If You Can’t Beat ‘Em, Shoot ‘Em (or their laptop, anyway)

I have no idea why I continue to watch morning news programs, other than the fact they provide me with excellent blog material.  My personality, which is dubious at any time, is at its lowest ebb early in the morning, so I always end up getting mad.

Usually the source of my a.m. rage is a politician (usually Newt Gingrich) or some stupid commentator (usually Nancy Grace).  However, this morning my ire came from an unusual source: Dr. Nancy Snyderman.

For those of you who don’t know, the usually benign Dr. Snyderman is the medical director for NBC news.  Apparently she’s expanding into the field of social commentary, because she was on a panel with a couple of others this morning offering opinions about various topics.  Right at the end, with like one minute left, Matt Lauer asked what they thought about the dad who shot his daughter’s laptop.

Now, for those of you who haven’t been in touch with the world much lately, I’ll give you the highly abridged version: a teenage girl blocked her parents from Facebook, then wrote a letter on there about how horrible her life was because she had to (gasp!) do chores without pay.  She criticized her mother, father, and used foul language.  Naturally word got back to her dad, and he reacted by posting a video on YouTube.  He read her letter, made a few remarks, and then proceeded to shoot “her” laptop with a pistol.

So anyway, the reaction has been huge and mixed.  With only seconds remaining, Dr. Snyderman said, “CPS should be at their house today.

Lots of arguments have been made about whether this was good parenting, bad parenting, genius, psychotic–I’ve seen it all.  I’ve entertained myself for hours by reading the comments of others.  But nothing, nothing, has got under my skin like this comment by the good doctor.

CPS?  Really?  We could all have a good debate about whether not this dad overreacted.  It’s possible.  Obviously, temper is a genetic issue in that family.  But CPS?  Calling this man a bad father?  He didn’t threaten physical harm to his daughter, or even call her bad names, although if I was in his shoes, I can testify that both of these things would probably cross my mind.

People like Dr. Nancy Synderman (said with no irony whatsoever, I assure you) are what is happening to our kids.  Have you looked around at kids lately?  I don’t want to sound like one of those old people who talk about “kids today,” but really, I think the fact is most kids have a total disconnect with reality.  I know my own son does, and I know it’s my fault.  He, too, feels as though he should receive some compensation for doing chores or helping out around the house.

Here’s a crazy thought for all of you poor kids out there: you do your chores because you are a member of your family, a member of the household, and mostly because your parents told you to!  How can a child be raised to be a contributing member of society when they can’t even be taught to be a contributing member of their own family?  How can they learn selflessness and empathy when they think it’s “unfair” to be asked to take out the garbage?  Guess what?  There doesn’t have to be a reason.  At the end of the day, I’m the parent, and I call the shots.  That’s it.

I’m also not a big preacher of all of that “real world” stuff, because I think kids are exposed more and more to the real world than they should ever be at an early age, but has anyone else noticed that it’s usually the kids that are handed the most that are the most ungrateful?  One of the comments I read about this video even had something to do with destruction of property and respecting a kid’s things.

Destruction of property? I wonder who bought that computer he shot?  I wonder who pays the cell phone bill, or who pays for the Internet service provider?  My son and I had this rather hot and brief discussion a few weeks ago.  He password protected his phone.  I told him to take the password off immediately.  He said, “It’s my phone.”  I said, “Um, actually, I bought it and I pay the bill.  So I think that makes it my phone that I’m allowing you to use.”  There was some huffing and puffing, but guess what?  There is no damn password on the boy’s phone.  And the day he blocks me on Facebook?  That will be the last day he uses Facebook. (I wouldn’t shoot the computer, though–I paid too much for it.)  If he wrote some dirty-mouthed letter on Facebook about me?  I can’t say what I’d do, because I don’t know.  I know I’d be mad.  I’ve seen comments from people who say they don’t get mad at their kids.  They talk reasonably to them, then they go outside and feed their pet unicorn together.  The point is, kids are not entitled to these fancy things–they are a privilege, and privileges have to be earned, and can easily be revoked.  We just have to have the guts to do it.

