I was surprised and dismayed to read the responses of Tribune readers,
published on The Tribune website, to the Hester Prynne-style punishment
meted out by a local mother to two of her grade school-age children. The
children were made to stand by a busy street for days in the hot sun
carrying a sign confessing their sins (lying and sneaking out) and
asking passersby to "Honk if You Agree with Grounding."

of the readers whose opinions were published expressed unreserved
approval of the mother's misguided behavior. I would like to contribute a
voice of respectful dissent.

All children lie and misbehave at
times. Not some, but all. Our job as parents is to teach our children
through measured discipline the consequences of their behavior in a
logical and proportionate way, to help them shape themselves into
responsible, caring adults.

Public humiliation and like forms of cruelty toward children instill in
them feelings of deep shame, not of their behavior but of themselves. It
teaches them to hate themselves and to distrust and victimize others.
It leads to addictions, immeasurable human pain and immense social
costs. It propagates itself through generations until a conscious choice
is made to stop and take a different route.

There is certainly more than one acceptable style of parenting.
Each parent must make choices that fit his or her own circumstances and
those of each child. And no parent always makes the right choices.
"Always" is an unattainable standard.

We must learn to forgive
ourselves when we falter as parents, just as we lovingly teach our
children to forgive themselves when they make poor choices. But our
right to choose how we parent does not equate to a right to treat
children as our property, to handle as we please. They are sovereign
souls who need and deserve appropriate care, discipline and respect.

and physical abuse cannot be justified as a parent's prerogative.

possibility of being a strict disciplinarian and a loving parent is
foreign to some people only because they've never experienced or
observed it in their lives. Parenting skills are not different from job
skills in that they must be learned. Making logical, loving and measured
choices to discipline children can be challenging for anyone, but it's
certainly more challenging for a parent who hasn't had the benefit of an
example to follow.

"Honk if you agree" is a question. It's a
plea for affirmation, from any stranger who happens to be driving by,
that this mother's abusive behavior is acceptable.

I do not honk. I respectfully dissent from the apparent majority
opinion among Tribune readers that says, "You go, girl!" There is
nothing logical or proportionate or loving about what she is doing to
her children. She is teaching them, yes, but not the lessons she thinks.
I hope she will stop and seek guidance before the damage she causes is

Timothy D. Hernly is a South Bend resident. 


Source: South Bend Tribune – http://tinyurl.com/3y46q2z