Reynolds is an ordained minister, a columnist for TheRootDC and the author of six books, including “Out of Hell and Living Well, Healing from the Inside Out,” a spiritual biography which describes her personal battle with addiction and the program she launched to help others.
If I could load up a bunch of bad kids across the nation and bus them to Pastor Creflo Dollar’s mega-church in Atlanta for a good old-fashioned smackdown, I would certainly do it.
Dollar, the celebrity pastor, was arrested and briefly jailed after his 15-year-old daughter called 911 at about 1 a.m. last Friday and told a Fayette County sheriff’s deputy that she and her father argued when he said she couldn’t go to a party. A police report says the girl told a deputy her father charged at her, put his hands around her throat, began to punch her and started hitting her with his shoe. The deputy noted a scratch on her neck.
From his pulpit Sunday, the mega-church pastor denied intentionally hurting her, adding: “I should have never been arrested.”
The pastor said that the scratch on her neck was actually a 10-year-old mark from a skin condition called eczema. He denied punching her but did admit the conversation over her going out became emotional and things escalated from there.
Let’s just say that the truth lies somewhere between the police report and the pastor’s view of what happened and that he smacked or spanked or jerked his daughter around to keep her from what could have been a bigger threat. If all that happened was what many of us of a certain generation refer to as a smackdown, I unashamedly agree he should not have been arrested.
When you think of all the trouble that can happen to a young girl out after midnight, the pastor should be applauded for trying to stop her from defying his rules instead of being treated like a criminal. What if his daughter had wound up in trouble?
Too many kids these days do not respect or fear us as parents. Situations like the arrest of Dollar only reinforce beliefs among the young that parents will be punished for disciplining them much harsher than they ever will be for misbehaving.
I’m not saying all kids deserve a smackdown, but it shouldn’t be ruled out either as a last resort. Some parents can enforce order simply by taking away privileges, such as denying trips to the movies, locking up their Xboxes or snatching their ubiquitous cellphones. That might not work, however, for the hard-core knuckleheads, who curse their parents, hang out in the streets late at night and walk around disgustingly with their pants hanging down showing their underwear or the girls wearing tattoos on low-hanging breasts. Smackdowns at home might prevent them from getting in the kind of trouble that would warrant more serious beatdowns from police or prison guards later on.
Parents need to establish more spiritual and moral authority in our homes, just as I believe Pastor Dollar was trying to do. Up to 70 percent of African-American homes are headed by women. It is tough trying to be both nurturer and disciplinarian. We need more men in the home, not only to love our children but also to help us firmly discipline them, especially the disorderly males, who often get away with too much because of how many women raise our daughters to be responsible but pamper and overindulge our sons.
As a single mother who reared a son, I tried everything to keep him in check, ranging from praying, switching, paddling, spanking and threats. When that didn’t work, I sent him to boarding school until he decided to comply with my rules. He’s now a college graduate with a career in law enforcement; I think I found the proper balance.
One of the best ways to control our bad kids is to scare them half to death. If your child is convinced you are capable of being a serial killer or your former job was torturing prisoners at Guantanamo, they are more likely to obey. While the love of my grandmother who reared me inspired me, her hard knocks kept me in line. On Sundays at church she was a proper lady wearing white gloves and a nice hat, but at home my antics could turn her into a domestic terrorist.
My parenting advice, however, is hotly refuted by some doctors, such as board-certified pediatrician and psychiatrist Jan Hutchinson. According to the American Society of Pediatricians, it is never okay to strike your child. The only modification I would add is it could be acceptable in self-defense, if a life is being threatened. But this is rare and unusual.
Referring to a major study of 2,500 mothers by Tulane University in April, Hutchinson said: “Not only is spanking children of limited effect, it has long-term negatives. The study showed that children who are spanked twice monthly at age 3 are twice as likely to become destructive, aggressive and mean-spirited by the time they are five. There is a great correlation between hitting a child and increasing aggression. It is important that children are disciplined, but it should be done in the framework of love and support and not harshness and cruelty.”
I have my own experience. When I attended Catholic school growing up, it was not unusual for the nuns to throw us over a desk and beat us with a belt if we did not complete our homework or whack our knuckles if our assignments were late. Later in life, I found that fear factor worked to my advantage. To this day I have a built-in reluctance to miss deadlines or procrastinate.
To spank or not to spank: If that is the question, it looks like Pastor Dollar chose the smackdown. If that act has taught his daughter a valuable lesson about honoring her father, who apparently has provided and cared for her all her life, perhaps jail was not too hard a price to pay.
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