One of the successes of a parent is teaching your children empathy. Our society cannot flourish if we don’t learn to care about other people.
So when a Redditor’s daughter showed a very distinct lack of empathy for an unhoused person, she knew this couldn’t stand. User coolestthrowaway was a little worried her punishment went overboard and asked the subReddit “Am I the A**hole” (AITA) if she did the right thing.
The original poster (OP) asks:
“AITA for making my daughter sleep in a tent”
Her story goes:
“I (34F) am a single mother to two girls, ‘Jasmine’ (16F) and ‘Jessica’ (14F). Their dad died when I was pregnant with Jess, and I had to work hard.”
“We hit rock bottom, and I was barely making paycheque to paycheque but I managed to get a degree, become successful and we live well.”
“Point is, I know how f’king hard it is to be at the bottom of society, and my daughters know this, which is why I was livid at my daughter’s actions.”
“Yesterday, Jasmine showed me a video of Jessica cussing a homeless man out and telling him, ‘stop asking me for money, you’d earn it yourself if you weren’t so f’king lazy and spending what you earned on substances.'”
“When the homeless man complained about the cold (we live in NE England), Jessica responded ‘Yeah people camp for fun, even in December, you can’t complain, you’re living someone’s holiday.’ Fury was an understatement for what I felt, as I thought I had raised an empathetic daughter.”
“Along with finding the homeless man and making her apologise and help pay for a hotel room for a night for him (she paid £20), as well as signing her up to volunteer at a food bank – I decided to take her up on her offer of sleeping outside.”
“I locked her bedroom door so she couldn’t go in, put a sign on it saying Closed for the holidays, pitched a tent in the garden and filled it with blankets and the sleeping bag I used when I was camping in Norway on a family holiday as a teen (aka really bloody thermal). I slept in the room closest to the garden for that night so I was nearby if anything was to go wrong.”
“She was reluctant to do it, but chose it over the option of not having access to her phone until the Christmas holidays are over.”
“In the morning, she was crying about how horrible it was to wake up on a cold mat and get disrupted sleep due to birds. After comforting her, I asked her would she like to do that everyday like the homeless man.”
“It struck a cord with her and she was crying over her actions, while even after the £20 she was rolling her eyes and her apology was not sincere. This afternoon, I came home from work to Jessica making a big meal to donate to the homeless people who live on the road near our house.”
“I was proud of how she turned over a new leaf, and after taking the food to the people, my sister came over. Apparently, my nephew and Jessica were talking at school, and he asked her about her plans for the afternoon, and she said that she was going to cook for the homeless.”
“My nephew asked what triggered that, and Jess told him everything, which he relayed back to his mum.”
“My sister said that my punishment was too harsh, and just the £20 and the food bank would have done the trick, and I was acting irrationally due to my past.”
“Now I’m second guessing myself. AITA?”
On the AITA board, people pass judgement with these acronyms:
- NTA – Not The A**hole
- YTA – You’re The A**hole
- ESH – Everyone Sucks Here
- NAH – No A**holes Here
Just about every comment agreed, OP was NTA here.
“NTA. Sounds like the apology and £20 wasn’t enough. Walking a mile in their shoes taught her empathy.” – deed42
“This. I would also like to point out that OP ado gave her daughter a choice- either a learning experience or a punishment (losing her phone for break), and I feel like that made it even better.”
“Her daughter could have ended up just resenting it if she’d been forced to sleep in the tent with no option, but because she chose it it had more impact.” – ChaosofaMadHatter
“NTA – The proper cold weather outdoor camp gear and you staying within view from the garden window made this a safe way to teach your daughter some perspective. It worked wonders. Be proud of yourself.” – Sideways-In-Time
“The only thing I would have done differently is to check on the daughter a few times throughout the night, just to be on the safe side (and make sure she hasn’t snuck off to a friend’s place or something).”
“Otherwise, the OP took appropriate precautions to make sure this was safe.” – Obiterdicta
“Unlike most of the punishments in this sub yours actually fit the crime. She learned empathy (something that takes years for some people) in one night.”
“She was safe and you provided the option for her to do this as opposed to a strict punishment. This was the best case scenario and honestly you sound like a wonderful mother.”
“Keep it up. NTA” – MightyThorgasm
“Let me say this loudly for the people in the back:”
“How YOU parent YOUR children is no ones business but your own. Barring abuse, your sister has no right to complain about what punishments you hand out.”
“Tell her to worry about her own children” – AUrugby
Sometimes it can be difficult to understand someone else’s situation without walking at least a little bit in their shoes.
Jessica learned about the difficulty of the unhoused from a still very comforted night. Maybe OP’s sister won’t understand why she made her daughter do this unless her own child insults another human being like this.
OP gave an update on the unhoused man.
The hotel stay seemed to help, especially the shower and warm meals. She is taking things a step further, and helping the unhoused man apply for a job and get back on his feet.
It’s easier than you think to make a difference in someone else’s life. Try to make it a positive one.