It’s a question of motivation, I think. How do parents motivate their children, and what’s the overall point?
This is the reaction I had as I watched that dad who attended an NBA game and decided to announce to the world that his son wasn’t doing great in school.
I went from complete joy at the dad’s trolling to introspection on what I would do in that situation.
What motivates our children?
Let’s get some housekeeping out of the way. I’m not saying that what this dad did was automatically “wrong” or “right.”
Passing that judgment from a photo and social-media reaction is exactly what I’ve been preaching against this whole time.
What I’m trying to determine: If there’s anything for parents to learn from or discuss following the father’s actions.
In other words, what motivates our children and how far should we go to push those boundaries?
What we have is an involved father
This dad decided that having a poster board displayed for all to see at an NBA game would motivate his son to get better grades.
He believed in this method so much that he used a sarcastic crying emoticon. That’s really what sets the poster board off, to be honest.
This photo tells us so much about what’s going on. First, we know his son’s name. Poor Thomas. Second, we know that Thomas isn’t doing great in school.
Third, and probably the most important, we know from “back up” that Thomas has shown the ability to earn and most likely keep good grades.
Combine all of that and what you really, truly, have here is an involved father looking for a way to motivate his previously excelling son to get things back on track. There is even the promise of a reward of “next time.”
That is a wonderful thing and something I’ll take to heart as my own son develops. Dads, be involved.
Public shaming that could go either way
But what we also have here is a perfect example of public “shaming” that could go either way. And only this father knows how it will go with his son.
Because here’s the thing: Our children don’t all respond to the same kind of parenting tricks.
Maybe Thomas saw this photo and realized the error of his ways. It’s possible that the public wake-up call was exactly what he needed to get himself squared away.
How awesome would that be?
Parents need to know how kids would respond
What I do know for certain is that my son, even at 4 years old, would never in a million years respond positively to this kind of thing.
He’s too strong-willed and independent for shaming to work. He takes after me.
Never do I remember a time when a teacher, loved one or boss trying to call me out publicly yielded the desire results. If anything, it went the other way.
My desk was in the corner of my sixth-grade class. I literally sat in the corner for all to see. So what? I was proud of that and a legend to my deviant friends.
One year, I had more recesses to sit out than were left in the school year. The teacher made a big show of adding to my tally. Shrug.
Be a smart parent – viral or not
My son has some of those characteristics. He pushes limits and tests our reaction. Shaming him would basically serve as a rewarding spotlight. We have to be smarter than that.
So parents, this entire situation is a really good reminder of how important it is to know our children and their personalities. What do they respond to? What motivates them?
For Thomas, I really hope it is being publicly shamed and then going viral for having bad grades.
Otherwise, he and his dad became Internet famous and the subject of the savage Twitter courtroom for kicks and giggles.
Louie Villalobos is a parenting blogger and digital producer for azcentral and allthemoms.com. You can follow him on Twitter @louievillalobos and find his podcast on iTunes, Stitcher and Google Play. Just search for “I am your father.”