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Mom Asks If Elaborate Punishment She Gave Her Young Son For Sneaking Out To Smoke Weed Is Too Harsh

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Parents often get a bad rap for how they raise their children—and particularly how they discipline their children. From too strict to too relaxed, too physical or too hands-off, parents never seem to get it “right.”

But for one Reddit mom, it wasn’t a matter of whether or not to discipline her son. It was a matter of severity.

The OP (Original Poster) “young-mama” asked on the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit if how she punished her 14-year-old son was too much.

The OP asked the thread: 

“AITA (Am I the A**hole) for how I’m punishing my son?”

The situation started with simply getting around for bedtime. 

“Two weeks ago I (34) went to go tell my son that it was time to go to bed because it was a school night. It was 10:30 and he’d been playing video games since 7:30 pm.”

“He wasn’t in his room, so I checked the whole house and he wasn’t anywhere. I freaked out and called him, no answer.”

“Called again and when I was about to hang up and call the cops, he answered. I asked where he was, and he told me at a local park.”

When the OP found her son and his friends, she was surprised. 

“I got there quickly and found him with two of his friends. They reeked of weed with eyes looking like a Zyrtec commercial.”

“I told them to get the f**k in my car or I’d call the cops.”

When the OP brought his son’s friends home, their parents didn’t react the way she expected.

“I drove his two friends home and marched them to their doors to inform their parents. Neither set cared half as much as they should’ve.”

“One agreed that it was bad that they were smoking weed and sneaking out, but it wasn’t the end of the world and only deserved minor punishment. The other boy’s parent said that she had LET him walk to the park at 9 pm and, ‘everyone smokes weed’.”

“Never mind that we’re in the middle of a pandemic and they all shared a joint. She had the audacity to suggest that I should try smoking because I needed to relax.”

Even her son seemed to share the other parents’ opinions. 

“When it was just my son and I in the car he snidely said, ‘see not a big deal’.”

“By the time we got home, he had told me that he had been smoking since he was 12 and he called me a loser.”

As a result, the OP gave her son a lengthy list of consequences. 

“[Here is] his punishment:”

“He’s grounded.”

“He can leave the house for a 15 min walk around our street in the morning and a 15 minute walk after he finishes his class work. I sit outside reading the paper during that time to monitor him. The only other times he leaves is to help me grocery shop.”

“When I have to go out, I hire a babysitter.”

“No video games or electronic devices, except for the computer that his school gave him to do schoolwork. There’s so many content blockers on it that he can’t do much else on it.”

“Forbidden from talking to the friends that he was with that night. He can email other friends but says, ‘that’s lame and they won’t answer’.”

“Random room checks on him.”

“Every night after dinner, I make him read aloud an article about the dangers of marijuana on the adolescent brain.”

“As of now he’s grounded for a month, but I add an extra day for every day he doesn’t follow my restrictions. Right now he’s at 10 extra days.”

The OP and her son are at odds over the current list of punishments. 

“My son thinks it’s unfair. He keeps saying strict parents make sneaky kids.”

“He told me that not letting him see his friends is ruining his mental health. I offered him a therapist, but he refused.”

“I think it’s fair because what he did was so dangerous. I know that weed isn’t going to make him drop dead, but unprescribed use on the growing brain is so understudied and there could be unknown effects from mixing it with his ADD medication.”

“Additionally, it’s illegal at his age and could land him a criminal record or worse, especially with the youth curfew.”

“When he’s 21, he can go to a dispensary and smoke it at his house, not in a sketchy public park. Until then it is my house and my rules that he has to follow.”

Fellow Redditors wrote in on the situation, rating the OP’s punishment on the following scale: 

  • NTA: Not the A**hole
  • YTA: You’re the A**hole
  • ESH: Everybody Sucks Here
  • NAH: No A**holes Here

Some Redditors sided with the OP and said her son needed discipline. 

“She’s doing exactly what we do here in rehab. I currently work at a rehab for teens & I applaud her.”

“It’s not her job to be his friend & worry about him resenting her, it’s her job to be his parent & make sure he develops into a functional adult. Smoking weed at his age severely impacts brain (specifically frontal lobe & memory) development.”Glowing_Trash_Panda

“Not to mention, he didn’t just smoke weed; he defied a curfew to sneak out of the house and meet friends during a pandemic, without parental knowledge or permission. Even if they were eating kale that’s still worth a grounding.”

“NTA.”usernaym44

“I think it was the smirk and calling [mom] a loser that put the nail in the coffin.”AnswerIsItDepends

“Yeah, his ‘strict parents make sneaky kids’ remark is bulls**t. He already snuck out, he needs some discipline. Yes, OPs punishment is harsh but serious actions have serious consequences NTA”SlotHUN

A few also pointed out how serious this is, considering the son’s preexisting condition and age.

“NTA”

“He’s a child. This is your job.”

“Part of me wants to say your reaction is extreme, but he’s really young”gabsthenerd

“Not to mention the OP mentioned the kid is on ADD meds… theres not much research on kid brains as it is. Mix it with ADD meds and [I don’t know] if theres even any research done at all on that.”

