Have you heard about the dad who recently shot up his teenage daughter’s laptop because of some unflattering things she wrote about her parents on Facebook? Not only did he fire shots into the computer, he also filmed himself doing it and posted the video online. As someone who does not see a lot of gunfire in everyday life, I have to admit the footage is a little alarming. The dad’s rage, anger, and disappointment are clearly visible in his rant before the shooting, but after watching this interview with the dad and his family I’m wondering if he is much different than any other overwhelmed parent? It’s easy to criticize other people’s parenting styles from afar, but is all the criticism of this dad really justified? Sure firing a gun at anything can be scary, and his tactic of “you’re criticizing me in public, so now I’m doing the same to you” is a little childish, but really – what parent hasn’t reacted in a childish way when pushed?
Some things to keep in mind when judging the laptop (or any other) dad:
Being a parent is super hard, and we all get pushed further than we’d like sometimes. This is not to say that all parents are abusive, or do harmful things to their kids (and I’m certainly not ok’ing abusive parenting techniques). But I know there isn’t a parent around who hasn’t said something or done something they regret in a moment of frustration or anger. Heck, just last week I told my daughter I didn’t care if she ever completed any of her homework again. Oops!
Parenting in the age of technology is something we’re all learning on the fly. None of us parents now can refer back to how our own parents dealt with: at what age to buy kids cellphones, how much texting is too much, how to navigate privacy and safety issues on Facebook, etc. Yea, there are resources out there, but in essence, we’re all making it up as we go, so it’s not a surprise that we make some (or a lot) of missteps along the way.
Being negative and criticizing others doesn’t do much for our mental health. I have recently written a couple of posts (here and here) about the damaging effects of negativity in the workplace. Negativity towards other parents and families is no different. Resist the urge to badmouth others and use that energy to work on your on family’s challenges.