A radio advertisement that is meant to offer guidance to parents who lose their cool with their children is aired at peak listening times. In it, “Karen’’ calls a hotline and informs listeners—local, regional and elsewhere—that she could “kill” her son because he “stole” some money from her. Even though the ad does not say why her son resorted to this activity, “Karen’’ goes on to say that she has already given him a “good cut tail” for his misdeed. Mind you, none of us really know the difference between nor the effect on a child’s psyche of a good and/or a bad cut tail! Surprisingly, in relating her plight, “Karen’’ comes up with a seemingly acceptable but untried solution.
Could the intent of the ad not have been projected differently? Would the intended listening audience be more receptive to the ad, for the right reasons, had it been worded differently? Based on “Karen’s’’ language and tone, it appears as though she needs professional help and guidance if she is to follow through with her yet untried solution to what is not a one-and-done challenge.
Unfortunately, “Karen’’ is not alone. There are many “Karens’’ in our society who would benefit from the services of social workers who are trained to handle stressful family situations. Many families, parents and children need professional help if they are to cope with the many stressors of daily living.
The intent here is not to kill the messenger. However, calling a spade a spade can cause much undetected and peripheral damage.