So do I agree with shooting a computer?  In a word, yes.  I wouldn’t do it personally, but I will never judge the man who did it.  He was fed up.  He wanted to make a strong point, and I think he did.  We are always threatening, “if you don’t do blah blah blah I’m going to blah blah blah.” And we never do.  We never take the phone or the computer.  Or maybe we do, then we give it back the next day.  We lack the courage of our convictions.  It’s wimpy parenting, and while Dr. Snyderman thinks it’s okay, I think it sucks.

Worse, I think it’s ruining our kids.  Maybe somebody should call CPS about that.

 

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41 thoughts on “If You Can’t Beat ‘Em, Shoot ‘Em (or their laptop, anyway)

  1. I totally agree with you, Janice. I stood up and cheered when Craig showed me the video. Parents are way too concerned with being a friend to their children instead of being what they are: a parent!
    Everytime Crystal complains about her ‘chores’, I offer to switch with her. I would LOVE to be responsible for the upkeep of 2 rooms! And she asks to be paid for doing something extra? Only if I get paid too sweetheart.

  2. Good post about this very polarizing issue. I understand that he bought the laptop which makes it his property and therefore his right to “dispose” of it as he did. But when I saw him pump those rounds into it I was sick to my stomach. For many people (myself included) a computer ranks right up there with the most expense purchases we ever make. Seeing a perfectly good laptop go to waste, especially in this economy, makes me sad. He could’ve used it himself, given it to his own children, sold it, or donated it. Or he could’ve given it back to his daughter eventually. I think that teenagers make mistakes and to take away their computer access permanently doesn’t make sense to me. At least not for what she did. I don’t know – I just can’t see destroying something useful just to prove a point.

  3. I agree with most of what you’ve said, but similar to Melissa, I think any merit in his message was completely obliterated the moment he brought out that gun. Have you seen the update to this?

    • No, I’ve only heard the little tidbits on the news and such, and if I’m going to be honest, my news absorption is VERY sporadic.

      Wasting the computer was a shame, but ultimately I guess it was his to do with what he wanted. Like I said, I don’t think my practical side would ever allow me to do that. (Also, we only have one computer, so…..) Anyway, I ALSO said I think he over-reacted. He was very, very mad. Period. I don’t blame him. If I saw those words anywhere that my own child had written, and especially on some public site like that, I cannot even begin to imagine my reaction. I would be hurt and disappointed, but I’m not going to sugar-coat it–I would be furious. Beyond furious, even. The part when she said that when they are old and can’t “wipe their own asses” don’t be looking for her because she “won’t be there,” that went through me in a way I can’t even explain. I couldn’t post a video like that if my kid wrote that, because I couldn’t even articulate my feelings about that. I still can’t get over it.

      Having said all that, I think it’s an indicator that he uses the word “ass” and such when speaking to her. Like I also said in the post, I think anger issues run in the family.

      My biggest problem was someone suggesting that CPS should be involved in this. CPS is supposed to be for children who are abused, and there are shocking, horrifying cases of abuse in this country EVERY SINGLE DAY that go unreported. Those are the types of things people should be advocating CPS for, not because some redneck dad flipped out over one of the most disrespectful and ugly things I have ever heard from a kid. Should CPS be called when someone yells at their kid? I friend of mine freaked out because her daughter had been sending dirty text messages. She went in her room and caught her in the act. She jerked the phone out of her daughter’s hand and smashed it on the floor. Obviously, she didn’t post a video about it, and afterwards she said she should have just deactivated it, but should I have reported her to CPS? I think not.

      Sorry, I’ve practically written another post here.

