Over the past 13 years, I've been part of several parenting trends. Helicopter mom? Check. Overindulgent birthday party-thrower? Guilty. And yes, since we’re being honest here, I’ve probably let my daughter sleep in my bed more times than I should have.
But there is one parenting trend I will never understand nor come close to emulating and that’s posting humiliating videos of my daughter or myself as a form of discipline.
Believe it or not, there are more than 30,000 YouTube videos featuring parents shaming their kids. Some of them include shaving a head for bullying; destroying toys or electronic devices; forcing children to stand on the street with signs broadcasting their errors; and last week’s latest viral video—a dad dressing up like his wife and walking out to the bus stop to punish his son for talking back to his mom. Don’t really see the connection here, but that’s another column.
Some of these videos are racking up to 45 million views. What’s even worse is that there are copy-cat videos each trying to outdo the other, and there are even compilation videos such as “31 Hilarious Examples of Parents Shaming Their Kids.”
Shaming a child is never funny, responsible or entertaining.
Watching these helpless kids as young as eight years old at the mercy of their parents who have literally lost it makes me cringe. It's just incredulous.
Parents shouldn’t need an expert’s opinion to know that shaming is harmful, and that creating guilt doesn’t work in eliminating the misdeed. But, just in case:
“When we use punitive [measures]—and in this case, extremely punitive because this is public shaming and humiliation — it’s not only shredding the relationship between the parent and child, but it’s also damaging the child’s self-esteem and is very hurtful to the soul,” said family counselor Alyson Schafer to the Canadian Press website.
“Using psychological control as a means of trying to improve behavior is associated with an increased incidence of depression and anxiety,” added Charles Helwig, professor of developmental psychology.
But if that isn’t reason enough, the biggest irony is that by posting these videos, parents are embarrassing themselves and ignoring the internet warning we tell all our kids: Once you post something on the internet, it could be with you for life.
A prospective employer will probably look past an applicant’s mistake of playing on his Xbox past his bedtime when he was 10 years old. But, seeing a father setting his child’s Xbox ablaze is a different story.
Parenting is tough.
We’ve all experienced mommy and daddy stress to the point where desperation starts to bubble up and crazy thoughts surface. But no matter what, “a child is a child and parents are supposed to be their safety nets,” says Dr. Gail Gross to parenting.com.
“[Children] don't have the coping skills we do. They look to their parents for guidance on how to solve their problems, not to draw attention to the areas in which they may be struggling.
"Shaming may make parents feel like they've won the battle, but the reality is, they've lost the war."