A Switch in Time Saves Nine
Monday, November 24th, 2014 at 1:43 pm | Sandrahutcheson | Leave a Comment | Children Living authentically Looks great
This column appeared in The St. Augustine Record November 16, 2014. I’m reprinting it here for those who might have missed it:
Last week, Adrian Peterson, the Minnesota Viking who was facing child abuse charges, accepted a plea deal that keeps him out of jail. The case has kindled a huge debate over spanking.
I’ve thought about it a lot lately, and I can’t say how I’d discipline if I had my children to raise over again.
I can’t imagine hurting a child, yet I don’t quite buy the modern notion of our offspring as demigods for whom a rational discussion will suffice in lieu of discipline.
I’m not even sure where that idea originated. As a mom, I found toddlers to be irrational and unreasonable. In fact, I think terrorists learn their negotiating tactics from 3-year-olds.
Referring to the Peterson case, Mel Robbins, a commentator and legal analyst for CNN, advocated “education, mentoring and conflict-resolution training” as the most effective methods for developing positive behaviors in children.
This woman must not be from the South. Every good Southern mama knows that choosing your own hickory switch effectively changes behavior. Those slow steps through the yard provide adequate time to contemplate a misdeed. Sometimes, picking the switch is punishment enough.
Robbins calls all spanking child abuse. I can’t quite share that sentiment. For one thing, by that definition, I should be locked up next to Adrian Peterson. My mom would be serving 20 to life.
My parents were strict. Complaining about what Mom cooked would earn a warning from Dad like, “You’ll eat those eggs, or I’ll crisp your bacon.” When I was a kid, Mom kept a penal code posted on the refrigerator. Next to each misdeed listed was the predetermined punishment for that particular crime. Since there were no hickory trees in our yard, Mom used a rubber spatula.
The best I can remember, fighting with my brother or sister warranted 10 licks. Talking back to Mom meant swallowing a spoonful of vinegar. The catch-all crime was the haughty spirit, worth a whopping 20 licks.
While I can’t say how I would approach discipline if I had young children now, I’m pretty certain what Mom would do. There are clues in the way her cantankerous Chihuahua, Bambi, behaves.
A couple of weeks ago, while my parents were gone for the evening, I stopped by their house to walk Bambi.
When I tried to put her collar around her neck, the dog bared her teeth and snapped at me. She scooted under the dining room table. Every time I even looked at her, she snarled. It looked to me like a haughty spirit.
I tattled on Bambi the next day. But Mom just laughed. Then I listened in amazement as she said the key to dealing with Bambi is speaking gently while putting on her collar. The woman who could have written a manifesto on spanking was telling me I should have tried reasoning with a Chihuahua.
There are no hickories in Mom’s yard, only palm trees. She doesn’t need them. She can wave a palm branch at her little demigod doggie six ways to Sunday, knowing that the children she raised turned into decent human beings who are, at times, even reasonable.
Translate this post