Public or Private?

You’ve heard the phrase “praise in public, correct in private”. There seems to be a disturbing trend emerging which supports the public shaming of your child as a method of discipline. Whether it is humiliation on social media or a young person being forced to hold up a sign identifying their “crime”, this is a dangerous tactic.

I am a parent and I understand the frustration that a parent experiences when a child makes bad choices but it will never be helpful to your child to be forced to bear the humiliation of public shame by their parents – the humans that should make them feel safe and unconditionally loved. Sometimes as parents we reach our “wit’s end”. We are desperate for an answer, a solution but we must remember that parenting is a long distance race not a sprint. Parenting is all about coming along side and teaching. Parenting is all about moving from control of the very young child to a relationship with your young adult.

Speaking of young adult – they are not adults. They do not have the maturity or emotional stability of an adult. Their brains are still developing. Some studies show that the part of the brain responsible for making decisions is still developing even as a person approaches age thirty. When a young person is publicly humiliated, it produces confusion and self-disgust that can stay with them throughout their life. When a parent is the perpetrator of the shame, there will be a smorgasbord of deep emotional scars.

When we parent our children, let’s keep in mind the methods in which God “parents” us. He is loving, kind and patient. He does not get “fed up” with us. He is long-suffering.  Although it is important to communicate high standards for our children, since children tend to live up to higher expectations and live “down” to lower expectations, we must never expect our children to be perfect. As parents, it helps us to remember, that we still make bad choices.  God has communicated His standard and as a Christian, you know it is impossible to live up to His standard but what has He given us? Grace – a never ending supply of grace through His Son, Jesus Christ. We can be the example of this kind love in our children’s lives.

If you have already parented using shame or guilt, it is not too late to stop. Acknowledge the error, apologize to your child and get on the path of parenting by building your relationship and extending grace to your child. You will be blessed now and in the future when you witness your adult child being a grace extending human being.


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