Why Do Parents Insist on Shaming Their Kids?

Posted on October 10, 2012

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In today’s world of ever-changing media, one of the most important lessons you can model for your children is that what goes out into cyberspace stays in cyberspace forever. With the popularity of reality TV, blogging and numerous social media sites, adults are very busy detailing the minutia of their lives. As adults, they have every right to fart on TV, put their own stupid pictures up online and make out in hot tubs with their true love (who they have known for all of three minutes). As a parent, however, lines need to be drawn to protect our children.

As a blogger, I know that I need to be very careful what I write online. While my kids aren’t really old enough to read what I write about them, in a very short time, they will be. I also know that everything I write, every picture I post, every silly adventure I document will be out there for their friends, frenemies and employers to see.

Last week, the Huffington Post ran a story about a dad who thought shaming his toddler for having an accident in the bathtub was not only hysterical, but fodder for the Internet (and therefore the whole world).  He went to the trouble of making a sign, hanging it around her neck and photographing her smiling with it. And then he posted it on the internet.  And because I find this so repugnant, I’ll write it again. And then he posted it on the Internet!

Children, especially a two-year old like the one in the story, don’t have enough sense to consent or understand the ramifications of something like this. This picture is digital, on the internet, and could embarrass her for the rest of her life. Not only is this shameful behavior on the part of the father but he has potentially set his child up to be the target of bullies.

In fact, I want you to take a moment and think. If another child took an embarrassing picture of your child and posted it on the Internet, I’m sure you would not only be outraged, you would very likely get the proper authorities involved. See the connection?

As a parent, we are supposed to protect our children and make sure to the best of our abilities that they grow up strong, confident and knowing that in the entire world there are at least two people who will love and support them unconditionally, forever.  Yet, for some reason, public shaming seems to be all the rage. From showing a toddler in a tiara farting on national television to shooting your daughter’s laptop on YouTube to making them stand outside with a sign declaring they have a bad attitude, parents are finding new and perverse ways of getting their 15 minutes of fame at the expense of their child’s lifetime of humiliation.

The best think I can do for my children is to model appropriate online behavior. I want to teach them to be respect themselves and to be respectful of others. So when I think about blogging about the wondrous, hysterical and oh-so-silly things that they do, I don’t. I try to remember that what goes online stays online for all eternity. I also remind myself that in a couple of years, they will be old enough to blog about me.

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