Parenting is an incredibly unique experience, and each parent is going to make some different decisions from the other parents around them.
But it’s those decisions that really show off what kind of parent that person is, cringed the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit.
Redditor f**ksocietyfml looked on as her neighbor’s son gave her son a gift for his birthday, only to discover that the toy was slightly broken.
To teach him a life lesson, she decided to talk to the boy, but the Original Poster (OP) was shocked when his mother did not appreciate her take on a teachable moment.
She asked the sub:
“AITA for lightly scolding a 12-year-old because the birthday gift he gave to my son was broken?”
The OP’s son was excited about his birthday presents.
“Recently, we had a birthday party for my (32 Female) son (7 Male). He invited some of his classmates and our neighbor’s kids who he’s close with.”
“One of them was a 12-year-old boy who brought a doll-type thing that glowed and made noises if you pressed a button.”
“We opened the present later after the party, and even though my son was happy to receive it, I noticed that the toy had a cracked shoulder.”
The OP decided to talk to the neighbor’s son about it.
“The next day, when the boy came to play with my son and the other kids, I asked him who purchased the gift, and he said he did.”
“I showed him the broken part and lightly scolded him. I simply told him that if he was going to spend money buying something, he should’ve checked the thing.”
“I gave it back to him and told him to ask the store to replace it since it was broken.”
“I thought it was a good life lesson and that he’d remember this. It would help him when he buys something later on. It would teach him not to waste his money.”
The OP’s attempt at a life lesson backfired.
“However, later that evening, his mom called me and told me that I was very rude to her son.”
“She said, and I quote, ‘If someone gives you a gift, you just appreciate it and don’t say anything, even if it’s not that good, especially when it comes from a kid.'”
“Turns out, he bought it with his own pocket money, and he put a lot of thought into it. He did replace the gift, but he has stopped coming to play with my son.”
“Was I wrong? I genuinely didn’t mean to upset him. I didn’t even really scold him. I talked to him very gently and only explained it to him.”
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 were disgusted with the OP’s poor manners.
“OP said her child was happy with the gift. Unless the crack was something that would potentially cause a scratch to the child, why not just put some tape on it and keep it moving?”
“Since they are neighbors, I hope OP goes to the child’s house and apologizes, thanks them for being so thoughtful, and gives them a small token to help counter the rudeness OP displayed.” – amhfrison
“My heart just breaks for that little boy! He put so much effort into giving his friend a gift, only to be shamed by an adult for it not being good enough. I genuinely want to cry. What an awful human being OP has been.”
“One of my daughter’s friends brought her a cute little box full of origami animals as a present for her birthday one year. You could tell that she’d put a lot of energy into making them, and I was so impressed with her skills! That was… maybe six years ago, and my daughter still has them. That present meant a lot to her.”
“Sometimes, the family is dealing with a tough financial situation. Sometimes, kids can’t even afford to bring a present. So what? OP is trying to teach her son the value of possessions over friendship? Like, what WAS her goal here? That little boy probably feels terrible, and she broke a friendship her son values over… a toy he already liked and enjoyed?” – thegreatmei
“Christ on a cracker, where did you get the idea that it was your job to impart life lessons on the neighbor kid?”
“He went out of his way to pick a gift for your child, bought it himself, and was very proud. You might have known that if you had done any inquiries beyond, ‘was this from you?'”
“Most stores have a return policy that allows you to exchange like items or receive store credit. If you (not your child) were so butthurt that it was lightly cracked, you could have gone and exchanged it instead of putting the responsibility on a 12-year-old, who, again, isn’t yours to teach.”
“YTA big time.” – 051015
“At my 12th birthday party, I received a stuffed clown doll from one of my good friends. It was obviously old and used.”
“She told me right away that she didn’t have any money to buy a gift, so she gave me her favorite keepsake. It was my favorite gift at the time, and I still have it today, 40 years later.”
“OP, even a 12-year-old kid 40 years ago was a better human than you. YTA.” – LaLa_LaSportiva
“Wow, a kid went out of their way to make sure they could bring your son a birthday present, and instead of modeling maturity and gratitude, you humiliated him?”
“YTA. Of course. A flaming one.” – undertherosetrellis
“YTA. Ewwww. Just ewwwwww. Did your kid have a problem with the gift? Doesn’t sound like it. YOU had the problem, and you thought the best course of action was to get in this poor kid’s face about it?”
