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Teenagers Make You Crazy

Feb24

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By now I think everyone has seen the video of that dad, Tommy Jordan, shooting his daughter’s laptop. It has elicited strong reactions. I have discovered that the people fall into three basic categories: those who feel what he did was completely abhorrent and abusive, those who think he’s a model parent, and finally, those who are currently parenting teenagers.

And those of us in the third category laughed when we first heard the story. Go on. Admit it. Whether you agree with the man’s actions or not, you laughed at the idea of shooting the laptop of a teenager because they posted something bad about you on their Facebook page.

The reason we laughed, and I am going to speak for other parents of teenagers here, is because we all know that parenting teenagers makes even the most sane of us act nuts. I once stood on a chair in my kitchen in the middle of an argument with my teenage son so that I could be at eye level with him while I yelled. For the record, it didn’t make him take me more seriously. Unless laughing and also standing on a chair is evidence of being taken seriously? Maybe?

So if peaceful, ordinarily calm people, can be driven to do things that might look crazy to the casual observer, what happens to the people who have their own issues with anger or impulse control before they have teenagers? Well, I guess they do things like shoot their children’s laptops with a 45.

Teenagers are by their very nature selfish creatures. Every single friend that I have with teenagers has the same complaint: they are so self-centered. It really is all about them. On the one side as a parent you can see the people that they are going to become– the smart, funny, caring people that fill you with pride and admiration. This is the side that makes you buy the teenager their car, iphone, laptop, what have you. But then there is the other side, the one that you want to punch in the mouth. And I say this as someone who is opposed to corporal punishment and has never in fact punched anyone. But that doesn’t mean I don’t want to!

We, the parents of teenagers, share our stories with each other. We commiserate. We laugh. Sometimes, on those particularly trying days, we give each other high fives for simply allowing the teenager to still be alive. It is like a secret society that you are not privy to until you have a teenager of your own. Then all the veils fall away and you realize all those times you said things like: my teenager will do… my teenager will never…I will (won’t) allow my teenager to… you realize that all of those proclamations are worth nothing more than the ones you made while pregnant about the kind of toddler you were going to raise. (A sleeping, well-behaved, non-picky eater, non-tantruming version, right?)

An important thing to remember is that you can not judge what it feels like to parent teenagers based on your own recollections of what it was like to BE a teenager. You can’t. I have stood in front of my teenagers and listened to things come out of their mouths that sounded exactly like things that I remember saying at their age. But instead of feeling a warm kinship and a bond of mutual understanding, I felt horrified at the realization that I was just like them at their age and the memory that I too really thought I had all the answers and my parents had none.

In my life, more often I see parents who are the opposite of this father. They seem to be more concerned with being their children’s friend than being their children’s parent. I see children who are free to run wild and do or have whatever they want with no consequences, or have parents who bail them out time and time again. I see kids who are caught cheating or bullying at school and parents who make excuses and shift the blame onto other people. Parents who are teaching their children through their words and actions that they do not have to be accountable for their behavior.

Sometimes you have to be tough on your teenagers. Sometimes you have to step out of the way and not save them so they can learn the lesson for themselves. Sometimes you have to enforce consequences for actions, even though you really don’t want to.

So while I don’t personally applaud the act of destroying the laptop (so wasteful!), I understand why many parents are. It is as a knee jerk reaction to all the non-parenting that is going on out there.

Also, all of us who laughed are just thankful that there really is someone out there crazier than us.

Photo credit: Thinkstock

About the author

Chris Jordan

http://notesfromthetrenches.com
Chris Jordan began blogging at Notes From the Trenches in 2004 where she writes about her life raising her children in Austin, Texas.

Oh, she has seven of them. Yes, children.

Yes, they are all hers.

No she's not Catholic or Mormon. Though she wouldn’t mind having a sister-wife because holy hell the laundry never stops.

Yes, she finally figured out what causes it. That's why her youngest is almost 6.

Yes, she has a television.

She enjoys referring to herself in the third person.

If you would like to submit a question for Chris to answer publicly, please do so to adviceforparentsoftweens[at]gmail[dot]com.


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8 Responses to “Teenagers Make You Crazy”

  1. Isabel Kallman
    Isabel Feb 24 at 10:04 am Reply Reply

    i’m sure many parents of teens have fantasized about destroying their kids’ electronics. But they don’t. That’s why i think the video went viral as well. this parent actually did it.

    It’s normal and okay to have fantasies. it’s a different story when you actually play them out, especially on the internet.

  2. Marci Feb 24 at 10:36 am Reply Reply

    Chris, I always look forward to your posts about teens.  I have two teen daughters.  I have decided that I don’t particularly care for the age of 16.  

    I was taken aback regarding the father who shot the laptop.  If I humiliated my kid online I believe that action would alter our relationship, and not for the better.  Just the other day I resisted the urge to post something on FB about something I found hilarious but she would have killed me.  (Her dad took her and two friends to a boy’s house for a gathering.  When he found out no parents were there, he decided to stay as the chaperone.  Good God was she mortified, but a lesson was definitely learned). 

