Saturday, February 11, 2012

A Father's Response

Many of you have probably seen this video of a dad who responded to his daughter's Facebook rant by reading it for the camera adding his own reactionary commentary and ultimately taking his .45 to her laptop and filling it with 8 hollow-point rounds.  Most of my Facebook friends who have commented on the video seem to hold this father in high regard for his "tough love" and "attacking the entitlement mentality" of our youth culture.  I can't support this man's methods or attitudes displayed.

I agree that what his daughter posted was COMPLETELY out of line and there needed to be immediate and meaningful consequences to this "public post."  It is another one of my "soapboxes" how teenagers need the catharsis of expressing these things, but public forums such as Facebook and Twitter are NOT the places to do that. I love that he took what she wanted to be selectively public and made her sentiments completely public.  But there are some flaws, too. 

The true meaning of "discipline" needs to be considered when deciding upon the best approach.  Discipline is not limited to punishment.  Discipline, at it's heart is "teaching."  So a good parent needs to ask himself/herself, "what do I want to teach my child?" as well as "what is the best way to teach this lesson?"  

These are the values this father seems to want to teach and instill in his daughter:
  • Respect and appreciation for parents and the lady who barters house cleaning for other services.
  • A valid and strong work ethic and the joy of earning your own money and manage it for yourself
  • A sense of contribution and ownership to the family and home through chores
  • Personal responsibility
I applaud this father for having these values and these are some of the same values I hope to be passing on to my children.  The world NEEDS more people to live according to those values and parents who are willing to take a stand for them.

How does he seek to instill these values? What is his educational method?

Teaching respect by being himself, disrespectful. 
Not the best choice.  We as parents are to model what we expect from our children.  We are not "above the law" and our actions give authority to our words.  I agree with the stance he is taking.  I agree with 98% of what the man said to his daughter.  I do not agree with the way in which this is communicated.  Now, I have to be honest and note that sarcasm is a second language in my home.  We all use it and use it effectively without hurting one another.  I am not saying all children need to be handled as fragile and we need to be ultra-sensitive, because that is not teaching our children survival skills for the real world.  This man crossed that fine line.  Making this a public post and keeping it on YouTube for all the world to see crosses that line.  I know and understand that his daughter made it selectively public and therefore it seems "fair" for the dad to make it public.  Remember we are ADULTS.  We are to act as such and not answer adolescent angst with adolescent angst.

Motivating a work ethic by insulting and not allowing for complaint
The latter part of that statement is inferred.  It seems by the very nature of her original post that Hannah does not feel safe enough to complain at home and the father's response doesn't seem to give any indication that he tolerates complaint.  Teaching and shaping our children "how" to verbally express their dissatisfaction is a needed dimension to discipline.  However, many parents simply opt to "ban" any sort of exclamation as "disrespectful".  If there is not a valid outlet in the home, then kids will resort to other means of expression -- hence the original FB post. What he seems to be teaching his daughter is to keep her mouth shut, bottle up your emotions, and it's OK when you are a parent to let your emotions drive you to make outlandish claims (such as never using a computer or internet until college) that are virtually impossible in this day and age to be consistently followed-through.

Battling against a sense of entitlement by indulging and then trying to fight off the consequences of that indulgence.
This statement is completely inferred.  But logic seems to indicate that this girl has been given all these things and her chores around the house are to be her contribution to earn these things.  Somehow the "connection" between those two have been missed.  It is my guess that there were symptoms of this prior to this post and parents need to do more than simply ground a child for offenses or symptoms.  We need to be actively teaching them using immediacy and labeling.  When the new computer is purchased, verbally label this not as a "gift" but as a "well-earned thank you" for the work you do around the house and at school.  When asking for new items directly link a new responsibility or more consistent compliance with responsibilities as "earning" the new item prior to purchasing it. 

Teaching responsibility by being irresponsible
Is taking a perfectly good and recently upgraded laptop and filling it full of  expensive hollow-point bullets really the most responsible way to handle this?  I read a suggestions by a person on Facebook noting that  donating that laptop to a child/family who doesn't have one is probably a more responsible stewardship of resources and I have no idea why someone needs hollow-point bullets unless they are law enforcement or military (but that's another blog post). 

One of my favorite quotes about parenting is, "It is our job as parents to love and nurture our children, and to frustrate them often."  I agree that if our children are frustrated that means they are not always getting their way.  They need to be taught this experience in the context of a home that will help shape their expression of that frustration and is consistent with the limits set.  There is a fine line between that sentiment and the sentiment of the Apostle Paul who wrote:  "Father's don't provoke your children to anger."  This father crossed that line.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Fast - Days 5 and 6

Day 5
The fifth day, was a Sunday.  Since we all went to SS and church, the first part of the day was busy and there was not much down time to make my wandering mind available for the FB compulsion.  The after noon and evening was spent setting up Christmas decorations inside the house.  Afterward, Laurie tagged me in another status and I wanted to go check it.

