To the Father of Hannah, Who Posted the FB Note: “To My Parents”

Last night an acquaintance of mine posted this video on his Facebook page.  He had retrieved it from Reddit and was heralding the dad’s actions.  Then another acquaintance of mine chimed in and sent a rally cry through her post in favor of the dad as well.

Then I watched that video which was cheered on by two of my Facebook connections…and was filled up with an overabundance of sobering thoughts, one of which was, “Okay, this puppy is going viral I’ll bet.  It will be in the headlines tomorrow.”

And it was.  On the front page of Yahoo’s news stories, the disappointed father of Hannah was featured with a story detailing the contents of the video.  I was still processing quite a few aspects of the particular situation when I ate lunch with two of my colleagues, both of whom were male, both of whom own guns, both of whom were family scientists (one’s research specialization area is adolescents and family) and who both had an opinion about the video.

They liked the idea of a father using the same medium as the daughter to communicate a message to her.  They did not agree with the father’s tactics of sarcasm, one-uppance, shooting the laptop with eight rounds from him and “one from the mother.”  Then the subject changed, and I continued to process the situation through this evening.

So tonight I’m ready to write to the father of Hannah who posted the “To My Parents” note on her Facebook. I’m done with my processing, but I’m sure he’s not close to being done…and I’m thinking about their family.

Here is my letter to you, dad…

Dear father of Hannah:

I watched the video you posted for others to see and thought about you, your wife and Hannah today.  I talked to some friends about your struggle and I read a couple of newspaper articles covering the “news” of your video getting widespread attention.

I would imagine that things are really weird around your house right now.  You’re probably getting quite a few media calls, Hannah is probably getting quite a few media calls too, and I would imagine that your life changed more than you could have imagined since last night.  That’s a big consequence for the decision to make and post your video response to Hannah.  I hope you all are okay through the hulabaloo, because after it dies down you all will have some healing to do. 

How do I know that?  Because of what you wrote, not because of what you said on your video.  Here’s what I’m referring to in case the message is a little lost in all this chaos:

“Today was probably the most disappointing day of my life as a father and I don’t know how to correct the situation.”

Coming from a father who just shot his daughter’s laptop with nine rounds from his .45 caliber handgun, that’s a really open, honest, vulnerable and very real statement.  In an odd way, I’ll bet Hannah could write a good portion of that message as well.  She may not know how to correct the situation either.

From far away, it appears that Hannah is highly frustrated with the way things are right now in the family, and you (and probably your wife) are feeling exactly the same thing…highly frustrated with the way things are in your family.  Actually, you both seem pretty miserable right now, and in a few ways it seems like you’ve been engaged in a battle of wits, sarcasm laced with disrespectful language, contempt and anxiety about your situation for quite a while.

Hannah used the gift you gave her to complain about your family publicly.  You used a deadly weapon to complain about her behavior publicly.  But I’ll bet that neither of you feel much better after she vented, and then you vented.

So, I just wanted to suggest that when all the hubbub DOES die down (and I’m praying this happens fairly quickly, before more dangerous and intense “one-uppance” behaviors continue) that you start where you almost finished…start with those words: “Today was  probably the most disappointing day of my life as a father, and I don’t know how to correct the situation.”

THAT STATEMENT, dear father of Hannah, is a perfect place to start correcting the situation.  And if you’re not sure where to go after that message, then there are some people who can walk you through…so you CAN know. And so your wife can know.

Having a daughter who is fifteen isn’t too late in the game to change the rules, dad.  And just know this…I’m rooting for you.  I’m rooting for ALL of you.

Sincerely,

A fellow parent

 

 

 

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11 thoughts on “To the Father of Hannah, Who Posted the FB Note: “To My Parents””

  1. Kelly, I loved your thoughtful response to the parent. My initial reaction could best be described as “less considered”. My son (mid 20’s) posted this on FB and tagged me, with the comment that he was glad that I never did this to his electronics. My response to him was that I was glad that I was never provoked to the point of gunfire (and pointed out that I don’t have a gun nor know how to shoot) — and that he should know that I would have sold that laptop. No response from him, but I’m sure he knows that I might have done so. He was a great teenager, but ages 9 – 13 were hell for both of us. It was when I finally realized that I had to put some teeth into punishments — and stick with it — that we both began to get along & finally to respect our differing opinions.

