Whenever something happens like the Adrian Peterson controversy people debate whether or not children should be whipped or spanked as a form of discipline. In a 1964 Supreme Court case called Jacobellis vs. Ohio as to whether or not a particular movie was pornographic Judge Potter Stewart said, in so many words, that basically he could not define what pornography was but "I know it when I see it". Child abuse is kind of the same way. What is child abuse to one may not be child abuse to another. I am a believer in a parent having the right to use corporal punishment on their own child or discipline their child within reason. Every loving parent has been guilty of going over the line on occasion. I will never forget the time when we were at Opryland back in the mid 1980's when my wife Debbie grabbed my son Jon by the chin. He was bugging her to death because he was wanting something and she had already told him no several times. She roughly grabbed his chin to get her point across to him, as mother's are apt to do when they are extremely agitated, and some old biddy hollered "my God", as if she had taken his head off or something. I glared at her and was tempted to ask her if she wanted the same thing. Some parents are better at using physical punishment than others. All children are different. Some children need corporal punishment and some don't. A child does not have to be whipped to suffer child abuse. Any form of punishment can be abusive if it is misused. Judging by the pictures of Peterson's son, the boy was abused in my opinion I was a wild child when I was growing up. For years adults would tell me how they would hide their valuables when they saw us pull in their driveway. Kids would hide their toys because they were afraid that I would break them. I have been whipped with belts. a barber strap, paddles, switches, bare hands, hit with a broom, and the thing I hated the worst, slapped across the face.
Daddy's favorite form of punishment was whipping me with his belt. Daddy was good at it. He only whipped me maybe three times total in the twelve years that I knew him but that is all I needed. I deserved every whipping that I got. Daddy was one of the best father's that a child could have until he started going downhill mentally when I was about ten. He was the only one that could make me mind. Daddy didn't care if I was standing in a crowded store in view of everyone or at home. He would take his belt off and whip me. I remember once getting a whipping at home and he drug me out from under my bed where I had hidden. Another time he whipped me in the middle of an H.G. Hill store on Charlotte Pike. The last time I remember was at our drugstore at 17th and Charlotte. My brother Mark and I were playing chase and the store was very crowded. Too crowded to be running around. Daddy had already warned us a couple of times not to run. I was chasing Mark when he ran right into a bubble gum machine that fell over smashing the glass globe that held the gumballs. Glass and gumballs flew everywhere. I just stood frozen in place because I knew what was coming. The crowd of customers staring at us parted like the Red Sea as daddy waded through them belt in hand. He wore both of us out all the way back to the prescription department. Some of the most tender moments that I ever had with my father were after these whippings. He would give me a chance to quit crying and regain my composure. Then he would put his arm around me, tell me he loved me and ask me if I realized why he had whipped me. As I said earlier I deserved every one of them. After my father's mental condition deteriorated and he would get drunk on at least two occasions he came at me with his belt but mother protected me by jumping between us because she knew he wasn't in his right mind.
Mother used her hand to spank us but Mark and I were continually testing her because we weren't afraid of her. After my parents died I grew very quickly and I was very hardheaded. I was determined that nobody was going to take the place of my mother. One thing about my extended family, like my grandparents, aunts, uncles, on my mother's side, thought they had a right to take a shot at me. They believed in slapping and there is nothing I hated worse than to be slapped. The bad thing was that it always seemed to take you by surprise. My grandmother threatened to slap me a few times but I don't think she ever did. She would ask "Do you want your jaws popped"? My Aunt Tincy was a psycho alcoholic and she reminded me of Joan Crawford of "Mommy Dearest" fame. One night she walked up to me with a plate of brownies and offered me one. I took two and she slapped the snot out of me. My Aunt Didi, who took me to raise, suffered endless frustration with me, and her own two boys Roy and Alton because we were so big. I was impudent which made things even worse and I really can't remember Mark ever being a discipline problem for her. She liked to slap and I remember one time when she slapped me it made me so mad that without saying anything I turned my other cheek to her. That made her even madder and she slapped me even harder. Instead of backing down I just kept offering my cheek. After about six times of this she finally stopped because I think she thought she was going to hurt me. My cheeks were blood red.
She whipped me with paddles, belts, her hand, or whatever was in reach. Finally one day she informed us that she had a barber strap and she was going to start using it on us. The idea hit me that if I could find the barber strap and hide it from her it would be funny to see the look on her face when she went to use it on us. I found the strap and moved it. It was worth the whipping when she would go to get the strap and it wasn't there. She would make me give it to her and after using it on me she would hide it again. I found her hiding places every time and she finally gave up after awhile. As you have probably discerned by now I badly needed someone to give me a good whipping but the problem was I was bigger than Didi so I wasn't afraid of her. When it came to school I was paddled maybe two or three times at most. I had the palm of my hand whacked with a ruler at least once. On one occasion my third grade teacher caught me throwing pieces of rubber off the bottom of those big erasers that you used to stick on the top of your pencil and she caught me. She took the big part of the eraser and for whatever reason tried to ram it up my nose. That wasn't cool.
At Bailey Jr. High Coach Kee, who reminded me of Howdy Doody, had a wooden paddle that he he had drilled holes in. He would take a running start to hit you. One thing that I have realized as a parent that has raised five children is that every child is different. Some children don't need to be whipped. They never do anything that is bad enough to require it and an you can do serious pshycological damage to an overly sensitive child. Some children may require an occasional whipping and some may require it often. Here's the deal. If you don't believe in spanking and you have a defiant child, you had better have a good alternative form of discipline. Otherwise, as I have often seen you will have a child that is out of control. Some parents, like my father, know how to administer an effective whipping. Other parents are not so good at it. Discipline administered by a loving parent, in a level headed manner, conveys to the child when they are able to look at it rationally that it is in itself an act of love. Putting it on a spiritual level Jesus is a loving father and the Bible says that "by his stripes we are healed" I readily admit that in the discipline department I never measured up to my father. I have many flaws and hang-ups but I do not attribute them to corporal punishment.
|The child of Adrian Peterson|