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Feb 23 2012

When Tough Love Becomes Abusive

Okay, so, I realize I’m showing up rather late to the laptop-shooting party, but I didn’t want to let this bit of news pass by without writing about my reaction to it–not only to the incident itself, but to the various responses I’ve seen to it from the public.

If you don’t know what I’m talking about, watch this:

In short–for those who don’t want to waste their time–girl rants about her parents on Facebook. Daddy decides that the correct course of action is not to, say, sit down and have a chat with his daughter, revoke her computer privileges, have her deactivate/delete her Facebook, or otherwise utilize actual parenting skills. No. Instead, Daddy posts a video rant about his daughter on the Internet (sound like anyone else in the family?) in which he shoots her laptop with a gun.

Okay. A few things:

  1. This father’s actions are abusive. I’m sorry if you don’t like that. I’m sorry if that doesn’t fit with your view of “traditional” parent-child relationships. According to modern definitions of domestic violence, destroying someone’s property in order to hurt or manipulate them constitutes abuse. (It’s in there, look it up.)
  2. And that’s only regarding the actual shooting of the laptop. As regards posting the video online, well, I hope it’s pretty obvious why I have a huge problem with parents exploiting their children for their fifteen seconds of fame. Especially when this involves violence.
  3. This girl does seem quite bratty and entitled. However, there is nothing a person can do–especially not if that person is a child–that justifies abusing them.
  4. That said, I’m not entirely sure that the girl’s Facebook rant was entirely unjustified. Immature and ill-advised, sure. But based on her father’s reaction, I wouldn’t say that her parents treat her fairly.

According to the ABC article I linked to, the police and Child Protective Services promptly paid the man a visit, but apparently they didn’t find anything wrong with the scenario. In fact, they told him, “Kudos, sir.”

There are plenty of tragic things about this incident. One is the fact that a girl is being abused. Another is the fact that her abuse is now captured for posterity on the internet. Another is that things are only going to get worse from here, both in terms of her relationship with her parents and in terms of her emotional health. Another is that her father seems to genuinely believe that he did the right thing by “teaching her a lesson.” And another is that the only “lesson” this girl has been taught is that guns are an appropriate way to express your anger at people.

One more issue, however, stands out as particularly sad, and that is the public reaction to the father’s video.

I am ashamed to say that I saw this video posted by my friends in my Facebook newsfeed with comments like “hilarious” and “what a hero.” I’m not proud to have friends who apparently condone domestic abuse as long as it’s amusing to them. If you watched this video and you laughed, I really urge you to reconsider your personal definition of humor, and I hope that you’ll take abuse out of that definition.

A hero is a parent who raises a difficult child with compassion. A hero is a parent with the strength to not take children’s bad behavior as a personal insult, but rather as a sign that more growth is needed.

This father is not a hero. He’s an abuser. Let’s call a spade a spade.

13 comments

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  1. 1
    Ian

    Also, think about the amount of privilege it is to be able to throw away a good laptop like that…

    1. 1.1
      Miri, Professional Fun-Ruiner

      Indeed.

  2. 2
    Titfortat

    This father is not a hero. He’s an abuser. Let’s call a spade a spade.(Brute)

    So much for compassion. At least my daughter saw the fact that he was inappropriate and misguided with his attempt at discipline. I know she might not get it considering she is only 14. Abuser? talk about hyperbole.

    1. 2.1
      Ian

      Domestic abuse includes non-physical abuse.

    2. 2.2
      Miri, Professional Fun-Ruiner

      Yeah, Titfortat, I think you missed the entire part of my post where I said that destruction of property constitutes abuse, and linked to a source that confirms that. You should probably read more than just the last paragraph.

      1. 2.2.1
        Titfortat

        This father is not a hero. He’s an abuser. Let’s call a spade a spade.(Miriam)

        My issue is with the fact that you call the father an abuser. I have no doubt that his behaviour could have been better, but really, abuser? I wonder if this family came in to your future office for help, would you actually call that parent an abuser or would you be slightly more compassionate and understanding in trying to get your point across. Hyperbole, the word fits.

        1. 2.2.1.1
          Miri, Professional Fun-Ruiner

          An abuser is a person who commits abuse. Would I say that to his face? Probably not. But my blog is not a therapy session.

          1. Titfortat

            No, but it does speak volumes, especially considering the field you are entering. For your information many people at one time or another do abusive things to others, to label them as an “abuser” is ignorant at best, malicious at worst. Considering you are basing that title on one video posted by an individual who you dont know is just a little mind boggling considering you want to be a future therapist.

          2. Miri, Professional Fun-Ruiner

            You are once again completely missing the point, especially given that I specifically JUST SAID that my blog is not a therapy session, and what I say on my blog is not what I say to people personally. Also, I really doubt you know more about my future profession than I do. Try to keep the condescension in check a bit, will you?

  3. 3
    Rachel A. Hanson

    I had a similar thought to Ian. The father makes a point of saying (several times, if I recall correctly) that he just spent over $100 upgrading her computer. I wish I had $100+ to just throw away.

    That said, I absolutely agree with you. I believe that public humiliation is definitely a form of abuse and it is never okay. And really, if you want your child to learn that it is not okay to publicly “trash talk” others in public the appropriate punishment is certainly not to publicly trash talk your child.

    My cousin recently posted a blog entry about this that is definitely in line with your way of thinking. I thought you may be interested in it. http://srvgb.net/Blog/?p=130

    1. 3.1
      Miri, Professional Fun-Ruiner

      Your cousin’s post is indeed great! The only thing I’d disagree with is that I don’t even think the father should’ve made his response public (your cousin writes that he doesn’t disagree with that part of it). Why sink to his daughter’s level? Wasn’t he trying to show her that publicly airing all of your family issues isn’t the way to go?

      Otherwise, though, great post.

  4. 4
    Titfortat

    Lol, just your private blog. Of course that wont have anything to do with your professional life. As we all know its easy to divorce our private thoughts from our business ones. You are almost as unaware as this guys kid and her rant on facebook and look how that worked out for her, lmao.

    1. 4.1
      Miri, Professional Fun-Ruiner

      Of course it’s not private. But I’m not going to write about patients on it. And that’s assuming I’m even still blogging in six or seven years when I complete my education.

      But seriously, you’re just trolling now, so this will be my last response to you.

  1. 5
    On Coercion and a Different Social Ethic | Brute Reason

    [...] relationships can have a different dynamic from other sorts of relationships. A parent can (within reason) take away a child’s computer as a punishment. But they cannot do so to their spouse. A [...]

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