Shame vs Guilt - Youth
There is a new trend parents are using to discipline their teens: shaming them on social media. One father noticed his daughter in a picture on Instagram holding a mobile phone in one hand and what looked like lemonade in a water bottle in another. The mother added to the comment stream, “Why are you drinking? Is that a pipe in your hand?” His daughter was mortified and commented back, “It’s my phone!” to which her father commented, “Hmmmm.” Needless to say the girl was embarrassed knowing the conversation was seen by all her friends.
Posting pictures of teenagers holding signs has become another popular trend. One mother took away her daughter’s social media after her daughter posted pictures of herself drinking alcohol—but not before she made her daughter post a picture letting all her friends know why. The mom took a picture of her daughter holding a sign that said, “I obviously am not mature enough to not post pictures of me drinking alcohol so until I mature, I will be taking a hiatus from Facebook.”
Cyberbullying is a serious problem in the social media age, and most parents are aware of the severity of peer-to-peer bullying. However, parental cyberbullying in the form of shaming on social media is just as bad, if not worse. Shaming on social won’t help fix a teenager’s behaviour but will likely increase sneakiness and resentment, which will only inhibit parent to child communication. On top of that, what you post may affect your child’s reputation and cause additional problems for them socially.
Though it might seem like an effective way to make a point to your teen, reserve reprimanding them for private conversations at home.
The potential negative outcomes can be irreversible. Instead, look for proactive measures to prevent behaviour you don’t agree with rather than using shame as a corrective measure.
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Are you a “guilt-tripping parent”? Do you find yourself withdrawing from your teenager when he or she misbehaves? You may be unknowingly trying to psychologically control your teen.
We’ve been talking about the dangers of parenting using shame and guilt in this month’s video.
In an article in Reuters, researchers at the University of Virginia followed 184 people from when they were 13 to when they were 21.
At ages 13, 18, and 21, the participants reported things like how much “psychological control” their parents exerted, how independent and self-confident they were, and how they conducted themselves in friendships and romantic relationships.
“Psychological control” is defined as using guilt, withdrawing love, fostering anxiety, or being manipulative to control a child. This could include a father giving his teen daughter the silent treatment or acting less friendly. Or, it could be a mother saying something like, “If you loved me, you wouldn’t do things like that knowing it worries me.”
These studies revealed that teenagers whose parents used emotional manipulation to try to control them more often than not end up in unhealthy relationships later in life. They are less able to work out disagreements, have trouble establishing a sense of independence, and struggle with intimacy in friendships and with romantic partners.
There are two things you can do to guard against “guilt-trip parenting.” First, pay attention to how you respond when your son or daughter misbehaves. If you find yourself withdrawing or ignoring your teen when they misbehave, you may be unknowingly trying to psychologically control them. Second, pay close attention to the cues your teenager might be giving you in response to how you are parenting. Often, their body language or quietness is an indicator they feel controlled.
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