I am one of those moms who doesn't take a hard line when it comes to spanking. It's not how I would ever choose to discipline my own 4-year-old, but I've tried to see both sides of the debate. I have always thought it was a personal choice for each parent and family. That said, I don't think parents should spank their kids in public, especially if they don't want strangers to get involved.
Not long ago, I standing on a subway platform waiting for a train when I noticed a woman swatting the behind of what was probably a 4 or 5-year-old boy. I guess the little guy wasn't acting much better after we boarded because the punishment continued. I'm not going to lie. I completely disapproved. I don't feel comfortable with the notion of spanking your kid in public. That feels like it's more about humiliation than discipline to me. But I guess my face didn't reflect that because she looked at me and gave that exasperated mom look before saying, "He's a handful." She clearly expected me to sympathize with her. I didn't utter a word. I just turned my head, hoping that passive-aggressive move made it clear that we were not on the same page.
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Another passenger, however, took a much more direct approach to show her displeasure at the whole scene. "Spanking solves nothing," she chirped as she rolled her eyes. Not surprisingly, it totally set this New York City mom off, who shot back, "mind your own business lady." But doesn't hitting your child in a public place make it everyone's business who witnessed it?
Let me just say, I don't think she hit the boy very hard. It certainly wasn't excessively violent. In fact, I think the kid was more embarrassed than anything. There are certainly much more violent incidences that occur. One CafeMom member shared a story that happened to her daughter, who was on a drive with a male relative alone. He pulled over the car, took the little girl out, pulled down her pants and underwear and spanked her on the side of the road. The mother was heartbroken that no one jumped in to help her child. To be honest, I am surprised no one did too. It's a natural instinct to try to help a child that someone appears to be mistreating. I don't know the formula for the "right way to spank" or even if there is one, but hitting a child in public invites everyone who sees it to comment on what's happening.
Do you think you have a right to say something when you see a kid being spanked in public?
Image via Ben Husmann/Flickr