Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Adrian Peterson Ignites Parental Rights Debate

Minnesota Vikings' star running back, Adrian Peterson, is just one more NFL player in the news these days for an act of violence. Peterson stands accused of child abuse after "beating his child with a stick," normally called a "switch" by my parents.

Mr. Peterson apparently disciplined one of his sons by hitting him with a stick/switch causing welts to his legs and buttocks. Peterson has admitted that he "went overboard" in his discipline and has stated his regret for hurting his child. He was initially suspended for one game, then reinstated on Monday. Following pressure from fans, women's groups, etc., Peterson has now been allowed to take paid time away until the case is decided in court.

The case has opened a large and varied discussion in America on corporal punishment of a child by parents. Some people feel children should never be spanked for any reason. Others feel spanking, under controlled conditions and without anger, is good for a child. While others feel it should be avoided and only done as a last resort.

On the radio this morning I heard Dr. Keith Ablow, a Psychologist and frequent Fox News contributor, say that while there may be occasions when spanking, as a last resort, might be the answer, if you've resorted to spanking you've failed as a ommunicator. Basically he contradicted himself. His example was if a child keeps running in the street, regardless of how many times you tell him not to do it, the answer may be a spanking followed by discussion of why he was spanked and why he needs to stop doing what he's doing. In that case, the doctor said, “you could be saving his life.”

He still reiterated that spanking should not be done in the course of every day parental discipline.

And I agree with that for the most part. But like many people of my parents' generation, my parents did not spare the rod when it came to discipline. They disciplined us with spankings with everything from a hand to a switch, a belt to a wooden spoon, heavy metal kitchen spoons and as I recall, even a fly swatter at least once.

By today's standards my parents would have done time, as would most of the parents of my friends. Spanking was something parents did prior to the 70s. And while the numbers of parents who discipline their children with corporal punishment has greatly decreased, some whowere discilplined in that manner as children have carried it over to their own child. Certain cultures of Americans, Southern families, and many black families, particularly in the South, still adhere to such discipline practices. None other than Charles Barkley of NBA fame said as such in a TV interview just the other day.

I never used a belt or a switch on my son but when words and/or the loss of privileges failed to resolve the problem he felt the sting of my hand on occasion.

My understanding is that Adrian Peterson went too far in his discipline of his son, leaving not just welts but some welts that actually bled. If that's the case (I haven't seen the pictures) it was certainly wrong but was it child abuse or merely a form of discipline that Peterson allowed to get out of hand? I don't have the answer to that question. I was left with welts on my body after being spanked with a switch or a belt. It's what skin does. I never once felt like I was being abused because with the exception of one particular incident in which I really wasn't the one who did the wrong thing, I pretty much deserved my punishment. But that was a far different time.

The NFL screwed up by reinstating Peterson following only one game. Their motivation was money in all likelihood. Suspending Peterson until any and all legal proceedings have concluded is the right thing to do and shows NFL families and the nation that the NFL is concerned about domestic violence among their players. Too bad they waited until they received criticism from around the nation before they did it.

Please don't misunderstand. I'm not condoning what Adrian Peterson did to his son. Even if corporal punishment is accepted in society, to beat a child to the point of bleeding is wrong. I do understand it, however – I lived through it. My brother and sisters did as well – although I believe my brother and I received it far more than my sisters did. (No doubt very deservedly.) And we all turned out pretty well - with respect for others, love of God and country, and the desire and determination to do the right thing in all circumstances.

I don't know if Adrian Peterson is a chronic child abuser or someone did the wrong thing and will now have to suffer the consequences. Only he, his wife, and God know that truth about that. I read an article earlier that said he has been reported once before for possible child abuse. Often where there is smoke there is fire. But it's up to the legal system to look into it and take the action that is best for the child. If the court decides he's guilty he needs to pay the price and get some training in proper parenting skills. If they say he made a mistake the NFL will have to decide how seriously they are going to persue the issue. Mandatory parenting classes would probably be a good idea either way.

But that's my opinion. I could be wrong.


  1. I guess all my relatives, teachers and street friends who beat my ass when I acted up must be criminals. One thing for sure I never got in my mothers face again after she smacked me so hard that I forgot what day it was. And you can bet your bottom dollar you will never hear of a black child telling their parents to kiss their ass and still be conscious!!!

  2. Obviously they didn't do it often enough... LOL