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Parents Force Girl to Hold Sign as Punishment For Being Disrespectful

We're happy to present this article from our partner site Yahoo! Shine:

Worried about their 13-year-old daughter's increasingly disrespectful behavior, Gentry and Renee Nickell of Crestview, FL, decided to make her punishment humiliating and public. On Saturday, the teen (whose name has not been released) spent 90 minutes standing at a busy intersection with a handwritten sign describing her sins.

It read: "I’m a self-entitled teenager w/no respect for authority. I’m also super smart, yet I have 3 'Ds' because I DON’T CARE."

Passing motorists saw the teen, who was standing with her dad at the corner of Ferdon Boulevard and US Highway 90 in Crestview and snapped pictures of her with their cell phones. Some of the photos ended up on Facebook, where they were shared within the Crestview community (the Nickells said that they have not seen those photos; Yahoo! Shine was not able to find them online). Someone called the police, who showed up to talk to the teen and left after deciding that she was "aware of her punishment and she was not in any harm," Crestview police records show.

Related: Is Parental Shame the New Spanking?

Now, however, the parents are feeling a little public humiliation of their own.

“I wasn’t even thinking about what the public was going to think,” mom Renee told the Northwest Florida Daily News. “I was thinking about our daughter. It was for her to be in the public and recognize what she had done wrong." In a statement defending the punishment, the Nickells stated, "We spend so much focus on not wanting to hurt a child's self-esteem that we don't do anything."

"Walk a mile in someone's shoes," the statement read. "We must undo at home what the world tries to tell her is better."

Renee told the Northwest Florida Daily News that the family has had a hard time since Renee's brother was killed in Afghanistan in December 2011. Her kids were close to him and his family, she explained, even taking vacations together. Since losing her uncle, Renee's 13-year-old has become more defiant at home and at school, and her grades have dropped.

"We just felt like she just kind of gave up," Renee told the newspaper. The family did not say whether they sought grief counseling for their daughter after her uncle's death, or whether they thought her lack of interest in school was a sign of depression.

Holding a sign in public wasn't their first choice for punishment. They tried grounding her before, but it didn't help, they explained. They didn't forbid her from attending activities at church, they said, because the activities were supposed to reinforce the Christian values they were struggling to instill in her. They didn't confiscate her electronics because neither she nor their two younger children, ages 2 and 6, have any, they said.

"We just got to the point where we just didn't know what else to do," Renee told the newspaper. She said that she got the sign idea from a Christian counselor "several years ago" and decided to start with a 90-minute public punishment. The girl's dad stood next to her the whole time.

"At the end, she gave me a hug in front of the police officer and she told me she was sorry," Gentry said.

But on Tuesday, the Nickells were surprised to find out that their daughter's punishment had gone viral, and were shocked by the anger leveled at them for their parenting choices.

"It makes me sad to think that this young girl had experienced such a painful loss recently and because she was acting out (as many, if not most young people do for a time) in response to that trauma, she was put on public display for her sins rather than receiving professional help/intervention," commented Katherine Rebecca Newlin. "How would her parents (or any one of us?!) feel if they were made to stand on a public corner with any number of their sins plastered all over a sign for the world to see?"

"Worst parents ever," commented Asa Semaj of San Diego. "No one likes to be humiliated, especially a 13-year-old girl, by her own parents! Thirteen-year-old girls have been know to kill themselves over less than this. The only thing she will learn from this is to hate her family."

While people are criticizing the Nickells for the punishment, some who saw the "self-entitled" sign say they support the family.

"I saw her Saturday morning while running errands, and I thought to myself, great job, Mom and Dad!" Aundy Blocker of Crestview said on Facebook. "Do everything possible to keep your child on the right track! Kudos to you!"

The Nickells likely meant to call out their kid for being "selfish," "self-centered," or "entitled" ("self-entitled" isn't a word), but even so, their message obviously got through to the teenager. They told the Northwest Florida Daily News that the girl's behavior had improved since Saturday.

“I asked her, ‘Were you scarred? Traumatized?’" Renee told the newspaper. "She said, ‘No, mom, I knew it was coming.'"

— Lylah M. Alphonse

Also on Shine:

Mom Makes Son Hold Sign as Public Punishment For Being Disrespectful
Are Shame-Based Punishments Effective?
Parents Punish Teen by Posting Goofy Photos on Her Facebook Page. Epic or Awful?

Image Source: Thinkstock
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Join The Conversation
LucyMauterer LucyMauterer 2 years
Each child is different. What would crush one child, may roll off another like water off a duck's back. I am sick of others self righteously criticising these parents for using a creative and totally harmless form of punishment. They should not be having to defend themselves, especially when the daughter said she knew she had it coming after the fact. These are great and loving folks who want their daughter to do well in school, learn respect, and grow up to be a successful adult. What is wrong with that? One of you said it would bring resentment. How do you know that? Maybe YOU might be resentful, but this child did not seem to respond in that way. She seemed to realize that she deserved some sort of discipline and instead of arrogantly resenting it, she accepted it in a right spirit. I am behind these parents 100%.
Tinker94589 Tinker94589 2 years
I raised 3 children and when it came to discipline what worked for each of them was different. The most important thing is that a child knows you love them. Outsiders, and onlookers have no business being judgmental. These parents are FAR from being the worst parents EVER. Give it a rest with the criticism and hateful hurtful opinions of others already. How do any of you know that this girl needs grief counseling, or that she will resent her parents, or that she will commit suicide, etc.? You need to live and let live. I give these parents a standing ovation for loving this girl enough to try something to bring her around.... and it seems to have worked!
Andrea-MaryMcGee1365304960 Andrea-MaryMcGee1365304960 2 years
#wouldn't,
Andrea-MaryMcGee1365304960 Andrea-MaryMcGee1365304960 2 years
This is what is wrong with the world today! Parents are afraid to discipline their children for fear of persecution from the 'do gooders' of society. I am proud to admit I smacked my children as toddlers on the back of their hand if they would do as they were told when being chastised. I would then tell them I loved them and ask them not to disobey me as I was teaching them right from wrong. I have 2 adorable, polite, caring, intelligent and well mannered, respectful children. Our mantra I say 'mind your', they reply manners' I say cost, they reply nothing! Her parents didn't stick her by the side of the road and collect her 2 days later. Her father stood by her the whole time she was feeling sorry and wronged and yes probably humiliated, but she knew her Dad was there with her! To all the people who criticise, if you have kids- are your kids angels and have they ever done wrong? And to the ones who haven't had children or for whatever reason choose not to have you have no idea how hard it is to bring up an honest, trustworthy member of society with people like you interferring. You post your opinion and the leave the parents to deal with the backlash. More parents need to teach their children right from wrong and maybe someday we can live in a humane and respectful society! Let he who has not sinned cast the first stone...
CyndelJones CyndelJones 2 years
This will bring resentment. Yeah it may change her behavior but not because they reached her heart and helped her through the pain of loss but because she is is afraid. Fear is a good controller, not a good teacher.
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