Keeping Your Kids (and yourself) Humble in Sports

Like any parent, I am unendingly proud of my children. While I am privy to the very worst of who they are on a day by day basis, I am also privy to the very best of who they are. Lee and I know our children better than anyone else on this planet. We see what makes them tick, certain aspects of their personalities that need to be polished and refined, and we have a foreshadowing of their gifts and how they can best be used.

With Lee having been a collegiate athlete, and me spending most of my formative years in competitive sports, it’s no surprise that our children have mostly drifted toward athletics, and they are blessed with skills that allow them to compete well. I’m not going to hide the fact that my children are good at sports, but how do I keep them, and myself, humble as we travel this road of competitive sports?


First and foremost, it takes a load of perspective to simply stay realistic. Yesterday Tia had the best gymnastics meet of her season. She improved all of her scores, raised her All Around score by over a point and took home the 1st place All Around trophy. My daughter is a gifted athlete, and right now gymnastics is the sport that is showcasing her God-given abilities.

But she will not be an Olympian. Lee and I know this. Tia, of course, dreams of the Olympics like every little girl dreams of the Olympics, and I will never, ever squash that dream. As long as she wants to go for gold, I’ll be standing behind cheering her on. I just know, however, that she won’t go to the Olympics in gymnastics, and I am okay with that.

Photo courtesy of my mom who blesses us with awesome pictures so we can sit back and enjoy the competition!

Photo courtesy of my mom who blesses us with awesome pictures so we can sit back and enjoy the competition!

As she competes, we work hard to keep her head level by encouraging her to compete against herself. We don’t urge her to beat her teammates, we urge her to beat her last score. At her last meet she scored in the 9’s on two events – this time we told her to aim for scoring 9’s in three events. She took our challenge and upped it, scoring in the 9’s on all four events. That was her own goal for herself.

The cute is almost too much in this photo...

The cute is almost too much in this photo…

On equal measure, our boys have shown great propensity for sports. One loves to play simply for fun, without a huge care of winning or losing. The other lives, eats and breathes ball, and it will not surprise me one little bit if that one goes on to play college ball, or even play professionally someday. He may not do either of those things, of course, but I wouldn’t be shocked if he did because he’s got a winning spirit combined with natural ability.

No matter what our children choose to do with their extracurricular time, though, we want them to know that athletics are just a piece of who they were made to be. What matters more to me is the character behind the athletes. Are they kind? Do they support their teammates? Are they good sports? Are they genuinely excited to see someone else succeed, even if they don’t?

And what are they doing off the field, or outside the gym? Those are the things that truly matter. Life isn’t all about sports, and the second that it becomes so, then something must change.


These are lessons that will need to be learned, and they can only be learned if Lee and I model them. We will push them to be the best they can be, but not at the detriment of character. Ways that we work to model healthy competitive character in sports:

– We will never so build our children up that they believe themselves to be all that and a bag of chips (how’d you like that little phrase from the ’80’s?). Humility has to be taught, so as soon as they start thinking they are the bomb, we have to (lovingly) bring them down a notch or two.

We speak highly of our children’s teammates. We praise their abilities, congratulate their successes, and cheer them on with as much fervor as our own kids.

To the best of our ability, we try to become friends with the other parents. We have been blessed so far in our sporting endeavors in that we’ve been surrounded by very positive, kind parents. I know that’s not always the case, but thankfully it is our experience, which means it’s not that hard to become friends with the parents of our kid’s teammates!

We encourage our kids to be the best they can be not to beat their opponents, but to beat themselves. Yes, they want to win, and that’s okay. But do it for yourself, not for anyone else, and be gracious in winning, as well as in losing.

We simply don’t allow ourselves to get too wrapped up in it. As Lee says, “Never want it more than they do.” When you watch your child compete, it’s so easy to get completely absorbed in every detail of their sport, but we have to remind ourselves that this is not all that comprises a life. Athletics are a small part of who they are – but it’s not the only thing. Lee and I have to remember that ourselves so that we can remind them.


