On Monday a friend passed along a link to a parenting story that has drawn quite a bit of attention. New parenting strategies come up from time to time. Evidently a new parenting strategy in our day is to respond to a fifteen-year-old daughter’s disrespectful and rebellious Facebook post by shooting her laptop and posting a video of the “execution” on YouTube.
The friend who sent the link wondered what I thought about this incident. As for his take, he wrote, “In my opinion, too many believers have praised this father for the way he is disciplining his daughter. I might be in the minority, but as a guy trying to be a godly father, I didn’t find anything that he did that made me want to employ the same method. It mostly just made me sad and a little sick.”
Before I give my reaction, I must offer a bit of a disclaimer. Over time I have grown more leery of criticizing other people’s parenting methods; perhaps this is because I have come to recognize as I raise my own children that there is often important context that those on the outside looking in can’t see. Even in this instance, where the situation seems pretty straightforward, I offer my comments with the recognition that I am not in the dad’s shoes/cowboy boots.
My suspicion is that some people who are pleased with the father’s response are more pleased with his strong reaction to the child’s mildly nauseating rebellion and entitlement mentality than they are with his specific methods. The daughter’s post, which contains language fit for a sailor, is a disrespectful expression of pride, and the father was right to take it very seriously. My concern is that he may be missing the root of the problem.
Here’s the thing: shaming someone can be a very powerful way of manipulating her behavior, but it is quite ineffective at dealing with her heart. While I think we all can understand dad’s frustration, the discipline he employs feels like a strongarm tactic that could easily backfire. She might throw in the towel after this incident and “shape up,” but maybe not. What happens if she posts something even more ridiculous on Facebook next time by borrowing her friend’s smart phone? Would he get out the heavy artillery and aim for the satellites?
If the true problem here is the daughter’s sense of pride and entitlement, I think dad would be more successful in dealing with the heart issue by “sentencing” his daughter for a time to serve people who are underprivileged, infirm, or something like that. I doubt it would take long for daughter to reconsider her attitude if she spent time on J5 at Children’s Hospital. Even this discipline, I would hope, would be done in the context of a loving relationship. This is not at all to say that this dad doesn’t love his daughter; it is to say that the Internet may not be the best medium to express parental love.
Of course what the daughter did was wrong. What do you think about this unusual response from dad?