“Laptop Homicide” – Part Two

We’ve all now had a few days to think about and discuss Tommy Jordan’s public response to his daughter’s Facebook rant. Once again, the internet seems divided to the extreme on an issue, this time the issue being parenting. On one side we have all those who wholeheartedly support Mr. Jordan’s dramatic response. These people hail him as a hero and a role model for excellence in parenting.

On the other side, we have the group that hollers for his Dad card to be revoked. They’re calling social services and the police (who’ve both come out and have applauded him for sticking to his guns…pun intended) and they all apparently have some kind of degree in psychology because they’re positive that his daughter’s rant was a plea for help due to what could only be a lifetime of emotional trauma suffered at the hands of her cowboy dad.

And then there is the group smack dab in the middle who are looking at this thing a bit more pragmatically and, dare I say, sensibly?

I had to laugh out loud at some of the posts railing against this father’s actions. One woman asserted that his daughter clearly felt used and if she didn’t want to make her bed then why make her to do such inexplicable task. Why not just do the chores for her in an effort to salvage the relationship?


Listen, parenting is hard. We all know that. There is no guidebook on how to do it and just when you think you’ve got it figured out, your next child comes along with a completely different personality and throws you a curve ball. Or the child you thought you had nailed grows and develops a little and you’re back at square one with learning how to deal with that particular child.

I have three children, all with completely different personalities. My oldest needs constant reminders and complete consistency in discipline. He needs detailed explanations regarding rules and consequences and usually needs to be explained “why” more than once.

My middle child has to be watched like a hawk because she breaks rules so quietly that half the time we miss it completely. She needs swift consequences but doesn’t want to talk about it. She likes to work things out internally and we have to give her the space to do that.

My youngest child is incredibly soft-hearted and can be broken with just a stare. He needs to be held close when given instruction and consequences have to be given much more gently than with the other two because his heart breaks easily. With just a stare from his daddy, he is prone to crumple in a heap of tears.

They’re all different and I know exactly what each needs in order to effectively learn. Does this mean I always deal with all of them appropriately? No. Sometimes I speak too harshly with my third born, sometimes I talk too much to my second born and sometimes I expect too much of my first born. I don’t parent right all the time, but I know what needs to be done to reach my kids.

I don’t agree with how Tommy Jordan responded to his daughter. I thought it was a bad idea to post something like that on the internet. But here’s the kicker – Tommy Jordan doesn’t agree with his own reaction, either. In hindsight, he wouldn’t do it that way.

Post the video, that is.

I have a feeling he’d still shoot the laptop and I honestly don’t have a problem with that. Could he have donated it? Yes. But I have a feeling that Mr. Jordan knew exactly what his daughter needed to understand how serious he was.

Because I think he knows his daughter better than I do.

I don’t fault Mr. Jordan for wanting to post his feelings about her note publicly. In fact, I think that’s a smart move. I’ve told my children before that if they embarrass me in public they can expect to be embarrassed right back. What I mean when I say this is I will verbally correct them in front of everyone watching if needed. Perhaps Mr. Jordan would have been better served to answer her note a bit more gracefully, but I wouldn’t fault him for posting it in the same medium she did.

That’s effective, if you ask me.  You did ask, right?

In the end, I respect Mr. Jordan in a lot of ways. He made a foolish choice and it will follow him forever. He reacted in anger, which never produces good results and he had to suffer his own consequences for his actions. But, instead of letting his daughter take the blame for what happened, he is taking the heat himself and in so doing, is modeling grace to his daughter.

I also respect the fact that he’s resisting the urge to jump into the mainstream spotlight for the sole reason that he wants to protect his daughter’s privacy. He himself has said that he doesn’t want to profit from the embarrassment this has been for his daughter and I respect him for that. He is handling the fall out from his poor decision wisely and in the end I think his daughter will learn more from that than she will from the consequences he has laid down for her.

I think there are a lot of things that we, as parents, can learn from this video. It opens up a great discussion on parenting with grace while also revealing some gaps in our society. The fact is, many children do feel entitled and they do believe that the world owes them something.

How else do you explain the Occupy Wall Street Movement?

