Open Letter to Dr. Laura


Yesterday as I was running some errands, my SiriusXM radio was on the doctor channel and the Dr. Laura show was on. I’ll be honest, I haven’t listened to her show since we lived in Atlanta almost 20 years ago. I used to listen to her in car pool line. I actually remember liking her and thinking she had some good parenting stuff to say.

All that has changed. I actually heard her say these words yesterday: “Shame is a really powerful motivator.” I almost ran off the road. Like many of you, I’ve read everything Brene Brown has written to date. Her research on shame and vulnerability was life-giving to me. I use many of her statements in counseling, like the one about the difference in shame and guilt. And more recently, her words about “the story I’m telling myself is”. One thing I do know is this: Shame is not ever a motivator. Shame is the voice of the gremlins, the not trues, the lies we can all hear in our heads. Shame tells us we have no worth and that no one cares about us. Shame is a liar.

So Dr. Laura, here’s my advice:

  • Take shame as a motivator out of your verbiage
  • Begin to speak kindly and compassionately to the people who call into your show. Your patronizing, condescending tone makes people feel bad about themselves.
  • Treat people with dignity and respect. You may have been doing what you do for a long time, but you sometimes give out really bad advice.

People who want to go to counseling and could really benefit from counseling might make a decision not to go to counseling based on listening to how you interact with people on your radio show. For those people, I’d say this:

  • By and large counselors are kind and gentle people who care greatly about your pain.
  • They will work diligently to establish a relationship of trust and honesty with you.
  • They may challenge you and nudge you to do some things differently, but they shouldn’t ever belittle you, put you down, or make you feel stupid for asking a question.

Dr. Laura’s got it all wrong. Love is a powerful motivator. Change is a powerful motivator. Sobriety is a powerful motivator. Working to keep your marriage together is a powerful motivator. Learning how to communicate with your teenager is a powerful motivator.

Shame doesn’t have a seat at the table.

*These words are obviously my own opinion and you may feel different about the Dr. Laura Show.

**Photo credit Adam Dachis


  1. Michele on October 26, 2015 at 1:22 am

    Love this! Direct. Informative. Thank you!

    • melodyreid on October 26, 2015 at 11:26 am

      Thanks Michelle!

  2. Mary Mogusu on October 27, 2015 at 5:46 pm

    Sadly, shame is a powerful motivator, but I’m not sure that the fruit is the kind we want. I’m sure anyone motivated by shame would agree, it is not a path to freedom and wholeness, but to more hiding and failure.
    I love this article! Thanks, Melody!

    • melodyreid on October 28, 2015 at 1:05 pm

      Thank you Mary!

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