Home Featured Putting Your Hands on Your Kid Isn’t Love. It’s Lazy.

Putting Your Hands on Your Kid Isn’t Love. It’s Lazy.

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I can’t lie, my Twitter and Facebook feeds have confused me the past few days. I know my friends are smart, accomplished, interesting people, and the general reaction to the Adrian Peterson child abuse accusations feels beneath them.

Full disclosure: I wasn’t spanked as a child. My mother was, and she believed her experience was closer to abuse than discipline. As a result, she swore never to hit my sister or me.

Instead, my parents used a more positive approach. Good grades earned a trip to Toys ‘R Us. A good report from a teacher earned recognition. Over time, learning and good behavior became its own reward. It felt like the right thing to do, without the threat of a belt or worse. I wasn’t a perfect kid, and I’d get yelled at or have my stuff taken away when I earned that. I liked my stuff, so I tried not to do that too often.

With that as my background, it has been weird reading how my friends felt their whoopings shaped them. Here are the highlights of what I read:

Whoopings build character –

I’m not even sure what this means.

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The injuries Peterson allegedly cause his son.

Whoopings build fear, anger, and a sense that going upside someone’s head will make them listen to you.

A marker of good character is leadership. How do whoopings teach that? If that were the case, great coaches would always be the biggest guys in the room. I’d argue that strong leaders treat others with respect and have vision.

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Think about a leader you admire, do they lead with fear? Or do they set a path, then encourage others along the way and recognize their contributions?

I wouldn’t have learned discipline without whoopings –

Of course everyone is entitled to that opinion, but I have one question:

Were you whooped more than once? If so, how effective were they in establishing boundaries?

Kids do stupid things because they are curious and don’t know any better. It’s been that way forever. If, through your anger, you can’t explain why something is wrong, doing so through a spanking won’t work either. It makes the kid not want to get caught (which is something I guess), but that physical harm isn’t a substitution for instilling values.

Whoopings are tough love –

I’ll defer to Louis CK on this one (pardon the language):

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Isn’t corporal punishment the easy way out? Kids rely on parents implicitly and completely. Putting your hands on a kid isn’t love, it’s lazy. As CK points out, it’s not how you’d treat anyone else in your life. Your child deserves at least that much respect.

I got my ass whooped, and I turned out fine –

You’re smarter than that. Anyone can find one example to support anything. You are your own example of whoopings done right. Congratulations. But now it’s time to evolve.

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I wasn’t there for the whooping Peterson put on his four-year-old son. From court documents, I know that he hit his son with a switch because his son pushed another kid off a game. Maybe this was the whooping his son needed to never push a kid again. I’ll try a different tactic with my kids.

What do you think? Was Peterson in the wrong? Does the child’s age change your view on it?

Hit the comments and let me know!

Comment(19)

  1. I was spanked as a child… Not often… My mother was abused as a child so she definitely withheld spankings as a last resort. I think your bias is based on your upbringing… Not every child is alike, I could care less about things, I was the kid that asked about the punishment b4 committing the crime because I wanted to decide if it was worth it or not. I think it’s a fine line to cross. I don’t think a switch was appropriate for a 4yr old. I don’t think a child should ever be bruised nor should they be hit so hard as to draw blood… However, A spanking on the bottom is appropriate after all talking and other forms of punishment have been exhausted. 1 pop on the behind would of been a more appropriate punishment. I’ve never hit my child, nor been hit by a switch.

    1. Thanks for sharing. I’m definitely biased based on my experiences. for me, there are downsides to spanking that I don’t want to approach. Besides what I wrote above, I’m not sure I trust myself to administer spankings “correctly”. Especially because all kids are different. I wouldn’t want to push my kid away, or have them resent me, or have them think hitting people will make people listen to them, or a dozen other things.

      So it’s not all about the royal “you” that the post is addressing.

  2. Giving a spanking within itself is not abuse. There is nothing wrong with giving a spanking of a few licks, no more than five, on the behind. I feel it is as a last resort after a child breaking rules or being disobedient. Under no circumstances should an angry adult spank a child. IMO, that’s when control is lost. In addition a child should not be spanked for every incident as they get used to the beating and only toughen up.

    I have two kids and I talk far more than I ever hit them. I take things away from them, create contracts of discipline where we both sign and I allow their input for punishment, such as losing privileges in and outside of home. One of my kids hates reading, which was punishment along with written assignments. My other child loves reading but hates math, so we log into a site online and she must obtain a certain percentage correct. These items coincide with loss of tv privileges. I don’t have to have cable so that’s something they lose.

    As the writer implied hitting isn’t appropriate I disagree. Each child is different. I do believe a child must be talked to as respect harbors better levels of communication. However I know several kids who buck the system just because they can and especially because their parents are weak. I’ve witnessed far too often rude little disrespectful monsters whose parents choose not to spank, and I want to beat their a$$, which is rare for me.

