When an Ohio dad found out his daughter was in trouble at school, he thought he had devised the perfect punishment. But, when it went viral, parenting experts laid into him. He’s standing firm, however, firing back at the naysayers. You decide. Did he go too far?
Matt Cox, a 39-year-old father from Swanton, Ohio, was unhappy with his 10-year-old daughter when she got kicked off the bus for the second time in a just a few months. Kirsten was again in trouble for bullying other children on the bus, something Matt takes very seriously. Her words only made matters worse. That’s when the dad decided to teach his daughter a lesson.
Kirsten was kicked off the bus for namecalling and blocking another student from getting off the bus, according to Daily Mail. But, when Kirsten got home and handed her dad the bus suspension, Matt quickly realized she had an entitlement issue in addition to being a bully.
Kirsten nonchalantly told her dad that he would have to take her to school while she was suspended from the bus. “I realized she viewed the privilege of riding the bus and or car rides to and from school as a right and not a privilege,” Matt said, News 5 Cleveland reported.
“As you see this morning, she is learning otherwise,” Matt said from his car in a now-viral video after he told his 10-year-old she would walk the 5 miles to school. Matt drove behind Kirsten in his car and recorded the punishment as the young girl trudged along a road.
“Today, my beautiful daughter is going to walk 5 miles to school in 36-degree weather,” Matt said from behind the camera. “I know a lot of you parents are not going to agree with this, but that is all right. Because I am doing what I feel is right to teach my daughter a lesson and stop her from bullying.”
Matt was right. Many weren’t impressed with his punishment at all. While he received a fair share of support from other parents, many believed he went too far. “Matt, do yourself and your daughter a big favor, seek counseling from a qualified family psychologist/psychiatrist who understands bullying as well as the adverse impact/implications when one goes ‘public’ on social media in a big way about their child,” one Facebook user wrote as others chimed in to accuse him of being the bully.
Parenting experts also weighed in, scolding Matt for publicly humiliating his daughter and accusing him of doing more harm than good. “This is public humiliation,” Sue Scheff, a parenting advocate, told ABC News. “The internet can be so unforgiving, and your child will watch it over and over again online,” she furthered. “It’s like salt in an emotional wound, and the sting can take a long time to heal — especially when it’s a parent that did the shaming.”
“What are you trying to prove?” Dr. Laura Markham, a parenting expert and the author of “Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids,” asked as Dr. Krystine Batcho, a professor of psychology at Le Moyne College in Syracuse, also shared similar sentiments. But, Matt Cox is standing firm, adamant that parents should hold their children accountable for their actions.
“Shaming that is done by a parent or some other adult who is loved by and admired by a child, is, in a way, even worse than shaming by other children or someone a child doesn’t care about,” Batcho claimed. “When a parent shames a child, that has a much more powerful emotional impact, and it’s very often remembered for life.”
“Am I a bully for making my daughter walk to school? No, me holding my child accountable for her own actions and giving her a punishment does not mean I am a bully,” Matt declared on Facebook. “It means I am a being a parent, a father trying to teach his daughter that life has consequences for our actions and that we have to be accountable for them.”
Matt said he is a father trying to teach his daughter that “it’s not ok to be mean to others because words and actions can have lifelong effects and sometimes life-ending effects on others.” He’s also “a father trying to teach his daughter not everything is just a right, there are a lot of privileges in life and that we need to be grateful for them,” he added. “None of that makes me a bully,” he said.
As it turns out, Kirsten didn’t walk all 5 miles in one morning. After completing about a mile and a half, Matt realized she would be late for school if they continued, so he had her get in his truck. The next morning, they picked up where they left off. In all, the 5-mile trip was divided into the three days Kirsten was suspended.
If he had to do it all over again, Matt said he “wouldn’t do one thing differently.” And, he actually hopes other parents will do the same since, according to the dad, the punishment had the desired effect. Kirsten now picks up on bad behavior she sees on TV and tells her dad, “That’s bullying that’s going to hurt somebody’s feelings,” Matt revealed. Kirsten also apologized to the other student involved.
“I really had no idea it would take off like that,” Matt said, speaking about the viral video, “but it has the entire nation talking. So, not only is it bringing awareness to bullying, which the more awareness that’s brought to the bullying epidemic the better, in my opinion, but it is also bringing awareness that we, as parents, need to stand up and hold our younger generation accountable if we want to make a change in this country.”