On The Creflo Dollar Case & Why I’m Choosing Not to Spank My Children

As I was sitting down at my kitchen table to do some journaling and write my posts for this week, an article in my Twitter stream grabbed my attention. As I read it, a flurry of words rushed to my lips in response, and I knew I had to push aside my original post for today to share my thoughts on this.

The article, which you can read here, articulates a lot of my feelings regarding the Creflo Dollar child abuse case. For those unaware, mega church pastor Creflo Dollar was arrested last week after an altercation with his 15 year old daughter. From all of the reports I’ve read, a few things appear to be consistent

  1. His daughter wanted to go to a party and Dollar said no
  2. An argument ensued and escalated
  3. A physical altercation took place; In his statement to police, Dollar claims he grabbed his daughter by the shoulders when she became disrespectful, wrestled her to the ground, and spanked her. Both the daughter involved in the altercation and his older, 19 year old daughter who witnessed the altercation claim Dollar grabbed, choked, and hit the 15 year old.
  4. The daughter who witnessed the fight initially gave contradicting stories to police, with her written statement differing from what she verbally told police. When confronted on the discrepancies, she rewrote her statement, saying that her parents being with her at the time caused her to give a statement corroborating Dollar’s claims about the incident.

Now….there’s a lot that bothers me about this, and let me start by making one thing perfectly clear: this is NOT a smear campaign against Creflo Dollar, I am not “hating” on him because of who he is, or attempting to vilify him in any way. I personally could care less about the man or what he preaches. I don’t listen to his messages, buy his books, or ascribe to his particular brand of gospel. But what I DO care about is the fact that a grown man is  justifying whatever his behavior was that night because his daughter was being “disrespectful.”

This is where the article I read this afternoon comes in. (Again, you should read it here) It pretty much summed up what bothers me about this case: in Black Culture there is a prevailing and acceptable perspective that letting loose on your child when they disrespect you is ok, and that getting a back hand to the face or some other form of physical force is the same as disciplining your children.

In our culture, disrespect is just not tolerated. At all. No back talking, sass,  attitude,  lip smacking, none, zilch, nada. We’re brought up in a culture that says if you even THINK about pursing your lips to say something out of line to your parents or an elder, you’re catching a world of heat. And that heat will land anywhere from your behind to your face, depending on how close within reach you are to the one you’ve offended. Slaps & smacks to the face are common, as are spankings or “gettin beat,” as we call them.

For me, growing up, I learned early on if I even looked like I had something negative to say, there would be hell to pay. My father was one of those people who took spanking to the extreme. He didn’t just swat me on the behind when I told a lie or looked like I was rolling my eyes (which I never dreamed of doing I was so petrified of him) or didn’t do something to his liking. He literally did whatever he could to beat the life out of me. And his punishments? Forget it. Textbook child abuser, that was my father.

But aside from being out of his mind, that’s how my father was raised. He was raised getting beat for whatever he did wrong or for being disrespectful. He grew up “old school” as the older folk call it. He lived under that whole “spare the rod, spoil the child,” mentality that older generations of (black) parents took as license to discipline their children however they saw fit, even if it meant excessive physical force.

Even when I moved in with my mother and step-father, I wasn’t abused but spankings with a belt did happen as did a back hand or two if any disrespect was given or even perceived.

So it’s no surprise that when I became a parent, I thought discipline equaled physical force…after all, that’s what my background and culture had taught me.  Brennan didn’t really go through the Terrible Two phase, but when he did have a meltdown or tantrum, I spanked him. Not more than a swat on his behind but I spanked him nonetheless. I remember my parents telling me that I needed to “keep a firm hand” on him and make sure he knew I was the parent, and that there would be consequences for getting out of line…consequences that involved physical contact. I even remember being told to spank him if that’s what was needed to get him potty trained.

So I did. I spanked him from time to time when he was acting up, but every time I did, I just didn’t feel right. All it seemed to do was make him scared of me, which I hated. And it didn’t seem to correct anything. So I had a very honest talk with myself and decide that while I wanted to establish healthy boundaries and rules for him to abide by, I didn’t necessarily want to make physical contact a part of my discipline strategy. The same goes for Alex.  As he’s entered toddlerhood and is proving to give Terrible Two’s a new meaning, both myself and his father have had to find creative ways to discipline him and not let him “rule” us without spanking him.

I regret spanking my children because I know that coming from my background it’s just not a good idea.  I’m adamantly against perpetuating the cycle of abuse in my family, and for me, that means I have to go against my cultural norm and choose to discipline my children in other ways. And while I’m finding that it doesn’t work for me, I’m not judging those parents who feel it does. I’m not the one to question how you choose to discipline your child….

