...[M]y grandmother...was my first acting teacher. She told me, "Stand up straight, shoulders back. Act like you've got some sense." We would go places and I was wild-eyed. She said, "Act like you've been someplace." And when I would act the fool she would whip me. And she could get an Oscar for the way she whipped me because she was great at it. And after she would whip me she would talk to me and tell me why she whipped me, that "I want you to be a Southern gentleman."Yet in this morning's Dallas Morning News, a reader wrote in with a letter that totally rained on Sunday night's parade...
Where do you draw the line? If Jamie Foxx were a little boy today living in poverty, abandoned by his parents, raised by a grandmother who beat him, as he said, "worthy of an Oscar, herself," would you still be lauding her?
More likely, he would be removed from the home and placed in foster care, and grandma would be arrested on child abuse charges. Apparently, it is true that he who has the gold (Oscar) rules – or at least allows you to rewrite them.
Read the whole thing (scroll down to the headline that says "Don't praise child abuse").
OK, have we gone off the deep end here? It seems as though Foxx turned out more than OK, despite the "whippings," and he didn't feel as though he was being abused. Reading this letter really made me think hard about the whole issue of corporal punishment. Is it always child abuse, no matter what, or only when the parents employ it out of anger? I alluded to this in a post last week (except I accidentally referred to capital punishment at first; thanks to Gary for catching that), and now I'm beginning to wonder if it's possible for the pendulum to swing back...or if we, as a society, want that.
The big difference between many kids now and kids when i was in school is the lack of respect for any sort of authority at all. I think what seems to be missing is that little sense of fear, which may have come about because actions don't seem to have any real consequences anymore. I know that I saw the business end of Mom's Kappa Delta paddle way too many times as a kid (and it was the happiest day of my young life when she somehow lost said paddle...and I had nothing to do with that, honestly!). My parents never hit me in anger, it was never more than a few times, and it only happened when i did something really, really bad. (And of course there was always the spectre of getting "swats" at school too, which sounded even less fun; I was a really good kid at school, if for no other reason than that.) I also think the prospect of having that happen again colored the decisions I made later on...to the extent that, even now, I judge whether or not I decide to do something by whether or not I might "get in trouble" for doing so. Granted, the adult ramifications of being in "trouble" are different, but that little element of fear helped in the formation of my moral compass. I wonder what can replace that healthy fear now that corporal punishment seems to have been put on the taboo list.
There's a balance to be found here; I know there is. What can be done to keep kids in line if spanking has all but been outlawed? I'm glad I'm sitting here thinking this through now, before I even think of having kids. So please, join me in the discussion. Here are my questions at the moment:
--Were you spanked as a kid? If so, did it ever get out of hand?
--Would/do you spank your own kids?
--Is there a difference between corporal punishment and child abuse? Is it possible to do the former without it leading to the latter?
--If corporal punishment is an idea that's past its time, what else can be done to instill that healthy sense of fear that seems to be missing from many young people today?
--And finally, am I all wet on this topic? Is this even a major factor in the bad behavior and lack of respect exhibited by many kids today, or is something else a much bigger contributor to the problem?
Your turn. Fire away...