Marlon Dorsey, a High School Basketball coach, was recently filmed spanking a youth for not running sprints properly. The coach said that he has spanked in the past and was disciplining this young boy, “I took in upon myself to save these young men from destruction…”. I can not pretend that I know what goes on in that area of Mississippi nor do I know what other measures have been taken before this incident that was filmed on an 8 second video and plastered all over the web.

The report is that todays children are doing worst than they were 20 years ago. You’ve heard people say “look at those kids”.You’ve seen them in the store wilding out. You’ve seen them in Jack N the Box after school raising hell. You’ve seen them stealing. You’ve see them wandering around during school time. You’ve heard them in alleys fighting. You’ve seen them swearing their mom, dads and everyone inbetewen out. You’ve seen them on the news shooting other kids. And I know that you’ve seen them in actin inside your own home, but still you say “Johnny would never do that”, “That wasn’t Sarah”. We, guess what Johnny is doing that, and it was Sarah.

A study found that spanking has a negative effect on toddlers, particularly on those from low-income households. The movie Precious, is the story of a black teen mother who survives physical and sexual abuse from her parents. While the movie strikes a chord with those who were victims of abuse in their childhood, the film also reminds us of the prevalence of beatings as a child-rearing tool in the African-American community. In a book called Black Rage Dr. William H. Grier and Dr. Price M. Cobbs attribute this to slavery:

“Beating in child-rearing actually has its psychological roots in slavery and even yet black parents will feed that, just as they have suffered beatings as children, so it is right that their children be so treated. This kind of physical subjugation of the weak forges early in the mind of the child a link with the past and, as he learns the details of history, with slavery per se.”

Adrian Peterson and Marlon Dorsey are black men, however, blacks are not the only race to use physical punishment as a form of discipline. And there is a big difference between spankings, whippings and beatings. Spanking is when you use medium force to strike the child on his/her bottom and not using any kind of device. When a parent spanks a child, it is usually when the child has done something incongruous with parental law and is used as a form of punishment. When your child is 200 lb starter on his JV football team, or selling drugs, gang banging, lighting people on fire, taking guns to school, etc… I don’t think that definition still applies do you?

While some bystanders would even like to take matters into our own hands, like this coach, but we don’t and more often than not we look the other way even when that child is ours. Children can see the fear that child protection service and law enforcement bring you. They can smell your fear of the public stares. But here is a question; if your child is doing something dangerous, would you weigh what law enforcement, or strangers might say, or do you just react? Children need parents, and they need their parents to be engaged. Often it seems that parents are damned if they do, and damned if they don’t because sometimes parental engagement results in discipline, but when is disciplining your child become abuse? Parents often fall on the don’t side, legal pressures make it safer for parents to disengage rather than engage in effective discipline of their child.

When the media jumped on Kate Gosselin for publicly spanking her daughter she responded with “Whether the paparazzi are there or not, I am a mother first, I love my children and when they misbehave, I will discipline them as i see fit”, and parents around the country have silently applauded her, she was not arrested.

Murray Straus, a professor of sociology at the University of New Hampshire, says 110 studies have linked spanking to increased misbehavior in childhood as well as adult problems such as increased spousal abuse and depression. Diana Baumrind, a psychologist at the University of California-Berkeley, found that children who were spanked occasionally had no more behavior problems than children who were never spanked, but warned that regular reliance on physical punishment, as well as “impulsive and reactive spanking,” causes harm to a child. The hidden issue is that today people have no idea how to be a parent, how to love or how to discipline appropriately. Regular reliance on physical punishment, medication or time out will harm any child.

Most parents don’t have a problem disciplining children, but every parent has a huge problem with people telling them how to discipline a child. Parents are tired of people who don’t have children telling them how to raise children, and that includes local and state governments. Most parents love their children, some may be ill-equipped to handle them, but they still love them. Many Parents have lost control of their children and their households. There are some people who say a good old-fashioned butt whipping kept them on the straight and narrow, or changed their life, but there are others who say any form of spanking a child is abuse. Their is no doubt that the right discipline at the right time can do wonders to alter a child’s perspective.

I know people who have been hit with shoes, belts, whips, ironing cords, brooms, paddles and an assortment of thrown objects. I know people who where stripped naked infront of others and then spanked. I know parents who are basically held hostage by their children. I know parents who are at the end of their rope. I know parents that need a grown up spanking. I know two twin boys, one had more spankings than the other, but the child who had far fewer spankings is the one who says that he was abused.

People have said children are out of control. Child on Child violence is increasing. Many parents and educational systems have given up and have resorted to just medicating children. Through legislation, tools such as spankings have been removed from the parental toolbox, so frustrated parents have begun to medicating their children, was this done for profit? There is a direct correlation between ADHD, the rise of child care facilities and the political correctness of “Time Out”. Medicating children essentially robs them of their youth, even with all the harm it does putting your child on drugs is seriously an encouraged parenting tool, why because it effectively gives parents the peace and quiet they value so highly. Sadly doctors and pharmaceutical manufacturers all have a hand in this lucrative method of parenting, it’s an industry and a very profitable one.

