Shaming. Used down through the ages by bullies, braggarts, and bet winners alike. But now, it seems this rather ignoble practice is in vogue for the most “modern” parents.
Over the past few years we’ve seen disobedient children punished with everything from forced sandwich signs on street corners to a firearm feud between a father and his daughter’s computer posted on facebook for her friends, and, now, a mom seeing the solution to school skipping as shadowing her subordinate with a video camera for the sole purpose of sore humiliation leading to submission.
In light of all of these shenanigans, I would like to know just what exactly these parents expect to gain from this public defamation done to their young.
Do they think it makes them look like good parents? It doesn’t. Do they think it will stop their children from disobeying them? It won’t. Do they, by some incredible stretch of the imagination, believe it will improve the bankrupt relationships that already exist between they and their children? There is not a shed of a chance that will happen.
I mean, I know the root intention to make a fool out of someone is certainly being accomplished in these unorthodox, unkind deeds, but the truth is that someone is assuredly not their children. No. It is they – the parents who resort to publicly disgracing their very own children – that are proving both foolish and fat-headed.
Think about it. What results can we really expect to produce from shaming other people into behavioral change? I can name a few…
Fear. Guilt. Mistrust. Anger. Insecurity. Rebellion. Secrecy. Bitterness. And that’s just a few.
Fear and guilt may produce change for a time, but fear-induced change is usually never genuine. It is temporary and inauthentic. As soon as the fear-instilling abusers are out of range, the fear-filled insubordinates will again disrespect their “rules.”
Guilt isn’t always a bad thing, especially when it comes to wrong behavior, but fear and shame-induced guilt is generally not the kind of guilt that leads to repentance. Instead it is the kind of guilt that leads to secrecy and hidden betrayal towards those who push it onto you. Secrecy is what we should expect when wrong things we are struggling with are humiliatingly exposed. Manipulation, coercion, and control wielded over another person often leads to more severe rebellion – especially when the relationship is run by force rather than love. Not only this, but a person who is publically shamed by someone they love and trust is likely to experience a deep level of insecurity towards the offender as well as others. It is natural for them to seek isolation and self-protection rather than the needed help to overcome their inappropriate behavior(s). How could a child ever trust a parent who willfully intends to dishonor and disgrace them whenever they fail? Along with trust, intimacy, friendship, and confidence also go out the relational window when shaming takes place.
And rightly so! How would you feel if the wrong moves you made were declared to the entire world? To all your peers, friends, enemies, strangers, neighbors, and everyone in cyberspace? Come on. You would be angry if someone who is supposed to love you most did these things to you.
Besides all this, we must ask ourselves when shaming anyone has ever helped anything? When has it ever been done in love rather than spite? Has is ever improved a relationship? I wonder.
The pastor said something in his sermon that stuck with me. He said, “I am not a good person.” Not, “You are not a good person.” (Although he said that as well.) But he said, “I am not a good person.” If he is not a good person, who is? Right. He reminded us that if a ticker tape of any one of our thought lives were posted up publically – even from as little as the past 24 hours – we would all be exceedingly ashamed, embarrassed, and horrified. Again, rightly so. We are sinners. All of us. Human beings do wrong things. Period.
Therefore, none of us has a right or a reason to publically shame or slander another for our own personal prerogatives regardless of our position – albeit principal, pastor, or even parent.
Of course some may argue that this parental shaming as well as other examples of shaming are done for the benefit of the shame-ee. Really? There would have to be quite an extreme circumstance for which these kind of public proceedings are indeed proper. (See Matthew 18:15-17) This situation is not the norm. No. What we are seeing in our culture is abuse of authority for the benefit of the authority – namely for the increase of power and prestige they possess over other persons. This is altogether different than being a pedagogue for the pupil.
Thankfully God – our Father – is not in the business of shaming sinners. He is a good father. Instead, he disciplines his children when we sin. He loves us enough to stand beside us when we fail and absorb our shame – not so we will carelessly repeat our offenses – but so we will know his love and mercy well. So well, in fact, that that will drive us to choose to please and obey him the next time we are tempted.
Love. Mercy. Grace. Those are the actions genuine obedience follows.
Shaming a child is shameful. Please stop, parents.