Extreme Parenting- Public Shamming the New Trend

     Current Trends

It’s something old actually, shamming your child into better behavior, whether that is threatening to pull little Jonny’s pants down in the hallway and spank him if he doesn’t straighten up and go into his classroom; avid television watchers will remember the scene from Malcolm in the Middle where characters turned helping out at a local charity into as lucrative money making operation and when envied mom Lois found out striped down her children’s rooms and took all but one set of clothes from them as punishment. Parents forcing their kids to wear signs in public denoting failing grades, skipping school, cheating, stealing, partying, making them walk to school if the keep missing the bus, revoking privileges in unique ways if they do not produce desired grades/behavior. While these type of parents get points for being something other than the neo-spanking Neanderthals who have no qualms about also putting bruises on their child, appearing on social networking sites bragging about using hair brushes and forcing the child to stand in the corner with their naked rear on display, along with showing some thought and creativity in how they discipline their children, the latest round of interesting punishments gone viral speak to why, like everything else, it should be used in moderation, exercising caution. Hints the mixed reaction to the angry Australian mom who put her “lippy” daughter’s One Direction tickets up for auction on E-bay after she lied to her parents about sleepovers to party with older guys, an action that sent mommy blogs and entertainment articles buzzing.

The problem with One Direction mom quickly called out by commenters not cheering her on for teaching her “out of control” daughter a lesson, goes beyond the few who think taking the tickets away was too extreme, that it only should have been done if the tickets were given on the predication of behavior parameters instead of the birthday gift they were characterized as. In fact nearly everyone supported taking away the tickets as a consequence for the daughters unruly behavior but agreed that no one interested in the tickets should have to hear/read your Dr. Phil drama, pointing out how calling your kids names and questioning her friends’ parentage makes you see, directly pinning down what negative lessons this woman is truly teaching her child.  Because accompanying what should have been a simple heading announcing the item, for what band and the country was instead a 3 paragraph rant throughout which she calls her daughter and her friends trollips and bitchy, scoffing that the girl thinks she invented the stuff proclaiming it was how half of them were conceived and have no fathers to send father’s day cards to, eventually ending the diatribe stating she was her mother and not her friend and it was her job to give her the boundaries she needed to become a responsible adult. Many rightfully asking the question how does this teach her how to be responsible, functional as an adult when mom is the one who sounds like a “bitchy” teenager herself. Highlighting the issue of where was your self-respect, your maturity, as the adult in the situation, to not air your family’s dirty laundry to the world, why are you announcing to the world you can’t control your child, you let her hang out with trollip friends and are now whining you have to deal with your child’s bad behavior, like a teen version of Jerry Springer; keeping in mind this was not a mommy blog or a journaling corner of the internet, but a part of the ad on E-bay supposed to be about available concert tickets for sale. Several concluded that selling the tickets in conjunction, in the context of what she said, rather than giving them to someone she believes more deserving than her spoiled daughter, makes her appear angry, bitter, vengeful, wondering why the daughter is much the same; going a step further, looking at the whole picture of what the story illustrates selling the tickets, posting the added comments reads like it’s more about payback for her mother getting her this wonderful birthday present “and then your gunna go and do that to me” rather than about the daughter learning acceptable behavior or the dangers she could face doing what she’s doing, a horrible way to treat your children. Instead of yes being angry, showing your displeasure, but calming yourself down before you decide on a final punishment, before you calmly and clearly say to her since I can’t trust you to be where you say you’re going to be, do what you say you’re going to, you’re obviously not mature enough to go the One Direction concert and therefore are not going, reinforcing what this is really about, actions having consequences, it’s like she sat down to write the ad, forget the actual purpose of said writing, then at the end remembered she was supposed to be an adult, supposed to be the bigger person, the parent here and added the line about being her mother not her friend. And because this was inappropriately posted to begin with, we the public, don’t know how old she is, don’t know how old the guy(s) were, so we can’t accurately gage if this is motherly concern or overreaction; still too many are cheering her on without analyzing the facts, thinking about anything other than good for this parent for doing something, for being in charge. How is it we can also guess she made all those comments about the friends’ fathers because she was a wild child herself who ended up having to marry her baby daddy?         

