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A response to the laptop-shooting, tough love Dad

By Stacey Ross

If you are a parent who is online often, you likely have seen the YouTube video of the angry North Carolina father teaching his 15 year-old daughter a lesson by shooting bullets through her laptop. Some viral video it is, bringing in over 14 million hits in just three days! The father, Tommy Jordan, found the need to one-up his daughter, who had abused her privileges on Facebook by posting disrespectful and foul-mouthed comments about him for her Facebook friends to view.

As a mom and former school coordinator/counselor, I found this YouTube video highly disturbing, leading me to remind parents to stress two important issues to their kids: one, to be fully aware of the trouble they can get into by abusing the privilege of Facebook; and the other, to consider the consequences of airing one’s dirty laundry on the Internet.

What I find so fascinating about this man’s 15-minutes of fame is the flood of support and kudos he has received from all over the cyber world. After watching the video, I felt that while stern action was most definitely needed, when people get to the point that they share their most intimate personal issues online, there often exists a cry for attention or a need for help.
In a response to all the media attention Tommy and his family are now receiving, he shares the following on his Facebook account: “…there's absolutely NO way I'm going to send my child the message that it's OK to gain from something like this. It would send her a message that it's OK to profit at the expense of someone else's embarrassment or misfortune and that's not how I was raised, nor how she has been raised.”

Really? Just how has she been raised? If his behavior is an indication of how she has been raised, then his girl has been raised to act impulsively and violently and to share with the world the family's uncensored baggage!

It’s obviously OK for him to “gain” something, as his blemished ego is apparently more important than finding a well thought-out, appropriate reaction, other than to televise his frustrations to the world using a gun! What I see is a humiliated man who seems to have lost parental control. If we go by his word, he has seemingly reasonable expectations of his daughter, but judging by his tone and hostility, I tend to think that he created a monster in need of some attention.
Her choice of words, despicable by the way, is likely a demonstration of her pent-up frustration and is not atypical of a teen venting her private thoughts to her peers. She clearly needs to learn respect, but also consider that yesterday’s venting devices (phone, meeting up for a walk, etc.) might be a more appropriate means to purge her frustrations rather than texting and posting online. For her dad to then make matters worse by airing his family issues to the world and busting out a 45 does not make him Parent of the Year in my book. He appears to be getting tons of applause for his approach, however, which seems like a quick ego fix for a serious issue.
He boasts, “If you're so disrespectful to your parents and yourself as to post this kind of thing on Facebook, you're deserving of some tough love. Today, my daughter is getting a dose of tough love.” Tough love certainly has a place in the realm of discipline, and kids more than ever need to demonstrate kindness and respect to their elders, but true tough love entails a methodical and rational approach to parenting in which the child is learning a valuable lesson without shame, anger or retaliation.

This is not psycho-babble I speak; it is proper role modeling and a more effective intervention approach for the long haul. I suggest that if the dad himself is not regularly demonstrating the behavior he expects from his kids, his online response is about his shattered ego and winning a battle, not addressing how he got to such a place! 
Discipline stemming from anger, coupled with bringing a weapon into the picture to make one’s point, is highly inappropriate. This is not to say that parents should not show strong disapproval and assign natural consequences for such nasty behavior, but this guy went over the top! Take away the computer for a few months (heck, give it away); block her from Facebook altogether; and best yet…ready for this?...have her earn it back. But keep your gun in your holster, cowboy! The dignity of children, regardless of their actions, is built and preserved by a mature demonstration of love and respect, along with fair and strong guidelines and expectations.
Parents who adhere to the philosophy that a good ass-whoopin’ or dose of public humiliation will prompt instant and authentic respect are the ones who are shouting out accolades to this cowboy. I just say that when Daddy needs to get out his gun to make a point, perhaps he has gone over the top and needs some work himself! Also, this is yet another lesson to not record your dirty laundry for the world to view, as this Internet stuff is permanent and can follow you forever! 
Do you think cowboy dad was over the top or merely setting his girl straight? We would love your thoughts!

