Sparing the Rod

Like most of us, I’ve been following the mess that is the National Football League this season. I’m not talking about the games themselves. I’m talking about the controversy. The Ray Rice situation is pretty cut and dry, and yes, count me among those who believe the league knew all along about that tape. But the Adrian Peterson case gives me pause. For one, it is kind of a cultural thing; many blacks, me being among them, who either grew up or spent any of their youth in the south has felt the sting of the switch, even southern white kids. The age of four is a little young to be hit with a switch, and I have never used one on my kids, but it is a form of discipline, folks. Frankly, there is a case to be made today: a little strong discipline wouldn’t hurt.

I love kids, always have, but there have been moments that have given me pause. Example: a couple of weeks ago I was cruising the aisles of a supermarket craving a really good soup when I spotted a little girl who was around 6, maybe 7, arguing with her mom about how she wanted the sugar flavored corn flakes. Mom said no and told her, “Time to go.” The child said she wasn’t going anywhere and proceeded to throw a tantrum when Mom went to grab her. The child let out a blood-curdling scream, which of course got everyone’s attention. Then she continued to say no to her mom and take swings at her every time she attempted to collect her. Mom seemed as if she didn’t know what to do. I went about my business, shaking my head. I felt really embarrassed for the mother, but that’s the thing you see these days from kids: yelling, screaming, talking back to their parents, swinging at them. They seem to have this penchant for doing it in public, almost as if they know that an angry response from a parent will cause some busy body with a cell phone to report it. The fact is, folks, a good sound paddling on the bottom is exactly what’s needed.

I think of a story my aunt once told me. She and my mom were at the store when I, who was all of five, decided that I was going to put on a little performance because I couldn’t get what I wanted. I imagine I acted a like the little girl I saw earlier. Anyway, my mom pulled down the snowsuit I was wearing and gave me a spanking in front of everyone. My aunt said I cried my brains out, but I got the point: do not disrespect your mom. That’s exactly what should have been done to that little girl. Now I know what you’re going to say, “Kids will be kids.” To that I say, so what? A red bottom now may work wonders later. You know what kids like that girl become later on? Spoiled, manner-less entitled teens that we see today; the ones who won’t give up their seat to an elderly or disabled person and who won’t budge an inch to let a pregnant woman sit down. The loud obnoxious ones who swear at the top of their lungs, the ones who wear their pants down to the crack of their — well, you know. Even teenage girls do it now. A good whack across their backsides may make them pull their pants up.

So whom do I blame for all this nonsense from our children? Parents who are so scared of being called child abusers they won’t say or do anything. Then you have parents who were trust fund babies and got money thrown at them, so they do it to their kids. Sadly, some parents are too caught up in their own drama to care. We need to take responsibility as parents when it comes to our kids. Saying, “Well, can’t these teachers do something?” is a copout. The kids that are in my life don’t act like the brats I described in this article, at least not around me. They all know I don’t play that. Have one of them throw a little tantrum in a public place. They won’t be sitting for days.

James Shearer

James Shearer is a writer and co-founder of Spare Change News.