And why do we all almost instinctively know part of the reason her daughter lied about where she was, what she was doing is that had she gone to her mother saying she wanted to meet a boy in a public place, like the mall, go to a movie with him, mistakenly called it a date, no matter if her definition of the word date was holding hands, a simple kiss and going to a public place together, independent of what her peers, kids today define as a date, things they are all too willing to do during one, her mother, this mother would have flipped out, immediately said no, started ranting, yelling shocked her “child” asked such a thing. Because let’s face it America, Australia, most of the western world’s ideas on teens and boys/girls, teens and dating, teens and sex haven’t changed in 50 years encompassed in phrases like she’s not leaving the house, dating till she’s 30, don’t come home pregnant, don’t you dare get a girl pregnant; bringing us to where were you the parent in noticing your daughters interest in boys, where were the subsequent conversations about boys, what age she was allowed to date herself, why she was not allowed to date a boy more than X years older than her? If and when you saw her gravitating toward older guys, where was the discussion about why that’s bad, why that’s dangerous, what these older boys really want?  In fact, where was any basic parenting, asking the other parents involved if they ok’d a sleepover at their house; that is parenting 101 nipping many problems in the bud before they start. Next, instead of her child learning part of responsibility, maturity and adulthood is always telling the truth, showing you can avoid dangerous situations, she has learned you solve problems be getting revenge, being vindictive, if she really wants One Direction tickets, sell household items on E-bay for the money and find a way to sneak to the concert.  As things stand between this mother and daughter now, not only that she sold the One Direction tickets, but how she did it, including such a horrendous message, she has virtually guaranteed there will be no conversation about older guys and the danger her daughter could be in, no open honest communication about boys, teen relationships, cultivating healthy relationships as she grows into an adult, a certainty her daughter will keep more secrets, at minimum keep more things to herself because her mother isn’t someone she feels she can share her feelings, fears, aspirations with. Why, chiefly because her mother has mistaken having a close relationship with her child with being her child’s friend. Never mentioned is the concert is over a month away from the incident giving the girl time to change her behavior, and pending that go to the concert, having to give one of the tickets to a parent approved chaperone not all of her friends- oh.        

Similarly the mother of a junior high school girl now forced to hold a sign about disrespecting her parents by twirking at the school dance proves she doesn’t know how to effectively, correctly use this type of punishment evidenced by what she said to local news cameras in part “what am I supposed to do whip her….” You’re supposed to first and foremost not panic and lose your head, you’re supposed to already have a plan to discipline your child when they do something wrong instead of  crossing your fingers hoping you raised them well enough to never need it. You are supposed to communicate with your child at all times from a young age, take time in their life to talk about what they like, their favorite subjects, what they want to be when they grow up and as they get older talk about issues that face them in the tween and teen years, peer pressure, drugs, drinking, risky behavior, modesty, boys all of it. You are supposed to take the time to present issues for current culture, news as examples of good behavior you want them to emulate or bad behavior you want them to avoid. But no one is perfect and parents don’t have a lot of time these days between working long hours and caring for a family in ways that make sure the house is livable, everyone has food, clean clothes exc. Keeping that in mind, moving to a more traditional way of preempting the school dance debacle, where were the behavior expectations set down before she went to her first school dance, reminders given for this one; assuming this was her first school dance, again where were the presented behavior expectations? Almost everyone knew about Miley Cyrus’ controversial VMA performance so why didn’t this parent use it as an example, have that all important conversation about what that makes you look like, what kind of reputation it will give you, what people will assume you are if you do things like this, especially in light of the fact she was going to the school dance in addition to consequences faced at home if her mother found out she did? Logically leaving how did her mother find out what she did during the dance, if she was present, why not just embarrass her by carting her home on front of all her friends; regardless of how the information was obtained, simple solution, sans the public shaming and likewise public comment, is to say no more school dances for you, for the rest of the year or a duration of time determined by the parent.

