Hello, everyone! A couple of weeks ago I blogged about my daughter’s escapades with in-app purchasing and her resulting consequences, I would like to update you on that situation and lay out some thoughts I have on punishments.
A couple of weeks ago my beautiful daughter bought $122.36 worth of in-app purchases for a game called Builder Buddies. She was promptly grounded from her iPad, video games and Youtube for a week, all seven days of the week, much to her great displeasure. I came up with a way for her to work off the money she “stole”. Yes, stole, she did not find it laying around, she did not earn it or ask for it, therefore, she stole the money. I put together a list of chores and designated a minute value to each chore. My daughter earned $8.50 for every hour of work completed. Let me tell you she worked her little behind off to pay that money back before her Spring Break started! She now has her iPad back but no longer has access to the iTunes password, in case she did not learn her lesson. All is right again in our peacefully chaotic home.
For the last five years, I have been a single parent. I have run through the gambit of parenting styles. I have yelled, negotiated, screamed, gave the silent treatment, grounded, spanked, bribed and so on. I wouldn’t say that I was a bad parent, just as I wouldn’t say I am a parent of the year. I am just trying to figure out what works with my head strong nine year old. I make tons of mistakes, but I make a lot of good decisions as well. That being said there is one trend in parenting that I do not understand. Public humiliation, I just don’t agree.
The last several years there have been many Facebook posts, Tweets and Instagram pics where parents have their child on the street holding a sign describing their misdeeds. I have even watched some reposted videos where the parent has punished the child and is following them filming his or her reaction to the punishment and making the child tell about what they did wrong. I don’t understand this and here’s why. If I make a mistake at work and my boss decides that everyone in the office should be present while she yells at me I would be pissed! I certainly wouldn’t want to try to do better, I would start looking for another job. Unfortunately, kids can’t just go looking for a new family, so what do you think they will do instead? If it were me, I would hide in my room and speak as little as possible to my parents, I would withdraw from them. I would do this because I would feel like if I make the littlest mistake I might be humiliated again. I would think that the people who were supposed to be my guides in this crazy life have now become my enemy. My parents would cease to be my champions and teachers and now become my humiliators, my punishers. The people who I thought were supposed to love me unconditionally, just showed me that there are conditions to their love. That’s just me, I don’t know how you all feel.
Before any of you go berserk on me let me explain something. I know that children need to have punishments or consequences for their misdeeds. This is how they learn right from wrong. I am a believer that an occasional spanking, usually as a last resort, is ok. I believe in grounding and taking things away from children. I think that sometimes raising your voice lets them know how much you dislike their behavior, but a simple look and shake of the head can do the same thing in certain situations. I do not believe that public humiliation is the answer. I think our children get humiliated enough at school by their peers, by the teachers, and the bullies. Home is supposed to be the safe haven, not a place for more knocks to their self-esteem.
Parenting is hard! We all know this and finding ways to parent effectively in both good times and rough times is no picnic. Parents are deemed awful if they say that corporal punishment is okay. Then the same people who glare at them for that are giving out disgusted looks and nasty comments in the grocery store when a kid is throwing a tantrum because they can’t have the gummy bears they demanded. Bribing children into good behavior is seen as weak parenting, ignoring bad behavior is seen as non-parenting and spanking is seen as abusive. What do we do when everything we try is criticized? the answer to that seems to be public humiliation. Here’s what I say, my fellow parents, let people talk, let them judge you because they don’t matter. Whether you spank your kids or ground them, whether you ignore the bad behavior or yell instead is up to you and what you know works for your child. Raising a kid is a lot like a science experiment, trial and error. We try one thing and if doesn’t work we move on to the next. The one thing that we should never forget, our children depend on us to offer them a safe place where they won’t be embarrassed to make mistakes or be themselves, for this reason, any punishment for mistakes or misdeeds should not humiliate them. Punishments should help them understand and learn from their mistakes, not alienate them or cause a rift between parent and child. Remember, there is always someone out there who is going to say “if that were my kid…”, but she’s not their kid, she’s yours, so do the best you can, and when in doubt ask for advice. There are others going through all of this parenting stuff too and they might be able to help ;).
Well, that’s my two cents! What do you think? Is public humiliation ok? Any thoughts are welcome but please keep it civil, we are all adults and it’s ok to disagree but it’s not ok to be a jerk. Thanks all!