Pro football players are lightning rods these days for the physical abuse they are allegedly inflicting upon others. The latest case in the media spotlight is that of Adrian Peterson who spanked his 4 year-old son with a switch…”a slender, flexible shoot, rod, or twig.”
There’s much to be said about generational, as well as cultural, differences when it comes to discipline.
Spanking was the norm when I was a child growing up in the 50s and 60s. For my mom, it was probably all she knew to do as a native islander whose culture was founded upon force and brutality. That she was a young widow with children to raise could not have helped.
The same could be said for others who grew up…the way they grew up. Among them, Adrian Peterson.
I can’t judge my mom, Peterson, or anyone else.
What I can share are the scars left behind after the bruises have healed. Among them, a sense of disapproval that never diminishes.
How does a child who lacks the experience gained over time, ever explain why it is she was beaten by the one person whose love signifies the entire world? From that child’s perspective, she is to blame, she is unlovable, she is less than perfect.
Going through life as that individual is like piecing together a patchwork quilt. Gathering together bits and pieces of self esteem becomes a goal in itself. One which overshadows every other. One which dictates every relationship. One which begins and ends one’s life.
The seemingly simple act of spanking a child can evolve into an airing of parental grievances, if not reigned in quickly. Watching my mom beat a sibling once, I feared for his life. It was as though she was giving him the full measure of all that had gone wrong with her own life. Her subsequent tears and apologies did nothing to deflect the violent image which has remained with me forever.
I swore never to spank my own child knowing what I did…
…that it could become more about me than her…