A mother’s perspective on Adrian Peterson and whoopin’

Last night when I first heard about Adrian Peterson’s troubles regarding, in his words, his son’s “whoopin’” I was somewhat incensed about the zeal in which the media attacked this story, equating it to the abuse suffered in the Rice case. It’s as though the CBS reporter who wrote that the “Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson beat his 4-year-old son with a tree branch as a form of punishment this summer, an incident that allegedly resulted in multiple injuries to the child” went WAY overboard and did not understand the concept of “the whoopin.’”

When my dad was stationed in Georgia, it was not uncommon for me to hear parents say to their kids who were “showing out,” “I’m gonna whip your butt into next week” and “you stop that or I’m gonna pop your butt” — among other things. By the way, this was said by not only black parents, but white and Puerto Rican as well. And for those of you who say I should use the term “Hispanic,” well, most of the people of Hispanic ethnic origin on post at the time were Puerto Rican.

So, is it right or wrong?

Well, it depends. Factors, like the parents’ upbringing (if they were spanked they tend to spank), stress levels, religious beliefs, socioeconomic status and region of the country.

When I was growing up, our neighbors on one side were mixed – the husband was American white and the mother was from Viet Nam. The eldest son at the time was very active and mischievous. The mother, Nim, tolerated that because “boys will be boys.” She was even proud of his size – having taken after his father, he was physically larger and thicker than she was and was a very good athlete. But I witnessed her make him hold out his hands and stand still while she delivered a number of swats on his hands from a “switch” for disrespecting her by raising his voice and saying something “sassy.” He was so mortified by his actions, it was a serious thing — the disrespect of the people who love and cherish you. He had welts but the pain was more in his heart. He graduated with honors and continues to honor his parents.

I asked my Chinese foreign exchange student Lin, about this and she told me you should never insult the people who love you and work for you.

Conversely, on the other side, we had neighbors who over-used the whoopin.’ There were no books, no diversion, no kind words. They had five children living in a small home. The kids had chores all of the time, virtually no books – save for a few magazines and the parents were obviously younger than average. They were always stressed, short of money but dressed well and went out often. The father was fond of the “tickle of the belt.” All of the kids had bruises from time to time for major or minor infractions which would include not ironing the father’s clothes, going into the refrigerator without asking (the punishment for this was particularly barbaric) or not cleaning up. This did not turn out well.

Where do you have a cut off? When do you cross the line?

As CBS reported, “Adrian Peterson’s son told authorities that “Daddy Peterson hit me on my face.” The child also expressed worry that Peterson would punch him in the face if the child reported the incident to authorities. He also said that he had been hit by a belt and that “there are a lot of belts in Daddy’s closet.” He added that Peterson put leaves in his mouth when he was being hit with the switch while his pants were down. The child told his mother that Peterson “likes belts and switches” and “has a whooping room.”

Peterson, himself, acknowledged in a weird text message to the child’s mother: “Got him in nuts once I noticed. But I felt so bad, n I’m all tearing that butt up when needed! I start putting them in timeout. N save the whooping for needed memories!”

So, temporary damage to the child’s scrotum was part of the story.

“Also noted were numerous injuries to the child, including cuts and bruises to the child’s back, buttocks, ankles, and legs, along with defensive wounds to the child’s hands. Peterson then texted the boy’s mother, saying that one wound in particular would make her “mad at me about his leg. I got kinda good wit the tail end of the switch.”

THAT was quite a session, especially for a 4-year-old child.

The truth is, we do sometimes swat the hind parts of our children sometimes to get their attention or deter them from bad actions. We sometimes say harsh words. No doubt, absolutely, that none of us should do anything that we intend to cause permanent damage — especially to our precious children.

But we do neglect to realize that each child is wired differently, even from us — the parent. I once asked my daughter why she did such a dumb thing. Two years later, she asked me why I think she’s “dumb” because after all, she gets good grades. As for Allen, he never wanted to spank his girls because he felt they’d get used to men striking them. “Mr. Softie” (aka Allen West) also apologizes after yelling – which amounts to speaking one small raised level over his normal quiet voice. Sometimes he just points and doesn’t blink. In other words, “I am the Terminator.”

