(Our Grab The Popcorn posts look back at the biggest Mommyish stories of 2014. Read them all here.)
Do you feel guilty because you raised your voice at your kids today? Or maybe you're beating yourself up for looking the other way this evening when your little one snagged an extra cookie from the pantry. Whatever the parenting fail that's eating you is, fear not. We at Mommyish have the perfect way to make you feel like parent of the year. Grab a glass of the good grape juice and some nibbles, here's a look back at the worst discipline stories of 2014.
1. It's one thing to decide your child doesn't deserve to go to a concert, but using Facebook to call your daughter out as spoiled crosses the line from "acceptable punishment" to "parent seeking validation". Cindy Bjerke from Fargo, North Dakota took to the internet to sell her daughter's Katy Perry concert tickets. Bjerke's comments about her daughter being a "spoiled brat" were applauded by many as an shining example of tough love and fantastic parenting skills. I wrote how I thought Bjerke's actions were more about her ego be boosted and less about her daughter learning a lesson. Despite a lively debate in the comments section, I still feel Bjerke went too far.
2. Public humiliation via Facebook continued to be trendy in 2014. Dad Kevin Jones made his ten-year-old wear a shirt with her age and grade spray painted on it and forced her to carry childish accessories as punishment for lying about her age on social media. Then, just to show the world that he is #winning at parenting, he posted the photo to Facebook. While I understand Jones wanting to keep his daughter honest and safe, two misuses of Facebook don't make a right here. I'm hoping 2015 can be the year that Jones works on having an open dialogue with his daughter about internet safety instead of trying to drum up "likes" from strangers.
3. In the "discipline stories that simultaneously made me want to vomit and cry" category, we had the tale of the father who spanked his 16 and 18-year old daughters for being 90 minutes late for the younger girl's curfew. It's been months since I've read this story and it still makes me want to take a sledgehammer to my computer. Spanking is always a hot button topic, but taking your daughters, one of who is a legal adult, over your knee and pulling down their underwear to spank them is wrong on every possible level. There are tons of better ways to teach teens a lesson. Ground them, taking their phone or their car, sing in front of their friends- basically anything other than spanking them like this would have been a better option.
4. Effective discipline is punishing a child who hits another child on the school bus, perhaps with an extra assignment, having to write an apology to the injured party, maybe even a suspension. Abuse is taking the cane of a blind child and replacing it with a flimsy pool noodle. And yet that's exactly what happened to 8-year-old Dakota Nafzinger. Whether Nafzinger actually struck another child or merely raised the cane and was accused of hitting someone is up for debate. But the fact remains that his school saw fit to punish him by replacing his cane with a pool noodle for two weeks. I sincerely hope administrators saw the stupidity in this decision well before the two week period ran its course, and I would love to see them blindfolded and handed a pool noodle for two weeks to see just how ridiculous this punishment was.
5. Now I know kids don't come with instruction manuals, but if they did, it's a given that "Don't use a stun gun to discipline a child" would be included in all caps. Letina Smith of Kissimmee, Florida was charged with abuse after allegedly using a stun gun on kids in her care who misbehaved. Smith also allegedly forced the children, ages nine, eight and seven to do chair squats against a wall when they acted up and then would punish them with the "electric chair" by using the stun gun if they fell out of position. I taught group fitness classes, so I can say with authority that chair squats are a particular brand of painful to adults who want to be doing them, never mind a child. This had got to be the most shocking (see what I did there) discipline story of the year.
6. A retrospect of discipline gone wrong wouldn't be complete with some good old-fashioned slut shaming. High school student Miranda Larkin of Oakleaf High School in Orange Park, Florida was forced to wear a neon yellow shirt and bright red sweatpants that said Dress Code Violation on them in huge letters when a school administrator thought her skirt was too short. Because forcing a student to wear a color combination only Ronald McDonald can pull off is obviously less distracting to other students than a few inches of flesh above the knee.