Redux

I’ve had more than a few people tell me that they are shocked by the responses of people they know, people they call friends, to the Tommy Jordan video. (Including quite a number of private messages as people start to feel overwhelmed by that response.) So much of that response to this is “Yes!! Way to tell off a privileged snotty teenager! Yeah, man!”

Consider this…what if he had found out out that his wife had emailed friends and badmouthed him. A wife should have respect for her partner right? Respect in a marriage is one of the biggies…  So, now imagine him shooting her laptop and explaining it’s because she disprespected him…suddenly, it’s a lot less funny and admirable. Suddenly, it’s creepy, and violent and frightening.

Why does it make it acceptable because it’s his child? Why does his parenting methodology require bullets to teach his child respect?

Your argument will instantly be “well, that’s a private email” whereas the daughter posted on FB. Yep. Facebook is such a trigger-word for people because they instantly feel the anger they have for FB, the panic they feel because the media tells them constantly that everything they post on FB is fodder for the entire world to consume…that no one thinks about whether it’s true, or at all true in this case.

Jordan’s explanation for his video is that he was “punished in public” for public behaviour. Except, of course, her “public” behaviour had a limited audience. It’s public now BECAUSE HE MADE IT PUBLIC. And he made his response public to an even wider audience–he posted it on YouTube and on a Facebook account with NO privacy settings…if you’ve been to the link, you’re aware that his account is completely PUBLIC. He brags about being an IT guy–but set up a completely public FB account. Anyone can view it, anyone can comment. It doesn’t have the basic privacy restrictions that every single teenager knows to put on theirs…and as a fifteen-year old, his daughter would actually have a certain amount imposed on her–Facebook has a setting that no matter what the teenager picks, their posts and photos are only accessible to friends…possibly friends-of-friends, I’d have to check that. They don’t have a choice–it’s set up that way dependent on the age of the account-holder.

Why do I know that? Because of when I helped one of my kids set up their FB account. Because my kids are on FB, all of ’em. I didn’t friend them there–I let them decide if they wanted to friend me. When they and their friends say outrageous things I generally ignore it as a conversation to which I was not invited (despite being on the ‘list’). But, I have actually jumped in more than a couple times, though, when I thought something crossed a line…I have sent private messages to young relatives (who don’t have their parents on their friends list!) and told them that certain postings were unacceptable and were to be instantly deleted. And I presented that as an implacable command–to say, you are too young to have known why this is unacceptable but now I’m telling you. So, deal with it properly.

I have even called my own kids on the occasional status update–when one of my kids had a misunderstanding about a friend’s posting and put up a nasty comment about the other, I called them on it instantly and explained why this was not an acceptable way to behave in “public”. It was a learning lesson…and not a single electronic was smashed or shot.

All Tommy Jordan has taught his daughter is that he has the ability to shoot her laptop…he hasn’t taught her ‘respect’ or consideration. He hasn’t taught her to stop badmouthing him to her friends–because honest-to-gods, people you think THIS is going to stop it?

Here’s the thing…I’m the mother of a teenager. I’m the mother of a couple kids who are practically a teenager…and the adult child I have wandering the earth demonstrates that I’ve mothered a teenager long ago. Are my children sweet docile examples of the best-parented children ever? Lords no. I raise my kids to be thinking, caring, responsible people. And along the way, there have been a lot of disagreements as to whether they feel I’m holding up my end. I have yelled at my kids. I’ve screamed at my kids. I’ve spent time talking to friends near-tears in frustration after dealing with my kids…  and the one thing that always amazes me every single time? Is how transitory all of this is.

My kids understand that they are loved. My kids understand that their lives could be SO much worse. But then there are times when my kids had a bad day at school or one of their friends got a game that they would really really like…and they hate it when they discover the restrictions on their world. That we require them to do chores, that they’re required to go to school and do their homework. That we don’t have the budget to buy them every single thing they ask for. And they act up, they get angry, they complain bitterly and say stupid, nasty things. And I get angry because they’re so disrespectful…and then, in a shorter time than I could imagine, the moment is gone. Depending on the child (and their temper!), it could be minutes, it could be hours. But eventually there’s an apology, and with the older ones an explanation, “I’m sorry–I got overwhelmed because it’s something I really want and I got angry that you wouldn’t buy it.”

As Tommy Jordan points out, his daughter’s world is filled with things–a laptop, a phone, an iPod. He’s angry that she does not respect him for the things he has given her. Did she earn those items? Did she work for them? The inference is that he just paid for them. He specifically talks about all the expense and time he’d put into her laptop “because you asked for it.” His daughter asked him for something and he just gave it to her…and he wonders why she doesn’t have an innate appreciation for it. If someone holds out their hand and finds that what they ask for has just been put there–how can they appreciate that? When it happens over and over again?

Do your children appreciate every single morsel of food they eat? Or do they whine and complain because there’s something they don’t like? I grew up in a family where a pot roast would be supper for three days followed by four days of soup made from the remains. I’m too young to remember but have been told about the week that the only thing my mother had to feed us was macaroni noodles and ketchup. My parents couldn’t afford to give us “real” milk so my mother made us powdered milk–but to make it even more economical, she added four times the amount of water. It was white water at best, never milk-flavoured. So, I appreciate food immensely. I savour food. I actually will eat almost anything put in front of me. Unlike my children who have never lived this life–my children have no sense of empty cupboards, of empty fridges…  When they whine and complain and throw food away, it’s not because they are bad or disrespectful of my cooking, it’s because they don’t have an awareness.

Like my friends, I’m shocked to my core by those who praise this father. I’m shocked that this father and his wife think that this was appropriate. I hope, too, that this is the worst parenting mistake that he ever makes…

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