And here we go again. So, we seem to have a few NFL players that can’t keep their hands to themselves! I’m not going to rant and rave about Adrian Peterson’s charges of child abuse because I already ranted about Janay and Ray Rice this week and I’m tired of my soap box. I would rather bring up a question for all the commenters on the Adrian Peterson articles commending his behavior and method of “discipline.” I read a whole lot of, “That’s how I was raised and I turned out fine.” and “If we don’t do it, these kids will run amok/kill people/shoot up schools/end up in prison/turn into horrific humans.” I have a million questions for these people but I can narrow it down to one really important one.
Where do you draw the line? Is hitting with an open hand ok? How about a fist? A paddle, a switch, a cord? Is hitting on the butt ok? What about the legs, back, stomach, face? Is hitting once in awhile ok? What if a child is bad every week? Every day? Five times a day? How hard, how often, and with what should it be ok to hit your kid?
It is considered assault to have a physical fight with another adult who matches you pound for pound. You can go to jail for fighting them, even if they started it.
It is considered heinous for a man to hit his wife, and although it should be just as heinous, it is considered in poor taste for a woman to hit her husband.
Kids aren’t allowed to hit each other in school and never have been, even though now days the consequences are more serious.
In most households siblings are not allowed to hit each other.
Hitting a dog is frowned upon, and hitting a dog with a stick would be considered animal abuse.
But…a child who weighs significantly less than you, is much shorter than you, who has much less strength than you, whose brain is still forming and incapable of making adult decisions or fighting back, who is growing and learning and trying to figure out who they are and right from wrong, who depends on YOU for every single thing in life…hitting them is not only completely fine but encouraged? How can that possibly make sense? I understand that “spanking” a child in most cases will not emotionally ruin a child for life. (I consider spanking to be a smack on the butt with an open hand.) I was spanked a handful of times as a child, and I don’t feel that it had a horrible effect on me, however, I also don’t remember any lesson I learned from spanking. I can’t imagine that I never repeated the behavior that I got spanked for, in fact on a different day I probably got away with it completely. I’m sure it was more of a frustrated response from my parents than a disciplinary action meant to prevent me from becoming a hoodlum. I feel like violent discipline measures stem from the parents feeling out of control and at the end of their rope, or unable to take the time to come up with a creative way to teach a lesson. Spanking is kind of the easiest way out. Hitting someone really isn’t connecting the wrong doing to the reason that the action is wrong. The punishments I do remember? Being grounded from my bike for a week, (I didn’t stop to look both ways before entering the road from our driveway.) not being able to go somewhere that I really wanted to go, (Came home later than I was supposed to) having the little tv in my room taken away (didn’t turn it off at night when I was supposed to.) Those punishments had an effect, and I changed my behavior because of them. My biggest issue with spanking is that I just don’t see how hitting a child teaches them that hitting is wrong. Is the message supposed to be: I can hit you but you can’t hit me, your siblings, your friends, or anyone else? Doesn’t it kind of send the message that their body doesn’t deserve the same respect as other peoples’ bodies? How does that translate later on? Does the child grow up thinking that anyone can hit them as long as they don’t hit back? Do they think that eventually they will be allowed to hit others too when they reach a certain age or when they have their own kids?
Spanking or not spanking, is obviously your choice. I know a lot of great parents that choose to spank and though it isn’t the choice I will make for my family, it really isn’t my business. (Because I’m not the Queen of the world and I don’t make all the laws.)Regardless of how you choose to discipline or punish your children, I am still disappointed that ANYONE can think that hitting a four year old with a switch, and leaving bloody marks (and possibly scars) across his legs is anything less than abuse. That is NOT considered discipline! What could a four year old child have possibly done to warrant that kind of abuse in the first place? Was he being mouthy? Did he spill his cereal? Did he break a toy? I mean, he probably didn’t steal a car and set the garage on fire, right? *I fail to see how that punishment could possibly fit the crime. If Adrian Peterson had done this to a girlfriend, a stranger, or an animal, everyone would be upset. Instead there is a large group of PARENTS out there who are not only defending him, but cheering him on. It makes me really uneasy and sick to my stomach.
As far as my least favorite argument, “I was “whooped” as a kid and I turned out fine…” Ugh. Guess what, there were a lot of things our parents did when we were children that we should not be repeating with our children. This has been going on for thousands of years. The human race is constantly evolving. We should strive to make our children’s lives better than our lives were, and they in turn should do the same. One of my favorite phrases: When you know better, you do better. After all, it wasn’t so long ago that we didn’t use car seats, it was fine to smoke and drink during pregnancy and husbands could legally beat and rape their wives. I’m sure many people would say they turned out “just fine” under those circumstances too…
* After posting, I read that the reason behind the “whooping” was that this four year old pushed his five year old brother while playing a video game. Peterson also says that he accidentally struck the child’s testicles with the switch during the beating. Let’s take a minute to imagine how that felt.