Another case of "creative discipline" has hit the news: A Maryland dad forced his son to carry around a sign that said "Homeless, Won't Listen to Parents" after the 12-year-old didn't call home on time when he wanted to spend the night at a friend's house.
Kevin Burks of Waldorf, Md., joins a long line of parents who have resorted to unconventional measures to get through to their kids. There was laptop-shooting dad, who fired eight bullets into his teen daughter's laptop after discovering some disrespectful posts, and became a folk hero of sorts when he put the whole thing on YouTube. Another mom posted a photo of her 13-year-old daughter with an X superimposed over her mouth on Facebook to teach her a lesson, again about being disrespectful. Then there was the North Carolina dad who made his daughter carry a sign saying "I have a bad attitude," or the Florida mom whose son was forced to carry a sign saying "Honk if I need education."
Clearly, all these signs are a sign that parents of teenagers are frequently driven to their wits' end. Teenagers push our buttons, and they're very good at it. While experts say punishments that rely on public shaming are a bad idea, fellow parents tend to respond with applause.
"You go mom!! Since when is it wrong to teach your children to respect you????" one TODAY Moms fan commented on our Facebook page about the X-photo discipline story.
"Finally!" another mother wrote. "Parents actually parenting!!"
On her Positive Parenting Solutions website, TODAY parenting contributor Amy McCready wrote that parents who are horrified at their teens' disrespectful ways need to do some soul-searching:
Young people don’t flip a switch and suddenly become entitled. We can’t expect teenagers to contribute around the house, be grateful, to demonstrate hard work and fiscal responsibility unless we emphasize those as core family values from the time they are in preschool.
We can’t expect kids to treat us with respect unless we treat them with respect. Wait, I take that back. We can DEMAND that they respect us – but unless we reciprocate and MODEL RESPECT – we MAY get respect in the short term, but we aren’t going to foster the loving, communicative, respectful relationships we want to have with our kids long term.
(McCready posted that in response to laptop-shooting dad, but it applies to a lot of other situations as well.)
In the case of the "Homeless" sign punishment, father Kevin Burks told NBC 4 in Washington, D.C. that some neighbors called police to complain that the sign-holding was cruel punishment, but when a police officer responded and heard what happened he actually commended him for his parenting efforts.
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