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Adrian Peterson & disciplining children
Old 09-16-2014, 07:16 PM   #1
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Adrian Peterson & disciplining children

Recent publicity surrounding the indictment of Adrian Peterson (NFL running back) on felony child abuse charges for using corporal discipline on his son has sparked some interesting discussions with colleagues at work and my siblings about parenting & disciplining one's children.

Rather than focusing on Peterson's guilt or innocence, I thought it be might interesting to hear about the experiences of others. How were you parented in terms of boundaries and what discipline(s) did your parents use? And similarly, how did you choose to parent your kids?

My experiences growing up - along with DB & DS - our parents took an "old school" approach. The boundaries were clear:

- Children are to be seen & not heard (yes, those words were spoken to us by mom & dad).
- Parents & children are not equals.
- Parents are not their children's friends.
- Democracy was NOT a form of governance in our home. Under our roof it was a monarchy and us kids were the "loyal subjects".
- Dad's favorite and often used expression directed at us kids, "you are low men on the totem pole around here".
- Another favorite from Mom & Dad "When I want your opinion, I'll ask for it."

Acting out in our home resulted in various consequences up to and including "the belt" (Dad's version) or Mom grabbing whatever was handy and whacking us with it.

None of us kids ever felt as though we had been abused in any way and grew up grateful for the fact we had a stable home and parents that loved us.

DB never had kids of his own. DS & I, along with our spouses largely parented our children similar to our parents, though we may have been slightly more lenient. The only piece of parenting advice from my now dearly departed Dad was given shortly after our first child was born - "it's okay for kids to be a little bit afraid of their parents." I have to agree that fear - in its proper context - can be a healthy thing. That's where Dad was going with his remark....

All of our children have grown up to be responsible, hard working adults (though I think parents sometimes take too much credit for their kid's successes and often have to shoulder too much blame if they become ne'er do wells). Our two sons - who at times hated us during their teen years, thinking our parenting was too strict - have since told us how much they appreciated us making them toe the mark, so to speak. Both were challenging to raise in terms of being strong-headed, independent cusses who were at time inclined to challenge the status quo at home!

Just curious about the experiences of others if you're willing to share.

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Old 09-16-2014, 07:42 PM   #2
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I was spanked, rarely over a knee, more often just in "passing" if I was being "smart" or not doing what I was told. I think it lasted until I was about 8, and it was effective. I was definitely a little bit afraid of my dad in a healthy respect kind of way and didn't want to make him mad. I didn't want to disappoint my mom, but I didn't really have any fear of her.

What Peterson did appeared to be something I hope to avoid if/when we have kids, and that is "discipline" out of anger. He went over the top. I struggle with this (discipline when "angry") with our dogs as we're housetraining them, but I am becoming more patient as I understand why they do what they do and what I need to do to teach them otherwise.

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Old 09-16-2014, 07:48 PM   #3
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My father used to beat my older brothers with a rubber hose (no bruises). They did not attend his funeral.

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Old 09-16-2014, 08:26 PM   #4
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We were rarely spanked, but were always aware it was a possibility and certainly heard stories (possibly embellished) from our friends. Moved once to a new school and were told we were fortunate the district just ended corporal punishment the year before we arrived, so it used to be a lot more common that it is now. Never knew anyone with cuts from being beaten with a switch or marks like in the news on legs, back, scrotum (who can even imagine doing that to a 4 year old) and hands. I think there's room for debate on parenting and whether some corporal punishment is appropriate, but what's being reported here is far outside of acceptable and looks like assault at least.
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Old 09-16-2014, 08:55 PM   #5
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Remember reading a 1990s 'article' discussing corporal punishment in school and comparing how corporal punishment in the 'corporate world' might look. The author took a light and humorous view of it.

I only worked at one company where you believed threats of physical violance were real. I never got hit, threats were common, screaming impossible acts to do. Worst was one co-boss actually spat in my face. I'm glad I left that horrible job.

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Old 09-16-2014, 09:29 PM   #6
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candrew, I thought you might be one of my siblings when I read your OP but then I see you are from Peoria and none of my siblings live in Peoria so I guess not. What you describe is very similar to my upbringing - the ultimate in corporal punishment was "the belt". And if you don't like it here don't let the door hit you in the a** on your way out.

We were more liberal with our kids and corporal punishment was rare.

That said, a switch seems a bit much to me, particularly to put bruises on a 4 year old! Too much IMO - but I think it is important to let the investigation and justice system do their part rather than rush to judgement without the whole story.
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Old 09-16-2014, 09:42 PM   #7
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I feel nearly exactly the opposite as the OP.