Adrian Peterson spanking with switch

Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson was indicted for whipping his four year old son. People fall on both sides of this issues, some same it is clear abuse, others say it is not so clear. As a father Adrian Peterson was the first person to acknowledge, to his son and to the mother of his son, that he may have went far. Getting whippings was how Adrian Peterson was raised, and he is and has been a star running back in the NFL. Peterson isn’t the only person who credits this physical type of punishment with keeping them on the straight and narrow path. Are we to discount the parent’s own experience, are we to disregard the parent’s self assessment of their actions? As a society don’t we want parents that evaluate what they do as parents and regulate themselves, whether they are in error or not. I heard someone say that Adrian Peterson has so much money that he could have hired a nanny to do the spanking, is that the only way for a parent to be legally safe from the pitfalls of parenting today, is that where we are as a society?
In this case, Peterson says he went too far and that is exactly what we as a society need parents to do in regards to parenting, but should he have been indicted, arrested and suspended from the NFL? People will see photos, the video and react, they wont care about context, they wont care are anything but their own judgement. But what they can’t and refuse to see is that what we have been doing a a society isn’t working. Do we bring paddling back to schools? Do we ease the laws on parents? What to do? What to do? These are not easy questions to answer, but what I know is that We as a Nation have backed the wrong policies for far too long. Whether it is knowing the harm Alcohol, and Cigarettes cause and still allowing them to be legal, Wars that we should have never been in, Rights denied people rights or denial of Military Service due to sexual orientation. It is safe to say that Americans have come down in support of wrongness for far too long a time. What I do know is that spanking conversation is something We need to have. What I do know is that knee jerk reactionist that spawned “Time Out and Medicate” have also helped ruin a generation.

As far as coach Dorsey none of us know what was going on and I don’t know if this or any situation calls for being struck with a weight belt. And since the parents were at practice the question is do others have the right to spank your child? Should this coach have followed school policy, perhaps, but if you watch or listen to the news you know that school policy has not always worked. If the case is that a variety of discipline helps to save live, are we trying to lose lives by not including spanking? Firing this coach, arresting Adrian Peterson, or the next parent won’t make the issue of how to discipline children or not to go away.

In a poll of 100 people 75% of respondents commend this coach’s action. If someone had spanked Osama Bin Laden, AIG, Bank, Automaker execs, Wall street traders and some of these politicians maybe the world and the country wouldn’t be in such bad shape. Could spankings have prevented Columbine, Newtown, Aurora, other school shootings or the shooting near the University of California, Santa Barbara? Of course no one knows, but we all know that the individuals who committed those mass murders were not spanked and we know those kind of incidences were not occurring before these stricter child protection laws. America, isn’t it time to trying something else? What would happen we started to commend parents for disciplining their children? What would happen if NEWS outlets reported that schools were allowed to used some form of corporal punishment and it was presented as a good thing?

Parenting is not an exact science but parents and the educators need more tools, not less, because if  you can’t trust parents to discipline their children, then how can you trust then to raise them.

The wrench old, rusty, brown
It was about the size of an adult’s forearm
(clinch fist included).
It was a magnificent tool intended originally
for work on aircraft, or boat screws of an over-sized nature.
But in my father’s hand the wrench was his scepter…
A scepter of power.
An intimidating disciplinary instrument
That produced hollow thuds upon impact
follow by unusually large knots, rivers of tears
and animosity.
The scepter could not be argued with
It lost childhood,
It lost:
The time he took me to the hospital when my
pajamas caught on fire.
The time he left work early when I fell through
glass and needed stitches.
The time he taught me how to throw a curve ball.

I wondered was it my fault?
Something I did?
To make father beat his first kid.
Now, it is hard to focus.
Instead of an aged man sitting in his la-z-boy,
for me there is just a hole, a black void
Bellowing smoke from a pipe.

MG Hardie ©

 

It has been said that prayer changes things, well here is my story. My four year old son has always been a free spirited soul. He runs and jumps with reckless abandon. Whenever we go shopping he always gets to get underneath our shopping cart, who knows why.

Going to school and playing in the sand are major parts of his daily activities as they should be. However, things have changed he is no longer allowed to run, throw, or hide underneath shopping carts. He is no longer allowed to play unsupervised. As parent, little did we know that something was looming undetected, something that changed everything for my son and everything for us.

A few months ago my four year old son was diagnosed with a rare eye condition. Diagnosis: Extreme Amblyopia, refractive myopia… basically he is blind in his right eye. Although this news was shocking, his mother and I developed a plan as an effort to reverse this condition. This plan includes “patching” his left eye (the 20-20 eye) for up to six hours a day, contacts, glasses, poly-carbonate lens, a lot of heart-ache and even more prayer. Needless to say the remedy and therapy were tough for the little fella, as well as us. After a few months, my son could only see about four feet in front of him and what he could see was blurry. Why was it necessary to take these extreme measures with his therapy? Because eye input controls brain function, no eye input equals no brain function. By patching the left eye it forces his brain to sort of rewire itself to make use of his right eye.

