Kids do strange things in strange places. Any parent can attest to this. Parents of potty-training toddlers can be particularly frustrated with “accidents” happening … in the car, in the bath, on the floor, generally anywhere but the toilet.
One father had enough of these little accidents, and when his 2-year-old daughter pooped in the toilet, he decided to do something about it. He made a sign that read: “I pooped in the shower and daddy had to clean it up. I hereby sign this as permission to use in my yearbook senior year.” It is signed with a 2-year-old’s scribbling. In the picture, the little girl in pajamas is smiling, adorably unaware of what is going on. Had her father snapped the shot, stuck it in a family album and pulled it out to show the grandparents or future husband, fine. After all, venting frustration by making a sign and taking a cute picture of your kid is a lot better then some other things, like the Detroit man who allegedly beat his daughter to death for wetting herself.
But this dad didn’t just stick the picture in an album. He posted it on the internet, for everyone and anyone to see, forever. And the comments are astounding. One commenter wrote,
“You don’t make a child tough and resilient by having her parents, who are meant to be the two people in the world she can trust absolutely, set out to embarrass her in the most public of settings. That makes a child insecure, because it teaches her she can’t trust the people closest to her.”
Another noted: “[Young] kids don’t really have enough sense to consent or understand the ramifications of something like this. This picture is digital, on the internet, and could embarrass her for the rest of her life.”
Public shaming seems to be all the rage among parents this year. Montrail White, from Illinois, watched from his parked car while his 8-year-old daughter, Melissa, stood outside the High Mount School wearing a home-made sandwich board sign which read “I like to steal from others and lie about it!!” Tarvon Young, a fifth grade student at the Richard Allen Leadership Academy in Miami, stood outside that school for 90 minutes every day holding a sign that said “I was sent to school to get an education. Not to be a bully… I was not raised this way!”
While some parents agree that public humiliation is the best way to nip behavioral problems in the bud, Alfie Kohn, author of Unconditional Parenting: Moving from Rewards and Punishments to Love and Reason, Warns that harsh discipline – such as public humiliation – teaches kids: “(1) my parent isn’t a caring ally whom I can trust but an enforcer I should try to avoid, (2) when you have a problem with what someone else has done, you should just use power to make the other person do what you want, and (3) the reason not to steal (or lie or hurt people) isn’t because of how it affects others but because of the consequence you, yourself, will face if you’re caught.”
So back to the dad with the toddler who pooped in the shower. His response to all the controversy surrounding his picture post?
“She can sue me for ‘defecation.'”