Is the Punishment These Parents Doled Out to Their Disrespectful Daughter Too Harsh?
Gentry and Renee Nickell were at the end of their rope.
Their 13-year-old daughter was becoming increasingly disrespectful at home and at school and her grades were slipping. So last weekend, the Florida parents made her stand at a busy intersection holding a sign that said just that: “I’m a Self-entitled teenager w/no Respect for authority. I’m also super smart, yet I have 3 ‘D’s’ because I DON’T CARE.”
“We got to the point where we just didn’t know what else to do,” Renee Nickell of Crestview told the Northwest Florida Daily News.
They said the teen stood outside just 90 minutes, but it was more than enough time for a passing motorist to snap a photo that went viral on Facebook.
The Nickells told the newspaper they’ve been through a difficult year: Renee’s brother was killed in Afghanistan in December 2011, and while everyone struggled, their daughter had a particularly tough time coping with her uncle’s death — acting out and letting her grades suffer.
“We just felt like she just kind of gave up,” her mother said.
They said grounding her didn’t work, and the Nickells don’t buy their children expensive electronics to take away. That led to the sign, the idea for which they said they got from a Christian counselor a few years ago.
Gentry Nickell wasn’t in the photo that went viral on Facebook, but told the newspaper he stood with his daughter the entire time she was outside. The police were called by someone who thought the punishment was excessive, but the officer left after confirming the teen was “aware of her punishment and she was not in any harm,” according to the Daily News.
“I wasn’t even thinking about what the public was going to think,” Renee Nickell said. “I was thinking about our daughter. It was for her to be in the public and recognize what she had done wrong. I asked her, ‘Were you scarred? Traumatized?’ She said, ‘No mom, I knew it was coming.’”
Responding to their critics in a letter to the newspaper, the Nickells wrote: “”We spend so much focus on not wanting to hurt a child’s self esteem that we don’t do anything! A child will feel secure when they see a parent that cares enough to take drastic measures.”
“I assure you, our kids know they are loved…Our 1, 5, and 12 yr old stood on a flightline in the middle of winter receiving the remains of their beloved uncle from war. Walk a mile in someone’s shoes. We are a family that has been thru recent trauma and it took a desperate attempt to show our daughter we are not letting her go, just like the Lord did for us. We will not let her look like the rest of the world. She was called for a bigger purpose…we all are,” the statement said.
The Nickells say their daughter’s behavior has improved since her punishment.
“At the end, she gave me a hug in front of the police officer and told me she was sorry,” Gentry Nickell told the Daily News.
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