Friday, September 19, 2014

Switches and Parents

The last time I saw even half of an NFL game was the Superbowl in 2009, and that only because my daughter was staying with us at the time.  I'll sometimes sit still for a few minutes of a Mizzou game or check the score on the radio if I happen to be in the house for a little while on Saturday.  The NBA does not appeal to me, but I'll be pulling for the new coach of the basketball Tigers, Ken Anderson, who played for MU while I was there getting my sheepskin and relaxing on the Rock.  I know who plays for the baseball Cardinals, and I check their scores and standings.  Otherwise, all the enthusiasm for sports, especially at the professional level, has passed me by.

What has been happening recently in the NFL is not improving the situation.  Some guy punches his wife-to-be in an elevator.  If it had not been for the security video, we would never had known about it because the woman wasn't interested in pressing charges and goes ahead with marrying him.  I'd say that's none of my business, but if his employer wants to fire him, they can.

The one that got my attention was Adrian Peterson who grew up in Palestine (stEEn not stIne), Texas, a town I am familiar with.  Peterson played for Oklahoma when Missouri was still in the Big 12.  Aside from his amazing running speed, he has always seemed like a typical, decent, small-town Texas kid to me.  Peterson is in trouble with his professional team, the Minnesota Vikings, because he took a switch to his son.  He broke the skin on the boy, which is something that shouldn't happen.  I would imagine that the mother is light to white and some light skins do tend to bleed easier than some darker skins.  I don't think Peterson meant to abuse his son.  He was legitimately trying to discipline him.  I have no problem with whipping kids.  I've even offered to do it for some parents when their children wouldn't shut up in the store.

As far as I know, no child has ever died solely from being switched.  My mom switched me a few times, but the one I remember distinctly involved a very solid oak one-by-four.  That was a beating.  I had it coming, and I don't blame Mom, but there was some risk of injury.  For our kids and grandkids I always just used my hand for a couple of swats on the butt, just to get their attention.  My dad, who often whipped my older siblings, never had to physically discipline me.  This is because I figured out very early that I was going to do whatever Dad said whether I wanted to or not.  Why add a whipping to the trouble?  I am considerable smarter than the other three.

Peterson was no doubt subjected to spanking by his parents who, like most good Christian people in the more rural parts of the South, believe that to spare the rod is to spoil the child.  Contrary to modern thought, I have not seen violent and anti-social behavior arise from corporal punishment.  My older brother, who was beaten far more than I was, is a wuss.  The kids I grew up with were apt to be whipped at home and at school yet most became productive, law-abiding citizens.   In fact , I would venture to guess that America was no more violent when corporal punishment was more common than it is today.

There seems to be more child abuse these days perhaps because parents do not understand the concept of corporal punishment.  My sister, for example, beat, I would even say, abused her first child, my oldest nephew.  She would beat him not to discipline him as much as because he made her angry.  Bad tempers do tend to run in the family, but she never bothered to control hers. Though he loved and respected his parents as he got older, this nephew could never play by the rules.  He was always out to prove he could beat the system.  Today, in middle age, he sits in a federal prison where he has been for the last ten years and probably will be for another ten. 

She seemed to have learned her lesson on him.  The other three are all college graduates and professional people.  They're kind of wiseguys and arrogant jackasses, but that, too, runs in the family.  It's not because they were spanked. 

My sister can be thankful there were not ubiquitous cell phone cameras around in the '60s and that the state's reach was not what it is today.  With my sister and my nephew, the beatings he took were a result of his willfulness coupled with his mother being a relatively young -- barely 19, inexperienced parent with a strong will of her own in a somewhat difficult marriage.

What Peterson has done is none of the NFL's business.  He went overboard, just as my sister did, partly because of the culture in which they were raised. In Peterson's case, I would guess that, as a very strong, young, athletic man, he misjudged the speed and severity of his blows.  I don't see that there was any intent on his part to abuse or physically harm his child.  A ruler or a wooden spoon might have been a better choice in his case.  I think it is sad that his career is being harmed by cultural bias, state interference, and the NFL's political correctness. 

No comments:

Post a Comment