I once asked my grandfather when he gave me one of the two spankings I received from him in my life (I probably deserved at least 20 more) “Grandpa, is this going to hurt you more than it hurts me?” God bless him, he was so honest, he said “No, this is going to hurt you more because you have hurt me by doing wrong things.” I didn’t understand at five, but I do now.

The bottom line is, Adrian Peterson went over the line. The punishment was excessive for the crime of “pushing” another child. And there should never be a special room for punishment – that sounds like a torture chamber. How much sense does it make to punish an act of violence by a greater act of violence? And won’t society punish that young man when later in life he gets shoved by his wife and retaliates by knocking her out and dragging her through a casino hotel lobby?

I am certainly not saying the government should decide how you raise your children, but:

Ephesians 4:

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord.

Further: You reap what you sow.


  1. I will not debate the error of this type;e of correction… but people… get some perspective… Muslims, by decree of dogma, murder their children, honor killings, and throw acid in the face of any woman .. who shows her face…. and you all think this is a priority… Islam should be declared an illegal criminal organization and outlawed…. 25,000,000 slaves… https://www.facebook.com/notes/jeffrey-mark-bablitz/rules-for-raising-kids/406570691969

  2. At 75 yes old I can remember the branch switch being used on my legs always for a good reason (should of had many more) and I panked my children on their rear ends with a belt all of us have survived and become hard working good citizens,,, I asked my pastor one time about panking his statement was something likes this..once you break the child down the panking should stop and if he or she does not breakdown then another method of punishment must be found. God gives us directions in punishment for our children and the government has many other problems to deal with, like our national security.

  3. this is really good perspective as I am certain many of us deserved more than the one or two spankings we received as children. The Bible verse really says it all 🙂 Gos bless!

  4. Some children have great imaginations. If he wants to get back at his Dad for the spanking it is not beyond a 4 year old to weave a tale of belts, whipping room, leaves ect. Some or all of it may be true, but of course the child’s story could be a tall tale. (This child could have the talent to write fiction novels in the future) If the Father has instilled the ‘Fear of God’ in his children by the threat and sometimes use of the whip – the other children may even concur with the boy’s story, if they believe they would now be free to do as they wished without fear of punishment. But, without the discipline of their Father some of them may lose their way, and the legal system that is now protecting them will be there ready to punish them (maybe as adults) even if they are 10 or 12 years old. No matter what happens now, there will be no winners following this episode. Father may lose his job and his reputation and even go to prison, father and child relationship may be damaged beyond repair, Father and child may suffer from guilt and remorse, the other children and the mothers will be adversely affected; and when this child becomes an adult he could be very sorry to he the person involved in the event that took down his hard-working super-star Dad and changed the history and fortunes of his family. It is all very sad. I was whipped as a child, so were my siblings we all had welts but before doing wrong things we all reflected on the possible whipping that could follow. There was no permanent damage and we are all ok now. So are all our children.

  5. The Bible and in fact the New Testament also says: Hebrews 12:6-7: “…the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son. Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father?” Talking with them, counseling, time out and removal of privileges are not effective with some children; what then should parents do? Turn them over to the State? Whipping that is not abusive helped parents and children in the 1950s, 1960s and before. Why not now?

    • The Bible also says you shouldn’t eat Shrimp, and kill your neighbor is he works on Sunday & don’t you dare cross threads…… Keep quoting fiction.
      Cherry pickers.

    • I totally agree with you. As a young person, I had the talks, the groundings, and even had favorite toys, bikes, etc. taken away for a period of time. Once in while, when all those things just did not get the message, I got “the belt”, however, it was never extremely hard, nor did I ever receive more than three or four. Did it hurt? Oh, yeah! Did it get the message through my head? Oh, yeah!!!

  6. He was wrong. However, the NFL shouldn’t be involved at all until he is CONVICTED of child abuse… if he is not convicted of a CRIME the NFL should stay out of it.

