off the cuff

Embarrassment Parenting is the New Time Out

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 kid’s sign is barely legible; clearly he’s not learning anything in school…smh

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?



18 thoughts on “Embarrassment Parenting is the New Time Out

  1. That may be effective where you are from but that won’t work here in Barbados. When I was younger, okay even now, I have little if any shame at all so I would hold up those signs and care nothing about it. Some children wouldn’t even hold it up so what will we do about those?

    Posted by petersburgh | August 6, 2012, 9:06 PM
    • Good point. Why is it that it wouldn’t be effective in Barbados? Do you feel the child may be too far gone (as far as behavioral issues are concerned) to even listen to his parents and do what he’s told? Is it a tougher environment?

      Posted by 30thoughts | August 6, 2012, 9:34 PM
  2. I’m not a fan of spanking and this embarrassment parenting seems to serve the parents more than it does the child, especially if he/she is inherently defiant and apathetic as some of these kids are. I think I’d probably be the type of parent that takes privileges away and holds them out of activities they really like. That worked for me

    Thing is, you can’t start to discipline a child when they’re 8, 9, 10 years old. You gotta get in their behinds when they’re 3 and 4. That’s part of the disconnect with parenting. With the whole viral video craze, parents are praising stupid behavior at 2 and 3, thinking it’s cute. But all of a sudden when they get older, it’s not funny anymore.

    Posted by J DoubleU | August 6, 2012, 10:16 PM
    • Interesting…how do you feel embarrassment parenting serves parents?

      I think taking privileges away works as well, but not all by itself.

      Also, I completely agree that parents need to start early and the problem today is parents (like you said) think it’s cute when they’re young, but once they are of a certain age, the child is out of control and they don’t know what to do.

      You did say, get in their behinds…what do you mean by that? Just asking because you said you’re not a fan of spanking. By the way, I think spanking is good when the child is young, but beating and whooping is not. There’s a difference IMO.

      Posted by 30thoughts | August 6, 2012, 10:50 PM
      • It’s the attention thing. Everybody wants to be known for something in this day and time you know what I mean? Like that uncle that beat his nephew and posted the video. It got all types of media coverage and the uncle was actually doing media rounds about it. But did embarrassing the kid change his perspective or encourage him to get his attitude right? Nope! Because the kid wounded up dead earlier this year. So it’s like, what was the difference between repeatedly whooping him at home and doing it on the internet? An unfavorable result still happened.

        When I say get in their behinds, I mean not praising behavior that you’d deem unacceptable if they were older. Maybe because I’m an 80s baby, I’m old-fashioned. But I just don’t understand how some people casually parent their kids. Prime example, I was in the store the other day and HYFR (edited version) was playing in the electronics dept. This 3 year old knew the chorus word for word and his mother (I’m assuming) was laughing with her friend. Now if the kid were in school and got sent the principal’s office for cursing at his teacher, she’d probably spank him. That’s the type of mixed signals stuff that I don’t understand. Gotta be consistent in disciplining, otherwise kids will rarely take you seriously.

        Posted by J DoubleU | August 7, 2012, 5:24 AM
      • I see what you mean. But, what if that is not the ultimate goal of the parent. In my mom’s case, no one knew about that because the internet didn’t exist. Do you think the fact that some parents may do it for selfish reasons discounts the fact that the method actually works.

        I agree though that kids are receiving mixed signals. Censorship is becoming more and more relaxed. We’re heading towards a society with no rules, in which case will lead to chaos. The difference between right and wrong is becoming a matter of opinion and not fact. We are embarking on the “do what you feel” society and it doesn’t look good.

        Posted by 30thoughts | August 7, 2012, 6:08 AM
  3. Same as beating your kids doesn’t scar them(emotionally and psychologically).

    I don’t beat my kids(just not my thing),but the notion that spanking kids scar them or turn them into terrorists or suicidal later on in life is just BS propaganda.

    But shaming and embarrassing them is no prob for me.

    Posted by Socialkenny | August 7, 2012, 7:22 AM
    • I think beating your kids is damaging in that it teaches that violence is the tactic one should use in getting someone to do what you want them to do. Some children, men especially, carry this “lesson” into their adult lives, i.e. domestic violence. Also, I don’t think you can beat a child and be in your right mind or claim to be doing so out of love. I think a lot of times when parents are beating their children, they are expressing anger, not just because of what the child has done wrong, but because of their own circusmtances (i.e they had a bad day or their spouse is physically abusive towards them).

      Posted by 30thoughts | August 7, 2012, 8:35 AM
  4. I’m all for natural consequences (misuse of social media results in loss of access) but I don’t think shame is a useful teaching tool.

    Posted by DefiningMotherhood | August 7, 2012, 8:17 AM
    • @DefiningMotherhood – I’m not sure what you mean by the first part of your statement. Loss of access to what?

      Posted by 30thoughts | August 7, 2012, 8:37 AM
      • Loss of access to the misused item/activity – in your example it would be social media but for my young children it may be a particular toy or the ability to watch their favorite cartoon. But I don’t see the value of the added step of making the child take shameful pictures.

        In fact, it seems more damaging than helpful. I would worry that normalizing shame as a means of control would make my children likely to ignore controlling/shameful behaviors in their adult relationships.

        I tried to capture a similar sentiment in my post on ugly words ( I want my communication and actions toward my children to be based in love and kindness. That leaves room for intruction and consequences, but shame and hateful words have no place.

        Posted by DefiningMotherhood | August 7, 2012, 6:58 PM
      • I agree. I too believe parents’ actions should be based in love and kindness, and I see your point about loss of access. I think it works, but not on problem children, especially if disciplinary actions are not taken when the child is very young.

