I wrote recently about the Private Parent and shared a few things I do in an effort to build a solid, if somewhat hidden, foundation in the lives of my children.
A heartbreaking situation between an acquaintance and her teen son prompted those thoughts several months ago. Intense conviction flooded my heart and mind while we shuffled awkwardly and flushed red with him as she ranted and railed in a fit of maternal frustration and helplessness. His eyes filled with tears and his voice cracked in an attempt to maintain some kind of composure and dignity while his mother stripped him naked and flogged him with her words.
In the middle of my kitchen.
In front of our whole family.
In that moment I was overwhelmed with a burning desire to Never Ever Ever be the one who shamed my child in public again.
Along with this desire to privately parent and publicly praise my sons, I have been bothered... ok, honestly, I've been offended by the current trend toward the “Parenting Done Right” tags on pictures of children and teens being publicly humiliated. Giggling parents plaster these images all over social media and news sites while laughing family and friends, strangers and pundits, memes and fail sites put their shame up for the world to see.
You know the pictures I'm talking about. They are the images with phrases such as;
“My daughter was twerking at the school dance.”
“I’m not old enough to be drinking with my friends.”
"Smoked Pot, got caught. Don't I look cool? Not.”
The list goes on and on…
Katherine Bindley, on HuffPo, wrote a great article detailing this new trend in parenting complete with plenty of examples. Interested in viewing the shame of others? Go there and read her take on it. Good stuff.
Public shaming is awful and is nothing less than societally sanctioned parental bullying. Especially harmful to the young people against whom it is used as a weapon, the ramifications will resonate throughout their lives. They aren't as tough as we pretend we are.
Friends, this is not funny or classy. It is brutal and base.
Not even a little bit funny.
It's not laughable when they are the tiny ones with lisps and shiny smiles blissfully unaware of the sign that just announced, to the ENTIRE world, they pooped in the tub. Someday they won’t be four-years-old, and someday they might care.
That's a genie that can not go back in the bottle.
Frankly, this kind of behavior is as enjoyable as watching a hunched over man, his hands in the stocks, a tattered shirt blowing in the rain of a smoke-filled Middle Ages afternoon while raw sores and stiff muscles covered in rotting food attempt to shield a broken spirit.
Imagine that is an image of the heart of your child.
So, what could it cost you to post a picture of your kids in the “Get Along” shirt?
Bully your kids and they will learn to fear you. As in be afraid of you. Cringing in your presence and hiding their lives from you.
Publicly shame your kids and they will learn the only important character development is to be found in a good public persona and the fool’s gold of value based solely upon outward perception and public approval.
Mock your children as they struggle and they will learn to never share their struggles with you.
Share their weaknesses with the world and they will find the world to be cruel and will put you in the role of the cruelest of all.
They will think they are a joke, not to be taken seriously. Their pain the only commodity to sell.
They will treat you as you have treated them.
Think I’m over-reacting?
What if the red faced person was you with the sign, standing on the street corner, and your sign broadcast:
“Forgot to pay the cell phone bill and we got cut off and have to pay the late fee.”
“Yelled at a co-worker and lost my job. Now we are losing our house.”
“Went out and got drunk with my girlfriends and now I have a DUI.”
What if you and your spouse are in one of those Yelling Seasons and your kids posted a picture of you in the “Get Along” shirt?
Wouldn’t that be funny!? I mean, everyone fights, so it’s hysterical!
Wait… You aren’t laughing?
Maybe you don’t like being humiliated in public.
Why do you think your kids can handle it any better than you could?
Life, one word at a time.
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