Can you believe the number of parents shaming their teens on Social Media!?
Is that really the Answer?
I watched the first episode of TD Jakes new talk show in which he discussed parents shaming their teens on social media, seemingly to get their attention and shock them into good behavior. I was quite shocked at the extent to which parents would go to shame and embarrass their teens because they feel helpless to discipline them at home. Is that a real the solution? Is this just a cop out for parents? How were parents disciplining their teens before the advent of the big wide web? What does this mean for society as a whole? I was actually quite sad at how people were applauding the parents and all I could think about was how awful the poor teens felt and how they are being embarrassed in front of the whole world, and at a time when they are so vulnerable. What drives a family to do this, and what are some solutions?
1. My teens are not listening to me.
This is not a new problem, so why are parents reacting this way. Perhaps, the parents themselves are more stressed out and not really taking the time to connect with their teens. One dad talked about how his daughter was a thief. He was particularly worried because he himself had been a thief and he didn’t want his daughter to end up in jail. I wonder how he disciplined his teen before resorting to shaming her in public. Hopefully he took the time to find out why? Is she stealing because she is attention seeking, is she comparing herself to the Joneses or does she truly feel like she needs the stuff she’s stealing? I’m not judging the parents since I don’t have all the facts but maybe we as parents need to take time to listen to our teens and find out why they behave in ways that shock us. We need to be willing to dig deep to get to know our teens and find out the motivation behind the behavior.
2. Does the entire family need help?
I get it. There are times when parents are at their wits end and feel like there’s nothing else they can do. Perhaps there is a complete breakdown in communication. Sometimes there is just misunderstanding and a breach that the families can’t overcome by themselves. That is where counselling comes in. And I don’t mean sending the child for counseling. Parents shouldn’t assume that they are always right. Sometimes we all need someone else to talk to us for us to see our own limitations. Counseling does not mean that you are weak or a failure. It just opens you up to new ways of seeing things. It’s like having a personal coach or mediator, someone who can regulate emotions and help family members get their point across. It breaks the stalemate and hopefully helps people see things from the other person’s perspective.
2. Are parents being shortsighted?
It may seem like a good idea, to publicly shame your child into submission but rules without love and respect ultimately breed rebellion. Shaming someone may lead to an immediate change, but will the change be long lasting, especially if you don’t know the real reason why your teen had that behavior in the first place? It is only a matter of time before your teens start to resent you. In these days of bullying, parents really shouldn’t be the ones to give others fodder to use to tease their children. What will you say when your teen comes home crying that everyone thinks I’m a thief? How do you comfort your teen? Do you say I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have done that? As you know nothing ever really disappears from the web, and you have shown the whole world what a bad person your teen is? What happened to parents protecting and advocating for their teens?
3. What is the long lasting impact on your teen?
In these days where employers and college counsellors and literally everyone goes on the internet when thinking of hiring someone, how will such explosive information about your teen ultimately affect their job opportunities or their future as a whole? Your teen must really have some special skills for a potential employer to look past a parent publicly calling them a thief, and hire them. Colleges will say, do we really want this person who behaved like this on our campuses? I believe parents are potentially scarring their teens for life, and ultimately shaming them on social media will backfire on the entire family.
4. It’s so funny that for everything else in life, there is a training manual.
Parenting is one of the most difficult and most important jobs and unfortunately our kids don’t come with training manuals. We all parent based on how we ourselves were raised. If we had challenges in our lives, which we have not dealt with, and we are raising our teens the same way, how then do we expect different results?
It’s important for parents to recognize when they need help, like counseling, to break the cycle and give their teens a chance at a different future. Parents also need to recognize the power of the tongue. Whenever I read the bible, I’m always struck by all the blessings that people passed down to their children, by the words they spoke and how their children valued those words. We have the power to make or break our children by the words we choose to speak to them and the future we predict for them. “Fathers, do not exasperate your children, instead bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.” Ephesians 6: 4. Parents, you have the ability to parent your teens to achieve their highest potential. Do not abuse the privilege. Use it wisely.
Teach children the way they should go and when they are old they will not depart from it. ~ Proverbs 22:6