Every time I  “patched” my son, I would ask him what can you see? With a smile he would say “Dad I can see everything”, something I knew wasn’t true. If he were left unattended for any period of time he would peel off the patch so that he could peek out of the corner, or he would take out his contact because he couldn’t really see.

After two months of fighting, crying, spending and praying my son’s response changed to “Dad I can’t see” usually followed by tears.

My son’s condition is said to be so rare that he is 1 out o 125,000 children. Mind you that all of this is happening as my new book is making the round, I have been invited to do radio show, I have a regular job and other children, so what is a father to do. My son is no idiot, we often have to restrain him to put the contact in his eye. Dealing with a four year old and fear can be tricky, the first facility we went to said that they were not equipped to handle him. As parents to say that we were helpless in this situation is an understatement. I became hardcore, because I knew what was at stake for my son. So I decided to toss away my sorrow, and I remembered how I cured asthma a decade earlier and the difficulty and negativity I experienced during that process, but more on that later.

The contact goes in… no compromise and a song is born… “Don’t touch the glasses, don’t move the glasses, these are my glasses”, a melody that is sure to be a household hit.

My question to the experts was what is his prognosis? There answer: Basketball-out, Soccer-out, Football-out even Water Polo was out as well as a lot of other activities. Okay, no problem, that just means more reading and writing… Did I mention the dyslexia? Because on his eye condition my son  interprets  letters and number incorrectly.

Side note this condition also causes my son to behave what what I deem somewhat “Neanderthalish”, which is equally frustrating for everyone. He falls a lot. He gets injured every day. I don’t even know how he plays like the other kids, but my best guess is that he is using the force.

“Patching”  his good eye basically renders him sightless and forces the brain to use the unpatched eye.

1-Month: No noticeable improvement in vision, still fighting us. More singing. His 15-years old sister decides to call her older sister to apologize for all the pain she caused her when she was younger.

3 Months: Less fighting, still singing. Family members begin to realize the depth of the situation. His mother deserves a whole lot of credit.

6 Months: Hugs are given. Hope is found, routine established. The song is family wide now. Slight improvement in vision is noticeable. Attitude is up and down.

We return to the doctor. My son, with his eye patched, sits down in the chair. The doctor displays a large image on the projector and before the doctor could asked what do you see, my son excitedly exclaims “An Airplane!” His mother smiled. The doctor said “Remarkable”, I shed a single tear. six months a ago he saw four feet in front of him. The doctor said that his improvement was exponential and he was amazed at how fast this approach seemed to be working.

I held my son’s hand as we left the doctor’s office. As we walked back towards the car he asked me for some gum. I said “No gum”. He said, “But dad I listened to the doctor, I didn’t cry and now we are leaving the doctors. I need some gum.” His response stopped me in my tracks because I realized that he recalled the conversation we had when we initially tried to put the contact in six months ago. He actually remembered the conversation verbatim. He would later performed the same memory trick on his mother, in regard to when his patching for the day would be over. Perhaps,the side-effect of the therapy is an improved memory. I picked up my son, hugged and kissed him and said “You know what son… you can have some gum”.

Prayer really does change everything.

*Make sure you get your child’s eyes checked early as possible*

Update: a year into the patching and eye improvement has stunted. Decide to patch 20 hours a day. Kindergartner is extremely trying.

Update: A year in a half into patching Experts agree to abandon patching is no longer working. We decide on whether to hold him back or push him forward in school.

Update: We decide to push him forward. He is slowly catching up.

 

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I am Daddy, overworked and under appreciated.
The one who let's you sleep late on Saturday and got your
 hair braided.
I am the homework harasser, face washer, with a little twist of bath.
I am the one you told new jokes too, just to see if I would laugh.
I am the one who helped you with History and introduced you to
  relatives you never knew.
And I am the one who spanked you when you filled your aunties
  eye with glue.
I am Daddy, I leave ideas out there for you, to linger.
I am the one who takes care of you when you are sick
  and bandage fingers.
I am the one with little to no income,
 but of every crumb I have, you've had some.
I am the one who lost arguments just to save face.
I am the one who told you not to play so much
  and how to say Grace.
I am the one always pushing, challenging you to do your best.
I taught you how to read, ride a bike, and how to play chess.
I am Daddy, killer of spiders and builder of tents.
I am the one who taught you the difference between
  two nickels and ten cents.
I am the one who showed you how to go to bed without
  any light.
Without me your shoes would slip off because they wouldn't
  be tied tight.
I am Daddy discipliner extraordinaire, the one you told about your
  fears and dreams.
The who who told you that you're not as slick as you think
  and that things aren't as bad as they seem.
I am Daddy... And I love you.