Parents Force Teen to Hold Humiliating Sign as Punishment: Tough Love or Too Far?

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Worried about their 13-year-old daughter's increasingly disrespectful behavior, two parents decided to make her punishment humiliating and public.

Gentry and Renee Nickell of Crestview, Fla., made her spend 90 minutes standing at a busy intersection with a hand-written sign describing her sins:

Parents Sign

The sign they made her hold says: "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."

Passing motorists saw the teen and took pictures with their phones. Some of the photos ended up on Facebook, where they were shared within the community.

Someone called the cops, 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."

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

“I wasn’t even thinking about what the public was going to think,” her 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."

"We spend so much focus on not wanting to hurt a child's self esteem that we don't do anything," the Nickells said in a statement defending the punishment.

"As they say, 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 Nickell said 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.

Since losing her uncle in the war, Renee's 13-year-old girl has become much 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.

Holding a sign in public wasn't their first choice for punishment.

They tried grounding her, but it didn't help. They didn't forbid her from attending church, they said, because that was supposed to reinforce strong values.

They didn't confiscate the teenager's electronics because neither she nor their two younger children, ages 2 and 6, even have any, the couple said.

"We just got to the point where we just didn't know what else to do," Renee said, then they heard about the sign idea from a Christian counselor.

The girl's dad stood next to her the whole time. "At the end, she gave me a hug in front of a police officer and she told me she was sorry," Gentry said.

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

What do you think? Was a little tough love warranted in this case? Or did they go a little too far? Are they the worst parents ever? Discuss below.


I think the parents are original in a way and also slightly creative. Although they should have made a sign that is more humorous so it is not affecting the young teen's self esteem. This is better than hitting your kids, but it's still a form of aggression, after all don't we put a lot of efforts in those anti-bulying campaigns all over the country?


I think they went too far with that punishment
they are the worst parents they could of talk
to her about her grades and the way she was
acting instead of putting her out in public with
a sign


I commend these parents...damn you can't even make a kid hold a sign without getting ridiculed as a parent nowadays...complain over everything these are the people who didn't get disciplined as children...leave them alone cause i would bet money she learned her lesson!!!


I commend these parents...damn you can't even make a kid hold a sign without getting ridiculed as a parent nowadays...complain over everything these are the people who didn't get disciplined as children...leave them alone cause i would bet money she learned her lesson!!!

@ Rachel S.

Blame the Kids of this generation for everything all you want, but guess who is raising them? People like You! Blame the parents, Not the kids! Your generation messed up this Country, Not the current one! Get you're facts straight!

Lauren gardner

Sage, you are very empathetic, (as I try to be) and you hit the nail on the head. You "get it" about mental abuse. I guess some people don't realize that mental abuse is considered WORSE than physical abuse. With physical abuse, you can see the bruises, scars, and broken bones. Mental abuse usually stays the "sick secret." In this case, ignorance is not bliss, and we should watch out for each other. Those parents were "airing their dirty laundry," for everyone to see. Imagine the creeps that were driving by. They were probably wishing her father wasn't there, so they could kidnap her. C'mon people, there's better ways than announcing to the world, that you think your daughter is Crap, and want to show everyone how important her father is. I think this probable egomaniac should make his own sign, and stand alone, next to the traffic. Next time he should use his head. Kids are being raised w/ less and less hope, each year. The Gov't Sharks at the top are the ones w/ huge salaries, and all kinds of retirement, and benefits, that we all pay for. Then everyone else is supposed to get along w/ 2 cents, because after these hogs have at it, theres nothing left for the others. It never changes because they never leave, and keep giving themselves a raise. They should look at how simply the new Pope lives. I am impressed!! Also, another way we get our money devalued, is that the Gov't just keeps paying the bills with printing new money. How stupid is that? I'd say that is mental abuse, too. Let's live within our means, everyone.


LOL, that is the coolest. I'm getting ready to do this very same thing with my 10 year old son. My hat is off to parents like this that have created alternative punishment.

Lauren gardner
@ Carrie Lester

Yeah, right. You started off with LOL. That is exactly what everyone is going to do to you, and your son. Laugh Out Loud. Why would you subject yourself, son, and family to this public humiliation? Who is going to bring the bucket of rocks? That's all that's missing. Abuse comes in all forms. I wonder what you treat your dog like?

@ Lauren Gardner

Please don't do this!!!
What motivates appropriate behavior is important.
He will do what you say ,,if you do this But out of fear of humiliation and not being loved. Not out of true respect. He will act respectful, but he will not think respectfully, wouldn't you like him to cooperate because he respects you. Teach him to communicate his feelings appropriately.. Take a parenting class. Redirecting children's behavior is a good one. Have you ever communicated your feelings in appropriately??? This child has learned how to do so in a respectful way. Don’t be a bully Dad. Lead by example.. Learn the skills of firm and kind and earn true respect. I know you love your boy. So do all you can to raise him with high self-concept….

Robert pike

This is a better punishment than violence; it makes people talk with the parents as well as the child. But the parents have to accept some of the responsibility for her behavior. She "just doesn't care" simply because her parents didn't properly or consistently motivate her. If her parents calmly explained the consequences of her poor grades with data-facts and pictures she'll come to see that if she continues on the "don't care" spiral...she'll suffer consequences of having to stressfully care for herself and her offspring the rest of her life.
R. Pike, retired teacher.

Ms billie

Sage give us all a break you sound like you don't have kids but want to tell everyone else how to raise theirs. The far reaching effects of this girl will get her to realize she can't behave like a brat and get by with it. This is clearly not abuse in case you don't know it abuse is beating a child or neglecting her and allowing her to do what ever crosses her mind good or bad.If anyone needs their head examined it sounds more like you than them.

@ Ms Billie

I am a retired police officer, mother and grandmother, so I know a little about parenting and punishment. Abuse comes in many forms, not just beatings and neglect. The public punishment of a minor is mental abuse and can have far reaching effects on this child. She may be a hellraiser, but she's still a kid. Even the courts protect the names of child offenders and seal their records. Forcing a 13 year old girl to stand in a busy intersection for 90 minutes, holding a sign was cruel, thoughtless and reckless. This could have caused an accident, too. I strongly believe that children need to suffer the consequences for inappropriate behavior, but what these parents did was completely inappropriate. These parents need professional help in dealing with their rebelious daughter, but not from the Christian counselor who suggested public humiliation. Really, what next? An exorcism?

Ms billie

I don't understand what some of you people are thinking these parents did what they thought was best for their child. I agree with others on here someone has to teach kids respect and it starts at home. Never in my life have I saw so many teenagers so very disrespectful in my life. The problem with that is parents either don't care or they are afraid of their own kids. STOP criticizing these parents you don't live with that girl they do and they aren't abusing or hurting her she got just punishment and she will remember it the next time she decides to disrespect her parents..... We need more parents like these and we would have a whole lot less criminals in the world. Kids that aren't taught respect and discipline grow up to be criminals. My hats off to these parents for caring how their kids behave.


the girl got just punishment. there was no harm done to her. we need more parents like this to help their children instead of letting them get away with rape, murder or anything else. our society is way to lient today. one must pay for their mistakes. good for the parents. wish more parents would act and stop ignoring their dids today.