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Spanking or not spanking: a tale of parenting peer pressure

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Melanie Stetson Freeman/The Christian Science Monitor

(Read caption) Mothers and their children hang out together in a Mexico City park in February. Spanking debates are perennial: When a complete stranger approaches a mom to weigh in on it, parenting peer pressure becomes very real – if you're not being judged for one thing, it's another.

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As parents, we are judged for everything we do. Spanking or time outs? Time outs or spanking? If my kid is getting sassy with me in the supermarket and I sternly talk to him, I get a look. If I ignore him, I get a look. If I yank him out of the cart and walk out of the store because he won’t quit, I get a look.

Parents can’t win these days and I am mainly thinking it’s because people need to mind their own business.

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Last year, I stalked my friend on Four Square and met her at the park with our young sons, after she had finished grocery shopping. We let the boys play for a bit before my recently potty-trained child announced “I had a poopy accident.” Of course he did. At the park, miles away from the car.

Look, I get that accidents are going to happen so I did what most parents would do. I walked him to the car to clean him up and change him into a clean pair of clothes. At this point, my friend needed to get home so her groceries wouldn’t spoil, so we said our goodbyes and she abandoned me and left to go home. (ha ha!)

While I was helping T change, he threw the mother of all tantrums over wanting to finish the lollipop my friend’s son had given him. I remained calm but my patience was waning as I sternly explained that he needed to get cleaned up and changed first. When he screamed, “Shut up!” at me, I smacked him on the butt and told him not to talk to me that way.

Immediately, a woman emerges from the car parked behind mine; she had obviously witnessed what had happened between the boy and I. Without so much as a hello, she walks over to me and says “Being a parent is difficult. I have four boys and know how much children can test our patience but we shouldn’t resort to violence.”

She then hands me a card inviting me to her church. On it, was a bible verse from Psalms 34:14: “Turn from evil; do good; seek peace and pursue it.”

Before I tell you how I handled/responded to this woman, I’d love to know: What would you do?

The Christian Science Monitor has assembled a diverse group of the best family and parenting bloggers out there. Our contributing and guest bloggers are not employed or directed by the Monitor, and the views expressed are the bloggers' own, as is responsibility for the content of their blogs. Lauren Parker-Gill blogs at Spill the Beans.