Thursday, September 18, 2014

It shocks me

Adrian Petersen is 6'2 and weighs 215 lbs. On two separate occasions, this man has been accused of child abuse in "disciplining" his sons (two different children, with different mothers, both aged 4). He "whooped" both of these children while in the car with them. The more recent instance included a switch. Which, of course, means that he takes a stick with him when he travels with his preschooler, just in case he needs to "whoop" him.

Mr. Petersen plays for the Minnesota Vikings. At least he did. Right now he's suspended while these allegations are investigated. It's rumored that the Vikings don't want him back.

That doesn't shock me. Who isn't repulsed at the idea of a 200+ lb. man hitting a child until he leaves marks?

Apparently lots of people aren't repulsed. That's what shocks me.

Comments like these makes my skin crawl:

"I was beat as a child and I'm fine."

"We were spanked we needed it. And I spanked my kids....and if the grandkids need it...I spank them too."

I wonder if you are "fine" after being hit regularly as a child. I certainly do not believe anyone ever needs to feel a slap.

There are things about my upbringing that I question in retrospect, but here is one thing my mother got completely, unutterably right -- no spankings, ever. She believed that it teaches that "might makes right." She said kids learn that it's acceptable to handle a situation with a physical response.

I wonder how many drivers involved in road rage were "spanked" as children. I wonder how many street thugs received "whoopings." I wonder how many wife beaters got 'the belt" or "the wooden spoon." That would explain why they somehow feel that justified in acting out when they feel "disrespected."

Domestic violence -- whether man on woman or adult on child -- is a real problem in this country. And I worry that it will continue as long as people cling to the outmoded and very sad notion that just because someone is smaller than you are, you have some God given right to strike them.


  1. We used to get threatened that Mom would send us out to cut our own 'switch' when we were bad. As an adult, my brother jokes that he always figured on finding the smallest, weakest twig he could. Mom never followed through on the switch threat (at least with me) probably because it took too long. Instead, she went in the bathroom and grabbed my hairbrush. I was a pretty well-behaved kid, but I felt the flat side of that brush more than once.

    I spanked my son no more than 4 or 5 times, though there were a few "motivational" fairly-gentle swats on the butt besides that. I don't feel guilty. The spankings he got, by and large, he deserved. The last one--when he was 11--hurt ME like hell (my wrist was wrecked for a week), but he'd stolen our neighbor's wedding dress when he went over to feed their fish while they were on vacation. I still can't figure that whole thing out, but I don't regret the punishment. This was the culmination of a whole lot of shitty behavior--theft, lying, general sullenness, backtalk--that was coming out of the crap he was dealing with at school and dishing out to us at home where he was 'safe.' The spanking didn't cure the big problem, but it got his attention where words and therapy had not. It took another partial year before school stuff was handled. See below re teachers.

    I do NOT believe in hitting kids in anger. And certainly not in public, not anymore.

    Petersen has probably never taken a parenting class, or a childhood psychology class, or anything else. He's just following his parents without much thinking on his part at all. And I would bet those "whuppings" are fits of pique on his part. None of that is ok.

    But please, PLEASE, God help us if people start telling me how to raise my kid--teachers have tried that in the past and it did NOT go well for them.

    (My son is 21 and relatively functional, despite being terminally male about certain obvious (to women) things he doesn't think are important.)

  2. now if siblings would stop beating up each other???

  3. Again, Cat, I wonder what exactly you taught your son by hitting him.

    I understand what you mean about woe be to anyone telling you how to raise your child. My mother was very mild mannered, but disciplining us was her responsibility. No one else's input was welcome, thankyouverymuch. Especially if it included laying a hand on us.

  4. I hate to say this but I wonder how much of this behavior is cultural. My experience is what Cat describes--the swat on the ass kind of spanking.

    I responded more to a raised voice than any kind of swat.

  5. As I said, it got his attention, something words and "playing nice" hadn't done. It was not something that was done as a knee-jerk reaction the first time he did something stupid. The theft of the dress is just one thing; there were others too embarrassing to mention online. Pain--burning your finger on a hot oven rack, for instance--is sometimes the only reminder that works. I don't recommend it for every situation, but there it is.

    He also pulled my curling iron off the bathroom counter once when he was a wee tot when I left it there, warming up, for about 30 seconds. I didn't do it on purpose, but he certainly learned to be careful (at least) about pulling things off bathroom counters! And thankfully, the burns were "only" first-degree.

    And I will spell out what I was trying to say politely: walk a mile or a decade in a parent's shoes before criticizing parental behavior.

    I once had a friend, also a parent, tell me that she "knew" a teenager in our town killed herself at age 14 because the kid's parents were "mean." She knew the kid; I knew the kid and the parents. I have no idea why this girl killed herself, but blaming the parents for it with no evidence besides stories of parental "meanness"--grounding, privileges being removed after bad behavior, saying no to dangerous things--isn't helpful.

    Adrian Petersen was wrong, and so was my mom with her hairbrush, but I certainly TOTALLY understand why they did what they did. I have felt that out of control MANY MANY times as a parent. Fortunately, I had a way of dealing with that feeling that generally didn't result in lasting physical damage to anyone (there was occasional crazy-woman screaming). Parenting is literally THE ONLY SITUATION in which I have ever been so angry I saw red--really, red washed up over my vision and clouded it completely. I thought I was having a stroke. And, no, I did not hit the kid any of those times; I carefully put myself into a different room/space until my brain began to function properly again. One time it meant pulling off the road into a ditch, getting out of the car while he continued to scream bloody murder after a morning of absolute nastiness at a friend's house, and walking 10 feet away for about 3 minutes. Another time it meant forcing myself to gently set him in his crib and walking outside to get my husband to go in and deal with him.

    STL inker brings up a good point: a very good friend of mind was beat up, verbally AND physically, pretty much daily by her older sister when they were kids. Her parents still can't understand why A has cut all contact with her sister as an adult. It was not all fun and games, and talking to Big Sis didn't help and in fact verbal parental intervention/punishment made it worse for A.

    Kwiz: in my house, weirdly, Mom was the spanker, but Dad was the guilt-tripper. I learned a lot of life lessons from the guilt-trips, but they are also probably equally as damaging as a whack with a switch, only longer-term.

  6. Cat, I appreciate your attempt at being polite, but this is my blog. I will say what I please here.

    Vivien (StlInkr) was referring to a painful issue within my household that I assume you don't know about. My mother was far from perfect. I wrote a post about that earlier this week. But I'm honoring her on the second anniversary of her death by applauding what she did well.

    Again, since this is my blog, it's completely appropriate.

    I don't know you or your son. Clearly this is something you have considered a lot and continue to mull over. I applaud your candor in sharing all you did here. That's why I posted your comment.

  7. i think it is great we can talk about this a grown up manner. yes i was talking about your mean sister hurting you...i don't know her but it makes me mad you were abuse...
    i love and care about you!
    kids need to be shown how to behave not how to learn hitting will change their behavior.
    teach them right and wrong.


Sorry about adding Comment Moderation, folks. But look at the bright side, at least I've gotten rid of word verification!