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.


Shame on the parents. This is a family matter. Punishing a 13 year old child in such a public way is cruel and abusive and will have far reaching effects on the child. What kind of Christian counselor would give such advice? The parents and so called counselor need their heads examined.

Seretha slocum

People will always be quick to judge and attempt to tell you how to be parents to your own children. There was nothing wrong with holding the sign. Of course she was a little humiliated, but would she not be even more humiliated when she's flipping burgers to make a living or asking " paper or plastic"... I figure if your going to tell me how to raise my child then feed them, clothe them and pay for their education since you care so much.

@ Seretha Slocum

sorry seretha, i clicked on the wrong name and this e-mail was NOT ment for you. please forgive.

@ Seretha Slocum

the word abuse is being misused today all the time.
abuse is brow beating a child, physical punishment.
this was a just punishment and it may prevent her from doing something even worse. good for the parents.


I think this idea should be used more....Its a lot better that hearing about kids being abused and beaten. I agree that kids need to learn to respect themselves and others, and this is a good start.


this is way to far i feel for tht girl those parents need too pay and i hope they do what r they going to do next it could b worse

@ it girl

these are not horrible parents. they just want their daughter to straighten up. they love her and no way would they ever do anything worse. we need more parents like them so that we have a lot more well behaved children today and less crime and drugs. good for the parents. parents listen up and correct your kids in a not physical way. ps. i did not see this child bleeding or any black and blue marks on her. just a sign. everyone get over it and enjoy life.


Teenagers can drive you to your wit's end. Sometimes they need a reality check. Better than some parents who don't discipline at all. Live your own lives people.

Mia tetangco
@ Carolyn

There's a difference between constructive and effective discipline and poor and abusive discipline. In this case, it's the latter.

Jessy mcwilliams

She needs help for her depression not humiliation. I've been there too it does get better.


This is why I believe religion and poor parenting just never works.

Cassandra carpenter

This is way too far. Christian councilor my ass. That is public humiliation and is completely uncalled for. My dad would do stupid shit like that to me and I got to where I hated him and I still do. Christian councilors and public humiliation-sounds like corruption to me.


This is so idiotic. The parents look like morons. I was humiliated by being made to walk a very long way to school because I was often late when I was 11. Same as this instead of teaching me a lesson my parents were criticized and humiliated. And guess what I'm still late.

@ kk's truly idiotic and the parents are morons!!!!! Not only was the punishment a complete waste of time and energy, also, remember this...the young girl in question is only 13-years-old. This experience (or whatever) is just gonna make the kid act out and rebel A LOT MORE. Again, the kid is only me...her teenage/rebellion years are just BEGINNING!!!!!

Lauren gardner
@ kk

kk, I Love You!


I see nothing wrong with it, if I did what she did I'm sure my parents would go the same extreme and I'd accept that. Her father was with there with her the whole time so she was not in any danger.