off the cuff

Sparing the Rod: Lessons From Our Fathers

Ironically, just days before Father’s Day, on June 8, megachurch pastor, Creflo Dollar, was arrested for choking, slapping and physically restraining his 15-year old daughter during an argument that ensued regarding her desire to attend a party.  Her story was corroborated by her 19-year old sister, and there were some physical signs of injury.  Initially, I was only going to address the Dollar matter as it pertains to an article written on, which incited numerous irrational and egregious comments in support of Dollar’s violent parenting methods.

However, I realized that there is a bigger issue to be addressed here, and that is that daughters learn from their fathers how to treat men and how she should allow men to treat her.  A father’s absence or presence, actions or inaction, affection or lack thereof play a major role in his daughter’s future dealings with men.  So, with stories like Dollar’s, it is no wonder so many women today are confused by acts of physical, sexual and verbal abuse by their significant others and spouses although it is so clear to others that this behavior is unhealthy, inexcusable, and the anithesis of love.

My father was the first man in my life.  I looked at my father with admiration and awe because he was this strong, fearless being that seemed untouchable and infallible.  Was he? Of course not.  But, my perception of him helped shape my perception of men in general, and probably dictates, more than I’d like to admit, what I ultimately look for in a partner.  Although my mother practiced this extreme form of discipline heralded in the black community, my father refused to rear me in the same manner.  He never laid a hand on me, but I respected him still.  As a result, I learned that a man’s touch should be gentle, never harsh; his words firm, yet still loving and kind.  These were some of the lessons I learned from my father.

The Grio article placed Dollar in the same category as other notorious abusers, namely R. Kelly and Chris Brown.  Many of those who commented didn’t feel that Dollar should have been included in an article about men who abuse women because the woman he struck was his own daughter.  I cited this reasoning as psychotic.  If anything, it is far more emotionally damaging for a father to treat his daughter this way.  One idiot commenter wrote the following, and my blood has been boiling ever since:

Let’s see — a 15 year old disrespectful defiant teen daughter attempting to go to a party at 1:00 A.M. against her father’s parental authority and gets the living shyte knocked out of her is hardly in the same category as Chris Brown or R. Kelly. It is called “tough love” and the father was right.

Unfortunately, Christians have been relying on the scripture, “spare the rod, spoil the child” (Proverbs 13:24) since the beginning of time in order to justify beating their children, but did God really mean that we should use an actual rod? I seriously doubt it.  Due to the misinterpretation of this scripture, some parents have used belts, shoes, switches (a twig or skinny tree branch), wet towels, extension chords, and other objects that were within their reach in order to discipline their children all in the name of NOT sparing the rod.  Most will even brag about the beatings they administer to anyone who will listen.  But, why haven’t we stopped to consider what exactly it is we are teaching our children by beating them into submission rather than utilizing other non-violent forms of punishment?

What’s also interesting is that black on black crime is still more prevalent than ever.  Additionally, the numbers of those incarcerated and dropping out of school is still alarming, and alcohol and drug abuse plague our community, especially our men, most.  Yet, we still feel we are doing something right by beating the “s***” out of our children.  Simply put, violence breeds violence.  Why would the result be any different in a familial setting?

Furthermore, children have already developed their character by age 7, so efforts to curb unwanted behavior by force, especially at age 15, are largely futile. As I stated in response to the the commenter above, Dollar would have gotten jail time for doing what he did to a dog, so at the very least, legally, he was wrong. He could have simply told her if she left the house, not to bother coming back.  I’m certain she would have stayed.

I wrote an article a while back titled, “How Were You Raised?” In it I discussed how I felt this form of discipline commonly practiced in the black community stifled me and contributed to a lack of professional confidence, well into adulthood. I still believe this to be true.  From our parents, we learn how to deal with feelings of anger and sadness, we are taught how to treat others, and conversely, how we should allow others to treat us.  Maybe this cycle of abuse is why we still have so many women who question whether a man loves them, even after he has hit her, cheated on her repeatedly or torn her down with words.    What seems so obvious to us is unrecognizable to her, but these are all lessons from our FATHERS.

Happy Father’s Day to my dad, George M. Brown, and to yours…



5 thoughts on “Sparing the Rod: Lessons From Our Fathers

  1. I’m not even gonna delve into the drama of it all,but I just wanna point out the hypocrisy of America.

    I was raised in NYC my entire life- but I’m not American(from the Caribbean).

    But the hypocrisy in the US is so crazy that its citizens don’t even see that they don’t own shit even their children,but the state owns them.

    Where I’m from(the Caribbean islands),if one’s child(girl or boy)gets rebellious for whatever reason,the parents are allowed to kick their asses if deserved,and if the cops are called,they will help beat the child’s ass.

    But before it even goes there,no cops will be called in the your kids isn’t a crime in these parts.Child-protection services doesn’t exist.Parents truly own their kids which they bore,unlike in America where the state owns your kids and can take them away if please.Now,I don’t think that’s freedom which America always boasts about(that it’s the only free nations on Earth).Pure hypocrisy when one cannot do shit he pleases in the states.

    Posted by Socialkenny | August 7, 2012, 7:18 AM
    • So, are you saying that you feel parents “own” their children, and should be able to treat them however they see fit no matter how harmful or brutal that may be? Children arfe still human, and should be treated as such.

      Also, I condone spanking. Beating, not so much.

      Posted by 30thoughts | August 7, 2012, 8:32 AM
      • I don’t know the difference between spanking and beating.

        I’m lost here,so you’re saying that you think the government should have the liberty to take ppl’s kids away if the gov’ deemed them abusive?

        Only in America shit like that could fly.

        Look at it this way,ppl are under the impression that once you legalize something,ppl will gravitate to it and take advantage.Not true.

        If marijuana was to be legalized(I don’t smoke so I don’t care),ppl who don’t smoke will not begin to smoke just because it’s legal.

        Point is,if spanking your children was lawful in America,it doesn’t mean than parents by the masses will start to abuse or beat their kids.

        Beating kids is legal,lawful and not an issue in the Caribbean,nor in most parts of the globe.

        But because of that,it doesn’t mean parents will begin to massacre their kids.

        Government,law enforcement,judges should not have a say in what I do with my kids.That is freedom!Because I have that freedom doesn’t mean I’d take advantage since I have understanding as a sane individual.

        Posted by Socialkenny | August 7, 2012, 8:47 AM
      • I am going to answer your question with a question:
        “I’m lost here,so you’re saying that you think the government should have the liberty to take ppl’s kids away if the gov’ deemed them abusive?” Do you think a man should be arrested if he hits his wife? Basically, I think that kids should be treated just like any other human being. If it is not ok to sock or choke a woman, then a parent should not be allowed to the same to a child (boy or girl). I think it’s crazy to draw a distinction. Pain is pain. People are people (regardless of age).

        Also, what you state is NOT why abusive behavior is illegal here. It is because the government here seeks to protect us from ourselves. I don’t know the statistics that would make you state that America is the most violent nation in America. I’m not sure what stats you’re basing that conclusion on, but it doesn’t really matter. The bottom line is, children should be treated with dignity and respect, and it is possible to raise a child without abusing them physically or emotionally. If I can’t walk up to you or anyone else and slap the mess out of you, then I don’t think a parent should be able to do this to their child, unless it is in self-defense. I think @JDoubleU is right. If you start early, beating should not be necessary as children grow older.

        Posted by 30thoughts | August 7, 2012, 9:41 AM


  1. Pingback: Embarrassment Parenting is the New Time Out « 30thoughts - August 6, 2012

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