What’s a parent to do about her misbehaving child when grounding and time-outs don’t work?
An Australian mother has been catching plenty of flak for her unorthodox mode of punishment. The woman, referred to as “Tough Love Mum” in the news media, made her son go out in public with a sign on the front of his shirt that read, “Do not trust me. I will steal from you as I am a THIEF.”
Witnesses told the Townsville Bulletin that the boy, thought to be about 10 years old, kept his head down and stared at the ground. One witness was so appalled she called child-welfare authorities to report the incident.
The boy’s mother, however, has since come forward to defend her parenting tactics. (Her name has not been made public, however.)
She told the Townsville Bulletin she had tried various forms of punishment before resorting to shaming him.
“We’ve had a process over the last three years of him shoplifting and stealing whatever he can get his hands on,” she said. “I have taken him to the police station, had the police officers take him around, shown him a paddy wagon, shown him all the cells, shown him the process of being charged. … I have put him into courses, I have had counselling down, I have done everything I can.”
After discovering apparently pilfered chocolates in his bedroom, the mother decided a dose of public humiliation might straighten him out.
“I think he has learnt his lesson,” she said, noting the experience was unpleasant for both her son and herself. “[He got]lots of looks and people laughing at him. It wasn’t very nice for me to watch that at all.”
She added she found nothing wrong with the way she handled her son’s mischief. “If you don’t wrap them up in cotton wool, it is child abuse,” she said.
The mother is just the latest in a string of parents who have found themselves in hot water for getting creative with their punishment methods.
An Alaskan woman was convicted of misdemeanour child abuse on Tuesday for punishing her adopted son by squirting hot sauce in his mouth and making him stand in a cold shower, the Associated Press reports. Prosecutors said the punishment, which was recorded on video, was a ploy to get on the Dr. Phil television show.
Earlier this year, another mother’s eBay listing went viral when she punished her young sons for scratching up her bathtub with their toys by selling their playthings to help pay for repairs.
Where do you draw the line between tough love and bad parenting?