The world of athletics can be tricky to navigate, especially as a parent. We feel every success and every disappointment right alongside our children. But if we can maintain control and perspective over our own emotions, we will be much better equipped to teach our children to control their emotions, which in the long run will only set them up for success in all of life.

Are you a sports family? How do you keep your children (and yourself) humble?

Behind on Life

The end of the year has somehow been placed on hyper-speed, and I am entirely unprepared for it to come zipping by. Piles of laundry stand in nearly every corner of the house, dishes cannot seem to find their home, Halloween candy is still on top of the fridge, yet somehow I’m already thinking about Christmas. And through all of it I want to scream STOP THE MADNESS!

This morning, as I clapped my kids out of the house, I felt the panic start to settle tight in my chest. As I begged my middle to child for the 50th time to please hurry up – Please get dressed – Please stop dancing in your room to the invisible beat in your head and put on your shoes – Please brush your hair, I had to stop, take a deep breath…and then laugh.

Yesterday I plucked a white – WHITE! – hair from my eyebrows, and I blame it on getting children out the door on time. But this morning as I watched her grin in her bedroom, talking to herself, having a merry party without any thought of missing the bus, I wanted some of that. I wanted just an ounce of her zest for fun. It’s annoying as all get out, but it’s an awesome trait.

Life is more fun if you don’t sweat the small stuff.

There is a solid chance I’m going to stay two steps behind on life until January rolls around. If I just accept this as fact and roll with it, life should be much less stressful. Upcoming birthday parties, Christmas parties, Thanksgiving celebrations, visitors, holidays, gymnastics meets, and every other things that is coming up will come whether I’m prepared or not – I might as well just enjoy the ride.

So today, as I put away laundry, clean the kitchen yet again, exercise and do myriad of other errands that aren’t very fun, I’m going to think of her.



And maybe I’ll dance a little.


How are you doing, friends? Are you feeling behind on life? Join me in a virtual dance party!!!

Also, go watch this video because you’ll laugh, and all you parents will understand.

Not for the faint of heart

Photo by Jenni at Avodah

I walked in the door after a beautiful weekend away and kissed their sweet, sweaty faces. They’d been outside running, playing, relishing in all that is childhood. They looked like children who were having a grand old time.

In short, they were filthy. So I suggested a shower. Crazy, right? I know!!

Here’s the thing – generally we do not make our children shower every night. It’s a pain, they don’t like it and I can handle a little bit of dirt and slightly crusty hair for a few days in a row. However, when they play outside for hours without shoes on (yes, I am raising those kids) I generally think it entirely reasonable to have them jump under the running water long enough to bring their feet back to a normal peachy color and less…blackened by mud.

But I was unaware of the fact that showers were taken the night before and the night before that and oh you’d think I’d come home with a whip in hand and walked through the door cracking it. There was weeping, gnashing of teeth, glares that could easily turn one into a pillar of salt. The horror of suggesting a shower for a third night in a row.


Welcome to parenthood, right? You attend a conference established to encourage and refresh you in the journey, you come home armed with loved and gratefulness for the small ones lent to you for this lifetime and you prepare yourself for a sweet reunion complete with kisses, snuggles and giggles. It will be a beautiful time as they gather around you, sitting quietly with hands folded sweetly in their laps, their hair clean and slicked to the side.

“Tell us about your weekend, Mother,” they will say, all sugary and precious. “Tell us more about how truly wonderful you are going to be from here on out. Tell us how magical life will be now that you have been blessed with so much knowledge and wisdom.”

(Side note: You should read the above dialogue in a British accent because it sounds a lot cooler and gives a better dramatic punch. Just give a try…)

(See what I mean?)

You imagine that surely your job will be easier now, because you’ve just learned how to be a better mom. You’ve just learned how to love them more graciously. You have new tools in your arsenal to build them up and point them toward their full potential.

