Lazy, Shitty, or Both: What Type of Parent Are You?

Hey, kids, did you hear? This guy shot up his ungrateful teenage daughter's laptop, filmed it, and put it on YouTube all because she griped about having to do chores on Facebook and didn't realize he could see her wall. Hoo-boy is she in for a big soo-prise now! He really showed her who's boss!

Informal poll: Is the Laptop Dad onto something? Or should he have taken a page from the Tiger Mom? Paging Mommie Dearest! What would the Eagle Dad do? Where are those indifferent French parents when you really need them? More importantly, is it better to have loved and lost your laptop than never to have bitched about your parents on Facebook at all? Careful, I think your dad is reading your thoughts about this question RIGHT NOW!

Seriously, it's getting to where every five seconds, we have a new type of parent we can hail or harangue, or at least turn to for answers to those same troublesome age-old questions: Is it better to treat your kids like shit or not? Why don't teenagers want to hear stories about their parents' sad, deprived lives? Exactly how shitty can I be to my kids and still have them be nice to me when I'm old? Does James Franco put more thought into his hair than I put into being a parent?

If you're exactly like me and I sense that you are, your biggest problem with this conversation is that you already hate everyone involved. But your second biggest problem is that conversations like this — about "types" of parenting and which "type" you are — are so reductive as to be useless to anyone trying to actually be a good parent.

It turns out there are some core parenting principles that come in handy for good results. For instance, take this recent study out of the University of New Hampshire that showed that of the three most common parenting styles — permissive, authoritative, or authoritarian — that being a dick was the least effective. Partying with your kid turns out to be hella-lame as well.

But like everything we hate to acknowledge in this culture' cause it's way less bite-sized nacho fun jamz, something in the middle is probably your best bet for not raising a jackanapes, and the authoritative style seems to win the day. That means you have to act like a parent and shit, but treat your kid like a person and shit. You have to make an effort, and you don't get to act like a complete tool.

This is apparently the hardest thing in the universe for people to do. Hey, I'm not saying I'll master it effortlessly, but I'm definitely saying I already know I'm supposed to try.

The best parents I've known were the cool parents, and by cool I don't mean, "bought me weed." Those weed-buying types were more inclined to bring live roosters into the house and kick you out at 2 in the morning because they'd had enough. Just speculating.

Good parents genuinely show an interest in their kids lives, ask them questions, seem to want to actually hear the answers, know their kids' friends, expose them to diversity, culture, ideas, art, cool stuff and generally try to give them useful skills. And they see their own role as facilitator in their child's life, not dictator. What's more, they use a kind of hybrid approach that draws on common sense, the type of kid they have, the situation at hand, and the idea that they're raising an autonomous person, not a mini-me.

That means they don't take every pushed boundary as a personal attack, but rather the natural order of what it means to come up in the world and try to forge an identity. They understand that part of figuring out who you are is figuring out what you're not, and questioning authority is a cornerstone of this phase.

Oops, TL;DR! There I go again with that darn critical thinking. It's fallen out of favor lately, but we're hoping with a solid Internet meme or Lana Del Rey song that we can bring it back into the lexicon.

So of course, the debate over the laptop dude isn't get a load of this choad, but rather, "Is this guy crazy or awesome or kinda both, wink?" Sure, I'll bite. If a bear broke in and tried to steal the laptop, fine, shoot the bear, consider the laptop collateral damage, no questions asked, and we'll deal with the Department of Fish and Wildlife later. Short of that, I think we're going for non-shooting solutions here. This seems obvious to me.

Also, I really just don't find the daughter's actions all that egregious. She's 15, and her alleged comments amounted to the idea that cleaning, working and doing stuff you don't want to do sucks. Why people aren't giving that kid a medal for figuring out life early is beyond me. Good job lady, what you said sounds exactly like how most people feel including me up to this very morning. But the dad? Now that shit was about as levelheaded as a LiveJournal entry.

True, I haven't raised any teenagers yet, so I'll be sure to keep my .45 polished and at the ready till that day comes, but for now, I'm going to plant myself smugly on the side of please, dude, open up the Internet you're so proud of being good at with your IT job and shooting skills, and read about the efficacy of different parenting styles.

Or you can just act like some ancient who lived way back before the world got cool, thinking your sad-sack story about your hard knock life will make your daughter give a tweet-sized turd about you paying the bills or anything other than whatever it is 15-year-old girls are obsessing over now, like whether their nostrils are pretty.

Curious: Has anyone ever heard a parent say to their kid, "Well, your life is actually shittier than mine was, so it's me who needs to be understanding of you." Didn't think so. Aren't all kids lives better than their parents by the laws of narcissism or something? The fact that my own kid is being taught yoga on Wednesdays at daycare is automatically proof that her life is a bazillion times better than mine was, because when I was her age I'm pretty sure I just played in some tar.

But if my job is to make sure she feels guilty about that for me, so that she never ever disrespects where I came from or what I give her, then lookout mountain! Heads will roll. HEADS WILL ROLL, DID YOU HEAR ME? [Cocks gun.] Or, when she turns about 12, I can always just teach her how to set her Facebook page to private.


Tracy Moore is a writer in Los Angeles. She doesn't really own a gun.