In the History of Maternal Public Embarassment there have been some doozies. Dynesha Lax of Fort Wayne, Indiana you are, as Casey Kasem might say, number one with a bullet!
Lax, mom to a 14-year-old who’s had a few run-ins with Johnny Law, decided public shaming was a helluva lot more compelling than community service. So she sent her kid out to stand on a busy street corner wearing a sign that declared him a criminal not-so-mastermind.
And here I always felt bad for the kid in my kindergarten class photo whose mom hung a needlepoint sign around her neck bearing her name.
Lax tells reporters that the court-ordered community service her son earned for breaking the law hasn’t changed his ways. She implied he’s been hard to handle for a while and that the courts are quick to charge her $300 in court fees and throw around words like “probation,” but aren’t coming up with any intervention to put her son back on the right track. Making an example of him is all that Lax can think to do.
I feel for Lax on some level. I’ve never thought our courts do much in the way of constructive intervention. Counseling, new schools, boot camps…all the serious responses to kids on a seriously bad path are cost-prohibitive to a lot of parents. I don’t know if that’s the case for Ms. Lax but I do know that putting the fear of God into your kid the way that only a mom can is free to everyone.
But will it work? And why am I sort of at peace with Lax’s decision? I don’t care for bullying and whereas I’d never hit my child, I’d sooner be hit myself than suffer disapproval or public shaming at the hands of loved ones (I put the “EEEEEEEEEE!” in “NEEEEEEEEEEDY!” and I’ve never claimed otherwise). Maybe Mama Lax’s outrageous brand of discipline doesn’t outrage me because, if I were that kid, this would totally work on me.
I’m not alone in my implicit approval of Ms. Lax’s public shaming. per se. but I’m also not in the clear majority. This story made news because passing motorists called the cops to report Lax, many suggesting that to publicly shame a kid this way is tantamount to child abuse.
Do you agree? Does Lax go too far or are we uncomfortable admitting when a kid has gone so wrong that we have to do something extreme to help him get right?