The following is a true story that I witnessed. I saw a father teaching, who I assumed to be his son, how to be a bully. I am sure that was not his intent. But as the old saying goes, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.
I pulled into a gas station, and stood beside my truck while the pump ran. A car pulled into the stall next to me. At first there was nothing unusual about the situation, so I turned around to face the pump with my back to the car. I heard the driver get out, and walk around to the rear of the car to pump the gas. All of a sudden, I heard him scream at the top of his lungs, “Get back in the car.” He was screaming so loudly that people completely across the street heard him, and turned to look. He screamed “Get back in the car” several times before I was able to see who he was screaming at.
This was not a man most people would be willing to confront. He was a good six-foot-two and 200 pounds. He himself did not hesitate to become violent. The third time he screamed, “Get back in the gawd-damn car,” I saw who it was that he was screaming at. It was a young boy, maybe ten years old, walking away from the car. It appeared that he was trying to get away from this man, with good reason as far as I could tell.
The man stopped pumping gas, and started around the car toward the boy. The boy stopped, turned around, and started back toward the car. As the man approached, he raised his right hand as if to hit the boy. I do not know if he did because, by this time, they were on the other side of the car and out of my line of sight. What happened next was even more shocking. The boy shouted, “F.U.” I do not know if the boy was the man’s son or not. But he did get back into the car. The man slammed the car door, walked back around to the rear of the car, and finished pumping the gas. Then he got back into the car and left in one hell of a hurry.
I was so surprised that I failed to get the license plate number of the car. I was speechless, which takes some doing. I could only imagine the abuse that the boy and his mother had to endure behind closed doors. I should not have been so shocked at the scene. It was very reminiscent of the kind of childhood that I had. The worst part was what that young boy was learning about how to deal with people who disagree with him or do not do what he tells them to do.
This will be really frightening when he gets older and is physically larger. The above incident reminds me of the video that was posted on Facebook by the mother of a fourteen-year-old girl in Florida, who was arrested for bullying a twelve-year-old girl, who ended up committing suicide. This mother was also videotaped while beating, punching, kicking and cussing a nine-year-old boy. Like the sheriff said, “The apple does not fall far from the tree.” I couldn’t agree more.
That little boy that I saw is headed in exactly the same direction. Of course Gas Station Daddy was probably bullied by his father. I hope the above examples are enough to make you realize just how dangerous it is to bully your own child. This is in addition to the fact that you never know who else might be watching.
There is one more issue about bullying your own child: spanking. I don’t espouse zero tolerance here. It depends. It’s not always bullying in my book. But beating a child is wrong—no ifs, ands, or buts about it. My father would grab me in one hand, and start swinging his belt with the other. It didn’t matter to him where he hit me with it. It could be across my back, my butt, or even my face. He just figured that I had it coming. I remember several times that he beat me so bad that I had trouble standing up.
The first time I was five when I wandered off, just before dinner, after he told me not to leave the yard. I went a few houses down the street to play with a friend. When I heard him calling me, I knew I was in trouble. When he got to me, he already had his belt out. He caught me in the middle of the street, and beat me until I could not stand up. Then he demanded that I get up and walk home.
He did the same thing a few years later in the parking lot of a convenience store when I had bicycled further from home than he told me I could. I wasn’t the only one. At one point, I saw my father drag my brother by the hair out the front door. He was determined that his son was going to get a haircut whether he wanted one or not. There were numerous other incidents that took place in between this two examples.
My father’s idea of a spanking was to beat you to a pulp. My idea of a spanking is a single swat with an open hand across the butt. Trying to get their attention is one thing; beating them senseless is a totally different story. But here is a word to the wise. Be very cautious with spanking. If you do use it, do so sparingly, and make sure that you can control your temper. I have not spanked my daughter since she was five, and that was only one swat to her behind with my open hand. My only purpose was to get her attention, not to cause undue harm and pain.