Two moms share the story behind their viral Hobby Lobby parenting moment

One wanted her son to behave. The other wanted to praise strong parenting. A photo of the moment drew thousands of reactions.
Mom Nicki Quinn found that having her 10-year-old son do pushups worked to handle some of his "disrespectful" behavior.
Mom Nicki Quinn found that having her 10-year-old son do pushups worked to handle some of his "disrespectful" behavior. Facebook
/ Source: TODAY

Molly Wooden, a mom of two who lives in Fort Hood, Texas, was shopping at Hobby Lobby when her 4-year-old asked to use the bathroom. Wooden brought her to the store's restroom, where she found another mother having a talk with her son.

"I walked in, and originally the mother had been standing there with her arms crossed. Her son was sitting in the opposite corner, sitting on the floor kind of giving her attitude," Wooden explained to TODAY Parents. "I was kind of minding my own business and then she was like, 'OK, I gave you a warning, you're at so-and-so many push-ups, you're about to get 10 more ...' She was like, 'Let's go, right here.'"

Wooden said that she thought the woman was "amazing."

"I was standing there in awe," Wooden said. "I was like, 'Yes! You are amazing! I'm getting chills in this bathroom right now!'"

Her joy at the display of "strong parenting" led her to take a picture to show her husband. A few hours later, she decided to post the picture on Facebook along with a message about parenting. The post quickly went viral.

Nicki Quinn, the mother in the photo, said that this isn't the first time she's had her son do some physical workouts to handle his behavior. She told TODAY Parents her son has been diagnosed with ADHD and oppositional defiance disorder (ODD). While he takes medication, she's always trying to come up with ways to handle his behavior. She said that while shopping at Hobby Lobby, her son began to act out.

"He's bothering his 3-year-old brother, taking stuff off the shelves, bouncing balls around," Quinn explained. "I'm like, 'Stop, don't do that, quit, stop' ... He gave me an attitude, started talking back and being ugly, and I was like, 'We are not doing this.'"

Quinn brought him to the bathroom so she could deal with her son in private, away from other shoppers and "judgy stares."

"Drop and give me 10," Quinn told her son.

"We've already implemented the push-up system at my house, so it wasn't anything new," she explained. "So he knew that that's what was going to go down."

Quinn said she wants her son to behave and treat people with respect.

"I'm the person that has to teach them," said Quinn, who is a stay-at-home mom and has a husband who is deployed in the U.S. Army. "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."

Wooden said what made her so happy about the moment was seeing a mom who wasn't "afraid to parent ... because of what someone else might think."

"I was like, well, thank God she didn't shame me. Thank God there was another mother with sense."

The post went viral over the weekend and the two women connected over Facebook on Monday after Quinn learned about the photo from a friend.

Quinn said she was initially taken aback by the post. "I was like, 'Kind of strange, OK.' But when I read the post and saw why (Wooden) had done it, all that feeling kind of went away," Quinn said. "I was like, 'Well, thank God she didn't shame me. Thank God there was another mother with sense.'"

The post has amassed thousands of comments, both positive and negative. Quinn said she responds to some people who comment on things like her "character" and body shape.

"It's been overwhelming and overwhelmingly supportive," she said. "I see the good and the bad."

However, Quinn said she's glad to have sparked a discussion and to have connected with Wooden.

"I feel a little bit bad, because (Quinn) didn't ask for this, but at the same time, it's a really strong message," said Wooden, who offered to disable the comments but Quinn asked her not to. "She's excited for this opportunity to grow and to be seen and heard."

"At the end of the day, we started a debate about something," Quinn said. "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."