A southern girl in the Pacific Northwest

On parenting & discipline

Damn it, I cannot get away from the news. This child abuse scandal in the NFL is totally horrifying, but what’s worse are the MASSES of people saying that they see nothing wrong not only with spanking their children, but with whipping them with sticks from a tree!!! The injuries described to this child were truly disturbing, and I cannot understand why people think it is ok to discipline children in this way. It enrages and upsets me. And no, I am not a parent, but I don’t think you have to be a parent to understand on a fundamental level that whipping your 4 year old such that he sustained cuts to the scrotum is NOT FUCKING OK. I don’t understand why the country isn’t just rising up in a wave of unrestrained rage over this monstrous behavior toward women and kids.

The players union, bless their goddamn hearts, is just full of righteous indignation over the poor treatment of these men. And I know full well that everyone deserves their day in court, but for the League to wimble and fuck around instead of taking swift action, has been troubling to say the least. I’m glad that Adrian Peterson has been placed on the exempt list while he “sorts out his personal problems,” as the League announced, but it’s not enough. This is a hugely powerful, hugely influential organization with the ability to reach millions of people and change their opinions about what is ok and what is not ok. I REALLY wish they would do that.

Both of these incidents have prompted discussions of race, which I am sure many of you have also engaged in. Salon.com actually had a pretty good article yesterday about the differences between parenting styles in black families versus in white families, and I found it illuminating. I think there are probably some regional differences too. The thing about Adrian Peterson is that he was genuinely bewildered by the hubub, which is illuminating in itself: he truly doesn’t think he did anything wrong. On one hand I can understand that – doing what your parents did, and their parents did, etc – but I also cannot understand it. When you are a grown person, how do you face a tiny person and come to the conclusion that hitting them until they bleed is acceptable? Even if, in a moment of frustration, you lose it – as people do – don’t you stop and think the next time?

Most people of my generation and her generation got spanked, and with various objects including hands. There’s the old saw that goes, “I got spanked when I was a kid and I turned out JUST FINE!” I beg everyone who thinks that to look closely and make sure that’s actually true. Or perhaps to examine the definition of the word “fine.” Or to think about what a “spanking” meant in your household, and how that might differ from someone else’s experience.

This is a deeply upsetting and deeply personal topic, so let me apologize if I have offended anyone with what I’ve said. I’m open to discussions and conversation about it, as usual.


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