As many of you have seen (or maybe you’ve just heard about it), a potential father of the year candidate recently posted a video on his daughter’s Facebook profile as a means of punishment. Basically, she said that she didn’t like the way her parents treated her (with colorful language), and he proved her point by being a complete jerk. I watched the video after a few friends posted it, claiming this dad was “awesome” and “knew how to handle children.”
I was surprised by a couple of things related to this video. First, I’m surprised any parent anywhere would come up with such an idea. The second thing I’m surprised by is that the dad was surprised his daughter had a foul mouth and bad attitude. These kinds of things are inherent, and when your child starts exhibiting this kind of behavior, you may want to step back a minute and look at yourself. I’m not surprised that neither person who sent it directly to me has kids, because I think once you have kids and love them, you realize how ridiculous this is.
I will never understand the parent who intentionally publicly humiliates his/her child. Not only is it unbiblical – we’ll get there – but it’s really kind of an immature response. It’s an adult temper tantrum, really. It’s like you’re stomping your feet and saying, “He did something I don’t like, and I’m really mad.” You shouldn’t do that to your kid. There is no circumstance under which publicly humiliating your child is okay behavior. When Jakob throws a tantrum, especially in public, I correct him. I do not let him think that is okay behavior. I do not undermine that lesson by throwing a tantrum in return. You’ll never read on my Facebook or Twitter pages about how bad Jakob is and how mad he makes me sometimes. He’s a two-year old. He’s going to upset me. He’s going to misbehave. But I love him, and it’s not my goal to have you look down on him for it.
Do you know why I would never tell you when my son is misbehaving? Because there is one verse on parenting in the Bible that I have memorized and live out. All parents just love Ephesians 6:1-3. Why wouldn’t we? But Ephesians 6:4 is what moves me: “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord.” Do not provoke your child to anger. How can you provoke your child to anger? You can set unreasonable goals for them. You can always tell them what they do wrong and never affirm them for what they get right. You can show favoritism to one child and see how quickly the other gets angry. And you can publicly humiliate your child. I work with kids, and some of them have experienced public humiliation at the hands of their parents. Guess what each of these kids has in common. They hate it. It upsets them. It embarrasses them. It never fixes them.
Here’s a closing note. We set the bar of our expectations for our children by how we treat them. Often times, he/she will believe what you say about them. If I tell my son that he is an idiot or that he’s a screw up and can do nothing right, then I have set the bar very low for him. He will not have to work very hard to achieve what he thinks his limits are. So if you tell your child he’s an idiot, and he acts like one, you should take him out for ice cream. He managed to achieve what you told him was possible for him. But maybe it’s a better idea if you just don’t do that to your child.