    I was a foster parent for 7 years and i can honestly say that many kids suffer far more damaging psychological abuse from just being taken away from they family/home/school/community… than they would in the situations from which the government is “saving them”.

  7. Strict parents, strict nuns in grammar school strict priests and brothers in high school, gave me the discipline to properly serve in the US Navy. No regrets about a little whack on the butt.

  8. I had coaches in high school that would make us bend over in our gym shorts and beat our butts with whittled down baseball bats. They were former Marines from the Korean War and our practices were like PT in basic training. It made us tough. We won our conference my Junior year. Our linemen were small, compared to others, but they feared us because of our toughness. Discipline in good measure is good for kids. But one should never break the skin or cause permanent wounds. I haven’t seen any evidence of skin tears or permanent wounds, so I can’t say what Peterson did was right or wrong.

    • You were not 4 and had a choice not to be on that team. A 4 yr old has no choices. I did spank my children for direct disobedience and never left marks on them. I received enough for everyone.

    • it was unacceptable THEN to “win some games” and it is unacceptable NOW under these circumstances to leave physical & emotional scars on a 4 year old. be free & think for yourself

  9. Don’t forget that the parents are not together. Experience shows many times that the mother will make things up, tell the child what to say, even put the bruises there herself to try and screw the Father.

  10. While I would never condone excessive force in reprimanding a child, I do believe here lies one of the more serious problems in the black community: not enough African American dads are there to correct, discipline, and shape young black boys. These young guys need their dads to teach them respect, responsibility, and dignified behavior. So I give Mr. Peterson credit for (as far as I can tell) making an effort to be a dad, rather than just letting his son grow up without a clue.

  11. The One-minute Scolding by Gerald E. Nelson is a necessary book for parents to read. Parents will, of course, need to spend time to read it and spend time to implement its wisdom in raising kind human beings.

  12. Acts that should be punishable with a “whoopin'”: disrespect, dishonesty, defiance. Bad grades, not eating all of you food, getting your good clothes dirty, spilled drink and so on, no. Parents should not spank for every little thing a child does wrong. Nor should they spank them so bad that they are injured.

  13. Thank you so much for this post. I get a lot of flack for choosing to spank my children, because people seem unable to separate spanking from abuse. “Spanking” is using a physical but non-injurious correction to get a child’s attention and make them understand that whatever they did was incorrect. “Abuse” is hitting out of anger or leaving physical marks. Having suffered abusive treatment as well as spankings in my lifetime (one of my parents was abusive, one wasn’t), I get very offended when someone says that a simple spanking is “abuse.” Whatever this man did was probably abuse, but a little tap on the hiney isn’t going to emotionally ruin any child.

  14. When I was a child (late 60’s and early 70’s) my mom would Whip my backside with a belt. Looking back I realize I deserved it due to my own poor decisions . Did it hurt temporarily , YES. Did I continue to do what I had done, HELL NO !! When I entered the military at 17, I knew right from wrong and have lived my life as I was raised. Was I “abused”… NO!! I had the best parents one could ever be blessed with and I was ADOPTED!!

  15. I had a few good whoopins growing up. I can remember picking the scab off a switch mark when I was about 5. I don’t feel like I was abused for the standards in 1956 but it would be by today’s standards.

    • I remember what really “hurt” was being forced to get my own switch off the tree and warned that if I didn’t get a good one, mom would get the switch and I would know the difference. I remember getting switched and remember what it was for. Talking not so much. Survived my childhood just fine.

  16. I grew up in the late 60’s, 70’s and 80’s. I can remember my granny sitting in her rocking chair and every time we did something wrong she would switch our legs up and down. She also used a flyswatter. And my mom used a belt on us kids. She would hold one arm and whip us with the belt with the other hand and if we didn’t stand still and take it she would tell us, “Wherever this belt lands is where it lands. You should stay and take your punishment or get hit all over.” Where was child protective services then? I made it and there isn’t anything wrong with me. Plus I do believe the article said the son was playing and had fallen. Didn’t one take into account some of the bruises on him where from falls? I can’t even believe some of this. It happens to kids everyday and we never see it. only those who are famous stand out and the media makes a big deal of it. What a shame. SMH

  17. The coach had put together the perfect team for the Chicago Bears. The only thing that was missing was a good quarterback. He had scouted all the colleges and even the Canadian and European Leagues, but he couldn’t find a ringer who could ensure a Super Bowl win.

