There seems to be so much hype and controversy over the Adrian Peterson child abuse case that as a Black gentle parent, I only felt compelled to write this piece. The following words are entirely in my opinion and aren’t meant to offend anyone.
I’m a young Black woman and I’m from the South so the news of Adrian Peterson spanking or “whooping” (as we say here in the South) his four-year old son isn’t something new to me. Our culture has (sadly) embraced the theory that spanking a child helps them become better people in our society when in fact they couldn’t be farther from the truth.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has found that, “the use of physical punishment to discipline children has been linked to a range of mental health problems” not only that but experts on the Psych Central blog tell us that “it can damage a child’s self-esteem, affect their learning ability and teach them that violence solves problems” among many other things.
My husband and I agreed early on in our marriage that we wanted to break several traditions when it came down to the way we would parent our kids. Spanking was number one on our list; it got us strange looks from our parents but its our ultimate decision and that’s all that matters.
As a young child, I didn’t receive many spankings but remember being very confused as to why I received them when I did. Around the age of twelve, I started to receive verbal abuse from an uncle and once physically fought my mom. After our fight, my mom took on a more relaxed approach to her parenting style because she realized that hitting a child doesn’t work. Never has and never will.
I know a great deal of my peers who received “whoopings” and only rebelled worst against their parents; it’s human instinct to react in this way however the vicious cycle continued. These same peers suffer from severe emotional instability in their adulthood and some treat their kids the same way. Again, the vicious cycle continues.
I feel bad for Adrian and ultimately his son because 1) the parent is unaware of alternative and effective methods of discipline and 2) the child can’t fully comprehend why he was treated the way he was. Parenthood in no form or fashion is easy and there aren’t any shortcuts to making it easier.
As a Black mom of two, my goal is to break the vicious cycle that I was once apart of. It’s challenging being a gentle parent but as far as I’m concerned, it’s worth it.