Unfortunately, the kids don’t get the memo about all of that. They go on acting like…kids. They haven’t become the perfect little robots that will make your job a walk in the proverbial park. It’s like a cruel, cruel joke.

Does this happen to anyone else? Is it just me? I hope not, because within fifteen minutes of being with my children last night I was already completely fed up.  It was all I had in me not to point my finger, grit my teeth and mutter, “Look, kid. I just learned how to be the best mom I can be and you’re in here making it difficult. Be nice so I can be AWESOME.”

I didn’t say that, of course.

Out loud.

We finally got them in bed (with only two actually showered and one with clean feet after we comprimised and wiped them down with a wet rag) and I collapsed on the couch and looked wide-eyed at Lee, my eyes conveying every emotion and frustration I felt. I’m home fifteen minutes and I already want to cuss? Hellooooo real life! Thanks for smacking me in the face.

Lee smiled, winked and patted me softly on the shoulder. “Welcome home,” he said with a grin and I could hear the chuckle in his voice.

Parenting. Not for the faint of heart. At all.

At. Freaking. All.

Can I get an amen?!

What I Miss Most About Homeschooling

Books. I miss reading good books with my kids – those exciting stories that suck you in and leave you breathless for more. I love reading to my kids. Did you know I was a musical theater major before switching to Professional Writing? Trust me – this Mama knows how to bring a book to life.

There isn’t nearly enough time these days to read the really good books. With their required school reading, they are so busy trying to make their RP (or AR) reading goals that they don’t have time to get lost in the really good books. Especially because reading has not come easily for either of my older two. (Landon is proving to be a much better reader. He’s catching on faster than the other two did.) Because reading is tough, I like to read to them. I want them to see the world open up inside their imaginations.

Good books do that, don’t they? They introduce a life and a character that is so glorious and real that you feel as though you know them. I want my kids to feel a sense of loss when they lay a book down after finishing it. Right now, the best way to introduce that feeling to them is to read to them…when we have time.

We don’t have time to work on their Russian language anymore, either. I’m relegated to 20 minutes a day because it’s all I feel I can ask from them after a long day at school.

This makes me sad. This makes me miss homeschooling more than anything. Yes, there are things about school I have really enjoyed and there are areas where I can see they have thrived. And yes, there are things about homeschooling I have not missed even a little bit (Math, Science, the pressure).

But it doesn’t change the fact that I miss the freedom I had with my kids when I had them home. For now, they are in a good place, but it doesn’t make me miss it less.

Some parenting decision are made and they feel really right. Some are made and you immediately know they’re wrong. And others are made that are neither right nor wrong – they just are. Schooling feels like that for me – for our family. Putting the kids in school was neither right nor was it wrong. It was just the decision we felt like we needed to make. There are pros and cons to both scenarios and I think every year we will weigh all of our options. Because that’s what you do when you have these small ones to raise.

You make decisions that are hard then you move forward in confidence that it will all work out in the end.

Parenting…it’s not for the faint of heart, you know?

What’s a hard parenting decision you’ve made – one that didn’t necessarily feel right or wrong, but just a decision that needed to be made?

When belief trickles down

“I do NOT want to sing on stage. People will look at me and see me and maybe laugh.”

And she made sure she was not seen. At the close of VBS this summer, Tia positioned herself as far back on the stage as she possibly could so that no one would see her during the songs. She hid. We couldn’t catch a glimpse except for one moment when I thought I saw her little hand up in the air.



She has always hated being on stage. Being in front of people has terrified her only slightly less than it terrifies her brothers. And when Tia, my stubborn, fierce, I-know-who-I-am-and-you-will-not-alter-me second born refuses to do something, it takes nothing short of an act of Congress to change her mind.

Scratch that – the grumpiest, stodgiest and stubbornest of all Congressman couldn’t get this child to do something she doesn’t want to do.

