Free-Range Kids

Dad Made 10-Year-Old Son Run in the Rain to Teach Him a Lesson

"This right here is just old-school, simple parenting. This ain't killing nobody."

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Rain
Danil Chepko /Dreamstime

A father made his 10-year-old son run to school in the rain after the boy was kicked off the bus for bullying other kids.

Dad made a video of his son's trek and posted it on Facebook. Now he has become a pariah or a folk hero, depending on which comments you read.

The dad, Bryan Thornhill of Roanoke, Virginia, provided live commentary on the video, which has been seen by hundreds of thousands of people since he posted it on Facebook last Thursday. He explains that he didn't want to drive his kid to school—that would turn the punishment into a reward. So he thought that having the boy use his own legs made sense. (Dad did not cause the rain, obviously.)

In the video, we see Thornhill driving slowly behind his son, an athletic kid who does indeed seem capable of running the entire mile to school. The boy is wearing a backpack and dad watches him through swishing windshield wipers. "My son has finally gotten in trouble on the bus enough to where he got actually kicked off the bus for three days because he was being a little bully, which I do not tolerate," Thornhill says.

He added: "This right here is just old-school, simple parenting. This ain't killing nobody. This is a healthy way for a child to be punished."

Ah, but is it? In these days of parentainment—publicly judging other people's parenting—seemingly the entire world has weighed in on social media. Some praised the dad for being hands on, and not coddling. "This Dad is teaching his son what accountability looks like," read a typical comment on the Fox61 Facebook page. And another: "This is NOT harsh & I think the kid will remember this next time he goes to bully someone. Yay Dad."

But of course the nay-typers are out in force, too, calling the dad a bully himself—and doubly hating on him for posting the video, which they see as cruel and unusual punishment. "Punishing your child by publicly shaming them is just another form of bullying," said a commenter on The Washington Post site.

Thornhill also mentioned that unlike his guns, he can't keep his kids locked in a safe. This prompted other comments like, "Dad's trying to make himself a folk hero on social media. And turn himself into a gun spokesman by…..connecting it with his kid's misbehavior? Yeah, I've got questions about dad."

Thornhill told The Post that his son was diagnosed with ADHD and several commenters pointed out that when kids get more chances to run around and get their ya-yas out, often they behave better. I've seen that myself.

So was this boy bullied by his dad who made him run in the rain? To me it seems obvious that there's a big difference between being cruel and derogatory with the goal of hurting someone, and just doing your best, as a parent, to help your kid be better. So I don't think the dad was bullying, at least as far as I (or anyone) can tell from a two-minute clip. Many parents will say they would never do something like this with their own kids, but who cares? We're all different people.

Was it bullying to post the video on Facebook? Again, I'd say no. Parents post everything on Facebook. Nitpicking their decisions is pointless. Let he who has never posted something he later regretted (or that someone else disliked) cast the first comment.

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  1. Go dad!

    At least we know this kid isn’t a snowflake… he didn’t melt in the rain.

    1. Bullshit. I just watched the youtube. The guy is an a-hole and should be arrested. He’s not providing anything close to an acceptable example. Vertical video? Hold your goddamn camera right.

      1. In only a select number of shortform documentaries does the content quality justify this cinematographic choice.

          1. WORLD STAR is the Criterion Collection of the pillarbox format.

    2. The video was pretty funny.

  2. They live a mile from the school and he takes the bus every day? That’s like a 20 min walk at a leisurely pace.

    1. *adjusts belt onions*
      I walked a half-mile to elementary school every day. Imagine an 8-year-old doing that today.

      1. The driveway was a half mile and it was 30 min. *drive* to school. Suck it old man.

        1. Oh yeah? I had to take the NYC subway across the whole city each morning, 1.5 hours each way.

          1. In elementary school? What was it, a Specialized elementary school or something?

            1. You’re not supposed to ask that!

              1. Ah right! I was thrown because in many places, NYC included because your high school can be anywhere, a shit ton of kids do spend one or two hours each way on public transportation in high school. I didn’t even know there were places it was unusual until I went to college.

      2. I walked a mile and a half at that age. In the “inner city”. We were just inside the limit.

        1. Inner City is where the meth labs start to outnumber the cows.

      3. Imagine an 8-year-old doing that today.

        I can’t envision it sadly. The local public elementary schools have banned kids from walking home when it is across the street. The parents have to come pick them up.

        1. I was driving home while the buses were running one afternoon, and at one bus stop there were so many parents waiting with cars that I wasn’t able to drive through them until they dispersed. What’s the point of the kid taking the bus? I didn’t know there were so many kids still in my old neighborhood. I haven’t seen any in ten years.

          I don’t have kids, so I’m going to abstain from armchair parenting, but I do wonder if this is really for the best.

