This weekend, I read the piece that USA Today did on Adrian Peterson and the remorse he feels over using a switch on his child. It talks about the trepidation he had when he first got to call his 4-year-old son after not getting to speak with him for five months. I could tell by his words that he was relieved to hear his son say “Hey Dad” and “I love you too. Can I come over to your house?” Peterson has now been educated regarding more effective ways to ensure new behaviors with his kids, rather than whipping them into submission. He said, “I won’t ever use a switch again.” The article gave me the impression that, like every parent, he loves his children.
I don’t believe I’ve read anywhere what his 4-year-old did to ‘deserve’ the lashing. But to ask the question is absurd because no 4-year-old deserves one. And, it doesn’t matter what he did. What does matter is that there is an opportunity for conversation here that can move us all forward. We don’t know what went on his his household, so I’ll continue with a page from my memory book…
Kids Gone Wild in Taiwan
This incident involves the kindergarten and first grade versions of me and my brother when we lived in Taiwan. And I’m not proud of this, but it could very well have been the origin of the term ‘ugly Americans’. At the time, our family lived right beside a Buddhist and a Confucius temple – really quite the adventure for inquisitive little minds! The Confucius temple was always lively, celebrating this or that holiday with lively music, fireworks and colorful dragon parades. But, Mark and I loved to play around the Buddhist temple because it was very quiet and mysterious. We never saw anyone come in or out, so naturally the intrigue drew us in. We’d sneak up and around it and peek into the windows to get a fix on what was going on in there. What we’d see was so outside our normal little worlds — very serious and sedate monks, sometimes in sitting meditation, sometimes in walking meditation that would take them back behind an enormous gold Buddha with stairs going up behind both sides of it. They’d just disappear behind it! The incense they carried trailing faintly behind them. And our little kid imaginations would go wild as to what was back there. Was the big golden Buddha hiding an enormous golden treasure chest? Was there a Wizard of Oz-like real version of the statue back there? What was back there?!
One day, we were playing around the temple and Mark had a sling shot. It seemed like we were about a football field or two away from the building, when I dared my brother to try to hit one of the lion-dragon statues guarding the front door. Mark curled a lip, looked at me like, “Are you serious, a sissy could hit that,” rears back and somehow rockets the stone through an ancient – A-N-C-I-E-N-T – stained glass window. I can’t remember if it hit the statue first and ricocheted off and through the window or if he missed the target altogether. But, I do vividly recall what happened next.
All the monks in this particular facility were female. And what had to be the leader (per estimation of my first-grade brain), as she was the largest monk I’d ever seen, came flying out the door at us squawking loudly. She reminded me of an extremely upset exotic goose – golden bald head with dark eyes pinning us as she flew toward us with burgundy robe-wings flapping menacingly behind her. She chased us all the way home. You wouldn’t think a monk could move that fast, but I assure you they can! My father ended up going all over the island with her to try to find suitable glass to replace what was broken. To this day, I cringe to my very bone marrow when I think of it.
Mark and I both got the belt that day, just as we did on many other occasions. It’s what our parents knew, as they were also raised that way. And, by the way, I do know they loved us very much.
Breaking the Cycle
Were we bad kids? No. Were we being malicious? No. We simply didn’t think through to the possibilities of a poor aim (sorry Mark!) or ricocheted stone. Kids do make bad choices, display bad behaviors and make cotton-headed-ninny-muggin moves. But, are any kids really bad? With possibly the exception of a few true psychological disorders, I don’t believe so.
The reason I feel this is an important topic for a blog on ‘living authentic lives’ is there are many subconscious beliefs that we have that shroud our loving authentic self and that can limit us throughout our entire lives. Many discipline choices can result in a lifetime of misguided shame, guilt and self-loathing.
Only 5 percent of our mind is conscious — 95 percent is subconscious programs and many of those subconscious programs and beliefs were formed in childhood. As children we operated in a subconscious mind until about the age of 7 years old. Until then, our conscious minds were not fully formed, so we took information in at face value — as the truth – the gospel. We didn’t have the filters to consciously select what stayed and what should be thrown out because it was never meant to be taken literally. Early childhood is a time when we are human sponges and it is a critical time as it sets up our beliefs, self-esteem and behaviors for life. A child may hear “You are a very bad boy!” and take it for truth. We might get whipped and take away the same message. We may make a mess and hear “You are messy” and accept that as fact. When all that happened was a mess was made. It was a behavior, not a defining characteristic that should be hauled around the rest of our lives!! You may feel you are a bad person today (subconsciously) because of the way you perceived a punishment or admonishment as a child. You may carry feelings of unworthiness all your life because of something as simple as a parent saying “No, you can’t have that toy. You don’t deserve it.” When really they were just annoyed about an in-store tantrum and wanted to communicate that you didn’t need that useless piece of overpriced plastic.
My point is there are limiting beliefs and subconscious programs from childhood that are holding us back from being the highest expression of our authentic selves. They were unintentionally downloaded during childhood (and built on along the way). We can consciously undo these for ourselves for a better life. And, we can break the cycle of passing down fear, violence and feelings of low self-esteem to our children. As conscious adults, Adrian Peterson and every other loving parent, can choose differently for themselves and their children. Just because something has been passed down from generation to generation, does not necessarily mean it is the best way to operate. We can use non-violent discipline methods with communication that lets the child know that it is the behavior not them that is bad. As adults, we can rewrite our subconscious tapes, forgive the old limiting beliefs and anyone that may have helped us arrive at them. Yes, we have made mistakes (as children and adults). Yes, we have been bad on occasion. But, we can always choose to act in accordance with a new self vision. Love yourself. Forgive yourself and the behaviors of others (because they are only a compendium of subconscious programs absorbed along the way).
We all deserve a fresh start. Our subconscious dictates how we move and operate in the world. As 95 percent of our minds are subconscious and much of it was never our ideas and beliefs to begin with, but rather downloads from society, parents and friends, getting to authentic self is like peeling a massive onion. Please continue to stay tuned to this site because we will always be looking at methods for discarding what does not serve the highest expression of our true authentic selves. Blessings!
P.S. Any opinions (differing or otherwise) on this piece are welcome below. Thanks!
Sandra M Bell
Author of “Lunchtime Joy Magnet”
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