At the same time parents, commenters need to remember twerking is a dance move not a sex act, not a stripper position, not a new illicit drug and we have had these generational battles over music, movies, dance, clothing, acceptable social parameters since Elvis swiveled his hips in the 50’s, The Beatles grew out their hair in the 60’s, the psychedelic era of the 70’s, Madonna’s cone bra in the 80’s, Michael Jackson grabbed his crotch in the 90’s and Eminem put his foul mouthed social commentary to a beat at the turn of the millennium, and a startling majority of kids survived without becoming a pregnant teen, without getting an STD, minus being sexually assaulted and were involved in negative dating relationships for far bigger reasons than media influence. Ratcheting down the implied danger is the reality is was a school dance, not a club, not a private party, no one was drunk, no one had the chance to be, there were no older guys present to take what they were seeing the wrong way. Neither is the expert, in the HLN video above, or anyone else suggesting parents ignore such behavior only distinguishing between which punishments work and which really don’t, accurately making the point, both in how out of control the mother feels and, if this is the punishment for twerking where do you up the ante to when she does something more serious, what is the next punishment going to be? Whether or not we the public, parents or experts can agree on the proper punishment, the effectiveness of the one employed by the parent, we probably can all agree the parent got the sign wrong; it should say “I disrespected myself by twerking at the school dance,” because that’s what we want to instill in this girl is self-respect, that shaking your rear at people is not self-respect, conversations to gage self-esteem to see if there are issues there and handle them. 

Thoughts underscored in looking at the case of a Utah dad who continually wore Daisy Duke short shorts to impress upon his daughter the importance of modesty, while we applaud dad for going to such lengths to prove his love for his child, something is greatly amiss in their relationship if this is the only way he could covey that message to her. Complicating his story is the plain truth his daughter is 19 years old, of legal age, can and should be able to wear what she wants, particularly if she has a part time job and is paying for it. Uniquely in this situation too his complaint isn’t her entire outfit, isn’t her flirtation with inappropriate guys, bad boyfriends, bad grades, at risk behaviors, just her “too short shorts;” his daughter is 19 and still willingly participates in family night where he most objected to her wearing them, confusing some viewers; was his problem the shorts or that she wore them while out with family? Several parents would be ecstatic if their child still wanted to spend time with them, if they were having arguments about clothing rather than dealing with their drug addiction, police record, teen pregnancy, abusive boyfriend, failing grades, habitual running away, social media nude picture fall out. Hardly lost on anyone is that these style of shorts have more material than a two piece bikini bottom, only slightly less material than a one piece bathing suit or gymnastics leotard, nor that men can go around in speedos, shirtless even, and the only comment is when a man is either too old for speedo’s or is fat enough to have so called “man boobs,” indicating he needs to wear a shirt. Never mind that style of shorts came from the 1970’s TV show Dukes of Hazard, the 70’s seen as the last decade of wholesome family values in America or that 1980’s men’s professional basketball shorts were roughly as short as what she was wearing; no one ever said anything about them other than them looking ridiculous on athletes perchance.    

The mom who made her bullying step daughter wear thrift store clothes the latter thought were hideously ugly after finding out her daughter had bullied a classmate for wearing the same type clothing may have been applauded for practically teaching her child empathy and it all seems to come out in the wash, as they say, since the girls are now inseparable best friends. But not discussed is the potential to crush a future dream, future employment prospects because her daughter was a so called fashionista, quite obviously going to be a fashion designer someday, and she shamed the idea out of her by doing this. Now clearly that hasn’t happened yet it is by no means certain that it wouldn’t should another parent try to mimic these results on a more sensitive child. Never addressed is that the clothes were horrible, things no child in the United States of America should have to wear just because they get their clothes at a thrift store, just because they depend on the Salvation Army and other good will venues for cheap, no cost items; judging by the pictures, you didn’t need smell-o vision to smell the mothballs coming off the dresses, they looked like miniature versions of  clothing popular with the mother’s grandmother, not something you would put on a child, much less send them to school in conscious of them not being bullied. So, if this is what the other girl was wearing, no wonder this other girl was taunted; these look like homemade items made by relatives who thought they would look nice, ignorant of the last decade or two of style. Continuing multiple programs provide clothing for kids, the right thrift store can have great choices for kids, additional programs give low income disadvantaged youth all the trappings of prom night, give them those precious memories, meaning there are alternatives. Not touched on in the popular news piece or presumably discussed between mom and daughter is that 90% of the things lining good will shelves are old, broken, worn out things we no longer want, put there to simultaneously make room for more stuff in out closets and assuage our consciousness’ about how much stuff we have or how good a life we have, thinking we’re giving back. Ironically here is a story about not judging people on their appearance when the last 3 paragraphs have been about doing nothing but the exact opposite, assigning any and every connotation to a supposedly suggestive dance move done at a school dance, breathing new life into age old stereotypes predominately when it comes to women and modesty, what makes you look tramp like or easy; maybe when we drop our hypocrisy so will our kids.    