        2. That said, there is another elementary school plopped in the middle of the neighborhood, and the bike racks are well-utilized. Half the neighbors are out there drinking coffee policing the kids, every intersection has volunteer crossing guards, but they are allowed to ride a bike a half-mile to school.

        3. I have no clue as to why you’d pick your kids up at the bus stop unless they’re Pre-K to 1st Grade. After that they ought to be able to handle the 1-5 block walk.

          My kids are too young for school, and if I have my way they won’t be going to public school, so the point will hopefully be moot for my family. Of course, that’s a pretty hot point of contention in my house–my MIL teaches 1st grade in a public school, and it is considered hateful that I A) think public schools suck B) think kids should spend more time with their parents than with government employees C) think my family can do a better job with less resources and D) think “Socializing” your kids in a room with 30 other kids and 1 adult is a recipe for bad behavior.

        4. Where I live the local elementary school has three crossing guards now.

          One to cross the street and two others to help them cross the *parking lot*.

          1. In fairness, suburban moms and grannies make parking lots more terrifying than just about any street.

      4. I wasn’t allowed, legally, to walk to school even though we were probably 500 ft from my school as a kindergartener.

      5. My 8-year-old son does exactly that every day.

        But I specifically sought out a neighborhood to live in where this is possible (other kids do it, some kids ride bikes, kids play by themselves, no one calls CPS, etc.). These neighborhoods do still exist.

        For anyone reading this, if you live in a children-police-state neighborhood and don’t like it, MOVE!

  3. “Punishing your child by publicly shaming them is just another form of bullying,”

    Running in the rain is something you should be ashamed of now? It’s not like he made him stand in a public place with an “I’m an asshole” t-shirt on or something.

    1. “Punishing your child by publicly shaming them is just another form of bullying,”

      The commenter that posted that likely misses the entire point of the father’s lesson. Teach the kid what it’s like to be bullied. Teach the kid that he isn’t entitled to a bus ride to school, and that the alternative really sucks. Those seem to be valuable lessons, and I’m guessing this kid gets it now at least a little more than he did before.

      1. That’s the one criticism I agree with – the father should not have put this on Facetube for the world to see. (a) I don’t give a shit and (b) the kid doesn’t deserve the notoriety, however fleeting.

        1. I love Lenore but I am more old school than her. When you post shit online about your kid you are writing for him the first part of his permanent, public online biography.

          I suppose the “Ohhh, look at handsome little Junior at his first communion” shit isn’t that bad, guess that kind of thing is shared to the world these days instead of just friends pretending to be interested. But some of the oversharing out there strikes me as self-centered and immature, and when it gets to be something like this it seems very mildly a bit sick, frankly.

          It would be nice if our passion for “old-school parenting” manifested itself in an across-the-board lack of coddling for our own kids, and a determination to keep the government out of other parents’ choices; rather than a bunch of “fuckin’ right! Old school!” for people who post footage online of themselves disciplining their children to show the world how badass they are.

        2. ^^^ This. Make the kid walk/run to school since he got kicked off the bus? Totally makes sense. The internet is forever though. Don’t publicly shame your kid forever like that, making them into a community (or now international) spectacle.

        3. If people stopped posting stupid personal stuff on Facetube imagine how many fewer articles and news stories we’d be flogged with. And how many fewer people would end up in jail or publicly ridiculed. I bet 70% of the stupid shit you hear about is a direct result of somebody posting something somewhere.

        4. That’s the one criticism I agree with – the father should not have put this on Facetube for the world to see. (a) I don’t give a shit and (b) the kid doesn’t deserve the notoriety, however fleeting.

          Meh.

          We have relatives in FL and our middle child was completely intransigent at Disney one time. We, of course, had been snapping photos and sharing all day and I said if he didn’t shape up, I was going to start taking photos and sharing them with the relatives we were going to visit. It didn’t 100% turn his mood around, but he became adequately compliant and I didn’t even have to snap a single photo. There are definitely people who would do one thing by themselves or among a certain group of people that they would absolutely refuse to even be known to be doing among another group.

          The internet is not forever and, believe it or not, there are large groups of people who manage not to live their lives out on it and don’t mind if other people do/don’t. I don’t think the parent should go out of their way to use FB but I don’t take issue with what was done here. Heck, the kid may’ve even learned that Facebook, Facebook bullying, and social normalizing in general can suck sometimes.

      2. “””Punishing your child by publicly shaming them is just another form of bullying,”””

        I’m curious if it’s the child part or public shaming that makes them the bully?

        I see a lot of public shaming by people on facebook, I’m willing to bet none of them thinks they are a bully for it.

        1. And they are wrong. Not to begin my inevitable transformation into Hihn just yet, but bullying behavior like that is common. The problem is almost no one who is a bully thinks themselves a bully. Just like no one who is evil thinks themselves evil.

