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Anger and Embarrassment Not Good Parenting Techniques
Parenting from the Source
Carole Bell
By Carole A. Bell, Licensed Professional Counselor

The father leaped up, almost knocking over his chair. People at the surrounding tables quit talking and watched with forks full of fried catfish suspended mid-air. He yanked his son to a standing position. Gripping the teen's shoulder, he leaned close to his son's face. "Didn't I tell you to speak to your mother with respect?"

"But I only said…"

"Don't back talk, Jacob."

"I'm not back talking."

The man leaned even closer—so close his son flinched as if he wanted to step away from his dad's fish-breath. The father seemed to get control of himself and took a deep breath. "Sit down and apologize to your mother. We'll talk about this at home."

As he stepped backward toward his chair, the boy glanced over his dad's shoulder and saw a teen girl he might have recognized. The heat crept up his neck and turned his face bright red.

Keeping his head ducked, the boy sat down across from his mom.

The father leaned forward. "Jacob, do as I said."

Jacob sank deeper into his chair and glanced sideways at the onlookers. He looked up enough to meet his mom's eyes. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to be disrespectful."

His mom looked down and whispered, "It's okay, son."

You might think this story is an exaggeration, but I was at one of those tables watching the drama. Not only did the father make a spectacle of himself, but the entire family was embarrassed. Jacob learned less about respecting his mother than he learned about how a father disciplines a son—a lesson he may well carry into his own role as a father.

Jacob would feel deep shame from such an embarrassing display. He probably internalized his emotions because it would be dangerous to express his feelings. Most likely, even his mother would not want to talk about the incident for fear of angering her husband.

I chose to write about this topic because of something that happened this weekend. Someone read a piece I'd written about an angry teen and responded, "That's about when I'd hit that kid up side his head." I realized that kind of response could come from any economic, social, or cultural group.

Displaying anger and causing embarrassment to our kids is never a good technique. Even the apostle Paul warned parents: "Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord." Ephesians 6:4 NLT

Next month, I'll write about alternatives that work well without causing shame and anger.

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