Parenting for the Applause

Ya know…when I posted the vid yesterday of Tommy Jordan shooting his daughter’s laptop (again–in retaliation for something she said on Facebook) I made the comment to a few people that really it’s someone not employing consistent parenting who suddenly goes to an extreme when punishment is needed (he mentions that she’s just ‘come off’ a three-month grounding for ‘something like this’ leaving one with the impression that it, too,  was mouthing off on the internet. THREE MONTHS).

We’ve all been there–let something go day after day after day and then, either had our kid not appreciate our leniency or else been ashamed that we’ve been lenient because our kid mouths off to us thinking that they can get away with it, or because someone else makes comments on it, and then we wildly overreact. (We’ve all been there–those of us who aren’t the perfect parents, that is. See Barbara Coloroso, and her theory of parenting techniques as being jelly-fish, brick wall and those of us who are jelly-fish right up until it’s not convenient anymore and then we brick-wall all over the poor kids. Those are the people who suddenly start yelling that they’re grounding the kid FOREVER and taking away ALL YOUR PRIVILEGES.)

So, the reason I took the ‘shooting of the laptop’ so badly when others were praising his ‘parenting’ and that he was teaching this ‘privileged brat’ a lesson? Because I KNOW that she will have a new laptop soon. And she won’t be paying for it. I know she’ll have her iPod and her phone back. She’ll probably even get some spending cash. And they’ll be right back in this place within months. (Witness that she did this after just getting back internet privileges after a three-month grounding).

And…what was his parenting again? Shooting the laptop? How exactly was that parenting? He got wildly angry in reaction to a situation and he OVERREACTED. He did something impulsive and destructive to property that he admits WAS NOT HIS. It was his daughter’s. So, is that the great parenting? He’s taught his daughter that if someone upsets her enough with their attitude (because always, let’s remember that this is him being angry about her attitude and expressing it on Facebook), she gets to do something equally destructive? This takes me back to yesterday’s suggestion that she gets to go around trashing the lockers of anyone who makes fun of her for this.

He’s posted many updates on his Facebook page. He writes,

“Do I regret keeping it on Facebook long enough to cause this stir? Yes. However at this time I feel that if I took the post or the video down, I’d just make it appear that we’re running in shame from it, and we’re not.”

Again–worrying about how it looks to ‘the public’ or the audience as I’ve chosen to term it. Parenting for the audience…

He also writes,

“Truthfully though the social attention has helped her and I both deal with it.”

Deal with what exactly? Deal with the social attention turned to this because he made it a public situation? Deal with his punishment? Deal with his daughter upsetting him and embarrassing him in what he perceived as being public so he took it to an even more wide-spread section of the public in order to regain lost-face?

The lines that everyone quotes include these,

“While the whole point of this story isn’t funny, what is funny to me is how weak some people out there think kids are. Our kids are as strong as we help them to be. My daughter took a horrible day in her life, had her crying fit, then got over it, accepted her punishment, and hasn’t let it (or people’s comments) destroy her strength. I don’t get any credit for that. She’s strong and able to overcome almost anything life throws at her.”

His daughter is strong. His daughter is so strong she managed to get over her dad shooting her laptop. Which is something that a kid really needs to get used to in life. He has a point–I don’t think my  kids would be strong enough to get over my shooting their laptop. Of course–my kids don’t have iPods, and phones and laptops that I’ve bought them. And if they did–I wouldn’t be shooting the damned things because they would be their property even if I had paid for it and I would not want to set the example that one can choose to not respect another’s person’s property if  one feels that one needs to “send a message” or…something.

See? That’s what it keeps coming back to. What the hell was this? Everyone has made their decisions as to why he punished her–she’s a “privileged ungrateful brat”. That’s something one can punish? Wouldn’t that be something to address, to discuss, to attempt to modify? If one could punish a teenager into not being a “privileged ungrateful brat” there would be a lot more gunplay with laptops in North America.  She’s strong enough to deal with ‘it’. What? What the hell is “it”?

I try try try to let people parent their own children. And, realistically, even by blogging, I am not interfering with his parenting in the slightest–I haven’t commented on his Facebook or his YouTube. His parenting is not my business. But he has brought it into the public sphere by posting it and (continuously) discussing it in a public sphere (and yes, I did see mention of his book on Cloud Computing and that it’s available for sale). I am, at most, venting my spleen and mouthing off with my own opinions. Because I’m angry. Actually, I’m almost as angry as Tommy Jordan was in that video. But here’s the thing…I became angry with Tommy Jordan’s actions, but he did not “make” me angry. Even his actions didn’t “make” me angry. It’s my choice to be angry. Which is why I know that I have no right to bash him with angry comments on his various online accounts–it would simply be an internet version of shooting his laptop.

People are praising what they perceive as someone taking back control. In a world where so much is out of our control, one of the things that people fear most is that day when kids are old enough that they go out into the world and we cannot control what they say, who they’re with, what they do. Scared parents are terrified their children will turn out to be horrible monsters they can’t deal with. Authoritative parents are terrified that their children will turn out to be horrible monsters and other people (“the audience”) will think that they parented their kids badly. People without kids are terrified of the horrible monsters that the media has told them that all teenagers are (they have sex! And orgies! And they’re doing drugs the whole time and buying guns to come rob you and steal your car! They’ll beat you up in the parking lot and go to your house and kill your kitties!).

People watch this video and they have that visceral moment where they think, “Ha! You showed her!” because they’re sure that there has been a lesson there. There is. It’s…ah…it’s um… Nope. There really isn’t one. A dad angry about what his daughter said on Facebook shot her laptop and said he’s taking away her electronic/internet privileges for months.

Imagine what will happen when she comes home drunk from a party…or when she crashes the car and tells him that it wasn’t her fault.


2 thoughts on “Parenting for the Applause

  1. It still seems so messed up to me, to the point that I can’t process the response has generally been positive (Just going from the ratings on youtube). It was a revenge-based punishment designed to hurt in a way that, no matter what she tells him, is going to be a memory she’s never going to be able to disassociate from the kind of man she thinks her father is.

    When you’re that age, no matter how much you have, you don’t have much, really, because your means to get things yourself are really limited. The things you own become really, really important to you, an extension of yourself and identity. If I got home as a kid to find out, as a 15 year old, my parents threw out or sold or donated my CDs, comics or posters, I’d be very angry for a week or a month or who knows how long. If I got home, and my father was standing there with it all in a pile waiting for me so I could watch him set them on fire, I know I couldn’t help but resent him to this day. It’s something I can’t even imagine, really, because my parents aren’t that fucked up.

  2. Honestly, I think she’s just not going to ever have respect for him–how can she? He shot her freakin’ laptop because his daughter was a big meanie and said bad mean things about him and she used bad bad words (he mentions that a lot). And then her friends thought it was okay to laugh and point.

    For These Kids Today, posting a snotty horrible rant on FB is the equivalent to sitting at the mall with your friends and bitching. It ain’t appropriate and yes, Facebook is more public than the food court at the mall–but these kids don’t know it yet. And Daddy posting the vid to YouTube and Facebook ( and adding update after update after update) doesn’t teach her not to talk in “public”. It teaches her to “make sure you get the people on YOUR side”. If only she’d thought to do a video first…

    (and I’m with you about the destruction of her property…Ty tells a story of being sent for a time-out and smuggling a comic in. His mother found out and ripped it up. As a parent he understands her impulse–and it was not a usual reaction from her, it was an extreme one she felt provoked into–but he has never ever forgotten it. Ever.)

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