      • Oh, and the gun really didn’t bother me nearly as much as it seemed to bother some people. I grew up in a “gun culture” myself. I knew how to shoot rifles, shotguns, and handguns by the time I was 12 years old. My son does, too. Maybe that’s why I don’t find it as shocking as some people. Perhaps that a whole other topic.

  4. I had not seen this video or heard about it, but I say, “Kudos” to a parent with enough backbone to actually “parent” these days–and “Boo” to all of those who want to sit back and criticize him for doing it!

    What the man did with the laptop was his own business, he worked and paid for it! Right?

    Great post!

    • I read the LA Times article. To be honest, it’s the comments that I find so entertaining–it shows how actual people are responding. I don’t have a ton of trust in the way the media portrays things.

  5. This whole thing is disturbing to me and I have very limited knowledge about it. I watched the video and read your take on it. I, myself, would have been livid. I have contracted with CPS and can tell you that their definitions of neglect and abuse are far reaching. I think it’s ridiculous for someone on television to suggest that CPS be called when they can’t have known more than the rest of us know. However, I wouldn’t be surprised if his own “spoiled”, “over-indulged”, “narcissitic” daughter didn’t make the call to CPS herself. They would find him neglectful on grounds that he “ineffectively parents/punishes” his daughter, which would be considered his problem, not hers. At some point, though, it would end up being referred to behavioral services because the girl can’t control herself. Sounds crazy, I know. Who knows what goes on in that family dynamic. He was clearly angry (i.e. wringing his hands, holding cigarette, but never taking a puff, etc.) but was fairly composed. What perplexes me is the need for this family to air their problems via social media. (Very narcissitic approach-pumping lead into the laptop, really!) His first mistake was letting her get away with the first time she did it. There wouldn’t be a next time with my kid because Facebook would have been a thing of the past for her, no internet. Families talk to each other via facebook all the time. Give me a break.

    • I think your point goes back to how much kids are allowed to do. If we don’t allow our kids to “Facebook” or have cell phones, we are considered strange or mean or strict or whatever mean word you want to use. Of course, my son has Facebook and a cell phone. I can happily say right now he has little interest in either one, but I know the day is coming when the opposite will be true. But why do they have to have those things? Why do we insist on allowing other people to dictate how we parent our own children? I guess those are rhetorical questions, since I’m guilty of it as well. And yes, playing the whole thing out on Facebook was pretty melodramatic, but I think his point was supposed to be that she put her little letter on there, so he answered her back. He posted the video as a response. I feel like this was a knee-jerk reaction because of how angry he was. I don’t know. I agree though–I don’t see myself publicly airing something like that.

      As for CPS, I don’t know. I know what their job is, and I know how important it is, but sometimes I wonder. I know they are highly restricted by red tape, but I also know there are others areas which are completely unregulated. It’s pretty obvious it’s a government operation.

  6. I am guilty of letting my kids have too much. I too, threaten to take it all away, but then don’t because that’s inconvenient for me. I am not a bad parent. But I could always do better. This guy met his breaking point. Everyone can decide if he waited too long or went too far.

    I think the punishment fits the crime.

    And anyone who thinks otherwise is either perfect or moronic.

    • I had to laugh. This parenting gig is tough. I think that’s sort of the point of this blog, and in fact, my whole life. None of us are perfect, kids or parents, and I guess mistakes are a foregone conclusion. I’m still wondering about posting it on YouTube, though.

  7. The guy was an idiot to put it on youtube, unless fame was his goal, in which case he is more crazy like a fox than an idiot. If one of my kids did that to me I would also be both furious and hurt. I know I would flip out as well, but l definitely would not use a gun or put it on Facebook for the love of all that is HOLY, which is sort of a mixed message anyway since posting personal family stuff on Facebook was what this father had an issue with in the first place (in addition to the disrespect). However, these are the times we live in. What that daughter said was no different than what many teenagers say, except now they say it on Facebook which makes it so much worse because now there is a permanent record of any fleeting angry thought we might have, any of us. People need to stop using Facebook as a confessional or as an avenue to express knee-jerk reactions, (which I agree is exactly what this father AND his daughter did), because in the end this is the internet and what you say on here basically becomes a part of the public domain. That said, to suggest this is a matter for CPS is also idiotic. Those cases where children are taken from decent parents are almost as horrific as the ones where abused children are NOT removed and end up dead. This man obviously isn’t a bad parent, just one at his wit’s end. Great discussion you’ve initiated here Janice! 🙂

