All Day Lessons
Minnesota Vikings Running Back Adrian Peterson is back in the news. First there was the drug test issue, while on probation for child endangerment. To recap, while taking a mandated drug test, the embattled superstar admitted to “smoking a little weed.” This prompted Montgomery County (TX) prosecutors to ask for his bond to be revoked, which would lead to the All-Pro’s arrest. Now, he has been suspended for the remainder of the 2014 NFL season, without pay. He will be appealing the decision, attempting to return to his job on the field.
The legal back and forth in the case aside, there are many lessons to be learned from AD’s recent issues. In fact, I learned quite a bit about my wife, and the future of our family.
The Beginning Of A Discussion
The day after the news broke that Adrian Peterson was initially being suspended for the child abuse charges, I immediately thought “now they’re telling parents how to discipline their children?” Being raised in the South (yes, Oklahoma is the South), getting whipped with a switch was not uncommon. Neither was getting whipped with a belt. If you messed up, you got disciplined, and I assumed that just about everyone that I knew received the same treatment. And like Adrian Peterson, I figured that this would be the way my wife and I would decide to discipline our children. Our 3-year old is very active, and at times she requires discipline. To this day, nothing more than a swat on the the hand or the bottom is necessary. However, there will come a day that these methods won’t be effective. My natural thought of progression is on to spanking with a belt, etc. In discussion this with my wife, her face immediately looked shocked. “Why would we ever use a belt on our children?” My face, equally surprised, uttered “why wouldn’t we?” Amazingly, myself and my wife of 7-plus years and mother to my children has never really discussed how we would discipline our children.
Again, I assumed that every black person from the South (and many others who are not black) got spanked with belts. There are many psychologists feel that the use of corporal punishment in the South is a remnant of the Antebellum system of discipline, specifically the discipline handed down to slaves. I can see that. I can understand the hesitation that many people feel in using a form of punishment that derived from an institution such as slavery. I also understand the view that many, including myself hold. “I got whooped, and I turned out better for it.” I personally feel that the fear of getting whooped/stomped by my dad kept me from wanting to drink, smoke, hang in the streets, etc. My dad was a big man. I didn’t want to face the wrath of doing something that I wasn’t supposed to do. I assumed that this would be the best way to keep my children clear of trouble and issues.
However, my wife pointed out that she never saw a belt. Her discipline consisted of non-corporal punishment, save for one time as a teenager. And yet, she turned out to be a responsible, respectable adult. I immediately began to think of the passionate words of ESPN Analyst Cris Carter, who implored that while he himself was disciplined, he would not discipline his children in such a way. As this story has played out, more and more people expressed this same sentiments.
Now that Adrian has lost his appeal and is out of the NFL until at least April 2015, the issue is sure to catch more fire.
Should you spank? Should you not spank? Even the new ABC sitcom “Blackish” has joined in the argument. During a recent episode, the show’s protagonist, Dre (played by Anthony Anderson) is determined that his youngest son must be disciplined by belt. Through various twists and turns, he comes to the realization that the best course of action is to talk to his son, which accidentally levees a stiffer/harsher punishment in the child’s eyes. Yes, it’s TV. However, the episode brings up a good point; maybe it isn’t a bad idea to try something different from what I was taught. Maybe I don’t need to spank my daughters to get their obedience.
I don’t know what the correct answer is. Do I want to “whoop” my girls? No. Do I question how to fully impart discipline and obedience into them, without the corporal punishment? Yes. I don’t want to have them lose out on what I feel made me the person that I am today, yet I don’t want to give them a fear of making mistakes, and more importantly, of me.
Wherever you lie on the issue, it is important that everyone realize that the protection of children is important. No child should be abused or neglected. Corporal punishment is a gray area, drawn along cultural and geographical lines. It is an argument that won’t vanish anytime soon.
Until next time.