Friday, February 10, 2012

Facebook Parenting: Really???

Many of you may have already viewed this video on Facebook or You Tube, as it has gone viral over the past 24 hours.  For those not "in the know", this Dad is using a Facebook post with video to retaliate against his 15 year old daughter, who posted some very uncomplimentary things about her parents.  Go ahead and watch it, so that you can see what I am talking about...

OK, now that you may have viewed it, I have a few thoughts about this which may be way off the mark in some people's opinion, and that's OK.

My first reaction, I'll admit, was from an immature place and I found it humorous for a bit.   I mean, what parent of an obnoxious teenager hasn't wanted to do exactly what he does...give a kid a taste of their own medicine!  It didn't take long though for me to find it less amusing, and to really begin to think about this dad's reaction, and his daughter's comments.

How broken can they be, that taking to Facebook to air their anger is the best that either daughter or parent can do?

A child learns respect from their parents.  I know there are times when we have had people look at us oddly for respecting the personhood of our children, for saying "please" and "thank you" and for telling them we are grateful for their terrific attitudes when doing chores around the house...yes...even though they don't have a choice...we still thank them for the way in which they go about doing their work with uncomplaining hearts and mouths.  I recall a parent long ago who looked at me and said "You don't say please or thank you, they do what you say no matter what! You are the boss!".  While I agree to some extend with that way of thinking, that children ultimately must be taught to defer to authority in their lives so they become decent employees, are respectful of law enforcement, etc. I do NOT agree with the fact that we don't show respect to our children, as we want them to show respect to us.

This father exhibits a complete lack of understanding of relationships as well as not an iota of true love for his daughter, and I wonder what he must be like in the adult relationships in his life.  I KNOW he may truly love his daughter, but if this is the side he shows the world, then what is he showing her?  You don't retaliate, you teach.  You don't hide behind anger, you sit down and reveal your heart and try to crack through the veneer.

And you don't start at 15 years old, it starts at birth.

Dumb?  Yea, I know, most people think so.  I also know that many might be shaking their heads saying "You've never parented a 15 year old yet!", and they would be right.  But I can't help but think that a far more effective way to handle this situation would be for Tough Guy Dad to sit down with his daughter, tears in his eyes and say with brutal honesty "What you did hurt me to the core.  I love you so much, and I want our relationship to be all that it can be. What did you gain by doing this? How can we work together to heal our relationship so that neither of us feels the need to publicly attack one another?"

I also think that the very nature of this problem as he states it reveals a child who has been encouraged by her parents' behavior to think that the world revolves around her, she has a sense of entitlement that no one...parent or child...should have.  Unfortunately, as generation after generation has sought to provide their children with a life that is better than the one they had, they forgot one important thing...the life they had that they so wish were different for their children was filled with experiences that forged them into the adults they became.  Somehow, in many families, childhood has become a time in life that  A) Is extended well into our late 20's B) Is supposed to be filled with only entertaining, enriching experiences for our children C) Encourages our children to feel the world owes them everything they ever desire, because they get everything they ask for and more  and C)  Is devoid of "work", which is somehow equated with other less acceptable four letter words.

Then we wonder why our youth don't have a decent work ethic when they begin to enter the real world.  It's pretty easy to see why...they've never been required to contribute, never seen their work as valuable to their family or their community, and never had the privilege of looking back over their own labor with great satisfaction to realize they just completed a job well done.  We have, sadly, taken away the joy of accomplishment from our kids when we see ourselves as merely their Entertainment Committee for 18 years.

Then, as is shown in the video above, we take away their toys and shoot them with a pistol, then share it for all the world to see what a mature way in which we handled this dilemma.  Thankfully, not every family operates in the way the one in the video depicts, but far too many do and we all sit back and laugh, when really we ought to be deeply moved by the obvious lack of true, loving connection.

Yes, WE contribute to the very problem we see here when we willingly, eagerly become voyeurs into the lives of others and find humor and entertainment in their brokenness.  We laugh over reality shows and the actions on screen which make us feel better about our own lives.  New Jersey Housewives, The Bachelor, and even Hoarders all allow us to sit back and say "Man, they are NUTS!" and now we don't need a major network to film us as YouTube and Facebook allow the average Joe to share the same thing for the world, to become instant celebrities as they show off for their propped up video cameras and mug for the audience.

Reflecting on this the day after, I was ashamed...of myself, ashamed of my initial reaction, ashamed at my own voyeurism that does nothing more than encourage more folks to mug for the cameras and hurt one another ever more.

Maybe I am the one who needs to grow up, just as much as Macho Dad with a Gun does.


Anonymous said...

I actually had resisted watching this video until you posted it. I am really not interested in this stuff. I have to say I was fairly appalled at the tone at the outset. Maybe we are "weird" or "freaks" but I just don't get this at all. Kelly

Anonymous said...

Shame at thinking this a bit funny at the beginning? Shame should come if you had continued to think this funny, amusing, a way to respond to "today's rebellious teens". Instead, you quickly realized that this was not amusing and have a thoughtful response that encourages others to think. Shame on the father and daughter, but even there you had a compassionate way that they could follow to begin to mend their relationship. I think shame is not what we think in the first place. We have our instant perceptions, but then thoughtfulness, compassion, action follow. What we do then is what defines us, not our first emotional responses.


Anonymous said...

This is just sad.

Anonymous said...

Aside from the lack of relationship between child and parents, which Cindy and Lael already commented on -- the parents could have given the computer to someone in need.

Thank would be the beginning of teaching how to think about someone beside yourself, which children don't know unless parents model it and teach it.

I agree with the anonymous comment above -- "sad"

Peggy in Virginia

Anonymous said...

Very sad and not amusing. He has no understanding of teenager, let alone teenage girls (another breed of their own). They go from being 25 to 4 in a second. They go from happy to crying in a nano second. They want everything, they want the best, and they only think of themselves most of the time. But they are also wonderful and mature at times. They need to be hugged in the morning but for us to pretend we don't know them when they are with their friends. They need understanding, patients and their parents to keep the issues between them. What they don't need is us to drop down to their level. I wish the dad good luck mending this relationship. What took years to build was just destroyed in the 8 minute video.


Diane said...

I still ave not watched it, I think it's "crazy", my inital thought was the same as another posters "wy not give te laptop away to some who needs it" 'cause I am reasonably sure that within a month he will have purchased a brand new laptop for his daughter.

Interesting on your comment of saying please and thank you to your kids, I have always done it (heck I do it to the dog!). I recall my mom looked at me oddly one day when I said to my eldest daughter when she was around 2 and she asked me "you say please and thank you to her?" well ya how else is she going to learn?!

Sigh....I just don't get it and some days it makes me feel old as dirt!