A Private Matter: Why You Should Avoid Public Parenting


“Praise your children openly, reprehend them secretly.” – W. Cecil

Among the many controversial elements of social media is one I call public parenting. Public parenting is when we as parents litter our social media with updates on how and why we are disciplining our children. These updates often come in the form of videos showing parents berating their kids or engaging in a form of punishment that can only be described as shaming.

Some examples of shaming include children holding signs detailing their previous transgressions, kids being forced to engage in an act of penance for their wrongdoing, or, in the worst cases, parents physically disciplining children for all the world to see.

I would like to believe that such acts are done for the sole purpose of changing a child’s behavior, and that the end goal is a repentant kid who has learned his or her lesson and will never again repeat the act that got them in trouble in the first place.

But knowing what I know of social media and the way humans have so far responded to it, I honestly do not believe this is why parents engage in public parenting. Instead, I am convinced that public parenting is done for two reasons:

1. Parents want everyone else to know that they are good parents who swiftly and sternly deal with their child’s negative behavior. What better way to show it than via public parenting?

2. Parents, like all other humans, desire attention. Surely you have stopped scrolling down your Facebook feed upon seeing a loud and emotionally expressive parent laying into their kid.

While I fully support letting our online friends and family know all about our kids’ positive achievements, I do not think it is in our children’s best interest to publicly display their shortcomings or our reactions to their behavior. The negative effects include breaking the bond of trust between you and your child, putting your child at risk of bullying from outside sources, and taking the attention off your child’s misbehavior and putting it on your punishment.

For these reasons, I strongly suggest doing your parenting – both the positive and negative parts of it – in private.

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