- We were to be very heard, it was important to share our feelings and assert ourselves and our place in the home and life.
- Parents & children are not equals, but individuals based on their merit. My mom didn't have authority based solely on the fact that she pushed us out, but based on the struggles she'd overcome and her kindness to all around. She feels we all need to earn respect, including in the household.
- My parents were very much my friends. Anything that goes on in my life, even from a young age, they were always there to listen if I chose to speak about it.
- Democracy was a primary form a government in our home. Everyone got a say on the choices we could change. No one was made to feel helpless.
- My mom never needed to outright put us in our place, or give us a place at all. Back to individuality, we have all been allowed to pursue what we wish within our means, no totem pole or status labels.
- See #1. We were always very open with our opinions, working together as individuals with different experiences. She instilled in us that it's important to always take into account that we have different thoughts, feelings, and experiences, and no one should be ignored, even if they haven't done as much or as well as someone else.

As far as discipline went, through elementary school we got our butts whooped, but never anything to the extent of Peterson's child with lasting injuries. It was only when we were mean or cruel, and never really all that bad. They pretty much stopped the second our awareness of self and others as individuals kicked in.

We have nothing but respect and love for our mother. She got that from us not by being strict but by being so relentlessnessly kind, generous, hard working, and helpful to everyone around. There's not fear, but empowerment. I make much larger goals and dream bigger dreams knowing she'll always be there if it doesn't work out. So far so good, but I'm very young.

The advice she's given to us, not about parenting as she's not a grandmother yet, but just as people is "Never be ashamed to fully enjoy what you have earned. Also never forget those who haven't experienced success yet. Always hold compassion in your heart for those who haven't found the wisdom and confidence to find their purpose in this world. You are all so special and gifted, please use it to make the world a little brighter." She wrote it to us and I've kept it.

Two of my DBs are still in high school, but I and older DB are out, functional, and hard working. I agree that parents can often shoulder too much on the nurture side of that argument. It seems that functional, well-adjusted people tend to breed functional, well-adjusted people regardless of parenting style.

I point out again though, that we're a very young family and so this can all change!
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Old 09-17-2014, 12:11 AM   #8
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My parents did spank me, mostly with their hand. I do recall my mom using a hair brush a couple of times.

Did I think it was abuse at the time? No.

And, I don't think it was abuse now. It never bruised me or broke the skin and for me that would be the point where I see it as abuse. Light spanking that doesn't bruise or break the skin, I don't see as abuse.

But -- I also don't think it is good parenting either. With my own children I did not spank. I never believed in spanking. I resented my parents for spanking and I felt even back then that I would not do it if I had kids. I've never changed my mind.

I think that spanking sends the wrong message to kids. It tells kids that violence and hitting is an appropriate way to discipline and resolve differences. I don't think that is a good message. Spanking may "work" in the sense of a child may decide not to do X because he might get spanked otherwise. But, the underlying message -- it is OK to hit someone -- is one that I never wanted to send to my kids (they are all adult now).

I happened to be looking at this study:

Relationships between parents' use of corpo... [Child Abuse Negl. 2010] - PubMed - NCBI

Basically this found that children in families that use corporal punishment are much more likely to use aggressive problem solving than children in families that did not use corporal punishment.
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Old 09-17-2014, 03:12 AM   #9
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When I was in residency we had a 5 year old patient who was beaten so badly we took care if him in the burn unit. He had a severe infection from his wounds and also beriberi, a disease due to thiamine deficiency and is seem in third world prisons and in refugees.

A few years ago I remember taking care of a girl in the ER whose mother had beaten her with a belt. She was was covered with bruises and open sores. It was horrifying. Her mother was arrested and she was placed with other family members.

We're talking about a 200+ lb professional football player assaulting his own child who probably weighs less than 40 pounds, leaving bruises and wounds that will leave scars. The internal scars are even worse. This is abuse. This is an assault.

The last time my dad spanked me, I was six years old. I actually remember thinking it was wrong to do that. I don't remember the supposed offense I committed but I also already knew I was a well behaved child. I was really offended at his behavior but said nothing. I lost respect for him from that moment on.

My husband and I never struck our son. We employed time out techniques and his last time out was when he was six. Even during those supposedly difficult teen years there were no arguments in our house. After school DS hit the homework and frequently asked for help, especially with chemistry and calculus. No discipline problems at all. Ditto my pediatrician colleagues. We have terrific relationships with our grown and almost grown children.

