This week a
“parenting advice” video went viral and is currently running at
13 million page views. It involves a father from North Carolina who
reads a disrespectful Facebook post from his 15-year-old daughter
complaining about having to do chores.
After reading her post, he decides to
plug her laptop with eight hollow-point bullets from his .45-caliber
There are two camps in the comments on this video. Camp one is
the beleaguered parent group who are saying, “Good job, Dad!” On the
other side of the debate is the mental health community who are
planning on treating this emotionally scarred kid for years to come.
As I began my parenting journey in the late 80s,
a parenting poem by Dorothy Law Nolte was making the rounds and
became pretty popular. But the words are still true all these years
When I first saw this video, I was
reminded of Dr. Nolte’s poem. Unfortunately, this dad, Tommy, has
just taught his daughter how to handle conflict – the wrong way.
Pull out a gun and use violence. I anticipate that the next time
this daughter has a huge conflict with her parents, she’ll be doing
some property destruction – and it’ll probably be something that her
dad and mom truly value.
This is the lesson I’ve learned while parenting seven sons in a
blended family. If I yell at them, they yell back. If I treat them
with respect, they’re respectful. It’s a pretty simple parenting
principle, but as a parent I’m the leader in our household, setting
our family culture. And, it can have pretty broad consequences as
what is done to one will be done to others. For instance, my
husband, Steve, one night had it with our older son who insisted on
breaking the house rules by having his girlfriend in his room with
the door closed and locked. The guilty son insisted there was no
girl in his room and wouldn’t let us in, so Steve kicked in his
door, removed the door, and told him he could “earn” the privilege
of a door back by his behavior. Yes, he had a girl in the room. At
the time, we felt like breaking a door in was appropriate action to
make sure that this son understood that we were serious about this
Within a few months, this son had a conflict with a step-brother
and demonstrated his anger by kicking in his door. Later, another
brother had a conflict and punched a hole in his brother’s wall to
make his point. Unwittingly, we had set a precedent of making points
by breaking things. It was a powerful lesson for us as parents.
Children do as we do, and not as we say, especially when involved in
This point stretches me. My first impulse is to yell at bad
behavior when I see it. I want to make my point loud and clear. But,
my parenting goal is more than to correct bad behavior — I want to
teach productive ways to resolve conflict. Do I really want to
create a culture where my children yell at me every time they think
I’ve done something wrong? And if I don’t want them to make their
points by blowing holes in my laptop, I’d better look for better
ways to express my feelings than blowing holes in theirs.
I’ve tried very hard to do two things with my own children:
1) Communicate with them – even on the tough
2) Give them options for problem solving that
don’t involve violence.
This Dad might want to take a deep breath and talk with his
daughter once in a while. Privately.