    1. Couple things…I think the creative punishments you describe are really cool, and show active parenting. How would you know what one kid hates versus the other unless you were in tune?

      That leads to the other. Those disrespectful monsters get the way after years. No one spanking will be a cure all at that point IMO. I think the gap is communication earlier on, not necessarily spankings.

      1. I never said a spanking would be a cure all. I said I didn’t feel it was abuse within itself. My children remember their spankings as they were few and far between. There is no one issue nor any one size fits all resolution for disciplining those issues. Communication could be the gap in some instances but I know some in which it was not. Parents try too much to be their kids friends as opposed to being a consistent disciplinarian. They don’t want their kid mad at them, etc…
        If I hurt my kids feelings, so what! Scary parents get manipulated and abused by the little monsters they support.They hurt mine when they misbehaved or acted disorderly. Parenting is what it’s titled and for the most part we mimic our own upbringing, right or wrong.

        My children know respect first and there isn’t a day that goes by in which they don’t hear, “I love you”.

        1. I took some liberties with your last two sentences. Was trying to say those “monsters” get that way over time, and not necessarily because they weren’t spanked IMO. A weak parent won’t be a strong one because of corporal punishment.

          I don’t think I disagree with much of what you’re saying overall.

  3. Point of information, it’s been 5,000 Years since, “spare the rod, spoil the child” was written in the Bible. And in 5-f*cking-THOUSAND years humans haven’t found a better way to discipline their children. That sounds pretty pitiful if you asked me. It also goes against every scientific evolution says will happen with creatures who are the most dominant creature on Earth because of their ability to adapt to their environment.

    It’s been 5,000 years, if you want to keep using that archaic method of child discipline, go right ahead. Don’t get mad at me for considering you a caveman.

  4. I’m on the fence about this b/c being West Indian, I did get spanked. But something I read over on VSB re: this topic made so much sense. Spanking is indeed lazy. Many parents spank when they’re angry w/out saying “hey this is why you’re getting these licks”. They spank out of anger and the kid eventually becomes numb to that type of discipline. Instead of their minds processing “don’t do x, y, z b/c…”, it gets taken as “don’t make mom/dad angry b/c this is what happens”. Which is why some people got repeatedly beat/spank. They either were hard headed as hell or their parents never explained why X action is wrong.

    But there are so many creative ways to discipline your child. Wall squats, planks, sit ups, taking doors off the hinges (once they’re older), I mean put some thought into it! Far as AP, he was wrong. Spanking a 4 yr old to the point of marks/welts is indeed abuse in my opinion.

    1. I know parents who were cited for abuse because they made their kids do planks, or stand with feet together and arms held out….. Never laid a hand on their kids. All of the critics, especially non-parents condemned them for trying to prevent their kids from being another statistic…..there is no one size fits all resolution.

  5. I’m really starting to hate this “I’m right/perfect. You’re wrong/bad/evil.” tone that is coming with social media when we’re facing other thoughts and ideologies. Everything new isn’t good/bad. Everything old isn’t good/bad. It bothers me that we think we can say what we want however we want to everyone online. That we think we can read everyone’s situation with our limited perspectives the same. That we want to paint life with a broad brush in all circumstances.
    Like…I’m really getting turned off by it. I find myself reading/commenting less and less (not just here, just online period).
    Social media makes folks too comfortable and too familiar…too judgmental…too egotistical…too arrogant…too ’bout it. Humility and awareness of the unknown is lacking. This isn’t simply about your article, Joe…but it did bring my feelings to a head.
    Parent in the manner you deem fit for your children…how God leads you to parent. And I’ll do the same. 🙂

    1. I understand what you’re saying, but I’m just sharing my thoughts. I don’t think I’m “right” I have a POV based on the reactions I read online. I know my view on it is biased by my upbringing, that’s why I shared the “full disclosure” piece. I’m more than open to debate it…I’d hate if there were no comment section for smart people to converse back and forth.

      As annoying as the preachy tone can sound, it’d be worse if nobody took a side and there were 700 wishy washy words that left you saying “Ok” after you read it. And though it’s not written that way, pretty much anything I’ve written here could have a blanket “in my opinion” over it, lol.

      Agree, disagree…I’m good either way. I don’t think all spanking is abuse, but I don’t plan to do it. And the reasons for it that I’ve read aren’t convincing to me. That’s my post in two sentences.

      1. …that’s why I said it wasn’t simply about your article. Maybe the title is what really caused the eyeroll, lol. But where you were coming from in the article was clear…I understand your position and decision.