Until something like what happened with the Dollar family takes place. As I read numerous responses & comments from his supporters and those who claim you have to “do what you need to do to keep your kids in line,” I can’t help but wonder how healthy it is for parents and their children to think that physical force is an appropriate way to deal with someone who’s disrespected you.  And even if you do think spanking is appropriate, is it at 15? I don’t know if he choked or punched his daughter as it’s being claimed, but he openly admits that things “escalated” and that he wrestled her to the ground and spanked her. Is wrestling your children to the ground because they are upset you won’t let them attend a party the best way to handle “disrespect?” Is that really teaching them how to respect anyone, especially those in authority?

Somewhere along the line, we’ve started to equate force with discipline and fostering respect. I think that too many of us as parents (especially black parents) forget that in order to get respect you have to give it, and that our children model what we do, whether or not we’re willing to admit it.

How we treat our children impacts not only how they treat others, but how they will treat their children when they become parents as well…This incident with Mr. Dollar leaves me wondering how this will affect how his daughter treats her own son or daughter when faced with the difficult aspects of parenting.

I think it’s time to start sending a different kind of message….do you?

You can read more about the alleged incident here, and listen to Mr. Dollar’s statements regarding the case below…


15 thoughts on “On The Creflo Dollar Case & Why I’m Choosing Not to Spank My Children

  1. What a fantastic post (yet again!), A’Driane. I’m happy you’re not going to perpetuate the cycle you grew up with. Also? I’m so sorry for your pain! I hope that any parent on the fence, like you were when spanking just didn’t feel right, reads your post.

  2. The ‘disrespect’ thing gets me. How are you teaching a child to respect you if you keep hitting them? That’s fear. I saw this on the bus back from Disney one afternoon. Young mother hitting her teen daughter and yelling about the girl not respecting getting to be at Disney. The girl was crying. I had my boys with me so all I could do was glare at the mother and try to smile at the girl. I just knew all that girl was learning was to not have any moods her mom didn’t like.
    I’ve spanked my boys too, in anger and frustration. I hated it. It just made them cry and be scared. They forgot what lesson I was trying to teach them.
    Parents model for their kids. Treat your kids like humans, not dogs who must obey.

  3. I always enjoy reading post as such, however when there is not viable solutions for a child that disrespect there parent then some of these post are junk. Most people i do respect have strong opinions on to beat or not to beat but when the child has been taught right from wrong and still chose wrong it is not always the parents fought but we will always blame the parent. If he said no, then no should have been it even without an explanation because he his the parent, (period). Please give a viable solution for a child’s disrespect when the situation is at the end of the rope.

    • I’m sorry but I really don’t think that in Mr. Dollar’s case wrestling his 15 yr old to the ground over her remarks about not going to a party is a “no other choice” situation. We ALWAYS have a choice, especially when our children are older. Why does that choice have be force especially if no one’s lives are being threatened? If it’s a life or death situation, then sure, force is viable, but anything short of that doesn’t warrant a need for brute force in my opinion. If it’s gotten to that point then maybe there are other issues between patent and child or just with the child that need to be addressed in therapy or some kind of program. Or maybe you didn’t do as fabulous of a parenting job as you think. All I’m saying is, find other ways to discipline and if they don’t work, then maybe it’s time to seek outside help & services to rectify the situation.

  4. This is one of those topics that really gets me upset, and not for the reason you may think.

    Yes, I’m a black mother of 2, and yes, I have spanked my son. My daughter has not gotten spankings as we’ve agreed that we don’t start spankings until around the age of two IF NEEDED. Until the age of 4, I could count the number of spankings my son had gotten on one hand. Now that he is 6, I can count them on two hands. It’s not done every time he’s in trouble by any means, but it’s done.

    Like you pointed out, spankings are a mainstay in the African American culture. We could go into a deep dissertation as to why: slavery, whippings from slave masters, maintaining slave mentality through the generations, etc. But, it is a mainstay nonetheless. As something that is part of a culture, anyone can overdue it, and 80 percent of the time, most black parents do. I think that my Husband and I were lucky by growing up in the households we did. Spankings we part of the discipline, yes, but they were a last resort and were never to the point of being called “abuse.” You got one, and you knew that you’d never want it again, so you behaved. If you ever got so out of line that you needed one again after trying other punishments, it happened.

    Why this upsets me to see so many people talk about it, and to have this blatant story of abuse be labeled as a “spanking,” is that I see parents that claim not to judge if you say you spank but do. They try not to make it obvious; just stating their view, going into detail why they don’t, but they feel that they have to post in the negative about something that they either never did, or only have done a handful of times. It upsets me that spankings are put in the category of abuse so easily, like one flows into the other. Similar to the controversial breastfeeding topic, if you are a fan of the “positive” view (breastfeeding), you are a hero and rewarded. But if you open up and admit that breastfeeding is not for you, you get so much negativity thrown at you. This is why I haven’t openly shared our discipline routine online.

    Pastor Creflo was wrong, plain and simple. His daughter was way too old for “spankings” and he knew that, which is why he felt (allegedly) he needed to take it to the next level. But, I beg of moms and parents everywhere: don’t group the rest of us with him.

