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Rocky Mount, Virginia 24151
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That’s just the way it was
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Friday, July 25, 2014


A news story the other day told about a father in another state who was charged after spanking his 8-year-old son at a party.

Apparently, the boy said some nasty words to guests, "cussin'" words that were obviously crude and disrespectful.

The father hit the boy on the backside with his hand and some said a belt, thereby sparking a complaint and the filing of charges.

When the case came to court, though, the judge sided with the father, agreeing that the punishment was in line with the offense, and the case was dismissed. To be fair, the hitting with the belt part of the complaint could not be proven, so how that may have affected the judge's decision, we don't know.

As someone who grew up in another time, this story was a bit on the perplexing side, but not at all surprising.

My first reaction was to make a list of all of my relatives and parents of friends who could have been tossed in the hoosegow back in the day for using "excessive force" with children.

The easier, far shorter, list would be of those who probably would not have been charged.

I was the recipient of what would now fall into the category of excessive force on numerous occasions, too many to recall.

A belt?

You bet.

A switch?

Of course.

A fly swatter?

Oh, yeah.

Palm of hand?


But, as I said, it was a different time.

A time when the old saying about children being seen and not heard was not just a saying, it was a fact.

A time when children were not the constant focus of attention and were not catered to constantly.

A time when children were not spoiled and pampered, when they learned to roll with the punches and not whine about it.

A time when parents knew how to parent.

Yea, I know. I'm sure some parents think that way of life was too primitive, too insensitive, maybe even cruel.

But here's the thing.

I don't know of any kid who suffered any type of serious injury from being punished, although it certainly may have happened. Parents do tend to spank when they're angry, and that's not a good thing.

Yes, a switch left a few whelps, but they disappeared quickly. Such punishment is not effective if it doesn't cause at least some discomfort.

I was never hit with a fist or a two-by-four or even slapped in the face, which was a no-no in my family. You never, ever hit a child in the face, even a slap.

My butt and the back of my legs, though, were fair game if I misbehaved.

And I don't believe I suffered any emotional scars. On the contrary, I think the entire punishment culture at the time made me a stronger, more focused and more respectful person.

Don't get me wrong.

I don't think parents should just start spanking their kids willy-nilly. In fact, there are many other effective ways to punish (another word for "teach," my grandmother said) than spanking, which should always be used as a last resort and never done in anger.

Regardless of the punishment, though, the most important thing is for parents to be in charge and loving at the same time.

As many spankings as I got, I was still a very well-loved and secure child.

Oddly enough, like that 8-year-old boy, many of my spankings resulted from cussin', which was not allowed.

But he cussed at an adult guest in his home. If I had done that, most adults in the room would have lined up to spank me, including a judge if he had happened to be there.

And, yes, the judge may very well have removed his belt and used it on my behind.

Right or wrong, that's just the way it was.

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