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.
A fellow parent