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 they went too far, even if grounding doesn't work that does not mean you should publicly humiliate your own child, especially on a busy intersection where she will easily be seen by someone from your church or even her school, thats just setting her up to be bullied. And I don't think any "counselor" would advise public humiliation for a punishment, nice try.


I think they did the right thing. Maybe she will snap out of it and study now. Good job!!


Honestly, though I agree children who misbehave do need a bit of discipline, perhaps a better response would have been to take her to a councilor, try to get her talking about the REASON behind the behavior. Public humiliation, be it for adult, teen, or child, honestly does nothing but cause more problems. Why? Due to the fact that Public Humiliation can lead to bullying, and a sense of shame that does more harm than good psychologically. Though I agree you need to keep a child's behavior in check, you still need to consider the balance of how you do so.


Parents like these are always the ones who are criticized when it's the 'don't give a damn' parents that should be made accountable for what their offspring become and the bureacrats are as much to blame for making it against the law to discipline your child. There is a huge difference between discipline and abuse.


If her parents don't try to nip this in the bud now she will probably end up being another government dependent. Good Job Guys!!!


These kids today are always posting everything on You Tube or Facebook so what is the difference she got a taste of her own medicine Parents need to take back control of their children with a little punishment


Good job parents. I discipline mine so that the police/courts don't have to. Fear of consequences is gone, fear keeps people from doing a whole of things.


I don't know if I would have made it public, and I know the children today all feel entitled, so maybe not a bad idea, cause it helps other parents with their struggles to get their child to understand where they are in their relationship to others and parents and family.

Jennifer bartram ingram

Maybe if more parents didn't worry about what the public would think and think more about how to discipline their kids less kids would be in trouble.
My hat goes off to these parents.


I think that the parent's did a good job. If she has good friends and a strong family, well then they will help with whatever problems arise from this. But I don't think the girl is going to be bullied. I'm glad these parents took action when they did. I'm twenty-five and I NEVER would act like an ingrate to my mother. Go parents you did a good thing.