When the news broke this weekend that a certain football player was being indicted on child abuse charges I read the article and then foolishly looked to the comments to gauge public opinion on the matter. Although I’ve come to expect the rogue comment from the occasional jerk defending some bit of bad behavior, I was completely unprepared for the vehemence and sheer number of those who defended the man’s actions.
The comments went something like this:
“I got hit with a switch many times when I was a kid, and it made me the person I am today!”
“Hell, I had to pick my own switch! If I picked one too small, I had to go back for another one!”
“I got hit with switches, belts, shoes, and extension cords, and I’m just fine!”
And nestled among these jaw-dropping comments was a much needed dose of comic relief:
“OK, I’ll be the dumb ass here. What’s a switch?”
You’re not from these parts, are you?
It was actually refreshing to hear that from someone who did not have a clue what a switch is. A switch, often used in the Old South, and apparently glorified in the New South, is a branch from a tree or bush that is stripped of leaves and used to whip the legs and behind of a misbehaved child.
Hailing from the Northeast, I had my share of corporal punishment, but never got switched. Switching somehow never caught on up north. Maybe it’s just too cold most of the year to go rooting about outdoors for such an implement.
What did I get instead? Mostly the hand, one time the belt, and countless tongue-lashings.
Am I glad that I got them? Do I think that they shaped me into the upstanding person I am today?
Do I still love my mother?
I can’t really say that I’ve never spanked my children, because I have, a few times each…but I never wanted to, regretted it each time, and have noted that the methods that require greater effort and more control on my part yield the greatest and most long-lasting results.
I won’t say that those who spank are abusers either. I know many parents who have spanked and have raised good kids. I will only say that there is a better way, and that a spanking is often akin to using a sledgehammer to do the job that could have been done with a flyswatter. Consider what a child feels when receiving corporal punishment: anger, humiliation, helplessness, devastation. If there is a method is effective but does not lead to those feelings, wouldn’t you rather use that?
But all of this is neither here nor there…Adrian Peterson is back in the game, for now, and plays on Sunday. So at least there will be football.