I was contacted yesterday by Good Morning America regarding the Adrian Peterson story involving the Minnesota Vikings running back and his 4 year old son. The 4-year-old told a doctor that Peterson had punished him for pushing his brother off a bike by hitting him repeatedly with a switch. The “switch” was a tree branch, stripped of leaves. The beating resulted in many injuries to the child, including cuts and bruises to the child’s hands, legs, back, buttocks and scrotum. The report also details that the NFL star felt bad about the result of the beating (especially as it related to the child’s legs and scrotum) but was not apologetic about his discipline techniques. “Never do I go overboard! But all my kids will know, hey daddy has the biggie heart but don’t play no games when it comes to acting right.”
Why the switch?
Because that is how he was raised. Peterson fully admitted to police that he had “whooped” his son on the backside with a switch as a form of punishment, and then produced a switch similar to the one with which he hit the child.
Many of us, who are now in our 30s, 40s, 50s and older, were spanked when we were young. I even had a friend who was belted. But we now know from numerous studies that spanking can backfire. Hitting a child can certainly fill a child with fear– scaring him or her to refrain from participating in the negative behavior– but it can also teach the child to hit, harbor anger and hold onto resentment and shame. What’s more, spanking, while instilling fear, does not often instill understanding and discipline.
Of course, many people still believe it “works.”
Parents often do what they were taught to do by their own parents. And successful parents can easily and understandably conclude that they came out alright– so they wonder, what’s the harm? And when your child is acting out, a parent is at his or her wits end and talking to that child doesn’t seem to work, it’s certainly simple to see why a parent might feel compelled to resort to corporal punishment. That being said, does acting on that impulse it make it right? Necessary? Should history repeat itself or, with greater knowledge of the effects on the masses, should we go a different way?
So the question of the day is; what parenting technique have you taken from your own parents and repeated and what parenting technique have you completely pushed aside and rejected?