It’s a parent’s job to teach their children right and wrong.
Without a doubt, it would be disheartening to witness their child essentially abusing other kids.
But that’s something that should be corrected right away, not ignored, agreed the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit.
Redditor EnvironmentalBake790 didn’t receive the memo when they took their daughter out shopping, because she was upset about the consequences of her own actions.
But when they were called out for rewarding their daughter, the Original Poster (OP) wondered if they were missing something.
They asked the sub:
“AITA for taking my daughter shopping when she was supposed to be punished?”
The OP was impressed by their daughter’s math abilities.
“My 14-year-old daughter ‘Katie’ is very talented at maths. She’s already the best at it in her school despite not being in the older years.”
“She entered her exams early and scored full marks. She’s now studying higher-level maths stuff and her teachers have given her university-level material to get her teeth into.”
“It’s probably her biggest passion in life.”
“Katie also attends a maths club which she enjoys, and she’s already the most talented member.”
The OP recently had to stop in about some concerning behavior.
“A couple of months ago this new boy joined the club. I’ll call him ‘Tommy’ and she talks about him a lot. She obviously has a crush on him.”
“A few weeks back the trainer at the maths club told me that she’d gotten complaints from parents, because some of the other girls has received texts from Katie, demanding they stay away from Tommy and containing a lot of abuse.”
“As soon as I found this out I made clear that it was to stop. I even confiscated her phone.”
But the behavior didn’t stop there.
“Unfortunately, the texts continued as soon as she got her phone back. In fact, they got even more extreme, and as a result, the club decided to exclude Katie today.”
“Katie was sobbing in the car, not just because maths is her passion, but also because she thinks she loves this boy and doesn’t want to be away from him (he’s blocked her on everything due to what’s happened).”
“While she obviously hasn’t behaved well, it hurt seeing her so upset.”
“She loves clothes so I thought I’d treat her to a girly day to cheer her up. We did some shopping and bought her some new dresses, and then I took her to a salon to get her hair done.”
“Katie is still pretty down but she enjoyed the day and said it’s cheered her up.”
The OP’s husband was appalled.
“I told my husband what happened and he was livid. He said shopping was the last thing we should have been doing and that I should have brought her home immediately, confiscated her phone, and put her in her room to think about what she’s done.”
“Look, as awful as what she’s done is, she’s a teenage girl who’s both had her heartbroken and had her biggest passion taken away on the same day. We can think about punishments later on.”
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 said the OP needed to teach Katie a lesson.
“Parents need to teach their girls that they too, can be creeps, and not to be creepy. I had this talk with my oldest when she was 12, and will have the same talk with my youngest.”
“YTA. I can’t imagine the logic behind taking your child out shopping because they got in trouble at school for harassment.”
“Katie needs to be told that she’s a creep and to knock it off before the next boy she likes comes along.” – fokkoooff
“Mom is a complete AH, her dad wants his daughter punished. Katie never dated this boy, its seems he wasn’t ever interested in her, was her heart really broken, her crush might have liked her had she not acted so stalkerish to the other girls. I think this kid needs therapy.” – Warm_Kaleidoscope973
“It’d probably be in her best interest to go to juvie, given how much OPs enabling her behavior- maybe some serious consequences will help her screw her head on straight.”
“She’s old enough that she could be tried as an adult and sent to grown up prison in many jurisdictions. If she keeps this up for a year or two she is absolutely going to end up in grown up prison.” – FrightenedFieldMouse
Others agreed and said the OP handled the situation all wrong.
“She went full on reward mode. I’d understand if maybe OP took her out for food or something while she explained to her that the people she’ll love won’t always love her back and women are always going to talk to men she likes, but the behaviour she showed has real consequences in the grown up world.”
“It’s a difficult thing to learn and doing it gently and spending the time to do it properly will drive the message home much more effectively than just taking her phone away.” – ConsiderationHour824
“Sorry OP, but ‘broken-hearted’ is what you get when a couple break up, or when your crush rejects you. This should not be treated as broken-hearted territory, because by rights that should have happened some time ago when he first indicated his lack of interest.”
“What you have right now, is a girl who doesn’t understand the word ‘no’ or that her crush doesn’t owe her reciprocation, and who thinks that she can possess a person and be abusive and threatening to everyone else he interacts with, in order to stake a claim.”
“Right up until the club put their foot down, and told her she wasn’t welcome any more. That’s not broken-hearted; that’s ‘just realised her actions may have consequences’ …right up until you took her out for a treat to cheer her up, and damaged the lesson she was learning.”
“No. This is a time where she needed to sit with her uncomfortable feelings and work through them properly, without you letting her off easily.”
“This is a time when your sympathy for her feelings needed to be limited and held alongside the more urgent goal of getting her to develop empathy for her (multiple!) victims and understand (and fully accept) that this is abusive and (where I live) criminal behaviour.”
“Also, OP? If you do not make sure your daughter learns the correct lesson now, then if she continues the behaviour into adulthood, it will likely end up in court. And very possibly in jail time.” – Normal-Height-8577
Some were also miffed by the OP’s writing of the post.
“Notice the language used throughout the post… ‘due to what has happened’… ‘the girls received texts’… ‘the texts continued,’ instead of ‘Katie did THIS.'”
“OP isn’t even holding their daughter accountable in this retelling of events.” – electraglideinblue
“OP, she didn’t ‘get her heart broken.’ She got kicked out of the club because she had become a creepy stalker. Reverse the sexes and think about how her behavior would sound.”
“Boy oh boy did you handle this disastrously. Make sure she gets help.” – Pale_Cranberry1502
“‘… some of the other girls has received texts from Katie, demanding they stay away from Tommy and containing a lot of abuse.'”
“You’re daughter is a series of red flags. Don’t treat her for a bad day. Put your foot down and correct the behavior. Be a parent, not her best girlfriend for shopping and makeovers. This isn’t the time for that. She’s abusive and controlling.” – runswithwands
“‘… some girls received abusive messages…’ No, Katie sent abusive messages to these poor girls. Stop trying to make her out to be victim here, OP.”
“‘She got her passion taken away!’ Actions have consequences. Also, a 14 year old can’t possibly think it’s ever okay to threaten other people? She should have known that this was going to happen.”
“And I totally agree that OP needs to step up as a parent, not reward her daughter for this creepy behaviour. As soon as I read ‘the behaviour continued as soon as she got her phone back,’ I thought, ‘Did you not talk to her about this? did you just take her phone off her a couple of days and expect her to do a 180?'”
“I wonder if this ‘not receiving consequences’ has been going on for a while and that’s why Katie doesn’t respect her parents or other people’s boundaries.”
“She clearly needs therapy, OP, and you might be in need of a parenting class or two. YTA.” – faszinating
While the OP was concerned about their daughter’s feelings because of her own actions, the subReddit felt their priorities were out of line. Their daughter’s behaviors were potentially dangerous, and instead of teaching her more about them, they essentially rewarded and reinforced them.