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Humiliation Is Not Good Parenting

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There is a growing trend lately of parents taking to the internet to shame their children in a variety of ways for their bad behavior. In one, a mother beats her teen with a belt for sneaking out with boys. In another, a father shaves his son's head into a balding "old man" haircut because he got bad grades, and in the most celebrated video yet, a mother punches her son in the face to get him out of the Baltimore riots. I have no desire to link these videos because to do so would be to continue the degradation and humiliation of these children (and parents). It isn't that I don't have empathy for the parents struggling to keep their kids on the right path. Parenting is not for the weak willed or timid. It's hard, back-breaking work with no pay, major guilt, and very little sleep. I have had moments where I have considered recording my child's screaming meltdowns just so her dad will believe me, but I don't. Something holds me back.

Ephesians 6:4 says, "Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”

Even if you are not a Christian who follows biblical instruction, this verse is very helpful. Provoking a child to anger or disobedience is your fault! We need to be very careful that we are not so harsh or so overzealous in our discipline that we are actually making it worse. Humiliation is provocation. Publicly humiliating a child is daring him to rebel. This is the wrong approach. We want to capture our children's hearts so that they want to obey our instructions--because they love us. While some fear of a parent's disapproval is a good thing, we do not want our children to fear that we will hurt them by humiliation. Humiliating children, no matter what they have done, is not the appropriate response.

I have had to check myself sometimes when we are out and about, making sure that I don't correct or scold my children so loudly that they are embarrassed by the stares of other people. It is important that private conversations stay private because even children deserve respect. Imagine how you would feel if your husband loudly complained in the grocery store about something that you had done! Children may not be our equals, but they are human beings that deserve respect.