The controversy began when a mom named Molly Wooden shared a photo she’d taken at a Hobby Lobby in Killeen, Texas. The image, posted to Facebook on Feb. 22, showed another mother, Nicki Quinn, forcing her son to do pushups in the bathroom as a punishment for “back talk.”
“If my hands weren’t full of children I would have applauded you,” Wooden wrote, praising Quinn’s disciplinary tactic. “We need more parents like you, who aren’t afraid to parent their own children because of what someone else might think.”
The post, which has now been shared more than 43,000 times, divided Facebook commenters. Many agreed with Wooden, praising Quinn’s punishment as a “good idea” and a fair way to teach “respect, boundaries and consequences.”
Others were far more critical though, calling the decision a “disgrace” or saying a bathroom was an “absolutely disgusting” place to teach a child a lesson.
“I’m the person that has to teach them,” Quinn said of her parenting methods. “I gotta do what I have to do to make sure my son is respectful to me, because when he’s respectful to me, he’s going to respect everyone else, like his teachers and his fellow students.”
Quinn added that she’s a stay-at-home mom, as her husband is deployed in the U.S. army. She told Today that pushups had already been established as a punishment in her house and that her son “knew that that’s what was going to go down” when he started misbehaving.
Wooden, meanwhile, said she felt somewhat guilty for exposing Quinn to so much public commentary. Still, the mom said that she found Quinn to be “amazing” and had to share her story online.
“I was standing there in awe,” Wooden said of the day the photo was taken. “I was like, ‘Yes! You are amazing! I’m getting chills in this bathroom right now!'”
Quinn added that she has noted numerous negative comments, but believes people have also been “overwhelmingly supportive” of her decisions. The mom also told Today she’s glad she was able to start a wider conversation.
“You have so many people out here with these kids that are unruly, and they don’t know what to do because they’re afraid of discipline, to get in trouble, to have people sticking their nose in their business and making them feel inadequate as parents. So they can’t parent properly, and it’s not fair. I am not going to let my child run me,” Quinn said.
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