Historically, tough love was reserved for extreme cases where parents were left with little or no choice but to excommunicate their children from the home. These kids were the worst, either on drugs, in and out of jail or just plain ‘ol defiant. But, today’s parents have started a new, lesser form of tough love I like to call embarrassment parenting. Whoever came up with these “shame signs” is brilliant and has clearly mastered the art of parenting.
This method of discipline is so effective that, for once in my life, I’m glad I wasn’t born in the digital age. For someone like myself, who’s not a big fan of beatings and lashings (still popular forms of discipline for parents), embarrassment parenting is ideal because it does not harm the child physically, emotionally or mentally, and actually appears to be quite effective. Not only is it embarrassing, but during their time holding these signs, it keeps them from engaging in activities they enjoy, which is equivalent to taking away their privileges. One couple required their son to hold up a sign regarding his class clowndom on a local street corner during his entire spring break as sort of a “last resort.” His parents later reported that he had, as a result, promised to do better in school.
Some have expressed an aversion to this type of discipline because they perceive the embarrassment experienced to be emotionally damaging to the child. I disagree. I can recall many times when I was embarrassed in my younger days. It didn’t scar me, but rather ensured that I would never repeat the behavior which caused the embarrassment in the first place.
One child was met with a note [see below] after returning home past his curfew. This is one of my favorites thus far, and probably should have been employed by Creflo Dollar instead of the “hands-on” approach he chose which ultimately landed him behind bars months ago.
I will leave you with this story, courtesy of my brother, who always pushed the envelope when it came to testing my mother’s patience in his adolescence. Now that he has children of his own, I’m sure he will appreciate the comical value of this particular incident.
One Sunday afternoon, as usual, my mom stopped by the grocery store after church to pick up something to cook for dinner. Often, I would stay by my mom’s side, but my brothers would go straight to the magazine section of the store and remain there until it was time to go. My mother hated rallying everyone up when she was ready to leave, so this time, she told us if we were not outside by the car when she was ready to go, we would have to find our own way home.
[NOTE: Unlike today's churchgoers who can be seen wearing anything from skinny jeans to miniskirts in the house of the Lord, my brothers wore full suits and I wore dresses with stockings.]
When my mom finished unloading the groceries, I realized my brother, was nowhere in sight. Rather than go look for him and also risk being “left behind,” me and my oldest brother got in the car, and my mom, without a second thought, drove away. I thought to myself, ‘wow, she’s serious, she’s really going to leave.’ I looked back from the passenger seat of the car in dismay only to see my brother standing at the door to the grocery store watching us pull away. At that moment, he realized he was going to have to make the trek from the grocery store home (approximately 7 miles) in a two-piece suit in the hot California sun. Needless to say, from that point on, my brother was always front and center whenever it was time to leave the store – any store, any day, no matter what.
What do you think of these new methods of parenting? If you have kids, what are some non-violent tactics you’ve used to get your children to behave? If you do not have children yet, do you plan to use some of these methods to get your children to obey? Do you think embarrassment parenting works?