It was a chilly night. I got into my husband’s Buick and uttered a sigh of frustration when I saw the gas light on and the meter hanging below “E”. I prayed that the car wouldn’t stop as I made my way to the gas station. When I arrived, I walked in, put $20 on pump #6, and was alarmed to hear a woman towards the back of the store yelling at small children in an abrasive manner. I watched her scoot 3 little boys, one who had tears streaming down his face, ranging from around 3 to 6 years of age, out the door and towards her car, as she continued to yell “OOOOH ya’ll get on my NERVES!” with the “nerves” being emphasized in a high-pitched rolling tone. She went ahead and pumped her gas, and then she yanked open the back passenger door to allow one of the little boys out.
“If you want something you betta go and get it now! Hurry UUUUP! Go! Get OUT!” she continued to harp. The little boy looked to be around 4 years old, he slowly got out of the car, and as he walked he dried his tears with the back of his hand.
“And you betta hurry up and I mean it!” The woman, who at this point I assumed to be the grandmother, had absolutely no modesty in how she publicly disciplined those boys. Obvious from her volume, angry and annoyed facial expressions, and the continuation of emotional outbursts, she had no shame in her game. And just when I thought I had heard enough, she turned her head to watch the little boy enter the gas station, and called after him, “CRY BABY!”
I was sadly shocked, and thought to myself, no wonder these little boys are growing into men who have forced themselves to be emotionally desensitized with little to no capability of showing genuine vulnerability, leaving their wives and significant others crying into their pillows at night wondering why their husbands can’t talk to them, can’t demonstrate loving affection without being “soft”, and thus feeling utterly alone in what should be a blissful companionship. I had to ask myself, did I just really witness a 50+ woman patronizing little kids?
The truth is, a ton of adults and a ton of children have been and are being raised by verbally, emotionally, and/or physically abusive parents. And although some of those parents aren’t intentionally abusive, they perform acts of discipline that they themselves were directly taught by their own parents, who were in turn taught by their parents, leaving many of those affected believing its no big deal and legitimate ways to raise mindful, respectful children who essentially fears them. When does this cycle end?
Do you recall NFL star Adrian Peterson’s arrest in the fall of 2014 for whipping his then 4-year-old son with a tree branch? He had no personal convictions of that method of “disciplining” his son with a tree branch because he endured the same forms of correction from his parents. Gregory McNeal, a contributor to Forbes.com, covered this story here and quoted Peterson’s lawyer as saying:
Adrian is a loving father who used his judgment as a parent to discipline his son. He used the same kind of discipline with his child that he experienced as a child growing up in East Texas.
Regardless of Peterson’s intention, regardless of how much he loves his son, he crossed the line and was physically abusive!
On the other hand, abuse does not always leave physical scars. Over the past week, I’ve seen a clip from The Dr Phil Show that originally aired over 4 years ago, going viral on my Facebook timeline with friends and friends of friends debating on whether or not the measures of discipline this mom uses in the video below are abusive. Warning: this video may be hard to watch.
If you actually made it through all of the video, I did not, what do you believe? Is this abusive? Is this good old “tough love” discipline? Do you believe her methods are ok but just went a little too far? If you believe this is not abuse, Jessica Beagley, a 36 year old Alaskan mother of six, was actually convicted of child abuse by a jury of 3 men and 3 women.
Facebook comments in support of this mom’s tactics:
Betty S.: Not Abuse. My mom would [have beat] my tail and explained later.. That’s what’s wrong now days. Everybody think everything abuse..
Trey L. : Too many people worry too much about how people raise their own children. Great job MOM. There are too many kids in this world now a days that have NO RESPECT for their parents. Parents now a days are such push overs for fear of getting “In Trouble” for trying to correct their kids. If you do something wrong then you should face the consequences. There is no physical harm to this kid. The only thing hurt was his pride and that’s exactly what it was meant to hurt. Worry about raising your own children into push overs while the real parents out there teach their kids respect.
These comments are highlighted above because they represent adults who seem to believe that discipline and punishment mean the same thing, that if you don’t agree with harsh correction then you are raising “soft” and disrespectful children, and that the methods used by Beagley represent strong parenting.
JUST BECAUSE YOUR PARENTS DID IT DOESN’T MAKE IT RIGHT….
- JUST BECAUSE YOU TURNED OUT “OK” BY RECEIVING WHIPPINGS WITH TREE BRANCHES DOESN’T MAKE IT RIGHT.
- JUST BECAUSE YOU GOT YELLED AT FOR EVERYTHING VS BEING TALKED TO, DOESN’T MAKE IT RIGHT.
- JUST BECAUSE YOUR PARENTS WASHED YOUR MOUTH OUT WITH SOAP DOESN’T MAKE IT RIGHT.
- JUST BECAUSE YOU WERE FORCED TO HOLD “HOT SAUCE” IN YOUR MOUTH FOR A PERIOD OF TIME DOESN’T MAKE IT RIGHT.
- JUST BECAUSE YOU WERE INSTRUCTED TO STRIP YOUR CLOTHES AS A 4 YEAR OLD CHILD AND STAND IN THE SHOWER WHILE COLD WATER BLASTS ALL OVER YOUR FRAIL BODY DOESN’T MAKE IT RIGHT.
- JUST BECAUSE YOUR PARENTS DID NOT HESITATE TO SOCK/POP/SLAP YOU IN YOUR FACE OR “BEAT YOU DOWN WITH NO EXPLANATION” DOESN’T MAKE IT RIGHT.
There are SO many adults walking around here with parts of their mind, body, and soul still broken from their child rearing. Adults who in turn lash out at their loved ones when their temper is hot because they were never shown how to take some time and calm down. Teens and young adults resorting to verbal assaults, their fists, and weapons to make people pay for offending them. Adults paralyzed from fear of letting someone in because they are afraid of getting hurt because their parents, the ones who are supposed to demonstrate unconditional love rejected them, ignored them, patronized them, and isolated them during times they weren’t the perfect child. Parents…how you treat, discipline, and show that you love (or don’t love) your child will stay with them for the rest of their lives!
Don’t you see that children are GOD ’s best gift? the fruit of the womb his generous legacy? Like a warrior’s fistful of arrows are the children of a vigorous youth. Oh, how blessed are you parents, with your quivers full of children! Your enemies don’t stand a chance against you; you’ll sweep them right off your doorstep.
Psalm 127:3-5 MSG
Stop telling your children that they are dumb, stupid, not good enough, can’t measure up to, or just like their dead beat daddy. Stop negatively comparing them to their siblings or other children. Stop feeding them poisonous words that will take root in their spirit.
Parenting is challenging! We all, including myself, lose our temper. Most of us all yell way more than necessary. Some of us need to take a personal time out to cool down before spanking our children to avoid lashing out in anger and crossing the line. Some of us need to remember that raising our children up in the ways of the Lord, teaching them the word of God, taking them to church so they can learn amongst their peers in a fun and age appropriate manner, is what is commanded of us by the Lord.
Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6