We have a son who occasionally loses track at school. It has taken months to find the root of the problem. That’s right: months. I might not get an A in quick turn-around, but I was willing to go the extra mile over more than three weeks to determine why his grades were suffering. It takes months to turn a D into a B. Not weeks. Months. All things worthwhile are worth the work. Without parachute parenting, it is even harder. There has been screaming, crying, swearing, and banging of heads. This shit has been tough.
And you know what? We filmed none of it.
If you have been hanging around the internet, you may have seen this father disciplining his son for failing in school by making him take a sledgehammer to his Xbox. At last count, more than one million people have watched this boy beg and cry and be unable to perform the task his father is asking of him. They also had a vote about whether or not this was appropriate; at last count 33% of people have voted for “Definitely — the child needed to experience this type of discipline to understand how important school and good grades are.”
I am in the 67% that said no.
This kid, and mine, needed to take 100% accountability for their performance in school. Jason, in the video, tried to blame his teacher. So did my son. They both finally got perfect on something – they are 100% wrong! I don’t care if your teacher has a hate on you, you are responsible for your own performance. That is the lesson this boy needs to learn. And I agree: if getting good grades in school is important (and I suspect it is in most houses), then this boy needed consequences. No arguments there.
But it is really shitty to be judged harshly. Don’t you think that on some level this boy Jason feels bad for his failing grades? Everybody needs affirmation, and to have the fact that you are a failure rubbed in your face–for the entire Internet to see, no less–really has to suck.
What if his father was stern but empathetic? What if he told Jason that his grades were important, and it would be unacceptable for him to come home with failing grades? What if he then listened to his son explain the reasoning behind those grades? Sure, there will be blaming of everyone else, but I am sure if you dig, the real truth will come out.
We dug at our son. We spent time with him while he did his homework and saw him stumble and get frustrated. We spoke to his teacher. We saw the problems and were able to help our son take accountability, because they were his problems to fix. He got his second chance and he made the best of it. We parented. Our son’s valued possessions are still intact. I would change plenty about how I dealt with the whole thing, but I did the best I could, and the results prove that it was good enough.
We all know parenting is harder than we ever imagined and we are making it up as we go. But how often are you coerced by someone swearing at you? I know if my dad had said “just fucking do it,” I would have worn my resentment like a blanket. I would tell my friends that my dad was an ass, and they would agree. “Pick up the fucking sledgehammer and smash it,” and “pick up the fucking hammer and do it” are things Jason’s dad said to him. I can see why this kid didn’t listen.
There are pictures of me in tears as a youngster. I am mortified each time I flip through the albums, and those aren’t even on the internet. Jason will be teased for those tears. FOREVER! Here is something that Jason’s dad may not know: feeling good about yourself might help you in school.
Lets’ review what Jason’s father did teach him:
He taught him that destruction of expensive property will take the place of good hard work. He taught him that shaming is acceptable and that bullying by your father is acceptable parenting. He taught him that being heralded on the internet for punishing your child and claiming the rights to “Father of the Year” is actually more important than the actual parenting.
Great life lessons, all.
This boy has to face his friends at school. Now they know that his grades suck, he no longer has an Xbox (which makes him uncool), he cries, he is weak in front of his father, and he blames other people for his own shortcomings. He not only has to live with that at school, he has to live with that for the rest of his life.
The internet is permanent, dad. The punishment does not befit the crime. I don’t think Jason will get what his dad was really trying to do either. He is a kid. Kids can’t yet understand what it is like from the other side. If his dad had made the “lesson” one that involved only the two of them, Jason might have learned a very different lesson.
Respect. That would have been a good one.
This dad did not respect Jason by posting this video to go viral. He did not respect his right to privacy, to be loved, to be protected by his family. All of that was violated.
Jason, I hope this encourages you to go and pull up your grades despite your father. I hope you become a leader at school and learn to respect and love yourself. Because Jason, you would not want to end up as ignorant as your father. You are better than that.
I hope you give your dad the dead Xbox for Father’s Day every year for the rest of his life to remind him of his own failings. Do yourself a favour and tape him opening it once or twice, too.