So imagine my utter shock when Tia came to me last week and asked if she could sing on stage at church.

Um…who is this child again?

She came with me to choir practice and sat confidently by my side. She can’t read well yet, so I found myself a bit tickled at the intensity with which she studied the music. No worries, though. She knows these songs.

All week, I waited for her to back out – to change her mind. Of all my children, she is the last one I would have ever suspected of stepping up on stage and singing in front of a group of people. I assured her she didn’t have to stand in front of a microphone and that seemed to be enough to satisfy any fears that still lingered.

And Sunday morning she proudly walked up in front of everyone, the youngest in the group. She didn’t even need to hold my hand. With a confidence and poise that took my breath away, she conquered fear and led. And I have never felt more proud.

I don’t think it’s any coincidence that my daughter took this step at the end of this month. I’ve spent the last 31 Days boldly believing that I, too, can do the things that intimidate me. I haven’t written 31 posts about the subject, because…well, that would have been terribly boring.

But I have adopted the attitude of believing I can and I have chosen to speak confidently – moreso than I usually do. I’ve written more on my book this month than I ever have in a single month before. I’ve taken steps in several areas to move past fear, past laziness, past the mountains that stand in my way so that I could feel more sure of where I’m headed.

It’s not that I ever really thought I couldn’t do any of these things. It’s simply that they seemed so hard and scary that I was content to drag my feet and…well, sit in the corner and hope things went my way.

But when I stopped allowing myself to be intimidated by the hard things I felt a renewed confidence in my own abilities. Could it be that such confidence has trickled down? Could it be that my willingness to embrace who God has made me and how I can use those gifts to bless others has impacted my children? I certainly wasn’t making any extra effort to live more boldly in front of them, but I did feel much more sure of myself because I made it a point to do so.

I chose to believe.

She chose to believe.

Is there anything more moving and beautiful than a child singing praise songs? A child who has turned from fear and walks in confidence?

I don’t want my children to be content to sit in a corner. I don’t want them to hide who they are out of fear of who might see. Each of my kids is so uniquely gifted and I want them to walk in full confidence of those gifts.

Who will teach them?


Who will teach your children?

On playing the fool

“It’s better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you’re a fool than open it and remove all doubt.”

Mark Twain


I wonder what Mark Twain would think about social media. I would love to hear the zingers that he’d come up with regarding the many, many opportunities we all have now to play the fool. Perhaps he would change his quote to say, “It’s better to keep your fingers still and let people think you’re a fool than send out a Tweet and remove all doubt.”

With the influx of social media and the numerous sites that allow us to convey ideas, share thoughts, connect with one another and offer our vastly different opinions, I fear that we have opened ourselves up to looking the fool if we aren’t diligent and careful to manage our online footprint.

And as parents, we had better be ever vigilant in teaching our children how to navigate the waters of the online world. Social media isn’t going away and I don’t think it should. There is a lot of good coming from the online communities that have sprung up these last few years.

There’s also a lot of danger.

We are all prone to fits of frustration and angry backlash of the tongue. Some are, perhaps, more prone to issue a biting, angry barb than others, but none of us are immune. We have all inserted a foot in the mouth at some point in our lives and we’ve probably all had to apologize for foolish words spoken in the past. It’s the nature of being human – we can’t control our tongues.

But while a biting comment may ruin a relationship, if it’s been said in private there are steps one can take to restore that relationship, to apologize and to learn from the mistake in a private way.

A foolish tweet or Facebook post, however, will last forever.


This scares me for my children and it’s this reason alone that will keep them from opening a Facebook account or having a Twitter profile until Lee and I are sure that they have mastered enough control over emotions and words that they won’t blast off 140 characters that end up painting them fools for the rest of their lives.

And lest we think this issue of foolish tweeting is only a thing for youth, the fact is it isn’t. I’m astounded, particularly now as we are headed into a contentious political season, at the things grown ups are posting online. Foolish tweets. Ridiculous pictures and meme’s. Shameful Facebook posts.

