Some of us really love pranks, but sometimes those pranks can go terribly wrong and hurt people’s feelings.
When that happens, it’s our responsibility to make it right.
One couple recently explored what that meant on the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit.
Redditor Substantial_Camel598 decided what the best way to teach their daughter important consequences was going to be.
But when they were criticized for their choices, the Original Poster (OP) wondered if they went too far.
They asked the sub:
“AITA for ‘going too far’ with my punishment?”
The OP’s family liked to do pranks at home.
“My daughter is 13 now, and she LOVES TikTok. She’d be on it 24/7 if I didn’t make sure she did other stuff with her life. Up until now, it’s been annoying for me and my husband but bearable.”
“I feel like this is partially our fault, as we are big pranksters.”
“However, the pranks we do are harmless, like waking someone up and telling them they’re a little late, when they’re actually right on time, then revealing it 5 minutes later. Or making an extra portion of food for them, and then doing the salt bottle prank.”
“We always thought we’ve instilled these values into our kids, to make sure they always have everyone laughing at the end.”
Then the OP’s daughter went too far.
“Recently, our daughter shattered all our rules by ‘pranking’ my 17-year-old son.”
“Whilst my son was asleep, she walked into his room with his electric razor, and shaved off a massive part of his hair.”
“He was angry and immediately went into the bathroom to see the damage, where she came up behind him and shaved a large part off the back of his hair.”
“She’d set up a camera in the bathroom, and I looked at the video. She was giggling and having a grand time whilst doing it.”
The OP’s son struggled with what happened.
“Now, to him, his hair is a sensitive topic, as a couple of years ago, he had pretty bad hair, by his standards, and over the past couple of months, he has started to get his hair looking good and feeling happy with it.”
“He puts a lot of effort into his hair and was devastated when this happened.”
“He was obviously devastated and didn’t want to go to school for the upcoming year.”
“This year was pretty much the last year he’d have to be a teenager, because after this, he wants to go to med school, and it’ll be high stress for the next 10 years.”
“Now to him, his year is ruined.”
“My daughter was saying, ‘It’s just hair, and you’re not even a girl, get over it,’ which made me furious.”
The OP decided to give their daughter a lengthy punishment.
“My husband and I discussed, and we decided that she knew exactly what she was doing, and she deserved to be massively punished.”
“We’re taking away her phone and giving her a Nokia.”
“We’re also going to be taking away her laptop and only giving it back to work on homework.”
“We’ve decided to block all websites other than Google Drive and her school website. If she needs to look something up, she can ask us.”
“We’re also going to be grounding her for the next year as well or until his hair grows back and looks as good as it did to him.”
Not everyone agreed with the plan, however.
“We’re doing this because we want her to realize the damage is not over with a simple apology, and his year has been ruined, and his mental health may well be down the toilet.”
“Her aunt, my sister, who has always favored her in my opinion, is completely on her side, saying it’s just a joke and it was funny, and we need to give her a small punishment only.”
“I feel like her punishment is deserved, but now I’m not so sure, and maybe I’m being too harsh, taking a 13-year-old’s phone and contact with friends away.”
Fellow Redditors weighed in:
- NTA: Not the A**hole
- YTA: You’re the A**hole
- ESH: Everybody Sucks Here
- NAH: No A**holes Here
Some agreed with the OP’s punishment choices.
“OP, I hope you see this. As someone that has had this ‘prank’ pulled on them by bullies in high school many years ago where they cut my ponytail off (I’m female) because they knew I always wore it in one.”
“I was told by the adults in the school to just get over it. Trust me, this isn’t something you just get over. It’s humiliating and makes you feel like less than a person having something you cared about stolen from you and you have no control to get it back as you have to wait months, or in my case, years to grow back.”
“Please don’t back down on your punishment as your son deserves to have his parents have his back.”
“Going too far would be to shave her head. What you’re doing is showing daughter that her actions have consequences and assaulting someone for a Tik took video and laughs will have severe punishments. As for your sister, tell her you’ll grab some razors and shave her head and see if she’s laughing afterwards, because it’s just hair, right?” – italy2986
“NTA. You’re trying to teach her a little empathy and that her actions have consequences. A year seems like a little much, but I think it’s fine to start that way and then let her off on parole if things improve.”
“You may find it easier to enforce if you give your daughter a time box for using her laptop rather than trying to restrict use to homework and certain websites only. In that way, you’re not the bad guy EVERY time, the clock is.”
