Shame Is Not An Option

Dad Matters

Dad Matters was started to encourage every dad, step-dad and father figure on his journey, no matter his age or stage or life situation.

Shame Is Not An Option

Rate This
  • Comments 1

“When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, didn’t I tell you that you would deny me three times?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I denied you.” He said to him, “I told you so.”  Peter hung his head. Jesus became so frustrated with Peter he put a wooden sign on Peter and had him walk around Galilee stating, “I am a liar and denier.”  Peter did this for 3 days representing the 3 times he denied Christ …”


NO! This is not the passage.  Unfortunately, this has become the gospel for some parents when it comes to parenting their kids. In John 21 we see one of the most intimate and profound interactions in the Bible.  Think about this: this is the first time we see Peter and Jesus interacting since Peter’s denial of Christ.  What does Jesus do?  He asks a very simple question, “Do you love me?” 

When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.”  He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.”  He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.  Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.”  This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.  And after saying this he said to him, “Follow me.” (John 21:15-19 ESV)

What is shame?

There has been a recent trend over the past year or so about parents publicly shaming their kids.  There is this story from Florida, this story in California and this story from Colorado.  Maybe you have seen it on Facebook or YouTube or the nightly news where a parent forces a child to wear a shirt or sign in public to tell the world how awful their behaviors are. 

Shame is a powerful emotion.  Some have called it “the master emotion.” Dr. Brene Brown, who has researched shame and has written lots about it, describes shame as an “intensely painful feeling that we are unworthy of love and belonging.” 

Our homes have to be a safe place to process life.  The last phrase we want over the doorframes of our homes is “a place of unworthiness where no one loves or belongs.”  Maybe shame is the “pink elephant” in our homes that no one really wants to talk about.  Maybe shame is lurking in the closets and shadows of our homes constantly reminding us that the hearts of our spouses and kids are not worth fighting for.  We can do better.  We have to do better. 


Shame or Grace?

In my last blog post I wrote about how “Imperfect” I am as a dad.  Our homes are the “petri dishes” of imperfect and sinful people and as Dr. Brene Brown describes in the video this can be a lethal mix unless empathy counteracts it. 

Empathy is grace expressed.  To prove a point, my son and I recently made this video about how a grace-filled relationship can erase the shame.

Joseph Cooke in his book, “Celebration of Grace,” writes, “Grace is nothing more or less than the face that love wears when it meets imperfection, weakness, failure, sin.  Grace is what love is and does when it meets the sinful and undeserving. It’s what enables us to see beyond one another’s faults so that we can love one another without reference to whether that love has been earned or deserved.  It’s what God does when He reaches out in love–sinful as we are–and welcomes us into a relationship with Himself.” (13)

In It Together

When I was a houseparent for 10 adolescent girls we dealt with the impact of shame on a daily basis due to the many experiences we each came from.  Broken was our normal.  There is one situation that really sticks out to me where I hope I got it right.  “V” was a junior in high school.  She was extremely gifted and talented, and very independent.  She sometimes struggled with living in a group situation but loved to excel in her classes - she had a bright future.  She was a member of the cheerleader squad and something happened where she didn’t follow through on a commitment; I was partly responsible.  She got disciplined (running a mile) for not following through on her commitment and I remember speaking to her coach.  Coach basically stated a rule is a rule and she broke it.  I had a dilemma because “V” was not very happy with me.  What did I want to reinforce with her?  What was going to be her takeaway?  I did something that for myself and our culture at the residential school was opposite of the norm - I ran the laps with her.  I don’t know if “V” remembers it, but I remember running around the track with her.  Sometimes we talked but mostly we shared quiet moments.  I wanted to her to know one thing as we ran around that track feeling the impact of failure - we were in it together. 

That is the key for us as parents.  We are in this together.  Despite our imperfections, failures and weaknesses that as a family we are in this thing called life together.  That is what Jesus did for Peter.  Jesus graciously and lovingly called out Peter for his God given potential.  You see Christ didn’t come to put us in chains because they were already on.  He came to set us free from the chains of sin and shame. 

The next time you have a situation with your child and you can use guilt or shame, instead ask them a question - “Do you love me?”  Be open to their response because they are asking the same of us, “Do you love me?” 


Roy Baldwin (@baldwin_roy) is a contributor for Dad Matters and the Director of Parenting & Youth at Focus on the Family.

Follow us on Twitter @DadMattersBlog

Share this

You must be logged in to comment.

Sign In or Join now.

  • --So, I have received some questions about shaming and people are referencing this story about a dad who wore short shorts to make a point to his daughter.  My quick response to this is...I love it.  Dad was not looking to shame his daughter...he was making a point and willing to do it very creatively.  Way to go dad...