Dear Parents: Don’t Be Assholes

Last night, before I went to bed, I read another article about the latest parent to publicly shame their child as so-called discipline.  Because the parent’s humiliating and degrading behavior was not enough on its own, photographic evidence of said “discipline” was then splashed about on social media as though it was entertainment.  Thousands of other wounded parents banded together to clap their collective hands.  “Bravo! Way to stand up and be a parent!!”

Different parents, different places…. but it’s the same story every time.   The first parent does something really cruel and hurtful to their child, they share it for the world to see, and people laud them as parent of the year.  The first parent then feels vindicated in his or her behavior, and scores of people feel proudly right in their wrongness.

You guys, I am so very tired of this.

And I learned after the 5th or 6th time that it happened, that I can’t open up a dialogue about it either. Doing so inevitably leads to my getting chastised for judging, and – ironically – my getting shamed for shaming the parent for shaming the child. And I’m so very tired of that too.

Because it’s not about shaming a parent. It’s not about one specific parent at all. It’s about having the conversation, the important conversation, that starts with:

Hey. Do the right thing. BE NICE TO YOUR KIDS.

And yes, I understand that we need to have compassion for these parents as well. As someone always reminds me, “Hurt people hurt others.” Absolutely. These parents’ friends and loved ones need to be reaching out to them, and they need to be helping them with tools and alternatives. They need support. Perhaps they need therapy.

But the thing is, someone also needs to be a voice for the children, who society just won’t give a voice of their own. And if I have to choose between standing up for the children and possibly stepping on a few toes, or staying silent to spare feelings…. I’m going to choose the children. Every time.

There’s a time for niceties. There’s a time for soft words and understanding and back-patting.

There’s also a time for honesty.


There’s a time to tell people to grow up, to get real, to deal with their own issues, and stop freaking taking them out on their kid.

We’re all coming into this parenting gig with baggage. God knows I’ve got my own issues to deal with. We’ve all been hurt. We’re all wounded. But the days are ticking and our kids are growing up no matter how we treat them. We’re never going to get back this time in their lives. There is no time for tip-toeing. Kids should not have to pay the price for our refusal or inability to deal with our own crap and move on from our own old wounds.

We have to do right by our kids. Period. Full stop.

A friend of mine has adopted the wonderfully succinct parenting motto of “Don’t be an asshole.” I can’t help but think if more people informed their parenting with that philosophy in mind that the world would be a softer, kinder, gentler place. Don’t be an asshole to your kids.

Don’t like the word choice? Call it something else. Call it the Golden Rule. Call it doing unto others the way you’d have them do unto you. Call it treating your kids the way you’d like to be treated. Call it whatever you want, but do it.

Yes, deal with your own issues. Yes, give grace to yourself. Yes, offer yourself forgiveness for past mistakes. Yes, reach out to others who can support you and help you in your efforts to do better. But be nice to your kids. For all the flowery advice and philosophical waxing and wordy prose can be boiled down to that one simple phrase. That’s where it starts. That’s the first step to more connected, more compassionate parenting.

No more excuses, no more bullshit. Just a decision. Right now, today:

Be nice to your kids.

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Filed under parenting, rant

14 Responses to Dear Parents: Don’t Be Assholes

  1. Michele

    Great post!!

  2. Angie

    Yes! Education is so important. Parents are only doing what they’ve been shown. I’m guilty of the same, until my heart was shown a better way. I’m praying that others’ hearts are open to the way of grace, love and kindness. It DOES work. “Love never fails.”

  3. Gina


    Those posts horrify me, but often times the comments downright sicken me. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen them, but these people frequently take it beyond shaming, beyond spanking, and down the rabbit hole into “breaking teeth”, a “punch in the face”, and more. I’ve seen them brag about biting, bruising, and blood. I’ve also seen them say that people who DON’T publically shame or hit their kids are child abusers who should go to jail.
    They call us wimps, the p word, weak, and “scared of” our children. They say our children have no guidance, and will end up in a gang, or in jail.
    And they love to say that you’re not a good parent if your child doesn’t hate you, and you can’t be their mother/father AND be their friend.
    I’ve even seen them say children aren’t to be treated like human beings, because they are “not equal”.
    I’ve lost so much respect for the human race. I have a son who is sweet, loving, kind, respectful, and helpful. He learned this by example, guidance, and love. He emulates and exudes all that we show to him. People gush over him, and living in the south, get offended – actually offended – when I tell them he has never been spanked.
    Fact of the matter is, they cannot allow themselves to admit that everything they’ve always believed is wrong – their parents weren’t amazing for hitting them, and they aren’t amazing for hitting their own kids. As for public shaming? Same category. It’s easier to rule with fear. It’s easier to hide behind incorrectly translated words, and in some cases, good intentions.
    I understand that it’s hard to accept when you’re doing something wrong. What I can’t understand is why their pride is more important to them than their children.

  4. CC

    I am not a parent, but I always try to encourage others to abide by Wheaton’s Law. I approve of this piece wholeheartedly.

  5. B.

    “Hurt people hurt others.”

    Bullshit. Maybe this is an excuse people use for WHY they hurt other people, but it does not follow that a person who has been hurt is going to hurt someone else. It’s trite, offensive and patently untrue.

  6. Tammy

    YES!!!! I agree with this article whole-heartedly! Thank you! I will be sharing this!!! 🙂

  7. Right on. Unfortunately, I think that some people do not actually want the world to be a softer, kinder, gentler place. They want a kind of Law of the Jungle justice whereby everyone has an equally hard time in life and only the “deserving” find a way to survive it.

  8. I wrote something similar to this and I completely and wholeheartedly agree with this. I have 4 kids. I have always believed that if you want to teach your children how to be kind, ..then you should be kind to them. If you want to teach them how to be loving, ..then be loving to them. If you want to teach them how to be caring, ..then be caring to them! It really is that simple. As human beings that is how we learn. Hitting and shaming is NOT teaching anything. It is bullying!!! I can not understand people that become so proud of shaming their children. I truly believe that if we want to raise better people, .we need to be better!!! My oldest daughter is 23 years old and getting a degree in University. I never shamed or hit her. She did not end up in prison. My younger children are kind, and caring and they were never hit! WOW…what a shock!! Children are HUMAN BEINGS!!! Let’s raise them by BEING what we would like for them to be. BE kind, BE loving, BE caring!! They will learn.

  9. Sally Laing

    Well said!

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