You’re the parent, so act like it

February 17, 2012

I’ve lost my temper with my son. I’ve lost my temper in the past so much that I’ve gone down to his temper-tantruming, door-slamming level. But only for a minute, and only until I take a few breaths on the quiet, adult, rational side of the slammed door. Then I remember that mimicking his bad behavior simply reinforces to him the idea that our family yells (it doesn’t, mostly) and our family slams doors (again, not usually). Rather than returning his frustration and anger, obviously I need to “use my words” and talk it out rationally. (Of course he’s only 8, and most of the time what I really need to do is get him go to sleep.)

But what if he’s 15 years old and has just aired private, angry, family grievances for all to see on the internet? If you haven’t seen the video of one father’s online response to his daughter’s inappropriate Facebook post, take 8 minutes and 23 seconds and join the 26,826,770 who have viewed it on YouTube:

All parents have made a mistake (or two, or three, or ten) in their lives. Embarrassing things that they don’t want their children (or the world) to know about. Mistakes are how we learn, but usually they don’t define us. If we’re lucky, our bad behavior helps us grow and we’re able to move past it to become better people and better parents. And when it comes to social media, one of the most important lessons that we need to instill in kids is to not air grievances in an online space. There your mistakes will define you forever.

While I understand and sympathize with the father’s frustration, airing his anger online has now defined him and his daughter for more than 26 million YouTube viewers, and it’s never going away. Does his daughter have good qualities? Surely she does. But it will be years before anyone cares about those. To nearly 27 million people, Hannah will always be a 15-year-old spoiled brat who disrespected her parents on Facebook. That’s a hard mistake to overcome, thanks to her father’s over-the-top response. As the adult, he should have known better.

Leave a comment and tell me what you think.

2 Responses to “You’re the parent, so act like it”

  1. Velle Says:

    I AGREE! I had blogged about that Youtube video, too. I really thought his tit-for-tat response was sending the wrong message. But then again, perhaps he had reached the end of his rope.

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