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Editor's blog: Laptop-shooting dad takes things a bit too far

If you spend any time whatsoever on a computer, then you’ve probably heard about the video that went viral in recent days of a fed-up dad ranting for 8 minutes against his 15-year-old daughter Hannah for her cruel Facebook posts about him and his wife. That video was followed by another showing him literally pumping bullets into the teen’s computer.

(All indications are these videos are real – although being a skeptical person – I am still wondering if this is a made-for-You-Tube-moment-to-get-a-reality-TV-contract situation. Anyone remember the “balloon boy?”)

Regardless, the video of the dad’s 8 minute rant against his offspring has more than 26 million hits. Watch it here.

Parents across the globe are watching it – some horrified; some rooting the dad on and even offering him financial support. Clearly, the videos are striking some collective parenting nerve.

When I first watched the video the clearly agitated dad North Carolina parent Tommy Jordan lamenting a Facebook post by his daughter Hannah, in which she roundly criticizes her parents and complains they treat her like a slave, it made my skin crawl.

Teens – kids – do stupid stuff. And so do adults, as evidenced by this video diatribe.

Public shame as parenting strategy

Public shame just doesn’t seem a good parenting strategy under any circumstance. Are parents frustrated and angry as hell sometimes? Sure. Can they get help? Yes. Did this father try to talk to his daughter, or consult a therapist to intervene and help mediate the familial dispute? Heck, he could have tapped into abundant free resources available online. For instance, parents can make use of EdNews Parent – right here.

I have two highly qualified therapists who are willing to offer advice at no cost. Other parents often weigh in on posts – providing yet more free help and perspectives.

Kevin Everhart, Ph.D., is associate clinical-teaching professor of psychology, and director of the Psychological Services Center at the University of Colorado Denver Department of Psychology. He is a clinical child and pediatric specialist with more than 20 years experience in child and family mental health.

When kids do stupid things online

Recently, a parent posed a question about issues popping up with her teen daughter, who was posting inappropriate photos of herself on Facebook and putting herself in compromising situations online.

Like the crazy gun-toting dad, this mom was reaching wit’s end. Read the post here.

However, she didn’t bust out a video camera – or a gun. Instead, she was able to get some immediate (and free) advice from “Dr. Kevin.” Among other suggestions, he discusses the importance of the mom talking to the parents of her daughter’s friends, who are also putting their reputations on the line online.

He also says that yes, you are the parents – you do have the power to take away your child’s computers or phones for a period of time. You don’t have to load your gun. Did Tommy Jordan think of that? Why kill off a perfectly good laptop?

But what to do when your relationship with your teen seems beyond repair?

Dr. Kevin says you can start by telling your teen everything you already know, and how you have come to know it. She will probably be angry that you have been “keeping tabs” on her online activity. Not all psychologists will agree with this suggestion, but Dr. Kevin believes modeling honesty can be a powerful overture to your teen, and it is almost inevitable that she/he will find out anyway.

Dr. Kevin also suggests that you begin by telling your teen why you have been snooping around his or her secret world. Use “I” statements such as, “I love you and I am worried that you are not being safe,” “I feel angry that you have been dishonest with me,” and “I want to be able to trust you again, but right now it is difficult.”

Anyway, this is a start. Remember, friends don’t let friends shoot their kid’s laptops.

Do you have a Facebook parenting question? Ask it here.

About our First Person series:

First Person is where Chalkbeat features personal essays by educators, students, parents, and others trying to improve public education. Read our submission guidelines here.

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