    • I love me a good debate! The thing about this is that I think points on both sides of the argument are valid. I guess that’s true in lots of cases.

  8. You know – I never thought I would say this on this whole topic but I totally agree with you on every point. CPS – that’s ridiculous. That dad is expressing what a lot of (millions, actually) of parents are feeling. I know it was over-reacting but it was also kind of comical, too. Thanks for this post.

  9. If I watched the news I would be wound up all day. So no idea about this but reading your perspective and I am nodding. This generation we are rang has an incredible semnse of intitlement and it is so out of control we must zip it right now. For their own good and I mean it. Our parents overindulged us meaning well but we really are crossing the line. Good reminder Janice!

  10. I’m guilty of news ignorance. It makes me way too anxious. I have mixed feelings toward this but I haven’t seen the video yet. I totally understand the anger from the father – I would LOSE MY MIND if words like those were used by my son’s about ANYONE. The whole shooting of the laptop makes me feel a little weird but then I am uncomfortable with guns period. The CPS comment though is ridiculous. Being angry is one thing – we all get super pissed off at our children – but abuse is another. This is not CPS worthy. Not one bit. That comment from Nancy whatsherface strikes me as silly and flippant.

  11. Very interesting. I think if the father had made the daughter donate her laptop to a charity this never would’ve made the news, and Dr. S wouldn’t have had a thing to say about the whole thing. Take a parent with a gun and put it on YouTube and you’ve got instant fame and all the pitfalls that go along with exposure. Parents today are under scrutiny. If you’re willing to put it out there, you’re going to get judged. (I agree that the CPS comment was ridiculous, though.)

    • I’ve had my doubts about posting on YouTube right from the beginning. Despite what people think, I don’t think he thought 28 million people would end up watching this video. He uploaded it and then posted it on her Facebook wall as an answer to her “letter.” He said he hoped some of her friends would see it too–some of them had left comments about how right she was and all that. Do I think he overreacted? Yes. But I think he was trying to make a point. Plus he was furious, and most of us aren’t at our finest when we are that upset. At least I’m not.

    • Excellent point about donating the computer. I didn’t even think of that. There would be a double lesson in that. You are obviously a much more reasonable and level-headed person than him (or me, for that matter!) I’ve lost track, but I think in one of the other comments I made I called it a knee-jerk reaction, and I think that’s just what it was. He still says he wouldn’t do anything differently, other than the cigarette, but what else would you expect him to say at this point?!

  12. Amen sister. My kid doesn’t even know his FB password. He goes on it when I literally walk over and log him in. Same goes with his iTunes account (for his iTouch), and as for his phone, that’s all handled online. Piss me off and to verizon.com I go.

    As for shooting the computer, I’m with you. Costs to much. But if I had a lot of cash…

  13. Wow! I must be living under a rock lately, because I haven’t heard about this story. Why doesn’t the nice doctor stick to REAL CPS cases…like maybe, abuse or something??!!! I’ll have to watch this video…hooray for parents who make their kids do “chores without pay”!

  14. YES! Good for you. That was a good, old-fashioned, PASSIONATE post. I could feel you in there. And I agree. Maybe not with the shooting of the computer, because, I don’t know, that’s on the other side of crazy, but with tough parenting? You bet. I’m a high school teacher, so I know all about “kids these days,” and while a good many of them are great, an unfortunate chunk are not. And good for you with the cell phone bit, with the chores bit, with the hypothetical Facebook bit. Stay strong, woman!

