“Okay, so, our mother, you know, growing up, we would, you know do things that would get us in trouble. Her warning was ‘A hard head makes a soft behind.'”
I collected this piece of folklore in an interview at the informant’s house. My informant, my father, was told this by his mother while he was in elementary school. He responded that this proverb/warning was always effective, and he always listened to his mother after he heard it. In this piece of folklore, I think it’s important to note that my informant is African American.
The meaning of this proverb slash warning is quite clear. A parent would warn their child when they are being troublesome, stubborn, disrespectful, or just hard headed that it would result in a spanking. I believe that spanking children is more common among African Americans than other ethnic groups, so this proverb may be more prominent among the African American community. This proverb is a direct warning to children to stop misbehaving or they will suffer a physical consequence.