I will never forget the day that Will and I witnessed a child being slapped. My body was frozen unable to react to what was unfolding before me. Somehow I rallied and finally was able to calm my then boyfriend now husband down enough to take a deep breath.
First let me explain we were at the West Point annual 1812 concert. It is a wonderful event full of great music and fireworks. A couple of blankets in front of us sat a family; mom, dad, and son. As we sat on our blanket enjoying the beautiful summer day, we were people watching when by chance our eyes landed in the same area. I have no idea what transpired prior to it, but the father’s reaction was a full force smack across the little boy’s face.
I think I might have literally gasped out loud, however I quickly realized Will was already on his feet; his gut reaction taking over and wanting to do something. I quickly rose myself and pulled Will’s arm, in the opposite direction to take a small walk. It was in that very moment I knew exactly what kind of dad Will would be.
From the very beginning I knew Will was good with kids. In college he was a lifeguard and spent much of his time playing with the children at the local park. I have to be honest that was one of the things I fell in love with. It came so naturally and unforced for him. But now here in that moment at West Point I knew something else very important about him, no matter what he would never hit our child.
A lot of people have different views on what is acceptable discipline for their children; however an act of violence should never be one. I never understood the theology of getting a child to behave through hitting. It isn’t respect you are establishing through that, it is fear. Your child might not do something again but it isn’t because they understand, it is because they are scared. Some people do not care about the reason as long as the end result is the child does not act up again. To me it is more important that my child understands why instead of living in fear.
It still haunts me today about that little boy. Was that an isolated incident (I tend not to think so since it was done so publicly)? Should we have done something? I myself at the time was scared to get involved and maybe we should have. I am no perfect parent by any means. I lose my patience and at times have to leave the room to calm down, but I know I will never ever strike my child to get them to listen, understand, or learn. The only lesson a child will learn from hitting is fear and I promise that is not a lesson you want your kids to live with.