A mom recently shared a viral post on Facebook about making her entitled son shop at Goodwill and buy clothes that he had to wear to school for the entire week. This is just the latest in a long line of parents teaching their kids valuable life lessons in a very public way.
Among my circle of friends, we have a variety of thoughts regarding parents publicly shaming their kids. Some are all for it. Some are passionately against it. Meanwhile, I fall somewhere in the middle. I don’t think that most of it is abusive and parents are free to parent in any non-abusive manner that they think is best. I’m just not a fan of this tactic though.
When I was growing up, local parents sometimes openly disciplined their kids in embarrassing ways. (Thank God that I wasn’t raised in this age of social media!) The difference in my mind is that the punishment was done within the context of an actual community. The people who saw us be disciplined knew us outside of that one incident so they had a complete view of us as people. We weren’t defined by the incident that provoked the punishment. Meanwhile, the main glimpses of that we get of these kids who are nationally shamed is what we see when they’re being humiliated. As I often tell my kids, “Noone bats a 1,000 (is perfect) but Jesus, and you’re not Him.” I think that these kids who are being embarrassed are more than just their shortcomings. Yet, the negative aspects of their characters are primarily the images of these children that the public is left with after their parents shame them online.
I guess it all depends on how you view discipline. I don’t think that any of us parents get it 100% right all of the time and I think that the majority of us are doing the best that we can. Although I sometimes play one on television, I’m no parenting “expert”. However, I do think that there are a few questions that are helpful to ask ourselves as parents as we contemplate disciplining our kids publically (whether online or in real life)…
-Why are we disciplining our kids in this manner? Is it out of a true love and concern for them or is it to impress others?
-Is the discipline ultimately going to help our kids?
-Is the discipline being carried out in a loving way?
I absolutely believe that discipline and correction are necessary for kids. I just think that a lot of care and thoughtfulness needs to be put into it. (I’m writing to myself too!) That is all.