Life's Tool Box – A Guide for Parents and Educators

January 4, 2013

Bad Parenting Made Public

Filed under: Tools for Life Posts — by Life's Toolbox @ 1:25 pm
Tags: , , , , , ,

One day after I wrote about keeping humiliation out of children’s lives, I turn on the morning news to find a mom sharing the video she made of the prank she played on her 8 year old son.  Annoyed with his constant use of her ipad, Paula Papen decided to teach her son a lesson.  While he searched luxury car sites, she told him he had bought an expensive custom Mustang.  Out comes her cell phone, she videos his distraught tirade that now the family will have to sell everything,  and she posts the video of his unraveling panic on youtube.  In her interview she laughs off the comments she has received criticizing her parenting, joking that she received more chastisement for making her video in the vertical mode.


I am routinely approached by representatives of the press to discuss bullying.  Invariably, they ask if  I could provide them with a victim to interview, a child that could put a human face on the suffering bullying causes.  These wise reporters know that stories are so much more powerful when they share the experience of real people.  At times, parents have been ready and willing to offer their child for such an interview.  In every instance I have had to say “no”, to stop parents from exposing their children’s suffering, to stop reporters from further victimizing, publicly “outing” victims.  I have had to encourage seemingly intelligent and well-meaning adults to think about the consequences.  What will the child’s tomorrow be like if they are on the news today as a weak and humiliated victim?  Will this make their life better or worse?  Will this forever chronicle and cement their status as a victim?  Isn’t it our job, as parents and caring adults to keep humiliation out of our children’s lives, to protect them from eyes that pry into their worst moments?  What we should celebrate with the world, what we should make public is their successes, their shining selves, and our enduring love and care for them.


Ms. Papen identifies what she did as a prank.  Her “funny” little game, in addition to the humiliation incurred by her son, places her in a position no parent should want.  She has made herself untrustworthy.  When will this young man, tricked by his mom into believing a lie, and publicl  humiliated in a way that will last into perpetuity, begin to doubt  his mother’s veracity or good intentions.? Will he believe her when she says it is important to study, or that he should avoid a certain activity because it is unsafe?  The next time she calls him to dinner, will he wonder whether she peppered his eggs, or whoopee cushioned his chairs?  Parents should insert fun into family life, but not if it erodes their very serious and important power as educators, advisors, and protectors.


Not happy that my visit to youtube would register yet another “hit” on this young boy’s humiliation, I went to the site to read the comments on this video.  I wanted to see if others felt as I did.  Interspersed with those who recognized the poor parenting that this public humiliation represents were quite a few who congratulated mom for her sense of humor and found the video, and the “prank” behind it hilarious.  Ms. Papen herself, said that she feels it important to develop her son’s sense of humor.  It has become an accepted aspect of our culture, laughing at pratfalls and videos of silly stuff.  And hopefully, in homes across the world, families are laughing together, sharing funny stories and good times.  But setting a child up to look foolish, to feel miserable, to reveal a side of themself that may make them feel inept or embarrassed, and then publicizing that humiliation, well, that’s mean-spirited, bordering on abusive, and at best, shows poor judgment and no foresight.  An adult humiliating a child, that’s never funny,



1 Comment »

  1. Oh yes….. I saw that Mom …and son….on a tv show!!! It rattled me so to see the perpetuation of the “prank” and therefore, the perpetuation of the humiliation!!!!! Once again, “hungry” reporters are about as guilty as those they report about….. thanks for your reminders about the real role of parents!!!

    Comment by E and S Milch — January 4, 2013 @ 2:13 pm |Reply

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

Blog at

%d bloggers like this: