Parenting Advice Video: When a Daughter’s Laptop Meets .45-Caliber Pistol

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 pistol.

Scary.

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 later:

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 house rule.

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 conflict.

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 issues, and

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.

2 thoughts on “Parenting Advice Video: When a Daughter’s Laptop Meets .45-Caliber Pistol

  1. Kudos on an insightful article!

    I’d also like to get the cross cultural perspective on this incident. A person in a third world countries might react, “I’ve been saving for years to have a computer to help me be a more effective doctor. It’s incredible that he’d be so mean as to destroy something of such value when it could have been given to someone who needed it.” Others would be astounded that a 15-year-old had a computer. Still others might be shocked at the child’s disrespect and think that the father’s action was warranted.

    But I agree with Cherie. You set a precedent with these actions. When the daughter gets angry about something and moves out at age 16, I hope the father has enough foresight to back up everything on his computer to a remote location. His computer will be history.

  2. I had work with immigrant families, I think the new generation, they had no respect to their families. Some times it is our own fault, we have not trained them from the starting, we give them more than we can afford, some parent we dont know how to say NO,.We as a parent if we could show them, how to love and resepect each other, families and friends. I think they will grasped but never to late we could work on it. First ourselves and our children. Show them very poor area, we dont have to go far. We have them here is America.
    I think the dad, if he show his child love and recepect if he react i can understand, if not he has to deal with his anger. He could send the computer to dowen towen children