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Teenagers Make You Crazy

Teenagers Make You Crazy

By Chris Jordan

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

Chris Jordan
About the Author

Chris Jordan

Chris Jordan began blogging at Notes From the Trenches in 2004 where she wrote about her life raising her children in Austin, Texas.

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

Chris Jordan began blogging at Notes From the Trenches in 2004 where she wrote 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 a teen now.
Yes, she has a television.

She enjoys referring to herself in the third person.

 

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Isabel Kallman
Admin

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.

Marci
Guest
Marci

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… Read more »

MR
Guest
MR

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… Read more »

Tracey
Guest
Tracey

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… Read more »

Cy
Guest
Cy

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… Read more »

Brigitte
Guest
Brigitte

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 . .

Anonymous
Guest
Anonymous

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… Read more »

Emily
Guest
Emily

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… Read more »