Every time I convince myself that there might be a little common sense left in the world, after all, another story comes along to put that in jeopardy.
Such as this Adrian Peterson story.
In case you’ve been hiding under a rock, Peterson is the latest in a series of exposed NFL bad boys who like to hit women and children nearly as much as they like hitting opposing running backs or linebackers. In Peterson’s case, he used a switch to whip his 4-year-old boy. Hard.
And it seems that everyone has an opinion that falls along one extreme or the other.
On one hand, you have those who dismiss what Peterson did, saying it’s no big deal because they were whipped as a child, and look at them now — they turned out just fine. Chalk up Charles Barkley as one who sees no big deal with what Peterson did.
On the other hand, you have those who summarily condemn every father who has ever laid a hand on their child as unfit parents who should be imprisoned for child abuse. The media and the usual self-righteous suspects can’t talk about it without declaring any form of corporal punishment as “beating” children — like Boomer Esiason, who declared it “reprehensible” that any parent would use “a tree branch” to hit a child.
Even when you hear someone start out with some common sense, it seems that they have to throw in a little delusion…like Tommy Tomlinson, who declares that spanking a child builds fear or anger in them — no in between.
I don’t expect most Americans to agree that spanking a child is okay under any circumstance. After all, most Americans appear to have never heard of the term “switch.” Like Esiason, who said he didn’t even know what the term meant “until a few days ago.” (Esiason has clearly never listened to comedian Bill Engvall, who has joked extensively about being made to cut his own switch as a child.)
But can we not agree to live and let live when it comes to parenting, while also agreeing that Adrian Peterson went too far?
I realize I live in East Tennessee, and some of you are going to read that last line and guffaw. But there’s no way to deny that Peterson hit that child too hard. If you’re defending Peterson, you haven’t seen the photos. So let’s be clear: There is no excuse for leaving cuts and welts from stomach to toe on a child of any age…let alone one who is only four years old. None.
You won’t find anyone who will defend corporal punishment any faster than I will defend it. It works. It doesn’t hurt a child, if administered appropriately — it doesn’t warp their psyche or turn them into a serial killer. But what Peterson did to that child was inexcusable. (And we haven’t even discussed the part of the police report that says he stuffed leaves into the kid’s mouth. If you can defend that, I’m glad I’m not your kid.) I took a lot of whippings as a kid — from my parents as well as my teachers and principal (imagine that, in this modern age of hands-off schoolhouse discipline). But I never had a whipping like that, and I took a couple of whippings that I wouldn’t dream of giving to my own kids.
It’s easy as a parent to lose your temper. My opinion? Adrian Peterson lost his temper with that kid. Does that mean he should be kicked out of the NFL? I don’t think so. Does it mean that he is a terrible parent? I’m in no position to be the judge of that…and neither is anyone else reading this, I’m quite sure. But one thing I’m sure of: there’s a line that can be crossed when it comes to corporal punishment. And Adrian Peterson crossed it.