        There is def an art to giving opinions in a way that doesn’t make it sound like you (not you, lol) think you’re some all-knowing, perfect being with all lifes answers. Some have it…others do not. I’m certain I’ve been guilty of having the tone I speak of in my comments in the past. But, I’m def more aware of it now…and I try my best to not to come off that way anymore.

    2. I’m sorry but this is sort of a beast that most of you created and now you hate it. The way social media works is, “If you don’t believe what I say on every single issue then i’m going to try and kill your netIdentity.” Back when there was actual discourse people used to bully the opposition. I’ve watched you participate in it too, so don’t front. People pile on those who they don’t agree with.

      Social media causes people to forget to do real research, refuse to read, and never really understand the issues that they are speaking about. This very conversation about social media proves that as I know for a fact that nobody really understands social media. I actually have studied this in my profession for years but when I offer opinion, I’m met with opposition.

      Lastly, “parent in the manner you deem fit for your children” … um no because of some of y’all ass don’t know what “fit” means and need guidance. Also, at times i’m concerned that we aren’t all following the same God.

      1. “I’m certain I’ve been guilty of having the tone I speak of in my comments in the past. But, I’m def more aware of it now…and I try my best to not to come off that way anymore.” <– I did say that, correct? I copied and pasted that from my own comment…so I know I did. I'm not on that page anymore.

        Absolutely. It's up to all of us to live our lives in the manner we feel is appropriate. It's called freedom…free will, etc. and all that other stuff. Doesn't make it all right or all wrong. But, it's certainly our right. Will you have to answer for some decisions? Yup. But, the choice is still yours.

        I determine what parenting style is fit for my crew based on lots of things (my upbringing, kids individual needs, beliefs, values, etc.). Others opinions (especially those with no children…or folks who don't know me/us personally) is not one of them. I'd hope that as in this situation, if something seems off or proves a parent to be unfit, the authorities will be alerted and the proper process to investigate the matter will take hold and produce results.

        And how we interpret/follow God is def a personal journey as well. But, I def can't argue with the last statement. We def don't all follow the same God. But, that too is a choice that folks have a right to make on their own for themselves.

  6. I dont know how to feel about it honestly. In one instance i know of a parent that spanked her child more often than most, and her daughter just finished her 8 year sentence. But on the other hand, i know of a parent that tried every progressive disciplinary tactic known to the western world, and he has AT LEAST 8 more years to go…so idk. Maybe such a choice is truly case specific.

  7. dang yeah I was whoop as a child but as an adult I know if I was talked to it would of had the same results and that’s how I treat my kids

  8. When I was younger, I used to believe in spankings because I was always taught ‘spare the rod, spoil the child’; however, I no longer believe that way anymore. After becoming suicidal in my late twenties, I began to look back on my life and try to figure out when I felt the most devalued. I figured out that, among other things, I felt the most devalued during spankings. I found myself searching the Scriptures because I didn’t think that any Christian should feel that way. Ultimately, I found that ‘spare the rod, spoil the child’ is not even in the Bible! The ‘rod’ is referred to as the ‘rod of correction’ that must not be administered in ‘anger’. Furthermore, the ‘rod’ was never used to strike anyone in the Bible, much less a child. Nevertheless, according to the Bible, one’s parents are not supposed to see one’s ‘nakedness’. MOST children are partially naked during spankings, which contributes to the sense of degradation that is felt after the spanking.

    We would receive about 20 lashes for every wrongdoing until we passed the age of twelve, even in front of other family members. I was predispositioned to asthma attacks, but I would be told to ‘stop gasping’ or else I would receive another spanking. These were very miserable times in my life. I would be afraid to walk home from school because most of the spankings occurred without forewarning. Nonetheless, I would enter the house talking about what I did in school and would be suddenly snatched across a lap and my panties yanked down for 20 lashes without a clear explanation for what I supposedly did wrong. Of course, Mom would be bursting with anger and her eyes bulging out of her head, so I know that it was not done in ‘love’.

    When I began to get older, I would ask other adults if they thought that spanking was right. They would try to argue that it is in the Bible. When I would prove that it is not there, then they would just say ‘it was done to me and now I’m doing it to my kids’ or ‘I turned out fine’. I can assure you that almost everyone that says that have NOT turned out ‘fine’. One of my sisters is a borderline alcoholic and is very promiscuous (although she has a great career), another is a pathological liar and very dependent on our parents (although she has a great career), one has multiple personality disorder, my brother can’t hold a complete conversation without saying something outlandish (such as “I’m going to live on Pluto one day) and really believing it to be true, and I have battled severe depression. I even had a ‘friend’ who said that spankings worked great for him and I had to get rid of him as a friend because he turned out to be heavily narcissistic and a borderline alcoholic and sex addict. Just about everyone I know that says that they were spanked has some serious issues, even if they are hidden in their professional lives.

    When are we going to stop doing this in the Black community and wake up?

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