Dad, and corporal punishment

spankingOne of the issues the National Football League has been dealing with this month involves Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson [being] indicted for allegedly hitting his son with a switch [small tree branch] until he left open wounds and welts. Interesting to me that Charles Barkley, former National Basketball Association star defended the behavior as of the culture. But Cris Carter, Hall of Fame wide receiver who played primarily with the Vikings, passionately decried as something better left to an earlier time.

When we did something wrong, or perceived to be so, my father used this brown leather strap, the kind used to straighten and polish the blade of a straight razor. Worse, he made us retrieve from its location in the kitchen, lest the punishment be even worse. As I noted at length HERE, I NEVER thought it was justified, at least when it came to my behavior, and it codified my disdain for using it myself.

And though I disagree with it altogether, 10 or 15 blows, which Peterson is accused of inflicting on his four-year-old, goes well beyond the goal of having the child “learn a lesson” to uncontrolled rage on the part of the person meting out the punishment, IMNSHO.

Moreover, as the article suggests, I believe it creates a cycle of abusers and victims. The article quotes activist Renee Martin:

How is a girl to form healthy relationships, when those that claim to love her the most hit her. Is it not a possibility that she will equate this form of love, to violence that she may encounter later in life? What about boys? Does this violence not teach them that if they are dissatisfied with someone who is smaller, or physically weaker than them, that it is appropriate to hit them for their own good?

There was a period in my early twenties, when I wrote my father a very angry letter, expressing great disdain for his use of corporal punishment. From the article: “Think about how many adults who were hit as children can’t remember the trauma and fear they actually felt at the time but say that being hit was a ‘good’ for them because they’ve only held onto the rationalizations used to justify the violence against them;” that was not me. Then again, perhaps my spankings (except for the one cited when I was five) weren’t as bad as others experienced.

As a result of my letter, dad stopped talking to me for about six months. Finally, I couldn’t stand it, and I wrote him a nice letter, mentioning all the good stuff he had done. He started talking with me again, and we never discussed the incident.

I should own up to my single use of corporal punishment. I was watching the 13-month-old son of a friend of mine. He kept pulling the tail of the cat, and I thought the so-far patience of the feline might wend, with him getting scratched. So I took his hand in mine, and with the index finger of the other hand, I tapped his hand, and said, “No.” He looked at me, more stunned than anything, and then started to wail for about three minutes. But soon he forgot about it, yet he left the cat alone.

My takeaway: it’s the rod, and not the sparing of it, that spoils the child.

I had something else, more pleasant, planned for the day before what would have been my father’s 88th birthday. Sometimes, the blog just will do what it will do.
Chuck Miller: Adrian Peterson, the switch, and his (finally) deactivation.


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