        I didn’t think the words were shameful and hateful, but they used social media against them. I think in the case with the girl who was posting pictures of alcohol on FB or whatever, the punishment fit the crime.

        Posted by 30thoughts | August 7, 2012, 9:10 PM
  5. Let me totally dismantle the general notion you and lots of ppl have when it comes to this.

    Which is the most violent nation/country on Earth?America by far.

    Which country on Earth has the most murders per capita,per year,etc?America.

    Which nation has the most overall violence in the world?America.

    Studies show this.All you have to do is google it.

    Now,your claims as to beating teaches kids violence is ok,etc.,then why isn’t children and adults in other parts of the globe where beating is TOTALLY acceptable violent prone?

    Beating is acceptable in Australia.Why isn’t Australia a violent country?

    Beating acceptable in the UK.Why isn’t Britain crime-filled like the US?

    The whole Caribbean,beating is done and acceptable.Why is almost 85% of the islands peaceful and almost crime free?

    The middle East where beating is acceptable,why aren’t adults in the Arab world kiiling or fighting ppl relentlessly?

    Canada is virtually crime free,beating is permissible.

    The only country on the globe which takes beating kids as a crime or serious matter,just happens that that 1 nation is crime ridden more than almost the whole globe combined(USA).

    So does beating kids really scar them and teach them violence is ok and the only way?No it doesn’t.

    The US government pushed that propaganda in order to gain rights over its citizenry and every child on the continent.It’s pure deception.

    Food for thought.

    Posted by Socialkenny | August 7, 2012, 9:00 AM
    • I think you are under the false impression that beating in America is “illegal.” What is illegal is choking, smacking, punching, etc. ANYONE, not just a child. Beating is quite legal here, and to some, acceptable. The difference between beating and spanking is spanking usually takes place with small children. It is a pat on the butt or leg or hand. Beating here can involve a number of things, a belt, a switch, in some cases extension chords, shoes, basically any object within arms reach used to repeatedly hit with or without clothing. This is NOT illegal, nor do I think it should be in the sense that if someone does it, they should be arrested, but I don’t condone it and I don’t think this is the best way to discipline a child.

      Posted by 30thoughts | August 7, 2012, 9:31 AM
  6. I live in America my entire life,so I’m not speaking as an outsider.

    Beating is illegal but the gov puts it over as if it’s not.

    If your neighbor reports you to child-protective service as an abuser or that you beat your children,you better believe you got problems.

    Smack your child in front of a cop,and that officer has the liberty to arrest you for child abuse.It’s his liberty.The government’s liberty.Once again,parents in the states do NOT own their kids.The government/state does.

    If your child goes top school anjd a teacher notices a mark on her body,which could’ve came from anything harmless,that teacher can report you,and your child will be taken,and you most likely will be arrested.

    Now tell me,is beating legal?

    And is that freedom?

    I think not.

    I’m not tryna American-bash.Just bashing its bullshit policies and this joke about being land of the free.

    Americans never seen freedom until they get out of America and travel the globe,then you would’nt wanna go back.

    Posted by Socialkenny | August 7, 2012, 9:54 AM
    • I’ve been outside of America and I actually ALWAYS want to come back. You can call it illegal if you want, but I was raised by one parent who believed in whoopings and one who did not. Those types did not leave visible marks, but there were marks under clothing. Kids get whooped in grocery stores all the time and no one can arrest them. However, if a kid get smacked in the face while out and about, they probably will have problems, and they should. Period. You failed to answer any of my questions about domestic violence.

      If you can’t do what parents are doing to another human being, why should they be allowed to do that to a child?

      No one is free, truly…if you want to go there. Not even you with your supposed ability to beat your children and whatever other “freedoms” you enjoy.

      Posted by 30thoughts | August 7, 2012, 9:02 PM
  7. Oh really?Where did you go Iraq?Who would’nt wanna come back?

    I don’t know 1 person who visited America and say they wanted to stay.

    Likewise,I don’t know 1 American who travels out and America and say they wanna go back to America.Unless their family ties are there(kids,etc.).

    Smart ppl leave America.Eductaed ppl leave America.Ppl with aspiration leave America.Freedom-loving ppl leave America.

    Do you know the only set of ppl who wanna stay in America?Blacks.

    Why?Because we still got this dumb-slavery mentality,degenerate thinking mentality.

    Everyone’s tryna leave America because of its bad policies and violence,yet the only ones wanting to stay are blacks.That’s why black Americans will never amount to anything because we go contrary to what’s in our best interest.

    And that’s also another reason why black Americans are the most illiterate blacks in the world by far,who don’t own anything,don’t have anything,don’t run anything and don’t do anything.

    African strive in business,blacks from the island strive in business wherever we go,blacks in Canada strive.But in America,we can’t get our shit together because we have too many ppl with your mentality who are lost to what’s going on in the world,where you’d advocate living in a crime-filled place where you won’t amount to nothing,opposed to living in harmony and become something.

    Think about that.

    Posted by Socialkenny | August 7, 2012, 9:13 PM
    • Ok, now you’re getting away from the point. If you’re so angry, then leave America, but I’m fine where I am. I’ve been to Africa, Germany, Mexico and the Caribbean and like I said, I’m fine here.

      You’re obviously angry, and nothing you said gave me food for thought. It’s a bunch of emotionally-charged drivel that has not made me think twice about leaving America for ANY other country.

      Check back with me in about 3 years, and I guarantee you’ll be eating your words (especially that statement that “I’ll never amount to anything here”), whereas I’m sure you’ll still be running around giving grown men advice on how to get laid…because that’s just so important to the betterment of society.

      Posted by 30thoughts | August 7, 2012, 9:40 PM

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