 We all remember the dad who shot his teenagers laptop after she posted a rant about her mother on Facebook video going viral to mixed responses sadly most people heralding him a hero for standing up to his child, like the pattern demonstrated in all these stories, for being in charge of his household in an era of spoiled, entitled young people. What’s so disturbing here aside from the presence of a gun, the arguable misuse of a fire arm coupled with the drastic over reaction is what the daughter actually said vs. people, including the father’s interpretation of what she said, transcript obtained by one of the news outlets; first yes she did say I’m not your damn slave, and oh how disrespectful, but she follows it up with something very mature that if you want coffee get up off your, yes she said ass, and get it yourself. Apart from the cuss words, what did she say that was so out of line; her parents probably have told her versions of that 1,000 times. If you track mud all over the floor, I just cleaned, clean up after yourself; isn’t that what she’s been told over and over again? Tell me why it isn’t that a two way street, and how many wives have said the same to their husbands along with their kids? Suddenly because she’s 15 she’s not allowed to, if nothing else parrot her mother, because she’s being provided for by the parents who brought her into this world; to quote the father, are you serious?  Never once did she say she should be paid for chores, compare her life to her friends who don’t have chores, say what kid today does chores; instead she clearly articulates her father repeatedly tells her she needs to get a job, her response: you could just pay me for the shit, oh my god, she said shit lock her up, I do around the house with a reference to work also required of her at his clinic, indicating she’s telling him I can do either the work asked of me in both places or get a job, not both on top of school work. He contradicts himself in the video saying all you have to do is get yourself up and to the bus on time, make your bed, do your laundry if you have it, yet in an interview given to the Daily Mail he says “Until then, she can do chores, and lots and lots of them, so the people who ARE feeding her, clothing her, paying for all her school trips, paying for her musical instruments, can have some time to relax after they finish working to support her and the rest of the family…she knows all she has to do is get a job and a lot of these chores will go away But if you’re too lazy to work even to get things you want for yourself, I’m certainly not going to let you sit idly on your rear-end with your face glued to both the TV and Facebook for 5 to 6 hours per night. Those days are over,”the top part in response to, he says, 3 or 4 a broken cell phones. However there is a clear disconnect between father and daughter, not just on an emotional level; he believes her only responsibilities prior to them all making headlines were the things he listed, not contradicting the fact she does do dishes, his laundry or making his and the guest bed, even saying she didn’t have to do those things, doesn’t deny she cleans the floor regularly. Nor does anyone examining this believe that she spends 5-6 hours on Facebook or watching TV each night when she gets off the school bus between 3 and 4, does her chores, has homework and probably is mandated to eat dinner with family, which leaves a maximum of 5 hours she could possibly spends doing either TV or internet. So either she is greatly exaggerating or she’s doing a lot without being asked, probably because she can’t stand the messiness in the house, and isn’t getting so much as a thank you, a hug, a smile and is rather being told to get a job. And if it’s totally plausible she exaggerated as teenagers do, why do we automatically assume an angry, hurt, disappointed, fill in your own adjective here, dad is telling the complete, unexaggerated truth about her chores, about how long it takes to do them; adding to the maybe he’s not as up and up as we think idea, shoot em up dad doesn’t have to worry about her grades, the quality of the chores she does, he’s not taking away her laptop, her phone or anything else for displaying nude pictures of herself, isn’t worried about guys she dates, isn’t facing a pregnancy scare, she isn’t running away from home; dramatically shooting her computer because he found something that hurt his feelings on her Facebook page. Why do readers get the feeling had he found her thoughts in a paper diary he would be equally upset, equally as out of control, we just wouldn’t know about it; here too is the point naysayers were making.     

