For the Troubled Parent:
Before you throw tomatoes- or for the friends of Vengeful-Facebook-Daughter-Man, before you shoot seven bullets at your computer, I hope you’ll read this post and think about it. I’d like to respond to the enlightening video I just saw. I gave that 8 minutes and 23 seconds- I’m just going to ask you for about five.
I respect the fact that a lot of people praised you for your actions. I don’t have kids of my own, but I know the traumas of teenage rebellion. I’ve worked with teens. I’ve been a teen. Teens are kind of scary, frankly. They can be destructive, impulsive and mouthy. This is indisputable, and as a parent, I’m sure this is difficult to deal with. You have every “right” to respond to your child’s behavior as you see fit. I purposely use the word right.
As you’ve made clear, you have the first amendment right. And as you’ve made clear, your daughter doesn’t have the same rights that you do until she earns them- a common child-rearing philosophy. I can’t speak to who your daughter really is. Maybe she is, in fact, the hell-raiser you have made her out to be. Maybe she’s straight from one of those Maury Povich- send-my –wild-teen-to-bootcamp episodes. Fine. Maybe this was really the ONLY way you could get through to her.
Certainly thousands have already expressed their sympathy and praised your behavior. But I have to say, I think it is disgraceful. You’ve already chosen your path as a parent, so it is more to the general public- your new “fans” to whom I’d like to speak, before we see an insurgence of parents declaring their mighty viewpoints and airing their family’s dirty laundry on youtube. I know people are watching your impulsive and permanent action and saying “BRAVO” and I think some important things are being overlooked. Before the “parent of the year” plaque is engraved, I’d like to address some things.
Teenagers are hardwired to make mistakes. And you know what, that’s okay. I watched your video, thinking about how I’d feel, were it directed to me. It is both condescending and disrespectful and demonstrates a true mastery of “do as I say, not as I do.” What I’ve learned, in my early adulthood is that my big mouth- the one I was sometimes in trouble for, is one of my best assets as an adult. Don’t get me wrong. YES there is a time and place. And no I do NOT encourage teens to mouth off to their parents. But it’s a trial and error process.
But adults need to stop pretending like teenagers don’t live in the “real world.” Personally, I have been living in the real world a lot longer than many people my age. I was exposed to a lot of adult circumstances and I was forced to grow up. I saw true evil. I learned some scary realities about our society. But I don’t want to make this post about me the way you made your video to your daughter about yourself. I’m not gonna say “when I was ___ years old” because that is never relevant.
Like I said, no I don’t have kids. I know, it’s different. No matter how many hours I log babysitting, nannying, teaching, etc. I haven’t been in your shoes, but I implore you to understand the fact that you get the kid that you raise. And to some degree, the same goes for every relationship in your life. Your marriage, your friendships, your work relationships… As many psychologists will attest- “you teach people how to treat you.”
Sometimes as parents, it’s your job to “teach” and make certain points, and you may choose to do that more firmly at times, but it’s important not to lose sight of the fact that your child is not some electronic device you can take out of a box and shoot if you’re unhappy with it’s performance. She’s not a horse whose spirit needs to be broken. She’s a person just like you- just like any of us. The best thing about kids that I think parents often forget, is how smart they are. How capable they are of understanding what people want from them if said people communicate effectively. How much empathy they feel when they are treated with respect.
Above all else, I think there is one thing you will agree with me on. Kids need guidance. And it is important that they get that from the adults responsible for them.
SO lets recap on what your child was able to learn today. In no particular order.
Destruction of property. Yes, it was your own property- so go on ahead and break it as you please. But really, shooting 7 bullets through a laptop? I get it, you’re making a point. I studied screenwriting- I know all about building conflict and drama. But seriously—if you have to do away with Mr. Laptop, there are plenty of organizations you could donate him to—you can get a big fat tax deduction. You can supply a needy child with an important resource (my own laptop is on it’s last legs). You can sell the laptop on Craigslist or some other site. And then you want your daughter to take your money concerns seriously? But no, I suppose it’s not about that. It’s about “proving your point.” The point that you’re right. That you’re the boss. But really? I hope at the very least you will not invoice your daughter for the 7 dollars worth of bullets you threw away in your controlled temper tantrum.
Revenge/Humiliation. Yes, I did listen to the letter you read. You know what, you’re right. It was mean and uncalled for. The specifics don’t even matter- I won’t go into what was right or wrong. You are entitled to your feelings and I’d encourage you to communicate with your child on an adult level if she ever has the desire to speak to you as such again after your behavior. You have demonstrated that the proper way to respond to someone hurting your feelings is to humiliate them. To seek revenge similar to what they have done to you. And again, yeah, we get it that you’re the boss.
It Gets Harder. This is one of the most misguided things I’ve heard parents say. I don’t want to make this about myself, as I said, but I’m going to- just a moment. Because I remember what it was like to be a teen. Where should I begin my list? I don’t know your so-called “troubled teens” life, so I will speak to some things I saw in my teen life and the lives of those around me. You’re thrown into a large real life hunger-games arena called a high school for 7 hours a day with other kids, most of whom have been raised poorly and are out for blood There’s bullying. There’s trying to measure up- socially, academically, all while trying to figure out who you are while balancing your crazy teen hormones and following your parents rules.
A percentage of girls are sexually harassed or assaulted on campus, often with little consequences for the attackers. Many kids are physically hit or verbally abused. You’re old enough to know what people say is right, but you’re also old enough that sometimes that conflicts with what you believe. You don’t have choices. People tell you about the “real life” consequences but then create random ones like dad’s shooting through your computer or making angry facebook videos. You’re expected to soak up large boring textbooks of information and be legit in every topic. Teen years are hard and you know what, angry dad, they get harder as time goes on and the young people in our world get more sophisticated.
When you were her age you may have walked both ways to school in the snow, barefoot and had a job, but you obviously don’t know what it’s like to be a teen these days. Shame on you for not teaching your teen that It Gets Better.
I don’t know why we, as a nation haven’t figured out why teens are such terrors. But I will spell it out for you. It’s hard to be one. We bitch and moan about their undeniable attitude. What is WRONG with these teens, we ask. And we wonder, why so many of them make destructive choices, commit suicide, end up in prison, flunk out or just retreat to a little emo shell. Wake up, America.
I hope your teen daughter has been one of the lucky ones- especially since you seem hell bent on seeing her suffer for her mistakes. I suppose you never make any.
I look forward to your retaliation video.
Bonnie J Sludikoff
Please see the following video to understand what this letter is in response to.