“Instead of teaching other people’s kids ‘life lessons,’ why don’t you try to educate yourself about gratitude?” – Usual-Role-9084
“You’re not only an a**hole, but also heartless.”
“I love how people use ‘a good life lesson that’ll always be remembered’ as a way to mask their cruelness.”
“Also, at first, you say you lightly scolded him, then you flip to, ‘I didn’t even really scold him.'”
“I wouldn’t be surprised if you embarrassed him in front of the other kids with that ‘good life lesson.'”
“If anything, you should apologize to that boy. The thing is, he ‘wasted’ money on a gift for his friend (your kid), but you had to somewhat make it about yourself. Even your son was happy about it, and who’s to say at even 7, your son wouldn’t have accidentally cracked it while playing with it?”
“YTA and apologize to the 12-year-old!” – mochacitygirl
“If OP gets upset with this one, just tell her it’s a ‘light scolding.’ OP, I can pretty much guarantee that no matter how ‘lightly’ you think you did this, the 12-year-old heard:”
“‘SHAME SHAME SHAME ON YOU! HOW DARE YOU BRING MY SON A BROKEN PRESENT?!? ARE YOU SO STUPID THAT YOU DON’T KNOW TO CHECK IT OUT BEFORE YOU PAY FOR IT?!? NOW GO GET ONE THAT ISN’T BROKEN AND BRING IT BACK!!!!'”
“Not only have you needlessly chastised a 12-year-old, making them feel bad, but you have also successfully driven away one of your son’s friends. Over YOUR sensitivity around money. Well done.”
“How would you have felt if someone doled out this ‘life lesson’ to you when YOU were 12? YTA.” – stunneddisbelief
Others pointed out the OP definitely taught her son a life lesson.
“I’m definitely enjoying the irony in OP telling a 12-year-old about ‘gift-giving etiquette,’ yet Op herself doesn’t understand how etiquette seems to work in regards to receiving the said gift.”
“Oh well, her son definitely learned something since she caused him to lose a friend with her bad manners.” – Prudent-Investment-9
“The only life lesson she taught was that her kid can lose friendships because she can’t let stupid s**t go.” – coffeejunkiejeannie
“I feel for her son. Mom is going to cost him good friends at a time in his life when friendships are everything.” – Born-Constant-7913
“She’s now going to be known as ‘mean mom’ in his friend group if the kid says anything.” – SquirrelGirlVA
“The OP wrote, ‘I thought it was a good life lesson and that he’d remember this.'”
“It wasn’t, but he will.”
“Now it’s your turn for a life lesson. Shame that it’s taken until you’re a fully grown adult with children. YTA.” – plfntoo
“‘The axe forgets, but the tree remembers.’ It’s a quote that has really stuck with me, especially now that I’m older and realize how much of my young adulthood was shaped by words that meant nothing to my mom but everything to me.”
“As adults, we forget that our words have power, and we forget the small comments, but the ears that hear those words remember and take them to heart.” – jessdb19
“I wonder how much OP’s son cared that the shoulder was a little cracked.”
“Probably stoked that his friend got him a gift.”
“So much joy and happiness between friends dashed away. And for what? And now OP’s son has lost a good friend. A child that used their own money for a gift. So sad.” – 37Lions
“YTA. My heart hurts for that poor kid, who made a sweet effort to buy his friend a gift, only to be humiliated by his friend’s awful parent.”
“I hope the replacement gift is worth your kid losing a nice friend.” – madcats323
“Oh my god. The appropriate response to receiving a gift is, ‘Thank you.’ You’re scolding a literal child for giving your son a gift? Even if you feel comfortable being the literal villain in some kid’s story, can you spare a thought for the absolutely obnoxious entitlement you’re teaching your son?”
“We’re all going to have to live in the world with him. Please do us a favor and don’t teach him that people need to be scolded if they show him generosity and it doesn’t work out exactly like he’d prefer.” – madeline_gumbo
After receiving feedback, the OP shared a brief update.
“Alright, I’ll accept that I was TA and apologize.”
The subReddit was simply appalled over this one, seeing no reason why the mother felt the need to say anything about the gift. If she was really so concerned about the break, she could have attempted to repair it or exchange it at the store herself without ever saying anything to her son’s friend.
Now even with an apology, there’s a good chance the friend will not come back over, either because he does not want the negative attention from the OP or because his mother wants to maintain a new distant relationship with her neighbors.