This situation with Adrian Peterson is shedding a HUGE light on a problem that has been raging in our families for entirely too long. We all know this isn’t anything new. Many of us have been the recipient of some type of physical punishment when we were children. But that does NOT MAKE IT RIGHT.
Can we just stop and THINK about this for a few minutes?
When an adult (caretaker) reprimands a child using physical force in order to obtain some adult desired behavior a host of unintended things happen:
1. The child learns that bigger people hurting smaller people is alright. (Bullying)
2. The child equates hurt and pain with love. (Why would my mom or dad make me feel so much pain, but also say they love me?) It is a confusing, psychologically scarring practice which gets imprinted. These children grow up with the notion that hitting someone you love is OK–domestic violence anyone?
3. The child turns on himself, believing that he must be a ‘bad boy’ to deserve such a punishment from his parents and becomes submissive.
4. The child turns on herself and internalizes her feelings leading to anxiety or depression.
5. The child, feeling misguided and unsure that he is protected ‘acts out’ and participates in delinquent and or anti-social behavior.
6. The child ‘turns out fine’ according to the arbitrary social guidelines, but harbors negative feelings towards his caregivers and struggles with maintaining a healthy relationship with them.
7. The child ‘turns out fine’, but struggles when she becomes a mom because her template for guidance was based on fear and physical punishment so she must work very hard not to repeat the cycle.
The research is irrefutable–-treatment towards children matters. Those that harm kids and try to justify that harm as discipline do not get a pass. It is inconceivable that grown humans still believe that beatings, spanking, switchings, paddlings, or swattings to redirect undesired behaviors are acceptable. Keep in mind that children are locked into their situation. They can’t leave. They are dependent on the families who bring them into this world, but if they could get away from the pain, suffering, distress, and agony, I guarantee you they would. This is why it is important for communities to recognize and respond to issues of child abuse and neglect. The more we talk about it, the more we discuss solutions, the more we work with families to give them real solutions to implement in their homes and heart, the better our chances are of seeing abuse decline.
If you have hit your children, but don’t anymore good on you. You broke the cycle. You are being the change you want to see. If you hit your children now, I beg you to stop. Stop immediately. Get help, read, educate yourself, get support. If you know people who need to hear this message, please share.
We must not stop talking about this. The voices of non-violence need to be louder, braver, and surer until it’s not socially acceptable anymore to beat up on small children in the name of parenting.