So many words are being misused and the online world turns into a dreadful game of cat and mouse. This isn’t to say I don’t think people should share their opinions. Of course not. I am completely supportive of people writing about the things that they feel passionate about.

It’s the snarky, online bickering and arguing that I find tiresome and this is the very behavior that I will passionately teach my children. Don’t be the fool online. Think before your tweet. If you don’t have something nice to say, just say nothing at all.



I have one child in particular who is very susceptible to reacting in anger. Words are his weapon of choice and when he’s frustrated, he uses them in an attempt to ease the frustration. I understand this about him only because I struggle with the same thing. A single quick, harsh word only feels good for a split second.

It feels horrible for eternity afterward.

We are constantly working with him and teaching him how to control and tame his tongue. How to stop, to breathe, to think and to decide if the words he wants to say are really going to make the situation better or worse.

If he can learn to do this in his every day interactions, then I feel like we will be better preparing him to handle the interactions of the internet.

In the nearly five years that I’ve been blogging, I’ve learned that not every sentiment of my heart needs to be blogged. Not every disagreement needs to be resolved online. Sometimes people say things that I disagree with and I find myself getting hot and angry.

So I walk away from the computer.

I’d rather keep my mouth shut fingers still and be thought a fool than send out a tweet and remove all doubt.

If you have children, how are you preparing them and training them for the online world that stands in their future?

To us, they really will always be kids…

It’s all Olympics all the time around here. I’m exhausted. If we could get a medal for dedication to watching and cheering on, I feel I deserve at least a bronze. I went to bed at ten last night after looking up the results online because I was just too tired to spend another night watching TV so that knocks me down a bit in the medal stand.

The Olympics are emotional. No matter who wins or loses, I find myself in tears almost every single time. Every race, every match, every event is the culmination of dreams come true for some and dashed dreams for others. We are watching lives unfold before our very eyes, and it is exhausting.

P & G’s Thank you, Mom series of commercials isn’t helping. This particular commercial turns me into a blubbery mess every single time.

The other one that messes with me is this one, because it’s true. No matter how old, or how big, or how great they become, to us Mama’s they’re frozen in time, the little ones who begged for nighttime hugs and kisses, one more drink, a few more snuggles and can I please sit on your lap, Mommy?

Their giggles are frozen in time, the freckles that dot their noses imprinted in our memories until the day we close our eyes for the final time. As much as I love to watch the athletes succeed, I love to watch their parents even more. With each twist and turn, each stroke made, each stride, the mothers and fathers who walked this road alongside them move. You can see the tension in their faces, the relief in their eyes when it’s all said and done.

Most of us parents won’t be sitting in those sidelines. Most of us won’t welcome home an Olympian or a Super Bowl Champ or a World Series MVP. Most of us will allow those dreams to foster in our kids knowing that it’s probably not really in their futures and we’ll be okay with it.

But we will all watch our children grow and learn and succeed and fail in different areas – maybe on a world stage, maybe in an office cubicle, maybe in a classroom or a mission field or a boardroom or as parents raising their own children. We will watch them grow and develop and become who they were meant to be.

And we will love them fiercely and deeply and proudly.

Some of us will be disappointed by the decisions our children make. We will sit back and watch them struggle and we will ache and cry and pray and long to see them crawl out of the pit that they have dug for themselves.

And we will love them fiercely and deeply and proudly.

As we drove home from Sloan’s football practice the other night, he shared with us some of his fears. He is not an aggressive child making football an odd choice for him. He’s built for the game and is talented enough, but his heart is so tender and competition is not really in his genetic make up.

But he wanted to play, so we signed him up.

“I’m afraid I’ll hurt someone,” he said. “And, I’m afraid I won’t do a good job and you will be disappointed.”

