Parenting as a concept is already difficult enough, but because each child is different, that makes the task that much harder.
But if our kids resort to bullying, we have to figure out an appropriate way to teach them that the behavior is unacceptable, urged the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit.
Redditor freyaelliot, for example, threw her son’s possessions out of his window when she discovered he had snuck out after being grounded.
But when she was criticized for it, the Original Poster (OP) wondered if she had made the right decision.
She asked the sub:
“AITA for throwing all of my son’s belongings out of his window?”
The OP gave her son a choice in his punishment after bullying a classmate.
“My 17 year old recently got busted playing cruel pranks on one of his classmates, it involved a girl, a date, and then a series of photos of the student being stood up circulating around the school.”
“My son fessed up to it. I gave him the choice to either write an apology letter to the classmate he ‘pranked’ or he could be grounded for 3 weeks.”
“My son chose the 3 weeks, I suppose that’s a pride thing.”
The son had no problem staying in his room.
“He’s spent the better part of it in his bedroom because he’s been studying for assignments and exams and I was fine with that. He’s always been good with his grades and he puts a lot of work into passing.”
“About 4 days until the end of his punishment, I asked him if he’d like to watch a movie with the rest of the family.”
“He said no, his test at school was the next day and had to study, fine by me.”
But then the OP realized there was more to the story.
“I’m usually at work before he wakes up (gone by 6:30) so I went into his room before bed to wish him good luck only to find his room empty!”
“I searched the house for him, figuring he could have gone down for snacks or to use the bathroom, but he was completely gone.”
“It was then that my husband discovered he’d cleverly removed the security screen from his bedroom window and had been sneaking out.”
The OP decided to call her son out in a big way.
-“So, I proceeded to throw his belongings out of the window.”
“He said he was going to be in his room and through the window was where he went, so I figured that’s where all of his stuff belonged.”
“X Box, lamps, computer, clothes, posters, yes, even the bed was dismantled and thrown out into the backyard.”
“We kept all the lights on and retired to our bedroom like we always do (it was about 10 pm at this point) and when I went downstairs, there was my son sitting at the table with a glass of juice, saying he came down for a study break.”
“When he finished his juice, he went back upstairs and came down a few minutes later.”
“He didn’t seem remorseful at all at being caught and merely said, ‘Okay, busted, where’s my stuff?'”
“I told him it was all in his room.”
The OP allowed her son to make another choice.
“He found it all outside and threw a teenage temper tantrum about how unfair it was.”
“I told him he could either write an apology letter to us and we’d help him move his stuff in, or he could move his own stuff back in, provided he wanted to move back in and put it all back together himself.”
“We got our apology letter and helped move things back in and set his room back up with everything that wasn’t broken.”
“On top of this, he had to finish off his grounding AND apologize to the classmate he ‘pranked.'”
The OP was then called out for her behavior.
“The grounding lifted as planned and he went to stay with my sister for the weekend in the country to clear his head.”
“He must have told her what happened because I received a nasty phone call about how much of an AH I am and how that was way too much for such a small offense.”
“I personally feel as though it was justified after he’d completely ignored his punishment and lied and thought he was being sly about it.”
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 criticized the OP for her weak punishments.
“An apology to that poor girl shouldn’t have been optional!! Like, what he did would have traumatized that girl – an apology is not an and/or in this scenario!?”
“OP, YTA, and I would suggest considering what decisions you’ve made that have led to your son being a person who treats people the way he does, and seek professional guidance on course correction ASAP.”
“You don’t have the tools to do this yourself and your son is in danger of being an arrogant little s**t for the rest of his life.” – prosemortem
“The apology letter should not have been optional. I sincerely hope he has written that letter now and that it would make him think twice next time he decides to play such a cruel prank.” – zombie_cop75
“Also, he had been sneaking out of his grounding and just ‘finished’ the grounding he never really started.”
“My grounding would have restarted at day 1 if I got caught sneaking out. And it would have lasted as long as it took for me to get the point.” – words68
“His reaction on being found out was the giveaway for his apathy. And I think the decisions OP has made to get here amount to a complete lack of punishment for any wrongdoing.”
“Son did something really s**tty to a classmate. Punishment: Gets to spend all his time in a room full of tech. For 3 weeks.”
“A SERIES of pranks that have probably effed up some poor kid, 3 weeks of Xbox and privacy.”
“Son is sneaking out during his punishment. Punishment: Has his stuff thrown out of the window. Well, it’s probably mostly his parents’ stuff, considering there’s mention of furniture being chucked.”
“He then writes a half-a**ed mea culpa, so mummy and daddy helps him put all of THEIR property back in the house. Some of which is probably now broken. So they’ll have to pay money to replace it.”
“Son then has to complete the remaining period of punishment, despite the previous time no longer counting because the little s**t was sneaking out.”
“If OJ Simpson read this, HE’D think this was taking the p**s. Where’s the actual punishment? What has the son had to do to balance the karmic scales? Get sent to his room?”
“At this rate, what happens when he does the next (inevitable) bit of s**thousery? Install a bar in his room? A blackjack table? Strippers?”
“If he keeps this up, he’ll be ripped off on coke, being fed from a seafood buffet by high-class sex workers, while mummy and daddy wring their hands about how nothing seems to work.”
“ESH. Want to know how we get Brock Turners? THIS is how we get Brock Turners.” – droppedelbow
Others felt terrible for what the victim of the prank must have gone through.
“I still remember when someone attempted this prank on me in 9th grade. I knew what was up, he had a bit of a reputation for asking out ‘losers’ and standing them up. It was before smartphones so at least there wouldn’t have been video evidence.”
“But that was 18 years ago (I just did the math and now I’m feeling sick). He followed me around asking me out laughing with his friends. Like I vividly remember all this time later.”
“I can’t imagine how that girl feels! An apology shouldn’t have been optional.”
“An apology isn’t a punishment and a punishment would be necessary but in addition to the apology.” – fragilemagnoliax
“And his punishments had NOTHING to do with what he did to the girl.”
“He got to have all his social media and entertainment and if it involved a date probably access to keep talking to that girl or harass her.”
“I personally would have gotten the school involved and gotten him to ask his friends for the picture back or at the least get his friend group to delete the photo.”
“The school also should have been contacted because kids have killed themselves over stuff like this.”
“He just hung out with his friends for two weeks, his parents got the apology and the girl is probably still traumatized and upset.”
“YTA, OP. He learned nothing about other people’s feelings and everything about personal possessions and not getting caught.” – Rapidbetrayal
“OP shouldn’t have given the kid an option to apologize or not. He SHOULD apologize for playing a cruel prank on someone. That other student wasn’t given an option to be the joke of the school now.”
“OP’s son should not have an option to not apologize. An apology should have been mandatory. Grounding him should have been mandatory. Now the kid doesn’t take her seriously and she’s wondering why.”
“I see what OP was trying to do, but YTA for not making apology mandatory and giving the son a slap on the wrist.” – Playful-Mastodon-872
“Abusing a girl with his classmates is not a small offense. Children and teenagers have done self-harm for such things.”
“You shouldn’t have offered him the choice not to apologize to a girl he abused. He should have done much more. and not just because he lied to you about being in his room You punished him harder for this typical lie than for abusing a young girl!”
“YTA. He still does not understand the seriousness of his actions. He is still entitled and he still hasn’t learned anything.” – bogohulna
While the OP thought the punishment of throwing her son’s possessions out the window was justified, the subReddit was not convinced.
It had nothing to do with the bullying he had done at school, nor did staying in his room, and it came off like she was more worried about him disobeying her than bullying his classmates.