    I just hope that my kids and I survive intact until they reach adulthood.  Thanks for sharing your insights with the rest of us!

  3. MR Feb 24 at 1:15 pm Reply Reply

    I watched the video and didn’t mind the shooting of the laptop (although I also thought it wasteful). The part I found awful was posting the video for all her friends to see. I get that she did the same thing to the parents – humiliated them via FB. But, THEY are the PARENTS. They are supposed to be the ADULTS. Instead, they sank to her level. If you want to take away her laptop, or even shoot it, fine! But you DON’T humiliate your kid. Just like when they are two and hit you, you don’t hit back. Because YOU are the adult. And you are supposed to act like one no matter how angry they make you. I think that the dad did not teach his daughter the lesson he thought he was. I think it would have been far more effective to tell her all that live and not broadcast it.
    And really, what teenager DOESN’T say bad stuff about their parents at some point? I know I complained about mine to my friends. And I distinctly remember the time my sister yelled at my mom that she was a rhymes with witch. My mom didn’t yell it back at her. She quietly told her to go to her room and took some time to be upset and calm down before handing out my sister’s punishment. I remember seeing my mom cry. She was REALLY hurt by my sister’s actions. But, she didn’t react in her hurt. My sister realized how badly she had screwed up and went to apologize before my mom was done crying. My mom told her she appreciated her apology, but told her to go back to her room and she would talk to her later. My sister was grounded for a long time and got a big reminder about how we treat everyone in our family with respect. And the lesson we ALL learned from that was powerful. It was OBVIOUS my mom was REALLY upset by it. But she didn’t act in anger. And that is something that stuck with me. Because that’s how adults are SUPPOSED to act towards kids of any age. They just get more practice with teenagers. :)

  4. Tracey Feb 24 at 1:22 pm Reply Reply

    I did laugh when I watched that video, but it was at the girl’s letter and the absurd claims about her household duties…and oh my gosh I saw myself as a teen, I recall complaining that I was “a slave” around the house. My poor parents…and I was the easy one to deal with!

    I don’t think I personally would shoot out a laptop, probably donate it to charity instead, but boy did that let me know what I’m going to be in for once my 7 year old and 5 year old daughters and soon to be born son hit their teens…it is not going to be easy. We’re getting some attitude already, especially from the 7 year old who thinks she’s Cinderella because she has to make her own bed. Parenting is about one of the most difficult and humbling jobs on the planet, and I applaud all parents who take pains to raise decent human beings instead of trying to be their kid’s best friend. Including this guy. Sometimes you just do what you have to do.

  5. Cy Feb 25 at 5:32 pm Reply Reply

    I have two teens and the the first one really put us through the wringer (jury is still out on the second one.) A bedroom door was removed at one point! But that Jordan guy is an idiot. He had plenty of time to calm down after his daughter’s acting out and he still behaved stupidly. For pete’s sake, he’s a computer tech guy. He could have wiped that laptop clean and given it to someone deserving of it. And dear daughter would have been just as pissed off. But then he probably couldn’t have made a YouTube video about THAT. Attention hog. Love reading about your teens, Chris. It really is a misery loves company deal for us all!

  6. Brigitte Feb 27 at 8:53 am Reply Reply

    Unrelated, but have you given up Notesfromthetrenches? Or has it been HIJACKED!?
    Yesterday, my Trendmicro security hardware claimed it was a perpetrator of malware, and today it won’t open at all . .

  7. Anonymous Feb 27 at 10:16 pm Reply Reply

    Really great advice! Although I have to admit you have me considering shipping my 3 little boys off to boarding school during their teen years. I think this is actually great advice at any stage of the parenting process, toddler or otherwise. I am so tired of parents of even young children solving all their problems for them, teaching them no concept of accountability or self-reliance. If you have never been held accountable for bad behavior at 5, how will you suddenly learn these skills at 15? I have also seen children who are overly coddled. Moms doing their children’s laundry and cleaning up their messes up through high school (and sadly, even through college). My sons will learn to scrub a toilet as soon as they can master not spilling the Pine Sol and start doing their laundry when they are tall enough to reach the dials on the machine. Self-sufficiency creates less entitled children. You make a mess (metaphorically or literally, you clean it up).

  8. Emily Mar 02 at 5:46 pm Reply Reply

    I like this post. But I also completely agree with the father who shot the laptop. Might not be the best for your teen, but he knows his teen best and something BIG might have been the best thing for her. One thing is for sure: we can’t all parent the same. My mother parented me and my sister differently because we were different and different things had better effects on us. My mother absolutely humiliated my sister when she was somewhere she wasn’t supposed to be wearing clothes she wasn’t supposed to be wearing. And they had a better relationship for it. Would that have worked for me? Don’t know. but atleast he was trying to parent instead of excuse her. Only thing I would have changed about that video was the length. I got really bored. I think I even fastforwarded a bit. Who has that sort of attention span these days?

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