    Then one night while watching CNN he saw a war-zone scene in the West Bank . In one corner of the background, he spotted a young Israeli soldier with a truly incredible arm. He threw a hand-grenade straight into a 15th story window 100 yards away.


    He threw another hand-grenade 75 yards away, right into a chimney.


    Then he threw another at a passing car going 90 mph.


    “I’ve got to get this guy!” Coach said to himself. “He has the perfect arm!”

    So, he brings him to the States and teaches him the great game of football. And the Bears go on to win the Super Bowl.

    The young man is hailed as the great hero of football, and when the coach asks him what he wants, all the young man wants is to call his mother.

    “Mom,” he says into the phone, “I just won the Super Bowl !”

    “I don’t want to talk to you”, the old woman says, “You are not my son!”

    “I don’t think you understand, Mother,” the young man pleads. “I’ve won the greatest sporting event in the world. I’m here among thousands of my adoring fans.”

    “No! Let me tell you!” his mother retorts. “At this very moment, there are gunshots all around us. The neighborhood is a pile of rubble. Your two brothers were beaten within an inch of their lives last week, and I have to keep your sister in the house so she doesn’t get raped!” The old lady pauses, and then tearfully says,……….

    “I will never forgive you for making us move to Chicago !!!!”

    • 1. actually not applicable 2. actually not really all that humorous 3. especially in this instance 4. in poor taste 5. what a long drawn out pathetically stupid joke

  18. I think we all agree that a painful stinging whack may sometimes be necessary when disciplining a child, but causing actual injury is wrong.

    i once had to correct a parent who tried to stop me from slapping my kid on the butt when he ran into the street.
    The other parent tried to tell me how lectures or non physical punishments might work better for learning lessons.

    I told the parent that my child could have been killed by running into the street and that is not a lesson I want to have to teach with talks and lesser punishments.
    If my son didn’t clean up his toys, I’ll lecture or punish without hitting… but if my son does something dangerous, that I’ve told him not to do, he’s going to get a whack because that’s not the kind of mistake we can afford to have him keep making until the talks and punishments sink in.

    I never harmed my kids, but they got a stinging remember when they broke rules that put themselves in danger… only for things that were dangerous.
    All other rules that my children broke were met with talks or non physical punishments.
    I wanted my children to understand that some rules were much more important than others.

  19. All general principals & observations made in this article are excepted on my behalf.
    It feels to me as if Angela Graham-West overlooks,in a way, the severity of AP’s actions – Just for the sake of not being perceived as a part of a liberal p.c thoughts police supporter.
    Well,let us then call it by its name:
    The marks Adrian Peterson left on his 4-year-old body with the assistance of a rough object(as if an RB’s palms aren’t rough enough..) – ARE NO “quite a session”, nor they fall within the obscure wilderness of “crossing the line”.
    THEY ARE ABUSIVE! and they reflect no measured-though-arguable/sever disciplinary method – but rather a unacceptable violent “steam venting” of a frustrated parent over the defenseless body of a 4-year-old.
    Weather that incident was a one-time break-down or, as reported here as well – a part of a larger,continuous damaged parenting – will have to be determent.
    Yet, even under the “risk” of giving a “tailwind” to liberal/progressive agenda in an hi-profile case – we should not overlook the seriousness of the information revealed in relation to the events that took place, between Adrian Peterson and his 4-year-old child.

  20. My ex-husband thought he would prove a point and called Children’s Services because I give my daughter a “spank” that consists of one to two swats. I can’t get much oomph behind it due to neck and back injuries. It’s more symbolic. As in, what were you thinking running into the street without looking. When the social worker came out with a police officer (we’re from Florida, they accompany workers on their first visit for the workers safety as well as in the event it’s determined the children need to be removed immediately), the police officer and social worker actually reported back that he filed a malicious report, and told him and my daughter the I’m completely within legal rights to spank her once or twice, providing it doesn’t break skin or leave marks for more than 24 hours.

