Thursday, July 5, 2012

Public Humiliation - Not the Best Parenting Strategy

Why is it that public humiliation has become a popular parenting strategy?  Again this week I read about a parent who had their child carry around a sign, pronouncing to the world their delinquent behavior.   This time, the twelve-year-old child was thirty minutes late in checking in with his father.  So, dad had him walk around with his scarlet letter signage from 9:15 a.m. until 5:00 p.m., with breaks every two hours.  Dad followed him around, I guess to snicker in his car about what a genius parent he was. 

I first saw this type of punishment a couple of years ago on a local news story.  A young man who had engaged in some type of disobedience was made to carry a sandwich board around with his crime in huge letters.  At first, I thought, "Hmm, that might be clever."  I'm a big fan of punishment "fitting" the crime and of logical consequences.  A good example of this is if a child checks in thirty minutes late, then when he wants to go out next weekend, he will have to be thirty minutes late to the movie, party, etc.  He can clearly make the cognitive connection that keeping people waiting and being late aren't cool.  Checking in behavior will probably increase. 

So, when I first heard about this creative punishment, I considered it for a minute as possibly credible.  It didn't take me long, though, to realize that this is nothing more than humiliation.  Humiliation may be motivating, but it is not healthy for a parent-child relationship.  And, for some sensitive children, it could be devastating.   It seems like the media covers anytime a child is punished this way, making the humiliation even greater. 

I'm starting to think, as I see this more and more that it is fad popular with parents who 1)are at the end of their rope and don't know what else to do  2)want to be on tv.  I don't think it's cute, funny, or even creative anymore.  It is humiliating, it will destroy your relationship with your child.

Colossians 3:21 says, "Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged."  Discouraged children are not obedient and they are not successful.  Ephesians 6:4 says, "Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord."  How does God punish us?  He's always handled me with great tenderness and grace, which makes consequences so much easier to accept.  And, it motivates me to do better.  Maybe if we all used our heavenly Father as an example, we would make more competent parenting decisions.


  1. I couldn't agree with you more. It's like that YouTube video of the father who shot his daughter's laptop. Humiliation is never the way to parent. It's love. It's always love.

    1. It's just a shame that the media gives those kind of parents so much attention and laughs. Boo.


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