Reb Bradley is the author of the WorldNetDaily-published book "Child Training Tips." As we've previously noted, Bradley is an enthusiastic advocate of corporal punishment of children (and even babies), stating that the "objective" of punishing children is "subjection of their will" and that parents must "teach your children to obey without being told 'why.'"
All of which makes Bradley the obvious WND choice to talk about the Adrian Peterson child abuse case, which he did in a Sept. 17 column. Bradley laments the decline of spanking:
People, civilized and uncivilized, have used spanking to teach their children self-control for thousands of years. In most cultures it has been used to help children learn to say NO to themselves and YES to what is right. It wasn’t until 50 years ago that parenting books began to discourage spanking. Instead of reinforcing the absolute importance of raising children of good character through balancing love and discipline, the new “experts” emphasized raising children who were independent, expressive and “self-actualized.” Since the ’60s the change in emphasis saw a dramatic increase in narcissism and hedonism in our culture.
Bradley ultimately defends Peterson's intent if not his methods, claiming the severe beating Peterson delivered to his 4-year-old son was merely "poorly executed":
Someone like Adrian Peterson is trying to employ the approach to parenting that was used successfully for centuries and worked well on him. He wants his son to grow up with self-control and responsibility. Unfortunately, Peterson, like all of us, is flawed and therefore makes mistakes in his judgments and acts of discipline.
When I heard that Peterson had whipped his son 14 times with a switch and left abrasions and bruises I was sickened. Just the thought of injuring a child that way angers me. I am a proponent of spanking, but not of overdoing it. Spanking must not be done in anger, not on the legs, not on the head, not with an implement that damages the skin, and certainly not with 14 strokes. If, as his son claimed, his dad spanked him in anger, then he accidentally taught his son that it is OK to take out aggression on smaller, more helpless people.
Spanking is not an act in which a parent wails on his kid and yells, “I’ll teach you to do that to me.” Parents – spanking is not about YOU. Such an approach can actually foster violence in children. Proper spanking simply offers some negative reinforcement for young children when they demonstrate defiance or rebellion and NOT when they make childish mistakes. The unpleasant consequence for misbehavior motivates better behavior. It helps children in the first five years of life develop self-control, the key trait of maturity. Without self-control they will grow up, but they will never mature. Our nation is now morally out-of-control because it is populated by individuals who lack self-control, most likely because they were catered to and not spanked for defiance when they were young.
So – did Peterson permanently warp his son by spanking him? I doubt it – at least not by the spanking, as poorly executed as it was. A calmly delivered spanking on the bottom would have served his purpose better. Adrian Peterson loves his son and wants to raise him properly, but quite honestly, I would encourage him to concentrate on cultivating a strong relationship of love. By the time his son is a teenager, love will motivate him far more than fear.
Bradley's calling for love to motivate more than fear seems to run counter to his advice to subjugate the will of children and instill blind obedience into them.