  21. The little boy wasn’t corrected, he was abused. Just look at the marks and read the text sent to the mother. This man enjoyed what he did. I don’t condone spanking like with the palm of your hand a couple of swats on the butt but this was a beating not a whoopin.

  22. This was obvious abuse, putting leaves in the child’s mouth while beating him bloody with a switch is obviously sadistic. It’s on par with the abuse in the Rice situation, if you don’t think so just replace the child with his wife. Children are people just like adults, if you can’t do it to your husband or wife then you shouldn’t be doing it to a child as far as discipline goes.

  23. There is another scripture you should consider…
    Proverbs 23:12-14
    That lad had no deep and bleeding welts, only surface marks and slight bleeding that likely didn’t show while the discipline was being given, and all will surely quickly heal over and disappear.. The lad seemed very lucid and talkative, showing he was not cowed. or emotionally scarred for life. HE WILL NOT DIE, but his soul may be rescued from Sheol, indeed.

  24. Growing up, 95% of the time just the mere THREAT of a spanking kept me in line. The very few times I did get spanked, it was a few swats on the back of the legs or the hands and even then my parents used a lot of restraint. They would tell me they really hated to do it, and to this day I believe them. Disciplining a child when necessary and teaching them right from wrong is important, but what Peterson did was criminal to say the very least. And frankly, I hope he does time and receives some kind of karma.

  25. Adrian Peterson’s 2 year old son was beaten to death by his ex’s boyfriend just year or so ago. His son was killed by a man who maybe thought he was disciplining the child too. He’s doing time, and now AP is charged with harming his kid. Ironic, and really sad.

    So what is the appropriate method, amount and use of force that should be applied when whipping a child? When is it too much? There’s no answer to these questions because you shouldn’t do it. If you can’t reach your child through words and leading by example then you are the one doing something wrong, and should seek help to learn new parenting approaches. Children want and need discipline and leadership to thrive. But they also need to trust their parents. Beating breaks that trust. It also makes a child anxious, fearful, angry and leaves them feeling they are unworthy (studies show children who are beaten are more likely to be targets for abuse later in life). So while AP thinks his parents did the right thing by him by whipping him as a kid, if he got some therapy and dealt with that issue he’d realize he’s really not OK with it.

  26. Like AP I was raised with the whip. Although it did me some good I chose not to do it. Different time, different environment, different methods. I’m not my parents and my kids are not me. And like Mrs. West so eloquently says in her article, discipline is just one aspect of education. The thing with beatings they affect children differently. It takes a lot of restraint not to do it in anger. It’s always a slippery slope, I’d rather regret not beating my kids then regret doing it. The time my son bought me an F in math he almost got his first belting but by own mother counseled against it. She told me I could not beat him or even punish him if I didn’t take all the time I could have taken to help with his homeworks. She also told me I couldn’t raise my son the way she raised me and my brother. I’m glad I took her advice.

  27. The problem with today’s American politicians is that they refuse to demand respect for this nation’s laws…clearly they lacked discipline and guidance as youths…

  28. I am of 2 minds on this. I would say that AP definitely went overboard. My father spanked me once. I was 1 ½, he was just separated from the army, It was the first time I had seen him and didn’t take to him very well. I wouldn’t go to sleep, he spanked me and Mom hit him. The rest of my days at home he never touched me again. Now the effective discipline came from my mother. We lived in a small town and no one locked there doors. My mother told me not to cross the street but I could play on my block. Well, as kids will do I decided to test my mother. I decided to walk to my friends house which was 3 blocks away. My mother noticed 2 minutes after I took off and came after me. When she caught up with me, I got a very thorough butt chewing and then she made me get a switch (Willow) and as soon as she got it she gave me one swat. Needless to say, Never went off without getting permission. By the time I was in Kindergarden I was allowed to walk 12 blocks to school, but it was straight there and straight back. Never go a spanking after that. I was taught after that, that no implement other than a bare had should be used as corporal punishment, Mom felt worse than I did about the willow switch, and it should only be applied to the buttocks. I had no more punishment from either of my parents. Well, grounding but that only hurt my pride. I got in a semi serious fight with someone is shop class and the teacher made the two of us exchange swats, but it was only one kid on another. I’ll always remember that paddle. Anyway, since I never repeated any of my transgressions I guess maybe I learned something from that.

