Kids these days are out of control, strutting around in their short shorts, twerking anywhere and everywhere, talking back, lying, cheating, stealing. And while there was once a time when it was acceptable to spank your kids, or shout at them, or even just ground them for a week, that's now called child abuse. What's a parent to do?
As seen this week, publicly shaming your child is maybe the best way to make a fool of at least one member of your family, especially when said attempt proliferates across social media, thus multiplying the shame.
Thus when Scott Mackintosh's daughter Myley refused to change out of her short shorts a family dinner outing, he decided to sport his own pair of short shorts. His wife then posted the pictures to her blog (now titled dadshortshorts.com), and the whole thing went viral. Mackintosh said he just wanted to prove that his (unfortunately-named) daughter's shorts "weren't as cute as she thinks" while also making sure his daughter "will always know that her dad loves her and cares about her enough to make a fool out of himself."
But that's the thing — he probably made more of a fool out of himself than of his daughter. You can judge for yourself whether Mr. Mackintosh has the gams for a pair of Daisy Dukes, but even if Myley's shorts aren't as cute as she thinks, her thighs probably don't look like they've never seen the light of day.
Her poor dad is hardly alone. Earlier this week, a California mom made her daughter stand on a corner with a sign that said "I was Disrespecting My Parents by Twerking at my School Dance." Yes, there's an argument to be made that 11-year-old 7th graders probably shouldn't be twerking in public. But there's a stronger argument against making your daughter stand on a street corner because you found her twerking sexually explicit. Twerkers gonna twerk, but should moms really be slut-shaming their preteens daughters on the evening news? No.
And those are just two examples from this week. Possibly the most extreme, most ridiculous, and most unlikely-to-reflect-well-on-the-parent incident of public shaming happened in February 2012, when a dad shot up his daughter's laptop because she was complaining about cleaning up after him on Facebook. Tommy Jordan, the IT guy with a .45, posted an eight-minute video where in he reads her comments, complains about them and then starts shooting.
"These are exploding hollow point rounds," he explains in the video, the same way a less trigger happy IT guys might say "This here is an ethernet cord." Imagine being Jordan's neighbor. "Hey Tommy, I know my dog ran through your tulips again, but I'm really sorry. Really, really sorry. Really, really, really sorry." True, Jordan's daughter is a brat, but I'd rather have her mad at me than Jordan. (In fact, if you're Mr. Jordan and you're reading this, I'm sorry.)
Yes, parents don't have a lot of acceptable options. Hitting your children seems awful, and potentially increases their risk of mental disorders. Grounding, or the threat of grounding, is sometimes effective, though it can be hard for parents to stomach a child's tantrum. Also, Tommy Jordan tried grounding before bullets, and we know how that turned out. Yelling at your kid just makes you look like you're throwing a tantrum, and a new study found that it's just as bad as hitting.
In light of all this, public shaming might seem like the way to go. But as the above examples all-too-amply show, airing your dirty laundry to the world only makes the parents look bad.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.