Is There a Role For Guns in Parenting?

gun 300x222 Is There a Role For Guns in Parenting?In February 2012, this video was uploaded to youtube. It is a video of a dad expressing his upset with his daughter’s insulting rant on Facebook. He then takes out a gun and shoots her laptop (with hollow point exploding bullets, no less…).

This video went viral. At the time of this post (June 27, 2012) there are over 33 million views of this video. You can watch the video below, if you’d like.

While this dad expresses the frustrations that many parents feel with their teens in this electronic/facebook era, the question is: Is there a role for guns in parenting?

During this video, the dad explains that his daughter has so many things given to her, and yet she complains so much. She complains that she is being treated like a slave, when in fact the chores she is responsible for are quite few and very reasonable. Her comments are very disrespectful to her parents.

Teens today have a sense of entitlement that seems far beyond what generations past had. Even kids in families with financial challenges push their parents to get video games, electronics, music downloads, $200 headphones, etc. And there is often a lack of real appreciation and gratitude.

Of course, not all kids act this way – there are many great teens as well… But that’s not the topic for this post.

And when it comes to teens with ADHD, these issues are often more of a challenge, because of oppositional behavior with parents and teachers, which may increase the defiance they show. And because of social challenges that many teens with ADHD have, they may be more likely to post impulsively on Facebook, and that can lead to more trouble for them later on…

Acknowledging that this teen crossed the line in her facebook post, the question is – is the Dad’s response to her reasonable?

Let’s review what her dad did:

  1. He accessed her facebook and found the offending post.
  2. He recorded a video expressing his disappointment and anger with her – and didn’t show it to her – he posted it to Youtube and her Facebook wall. Youtube let the whole world see it, and Facebook let her friends see it.
  3. He pulled out a gun and shot her laptop to teach her a lesson.

Let’s analyze these ‘parenting strategies’:

1) Accessing Your Teen’s Facebook Account to look at their posts:

This parenting strategy gets the thumbs up.

In the unmoderated world of social media, teens can post things which are self degrading, harmful to others and themselves. And their posts create an online reputation that can follow them forever. Can you imagine this young woman applying for a job in 10 years as an early childhood educator? What would they say when they saw her comments about her parents in her Facebook profile? Material posted online can be archived for a very long time.

So, it is important for parents to monitor and help their kids and teens to be thoughtful and careful about what they post on their social media pages and profiles. So, I support this dad’s approach on this one.

2) Recording a Video Response to Your Teen’s Misbehavior and Posting It Online:

This parenting strategy gets a thumbs down from me.

When a parent is disappointed with his teen’s posting of a ‘rant’ against her parents online, and he wants to discipline her for it – why is he using the same offending behavior? i.e. he is saying it is not right to do that, and yet he is doing it himself back to her…

What message will she get from this act?

She’ll learn that her dad won’t take any crap, and that he’ll find her posts online, so she should be careful. She also learns that if she embarrasses her dad on Facebook, he’ll embarrass her more. And she learns that the way to problem solve when someone is publicly rude, is to publicly retaliate.

Huh?

Is that what this dad wants to teach her? That when you are upset with someone, you publicly retaliate and humiliate?

Not the best approach…

3) Finally, Using a Gun to Teach His Daughter a Lesson:

This parenting strategy also gets a thumbs down.

By using a gun to shoot up his daughter’s laptop, he’s using an aggressive way to show that he is in charge. What does that teach her? It teaches her that when you want to get the upper hand in a situation, firearms (or aggression) is the solution.

Not the best parenting message.

This dad does successfully deliver the message that he is in charge, and he’s not going to take it anymore. However, he is humiliating his teen, and solving this issue publicly and with violence (even though he has a seemingly quiet and calm tone when he talks).

My Recommendations:

Here are my recommendations for parents dealing with similar issues (as a Child Psychiatrist and ADHD Expert):

If your child does something like this, and you are very angry – work on finding a parenting approach that gets your message across clearly, and does not use behavior that you don’t want your child using.

If you want your child to learn that it is OK to solve your problems and upsets by publicly humiliating the person who upset you (publicly as in online – or other offline ways of publicly humiliating someone), and using a firearm, then use the approach as demonstrated by this dad.

On the other hand, if you want to use disciplinary approaches which demonstrate behavior that you want to encourage in your child, find approaches that work with your child and model the behavior that you want your child to develop. For example, discussing the issue privately, creating fair but firm consequences and sticking to them, and escalating the punishment for repeat offenses.

If you are struggling to do this effectively, there are many great parenting resources out there. Many people have found the chapter on parenting in my book Attention Difference Disorder helpful to them, and there many other great parenting books out there.