  29. Adrian Peterson went way too far but I hope the judge/jury will show him mercy. I read news articles which reported the cops as saying Peterson was calm, didn’t try to hide any information. His actions led the law enforcement officers involved to believe Peterson genuinely did not see anything wrong with whipping his child in the manner he did because Peterson indicated he had been whipped the same way when he was a child. I used spankings when my daughter was younger but only if her conduct was, beyond a doubt, an act of rebellion against my authority. I never left marks on her and limited the number of strikes to 5, but usually I used 3 strikes to her backside. I remember my dad whipping my brother with his belt one time that went very wrong. My brother was 7 or 8 years old and was trying to squirm out of dad’s grip. During all that motion, dad lost his grip on the belt end which had the buckle. (Dad always doubled the belt by holding the two ends together in his hand.) When dad lost his grip on the buckle, it whipped around my brother, striking his lower abdomen with the buckle. The spanking stopped immediately. Dad was crying almost as hard as my brother. Dad told us a story once about his dad whipping him, at 8 years of age, with a “switch.” Dad’s mother had told him to do something and he replied, “ok, just a minute” and finished what he was doing which took about 20 seconds. As he started doing what his mother had told him, his dad appeared with a switch. Dad was not wearing a shirt and by the time grandpa was finished, dad had bloody cuts all over his back. My mother’s dad did not know how to limit physical punishment either. Mom said it was because he suffered whippings which were so severe he would have to go to the barn and rinse the blood out if his clothes, even his socks from blood running down his legs, before he could go in the house. I am willing to bet Adrian Peterson endured “whoopings” much more severe than the one he gave his 4 year old. He needs to be educated about parenting, specifically child development and what is considered serious misbehavior by a 4 year old and methods to manage his responses to it. I am glad Mrs. West brought up the fact that not all children should be disciplined in the same manner. She has called attention to something that needs better understanding. My brother, 2 years older than me, had a personality that is the polar opposite of mine. He was very rambunctious and extremely strong willed. My parents had to use disciplinary measures that bordered on harsh. They felt they had no other choice because it took those measures to get his attention and cooperation. They used those same methods on me without considering that I was very docile and compliant. So….my brother grew into adulthood unscathed but I reached adulthood with my spirit completely broken. My parents thought they were doing what was best for their kids. They failed to realize that, although we needed to follow the same rules, my brother and I needed different methods of punishment.

  30. I remember reading a D C comics book ad from the 1970s that showed a young teen running from his father who was going to correct him with a spanking. The young man asked Superman if his father had a right to spank him as a form of correction. Superman told the father he has a right to correct his child but he does not have the right to hurt his child. I know that Superman is a fictional comic book character that I am aware of does not have children of his own but the message from his lips is good enough with me. I do not know Adrian Peterson personally but just because he makes one error admitting his crossed the line beating his son does not make him the second coming of O J Simpson.

  31. Spanking with the bare hand got my attention a few times when I was growing up. I most definitely remember the humiliation of “Go cut me a switch” that a couple of aunts were good at using to remind me to behave. “Spanking and whipping” are TOTALLY different from “Beating”. It is unfortunate that some do not understand the difference.

    A side note – one problem with “No child left behind” was too many schools mis-heard it and thought it was “No child with a red behind”!

  32. i was spanked (or whipped if you prefer) as a child until I learned not to do the things that got me in trouble. It didn’t take me long to learn. I spanked my girls when they needed it. Neither my parents or myself went as far as this guy did. It sounds like he crossed a line maybe because of how he was disciplined and hopefully he learns from it.

    My biggest problem is this….from the text messages it sounds like he enjoyed it too much. Parents are not supposed to enjoy spanking their children! I’ should be for their good not a parents enjoyment.



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