There is no excuse for beating a child. Even spanking is not effective. It just seems like it at the time. It is far more effective to lead by example, to teach the golden rule by walking the talk. Children should not live in fear of their parents.

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Old 09-17-2014, 07:25 AM   #10
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I received my share of spankings, being a mischievous sort. Can't say it harmed me permanently, but also didn't prove to be effective. Worse than spankings was humiliation, such as the old "circle on the chalkboard, insert nose" routine.

I believe violence should be the last resort, so unless a parent feels threatened, find another way to discipline. We're the "big people", and should be able to find better ways...
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Old 09-17-2014, 08:10 AM   #11
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I didn't get spanked or hit as a child.

I do remember corporal discipline though as in grade school (Catholic school) at one point there was this teacher who was hired and his main job wasn't to teach, but to lay out the punishment. I didn't experience any first hand, but heard stories of how kids got roughed up by him.

My own belief is if things have come to the point where corporal discipline is needed, the situation is already a bit out of control.

Positive reinforcement tends to work better than punishment.
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Old 09-17-2014, 08:13 AM   #12
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It wasn't the whuppin', it was having to go out to the willow tree and pick out the switch. But that in turn nurtured my analytical tendencies (determining the smallest switch acceptable), which led to a successful career in computers and helped pave the way to FIRE. So I guess that proves violence against children is good.
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Old 09-17-2014, 08:26 AM   #13
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I was spanked very infrequently by my dad (2-3 time in my life). When he did it (with a belt), I remembered it and certainly did not want it to happen again. I am guessing it happened last when I was 8-9 years old.

With my mother, it was usually a weekly occurrence. I gave her much more grief than my dad because she would mostly just scream and yell, then could never "catch me" to administer a whipping. I would just leave the house and by the time I came back, she would have calmed down and the furor of the event was normally over (usually because I finally did what she was asking me to do (chores)). When she did whip me it usually was with whatever was handy. Yardsticks, wooden spoon, pulling hair, etc....usually did not really hurt me. A few times, she used a wire coat hanger. This went to the "abuse" stage as every whack with that thing would open up the skin across my back and usually bleed. On a couple instances, it got out of hand and I looked like somebody who had taken 20 lashes! She usually felt bad about it later that same day and normally led to a conversation with my dad.

I have one daughter. I spanked her on the bottom with my hand less than 5 times in my life. These were all when she was very young and endangering herself in some way. Always, after trying other forms of discipline. She rarely ever gave me an reason to discipline her in any way. I have been lucky to have a great kid.
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Old 09-17-2014, 08:51 AM   #14
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I was swatted on the butt by my Dad a few times and it emphasized the order of my transgression. More a wakeup call than anything else. Immediate consequence. I did wrong, bad thing happened. I don't remember it hurting, but it was great punctuation.
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Old 09-17-2014, 09:02 AM   #15
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I had to look up the term "switch". Definitely no abuse like that towards me as a child. I was a very quiet and polite kid that almost never got in trouble. Don't remember any spankings let alone beatings.
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Old 09-17-2014, 09:08 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by aaronc879 View Post
I had to look up the term "switch". Definitely no abuse like that towards me as a child. I was a very quiet and polite kid that almost never got in trouble. Don't remember any spankings let alone beatings.
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Old 09-17-2014, 09:12 AM   #17
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I was threatened with Dad's belt, but I don't recall him ever hitting me with it. Nevertheless, he was very good at striking fear in me. His motto, my house/my rules.

For our kids, we never hit them and they never caused a problem and turned out fine.
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Old 09-17-2014, 09:20 AM   #18
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I was never hit, and never hit my kids. This violence against children is not for discipline, it's to express the parent's anger and frustration. IMO, it is wrong.

If the NFL takes it upon itself to reform these characters that play football it will really have its hands full.

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Old 09-17-2014, 09:30 AM   #19
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The latest news with Peterson says he's barred from all Minnesota Vikings team activities. He will get almost $700,000 per week not to play or practice until his abuse case is resolved.
Adrian Peterson will continue to get paid $691,176.50 a week not to play - Sep. 17, 2014
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Old 09-17-2014, 09:37 AM   #20
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My dad made a sort of "cat of nine tails" out of the old nylon covered clothes line and hung it on a last rights cross that we had in our kitchen. he used it a few times but mostly it was just there for show. When we were acting up, he'd reached for it and we would run. Mom should have bought stock in wooden spoons. She broke a bunch of them chasing my brother and I around the house.


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