Recently, on YouTube, a reactionary North Carolina father had a temper tantrum, raging about his daughter's negative Facebook post (Facebook parenting: for the troubled teen). After addressing each of her points, barely controlling his rage, he blasted nine bullets through her laptop. The amazing thing is that nearly 15 million people viewed this video in the first three days. Most people who posted comments were supportive of his behavior, many calling it hilarious. Really? Is it funny to watch a grown man take his personal relationship viral, modeling to his daughter that revenge is the answer?
I am not saying that this father should not be angry, or that he has no right to discipline his daughter. But a raging parent does not solve the problem. Parents need to exhibit a full range of emotions, including anger. But, the difference between a parent and a child is that parents should know how to control their anger. Parents need to "play the movie forward." In other words, "if we do this what will happen?" This Facebook father demonstrates exactly how parents should not behave. I wonder if this father comprehends that the groundwork he laid for a father-daughter relationship will most likely be damaged for many years to come.
This teen's post demonstrates her sense of entitlement. A typical teen is "me centered." This "me" stage is a natural process of individuation. But, when a teen exhibits a sense of entitlement, that's when it is time for parents to look at their behavior and ask these questions. "Are we giving too much? Are we rushing in to rescue our child when they need to learn to be responsible? Are we constantly handing them money when they should be buying things for themselves." Remember, a teen's brain is not yet developed and they cannot be expected to inherently know how to behave.
Parents have the responsibility to protect and prepare their child from birth to adulthood; protect from danger and prepare for real life. And communication is the key to a successful future. So, when a teen is unhappy, parents need to have a conversation with them, providing a safe environment for them to feel what they feel. Feelings are feelings, neither right nor wrong. They just are. Parents don't have to be right. And if they believe they must always be right, then they are not building a relationship. They are enforcing a dictatorship.
If your relationship with your adolescent is chaotic, or if you would simply like to make it better, seek the help of a professional counselor who can show you how to effectively communicate with your teen and give you valuable tools to build a healthy relationship that will last a lifetime.
Ahwatukee Foothills resident Kristina Welker is a doctor of psychology, a licensed professional counselor and a life coach. She is a member of the Ahwatukee Foothills Behavioral Health Network. Reach her at (480) 893-6767 or firstname.lastname@example.org.