Tommy Jordan, a North Carolina father, has been much in the news lately after he filmed a video of himself talking to his 15-year-old daughter and posted it to her Facebook wall.
In it, he reads a lengthy post that she herself had made, addressing her parents (and assuming they'd never see it; it was clearly meant for her FB friends) in which she whines, curses, complains, and is incredibly disresepctful to her parents.
He goes on to answer her, describing his own upbringing and hardships in youth. He is angry but controlled, and really makes an effort to explain why she is expected to have some responsibilities in her house. He also describes how just the day before he had taken several hours and $130 worth of software to upgrade and improve her laptop. It's the kids' attitude that has really pushed his buttons-- something I think most parents, especially of teenagers, can relate to.
So far, so normal. But the big controversy centers around the fact that at the end of the video, Mr. Jordan takes out his (registered and licensed) .45 caliber handgun and shoots the laptop dead.
A lot of parents can relate to this-- the frustration of doing so much for your kids and having them not only take you for granted, but actively disrespect and devalue your help. Interestingly, of a poll of ABC News viewers, roughly 75% did not think that shooting the laptop went too far.
Whatever we think of Mr. Jordan's computer homicide, I think most parents would agree that it's a shame the relationship has become so acrimonious, with the kid unappreciative and disrespectful, the father angry and hurt, and the laptop full of holes.
STEP would certainly not advocate such an extreme reaction. What we can do, though, is thoroughly empathize with the frustrated Dad. We can give him the tools to teach his daughter, bring out her innate motivation, express his viewpoint without attacking her, and make sure that she has appropriate consquences when she doesn't act cooperatively. It would be a lot better outcome. Maybe I'll send him a note-- and save a few electronics.