    • I LOVE your perspective on this, and I agree. That’s why I feared admitting that I spanked Brennan. I do know that there are parents who do spank and do it as a last resort and within normal bounds. Like I said, if that’s you, I don’t judge. If it works for you, it works for you. I think every parent needs to do what works for them….unless it is
      abusive, and that’s where I agree that
      Dollar and other parents who agree with his actions cross the line. I think the article from Clutch Mag I referenced sums this up wonderfully. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this!

  5. I personally am pro-spanking yet anti-whooping. Does that make sense? I was spanked with a switch I had to pick myself by my mother (yeah, we’re from the South lol) and later spanked with a belt (and sans pants or underwear) by my dad as a child. My mother left no doubt about her love for me by offering no apology, but my dad hugged me after and said he loved me and if I’d just behave he wouldn’t have to hurt me. His actions led to further abuse down the road. Now that I’m a parent, I use every method I know to discipline a Terrible Two year old. Usually “1, 2, 3” works (time outs almost never do), but occasionally he needs a swat to his diapered behind. Under no circumstance will I go further. If I’m so angry I feel the need to do more, he goes to his room and I go to mine. I get time outs, too. I grew up seeing, feeling, knowing the difference between physical discipline and abuse. I know where the line is drawn and I intend to stay far away from it.

    • MamaPoodle, I absolutely love your comment. This is exactly how I feel and how we still handle situations with my 6 year old. I do understand the “anti-whooping” comment as well. My parents, who were raised by southerners, had to “get the switch” and never EVER did that with my sister and I. We were disciplined, but never in that manner and they made a point of telling us how they were disciplined and that they would not be following in those footsteps.

  6. So here’s my take. It is not okay to hit another person, barring self-defense or other extreme circumstances. And though some days, parenting sure feels like self-defense, it is not.

    Discipline is not just doling out consequences for behaviors – it’s about teaching children about cause and effect, about other people’s perspectives, and the real-life consequences for choices made.

    I absolutely have wanted to spank my three year old. Specifically when she ran away from me in a store and scared me half to death and laughed in my face as I was trying to explain to her why she had to stay with mommy. I just wanted her to know how serious I was…and I wanted her to understand how I felt. But I didn’t spank her. Because hitting a child is a short term solution at best. I picked her up and carried her to the car, without making my purchase, which included treats for her. She has not run away since.

    Also? I find myself wondering how many parents would defend spanking if it was just called “hitting”. Parents who spank always seem to use a euphemism for it, a la “spanking” and “swatting”. If we just call it what it is, it doesn’t seem so unreasonable for people like me to consider spanking abuse, does it? If I said that I forgot to grocery shop today and so my husband hit me, would anyone be okay with that? Because they shouldn’t be. What if I said, “Susie ran out near the street so I hit her yesterday to teach her it wasn’t safe”?

    I do not want to teach my child to hit others, therefore I must lead by example.

  7. I was hit as a child, by my mother.

    It made me hate her.

    I knew by age 8 I would never hit my children. I remember right where I was when I mentally made that promise to myself.

    I don’t want them to ever hate me. And that’s all hitting does: create hate. Everywhere to everybody.

  8. Pingback: TEACHING KIDS TO RESPECT AUTHORITY (PART ONE) « Vine and Branch World Ministries

  9. I’m saddened by this. I did watch many of his sermons and this just makes me sad.
    But wrong is wrong. I wasn’t there, but it seems like he lost self control.

    I think spanking is abuse. I think spanking is mostly done out of emotion, fear and lack of self control. That doesn’t mean, I’m judging people. but this is my opinion and experience. I’ve been on both ends of spanking, so I know what I’m talking about.
    I still remember to this day how I hated my parents when they beat me with a belt.
    They didn’t know any better, but once they knew, they never laid hands on us again.

    The few times, I spanked my kids, it certainly didn’t feel right. Even if it was just a firm peck on the butt. I found it was not about them, but about me loosing them or trying to control them with force and fear.

    I want a relationship with my kids, a relationship built on love, trust and mutual respect. If the same hands that loves and caresses them hurts them, how can there be any of that?

    And I am a teacher. i’m presented with the task to deal with the most difficult children without laying a hand on them. If I can do that, I can certainly do that with my own children. Its is so much easier to spank children instead of puzzling and struggling to make them obey. but the price, you pay is a price of distance and fear between yourself and your kids.
    I am SO not done talking, but this is a comment, not a novel..

  10. It is sad that the situation escaladed. However let us not throw the baby with the bath water. I was spanked as a child and I will spank my kids. The problem is when kids are abused in the name of discipline. There is a place where other forms of discipline are neccessary but I am convinced that there is a place for spanking as well.

  11. If I feed, cloth and give them shelter yea they must obey. We have to obey the laws of the land so my kids must obey the laws of my house.

    • I definitely agree with you that kids should obey the rules you set forth in your house. I just don’t think physical discipline is the best form of punishment for breaking those rules, at least not for every infraction or as the first means of correction.

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