By Dana C. Ayres
The recent images of Toya Graham smacking her wayward-headed son upside his head on social media created a firestorm of controversy and praise. Many pundits, some African-American, criticized Graham for the way she handled her child in public. One pundit claimed that her parenting skills were that way as a result of cultural conditioning and oppression. The pundit added further that she could’ve found more “constructive” ways to discipline her son. Nonsense.
Toya Graham acted out of genuine love and fear for her son in a potentially dangerous situation…and he’s better for it.
I remember my grandmother confronting my brother as a teenager. He thought he was too old and too big to get a whipping. My grandmother turned to him and said, “If the belt don’t move you, I got something that will take you a little bit higher!” My grandmother knew how poorly undisciplined, young Black males fared in the world and refused to let his size dictate how much she loved him. My brother is a grown man with 5 children of his own and neither of us will ever forget that day. This was back in the mid 80’s. Today’s technically savvy youth are prone to the same devilment; they just have a different outlet with social media. Instead of getting a whipping in front of the class, or like me, in a crowded church meeting from my Godmother because I wouldn’t sit still, Val Starks embarrassed her daughter on Facebook and successfully averted any real danger the child may have unwittingly put herself in.
My mother once told my brother and me that she would embarrass us in public, not the other way around. Back in the 70’s when I was growing up, that wasn’t a threat, but a promise. Thedenverchannel.com reported that Denver, Colorado mom, Val Starks is a throwback from a simpler time. She just straightened her child out in a way that served a dual purpose…to correct and to protect. By forcing her child to be honest about her age in the open strongly encourages the child to be honest in every instance and it sends a message to pedophiles to keep on steppin’. Starks got “all up” in her daughter’s business. If parents are actively involved in many aspects of their children’s lives, pedophiles are largely unsuccessful. Also, she may have made her parents look bad to family or friends who may have seen what the girl posted. Gone are the days of the whole neighborhood being on the lookout for wayward youth.
One dad used the child-shaming viral craze to win souls to Christ. Wayman Gresham posted a father/son duo video on Facebook. He opens the video brandishing a pair of clippers and threatens to cut his son “bald-headed.” But, he switches gears and ends up proselytizing and seeking to win souls to Christ by stressing Christian values in child rearing before the children get crazy. Pretty neat!
The devilment that kids get into is not what most of us haven’t seen in our own youth, however the social outlets have changed. Instead of the locker room or the playground, it’s the chat room and the timeline. Should parents’ styles of discipline become relevant with the times?
Here’s the video loaded by Gressham, watch it and tell us what you think.