Dear Mr. Thal,
I’m a member of a Woodland Hills church I’ve been attending with my son, Tim, since he was a toddler. We believe that if we spare the rod, we spoil the child. Recently, Tim’s Sunday school teacher told me that my boy, who is 12, has been skipping classes. Some of his classmates say he’s been spotted smoking marijuana. I think he’s due for the rod, but he’s too big now for me to hit. Since I’m a single mom, should I ask a church member to do the swatting for me?
Dear Petit Mom,
If you’ve read any of my columns about discipline, you’d know I frown upon corporal punishment. And to ask someone else to do your dirty work for you is reprehensible.
Here’s what happened three years ago to someone with your mindset. CBS News reported on December 11, 2011 about an Irvine couple suspecting their 15-year-old son smoking cigarettes. They didn’t have the heart to discipline their kid, so they turned to Paul Kim, a church friend of theirs who would be happy to smack their child for them. So these parents dropped off their son at Kim’s Chino Hills home where Kim beat the boy with a metal pole about a dozen times. According to San Bernardino County sheriff’s spokesperson, Cindy Bachmann, the pole was an inch in diameter.
Fortunately for the boy, an adult at his school saw the bruises and called the police. Kim was arrested. The sad news is that the parents weren’t.
If you plan on retaining custody of your child for the next six years I strongly suggest you start talking to him and stop thinking about ways to hurt him. He’ll never get through puberty with a vindictive mother who hits first and asks questions later.
Michael Thal is the author of Goodbye Tchaikovsky, a story about a deaf teen.