One commenter though hit the nail on the head in when they said in part… now we have to deal with your man with a video camera and a gun adult temper tantrum. He has in essence taught his child if you don’t like something, shoot it, react violently toward it; many asking how he is any better than his daughter on the maturity scale punishing her for disrespecting him on Facebook turning around and making a YouTube video of him shooting her laptop including the chilling phrase your mother told me to put one in it for her too. Then dad, in the video, promises her life is going to get a lot harder, confirming everything she already knew about her family dynamic and her father; also missing from anything he said was a serious conversation about her getting a job, where she was supposed to get money for bus fair to apply or an offer to take her to apply for jobs, show her how to fill out an application. Sounds like dad needs to turn his camera on his daughter, actually look at how much his daughter does at home, how much time she spends on homework and be realistic about the fatigue she’s experiencing; speaking of homework, we all hope there is another computer in the house for her to complete assignments, because unlike commenters who believed she needed to go back to using pen and paper as a lesson, teachers won’t accept that and there is a lot more to homework today than writing. Not to mention she won’t be able to stay after school to do it because she’s now grounded, she won’t be able to go to the library to do it for the same reason, ending in another lecture and over the top response from dad. Being a professional in IT he more than knows the former, right along with how to block her access to Facebook on the laptop; let’s be honest about something else too before we all jump to calling her ungrateful and spoiled, he did 6 hours worth of upgrades at $130 for parts, software because he had the knowledge to begin with and most importantly because it was cheaper than a new computer. Neither is the date of her post mentioned only the day he made his video, so conceivably her post could have been made long before she even asked for the upgrades or perhaps said upgrades were made so the computer would function, indicating she asked for a operable machine, not fancy upgrades, as he implied. Independent of what he thinks of the idea, paying her for chores has an upside, because it promotes the concept of I work, I get paid mimicking the adult world, instilling the value of a dollar he is so concerned about; then some of the things he rattled off she was paying for by doing a now increased amount of chores becomes her financial responsibility such as school trips, musical instruments, portions of her clothing, her lunch, leaving us all with the question why weren’t you already doing that?  Adjacently, if she is supposed to have responsibilities outside the home, i.e. school and inside, i.e. chores, shouldn’t he also have both; yes he works but he too needs to do things at home and make sure she sees him doing them so she doesn’t feel like she’s the only one doing anything. Yet in typical hypocritical, old school, several commenters called it redneck fashion, apart from not doing that, he’s got her getting his coffee perpetuating the idea house work is women’s work.                  

Like all these parents showcased he had a multitude of other ways to discipline his child, assert himself as the authority figure in his house, in his daughter’s life, low drama choices that enforce lessons, not shame, and each one chose drama and shame. Take the concert tickets away from the lippy teen with a clear, concise explanation of why, bar twirking daughter from school dances for a duration at your discretion emphasis on why what she did was so bad, where it can lead, Daisy Duke dad should worry less about her choice of clothing and more about the sexist double standard he reinforced with his daughter, as thrift store mom should be more interested in teaching her daughter about the bigger picture as well. Worse than the others he chose to introduce a firearm into the mix he should at the very least have his gun permits stripped from him for reckless discharge of that gun, child services and the police may have only visited to stop the flood of calls, but they were also professionally bound to ensure her safety. Again, along with all the other kids detailed here, it’s what they’re not doing that means more than what they are; it’s what his daughter is not saying, not doing that should make all of us pay attention and put their parents in anything but a good light. Only 2 of these cases are possibly headed for larger problems and related acting out, trouble will stem from how their parents handled the initial issue; lippy teen may go further out of control because there was no conversation about healthy relationships, older guys. Twirking 7th graded may have problems if she was trying to get the attention of boys, is flirtatious, wants to wear skimpy clothing as opposed to the likelihood she joined her friends in a dance move. All of which can be averted with honest communication making the public say boo-hoo parents call me when you have real problems. To quote one commenter on one of many stories across most of the western world; “god what passes for an adult these days.”        

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About Natasha Sapp

Proclaiming an edgy voice of reason to America,while bringing back the common sense to social issues.

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