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Why Satisfying Is Not Often Smart - The Watchtower of Destruction: The Ferrett's Journal Page 2
February 13th, 2012
09:29 am

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Why Satisfying Is Not Often Smart

One of the best pieces of advice I received was, “The satisfying thing is usually not the smart thing.” And I think that’s exemplified in this father’s YouTube video to his daughter:

Summed up: Not-too-bright daughter writes whiny, friends-locked Facebook post about how her parents are lazy slave drivers before handing her laptop to her Dad for upgrades. Dad creates a fraught video explaining just what a callow, lazy jerk his daughter is before shooting her laptop with hollow-point bullets and explains that if she wants her own laptop from now on, she’s going to have to pay for it herself.

Some parents – a lot of them, actually – are calling him “Dad of the year.” And I understand why. Emotionally, this is cathartic, the kind of thing you’re tempted to do as a parent when your kids do stupid, disrespectful, and insulting things that stem from a lack of understanding about how good they have it. (Which all middle-class and up kids go through.)

This video is about what parents want to do, because it would be very very satisfying to see the look on your selfish daughter’s face when she realizes what a fucking bad idea it is to cross you.

But then you think, and go, “What am I really teaching here?” Note how the dad isn’t much better than his daughter – his daughter made a fool out of him on the Internet, so he’s gonna hurt her even worse. He’s not teaching her that this sort of response is inappropriate – the lesson here is that if someone wounds you, and they’re in your control, the proper response is to hit back hard.

If you’re a good parent, you think about going dumb-ass off the handle like this…. And then you sit back and think about what you actually want to teach the kid: work matters. And there’s a lot of overlap between what you do to teach “work matters” and what Sad Dad here does – if the kid’s actually that bad, then you actually do most of what the guy does in the end: you take away the computer, you explain that if you really think you have it that bad then it’s time for you to pay for more things, maybe you have her write a letter of apology to that so-called “cleaning lady.”

But when you’re punishing, you keep in mind that your child’s main fault is that she’s immature – and to teach her maturity, you have to model the correct behavior. You have to be unemotional, rational, and responsive… and not to get in front of the Internet, nearly sobbing with rage, and tell everybody, “LOOK HOW MUCH YOU HURT ME, KID, WHAT AN INCONSIDERATE CUNT YOU ARE!” when your original complaint was that she was bitching to her friends and making you look bad.

Sure, I guess it could teach her how awful this feels when the shoe’s on the other foot. In reality, one suspects it teaches her that she just needs to learn how to bitch better, because in the end, the person who freaks out with the more sympathetic position will win. He’s not teaching her to be a better person, he’s teaching her to be more sophisticated in her approach. If the kid gets Facebook again, will she hide it better? If the kid has any sort of emotional reaction, will she keep it from her Dad? You bet your ass she will.

What the Dad did was what parents everywhere are tempted to do, because it would be very satisfying. But my wife has already discussed why the dad’s reaction is disproportionate, and that’s why what’s satisfying is not smart. What he’s doing is escalating in a war of control, achieving victory but not actually changing any minds.  I find it hard to believe that the daughter will feel bad about what she did, she’ll just feel bad about what the consequences were.

I think for all the parents cheering, most of them will come to the conclusion that this is awesome to watch, but not so much to actually do.  Which is correct.

Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.

This entry has also been posted at http://theferrett.dreamwidth.org/190867.html. You can comment here, or comment there; makes no never-mind by me.

(144 shouts of denial | Tell me I'm full of it)

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From:sesmo
Date:February 13th, 2012 06:04 pm (UTC)
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Got into an argument about this elsewhere with someone who said this was appropriate because "She has no right to privacy from her parents and she gets to take punishment for being insubordinate."

This seems like a fast way to make sure that child loses all respect for the parent. She may be afraid of him, but she certainly won't trust him or respect him. And as someone else pointed out, odds are that if this is their public discussion, their private interactions may be significantly worse.
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From:theferrett
Date:February 13th, 2012 06:20 pm (UTC)
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Pretty much. If your rule is, "YOU LIVE WITH ME YOU ARE MY SLAVE," then there's really not much of a reason to help you out later.
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From:whyelaborate
Date:February 13th, 2012 06:05 pm (UTC)
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Agreed, %100.
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From:dornbeast
Date:February 13th, 2012 06:08 pm (UTC)
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My reaction upon seeing this was much shorter, although more judgemental:

"Well, that's a dysfunctional family right there."
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From:theferrett
Date:February 13th, 2012 06:12 pm (UTC)
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I don't think you're incorrect.
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From:radiumhead
Date:February 13th, 2012 06:21 pm (UTC)
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I think maybe i have anger problems. Or im not as liberal as i thought. Or maybe im just starting to think older. Cause when i first read about this, especially after reading her quotes, my visceral reaction wasnt "eww". It was "good. FUCK her." my gut feeling was to side with the parent.
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From:theferrett
Date:February 13th, 2012 06:22 pm (UTC)
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Emotionally, I sided with him. I'm sure she is a pain. His reaction isn't much better.
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From:tormentedartist
Date:February 13th, 2012 06:32 pm (UTC)
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In psychology class we learned that this style of parenting was authoritarian. In other words a do what I say,not what I do style of parenting. A very simple minded form of parenting btw.



