Reflecting on Adrian Peterson and Why I Choose to Do Things Differently Than My Parents Did

by Amber L. Wright With news breaking of NFL star Adrian Peterson being indicted on charges of ne...


by Amber L. Wright

With news breaking of NFL star Adrian Peterson being indicted on charges of negligent injury to a child for allegedly hitting his 4 year old son with a switch, the internet is all abuzz with commentary on whether or not he’s wrong for his actions. Some say, “Hey, that’s how I was raised and I turned out fine,” while others say, “It doesn’t take all of that to discipline a child.”

As this story develops, we are seeing another debate unfold over something that’s deeply personal and that people will always debate over. So much of how you see Peterson’s actions has to do with how you were raised and disciplined as a child, and ultimately how you chose to repeat or change the cycle of treatment you received.




Switches, extension cords, belts, house shoes, and whatever other object may have been handy – I or another child in my family has felt it on their backside. Whether it was by the hands of my mama to me or my sister, my grandfather to my uncles, or my older cousins to my smaller cousins, “getting beat” or “getting a whoopin’” was par for the course if you got out of line when I was a child.

My mother is from the “pick a switch” generation and that’s what was commonly used for discipline when she was growing up in Central America. Put simply, she was raised to believe that if your kids were acting up, they had to be dealt with physically. She remixed that theory a bit when she had my sister and me. Her philosophy was that there are two ways to discipline a child -- with your hand or with your face (otherwise known as “the look”).

The look worked on me. If I even thought for a second I was about to get into some mischief and I got caught in her girl-is-you-crazy-stare, I’d crumble to pieces. My sister on the other hand? The look didn’t work too well. She got in trouble way more often than I did and many of those moments ended in some type of physical discipline.

When we were dating, my husband and I talked at length about how we would approach disciplining our future children. Neither of us wanted hitting to be used as the primary or even sole form of punishment. We felt that just because we were raised a certain way, that didn’t mean we’d have to duplicate those exact same experiences for our children. We wanted to explore other avenues and so far, they have been effective.

My daughter is about the same age as Adrian Peterson’s son and I simply could not imagine using a switch as a form of punishment on her. She may get the occasional “pop” or “pow-pow” on the hand when she’s being deliberately disobedient, but it’s very rare. Beyond that, we do not exercise corporal punishment in our home and don’t plan to.

We talk to her about her choices and discuss our displeasure when she does something she’s not supposed to. I have my own version of “the look” and it still works for us. I think you can raise your kids to be afraid of the consequences for their poor choices without ruling with an iron fist. I want my daughter to respect us as her parents, not just fear us.

Any form of child abuse is never okay. To Mr. Peterson, using a switch on a toddler may be normal – again, based upon his upbringing and experiences. If that is the case, he is choosing to do what he knows. I just hope that he know it’s not the only way.

Photo Credit: Getty Images


Amber L. Wright, M.A.  is an adjunct professor, writer, communication coach and creator of TalktoAmber.com. Her personal mission is to teach you how to hear and be heard in every area of your life - from the boardroom to the bedroom. Wright’s areas of interest and expertise are in communication, relationships, marriage and popular culture.

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