Friday, February 17, 2012

They Shoot Laptops, Don't They?

An angry father's video on YouTube has made the news this week and sparked discussion from all directions about parenting.  The father is reacting to an angry letter his "15 going on 16" daughter posted on her Facebook Wall and tried to block her parents' access to it, apparently forgetting that her father is an IT professional.  He reads the letter to the camera, responds to it, then takes his .45 handgun and shoots his daughter's laptop on the ground, the laptop he just spent $130 fixing and upgrading with new software she needed for school.  He ends with telling his daughter that if she wants a laptop she'll have to buy one for herself, and he expects her to pay him back the $130 plus $1 for each of the bullets he used on her laptop.

Credit: Indyatwork blog

Good grief.  My first reaction: wow, doesn't he understand the developmental stage called adolescence?  His reaction was way, way over the top for her transgression.  But it did sound like this Facebook letter was the last straw -- he mentions that she'd done it before and he'd grounded her for it, taken away computer and other electronic privileges.  His message didn't get through, clearly.  But then, her message to him and her mother also hadn't gotten through to them.

So, we have a communication problem here.  One half of communication is speaking.  The other, and arguably more important, half is listening.  No amount of shooting bullets into a laptop will make any difference if the two sides continue to not listen to each other.  The father's choice to stoop to the adolescent level and post the video online for the world to see -- at least his daughter made her written message private to her friends only -- threatens to alienate his daughter in a big way.  Speaking to the world and collecting the world's comments is not an effective or productive way for these two to communicate with each another.

Parents model behavior and in this way teach their children by example.  I was struck by something the daughter said in her letter, i.e. she was upset that after mopping the kitchen floor, her parents then tracked mud on it so she had to clean it all over again.  Hmmmm.....  Why bother cleaning the floor if it's not going to be respected and appreciated?  I think her complaint about her parents not cleaning up after themselves is a legitimate one.  They expect her to clean up after herself...and after them too.  Successful behavior modeling would have the parents cleaning up after themselves to show what's expected of their children.  And not selective things, but with everything.  So, the father may do his own laundry, but if he doesn't clean up after himself, the message isn't an effective one.

The daughter suggests that her father pay her for her doing her chores.  This is actually a good idea.  Other parents pay their kids a weekly allowance that the kids earn by doing regular chores.  If they don't do all their chores, they don't get their total allowance.  If you want to teach your kids the value of hard work, start young with an allowance paid for chores.  Draw up a written contract for your teen so everyone is on the same page about what is expected.  Make it clear that the allowance pays for the teen's spending money so she won't be getting any other money except for more expensive purchases like shoes and clothes.  At least until the teen lands a job and begins to earn more money. 

Credit: stockxpert/
Adolescence is an extremely difficult developmental stage.  Parenting an adolescent is equally difficult.  Taking your issues to the internet to publicly humiliate each other resolves nothing and only fuels the fire.  Taking your issues to a disinterested third party like a minister or counselor would be the more adult thing to do.  If you want your kids to respect you, then you need to model that behavior.  Respect each other and your kids.  They need to learn how to resolve conflicts in a respectful, effective way and it's your job, parents, to show them.

Taking a .45 and shooting your daughter's laptop on video and posting it to the internet is not the way....



Anonymous said...

I disagree.

Gina said...

Why? And who are you?

The Princess Mom said...

If he'd already taken her laptop way once, and her behavior hadn't improved, why did she even have one? She clearly can't follow his rules about FB use. Girls can live without laptops.

What would he do if she got a tattoo without his permission? Shoot her?