If more parents were willing to stand up and say no, I won’t give you a free pass and yes, despite the fact that it seems inane and unnecessary, you will still make your bed, then maybe more children would leave home ready and prepared for the rigors of adulthood. We live in a society that says if you want it, you can have it (I believe this idea in and of itself to be riddled with faults, FYI). Once upon a time, though, it was understood that you had to work for what you wanted (whatever it was that was desired).

These days, though, there’s a frightening and pervasive thought that if you want it you can have it. Just wait awhile and let it come to you, or see if someone will give it to you.

As parents we cannot do this to our children. Parent with grace. Love your children gently. Teach them right from wrong decisively. And please…don’t judge one another.


“Laptop Homicide” – A Post on Discipline

There’s a new viral video in town, perhaps you’ve seen it?

In this video, a frustrated and angry father uses tough love to address his daughter’s immature rant against her parents on Facebook. Throughout the reading of her note you can hear his voice quaver and shake, a likely mixture of extreme anger, throbbing hurt and deep disappointment.

His daughter had done this before and had suffered consequences for it, but apparently they didn’t stick. So for all 452 of her friends to see, she essentially called her parents jailors, slave drivers and harsh, unloving lords over what she deemed was an unfair lack of freedom.

At the end of the video, the father stands up and points to his daughter’s laptop sitting in the grass, which, as he had earlier explained, he had just the day before spent $130 cleaning up and loading with new software. He then pulls out a pistol and proceeds to put 9 bullets through her laptop, a definitive sign that when he said the consequences the second time around would be worse, he actually meant it.

Parenting at its best? Or at its worst?

For those who immediately jump to conclusions that this man is obviously disturbed and he has forever and irreparably damaged his relationship with his daughter, just hold onto your judgement for a second and read this from Tommy Jordan, the father in question (this was taken from his Facebook page and is his response to questions from a reporter named Anita Li of the Toronto Star):

Q: Why did you decide to reprimand your daughter over a public medium like YouTube?

A: Well, I actually just had to load the video file itself on YouTube because it’s a better upload process than Facebook, but the intended audience was her Facebook friends and the parents of those friends who saw her post and would naturally assume we let our children get away with something like that. So, to answer “Why did you reprimand her over a public medium like Facebook” my answer is this: Because that’s how I was raised. If I did something embarrassing to my parents in public (such as a grocery store) I got my tail tore up right there in front of God and everyone, right there in the store. I put the reprisal in exactly the same medium she did, in the exact same manner. Her post went out to about 452 people. Mine went out to about 550 people… originally. I had no idea it would become what it did.

Q: How did your daughter respond to the video and to what happened to her laptop?

A: She responded to the video with “I can’t believe you shot my computer!” That was the first thing she said when she found out about it. Then we sat and we talked for quite a long while on the back patio about the things she did, the things I did in response, etc.

Later after she’d had time to process it and I’d had time to process her thoughts on the matters we discussed, we were back to a semi-truce… you know that uncomfortable moment when you’re in the kitchen with your child after an argument and you’re both waiting to see which one’s going to cave in and resume normal conversation first? Yeah, that moment. I told her about the video response and about it going viral and about the consequences it could have on our family for the next couple of days and asked if she wanted to see some of the comments people had made. After the first few hundred comments, she was astounded with the responses.

We agreed we learned two collective lessons from this so far:

First: As her father, I’ll definitely do what I say I will, both positive and negative and she can depend on that. She no longer has any doubt about that.

Second: We have always told her what you put online can affect you forever. Years later a single Facebook/MySpace/Twitter comment can affect her eligibility for a good job and can even get her fired from a job she already has. She’s seen first-hand through this video the worst possible scenario that can happen. One post, made by her Dad, will probably follow him the rest of his life; just like those mean things she said on Facebook will stick with the people her words hurt for a long time to come. Once you put it out there, you can’t take it back, so think carefully before you use the internet to broadcast your thoughts and feelings.

This is only a small piece of his response. The rest is up for you to read if you want and for now I’m going to finish the post with a question.

Update: Tommy Jordan has posted a new note to his Facebook page and I have to say, I like a whole lot of what he says. While this man’s reaction to his daughter’s public temper tantrum is not something I agree with, I have deep respect with the way he is handling the fall out. It says more about him as a father than the short video he posted did. I hope we all won’t be so quick to judge without knowing the full story.

What are your thoughts on this situation?

I will be back next week with my own, but I’d love to hear feedback first.