this video as a serious threat of physical harm. The police could and maybe should get involved.

  3. As a parent, my opinion is that what he did is fucked. It wasn’t parenting, it was revenge against an underling for daring to complain.

    People vent. It’s how we let off stress. So this girl feels stressed and underappreciated, and she vents about it to her friends in a locked post. Whether she deserves to feel unappreciated is irrelevant; it’s the way she feels. If you think your kid needs to recognize their privilege, there’s other ways to handle it than by lashing out at them.

    I’m no stranger to the “throw things away” school of parenting. I have thrown desserts and toys in the trash in front of my kids if they do something to make it clear that they no longer deserve them. It can be good and effective parenting, but not the way he did it.

    You know what would have been better than the way he handled it? When she got home, tell her what she did wrong, express your deep disappointment privately, then have her watch while you reformat her laptop. Drive to a homeless shelter and have her hand the laptop over to an organization that needs it. Then start volunteering with her in some capacity where she will learn to realize her privilege: a soup kitchen, helping children in poverty, or something similar.

    But this wasn’t about good parenting. It wasn’t even about teaching her a lesson. It was about an angry person having a tantrum and destroying something and humiliating someone over whom he already has power. This was shameful.

  4. Absolutely. My husband has asked me a few times if what I’m upset about was the gun–and there’s no question that it’s a factor. But I think it’s the combination of using a weapon with the need for control. This is a grown man with power over this child and he felt the need to go buy SPECIAL BULLETS to shoot her laptop to teach her a lesson.

    And I’m with you on what would have been a better solution to the laptop. Because there’s that as well–in this economic climate to spend money on special expensive bullets, to deliberately and intentionally destroy a valuable item…no wonder his child is under the impression that they can afford to have a cleaning woman. No wonder she is under the impression that he could afford to pay her to do chores (or, here’s a strange thought–maybe some allowance so she can save up for things she wants?). His actions show someone who does not have to be aware of every penny at every moment…and I’m perfectly willing to admit that probably bothers me as well. The slightest thing goes wrong with my computer or my husband’s (we work digitally and online) and I’m in a blind panic as to how I will be able to afford to fix it.

    BUT–the one point I will concede to him is that he’s refusing to do media. He’s told anyone who wants to ask him questions to do it on email and he’s been answering them on Facebook. So, that’s something? Maybe…

  5. We’re so alone in not organizing parades in the dad’s honour for this mess, I’m beginning to think my position could even be wrong 😛 I fear what this is going to do to parenting, especially for stupid impressionable parents who seem to be jumping for joy.

    Then again, I’ll never have kids, so what do I know.

  6. Not parents of teenagers–or if they are, they are those who are convinced that THEIR children are not like that. It’s like I keep harping–this was something she said in the perceived privacy of her teenaged universe. She didn’t say it to him or her mother, she didn’t say it screaming in their front yard, she didn’t write them a nasty note–she bitched in front of her friends in the cyberuniverse.

    People are idiots if they don’t think THEIR kids have these same moments…all of mine have pulled this kind of stuff on me TO MY FACE. And yet? Not a single bullet fired.

    But there have been consequences and punishments…and an explanation of what happens next time. And I’ve no doubt that they ran off to find some friends to complain to–and probably said lots of very nasty things about me.

    As I and every other person in the world did when we were teenagers. We all have moments when we chafe against responsibility, against our parents’ rules–if we didn’t, we wouldn’t have any motivation to become adults, to move out of their houses, to become our own people. That’s what the teenaged years are for…

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