In March of this year Monica Lewinsky (yes, THAT Monica Lewinsky) gave a TED talk entitled: “The Price of Shame”.

She launched her presentation by asking: “Can I see a show of hands of anyone here who didn’t make a mistake or do something they regretted at 22?”.


No hands.

I thought back to when I was 22 – yep, I am sitting on my hands also (actually, my goofs & missteps went WAY beyond 22)!.

When our two sons made “sub-optimal decisions” in their teen years and I was tempted to get on their case, most times (not all, unfortunately), I contained my anger, remembered my teen years, and simply said: “What did you learn from that?”

Training them to think, to make their own decisions, and giving them the freedom to skin their knuckles & knees on their journey to adulthood was the core of our plan.

It started with letting them dress themselves at age 3 – they decided to choose a polka dotted top with plaid pants – we knew that eventually, they would “figure it out” – and they did.

It continued with letting them choose what to eat at the buffet.

While we were not perfect – we made an effort to avoid using shame as a tool for guiding their behavior.

Shame doesn’t work – it actually destroys a fragile emerging identity.

Since as parents we desire that our children self-regulate their behavior, a great strategy is to focus on helping them develop a healthy conscience that guides them in their decision-making, both now & as adults.

P.S. Go to and watch The Price of Shame. It will change how you parent.


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