Our “Pit Crew” Fills a Vital Need

My family’s Eastern North Carolina roots meant I grew up with NASCAR in the background on TV. I barely paid attention, and outside of being able to tell you that a man named Richard Petty drove a race car, I couldn’t have told you a thing about the sport until I attended my first race in the fall of 2014. I was lucky enough to learn a little bit about it from a former NASCAR pit crew member who patiently explained it to me. There’s much more to it than cars going fast around a track. My favorite part may have been watching the pit crew at work. It is fascinating.  As much as winning the race depends on a great car and a talented driver, it also depends on the performance of the pit crew, who can either shave off or add thousandths of a second to a car’s time. Those thousandths of a second could win or lose a race. If you watch a pit crew in action, seven members function like a machine, completely in sync with one another. In a span of fewer than 15 seconds, cars are jacked up, four tires changed, windshields are cleaned, gas tanks are filled, shocks are adjusted, and mechanical adjustments are made to the car. They do it all with a limited number of tools: two wrenches, one jack and two cans of gasoline. Today’s pit crew members have to be in top physical condition and even train like athletes. In fact, NASCAR actively recruits conditioned college athletes as pit crew members. Winning is the goal. This past year,...

Negative Discipline Isn’t Necessary

A donor requested that I address the issue of spanking. I know there are those who certainly don’t condone child abuse but who feel spanking is an appropriate form of punishment. Like many people, I was spanked as a child. For me, it was always a last resort, and it was effective. Unfortunately, many well-intentioned parents lose control of their emotions in the heat of the moment, and things can get out of hand. Use of physical punishment with children is controversial, and the practice is opposed by the American Academy of Pediatrics. There are better ways. Negative discipline, such as spanking, hitting, sarcasm, verbal shaming or degrading remarks, can have detrimental effects on children’s emotional health and may result in children learning to hit or yell at other children, or in them lying to avoid getting caught instead of learning to correct behavior. I am deliberately no longer a “yeller,” though I have had some impressive mom-fits through the years. In those moments, I was ineffective and felt horrible afterward. My kids admit that they just “tuned me out” at those times. As parent educators, we at the Children & Family Resource Center discourage spanking or yelling as forms of discipline and work closely with parents and caregivers to learn very effective alternative tactics where they stay in control as adults and teach the lessons children most need to learn. Parenting isn’t for the weak. Over the holidays, my 16-year-old daughter used her Christmas money to buy a guinea pig without permission. When I say “without permission,” I am telling you she knew without a doubt that if...