Bestselling Christian chick lit author ReShonda Tate Billingsley‘s Facebook recently posted a Facebook photo of her daughter and it’s going viral. The photo is part of her daughter’s punishment for abusing social media. The note she’s written and is holding up for the camera says it all:
The photo’s been shared 3,600 times and counting, with most of the comments regarding it being favorable. One poster’s commends Billingsley’s no-nonsense approach: “This is YOUR CHILD, not everybody else’s! You are her parent! I approve because if you don’t do it now, the jails or worse are waiting for her! Thank you for being courageous in training your female child to be a productive citizen of our world.” Another commenter opined, “I am so through with these uber-permissive parents telling us we’re invading our children’s privacy and embarrassing them unfairly by taking control and stepping up to the plate as moms and dads. Go, ReShonda, you have my full support!” Only a very small minority of poster dissented.
The online public rebuke seems to be on the rise as a disciplinary method for today’s tech-dependent teens, with the case of Tommy Jordan, who took to YouTube to record himself shooting his daughter’s laptop in retaliation to a Facebook rant she posted, being the most popular. Jordan faced a firestorm of controversy for his actions and, in the end, Child Protective Services made a visit to his home, just to make sure his 15-year-old, Hannah, was safe.
Jordan’s case and Billingsley’s are barely comparable, save for the fact that both parents decided to use their child’s chosen social media against them, as a way of driving home the point that disrespect–whether of self of family–wouldn’t be tolerated.
Fortunately for my generation, the internet didn’t rise to prominence until I was graduating high school. I escaped the risk of venting or posturing online, having my mind find out, and then put me on blast as chastisement. But before Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and the like, parents still had ways of publicly embarrassing their kids. I can vividly remember irate parents marching into a classroom and planting themselves in an empty chair beside their kid, upon receiving word that the child was cuttin’ up and slackin’ off. I remember tall tales about public spankings, stories that were embellished with each telling but had a leather belt in common. And I’ve heard of parents hanging their kid’s pee-stained sheets in the front lawn as a punishment for bed-wetting. And the list goes on.
In short: public chastisement is nothing new. And, I suppose, each case should be measured differently. In the case of photos like the one above, it would seem that the punishment fits the crime. The liquor-holding picture was just as publicly as the sign-holding one; the former embarrassed the mother–and, the mother likely contends, should also have embarrassed the girl–and the latter has the girl on the verge of tears, while, as Billingsley attests in her comments section, “begging for a beating [as a punishment] instead.”
What do you think? Is it ever cool to publicly punish your child? Were you ever publicly punish in full view of friends and/or strangers? Would you try this method with your own kid?