Baltimore riots: when is smacking your kid okay

I am not much of a corporal punishment person, and I typically use other forms of mommy manipulation and psychological warfare to get my kids to fly right. It does not always work, and my boys definitely make mistakes, but for the most part?  My sons have a healthy fear of their mom.

Some experts disagree with this approach. Many will insist that logic and healthy dialogue are the best tools for raising well-adjusted kids. Others find that the friend route is more civilized and evolved. But I view parenting as a unique and highly individual endeavor.

Therefore, I put my trust in the moms and dads of the world to make their own decisions.

There is no calling 911 if I see a mom run into the store for a gallon of milk with her child left in the car.

I will not contact DCFS if I notice a dad smacking his kid on the butt after sprinting into the street.

If there is an 8-year-old playing at the park by himself? I might keep an eye out for him, but I am the last person to view the behavior as unreasonable.

And when it comes to using colorful language? Let’s just say people in glass houses should never, ever throw stones.

Still, I have maintained a list of things that will result in the immediate smacking upside the head for any child of mine. My boys are acutely aware of these potential offenses, and they know I am quite serious.

First degree transgressions include:

  • Doing drugs

  • Bullying

  • Going along with friends when friends are engaging in unacceptable and/or dangerous behavior.

The smacking upside the head would certainly not be performed for my benefit. It would be utilized only to instill shock and embarrassment over a decision that could potentially destroy lives.

As I watched the coverage of the unrest in Baltimore this week, there was one mom with whom I could not relate more. On the surface, Toya Graham and I wouldn’t be obvious cohorts or sisters in arms. Ms. Graham is a single mom raising six kids. We live in different cities. We are of different races.  Our perceptions of the world and life experiences are undoubtedly vastly different.

But Ms. Graham did the exact same thing I would have done had I spotted my child acting out, endangering his life and those of the policemen under attack.

Ms. Graham smacked her son upside the head.

The Baltimore police commissioner commended her. The video has since gone viral.  Some will criticize her language and that smack.

But me? I see only a remarkable mom flying in the face of daily struggle to keep her much-loved child flying right.

Ms. Graham is all in.  She refused to relinquish her son to bad decisions and was fighting for his very life … both figuratively and literally.

If that is not a mom to be commended, I don’t know who is. Although the world continues to harp on differences and division, today I celebrate the passion and unity of motherhood.

Today, Ms. Graham truly is my sister.

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