          1. I see a fair amount of public shaming of politicians and other people in public. Are they bullying those people? Are public figure fair game for being bullied? Or is it really not bullying at all?

            If the act is bullying, then the whom doesn’t really matter. If it’s the whom that matters, then the act is not

    2. Running in the rain is something you should be ashamed of now? It’s not like he made him stand in a public place with an “I’m an asshole” t-shirt on or something.

      Also, I’m sure that deep down, all the bullies I had in school were really acting out of a fraternal/paternal love. The stolen lunch money and the punches to the face because they were picking on my friend were really developmental lessons meant to teach me being thrifty and the value of money and that good friends are worth fighting for.

      Fuck it, I say. Accommodate the kid until he’s an outright sociopath and then point him in the direction of internet nannies.

  4. I posted this from the daily fail in the lynx a couple days ago.

  5. Let he who has never posted something he later regretted (or that someone else disliked) cast the first comment.

    I’m winding up my throwing arm.

    1. A couple of good throws, and you can try out for the Pirates!

    2. “Just a little outside.”

  6. . . . get their ya-yas out . . .

    I . . . I do no think that means what you think that means.

    1. Its meaning is understood fully only by the initiate.

  7. As a youth liberation radical, I find my mixed feelings about Lenore Skenazy confirmed by this post. If she really wants “free range kids”, she should learn to see the forest for the trees: to question more boldly the conventional beliefs about compulsory schooling and authoritarian parenting. Can she learn to recognize the problem of bullying among the young as largely a consequence of the constant bullying of the young by their elders? Can she acknowledge the hypocrisy of setting parents free of state control while letting parents be tinpot dictators in their own homes? Has she ever even heard of the books Escape From Childhood by John Holt or Birthrights by Richard Farson? Apparently she hasn’t, because she lacks their vision and integrity in letting kids be truly free. Youth rights now!

    1. See? And they say Rothbard’s legacy is dead in these parts!

  8. I agree with making the kid walk or run to school, but not with posting the video-punishment is between the parent and child. Think the dad here is just looking for internet celebrity status…

    1. Yeah. The old-timer in me would have the kid walking to school in any case, not just as punishment, as a mile just isn’t that far for a healthy kid. But that same old-timer also believes that you don’t air your family’s dirty laundry in public. My father never hesitated to give me some good whacks with his belt, but if at all possible it was done in private, just me and him. He figured it was nobody else’s business.

      1. Agreed the punishment was fine…. posting it was self indulgent and cruel. Bully gonna bully. Methinks the little bully acorn didn’ fall far from the little bully tree.

  9. The road the kids was walking down and social media have something in common. They are both public spaces.

    Forcing the kid to walk in public as a form of punishment is a way of shaming the kid in public. What difference does it make in that respect if it’s only the people that drive by and see it, vs people that see it online.

    I think the problem is people that can’t distinguish the difference between bullying, and discipline. I suspect that people have that have a problem with this guy, have a problem with kids being disciplined in general.

    1. I agree. Bad behavior requires consequences. If kids don’t learn young on the little things, they face not only a hard life, but eventually jail and prison time.

  10. I agree with the (mostly) consensus- the punishment was ok, publishing it for the world to see, not so much. My kids are older (daughter 16 & son 18) & I would never publicly humiliate them, even if I was mad. I actually haven’t posted any photos of them without their permission since they were about 12-13.

    My kids go to public school, I regret not homeschooling them, but I was afraid I wouldn’t do a good job. I was so proud of my daughter last year when we were at her school, and she showed me posters of the Canadian oath of citizenship & said they now say that in the morning. I was a bit shocked. But then she said most kids don’t bother, and she doesn’t say it because she thinks it’s brainwashing!
    Been dying to post that somewhere!

  11. “…an athletic kid who does indeed seem capable of running the entire mile to school” – are you kidding? Being capable to run one single mile is now considered as being athletic? Are you serious? If otherwise healthy 10-years-old child is not capable to run non-stop one mile it should be considered as a catastrophic failure of a school and parents to provide an adequate physical activity for a child. This country is gotten completely insane if we can have any doubts about making kids run one mile. Making this kid to use a bus and drive one mile should be considering as a child abuse, not making him run there.

  12. ” If otherwise healthy 10-years-old child is not capable to run non-stop one mile it should be considered as a catastrophic failure of a school and parents to provide an adequate physical activity for a child.”

    Thirty years ago, I was in basic military training in San Antonio. We started at half a mile, and worked up to one-and-a-half over the course of six weeks. From there, I went to tech school in Denver. Physical Training there included running… half a lap. People who grew up at sea level can’t run for much further than that when they arrive. There’s no air to breathe.

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