I am the youngest of ten siblings that grew up in the great state of Texas. My parents did the best they could with what little they had to raise seven boys and three girls over the span of four decades. So I can tell you that I know how children in the South get disciplined. However, I can honestly say that I was never hit by either of my parents.
Not because I wasn’t a pain or caused trouble, but because my father stopped hitting his children after he whipped one of my older brothers with a belt so badly that he changed his parenting style. My brother came home drunk one night, and on that evening he got beat so badly, that my dad thought it would be best never to discipline his children by using a belt, stick, shoe, hanger or switch. My father learned the lesson that Adrian Peterson, running back for the Minnesota Vikings, is only learning now. There are other ways to discipline your children besides bruising, cutting and marking them up with a belt or switch.
In the days after my brother Jessie got his beating, the most my father ever did was yell, and that was bad enough. That being said, I have two daughters, ages 13 and seven that I have had to discipline from time to time. I knew immediately that I never wanted to inflict the kind of pain that my father once did to my children, but both have received stern spankings followed by timeouts and talks as to why they were being punished. Not once did it occur to me to use anything other than my open hand to deliver those spankings so I cannot understand why Peterson felt it necessary to use a switch or tree branch to hit his four-year old son.
I know that this is how Peterson himself was disciplined as a child, and having witnessed my brother’s beating at the hands of our father, I understand how parents from the South punished their children in the past. But that was a long time ago. That was a time when guys would stand around in the school gym shower and laugh with one another as they bragged about which one of them had the biggest marks and who got the worst beating for the least mistake.
Many are saying that Peterson is getting off lightly – that his punishment does not fit the crime. So the NFL has decided to do what the legal system could or would not. They have suspended the running back for the remainder of the 2014 NFL season and has said that Peterson will be monitored closely before being reinstated into the league. I do not believe the NFL is doing the right thing.
I love my son. I love my kids, my family. Like I said after I took the misdemeanor plea, I take full responsibility for my actions. I regret the situation. I love my son more than any one of you could even imagine.”
Please do not get me wrong. What Adrian Peterson did to his son was bad. No, it was reprehensible. It was disgusting and disturbing. It was a beating from a different era that has no place in today’s world and it is not an acceptable form of discipline in today’s society. But since when did the NFL become larger than our legal system? How can they discipline a player because they believe he has not properly shown remorse?
Has anyone in the NFL’s office spent time with Adrian Peterson since he was placed on the Commissioner’s Exempt List? Has anyone seen or talked privately with Peterson since his no-contest plea to a misdemeanor reckless assault charge? How can anyone at the NFL offices (this being NFL Commission Roger Goodell) release a statement saying Peterson has shown ‘‘no meaningful remorse’’ for hurting his son?
In an exclusive interview with USA Today, Peterson said, “I won’t ever use a switch again. There’s different situations where a child needs to be disciplined as far as timeout, taking their toys away, making them take a nap. There’s so many different ways to discipline your kids.”
In the interview, Peterson also wanted to debunk Goodell’s remarks saying that his main focus now is to repair his relationship with his son and try to make people understand that his remorse is real.
“No one knows how I felt when I turned my child around after spanking him and seeing what I had left on his leg,” Peterson said. “No one knows that Dad sat there and apologized to him, hugged him and told him that I didn’t mean to do this to you and how sorry I was.”
“I love my son. I love my kids, my family. Like I said after I took the misdemeanor plea, I take full responsibility for my actions. I regret the situation. I love my son more than any one of you could even imagine.”
I agree with Peterson. Nobody knows what he, his son or his family have felt or have gone through during this difficult time. I do not know how Commissioner Goodell or anyone in the league office can tell me they know what a person is feeling or going through.
The NFL Players Association has appealed Peterson’s suspension. In their appeal, the NFLPA wrote, “The decision by the NFL to suspend Adrian Peterson is another example of the credibility gap that exists between the agreements they make and the actions they take. Since Adrian’s legal matter was adjudicated, the NFL has ignored their obligations and attempted to impose a new and arbitrary disciplinary proceeding.”
It is most likely that the Minnesota Vikings will not welcome Peterson back onto the team even if he is reinstated by the league office.
What more can the NFL do but take Peterson at his word and believe when he says “I won’t ever use a switch again.” I feel that Peterson, like my father did on his own, has learned a valuable lesson and hopefully the NFL can take this situation and learn how best to discipline its players as well.