Parenthood through the viewfinder

Fathers, we need to talk.

There’s been a sudden upsurge lately in the number of fathers videotaping their children having meltdowns over life’s disappointments.

The latest one making its viral tour is this five-year-old boy who found out from his father yesterday that his favorite baseball player had been traded…

Fathers, like most adults, think it’s cute stuff; perhaps funny stuff. But these are the heartbreaks five-year-olds endure — and will have plenty of time to get used to. We all had to go through it, but most of us didn’t have someone videotaping us.

You don’t get off easy in this either, mothers…

Wait ’til the dog dies, kids.

  • http://bentspoon.net RJ

    Heartbreaking in not only the insensitivity to their children, but to how their exposing them to the notion that it’s OK to have a camera present during emotional times of one’s life. And they’re (the children) are not getting the choice to refuse.

    Too often parents forget that children are little people, trying to figure out how to navigate all of life’s little peaks and valleys.

    Are they funny? Sure. At the expense of someone else. Isn’t that sometimes called bullying?

  • Suzanne

    That’s awful! How someone thinks, “Hey, I’ll film this” as a response to a child crying is beyond me.

  • BJ

    OK maybe I’m the only one but this is the kind of stuff that made funniest home video’s a hit for the past 20+ years. Long before cell phone camera’s.

    Now everyone has one not just those that could afford to buy the video camera.

  • Chris N.

    > And they’re (the children) are not getting the choice to refuse.

    What? Kids are great at refusing to put up with stuff they don’t want to do. That little boy’s dad isn’t holding him down in front of the camera and forcing him to talk.

    I think we’re getting a little overblown here, folks. Before cell phone video was common, plenty of people took pictures of embarrassing moments in the lives of their children. Likely many of them showed said pictures to family and friends. I don’t ever remember anyone scolding people for that.

    Like BJ said, America’s Funniest Videos has been working this schtick for years. When you see the kids from those videos on the show, they’re most often laughing right along with the rest of the audience.

    Not to mention the fact that you can put a video up on YouTube with the intent of sharing it only with family and friends, just to have it go viral. Just because something is posted to the internet doesn’t mean the intent was for the world to see it. It’s perhaps naive if you don’t consider that possibility, but it’s not an inherently malicious act.

    So yeah, at least in the examples we’ve got here, I’m not convinced that this is such a terrible phenomenon. Certainly nowhere near the awfulness of real exploitation of your kids for attention e.g. toddler pageants and such.

  • Bob Collins

    // I think we’re getting a little overblown here, folks. Before cell phone video was common, plenty of people took pictures of embarrassing moments in the lives of their children.

    It’s not being overblown, the point merely is there are times to be a father (or a mother) and there are times when you can be a documentary producer. The art of parenting, frankly, is being able to understand when those times are and being able to understand the world from the perspective of a five year old.

    That’s pretty much what five year olds are for. That’s why when you’re two-year-old goes on a walk with you and stops to watch ants, you’re suddenly transformed back to the days when you understood how utterly cool ants are, before you got all obsessed with the Internet.

    Sometimes, you need to put the technology down and deal with the humanity of the moment. That, of course, is a losing battle in this age, but it’s one worth thinking about nonetheless.

    Also, if you put something on YouTube intending it only to be seen by family and friends, you shouldn’t procreate at all. :*)

    Also, America’s Funniest Home videos was one of the pathetically stupid shows in the history of network TV. There should be a version of Godwin’s Law that applies specifically to it.

  • Jim Shapiro

    There’s a word for people who find other’s pain and sorrow to be humorous: sadist.

  • Suzanne

    Everything Bob just said.

  • BJ

    *was one of the pathetically stupid shows

    is one of the pathetically stupid shows – it’s 23rd season starts in the fall. :)

  • Carol

    //Heartbreaking in not only the insensitivity to their children, but to how their exposing them to the notion that it’s OK to have a camera present during emotional times of one’s life. And they’re (the children) are not getting the choice to refuse.

    //Sometimes, you need to put the technology down and deal with the humanity of the moment. That, of course, is a losing battle in this age, but it’s one worth thinking about nonetheless.

    I posted a comment a few weeks ago about the pictures of the families grieving at soldiers’s unerals and how I intensely dislike those pictures. Although these situations with the kids aren’t the same, the principle is the same, and the two comments above sum up my thoughts about them.

    Bob, in that previous situation you defended the pictures of the grieving families, yet you seem to object to the posting of the videos of the children (the second blurb above is an excerpt from one of your comments about the kid videos). I’m not understanding how these two things are different from a base level concept. Can you clarify?

  • Bob Collins

    There’s no similarity at all.

    For one thing, the families at the funerals have given their permission for the photographers to be there. The photographers for their part, do not have another role to play.

    Two, the discomfort level here is on two different levels.

    Your discomfort is about you and how you feel about seeing a particular reality.

    That’s not my discomfort with the parenting videos. My discomfort isn’t that I find them unwatchable. My discomfort is we have parents who don’t understand that they have something they should be doing — parenting — at a time when they’re more interested in providing entertainment for someone else.

    If you’re going to be a parent, put down the camera and be a parent.