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Shotgun Parenting

Kids don’t get emotionally scarred by having things taken away or by having reasonable boundaries imposed. They get emotionally scarred by angry parents, physical abuse, constant put-downs, helicopter parents, unreasonable expectations around grades, etc.

Tommy Jordan shot his daughter’s computer. That's right, he shot it. Now that may seem a bit extreme to you, but you shouldn’t pass judgement until you understand the whole situation.

He posted the "why" (and the shooting) in a YouTube video (warning: the video does contain some adult language). The video went viral and has been viewed by more than 22 million people. And an update from the father can be seen here

Please take a moment to watch the video (see warning above) and read the update. Especially if you’re a parent. There’s some really good parenting in there.

Long story short, the daughter posted a rant on Facebook about how awful her parents were for making her do chores, and she didn’t say it nicely. There was a whole lot of cursing going on in the post. Before posting it, she blocked "family" and "church" so only her friends would see it. Well, her dad saw it. And it turns out this wasn’t the first time she’s done something like this. So, after spending the previous day and $130 to tune up her computer (he’s an IT guy), he shot it. Several times. And he says if she ever wants another computer, she’ll have to get a job and buy one for herself.

Some feel that shooting the computer was extreme, that it was over the top. Maybe so. My only comment to that is that sometimes it takes a bit of “shock value” to get through to people. Actually, I think that this dad was pretty on target and I’d like to vote for him for Father of the Year.  

Again, before you pass judgement, watch the video and read the father’s update to the situation. I can’t help but be impressed by this guy. Here’s a couple of reasons why:

He spoke of sitting down and talking things through with his daughter after both of them had gotten past the anger stage. It seems much more typical for today’s parents to simply yell at their child and that’s the end of it. Lectures and yelling. No explanation, no understanding of the child’s thought process, no suggestions for a better thought process, just a “because I said so” and that’s it. A child learns very little from such an encounter. Except for that’s how they should handle situations when they grow older and with their own children some day.

This dad sets firm boundaries and then sticks by them. Not being consistent in setting reasonable boundaries and then holding firm to them is one of the biggest parenting mistakes I see on a day-to-day basis. Parents make threats and then don’t stick to them. Don’t threaten your child.  Explain the consequences of their actions and then follow through. Follow through, follow thorough, follow through. And makes sure the consequences are "natural and logical." Sending a child to bed without supper because they didn’t finish their homework doesn’t make any sense at all. Allowing the child to deal with the sting of getting a lousy grade is a natural consequence of not doing homework (of course, this requires that the parent is confident enough in themselves not to feel "embarrassed" because their child gets a bad grade).

This dad requires his kids to do chores around the house. At my martial arts school, the , we teach our junior students that they can make decisions for themselves when they are able to completely take care of themselves. When they can pay for their own rent, clothes, food, phone, car, gas, insurance, etc., they get to call their own shots. Until then, the parents are in charge.

Kids should have some reasonable chores to do around the house. Even in the very young years. After all, they are part of the family, and everyone in the family should have some responsibilities for the support of the family. This helps teach about responsibility and discipline. And giving kids an allowance is fine, but only for "chores" that are done "above and beyond" the chores they do simply to support the family.

Finally, it frustrates me that people wrote in that they thought that Hanna (the daughter) was going to be emotionally scarred from this experience. On the update post I listed above the father said: “People were telling her she was going to commit suicide, commit a gun-related crime, become a drug addict, drop out of school, get pregnant on purpose, and become a stripper because she’s too emotionally damaged now to be a productive member of society. According to most comments, stripper was the most likely. Her response was 'Dude… it’s only a computer. I mean, yeah I’m mad but pfft.' She actually asked me to post a comment on one of the threads (and I did) asking what other job fields the victims of laptop-homicide were eligible for because she wasn’t too keen on the stripping thing.” This sounds like an extremely well adjusted child, another data point that this guy and his wife are good at parenting.

People, get a grip. It’s not like the dad stormed into his daughter’s room and shot the computer right in front of her! She wasn’t present and he didn’t do it out of anger. Kids don’t get emotionally scarred by having things taken away or by having reasonable boundaries imposed. They get emotionally scarred by angry parents, physical abuse, constant put-downs, helicopter parents, unreasonable expectations around grades and sporting activities, etc.

You can’t determine if people are good at parenting by looking at individual situations. Parenting is a continuum of daily behaviors, choices and teachings. The only way to measure if a person is good or bad at parenting, is by looking at their children over time. Are they happy? Socially well adjusted? Humble? Mannerly? Responsible?. Without prejudices? Without addictions? Tolerant? Peaceful? Good at sports? Physically active? Healthy?

Notice I didn’t say anything about what college they went to, what their grades were like, or what job they have. With good parenting, all that stuff takes care of itself.

Andrew Ziemba February 14, 2012 at 10:38 PM
Oh yeah child abuse is terrible and so is passing on religion to your kids because after all what happens to bad people? http://unfollowingjesus.com/pictures/child-abuse-2/ The child in this article got a job the very next day. It seems to be he is doing a great job as a father.
Tim Winters February 14, 2012 at 11:07 PM
Kelley I hope you didnt waste your parents money on a college psychology class.
Jennifer Coe February 15, 2012 at 02:32 AM
I think that when the daughter is a parent, she will probably laugh and say he did the right thing!
Robert Vahle February 22, 2012 at 05:14 PM
I bought and paided for my daughters cell phone. YES..I paid the bill and the phone was in my name. However a couple of times when I called her, she decided not to answer. WHOA little lady....then she gave her cell phone to other students, who made prank calls. Well, I took the phone from her, for two weeks, and explained to her that as long as I am paying the phone bill, she better answer it, when her father calls. She got her phone back two weeks latter, and from then on, she answered my calls, and did not loan it to other kids...problem solved.
Robert Vahle February 22, 2012 at 05:17 PM
Andrew, I agree with you 100%. But "way out of line." is too easy. They are lazy, uncaring, unmotivated and entitled. And that includes the three I raised.

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