Every now and then something comes along on Facebook that is a breath of fresh air. Usually you are wading through rubbish but this is something really worth sharing. I will let Sam Judah from BBC Trending tell the story of an impromptu “How to not discipline your child video” that has been seen over 21 million times and still counting.
“Amid a deluge of child-shaming videos, one American dad’s anti-humiliation film has been viewed millions of times.
Shame has long been part of the parenting repertoire. Caught pinching sweets? A parent might march the child back down to the shop to apologise to the owner. In playgrounds all over the world, children are forced to publicly apologise to peers they’ve tormented with sharp elbows and thrown sand.
But in an era when many young people live their lives on the internet, the internet also gives parents entirely new shaming possibilities. There’s recently been a spate of videos where parents have taken to social media to embarrass or humiliate their wayward youth. There was the woman who outed her daughter’s lie about her age… the mother who followed her truanting child around school… and the trend of viral hair-cutting videos.
But one father of four in Florida has waded into the debate with a video arguing that online shaming has gone way too far. In a video viewed 20 million times (and counting), Wayman Gresham stands over his son with an electric razor: “I’m going to teach my son a lesson.” The boy, his head down, plays along. But just before the first cut is made, Gresham calls the punishment to a halt: “Wait a minute. Come here boy, give me a hug.
“There’s no way in the world I would ever embarrass my son like that,” he says into the camera. “It doesn’t take all that. Good parenting starts before he even gets to the point of being out of control.” Gresham’s video, which promotes a play he wrote and directed, also includes a strong Christian message.
“I’ve gone on Facebook and many times I’ve seen this kind of punishment, cutting off the hair or a child being embarrassed one way or another,” Gresham told BBC Trending. “There is no legitimate reason for humiliating your child, there is no legitimate reason for snatching their dignity away.”
“I wouldn’t dare call these parents ‘bad parents’ because they made bad mistakes,” he said. “Nevertheless, to get on Facebook and humiliate your child like this, it’s not for the benefit of the child. The overall message is, we could all do better as parents.”
Many experts agree. Child psychologist Karyl McBride told Trending: “I think it would be difficult to find someone in the field of psychology and mental health who would say [public child shaming] is appropriate.”
“When parents are shaming and humiliating children,that impacts the child’s ability to have proper bonding and attachment with those parents. It impairs trust,” she says. “It causes the children to grow up with internal messages of ‘I’m a bad person.’ And that’s not going to develop a healthy human being.”
I agree with Karyl McBride. The worst thing you can do in the discipline arena is public shaming. Having said that, I strongly believe in proper discipline and as the former Premier of Queensland Peter Beattie said, “A whack on the bottom never hurt anybody”, but it should always be a last resort and not the first line of discipline.
We have to treat our children with dignity and love. I have never publicly disciplined my children, but always took them to one side and either warned them one-to-one, or if necessary brought the appropriate discipline.
Again taking your child back to another child to apologise to someone they have just offended or hurt is not public shaming but sound common sense. However shooting nine bullets into your daughter’s laptop in front of millions of people on Facebook to publicly shame her for the hateful things she said about you as a father is really bad form.
I am sure many of us fathers have felt like shooting the TV or the offending computer screen that brings negative distraction to our children, but as Wayman Gresham says, “to get on Facebook and humiliate your child like this, it’s not for the benefit of the child… There is no legitimate reason for humiliating your child, there is no legitimate reason for snatching their dignity away.”
Our job as fathers is to preserve the dignity of our children not to take it away. That is why a father publicly abusing his children is simply beyond the pale. As a very old book says, “Love covers a multitude of sins.” Our job as fathers is to speak words of hope, faith and love about our children publicly. Not shame them with our words.
As Napoleon Hill said, “Think twice before you speak, because your words and influence will plant the seed of either success or failure in the mind of another.”
If your children are old enough, show them the Wayman Gresham Facebook video and ask them what they think about those parents who shame their children online. Ask your children how they would like or not like to be disciplined. By doing this you are setting your children up for success and not for failure. Children want boundaries and they want you to enforce those boundaries for their own good. They won’t necessarily tell you that now but they will thank you as they grow older.
Your words as a father of love, care and attention are the greatest force for good your children will ever experience. As Paul Lewis said, “A father’s words are like a thermostat that sets the temperature in the house.”
Happy Temperature Setting
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