Saturday, September 20, 2014

Embarrassment: All Fun & Games, Punishment or Torture

We have all told our children that we can't wait until they are teenagers so we can show their new boy/girl friend the famous naked baby in the tub pictures and drag out every horrible old movie we can find.  My husband picked my daughter up at school one day last week.  As they were driving through the parking lot of the school he rolled the windows down, cranked up the old school rap music and started dancing.  I'm surprised that no one thought he was having a seizure.  My daughter immediately fell into the floor board screaming that she was embarrassed, her life was over and she can never show her face at school again.  By the end of the night she was laughing about it and all worry of permanent mental scarring vanished.  All fun and games right??  Just a little pay back for everything they have put us through right??

What about the parents that use humiliation as a form of punishment?  Not exactly fun and games for anyone then.  A Michigan father recently forced his 4 year old son to stand on the side of the road holding a sign that read "I hit little girls". I don't believe a boy should ever hit a girl but its understandable when they are 4.  A child of that age does not understand why boys can't hit girls.  They just know that they didn't get their way and their first instinct is to smack someone.  He certainly doesn't understand why his father is forcing him to stand on the side of the road with a sign.  I support punishing bad behavior but first you have to explain to them why it is bad and how they can better handle the situation.  At 4 years old they can't rationalize and determine the best way to handle it. 

I just shook my head the first time I saw a viral shame photo.  I don't understand why parents think humiliating kids is punishment.  Humiliating a child and calling it punishment causes a break in the trust that the child has for the parent.  The person that they should be able to trust to have their back no matter what intentionally embarrassed them in front of the entire world.  How would you feel if you messed up on a work assignment and your boss called you into the middle of the office and began to belittle you in front of everyone? Humiliation doesn't correct behavior.

I'm sure some of these parents have done this to get their 5 minutes of fame and I hope it was worth the damage they caused to the relationship with their child.  There is a difference in embarrassing your teenager with a naked baby photo shoot and humiliating your child for a mistake they made.  I hope the end of shame photos is in the very near future. 

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