A Virginia father has sparked a conversation about parenting after a video he posted on Facebook went viral. It shows his 10-year-old son running to school — in the rain — as punishment for “being a little bully.”
“It was a no-brainer for me: Your son is kicked off the bus, so do you drive him to school? No — that’s a treat. That wasn’t an option,” Thornhill said Tuesday in a phone interview with The Washington Post.
The 33-year-old father said that in life, “you have to overcome the circumstances you put yourself in.”
Thornhill posted a Facebook Live video Thursday, showing him driving slowly — about 6 miles per hour — behind his son. The boy could be seen wearing a backpack, bobbing as he jogged down the road in the rain.
“My son has finally gotten in trouble on the bus enough to where he got actually kicked off the bus for three days because he was being a little bully, which I do not tolerate,” Thornhill said in the video.
The father explained that his son is athletic and that it is only about a mile from their home to the school.
“This right here is just old-school, simple parenting,” he said in the video. “This ain’t killing nobody. This is a healthy way for a child to be punished.”
In the past several days, the video has been viewed by millions of people, prompting a conversation on social media about parenting. Some commenters expressed concern that the boy could get sick running in the rain or that wearing a backpack during the trek could cause him physical harm.
Others, however, commended the father for teaching his son a lesson amid increased attention on bullying.
“If you say we need gun control, people, here you go. This is what we need: parenting,” Thornhill said.
Thornhill, who calls himself a gun supporter, said in the video that he cannot lock his children in a safe like he can his guns. “I can control guns easily forever. This, I’ve got to make sure I control now,” he said about the situation with his son.
Thornhill described his son, a fifth-grader, as “the class clown” — a fun-loving kid who “loves to get a giggle or a laugh.” He said he does not want to change that, but he wants to teach him not to behave badly. He said he also wants to teach his son to manage his own shortcomings, adding that the young child has been diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Thornhill said when his son got suspended from the bus last week — for climbing over the seats and inadvertently kicking a child in the groin and dragging another child down the aisle — he viewed it as a learning opportunity.
“He was shoving, yelling, screaming — acting way out of line,” he told The Post.
“He’s got ADHD,” he said, “but I’m not going to let it define him and limit him. He’s going to have to take responsibility for his actions. We can’t use our handicaps as our excuses in life. We have to find a way to move on.”
Thornhill said that the punishment and the video that captured it has “actually become something really cool.”
Since Thornhill posted the video online, he said, he has received messages of support from tens of thousands of parents, and his 10-year-old son has been well-behaved at school and at home.
On Monday, he posted another video showing himself run after both his son and his daughter. He said his daughter, who is 8, told him that she wanted to run, too, to try to beat her older brother.
Thornhill told The Post that he has a message for other parents: “Be there for your kids — parent them.”
He said he shared the video for a “laugh.”
“If you’ve got your panties in a wad over watching a kid jog, well I feel sorry for you,” Thornhill said in the video. “If a kid jogging offends you, then get … off the couch — you probably need a lap or two.”