Spare the Rod Spoil the Child

Hey Good People,

This has been weighing heavy on my heart.  I wasn’t even sure I was going to write about it.  However, I decided there needs to be some real discussion about this.

Last week, there was a clip being sent around of a teenager being chastised by his uncle for “e-thugging.”  When I viewed this clipped, I was horrified.  I thought the uncle might have had good intentions, but his action were inappropriate. BOOM!  I said it. Let’s go.

Now let it be known that I do not have children, so some folks will totally disregard what I am saying.  However, I do have parents who provided a positive model for me.  My parents believed in spankings whoopings.  They believed that if you spare the rod, you spoil the child.  However, in the rare times my parents whooped me, I never felt humiliated or disrespected.  First off, being whooped was the last resort, not the first one.  Second, I always knew why I was being chastised.  Third, it was never done out of anger. And lastly, my parents never used profanity when addressing me.  One of my biggest pet peeves is when parents curse at their children.

However, what really got me were the number of people who cheered the uncle on.  I was really perplexed by this.  My own brother thought I was on my “righteous high horse” because I expressed how I didn’t agree with the uncle’s actions.  It seems that a lot of people believe that in order to effectively chastise a child, you  have to humiliate them.  I totally disagree with this.

First, the best defense is good offense.  I believe the best way to teach a child is through the parents’ actions.  Let’s be real, kids tend to model the behavior that is seen in the home.  To me, the uncle seemed to be on some e-thugging himself. (Did I just say that?)  I mean no shirt on, pants sagging and cursing.  You don’t think that it’s gangsta or thuggish that the uncle videotaped beating his nephew, then posted it to the web?!!  I  couldn’t help but dredge up images of a master beating a slave or a woman being stoned to publicly humiliate to make an example of the person and family.

Second,  I think that the teenager was too big to get a whooping.  He is old enough to talk to about what he did wrong.  After counting to ten to get over his anger, the uncle possibly could have found out why his nephew felt the need to “e-thug”.  Is someone harassing or bullying  him at school?  Will he now become a target for ridicule and bullying at school?  I know parents take offense when someone tells them how to raise their children.  *looking to the side*  However, I strongly believe that parents must talk to their children, then LISTEN.  Over the years, we have heard a child should only be seen and not heard.  Children should not be ignored.  They have thoughts, feelings and  ideas just like adults.  I believe that you discipline a child not to humiliate them, but to teach and offer guidance.  All too often though discipline is used to take out frustrations and anger with the child. So basically, the child just learned that when they are angry or frustrated with a person, they should hit or lash out.

Black parents in particularly do not tolerate a disobedient child.  My own parents gave me the speech that almost every black child heard growing up: “You better not touch anything, say anything or do anything  when we go into this store.”   You had to avoid embarrassing your mother while shopping.  If you did, there was wrath to pay!  We heard black comedians always joking about “other” parents who could not control their unruly children.  We tend to believe that when Dr. Huxtable sat down to talk to Theo about what he did wrong,  he was being too lenient , or it was just unrealistic.  However, this is so far from the truth because so many people got the lesson and years later still love this scene.

So for me, since we take such great pride in our ability to discipline our children, why then do we have so many youth that are in the juvenile system?  So many youth who are dropping out of school?  Unemployment rates, illiteracy rates?   What gives?  How about instead of more whoopings, we see more mentoring, teaching and tutoring?  I am not saying I know the answers, but I do think these are some real issues that we need to think about concerning our children.

So what do you think about this issue?



Award-winning poet, writer, and activist Nikki Giovanni will sign and discuss, “The 100 Best African American Poems” in which Giovanni takes on the impossible task of selecting the 100 best African American works from classic and contemporary poets.

Tuesday, January 11

Busboys and Poets

5th & K Sts NW




  1. Amen! Children are just little people with feelings, thoughts and ideas. You never know what truths will come from a child because they are innocence. And we take that innocence away when we treat them like property or slaves by disregarding their being.

  2. I thought your examples were funny and REAL. And, yes, I am a Huxtable kid – although my parents didn’t have to say too much, because “the look” is pretty much all they (specifically dad) had to do…

    So as stated from above comment: AMEN!

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