Joey started a firestorm the other day, posting a You Tube video on face book about a father, frustrated by the betrayal of his sixteen-year-old daughter who had posted slanderous and derogatory things about him to her friends on face book. He wasn’t supposed to find this out, but came across it while upgrading her computer for her.
To say that he was angry would be an understatement of gigantic proportions. It was more than that, much more. The pain he felt from that betrayal was visible in his voice and his actions. To quell the rage that was seething inside him, he took the upgraded computer, put it out on his back pasture, brought his 45 magnum colt and put eight mushrooming bullets in it. Of course he video’d the whole business and put it up on face book for all his daughter’s friends to see. What a mess!
Where did all this go so wrong? Well, you can’t second-guess any situation like that without being in the middle of it, but I well know the frustration of fathers at the stupid things their teenage children do. I’ve had five of the little buggers so I can quote you chapter and verse on the subject. First of all, their brains all fall out at puberty. I think that’s what girls in particular menstruate for the first five years or so – maybe ten or fifteen. And boys – well boys are just stupid. They’re lovable, but stupid. No getting around that. It isn’t until they’re getting around to age thirty when they start to develop a new set and discover they are not nearly as smart, or gorgeous, or invincible as they once thought they were. Holy crap! Being an adult and a parent is serious business! Suddenly, our parents have become a whole lot smarter than they were when we were teenagers and knew everything. That’s actually what Winston Churchill said about his parents whose intelligence had improved markedly since he had been away.
It was Leslie Nielson, the actor who said he carried this burden around that his father had unfairly abused him as a child. When he finally had the courage to confront the old man at the age of about sixty, his father told him he had done the best he could with what he had to work with. If Nielson didn’t like it, well, that was his problem. Nielson got the point and said “Oh”. With that the burden was lifted and with that he went on with his life.
Parenting has never been an easy job. You read about complaints and lamentations even in Roman times about unruly children who would not listen to their parents. Those days they were called children. The term ‘teenagers’ hadn’t been coined yet. I guess they didn’t have any of them social worker graduates in those days.
Well I didn’t want to be shooting my mouth off without knowing what I was talking about, so I looked the whole business up on the internet. Holy Toledo, you’ve never seen such a collection of advocates for the rights of children in your life. Finally, I was able to find what the laws of Canada and the U.S. had to say. And they say that a child has the right to life; i.e. food, shelter, clothing. There are supplementary obligations regarding education and medical services. All of these obligations end at age eighteen. That’s it!
One of the things that bothered me in Sue’s rebuttal was her statement that “Love is a fringe benefit”. It is impossible to give birth to or adopt a child without having a deep and abiding love for it. And that love grows in intensity as time passes – all by itself. So it’s not a fringe benefit, but rather an ingrained and inalienable law of parenthood. It comes with the territory.
What is a fringe benefit to both parent and child is the dreaded “R” word – Respect. Well, the thing is, respect is not free. It’s something that has to be earned, which takes a long time to do, and can be dashed in a single moment of stupidity. That’s what children have to learn. Unfortunately, they confuse the right of respect with the right of entitlement. And is it any wonder? There’s a whole load of advocates trying to sell entitlement to the kids, including the cursed Child and Family Services who couldn’t find their backsides with both hands behind their collective backs when it comes to parenting. Then of course, there are the gangs, the pimps, the drug dealers, etc. They’ll give you entitlement, as long as you’ve got the cash. You’ll have an identity, just like any grown-up. Yeah, right.
I don’t know, the more I think about it, the more I think the dad had the right idea. It was as dramatic as any I’ve ever seen. Maybe he has more faith in his daughter’s reasoning power than we suspect. Could be that the drama in the video was for the benefit of her friends. If not, there’s always the front door.
You’d think the way I carry on, I really care about this kind of thing. But I’m only an observer looking down from the top shelf and I calls ‘em how I sees ‘em. For the rest – I don’t really give a rip!