Attention Media Outlets
While we appreciate the interest you're all putting forth to get in touch with us regarding the video, we're not going to go on your talk show, not going to call in to your radio show, and not going to be in your TV mini-series.
Some of you think I made an acceptable parenting decision and others think I didn't. However, I can't think of any way myself or my daughter can ...respond to a media outlet that won't be twisted out of context. The Dallas news TV news already showed that in their brief 5 minute interview with the psychologist.
Additionally, there's absolutely NO way I'm going to send my child the message that it's OK to gain from something like this. It would send her a message that it's OK to profit at the expense of someone else's embarrassment or misfortune and that's now how I was raised, nor how she has been raised.
So I say thank you from all of us. If we have anything to say, we'll say it here on Facebook, and we'll say it publicly, but we won't say it to a microphone or a camera. There are too many other REAL issues out there that could use this attention you're giving us. My daughter isn't hurt, emotionally scarred, or otherwise damaged, but that kind of publicity has never seemed to be to have a positive effect on any child or family.
If you're a news outlet that wants to ask us a question, feel free to so via email. I'm sure by now my email address is easy enough to find. It might take me awhile to get to a response because I'd have to sort through the "Die you bastard" emails to find it, but we will respond if its something that we feel merits it. Otherwise, sorry... no interviews, no talk shows, no call-ins.
If we respond to anything, it will be on here, and it will be in a way that our words can't be misconstrued or edited for appeal to specific audience or shock value.
Now, I'm going to try to get to work for the day.
Best of luck to all of you out there... and PLEASE give my phone a break.
HOW HANNAH GOT CAUGHT
The Dog Did It.. no, really.
I finally came out and told her this today, partly because it was too funny NOT to share.
When my daughter made her post, she used Facebook's privacy settings to block "Family" and "Church" friend's lists. All her other friends could see it. We, of course could not.
One of our dogs is always getting in photos and therefore has her own Facebook pa...ge. It's just a cute dumb thing we did for fun. Well, the dog's profile is rarely used except when funny pictures of her are posted. Since that's not too often, and she has very few friends on Facebook, her wall is kind of bare, with relatively few posts showing up on it.
The other night we gave the dog a bath and there was a funny photo we uploaded to Facebook and tagged her in. I logged in as the dog the next morning to comment on the photo. However when I logged into the dog's profile, my daughter had forgotten to add her to the "family" list.... so our family dog's profile showed her post right there on the front page.
It wasn't any parent-hacking, computer spying, or monitoring of any kind.. the dog actually ratted her out completely by accident. She hasn't petted that dog all day today...
For those that wondered, commented, criticized, and just in general wanted to know:
My daughter came through it fine.
Yes, she's in trouble, and yes she's grounded, but that doesn't mean every moment of her life has to be miserable. She's going to come to terms with the changes that will be present for a while; no TV privileges, no Internet, etc.
In the meantime, once the initial anger passed,... she sat with me reviewing some of the comments that have come in via Facebook and YouTube. One person even suggested collecting the shell casings and auctioning them on eBay. I said I’d do it if it would help contribute to her college fund! When I told her about it, she thought a minute, got a funny calculating expression on her face and said, “in that case you should shoot my phone too. We can use more bullets and I’ll go half-sies with ya on it! It’s not like I’m going to need it any time soon. And I can use the money we get to buy a new one.”
While the whole point of this story isn’t funny, what is funny to me is how weak some people out there think kids are. Our kids are as strong as we help them to be. My daughter took a horrible day in her life, had her crying fit, then got over it, accepted her punishment, and hasn’t let it (or people’s comments) destroy her strength. I don’t get any credit for that. She’s strong and able to overcome almost anything life throws at her.
Since this unsuspectingly threw her into the limelight much more strongly than either of us intended, I asked her if she wanted to make her own response video, and told her I’d let her do it if she wanted to. She doesn’t like being in front of the camera, so she declined, but I’ve told her if she wants to write a response or post a video response, I’d be OK with it. It’s only fair considering the viral nature of the whole thing. So far she’s not really interested. Quite frankly it seems she’s gotten bored of it much faster than the general public has. If that changes I’ll post it here.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS:
Media Response to Anita Li, from the Toronto Star
Since you took the time to email us with your requests like we asked, I’ll take the time to give you an honest follow-up response. You’ll have to forgive me for doing so publicly though; again I want to be sure my words are portrayed the way I actually say them, not cut together to make entirely different points.
Your questions were:
Q: Why did you decide to reprimand your daughter over a public medium like YouTube?