Stacey Ross is an online consultant, social media enthusiast, freelancer and owner of SanDiegoBargainMama.com. A former teacher and middle school counselor, she is now a mom of two who researches and freelances about lifestyle topics involving family and well-being.

Comment by Catherine, posted 1/25/2013, 9:30 AM:

No doubt this father was frustrated by his daughter's Facebook post, but I think he may need a dose of Dr. Jane Nelsen's approach to parenting a teen. Because he left home so early, one can only imagine the way he was parented. He is probably modeling the behavior he saw as a child.
Comment by Consciousparents.org, posted 3/13/2012, 10:49 AM:

While many responses to this video are focused on the behavior, my approach is to take a look at the underlying reason for the daughter's misbehavior. When children behave poorly, it is an outward expression of needing help. Addressing the behavior alone (by removing the laptop) will do NOTHING to help fix the reason she was feeling that way about her dad. The derivation of the word "discipline:means "to teach." It does not mean "to control or to punish."
Comment by stacey ross, posted 2/14/2012, 12:41 AM:

James - Kids should NOT be coddled, I totally agree. Nor should kids be repremanded with a gun in front of multi-millions of people. If his response were stern and only to the friends she sent it to- fair (can't depend on that!)! I totally am not one for having all kids win or a lot of the mumbo jumbo pop phyc out there. I say that if his girl acts this way it is highly likely that she learned it from her dad. I applaud parents laying down the law in the house. I applaud follow-thru.
Comment by Sherri, posted 2/14/2012, 7:25 AM:

I fully agree with this article. He completely lost me once he became Wyatt Earp. All of his comments were valid; however, instead of posting on FB and behaving like a teenager, he needed to be the adult and deal with this appropriately. He needed an ego boost? Really? From people who have no clue who he is. For every one that is applauding him, there is at least another shaking their head wondering if this is typical behavior in their family.
Comment by stacey ross, posted 2/13/2012, 3:03 AM:

Thanks so much for your comments. I bet as a parent I would be angry too. Who wouldn't? Just where to go from there is the question.Locking it up for a few years might kill their commonality. I just think she is likely a reflection of her father. Destroying it is not the beginning of mending anything, nor would locking it up for 3 yrs. IMHO. Her earning it back by working HARD around the house beyond her expected chores is what I would say is the best solution & w/o FB. If not, no computer.
Comment by James Dow, posted 2/12/2012, 8:33 PM:

shocked at this public humiliation? should all kids make the team so they they dont get their feelings hurt? Kids these days are so coddled its scary. When should they learn that there are consequences to their actions? When someone else's life is on the line?

we are doomed as a society because our kids are being sheltered and prevented from learning.

You cant lead if you dont how to deal with failing. We're going to be a nation of sheep
Comment by Alana , posted 2/12/2012, 7:59 PM:

I was with him most of the way until he shot up the computer. I thought he should have given it to a child in need of one whose family didn't have the means to buy one. That could have served as an additional lesson for his brat to learn something from.
Comment by Robyn Wright of RobynsOnlineWorld.com, posted 2/12/2012, 5:44 PM:

I was so sad when I watched this video a few days ago. Why does that man not understand that it really seems like his child is simply repeating the behavior HE is modeling?
Comment by Suzette Valle, posted 2/12/2012, 3:26 PM:

Excellent post and I agree w/ you! I also think cowboy dad got kudos because he was living out many parents' discplining fantasies. I know I've wanted to do over-the-top things to teach my teens a lesson, but I control my impulses a bit more and opt to keep things well inside our four walls.

I feel bad for his young girl because she must feel so humiliated! I hope the family harmony can be resotred after something like this -- I guess it will take a lot of forgiveness and maybe counseling.
Comment by Mark Edwards, posted 2/12/2012, 2:10 PM:

Dad's solution was entertaining at the expense of destroying a good laptop. I would be less dramatic. The laptop would get locked in my safe. Missy can have it back on her 18th birthday on her way out the door.
Comment by Rachel b, posted 2/12/2012, 1:26 PM:

I agree 100%!
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