“Son, let me tell you something,” Lee said, turning the rearview mirror so he could look into the eyes of his first born. The one he loves fiercely and deeply and proudly. “You can make every single play, throw the ball perfectly and win the top championship in the world, and I will be so proud of you and I will love you,” he said and Sloan nodded.

“And you can miss every pass, fumble every ball, miss every tackle and trip over your own two feet the entire game, losing every game you play and I will be so proud of you and I will love you.” Sloan nodded again.

“There is nothing you can do on or off that football field that will change the fact that I am proud of you and I love you. Because you are my son and that’s all that matters to me.”

To us, they will always be kids. They will fail and they will succeed. They will hurt and mess up and get angry and they will still be our children.

I don’t need a gold medal or a championship ring or a World Series pennant to be a proud and emotional Mama.  

Are you watching the Olympics? Are you as tired as I am?

I want to Carpe Diem

A blog post written by an excellent blogger went viral a few months ago. In many ways, I agree with what she writes about releasing ourselves as parents of the pressure to enjoy every single moment of this parenting journey.

But part of me wonders why we get so upset when older women come up to us in the store and urge us to enjoy the minutes. Why are we so quick to lash out when strangers want to offer a bit of encouragement – even if it’s misguided? I don’t say this accusingly, because I, too, have found myself defensive when people make comments that I perceive to be insensitive, ignorant or laced with pressure.

But if I step back and take a deep breath, most of the time it’s really evident that whoever made the comment is not speaking out of judgement or malice, but simply from a place that’s different from mine.

Take the older gentleman in Sam’s a few months back – the one who tsked at me when the kids were acting like rabid baboons while we waited in line. At first, I was annoyed at his impatience. My initial reaction was to either lash out at him, or to encourage the kids to act out more simply out of spite.

But when I stepped back (as in left the store and thought about it a bit), I realized this: he’s old. Also, I have no idea what his background is. Maybe he never had kids and simply doesn’t understand. Likely, if he did have kids, his wife did the majority of the errands with them when they were small, simply because that’s how older generations operated.

The point is, I don’t know, so why get so upset about it? Why not just smile politely, try to quiet the kids and realize that once we leave the store we will probably never see him again?

Problem solved.

The fact of the matter is, our time with our children is short. It will go by quickly. And before we know it, we will be the older women in the check out line watching a young mom wrangle in her children, frazzled and tired, and we will probably miss those moments – yes, even the moments that are “helluva hard.”

So even in the crazy, when the kids are running rampant in the store, try to take a deep breath and remind yourself of two things:

This will not last forever and you’ve got hundreds of solo shopping trips ahead of you in life so don’t waste time getting embarrassed over the small stuff.

These days really will fly by fast, so seize every moment you can and laugh as often as possible.


I don’t say these things as someone who’s got this down. I scowl more than I laugh some days and I look forward to bedtime as much as the next person – it’s the nature of the beast. But I’m not for a second wishing this time away.

Just because I don’t always Carpe Diem doesn’t mean I shouldn’t at least try.

In fact, with the realization that my “baby” is going to be five at the end of the year, I find myself a little sad and wistful. I watch the new moms around me with a faint smile and I find myself whispering softly, “Enjoy every minute of this time because it goes by so fast.”

Yes, I remember the sleepless nights, the endless crying and the non-stop work of having an infant. And I miss it. I actually do miss it. I didn’t think I would when I had an infant, but I do now. I would take a hundred sleepless nights all over again if I could. If I feel that way, then it’s quite possible that the older women in the store feel the same about the harried state of life I’m currently in.

So the next time you’re at the store with your kids and they’re wreaking havoc, try to take a minute to sit back, laugh and be present in the moment. And when the older woman smiles and urges you to seize the day, or asks you if you are going to “try for a girl/boy” or wonders why they’re not in school, smile politely and thank her for any encouragement she has to offer.

I think the old women at Target have a lot to teach us, if we’re willing to listen…

“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.