Edited at 2012-02-13 06:33 pm (UTC)
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From:jfargo
Date:February 14th, 2012 04:45 pm (UTC)
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If I had a dollar for every time I heard those exact words uttered by my parents or people caring for me as a child I'd have a really bad cliche. But a lot of them.
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From:kilbia
Date:February 13th, 2012 06:58 pm (UTC)
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There's an interesting update on this, just in case you haven't seen it yet - and it explains how the dad found out:

http://www.litefm.com/pages/news-story.html?feed=421220&article=9744152
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From:theferrett
Date:February 13th, 2012 10:14 pm (UTC)
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Some of those responses sound more measured. I note the dad admits to nothing wrong, though, even though he's concerned about the media exposure. DUDE, YOU EXPOSED HER.
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From:violet_helix
Date:February 13th, 2012 07:30 pm (UTC)
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I just had a go-round with a friend of mine on FB about this. He's firmly in the "Hell-yeah-that's-what-I'd-do" camp.

I probed him a little on his position and he feels that if his parents hadn't been so leanient, he'd be better of today. He believes that a little- and I quote "fear-induced respect" would have saved him from a lot of bullshit in his life, so he's going to do what it takes to make his kid learn from his mistakes. I finally had to break off the conversation, because FB is not the forum for the rage I felt welling up inside me.

I weep for his daughter.
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From:theferrett
Date:February 13th, 2012 10:12 pm (UTC)
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I'd definitely be worried.
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From:roniliquidity
Date:February 13th, 2012 07:59 pm (UTC)
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I finally watched the video and found it really disturbing. This guy really reminds me of my Dad. Clearly she rants that way because he rants that way. Gini's right that's normal, clearly they both do it. I suspect her list of her responsibilities is more accurate then his. He's immature, and angry, chances are he's painting her in the worst possible light and downplaying what she's said so people will validate his reaction. He insults her, he threatens her, he publicly humiliates her, he doesn't respect her privacy and destroys her stuff. I'm unclear why he's worthy of respect. Sure he may deserve some respect as her father, but given the way he treats her he's worn that out long ago.
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From:drewkitty
Date:February 13th, 2012 10:35 pm (UTC)
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Your story gave me a warm, homey feeling and reminded me of my childhood.

My mother and father are dead, which is good. My stepfather is dead, which is a little sad but also good. My stepmother, I will never speak to again. (If necessary, I will hire a lawyer to speak one word for me to her, which will be "No.")

I can't think of a better way for a father to permanently alienate and make an enemy of his own daughter. The life lessons here: might makes right, money is power, and speaking truth in private if discovered by the powerful will be viciously punished.

She won't be picking a good nursing home for him. He'll never see his grandchildren.
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From:heldc
Date:February 13th, 2012 10:35 pm (UTC)
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Plus the fact that if you violently destroy your child's possessions because you are mad at them, you are sending the message that should you get mad enough, you might violently destroy them. The number of people who don't understand this has utterly boggled me.
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From:ultra_lilac
Date:February 14th, 2012 12:40 am (UTC)
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Teens can be bratty, ungrateful and entitled, but this video was really uncomfortable to watch.
Publicly humiliating a child, violently destroying their possessions....cutting them off from their friends. It all seemed tinged with control and emotional abuse. And I was ready to side with the dad before I watched it.
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From:vienneau
Date:February 14th, 2012 02:04 am (UTC)

Darnit...

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I was just about to share this on Facebook when I decided to finish your post first. Then I realized you were right. A lot less satisfying to not share it though.

That being said, because 22 freaking million people have watched it, I suspect there was a huge amount of residual good where parents and kids might have started talking about it. Or a bunch of kids learned that doing stupid stuff like this may have really unexpected consequences.

So I appreciate the sacrifice this dad made to his relationship to make the lives of other people better.
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From:caviling
Date:February 14th, 2012 02:13 am (UTC)
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Well said!
From:simulated_knave
Date:February 14th, 2012 03:38 am (UTC)
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A few points of clarification about some different things:

According to his responses to the Toronto Star's questions, he actually discovered it by logging onto the family dog's Facebook account. No hacking involved. He was misleading/lying to her.

They are in North Carolina. I think this provides all kinds of context.

Her post was visible to 400-odd people. Her screening consisted of excluding it from friends and people from church.
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From:ravan
Date:February 14th, 2012 08:30 am (UTC)
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I read the "update". That "father" is so full of shit his eyes are brown.

Who cares where she got the money to buy her laptop, it wasn't his to use as a target. Also, that crap about "it's the dog's fault I found out"? Doesn't pass the smell test.
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