Commentary: N.C. dad shoots daughter's laptop to show he cares

The (Raleigh) News & ObserverFebruary 15, 2012 

Any hardworking, caring parent who has fought the urge to knock teeth down a rebellious teenage throat through which ungratefulness is spewing understands why Tommy Jordan shot his daughter's laptop computer.

That's right. Shot it. Nine times. With his .45. Not that the gun or the bullets are the subject here. They are just the exclamation point on the end of the sentence.

And what Jordan seems to be saying is this: I love my daughter enough not to rob her of a capacity for shame! I love her enough that I will blow holes in her inflated sense of entitlement, literally and figuratively, so that she will be an adult who contributes well to a society that can actually tolerate her!

In case you aren't one of the millions who have viewed the viral online video of the laptop's demise, Tommy Jordan is a North Carolina man who this month spent several hours and considerable money upgrading his 15-year-old daughter's computer.

During the process, Jordan - the owner of an IT company - ran across a Facebook post by his girl, who had been punished previously over inappropriate posts. The first time, she lost electronic privileges for three months, and Jordan told her a subsequent infraction would result in worse repercussions.

So it's not as if she hadn't been warned. Warnings are welcome in good-parenting manuals.

This time, Jordan found an obscenity-laced diatribe addressed to him and his wife complaining about chores.

"I'm not your (expletive) slave. It's not my responsibility to clean up your (expletive). We have a cleaning lady for a reason," her Facebook post said. "If you want coffee, get off your (expletive) and get it yourself. If you want a garden, shovel the fertilizer yourself, don't sit back on your (expletive) and watch me do it."

And my favorite: "I'm going to hate to see the day you get too old to wipe your own (expletive) and you call me up. I won't be there."

Because Daddy no doubt never wiped her butt, or her nose, or kissed her boo-boos, or bought her food, clothing, shelter and, oh, a laptop that she used to publicly denigrate him.

Jordan responded by taking away the computer and posting on his daughter's Facebook page the 8-minute video, in which he lists in an incredulous tone his daughter's chores that might take an hour to accomplish each day. He reminds her that he was on his own, working, when he was her age and paid his way through college while also volunteering as a firefighter.

"Your responsibilities include waking up on time and getting on a bus," he says into the camera. "You don't have that hard a life, but you're about to."

He lays the laptop in a field, then shoots it nine times. Seems a waste, but I reckon that's his prerogative, because he paid for it. He says his daughter will have another computer when she buys herself one.

He did follow through

One of the biggest parenting no-nos, we are told repeatedly, is to issue threats without following through on them. Regardless of what you give Jordan on technique, you gotta give that cowboy-hat-wearing man a 10 on follow-through.

To his credit, Jordan has not given any media interviews. He says he intended only for the friends who saw the daughter's original post to view his response so that they would understand that his daughter's attitude was not acceptable, that her cutting remarks were not cute.

When parents are financially comfortable, as Jordan clearly is, lessons about needs and wants and gratitude and gifts can be difficult to impart. Many teenagers come to think that what others have, they rightfully should have, and that if other kids are spoiled, they should reek as well.

That Jordan chose to try to rid his daughter of the rot of entitlement by exposing her rebelliousness to the air of her Facebook community seems like child abuse to some; the fact that he used a gun seems outrageous to others.

Sheltering children from every hint of failure and small doses of character-building shame, however, is the crime.

Parents - and too often, I admit, that includes me - unwilling to make the hard decisions that starve the destructive beast of entitlement are the outrage.

To read more, visit www.newsobserver.com.

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