I find myself still rationalizing getting on before the one week limit with excuses that are actually valid.  I have a FB friend who has sent me private messages when he is struggling and I wonder if he has sent me a message, and I have missed the opportunity to be available for him.  That is the most persistent thought.

Day 6
My first traditional day back at work and I must say, I was more industrious.  The compulsion is still there after session to "cool down" and regroup by checking FB, but I have not given in to the compulsion.  I find myself glancing at other people's phone screens when they are on FB or Twitter. 

I recently read an article that linked an increase of Narcissism to social networking.  That actually makes sense because we assume that people are interested enough in us to care about what we are having for lunch or what we are craving.  FB is centered around the self.  I hope to get beyond that.  Although I will be getting back on FB after the 7th day.  I will attempt to be more purposeful in my posting and diligent with my time.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Fast - Day Four

I awakened this morning to learn that the NBA lockout is ending.  This news made me want to check Twitter because I follow many NBA players and ESPN broadcasters, and I wanted more information - more firsthand information.  But, I remained begrudgingly faithful to the fast. 

There were many plans made for the day that mostly included decorating the house inside and out for Christmas.  The weather was cold and EXTREMELY windy to the point of being unable to even keep the storage building's door open with 3 of us out there trying to keep it open and unload decorations.  So, we quickly decided, it would be a bad idea to get the decorations out for the day.  So, I spent much of the day doing laundry, reading, and grading.  There were a few times I felt compelled to check FB or had a status idea, but the feelings and thoughts were fleeting.    Then that evening, I got an email notifying me that I was tagged in a status that Laurie posted, and I really wanted to read it.  My rationalizations increased and even as I compose this post, I am wanting to check FB on my computer and rationalize that I will just keep it off my phone.  But, I've committed to a week, and I will attempt to meet that goal. 

Friday, November 25, 2011

Fast - Day 3

Today, I noticed not having access to social media more than the other two.  The family and I shopped most of the day, and there were those times I was waiting that I am accustom to just pulling out the phone and checking.  Also, posting the link to yesterday's post on Facebook made me more anxious to check because I like the instant gratification of being able to see "likes" or comments on FB. 

Today was a good day to measure efficiency simply because we did not do much.  I was forced to re-engage what used to be one of my favorite things to do -- people watching.  I did not do more reading, but found myself watching television during the "down time." 

We attended the Stamford/Albany football game tonight in the heavy drizzle and cold.  I found it humorous how many people had their smart phones out in the wet weather and were checking FB or sending text messages. 

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Fast - Day One and Two

I recently read an article that offered a challenge to take a fast from social networking.  I decided to take the challenge.  Yesterday, I parked in the lot of my work, opened my phone and deleted the apps for Facebook and Twitter.  My thoughts are to see how much I have conditioned myself to check these sites, how much it has impacted by efficiency, to what degree I would have "withdrawals", and if I would be more socially engaged in my relationships.

I am not one who updates statuses multiple times a day, but I do check FB multiple times a day.  If I do post an update, I find myself checking more frequently just to see if people have commented.  Twitter is something I check 3 times a day.

Day 1:  This day at work was an administrative day which seems more inclined for checking my sites.  However, I found that I thought about it very little.  I attribute this to the initial commitment to begin the fast and expect this determination to diminish along the way.  I do find myself having thoughts/insights and thinking, "that would make a great status."  Along the lines of efficiency, I found myself getting more work done.  Withdrawals are not significant, and although I find myself more engaged or attempting to be, I find that many of those in my circle are checking Facebook and Twitter.

Day 2:  I awakened this morning and fought the urge to immediately check Facebook.  I thought about checking FB multiple times today (esp. when family members were discussing posts).  In terms of efficiency, I got a large amount of papers graded and found myself taking breaks to check e-mail and "Hanging with Friends." 

I would like to read more, and get more done around the house.

I don't know how long I will fast, but it will be at least a week.

If you are linking to this article through Facebook, I am automatically posting without getting on the site.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Sketchy Thoughts pt. 2

"The Contemporary Christian" - John RW Stott

SUMMARY:  The Human Paradox
The remainder of this chapter looks specifically and separately at the human paradox of dignity and depravity.

In the "dignity" portion of this chapter, he focuses on humanity being created in the image of God and teasing out what separates us from other created animals.  He outlines 5 distinctions:  self-conscious rationality; ability to make moral choices; powers of artistic creativity; capacity for relationships of love; and insatiable thirst for God.

