Every since the Adrian Peterson images surfaced last week, I’ve seen too many conversations where people have justified spanking a 4-year old in this manner. The common rationalization is my mom [parent/caregiver] spanked me and I turned out alright. Some people even asserted that they’ve been spanked far worse than Peterson spanked his son and nobody called the cops on their parents. They, whoever that is, is only doing this to Peterson because he is Black.
Children are Innocent and Should Be Protected
How about Peterson is under investigation because he allegedly abused a child?
We stand. We march. We debate when we feel like White America is victimizing our youth with police brutality, an unfair justice system and the denial of good jobs. But, when it is time for us to protect the weakest among us we conveniently find someone else to blame. Instead of blaming Ray Rice for knocking out his then fiancé Janay, we blamed the victim. We even justify Rice’s actions because Janay hit him first. Adrian Peterson’s child was hardheaded so he needed his butt beat.
Better Ray to tap that a** now than the police later. “Children should be disciplined. Criminals should be punished,” is something my mom use to tell my stepfather when my sisters and I were children. He was one of those people who believed that because his mom was aggressive in her discipline approach then he should do the same. His intentions were good but the execution of his approach was wrong, and possibly anger driven.
So many Black Americans are the product of slavery so the culture of slavery still haunts us and litters our culture with the violence of oppression. Our mothers and grandmothers were disciplined by their mothers and grandmother, who learned how to punish from brutal masters and overseers who viewed them as property. Their lives worth less than the mangy mutts used as guard dogs. There was no love; only the need to force an entire race into submission.
And, our fathers—were absent, just as they are now.
How the Absence of Prepared and Competent Fathers is Damaging the Black Community
Before you think Black people are not the only one suffering from fatherless homes please note that I am writing this from the perspective of a Black woman who is concerned about the state of the Black family. I am concerned about the world-at-large but believe that charity, or in this case, perspective begins at home.
Perspective is where every person’s truth begins. My truth is that I wholeheartedly believe that children, the elderly and the mentally ill should be protected at all cost—every cost. The reason I feel this way is due to several events, or series of events, that I have experienced first hand or seen in my own life. These reasons are neither here nor there but relate clearly to why I believe the absence of prepared and competent fathers is damaging the Black community.
Where I’m from—Crawford, Mississippi a small town in the Northeastern part of the state—you can say what you want about a person’s father but if you speak negatively about a person’s mother, even if it’s the truth, that is grounds for a fight. Not just a fight, a knock out drag down dual to death or at the very least the offender would never be spoken to again by the offended. Don’t talk about my momma. This is true for girls, but especially true for boys.
These boys grow into men who are 100% devoted to protecting, defending and caring for Mama. I know of instances where men will make sure their able bodied mother is taken care of before he takes care of the child he had with the lady up the street. Come hell or high water, if he has to sell drugs, work two jobs or play sports so well that he is drafted to a professional sports team, he will take care of his mama. Think about all of the NBA and NFL draft press conferences you’ve seen. Almost every Black man credits his mother, who took care of him when his father walked away, with his success. If you look around you, every day men give their mother’s the same credit. How do you say that Mama [grandma/grandpa/caregiver], the person who gave up everything for me, was wrong for beating me the way she did or for allowing me to watch her be physically, mentally and emotionally abused?
You don’t. It would be blasphemy so you shut up and model the behavior. She loved me enough to spank me—no to beat me. I’m a successful [INSERT CAREER HERE]. I turned out alright so if I treat my children the exact same way they will be successful, too. Right?
Every person is different. What worked for you as a child might have a negative effect on your own children. I have two sisters who were raised in the house with me and our home life experience impacted us in different ways. No two people are the same so discipline cannot be the same. And, when you know better you should do better. Some of the things our parents did to us was wrong. It is ok to admit that. It is ok to say that the woman who raised you when your own father walked out on you was wrong. It is okay to not beat your children. It is okay to be kind to them. It is okay to show love to them. It is okay to admit that you need a co-parent.
Fathers being present participants in their children’s lives gives accountability to both parents. You have someone to bounce ideas off of while examining the baggage—good and bad—that you bring into parenting. Two present parents also lets a child know that she has more than one person to rely on—therefore being overly committed to one person or ideals is less of a factor. You can objectively look at your life and say, I know my mom did all that she knew how but it made me feel unloved and I never want my children to feel that way. Or, my dad was wrong for saying this to me. I know he loved me but I don’t want to say things that will hurt my children.
While single mothers do a good job raising their children, the same children need their fathers to give them a sense of balance.