Should Parents Broadcast The Punishment of Their Children?

July 16, 2012  |  

Over the weekend, I watched a video of a father dishing out some “tough love” to his son via a YouTube video.

In the video, the father, who is behind the camera in the almost 3 minute video, can be heard ribbing on his son’s style of dress, particularly his skinny jeans, which for reasons only they know, is all the rage now with the youngins nowadays. Standing with his arms stretched out in front of him in his smedium jeans, which barely covered his behind, the son is commanded by his father to perform all sorts of maneuvers including squats and back bends -none of which he could do successfully because of the tightness of his jeans.

As soon as I finished laughing my A$$ off – quite literally – at the father mockingly chiding his son about his inability to walk fast, I began to feel a certain level of uneasiness. Both embarrassment and a ting of awkwardness for me and for this nameless child. I mean, questionable fashion taste aside, did his crime of wearing extra tight jeans really warrant the humiliation from voyeuristic eyes over the internet?

Over the last few years, I have watched similar versions of castigation play out on the internet. A couple of years ago, there was the video of the dad sarcastically teasing his son about his self-inflicted jacked up haircut.  A few months back, a video of a father shooting his daughter’s laptop for inappropriate comments on Facebook went viral with over 33 millions views.  The videos are amusing and I’m sure definitely arouses a spirit of camaraderie from frustrated parents of wayward children across the globe. However as parents explore other creative alternatives to grandma’s switch and time-outs; are they dishing out punishments which teeter on the line of cruel and unusual?

Consider these examples: One mother, clearly disturbed about her underage daughter posting pictures of herself drinking on Facebook, made her upload a picture of her crying and holding a sign, via Instagram, saying “Since I want to post photos of me holding liquor, I am obviously not ready for social media and will be taking a hiatus until I learn what I should and should not post!” One father, fed up with his 15 year old daughter’s “mean girl” ways, decided that the appropriate discipline would be to make her hold a sign on the intersection “I have a bad attitude. I disrespect people who try to help me.” And a mother, who was at the end of her rope with her thieving son, made him hold a sign admitting to his crime after nothing else seemed to work. As told to the local news station, the mother said that, “I don’t care about the comments. It’s not about everybody else; it’s about him learning that stealing (is) not right, at all.”

Good lesson, questionable approach.

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