CRESTVIEW — A couple who disciplined their 13-year-old daughter by having her stand at a busy intersection with a sign suggested that critics “walk a mile in someone’s shoes” before rushing to judge them.
Gentry and Renee Nickell were shocked to learn that motorists’ photos of their daughter had gone viral on Facebook.
The girl held the sign for 90 minutes Saturday at the intersection of Ferdon Boulevard and U.S. Highway 90 in Crestview. It read: “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.”
“We got to the point where we just didn’t know what else to do,” said her mother, who got the idea from a Christian counselor several years ago.
The Nickells, who have two younger children, said they have had a difficult year since Renee’s brother was killed in Afghanistan in December 2011. The two families were very close and vacationed together every year.
While everyone has struggled with his death, their daughter reacted by becoming increasingly disrespectful at home and at school. By fall, her lack of respect was affecting her grades as well as her home life.
“We just felt like she just kind of gave up,” Renee said.
They tried grounding her, which didn’t work, but didn’t want to restrict her numerous church activities, which reinforced the values they want her to have.
They don’t give their children expensive electronic items, so there was nothing to take away. They finally decided holding a sign would be a way to get her attention.
Gentry was not shown in the photo that went viral, but he said he stood with her the entire time.
Crestview police were called to the corner by a motorist who thought the punishment was too much. The officer left after confirming that the girl was “aware of her punishment and she was not in any harm,” according to the call history record from the Police Department.
The Nickells said their daughter’s behavior has improved since the incident.
“I wasn’t even thinking about what the public was going to think,” her mom said. “I was thinking about our daughter. It was for her to be in the public and recognize what she had done wrong.
“I asked her, ‘Were you scarred? Traumatized?’ She said, ‘No mom, I knew it was coming.’ ”
Gentry said as the time passed, he could see moments in which his daughter was thinking about the actions that had led her to that corner. He had set 90 minutes as the minimum time, depending on how she handled herself.
“I told her, ‘It depends on how well you take it. If you take it like a champ, we’ll wrap it up and be done with it,’” he said.
“At the end, she gave me a hug in front of the police officer and told me she was sorry,” Gentry added.
Contact Daily News Assignment Editor Wendy Victora at 850-315-4478 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @WendyVnwfdn.