Meg church pastor Creflo Dollar found himself in the news recently after getting into an altercation with his 15-year-old daughter. Dollar denies hurting his daughter, but according to a police report, the teen wanted to go to a party (it was well past midnight when the fight took place), and it escalated to Dollar allegedly punching, choking, and throwing a shoe at his daughter.
The domestic dispute sounded like your typical case of either child abuse or the common tale of an out-of-control teen and a father who’d lost his temper to the point that he put his hands on her. But from the few people I talked to about it (and from some of the responses on Twitter) regardless how anyone felt about Dollar, many believed it was likely necessary for the minister to beat his daughter.
Why? Because “party” + “late at night” + father’s overreaction = kids’ these days need to be beat, she probably deserved it.
While some seem to have a basic understanding that you shouldn’t hit your spouse as that is “abuse,” or that a child shouldn’t physically harm a parent (think elder abuse), there is a prevalent narrative, especially in the black community, that all problems with a child can be solved with a “whoopin’.” And many people are fine with this as “they were whooped and turned out OK.” But the lax attitude in how spankings are conducted creates a fuzzy gray area for violent people who actually abuse their children. Because everyone else is so “pro-whoopin’,” we sometimes forget there’s a big difference between that one time your mother swatted your bottom with a ping pong paddle and that time your stepfather punched you in the face at 10.
Yet everyone celebrates corporal punishment not understanding that for every parent who can control their temper when disciplining their children, there are many others who cause children serious, malicious harm – and feel their worldview is validated by the “pro-whoopin” lobby. Even though those people aren’t nearly the nihilistic, violent whoopin’ sociopaths they brag about being. (But more on that later.)
But I have a surprise for the pro-whoopin’ lobby: In the case of Creflo Dollar and his daughter, I don’t think more beatings would have made all that much of a difference.
If you have a 15-year-old who calls 9-1-1 on you, you have one of three things going on:
1. You’re a chronic, violent child abuser who needs to be punished, then rehabilitated.
2. You’re raising a burgeoning sociopath for whom nothing you can do will cure them of wanting to murder you in your sleep
3. You are raising a child in an unstructured, inconsistent environment where the word “no” was rarely uttered UNTIL they became a teen when suddenly what they desired could actually cause themselves or their family harm.
In all those environments you can beat your kid or not beat your kid – but beatings to don’t equal “structured, nurturing environment.” And too many people think of whoopins as a catch-all to take the place of everything else – from actually being clear and concise in your parenting, establishing healthy rules and boundaries early on with a liberal dosage of “consistency.”
You can beat a kid and still raise a monster. Beating your kid doesn’t get you respect – consistency, nurturing and structure does. A “whoopin’” is something you may resort to on an as need-be, case-by-case basis, based on your child’s temperament. It’s not the one-size-belt-beats-all parenting solution people preach it to be.