Saturday, February 11, 2012

Tough Love

So this has gone viral over the last two days. Trust me, when I see links to an Internet video more than once, it's beyond famous; I seem to live somewhere on the fringes of the net, and nine out of ten memes never reach me. But "father shoots daughter's laptop" is pretty much everywhere online right now, along with what seems like terabytes of commentary pro and con. This guy's father of the year. Or he's more immature than his daughter and a raging psycho to boot.

I'd ask you to watch this video and decide for yourself if his actions were justified and reasonable. I'll be right here.


There's a reason that Children's Aid decided we weren't fit to be parents. Actually, there are more than a few reasons, but the biggest black mark on our cards came from our exposure to, and willingness to use, tough love.
Oh, this was never said aloud, of course. But I certainly remember the vibe. It came first during one of the adoption classroom sessions, The scenario we were given was this: your child is on a school field trip to Toronto. You get a call at work letting you know the child has forgotten her lunch. What do you do?

I privately found this scenario ludicrous. Why would a teacher call me for something this trivial? I wasn't stupid enough to voice that thought. But both Eva and I essentially said this wasn't a big deal. The child could scrounge amongst her friends. The teacher could buy her something small. Or she could just go without lunch: one missed meal wouldn't kill her, and it might spark her memory next time.

WRONG ANSWER. We were told the only acceptable course of action was to drop whatever we were doing and bring our daughter her lunch.  We looked at each other. He's joking, right? Apparently not.

"Tough love" is passe, it seems. I don't know when it became law that parents were to be their children's best friends. Probably around the same time it was suddenly decided that no child could ever fail at anything lest he injure his precious self-esteem. Well, I'm here to tell you that parents are supposed to be parents, and the best way to nurture self-esteem is to fail at lots of things, lots of times...and then succeed through repeated, concerted effort.

As for tough love...

I didn't get near the dose Eva did. By all accounts she deserved it, too. I'll spare you the details: suffice it to say she wasn't exactly respectful or docile. Transport everybody down a generation and I can vividly picture her father pumping a few rounds through her laptop. She was paying room and board by this kid's age: it was that or move out. Did she hate it? Of course she did. Does she look back at it now and say "you know what, Mom and Dad were right?"

Yes, for the most part, she does.

An incident from my childhood: I was once confined to my bedroom for a weekend...Friday evening to Sunday supper. So as to make this reward a punishment, my room was first stripped of all its books. To really twist the screws, they even took my clock. That, I gotta say, was cruel--those two days took about three years to go by.
I was allowed to go to the bathroom, and that was it. Meals were brought to me in my room...I was not deprived of any food at all. Sometime on Saturday or Sunday, my parents went out for a few hours, first warning me of grave consequences if I tried to leave my room. Of course, I tried to leave my room as soon as the car was out of the driveway...only to find they'd taped the $%^ing door shut. RRRRRRRIP. Ever tried to re-attach tape to a door and then close it from the other side? Can't be done.

So I owned up right away when they got home, half-expecting to get another day or three tacked on to my sentence. Didn't happen. I was freed on Sunday sometime in the late afternoon.

Any parent trying that today would have their child taken away before the bedroom door was closed.

Now. Want to know what I did to get that punishment?

I was sent out to feed our dogs. The dog food was kept in the shed, and our shed had a dirt floor. I inadvertently knocked the dog food so it spilled all over. In my rush to do whatever the hell it was I wanted to do--I think it was a bike ride I was desperate to go on, for some reason--I shovelled all the food, dirt and all, back into the bag. A moment's thought would have resulted in me going in to explain my mishap to my parents--worst case scenario, we're out a bag of dog food--but what I did instead was just wrong on so many levels. I can't even explain it, looking back, what impulse accounted for that stupid, stupid action.
Of course I was found out. Of course I tried to lie about it, saying I had no idea how that dirt got into the bag.
The punishment didn't really fit the crime--I rather think I should have been made to eat a cup of that dog food/dirt--but it was effective nonetheless.

Do kids even get punished anymore?

Was this a punishment or a well-deserved kick in the ass? Maybe this kid will think about getting a job so she can get her indispensable computer back.

I'm taking some flack on Facebook, of all places, for my stance here. I'm being castigated for taking the father's words at face value, as if anybody would make this up for shits and giggles. And apparently I'm supposed to pity this child for having an "imbecile" for a father--who, by the way, shouldn't have snooped in his daughter's Facebook account (!?!?)

Maybe this is another reason I don't have kids, but if I had a kid, the computer would be right where it is here: in the living room, where I can keep an eye on it and make sure the porn is, you know, normal porn. Jokes aside, there is no way I'd allow a computer in my kid's bedroom. Not because I want to raise a monk: because computers come with webcams now, and there is no place in my kid's bedroom for a camera. Period.
And the rules would be simple. I get full and total access to everything you do online. You want to keep secrets from me, you keep a diary in your underwear drawer and I promise never to look at it. But  your online life is fair game. I get to see what your public face is. When you fall in love with the 47-year-old guy from Montana who's posing as a 13-year-old boy from down the lane, I'm right there ready to put a stop to it. And if you feel the need to damage my reputation using your computer? Well, then I get the right to damage your computer.

Tough love. It works.`


Anonymous said...

My wife was horrified, I was laughing my ass off. Somewhere between her and I we manage to work out appropriate punishment.

All I an say is, my kids know there are rules that can't be broken and lines that can't be crossed. And there are other parents out there like that too. More of them than you would think actually.

But we must be finding that appropriate balance. They still want to play games with me, they give me ferocious hugs in the morning as I leave for work and they still want to cuddle with their old man at night as I read them a story.

But I don't Youtube it and put it out there for the whole world to see and judge. That part I find awfully strange.

Ken Breadner said...

I think he made it public because she did. I think the message was partly for her, but also for her friends. I do know that if you're thought of as a bastard for long enough, there's a well-nigh uncontrollable urge to act the part.
I will say this: he didn't lay a hand on her, but he hit her where she lives. I think she'll think twice about disrespecting him in the future.
--Glad to hear about your kids, you're obviously doing something (or a LOT of things) right.

trish said...

A 47 year old from montana :p oh ken where on earth did you get that from XD

Ken Breadner said...

It came to me in a nightmare, Trish...

Rocketstar said...

I thought the age for Facebook was 18? If she is under 18 and living in my house, snooping with probable cause is a parents duty.

Yep, the computer for the girls is in the living room and no tv in their room either.

I do think this father is not doing something correct here, i have no idea what it is but his relationship with his daughter is obviously broken and needs help. Also, no reason to ruin a laptop.