“This is especially true if you’re really going to do this for a year. You don’t want your daughter to resent you, but, instead, reflect on how her actions had real ramifications for her brother.”
“Lastly, please take the time to explain to her that, unless everyone is laughing, it’s not a good prank and is instead just mean.” – woodchuck33
“I feel like OP did great by replacing her smart phone with a Nokia, and if the daughter insists that what she did was ‘funny’ they should keep it that way until she can buy her own phone AND plan.”
“If you aren’t smart enough to show self-control, you don’t get a smart phone. It burns me when more people think it’s ‘funny’ to do things that have been proven to be cruel, hateful, and logically a bad idea altogether because it isn’t LEGAL. Messing with somebody’s hair is one of those things.” – SubstantialDrawing7
Others entertained the idea of worsening the punishment or offering an ultimatum.
“I feel like she should get to choose: she can keep her current punishment (no tech, grounded for a year, etc.) AND all her hair, or she can she shave her own head the same as she did to her brother and that’s her whole punishment (gets to keep her phone, not grounded, etc.).”
“If she faces the choice, it might make her realize the gravity of what she’s willing to give up to keep her own hair.”
“I know she’ll cry that she’s ‘a girl, so it’s different!’ (It’s not.), but she‘d be getting to choose and her brother didn’t, so it IS different.” – Kathrynlena
“Give her a choice. A year grounded, or at any time, she can shave her head and not let it be longer than her brothers (with the obvious caveat that the brother can’t exploit that) until it’s back to how it was before she shaved it.”
“It’s the same principle as an eye for an eye, but it’s not forced on her. If she wants her hair, she takes the grounding, else she loses the hair.”
“And maybe graduate the groundings. Give the laptop back after 3 months, phone after 6, etc.” – axw3555
“Based on where she lives, I feel like the Nokia phone Could be the public shame. If every other student has a smart phone they’re going to shame her for that. They will probably also shame her for the lack of social media presence.”
“While it isn’t physical like her hair, her image is still being impacted. That was probably an indirect result of this punishment.” – dailysunshineKO
“I’d delete her TikTok account and block the app on her phone on top of the grounding. She can earn the phone and laptop back with volunteer hours teaching her empathy.” – sonicscrewery
Some pointed out a 13-year-old may not understand the gravity of what happened.
“Of course, kids won’t always recognize when pranking stops being funny and starts being hurtful and mean. Adults won’t either, only difference is that, unlike 13 yos, adults usually have oversight of potential long-term consequences and can take measures to avoid those.”
“OP pretending to be unaware where daughter’s behavior is coming from is BS. OP, please reconsider the pranking culture in your family and start teaching your kids empathy.” – drapetomanie
“To be fair, where that line is can be pretty hard for a child/young teen to instinctively know, and the way they learn is by testing boundaries and fucking up. Like your daughter did here.”
“My dad’s thing was ‘banter’ and of course I mimicked him, and of course I got it wrong and it took a couple of incidents around your daughter’s age where i had to deal with the consequences of thinking I was being funny but actually just being mean before I got it, which felt really unfair because I struggled to see what was different between what I said and what my dad said.”
“So yes, what your daughter did was awful and of course she needs a punishment, but your family pranking culture is not completely innocent in all this and maybe you should all lay off the pranks for a while.” – Dizzy_Barber_2281
“My son is struggling a little bit with this right now. He likes to try to be funny, and that’s fine. It shows his mind is working. But sometimes he gets it wrong.”
“When he does, we help him course correct and explain why something he said might have crossed a line. If what he did is egregious, there’s a punishment involved.”
“This is normal for kids. OP lives in a house where practical jokes are the norm, so it’s understandable that his daughter is going to try to mimic them and it’s understandable that she might get it wrong sometimes.”
“I think grounding her for a year is a pretty big overreaction. A reasonable period of grounding and making her explain or write a paper on why what she did was wrong would be a better approach.”
“It seems like OP went nuclear when they didn’t have to out of anger. I think OP might even be overly sensitive with this subject because deep down, they know that the daughter learned it by watching the family play other pranks.”
“An extreme punishment helps signal to OP that what the daughter did is so wrong that it couldn’t possible be a relatively predictable result of growing up in a household where pranks are common. It makes the fact that OP didn’t teach boundaries as well as they thought they did a non-issue (because it’s all the daughter’s fault, as indicated by the incredibly harsh punishment they received).” – JohnnyFootballStar
Though the family didn’t totally see eye-to-eye, the subReddit confirmed that the OP was right for calling their daughter out on her behavior against her brother.