The Controversy Around Facebook Parenting

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Tommy Jordan, an ordinary dad from North Carolina, launched himself into internet fame when he uploaded an eight-minute YouTube video in response to a whiny letter his daughter posted on Facebook. Viewed 28 million times, Tommy's video outlines his anger with his daughter's online complaints about household chores, and as a finale, he shoots eight rounds at her laptop. The divisive video sparked much controversy across the country around parenting and social media.

KJ Dell’Antonia is the lead blogger for Motherlode, the parenting blog of our partner The New York Times.

Dr. Michael Rich is a pediatrician at Children’s Hospital Boston and director of Harvard’s Center on Media and Child Health.


KJ Dell'Antonia and Dr. Michael Rich

Produced by:

Mythili Rao

Comments [12]


Projection? Sublimation?

This is very threatening. This is *not* healthy parenting.

Feb. 27 2012 01:08 PM

First of all I am reminded of the other day's segment about "The Memphis Three." in which a documentary film maker said something about how three innocent teens were convicted of a crime they did not commit because of the fact that a crime occurred in a very "fundamentalist" part of society (Memphis) and people there "believed in their authority figures" and just wanted to see someone get caught for the crime and they believed the weak evidence against the 3 teens.
It seems to me that this dad who is shooting the laptop (I have not seen the video) must come from such a society. Not to be negative about people with Southern accents, but it seems to be a tell-tale aspect and besides that, this dad seems to be from a background which believes in guns and authority figures. I am "pro gun" myself when it comes to self defense, but I think that this father is throwing a bigger temper tantrum than his daughter. A parent is supposed to realize that parenting will come with heartaches and headaches. Allowing your anger to get a hold of you so as to shoot some-thing can, under the right circumstances, mean that in anger, you can shoot some-one. As "Steve Hopkins" posted here, it is an act of "commiting the laptop to death" so as to hurt his daughters feelings. It is practically a threat to then turn the gun on his daughter. It is creepy. I can't help but get the feeling that this dad probably has it in him to run his household with domestic abuse.
It seems that the fact that the daughter ranted online about her parents (writings which I have not actually seen or read) indicates that it is not mere "out-of-nowhere" teenage rebellion but it might have some basis. Perhaps the daughter is so angry and dysfunctional not in spite of her parents "bringing her up the right way " but because they actually have brought her up fanatically and with too much authority. It is probably very rare that a child is spontaneously dysfunctional if his or her home life is stable and s/he has loving, knowledgable parents who communicate with their kids. Of course I can only say that this is generalization and I don't know all the facts about this "Girl ranting online/ father shooting laptop" case.
Now if the girl is actually wayward and unappreciative of her decent parents, she will have to progressively live and learn and make mistakes and find out that others have it much worse. It seems that she cannot be made to love her parents more if her dad shoots her laptop.

Feb. 24 2012 10:36 AM
Jenny O'Neill from Onancock, VA 23417

Does anyone else think that father is scary? If I were his daughter I'd be wondering, what or who is next? Having an adult go postal over a teenager's whiny rant says a lot about who has the real problem in this family. Rudeness does not need to be responded to with violence. Have some perspective, Dad.

Feb. 23 2012 04:34 PM

After viewing the video, the first question comes to mind. As a parent how do you rectify the situation? The young lady has previously been reprimanded for a similar incident. Parent’s everyday is being abused by their children young or old. Parents are held responsible for the bad choices that children/young adults make. I believe the child is a tooooo spoiled. She needs to experience community service with people who are less fortunate.

Feb. 23 2012 02:49 PM
Heidi from Detroit, MI

Using the Internet to vent anger is never productive, no matter what age. The father in this case is validating his daughter's actions, instead of opening a (private) dialogue.

Feb. 23 2012 09:08 AM
Elizabeth Schneider from Detroit

(please do not air my name)
Like many parents I have seen disgusting, inappropriate posts written by my teenager on Facebook. My strategy is to deal with them one by one while we wait for some sense to kick in. But personally, I can't wait till Mark Zuckerburg has teenagers of his own.

Feb. 23 2012 09:06 AM
Mickey Coburn from Beverly, MA

This is very scary. The teenager's behavior was unacceptable; taking her to a counselor where the family could get out their rage in a controlled environment might be more successful. But pulling out a gun -- he could as easily shoot the kid. And still might now that the laptop is gone. His rage is a poor example for the girl's anger.

Feb. 23 2012 07:51 AM
Steve Hopkins from Massachusetts, USA

Suppose the father used a pick ax instead of his 45 to make his point? !!! I think we should consider that scenario and leave the gun out of the equation.
but then, how much does the fact of using a gun, to commit the laptop to death, affect people's feelings.

Feb. 23 2012 07:49 AM

Using a gun and destroying valuable property are not an acceptable "angry replies" from a parent. Does this parent want his daughter to use the same "response" when she is angry? Parents need to demonstrate appropriate behaviour - even when they're hurt and angry.

Feb. 23 2012 06:57 AM
L from MA

The daughter should seek (confidential!) advice from the local anti-domestic violence agency. He clearly is a Santorum supporter.

Feb. 23 2012 06:52 AM
Emeline Walker from Marblehead, MA

I left a phone message but it may have been a bit garbled as I was trying to turn down the radio and talk at the same time....

I completely support this guy. He is obviously a good father. He helps his daughter and loves his daughter and she turns around and treats him horridly. It doesn't matter that she is a teen and this is "typical" behavior. It is NOT typical to login online and disrespect the same person that puts food on your table and hugs you goodnight. Unacceptable. I know plenty of teens who are kind and intelligent and do not react this way to their parents rules.
As a middle school teacher, I HATE Facebook. I think it detracts from the learning experience. Yes, it's blocked in schools but students are still on their phones and are constantly distracted by the drama of their profile posts.

I think that this father was absolutely within his right to react the way he did. Obviously his daughter wasn't getting the message any other way, so he had to go extreme. His methods are innovative and in this situation necessary. Good for him! He should win the parent of the year award!

Feb. 23 2012 06:33 AM

Sounds like the middle class children of "ordinary" parents like pistol-packing Tommy Jordan might need a little of the "Gingritch School Janitor Plan" for instilling a work ethic in kids who do not have good parental role models. And perhaps the kids of upper class parents also need might need the Gingritch Plan too. (is it really good to have servants doing all household chores for them?)

Feb. 23 2012 06:29 AM

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