A: Well, I actually just had to load the video file itself on YouTube because it’s a better upload process than Facebook, but the intended audience was her Facebook friends and the parents of those friends who saw her post and would naturally assume we let our children get away with something like that. So, to answer “Why did you reprimand her over a public medium like Facebook” my answer is this: Because that’s how I was raised. If I did something embarrassing to my parents in public (such as a grocery store) I got my tail tore up right there in front of God and everyone, right there in the store. I put the reprisal in exactly the same medium she did, in the exact same manner. Her post went out to about 452 people. Mine went out to about 550 people… originally. I had no idea it would become what it did.
Q: How effective do you think your punishment was (i.e. shooting her laptop and reading her letter online)?
A: I think it was very effective on one front. She apparently didn’t remember being talked to about previous incidents, nor did she seem to remember the effects of having it taken away, nor did the eventual long-term grounding seem to get through to her. I think she thought “Well, I’ll just wait it out and I’ll get it back eventually.” Her behavior corrected for a short time, and then it went back to what it was before and worse. This time, she won’t ever forget and it’ll be a long time before she has an opportunity to post on Facebook again. I feel pretty certain that every day from then to now, whenever one of her friends mentions Facebook, she’ll remember it and wish she hadn’t done what she did.
The second lesson I want her to learn is the value of a dollar. We don’t give her everything she asks for, but you can all imagine what it’s like being the only grandchild and the first child. Presents and money come from all sides when you’re young. Most of the things she has that are “cool” were bought or gifted that way. She’s always asked for very few things, but they’re always high-dollar things (iPod, laptop, smartphone, etc). Eventually she gets given enough money to get them. That’s not learning the value of a dollar. Its knowing how to save money, which I greatly applaud in her, but it’s not enough. She wants a digital SLR camera. She wants a 22 rifle like mine. She wants a car. She wants a smart phone with a data package and unlimited texting. (I have to hear about that one every week!)
She thinks all these things are supposed to be given to her because she’s got parents. It’s not going to happen, at least not in our house. She can get a job and work for money just like everyone else. Then she can spend it on anything she wants (within reason). If she wants to work for two months to save enough to purchase a $1000 SLR camera with an $800 lens, then I can guarantee she’ll NEVER leave it outside at night. She’ll be careful when she puts it away and carries it around. She’ll value it much more because she worked so hard to get it. Instead, with the current way things have been given to her, she's on about her fourth phone and just expects another one when she breaks the one she has. She's not sorry about breaking it, or losing it, she's sorry only because she can't text her friends. I firmly believe she'll be a LOT more careful when she has to buy her own $299.00 Motorola Razr smartphone.
Until then, she can do chores, and lots and lots of them, so the people who ARE feeding her, clothing her, paying for all her school trips, paying for her musical instruments, can have some time to relax after they finish working to support her and the rest of the family. She can either work to make money on her own, or she will do chores to contribute around the house. She’s known all along that all she has to do is get a job and a lot of these chores will go away. But if you’re too lazy to work even to get things you want for yourself, I’m certainly not going to let you sit idly on your rear-end with your face glued to both the TV and Facebook for 5 to 6 hours per night. Those days are over.
Q: How did your daughter respond to the video and to what happened to her laptop?
A: She responded to the video with “I can’t believe you shot my computer!” That was the first thing she said when she found out about it. Then we sat and we talked for quite a long while on the back patio about the things she did, the things I did in response, etc.
Later after she’d had time to process it and I’d had time to process her thoughts on the matters we discussed, we were back to a semi-truce… you know that uncomfortable moment when you’re in the kitchen with your child after an argument and you’re both waiting to see which one’s going to cave in and resume normal conversation first? Yeah, that moment. I told her about the video response and about it going viral and about the consequences it could have on our family for the next couple of days and asked if she wanted to see some of the comments people had made. After the first few hundred comments, she was astounded with the responses.
People were telling her she was going to commit suicide, commit a gun-related crime, become a drug addict, drop out of school, get pregnant on purpose, and become a stripper because she’s too emotionally damaged now to be a productive member of society. Apparently stripper was the job-choice of most of the commenters. Her response was “Dude… it’s only a computer. I mean, yeah I’m mad but pfft.” She actually asked me to post a comment on one of the threads (and I did) asking what other job fields the victims of laptop-homicide were eligible for because she wasn’t too keen on the stripping thing.
We agreed we learned two collective lessons from this so far:
First: As her father, I’ll definitely do what I say I will, both positive and negative and she can depend on that. She no longer has any doubt about that.
Second: We have always told her what you put online can affect you forever. Years later a single Facebook/MySpace/Twitter comment can affect her eligibility for a good job and can even get her fired from a job she already has. She’s seen first-hand through this video the worst possible scenario that can happen. One post, made by her Dad, will probably follow him the rest of his life; just like those mean things she said on Facebook will stick with the people her words hurt for a long time to come. Once you put it out there, you can’t take it back, so think carefully before you use the internet to broadcast your thoughts and feelings.