  15. Excellent post! I completely agree and you raised some great points here. How are kids suppose to learn to be contributing members of society when they can’t even be contributing members of the family without bribe or reward? When I first saw this video, I completely understood this parents frustration and outrage. I don’t think he would even harm his daughter, I think as parents it gets to the point where you have to get your child’s attention and get them to take you seriously somehow. Thank you for writing and sharing this with us!

  16. oooooo I’m so fired up now. This is why I don’t watch the news. Sometimes we as parents have to make points. Big points when they aren’t listening. It’s his choice, not the Dr’s. No one was harmed. What’s happened with the Dr… has she retracted her statement or anything? Going to Google now to find out more!

  17. This has been the most reasonable handling of this subject I’ve seen. I think what we can take from this is a warning.
    Obviously, relationships and discipline are not on the healthy side in their household to warrant such drama. Notice I said, “discipline,” not “punishment.” I think collective society is forgetting that discipline means boundaries and guidelines to live by. So when that toddler is throwing that tantrum for that toy, just remember it is okay for them to be “asking.” It is just your job to stand firm. By doing that, you are building the foundation of your relationship with them. They can feel safe because they know what to expect.
    So here is the warning: that toddler who always gets her way can turn into an angry out-of-control teen because she doesn’t know what the rules are and where the lies are drawn.
    Parenting is not for wimps, but it takes more courage to stand firm day-in-and-day-out, than to post drama to youTube. Ellen

    • I think this is a good point. Parenting, like most things in life, should be proactive instead of reactive. That’s a big mistake a lot of us make. Lots of bad behavior is the result of a lifetime of no boundaries, I guess. That’s that thing about threatening to do stuff that you never do. Kids totally pick up on that stuff.

  18. We are their parents first and foremost. If we are lucky when the are about 30 we can just be their friends. I may not agree with how he exactly went about it, but not doing anything would have been much worse.

  19. I totally agree with you. I wouldn’t probably given it to someone who needed one. But I don’t blame him for shooting it.

    I think so many problems are caused by overindulging children and letting them grow up too fast. And by not expecting them to contribute as members of the household. Chores are great for teaching them responsibility and some kind of work ethic. But I also think it helps them feel more like a part of the family ‘team’.

  20. I totally agree with you. I might not have reacted as strongly as he did, but I applaud his conviction, and I think he made his point. Which was the point. If I was his daughter, I would definitely take a step back and think about the consequences of my actions in the future.

    Kids these days grow up feeling entitled, and that’s my fear. That my still-very-young children will grow up to feel entitled. Parenting is so very hard isn’t it?

  21. Great post. I am not a gun-totin’ mama but there have been times when I’ve wanted to throw my kids’ computers out the window. Not just because of their slack-jawed eyes-whirling attitude when they’re gazing into the screen, but because of their obliviousness to their own privilege. Griping about setting the table, or clearing the table, or any other chore…you’d think I was asking them to re-build the pyramids of Giza. So yeah, the drama of shooting the offending computer seems a little extreme (but better to shoot the computer than hit the kid, yes?) but the sentiment behind it? Been there, felt that.

  22. Pingback: Gun Culture » The (not so) Special Mother

  23. Great post and, like others, I agree with you. At least he followed up wtih his threat. But he could have made the same point without doing it so publicly. It makes me question his motives.

  24. “Do I agree with shooting a computer? In a word, yes. I wouldn’t do it personally, but I will never judge the man who did it. He was fed up. He wanted to make a strong point, and I think he did.”

    This completely sums up how I feel about this issue. I’d heard about this video but hadn’t seen it until your post. And you know what my first reaction was? “Good for him!” Not, “Oh my God, what a horrible father!” And considering I think myself both a reasonable person and parent, I have to believe that says something.

    Yes, his reaction was overdramatic. But then again, so was Dr. Snyderman’s assessment of it.

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