Recently I saw a video online that was made by an angry mother. Her daughter had been getting in trouble in class, and this mother decided to go to school and sit in all of the girl’s classes with her. Now, as a former teacher I have seen this happen, and generally when a mother or father comes to school to sit in class with their child, their mere presence is enough to embarrass the child and make them think twice before acting up again.
But, this mother not only went to all of her daughter’s classes, she videoed herself walking behind her daughter, mocking and taunting her all the way from one class to another. The mother was extremely proud of herself for being at school. She made fun of her daughter, praised herself, and basically bullied the child in front of the other students and whoever happened to watch the video on the internet.
I’ve seen this and other videos of this type floating around, usually with titles like, “Now THIS is a Great Mother” or “This is What Real Parenting Looks Like.” But, unfortunately this type of social media spectacle isn’t really about parenting or thinking about what’s best for the child. It’s about vanity and pride in parents.
Truthfully, Christians are called to live a life of humility. It’s a difficult thing to emit humility while you are in the throes of parenting. But, there is a delicate balance in the Christian life between humility and confidence. Think of Moses. He was known as the most humble man on Earth, yet when he was called to speak boldly to the Israelites (and for their own good), he did it with the confidence that God was behind him.
So, it is possible in parenting to walk humbly while also displaying confidence that sometimes you have to do what you have to do for the good of your children and for their social and spiritual health. Going to school to sit in the back of your child’s classroom shows confidence that God has called you to discipline and correct your child. Following her with a video camera while you mock and shame her shows pride and a greater concern for how people perceive you than how they perceive your child.
I think a good rule of thumb for Christian parents is to discipline fairly and firmly without being mean. And, we won’t get it perfect every time. But, mocking and shaming our children is no way to help them understand God’s love, and for most children it won’t be an effective disciplinary tool. Let’s not sacrifice our children on the altar of social media, just because it makes us feel smart or because we think it’s funny. Kids are people, too, and no one likes to be bullied or made fun of, especially by their own parents.