Technology has created many questions and challenges for parents today. How do you keep your kids safe from Internet predators? How much screen time is too much? At what age should you allow your child to have a cell phone, an email account, or a Facebook profile?
But what about parental use of social media? Over the past years, many incidents of parents posting publically shaming videos of their children have grabbed national attention, including one that resulted in a teen’s suicide. Don’t get me wrong, parenting is tough and children do need discipline but let’s take a look at why parents should strongly reconsider public shaming.
First, the Internet is forever. Public shaming photos and videos will be available for the entire world to view until the end of time. This includes your child’s potential future employers, boyfriends, and even their children.
Second, public shaming is actually cyber bullying. Think about it. How would you feel or what would you do if one of your child’s peers posted on social media that your child was a “liar” or a “thief.” In fact, in several states, including Illinois, legislation has been proposed that would penalize parents who use social media to humiliate their children causing emotional distress.
Finally, and ironically, shame is most often not a deterrent for misbehavior. Rather, shame can lead to a sense in your child that they are “not good” or inherently “bad” as a person. Shame is about self-worth whereas guilt is about behaviors and empathy is about how behaviors affect others. Shame does not teach guilt or empathy.
Yes, children need discipline yet they also need respect, comfort, empathy, and acceptance, most importantly from their parents.
“The difference between guilt and shame is very clear—in theory. We feel guilty for what we do. We feel shame for what we are.” – Lewis B. Smedes