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Quick Inside Slant: Week 2

Impressions of the 2014 NFL Season as perceived by a Creative Writing graduate student, part-time amateur stand-up comedian and collegiate intramural flag football legend.

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By: Dustin Fisher

Adrian Peterson

Maybe I’ll get to write about actual football sometime next year.

I am not only the father of a two-year-old girl and a fetal human male, but also a dad blogger (daddyneedsanap.com), and published author on the subject of being an at-home dad (Daddy Issues, available in paperback, eBook and audio book!). Seeing as that my two worlds are colliding with this Adrian Peterson issue, it looks like I’ll have to wait yet another week to talk about the Eagles and how my fingernails aren’t growing at a rate fast enough for their style of play.

I’ve heard so many different opinions and seen so many different reports on this issue, I’m not even sure I have my own opinion about it anymore. Even as extraordinarily intelligent as I am, my view can be swayed by a good argument. On one hand, Adrian Peterson was doing what he though was right, and what was done to him as a child, and what many people still do today. He has not hidden from or denied any of his actions. I was surprised at the number of supporters he had – at least initially, before they were also publicly shamed out of that opinion. Though brutal and an abuse of his power as a father, this is how Peterson knows love. And how far are we allowed to reach into another person’s home with the long arm of the law, be it the criminal justice system or a private industry like the NFL or the Vikings? On the other hand, a defenseless four-year-old child was beaten in the scrotum with a stick.

My wife and I have made the decision not to beat the toddler out of our children. Neither of us were hit as a child and we rather enjoyed that. Toddlers have these new hormones raging through their bodies that they haven’t quite learned how to control in their brief stint on this earth. And I don’t know a lot of adults who throw their asparagus on the ground when they’re done eating, so we’re just going to ride out this phase, assuming it will go away with or without beating. Besides, I get upset when Mabel falls off a bench. I just don’t have the fortitude or the emotional distance to do any of that damage myself. However, I also don’t presume to tell other people how to raise their children. You want to home school them until college? You go ahead. Teach them to swim by throwing them in a pool? Best of luck. Feed them inorganic blueberries? Sounds delicious. Telling somebody else how to raise their child presumes that I know more about it than they do. And I don’t feel like I do. You can read all about it in a book I wrote about parenting.

However, the child needs to have a voice in this matter, which is why we have laws about child abuse. Peterson’s son had defensive wounds on his hands from trying to protect himself from getting hit with a tree branch by a professional football player until he bled. I’m not sure where exactly I would paint my line for when there needs to be outside intervention but that is certainly on the other side of it.

This subject has generated many opinions from within the dad blogging community. Some of these awesome dads have even looked at the research I never felt the need to that says why you shouldn’t hit a child. Here are what a few of my online writer dads have to say with regard to this matter.

Aaron Gouveia of The Daddy Files on how times have changed:

  • Your parents weren’t perfect. They made mistakes, probably because they didn’t know any better. Some of our parents smoked while pregnant because the dangers of smoking weren’t well established yet, or didn’t use car seats because the safety standards weren’t in place. Our parents didn’t have the wealth of information available to us today, so why repeat mistakes made out of ignorance when we should know better now?

Buzz Bishop of Dad Camp talks about disciplining his child:

  • If you’re a remotely sensible parent, the wave of guilt flows over you the second there is contact. “It hurts me more than it hurts you,” is not an empty sentence. I feel like a failure for having lost control enough to resort to spanking.

Carl Wilke of Big Cheese Dad on the violent nature of football compared to other sports:

  • On might argue that the inherently violent nature of football attracts a different type of athlete than baseball, basketball or even hockey. While there are certainly finesse aspects to football athleticism there are multiple violent collisions on every single play. And until recently those big hits were celebrated and showcased by the networks presenting the highlights, including NFL Films. The other sports simply don’t have a similar level of violence.

Larry Bernstein of Me, Myself, and Kids about the line between discipline and abuse:

  • Adrian Peterson is a great football player who showed incredible determination to get back on the football field when he was injured. But that is irrelevant. He admits to causing the bruising on his child but says he did not mean to hurt him. Huh? Yes, some people are more physical when it comes to punishment. I do believe that parents should have the right to discipline their child. However, we are talking about a four-year-old with a head injury. Something is wrong here. I don’t care where this took place and who committed the act. This is not even near reasonable.

Lorne Jaffe of Raising Sienna on being wrong about someone:

  • What’s killing me is that I wrote a blog when Peterson’s other son was beaten to death and how I couldn’t imagine what such a tragedy must feel like. And now. Now. I feel like an idiot. The guy goes on to savagely beat a FOUR YEAR OLD? (“savage” being my interpretation after seeing the pics). I’m not going to argue spanking vs. not spanking, but you have a responsibility to know your size and strength and the size and strength and age of the child. It’s not like the four-year-old killed someone with an Uzi.

Russell Peterson (no relation) of Day Parent Dad on the PR of the Vikings:

  • Maybe he has good intentions, but I think this statement is in big part a cover to make the mea culpa look good. It reads as through it was very carefully crafted by a talented public relations team that is working hard to help save the Vikings season and Mr. Peterson’s career. I find it almost more repugnant that there are people more interested in helping others save their financial investment than they are helping to educate the public about eliminating corporal child abuse as a discipline methodology.

Thanks to all my fellow dads for this discussion. In this group of over 850 dads, there are varied opinions on spanking but 99-percent consider this abuse. Then, there is that 1-percent who still defend Peterson’s actions. I’m just happy my daughter isn’t being raised by one of them.

Now seriously, how about those Eagles!

Dustin Fisher is a writer, comedian, storyteller, and stay-at-home dad. Follow along with his dad blog at http://daddyneedsanap.com/ or buy his first book, Daddy Issues.

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Dustin Fisher is an amateur standup comedian, storyteller, freelance writer, and stay-at-home dad, all of which are just better ways of saying “unemployed.” He worked in the area of collegiate recreation for the previous 14 years at UMBC, Miami University and the University of Baltimore. There, he became somewhat of a folk legend on the flag football field and actually got paid to play fantasy football. Dustin is currently in the MFA program at the University of Baltimore seeking a Masters degree in Creative Writing. He has made contributions to various publications including The Good Men Project and the Baltimore Fishbowl. For more about Dustin, check out his stay-at-home dad website, Daddy Needs a Nap. Dustin lives with his wife and daughter in New Carrollton, MD in a house surrounded by too many trees to get the Dish Network.

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