I just read a piece about Tua Tagovailoa, the transcendent quarterback of the Alabama Crimson Tide. Because the piece was on Deadspin, Gabe Fernandez chose to focus on what he loftily proclaimed was the “shitty parenting”, especially by Tua’s father Galu. Tua said the that his dad would spank him with a belt for bad performances, and that he was raised by “the Bible and the belt.” So if his upbringing was so “shitty”, why doesn’t he resent his dad, the Bible or the discipline? Ah contraire, even the same writer admits he idolizes his dad. Tua also loves the Bible and his Christian upbringing. Where’s the anger, the depression, the bitterness that the pundits of our oh so healthy culture say is the inevitable result of “hitting your kids?”
A loving spanking is not hitting. When we were raising our three daughters, we studied the art of spanking and how it fit into a program of loving discipline. The rules we observed were: never discipline while you are angry; never make discipline about you or your feelings; spanking is not for accidental behavior, like spilling the milk, unless the child deliberately did it as an act of rebellion or defiance; if the parents believe that a spanking is appropriate, they should make sure that they are in a spirit of calm and love; you begin by asking the child what they did wrong or what they are being punished for, and if they don’t know or understand, explain it. Example: “you broke your sister’s toy after we told you to leave it alone. “You knowingly disobeyed and broke something that was not yours.” Depending upon the child’s age, you protect their modesty by leaving their bottom covered while you spank. Never use your hand, but rather a flexible rod, which will sting but not injure. Administer only enough spanks to turn their heart and attitude to repentance, to break the rebellion. How will you know? Our requirement was that our daughters would say, “I was wrong for ___________, will you forgive me?” Then you hug and tell her you love her. Saying I’m sorry is NOT the same as admitting to how you wronged someone–it is NOT adequate. What passes for an apology in our enlightened world–“I apologize” or “I’m sorry” doesn’t touch the heart and does not indicate repentance. It is meaningless.
If your child refuses to admit their wrong, or to ask for forgiveness, or to hug you back, the rebellion is not broken. Now I need to be very clear on what you are trying to accomplish. Every person has a will and a spirit. Socialization is a process of training their will to desire harmony, honesty, cooperation and other mature attitudes, without injuring their spirit. Anger, yelling and name calling crush the spirit without any beneficial effect on the will. Spanking is designed for directing the will, and if administered lovingly, will not injure the spirit. The resentment, anger, depression and rebellion we see so often among teenagers are symptoms of an injured or crushed spirit. Lashing out in anger, or yelling at and cursing the child, will reliably produce anti social attitudes and behavior. When I returned from Vietnam, I lived in a low income neighborhood in Philadelphia. I would pick up trash from the pavement on my way to the bus daily, and would see kids just throwing trash on the ground. When I would say, “this is our neighborhood, why would you want to mess it up?” The answer I got most of the time was some variation of “if the Man doesn’t care about how I live, why should I?” Of course, I would say “the Man doesn’t live here, we do.” All that ever accomplished was curses or being shown a gun in the waistband.
I wondered at such an attitude, then one day in a convenience store I saw a probable answer. There was a little boy, probably 8 or so, who was reaching for a bag of chips that his mother didn’t want. She smacked him in the mouth and yelled at him, then pushed him away. Maybe she thought she was doing right. She was actually creating a delinquent. A few years of that and his default behavior will be violent.
When Tua was accepted to university of Alabama, his whole family moved from Hawaii to Tuscaloosa, Alabama. The writer mentions that tidbit in passing. What “shitty parenting.” I noticed an interesting phenomenon as I was writing this post on an iPad. The device refused to complete the word “spanking”, even after I used it six times. I could type out spankin and it would still not complete the word. Hom yields homosexual, les yields lesbian, gender d yields gender dysphoria. That’s Apple’s morality police for you.