Also, talk to your doctor for help, or access resources from a mental health center, counselling center, or even your church or religious community. There is help out there for parents who are struggling. Remember, even though in our modern western society, we often don’t access our community as much as generations past did, there are people who would be willing to support, help and guide you.

My hope for you is that you find effective parenting strategies that work, and model the behavior that you want your child to learn (so, in 15 years, they don’t parent with a video camera, an internet connection, and a handgun).

What is your reaction to this parenting approach? Do you agree with this dad using a gun to prove his point? Do you agree with me? Please share your thoughts and comments below.

Best,

Dr. Kenny

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Comments

  1. I watched this video for the first time today. (I remember the hub-bub it created earlier this year, but didn’t watch it then.) I don’t see where anybody in the family is ADD.

    Dr Kenny, you make good points, but I think you’re forgetting culture. This family obviously lives out in the country and is exposed to guns. Chances are their neighbors have guns, too.

    The rest of the story is that the daughter apologized and reconciled to her parents. The guy had already spoken to his daughter about her rants on FB in private. She didn’t listen and posted another rebellious note addressed To My Parent. I don’t think the father was wrong in publishing the video since he had already spoken to her one on one. She rebelled and he addressed it. She doesn’t think that upping the ante will always involve firearms.

    Embarassing his teen? Again, culture. In her family, she knows that her dad loves her enough to take charge by whatever means he can reach her. He tried to reach her privately, one-on-one. When that didn’t work, he published a pretty good point for point to her rant and delivered his verdict.

    The point is that what works in some cultures doesn’t always work in all cultures. This worked for this family. She has apologized, been forgiven, and they talk in private now. That’s what the dad wanted in the first place.

    I expect to get crucified by other posters about gun control, violence, that I have a warped view of love if it involves firearms, etc. Everyone has their own opinion and this is mine. I think the dad is raising his family well and he knows what will work for them.

  2. I believe that this father had the right to see what his daughter posted on Facebook, afterall, facebook can be viewed by everyone and if the daughter printed this using her own fingers, then it is meant to be seen. I agree that he had this right.

    To make the YouTube video I believe is wrong. To me, this shows that he is just as irresponsible and immature as his teenage daughter. Keep private matters private. This also goes with not allowing your kids to have social media accounts. There are parental locks for these things. I do not allow my kids to use these. Every time I read about some celeb or famous person that has a negative outcome from a facebook post, I make sure to bring this up to both of my teenage kids to remind them of why I don’t allow them to have it. I prevented this by only having a desktop computer…no laptops! I keep the computer room locked when the kids don’t need the computer for homework and I keep the desktop computer at an angle so that I can see the screen at all times through the doorway without my kids knowing it. Keep a better eye on your kids gives you a little more control. Not that this will prevent them from opening an account at a friends house, but trying to prevent it is the best I can do.

    As for the gun….shooting the computer….stupid is as stupid does. Sorry! He should have taken out all info and restored the computer back to factory condition and sold the thing on Craigslist for a couple of hundred. Instead, he destroyed it to get his point across costing him money. I know he ‘said’ that she could purchase her own later, but who knows when he will give in and buy her a new one. She was grounded once for something and gave in, he will do it again. Where I live, it is illegal to discharge a firearm, so if I were to do this, I would be in jail. I don’t think this was the best way to get the point across. He was angry and acted too aggressively.

    I don’t get the relationship to ADHD though.

  3. Guns are great, just not as a parenting tool.
    I think he is an idiot and his daughter is most likely the way she is as a result of her upbringing. The apple never falls to far from the tree either…

  4. This is part of the tremendous evidence that we live in a demonic world. The child and the parent are pitiful.

  5. I am torn on this one. As the parent of a defiant, self-centered 14 year old and a gun owner I have to admit this strategy had crossed my mind before. Bottom line though, I would not have handled it like this. What I find most problematic is not the gun, but the public nature of all of this. The daughter’s original postings are tawdry and the father’s response borders on reality show grandstanding. I do applaud the father for taking definitive steps to curtail the teen’s FB actions.

    Dr. Handleman, you should get someone knowledgeable about firearms to check the technical facts though. Hollow point bullets do not “explode” No explosive ammunition is legal for civilian use. Hollow point bullets just designed to expand wider and penetrate less than ball ammo. The only difference between hollow point and regular ammunition is the tip of the bullet has a pit in it, this “hollow point”

    Final note on guns and parenting. The first poster’s reference to culture is spot on. My first lesson in firearms safety was my father shooting a small critter to show me what happens when you point a gun at something. You always treat a gun like it is loaded and you never point it at anything you do not intend to shoot or this is what happens. I never, ever, ever, ever, needed another lesson on that point again. Firearms are a part of many households and the overwhelming majority are used safely and responsibly.

