A mother who works in tech was disappointed to discover her teenage son had been flaunting his affluence at his private school and bullying his peers for being less wealthy.
After the school administration contacted Redditor throwawayaghkuh about her son’s behavior, she took disciplinary action that made her question if she went too far.
The Original Poster (OP) went to the “Am I the A**hole” (AITA) subReddit and asked strangers on the internet:
“AITA for making my son give up the signifiers of wealth at school (designer clothes and sneakers, being driven in nice cars) because he was making fun of kids for being less wealthy than us?”
“I am a mother to a teenage boy. The father is hardly in the picture, he pays child support and that’s about it, he is very absent otherwise.”
“Another relevant thing, I’m pretty well off, I work in tech. my son’s father is extremely wealthy and the court order for child support is enough to pay for the best for my son. He goes to a fairly competitive private school, is in a lot of extracurriculars that cost a decent bit, etc…”
“I found out from school administration just this month that my son had been bullying several students for being less wealthy.. for being dropped off at school in a budget sedan, for having name brands clothes that are not as expensive as other name brands… I was appalled by his behaviors.”
“I had a talk with him about how this was wrong, and also about how it’s not something that he should have any personal pride in. He has no job, no savings, no investments, no wealth of his own. By totally random chance he happened to be born into good circumstances. And that’s it.”
“The school admin and I arranged an apology between him and all the kids he was bullying.”
But the OP really wanted to drive the point home and came up with a plan to enforce a lifestyle change.
“I also decided that this year, we’re thrift shopping for clothes. No more brand name sneakers or clothes.”
“And rather than driving him to school and activities in the porche or the jaguar, I’m driving him everywhere in my ’92 jeep that was one of my first cars that i mostly keep around for nostalgia and off roading.”
“It’s really beaten up, I’ve rolled it, taken off the doors, tried to fix the paint with rattle cans at one point lol (young and dumb at that point).”
“And for any activities he joins, he can borrow club equipment instead of getting his own bought.”
Her strategy started taking a toll on her son’s social life.
“He was really upset about it all, especially being driven to school and activities in the Jeep. He said that it was causing problems with his friends, he was looking bad at school, his friends parents didn’t want their kids getting in such an old vehicle with no doors.”
“He also said that it was embarrassing him for me to pretend he’s poor.”
“His dad, who overall has been very absent, got upset with me because apparently word had gotten around his circles that his son was being driven around town in ‘a junker’ and that I was making him use the club gear for sports instead of his own. And that was not a fair punishment because ‘impressions matter and it will affect the rest of his life’.”
“AITA for having this approach to parenting my son who was bulling kids for being ‘poor?'”
“I don’t buy him new designer things or drive him places in luxury cars anymore, we shop at thrift stores and if I am taking him to school I drive a car from 92.”
Anonymous strangers on the internet were asked if and where guilt belongs by declaring:
- NTA – Not The A**hole
- YTA – You’re The A**hole
- ESH – Everyone Sucks Here
- NAH – No A**holes Here
Redditors agreed with the OP’s method of punishment.
“NTA. You are teaching him a valuable lesson for the rest of his life. “It’s never okay to make fun of someone based on their families level of income
“In summary this is a great punishment that might help him see things from other peoples point of view.” – fuktequila
“Kids these days are lucky. Even Walmart clothes aren’t so embarrassing and awful anymore. As someone who was bullied for wearing clothes from Kmart or secondhand clothes, I think OP is doing a smashing job.” – Rhyan_K
“Yeah bullying is never okay, especially if you’re making fun of people for something they have no control over.”
“A lesson like this will definitely make a kid more respectful of others and a lot more open-minded. Good parenting OP.” – Wrextor
“NTA. This will effect him for the rest of his life, but not in a bad way.”
“Humility needs to be taught and OP is doing well with this.” – Tac0Band1t0
“Another idea might be taking him volunteering every once in a while so he understands that the absence of fancy stuff for a year isn’t just a punishment, but that his privilege so far and after all this ends is exactly that – privilege – because for most people what he is probably experiencing as a terrible year is just normal life.”
“It might be hard for him to understand so far because he seems to be solely surrounded by other relatively well-off kids because of private school and his hobbies.” – redundantky
“@OP: your son is a spoiled brat and his father sounds no better. What you’re doing is serving your son some valuable humble pie.”
“He’ll come around once he starts hanging around with the other toxic, spoiled brats that apparently value appearances over substance.”
“We have a theory in our house: New Money has a habit of flaunting their wealth and measure everything by it. Old Money on the other hand know you don’t have to flaunt it to enjoy it.”
“Nor do they measure stuff by the amount of wealth; they realized long ago that being born wealth only takes luck. Working hard for it (even if you fail obtaining it) is therefore way more valuable.” – BrainNSFW
“NTA it’s good to teach him some humility. I grew up in a well off family that was a bit more down to earth.”
“Sadly, I’ve had plenty of friends squander their trust funds and waste their life because of the mind set that their career should start at the C level, and anything less than that is for the poors.”
“Bring him down to earth while you still can.” – ChooChooTheElf
The ex-husband’s “impressions matter” comment was met with opposition.
“Yeah, impressions do matter! Only giving off the impression of being a bully is far more significant than the impression of looking rich.”
“People will remember the former for much longer in his life than they will what he’s wearing, what car he’s dropped off in, or what sports gear he uses.” – semiquantifiable
“I love the dads excuse ‘impressions matter’ and ‘ it will effect him for the rest of his life’. uh, what?”
“I can say with absolute certainty that looking like I wasn’t as well off as others in school, had zero impact on where I am in life today.”
“he’ll get over it and hopefully come out of it less of an ass. if its causing problems with his friends then thats his problem. he now knows exactly how those kids he was bullying felt.” – Gaming_nerd1183
Overall, Redditors praised the OP for her parenting. They also agreed an early lesson in humility would benefit the son’s perspective about values beyond material possessions.