    The part of the video that really got to me (besides the fact that this was a violation of Hannah’s privacy) was that the dad was visibly shaking at points. Learning to control anger and disappointment in your kids is so very hard to do. Waiting for clearer heads to prevail is always good advice, but so dang hard to follow. You are right that it is good that Hannah’s dad could express his disappointment, but it is scary to think how this could escalate if they don’t talk about their issues — lack of trust, lack of respect for each other — and work to resolve them.

    1. AnneCamille~ agreed. It’s that regulation piece that is huge when it comes to separating the grown-ups from the children. Thanks for your thoughtful response.

  2. Kelly, I love this!! I heard a clip of this father’s tirade the radio this afternoon, and my first thought was, “Wow, wonder what those family dynamics look like?” Lol! Great response, and I hope other parents don’t take the popularity of this as encouragement to resort to violence–even toward an inanimate object–with their adolescent children.

  3. I know the pain of having a teenage daughter. I had two, and those two chose to live with their father , and cut off all ties, at that age, to escape parenting. It broke me so badly that I spent an entire year sleeping all day long and living (thankfully) on unemployment and the grace of God. I feel for you, Dad, and I understand the anger, hurt, anger, hurt, and anger you are feeling.
    I remember the punch in the stomach it was for me when my daughter called CPS because she was grounded that week, and had to clean her room. When I was called to the school counselor’s office to meet the CPS officer and defend myself, amid my daughter’s, and her friend’s, who I had never heard of or seen in my life, giggles. I suppose I could rant for 8 minutes or more, myself, spitting mad, humiliated, laid low by the anger and hurt. Some ten years since, I feel the same boiling cauldron of mixed emotions, my face is hot and red, as are my tears. I understand.

    Things are different these days, aren’t they? And we all are just doing the best we can. I have no doubt you love your daughter, and that you wish this whole fiasco had not happened. Though I would have, given that I have the luxury of distance from the situation, chosen different words, or actions, I will not judge you.

    I will say this, however. There are children, and of course, adults, that would give their eye teeth for a laptop computer. So for other parents who wish to make a point to their children, please consider donating those items to someone in need rather than senselessly destroying them. I truly believe it will speak volumes to your child without destruction, and perhaps would have driven home the lesson, better, of just how fortunate she/he is/was.

    I believe Kelly is right. It is not too late to heal, for all of you. One of the daughters I spoke of has chosen to divorce herself of me completely, and it is a stunning heartbreak that I hope you can avoid, if you all work together through these hard days.

    I wish you well. All of you.

    1. Hey, Maggie – I think that words – regardless of how many, or from where they came, can be helpful sometimes to people who run across them. I want to leave this up unless you’d really rather me take it down. Your call. Take care, RDK
      P.S. Bless you for putting your pain out there … sometimes just the right person will see it, at just the right time.

  4. I love your response, RDK, to the father. Fifteen (and sixteen and seventeen …..and twenty-one)is a tough age to deal with as the fifteen yr old AND as the parent! My son tagged me in this video last night saying this might be something HIS mom would do. We did try to be creative with our discipline, but we did not have social media to deal with when they were that age! It’s a whole new ballgame now. After my initial shock of the language, the lengthy response and then the shooting, my 2nd thought was “Wow, now they really need to consider family counsel”. I don’t know how long I would stay under a rock if my video like that had gone viral! As parents….we really need to put thought into how WE react. appreciate you ♥

    1. You’re right. We’re the grown-ups. Regardless of how children react, we need to act like the grown-ups. I saw quite a few behaviors on the dad’s part that were more “adolescent” than grown-up. He was honest with his feelings about being disappointed – that’s a good start. Hope they can somehow find progress. So glad I’m not the one who made the video your son was teasing you with…but you’re right. Social media changes the rules a bit with parenting, and there’s a new learning to be had.

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