The abuse incident involving Adrian Peterson of the NFL's Minnesota Vikings is just awful. There's no other way around it. Child abuse is one of those issues we all must take seriously, regardless of if you have children or work with children. I couldn't be more saddened by the pictures I have seen that are allegedly of Peterson's son after a beating. Now it seems everybody and their grandmother has an opinion about Adrian Peterson. I have held back discussing my opinion in public until now. Here's why.
My wife and I do not believe in spanking. Our intention is to not use it as part of our parenting. We feel we can be effective without it. My mother was opposed to the use of belts and switches, but did spank me. My grandmother, on the other hand, used switches and belts on my mother and on me. One of my most salient memories of my grandmother is when she made me prepare a switch she was going to use to "tan my hide". She laid into me pretty good that day. It was actually uncomfortable for me to sit for a day after that beating. Listen, my grandmother was a flawed woman. That's a fact, because we all are. There are a lot of things she said and did, including that switch beating, with which I had major issues and concerns. There were many Saturday visits to Granny's as an adult that were more debate than anything else. There were phone calls that ended abruptly on my end based on something she said that cut me to the core. Despite this, I loved her and think fondly of her to this day. May she rest in peace.
So, this whole Adrian Peterson thing has become somewhat challenging for me, and I really don't want it to be. Based on the information we have been given through the media, it certainly seems Peterson was excessive in his spanking, and has been rightly accused. But, it is surprisingly painful to hear him criticized. It feels like an indictment on how I was raised. It feels like people are taking shots at my grandmother without knowing her, and I am still having difficulty processing that. Not about what Peterson did, but about the accusations so many are making about people like my grandmother. It seems that for some, this incident might be very easy to label and compartmentalize. For me, however, it's just not that simple. I really wish it were. What I have learned is that I am not quite ready to condemn my grandmother, and that is hard to admit. But, as I stated before, we are all flawed. Perhaps my desire to not demonize my grandmother anymore than I already have is my flaw.
For further reading, please read this brilliant piece written by Dr. Michael Eric Dyson for the New York Times.