Is There a Role For Guns in Parenting?By
In February 2012, this video was uploaded to youtube. It is a video of a dad expressing his upset with his daughter’s insulting rant on Facebook. He then takes out a gun and shoots her laptop (with hollow point exploding bullets, no less…).
This video went viral. At the time of this post (June 27, 2012) there are over 33 million views of this video. You can watch the video below, if you’d like.
While this dad expresses the frustrations that many parents feel with their teens in this electronic/facebook era, the question is: Is there a role for guns in parenting?
During this video, the dad explains that his daughter has so many things given to her, and yet she complains so much. She complains that she is being treated like a slave, when in fact the chores she is responsible for are quite few and very reasonable. Her comments are very disrespectful to her parents.
Teens today have a sense of entitlement that seems far beyond what generations past had. Even kids in families with financial challenges push their parents to get video games, electronics, music downloads, $200 headphones, etc. And there is often a lack of real appreciation and gratitude.
Of course, not all kids act this way – there are many great teens as well… But that’s not the topic for this post.
And when it comes to teens with ADHD, these issues are often more of a challenge, because of oppositional behavior with parents and teachers, which may increase the defiance they show. And because of social challenges that many teens with ADHD have, they may be more likely to post impulsively on Facebook, and that can lead to more trouble for them later on…
Acknowledging that this teen crossed the line in her facebook post, the question is – is the Dad’s response to her reasonable?
Let’s review what her dad did:
- He accessed her facebook and found the offending post.
- He recorded a video expressing his disappointment and anger with her – and didn’t show it to her – he posted it to Youtube and her Facebook wall. Youtube let the whole world see it, and Facebook let her friends see it.
- He pulled out a gun and shot her laptop to teach her a lesson.
Let’s analyze these ‘parenting strategies’:
1) Accessing Your Teen’s Facebook Account to look at their posts:
This parenting strategy gets the thumbs up.
In the unmoderated world of social media, teens can post things which are self degrading, harmful to others and themselves. And their posts create an online reputation that can follow them forever. Can you imagine this young woman applying for a job in 10 years as an early childhood educator? What would they say when they saw her comments about her parents in her Facebook profile? Material posted online can be archived for a very long time.
So, it is important for parents to monitor and help their kids and teens to be thoughtful and careful about what they post on their social media pages and profiles. So, I support this dad’s approach on this one.
2) Recording a Video Response to Your Teen’s Misbehavior and Posting It Online:
This parenting strategy gets a thumbs down from me.
When a parent is disappointed with his teen’s posting of a ‘rant’ against her parents online, and he wants to discipline her for it – why is he using the same offending behavior? i.e. he is saying it is not right to do that, and yet he is doing it himself back to her…
What message will she get from this act?
She’ll learn that her dad won’t take any crap, and that he’ll find her posts online, so she should be careful. She also learns that if she embarrasses her dad on Facebook, he’ll embarrass her more. And she learns that the way to problem solve when someone is publicly rude, is to publicly retaliate.
Is that what this dad wants to teach her? That when you are upset with someone, you publicly retaliate and humiliate?
Not the best approach…
3) Finally, Using a Gun to Teach His Daughter a Lesson:
This parenting strategy also gets a thumbs down.
By using a gun to shoot up his daughter’s laptop, he’s using an aggressive way to show that he is in charge. What does that teach her? It teaches her that when you want to get the upper hand in a situation, firearms (or aggression) is the solution.
Not the best parenting message.
This dad does successfully deliver the message that he is in charge, and he’s not going to take it anymore. However, he is humiliating his teen, and solving this issue publicly and with violence (even though he has a seemingly quiet and calm tone when he talks).
Here are my recommendations for parents dealing with similar issues (as a Child Psychiatrist and ADHD Expert):
If your child does something like this, and you are very angry – work on finding a parenting approach that gets your message across clearly, and does not use behavior that you don’t want your child using.
If you want your child to learn that it is OK to solve your problems and upsets by publicly humiliating the person who upset you (publicly as in online – or other offline ways of publicly humiliating someone), and using a firearm, then use the approach as demonstrated by this dad.
On the other hand, if you want to use disciplinary approaches which demonstrate behavior that you want to encourage in your child, find approaches that work with your child and model the behavior that you want your child to develop. For example, discussing the issue privately, creating fair but firm consequences and sticking to them, and escalating the punishment for repeat offenses.
If you are struggling to do this effectively, there are many great parenting resources out there. Many people have found the chapter on parenting in my book Attention Difference Disorder helpful to them, and there many other great parenting books out there.
Also, talk to your doctor for help, or access resources from a mental health center, counselling center, or even your church or religious community. There is help out there for parents who are struggling. Remember, even though in our modern western society, we often don’t access our community as much as generations past did, there are people who would be willing to support, help and guide you.
My hope for you is that you find effective parenting strategies that work, and model the behavior that you want your child to learn (so, in 15 years, they don’t parent with a video camera, an internet connection, and a handgun).
What is your reaction to this parenting approach? Do you agree with this dad using a gun to prove his point? Do you agree with me? Please share your thoughts and comments below.