“Add in if the weed isnt from a legal dispensary and who knows what’s all in it or if it’s even pure (while unlikely it’s still a scenario to think about).”RockabilityRabbit

“I think it’s his age coupled with the fact that he snuck out of the house at 10:30 pm. If he was 17 and rounding into college that’d be different.”

“Also teenagers shouldn’t be hanging out during [a pandemic].”AmandaPXC

“It’s also scary that he not only has the validation of his friends, but also their parents. This is disturbingly unhelpful to his understanding the seriousness of the issue.”mmousey

Others disagreed and said the punishment was too lengthy or severe. 

“I agree that at 14 weed is bad but idk how what op is doing is going to help. This sounds like the perfect recipe to create resentment.”

“I think the real issue is the surrounding. The most alarming thing to me seems to be that his friend’s parents didn’t care. It shows that the crowd that he’s hanging out with is a real issue.”

“Also, the fact that he’s smoking shows that he has a time to smoke and is clearly mentally under challenged.”

“I think the real way to solve a problem like this, is a gradual encouragement in exploring different hobbies. Helping cultivate a hobby or joining a club might help the kid make new friends that aren’t as obsessed with smoking.”

“Apart from that, I think at 14 it’s going to be pretty hard to force the kid to not do something that they want to do.”

“The real mistakes that were made in not teaching a sensible value system (that is not overly conservative or liberal and when it comes to drug use) has already been made and I don’t think there’s any way to fix that.”mastermind42

“I think taking away other sources of harmless fun, like video games, is shortsighted though. He messed up and he should be punished, but not seeing his friends seems like enough IMO (in my opinion).”

“If he allows the kid ‘responsible’ fun like video games he might be more likely to reach for a controller over something worse in the future.”vzvv

“NTA”

“If he was just a couple of years older, I would say you’re over reacting a bit. But he is very young for this.”

“If at all possible I’d have his pediatrician check him out. Make sure that weed is the only thing hes been doing. And discuss any possible side effects from his drug interactions.”

“I’d also take him to that therapist whether he agrees to go or not. He is of a critical age where you can still head off problems but that window is rapidly closing.”

“I’d also institute a method where he can essentially earn back his freedom. Right now he’s in a position to extend his punishment, I would also add a method to reduce it. A little positive reinforcement probably isn’t gonna hurt here.”kindlefan12

A few pointed out that this severe of a punishment could ruin the son’s relationship with OP forever. 

“Completely agree that this is appropriate given his age. If he was 17, it’d be different.”

“But starting at 12? Sneaking out at 14?”

“Trust is earned and he’s completely destroyed yours. He has to earn it back and that’s going to be a long, slow process.”Ok-Mode-2038

“I think random room checks are a big breach of privacy, but that’s me.”

“Also, making a kid read aloud something will do the exact opposite. I knew someone who has this done to them, and, if anything, it made them want to do it more out of spite.”

“What do I know though.”trunksplays

“Nta is fine, but she just ruined her relationship with her son. He will never be open with her pretty much for the rest of his life. Prob gonna hit the road at 18 and say cya.”

“Too extreme of a punishment- specifically with the room checks and not letting him speak to his friends”ruckh

“Welcome to adolescence, OP! 14 year olds are curious and start experimenting – whether with weed, cigarettes, alcohol, sex or all of the above… It’s a natural thing. Adolescence is a time to learn where the boundaries are, but also what possibilities one has.”

“Seems to me OP is doing okay in regards to punish for behaviour she doesn’t approve of. But the amount of punishment seems relatively harsh! Just 2 weeks grounded and no video games is quite a punishment for most 14 year olds already. All the other stuff… Pfff… Really?”

“Since he’s at an impressionable age and still learning and finding things out, go easy on him. Most of all: don’t forget to connect with your son. Listen to what he has to say. He’s becoming his own person and will be an adult in a few years, you might want to know how he feels and thinks.”

“He’ll only let you in, if he can talk to you freely. If he says himself that strict parents make a sneaky kid, I’d take that as a HUGE hint.”

“I’d rather have my son try things and come talk to me about his experiences (there’s your window for guidance!), than have him sneaking around and not confide in me when he’s in doubt, because he’s afraid of my instant judgment and punishment.”

“I think OP needs to reflect on what kind of parent she wants to be.”Smiling_Tree

Parenting is tricky business, especially when a child starts experimenting with new things. How much room do we give them to explore? How severely do we punish them when they go too far?

Like any other area of raising kids, these answers are subjective. We can only hope that the kids will come out on the other side having learned something and with our relationships still intact.

McKenzie Lynn Tozan

Written by McKenzie Lynn Tozan

McKenzie Lynn Tozan lives in North Chicago, where she works as a poet, freelance writer, and editor. She received her MFA in Creative Writing from Western Michigan University, and her BA in English from Indiana University South Bend. Her poems have appeared in Rogue Agent, Whale Road Review, the James Franco Review, Thank You for Swallowing, and elsewhere; and her essays and book reviews have appeared with Memoir Mixtapes, The Rumpus, BookPage, and Motherly, among others. When she's not reading and writing, she's in her garden or spending time with her family. For more, visit www.mckenzielynntozan.com.