    And while I have family members with ADHD, I am not quite sure how this video and related topic fits into the mission of the blog. I would be interested in hearing more.

    Thank you for all your efforts.

  6. MOTW and RTB – your comments about culture are relevant. Living in Canada, it is very rare to come across adults who use and have firearms, whereas where this dad lives, it is more common. Nonetheless, I stand by what I said – parenting strategies should include approaches that model the behavior you want to teach your child or teen.

    Regarding ADHD – to my knowledge, neither of the teen nor dad have ADHD. I just posted this because it is so common for parents of kids/teens with ADHD to struggle with parenting issues that I thought that this parenting video which got so much play in the media was worth discussing.

  7. I would agree with the posters about culture and considering about the background of the parental relationship in general and on this issue. Our family owns firearms, father, sisters, brothers, all of us.

    I agree with you Kenny, that parenting strategies should include approaches that model the behavior that you want to teach your child or teen, but maybe this father IS modeling that behavior. Perhaps he is saying that as a PARENT you should handle this issue with this CHILD like this, not necessarily in the broader sense of handling any issue with any person with these strategies.

    As a Canadian and for some people in the US, this may seem extremely….extreme. But in many places in the US this is seen as acceptable and many people have been raised with these practices and come into adulthood as solid, healthy people. As for the play in the media, I’ve found that many parents are quick to judge. And I’ve been fortunate to find that many parents of ADHD children (and other children with conditions that make raising them especially challenging) are often less judgmental and more thoughtful when examining other parenting actions.

  8. Its an interesting post i seemed it amazing. I learn lesson from this
    By using a gun to shoot up his daughter’s laptop, he’s using an aggressive way to show that he is in charge. What does that teach her? It teaches her that when you want to get the upper hand in a situation, firearms (or aggression) is the solution.

  9. I am both astounded and offended that anyone would excuse this man’s actions based upon his “culture.” In rural areas where guns are widely used for hunting, target practice, and self-defense (usually against dangers of nature), the etiquette of guns is also prevalent.

    Where I grew up, high school students used to bring shotguns with them to school, leave them in their cars, and take off to go hunting after school. No one EVER thought of using one of those guns on each other… although there were plenty of fist fights and an occasional rock or broken bottle used as a weapon when things got serious.

    Even then, shooting someone’s personal property was understood in that long-gone culture as being a personal threat. To use someone’s car, or house, or book, or purse, etc., for target practice carried the implied threat that the “shooter” was so angry that he was angry enough to shoot the owner.

    Since this man has attempted to “get away with” such an implied threat by acting surprised at the outcry and otherwise defending his behavior, I would say his daughter may have legitimate difficulties in dealing with him and has probably learned to behave as she does by his stellar example. A far more reasonable approach would have been to reformat the hard drive of the laptop (or remove it) which also could have been done on videotape, donate it, and write it off on his taxes!

  10. Couldn’t agree more with your thoughts. I think it is necessary to monitor your kid’s social channels but retaliation in the form of what he was discouraging was wrong. The usage of a gun… very over the top. I wouldn’t be surprised if she took a gun and shot his truck or TV to make a point.

  11. It seems that there is a role for guns in parenting. I think that its not good for you to have your child play guns. I know that taking care of you kid requires better understanding on how to take care of guns as a parent.

  12. It shocks me how he is acting in an agressive way to his daughter even if she is lazy or did such a fault.
    Actions like this propably pushs her to be more and more impulsive and agressive towards herself, her family and life.
    If I was in his place,may be I would have sent my daughter a message through her facebook telling her that I love her inspite of all her faults.

  13. I agree that discipline was needed.
    1- her parents pay for her internet use;
    2- she showed no respect towards her parents;
    3- her language was inapropriate

    However, as a parent, I would not reacted the way her father did. Children and teenagers get embarassed easily and don’t need their parents belittlying them.
    My strategy is this:
    1- Communication is an effective tool when used properly, ommitting the screaming and name calling and swearing;
    2- removal of laptop use for one month; and if that doesn’t work;
    3- removal of all personal accounts….

    Blowing out her laptop shows lack of parenting skills and posting on FB, youtube and whatever else is totally inappropriate…

    It sounds as though “dad” lacked proper discipliine as well, and guess what, she will do the same if not worse when she has a child of her own…History doesn’t have to be repeated…I know first hand! Love reading this….

  14. This was an important topic for Dr. Handelman to discuss, and I especially appreciate his comments and Ginger’s comments. I agree with both.

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