QUOTES I LIKED (in this section)
"We should be ashamed both when human beings behave like animals, descending to their level, and when animals behave like human beings, doing better by instinct than we do by choice."
Wow!  That's a mouthful!  I am so thankful that "self"-discipline is a fruit of the Holy Spirit, because it in many ways removes the notion that we are on our own to fix ourselves to become more like Christ.  It is the very essence of Christ in us coming along side us to empower us to be like Him.  So much of this discipline is reigning in the impulsive instinct that is in many ways animalistic, but also reigning in the "freedom of choice" to create "new instincts" (?) that nurture relationships "we are rebuked that oxen and donkeys are better at recognizing their master than we are, that migratory birds are better at returning home after going away, and that ants are more industrious and more provident."

Stott bases much of this section on a teaching of Jesus found in Mark 7:
Again Jesus called the crowd to him and said, 'Listen to me, everyone, and understand this.  Nothing outside a man can make him "unclean" by going into him.  Rather, it is what comes out of a man that makes him "unclean"... For from within, out of men's hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly.  All these evils come from inside and make a man "unclean". 
In comment to this passage, Stott provides four insights gleaned from this passage that Jesus taught:  the universal extent of human evil; the self-centered nature of human evil; the inward origin of human evil; and the defiling effect of human evil.

This issue of balancing dignity and depravity has been one with which I have been struggling for a while.  For most of my life of faith, I have been emphasizing human depravity not only in myself but in humanity in general.  Of course, it is much easier to believe the bad things about yourself, than it is to believe them about others.  Recently, I have been exposing myself to more Christian humanistic ideologies and finding agreement with much of what they are saying.  Then I am reminded of this passage of Jesus' teaching.  Stott is "spot on" with his assertion that this is a balancing act.  So much of the humanist approach is based on an ideal rather than a reality.  The reality is that evil exists and people -- all people-- are capable of it.

Probably the "loudest" portion of this teaching for me is how we as Christians often get it wrong.  We spend so much time focusing on what we are putting in our minds and hearts (which is important to filter!) but we neglect the "why" we are putting this stuff in our minds and heart.  We demonize the medium rather than recognizing that it is a desire from within us that draws us to the medium.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Sketchy thoughts pt. 1

I am trying to journal more and blog a little more, so I thought why not combine the two.  These "sketchy thoughts" are acting as my journal where I include a summary and personal insights to what I am studying.  This first one is an experiment and don't know if I am comfortable putting all this out in a blog format.  

"The Contemporary Christian" - John RW Stott

The first section of the book centers around the idea that the Gospel is both divine in origin and relevant to humanity.  Therefore, Stott begins with an analysis of humanity.  In the beginning of this analysis he confronts the "human paradox" of humanity's goodness and depravity by asserting that there are at least 3 reasons it is important to ask about human nature.  These reasons are personal (a desire to know ourselves); professional (a desire to know those whom we serve); and political (shape our ideology -- method of engaging the world).  Stott concludes this introductory section seeking a balance in the paradox illustrated with a quote from J.S. Whale that directs the remainder of this section, "neither the easy optimism of the humanist, nor the dark pessimism of the cynic, but the radical realism of the Bible."

"The universal cry is 'Who am I?' and 'Do I have any significance?'"
Coincidentally, this quote stands out to me for both personal and professional reasons.  Personally, the latter cry is one that I have on a consistent basis.  I want to know that my existence is meaningful.  This desire to be a tool of change and healing does is not completely as noble as it might seem at first reading.  I certainly do care about those in my life whether it be my family, friends, clients, and acquaintances, but there is also a selfish secondary gain that comes with that usefulness.  That gain validates my own value.  A friend once told me that he learned "no one is irreplaceable" and while he was speaking about a professional context, I fear it may be true of me in all contexts.  Therefore, there is a part of me that believes my value is based primarily on the service I can offer.  Furthermore, if that service ceases to be as consistent or valued, those in whom I am invested, will seek those services elsewhere.  This mentality is fear-driven rather than love-driven.  I live some of my life out of fear, and perform well, so that I can avoid the reality and intensity of that fear. So I have to come to terms with the reality that confronts my theology.   This is my own human paradox.  I know and understand the ideal that "we love because God first loved us" and "perfect love casts out fear", and much of the time I believe (or hope that) I serve out of those realities.  However, there is another side of me that is seeking to validate or earn the blessings I have been given.  I fight against grace.

"'ideologies... are really anthropologies'; they are different doctrines of man."
Paraphrased, "how we view the nature of humanity determines how we engage humanity."  On this front, I am confident that I can see the value and worth of other people.  As noted above, at times I have a hard time applying that same notion to myself.