Shame on You, Dad!

By: Barbara Greenberg, PhD, Parenting Expert


As Lloyd Demause, editor and publisher of the Journal of Psychohistory, writes in his book "The History of Childhood,"...

"the further back in history one goes, the more likely children are to be abandoned and harmed."

The corollary would seem to be that in modern times and nations we should see more advanced and loving methods of child rearing. Sadly, this isn't always so.

Related: Kids and Discipline: What You Do and Say Matters

Take a look at recent headlines and you'll find one father in Miami, Florida who apparently still believes in the power of shame. This particular father was very disappointed by his 7th grade son's grades and found, what he thought, was a creative way to approach the problem.

He thought that he'd use "peer pressure" to rectify it. The father had his son stand at the corner of a busy Miami intersection wearing a poster that mocked his grades and invited drivers to honk at him if they were in support of failing grades. Yes, the sign said "I want to be a clown."

And when interviewed, the boy said that he understood that he had disappointed his father and although he didn't like the punishment, he nonetheless understood it. The father who stood nearby stated that he "was merely trying to reach his son."

As a psychologist who specializes in working with teens I can tell you that the only thing that the father accomplished was teaching his child shame. And that shame leads to self-loathing, which in turn leads to depression. So, NO, this is not an acceptable method of punishment nor is it an effective method of teaching anything that is worthwhile and life-enhancing.

Do you think that I have strong feelings about this issue? You bet I do.

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