It is human nature to disappoint your parents, sometimes. But, that doesn’t mean kids can get away with anything.
Good parenting is all about teaching kids about empathy and compassion. Even if you have to use unorthodox methods.
Redditor tireddadonsunday encountered this very issue with their son. So they turned to the “Am I The A**hole” (AITA) subReddit for moral judgment.
“AITA for ‘bullying’ my son to teach him a lesson not to bully people?”
The Original Poster (OP) explained:
“I thought I knew my son well until one time, when I heard him screaming while on the lawn while I was working.”
“He was spouting some incomprehensible words, so I went out to check on him. It turns out, he was mocking my neighbor.”
“Our neighbor is an old man, probably in 60s, who has a bad discoloration on his skin (looks like vitiligo) and some wrath-like skin condition on his left arm.”
“My son was calling him on a term which can be translated as ‘Tree-man’ in English. (I can’t think of a proper English term, but this sounds really derogatory in my language.)”
OP was not happy.
“I hissed at him, and asked him to stop doing that.”
“Then, I apologized to the old man, before we went inside the house. I made sure he understood that it is bullying, and I don’t want him to ever do that again because it is hurtful.”
“But he didn’t stop. I caught him at least three more times doing that to my neighbor.”
“So my patience ran out. I decided that if he could not understand how hurtful his words are, I’ll make him experience it.”
“One night, I called him a monkey.”
“He was shocked. He tried to approach me but I said, ‘No. I won’t touch a monkey’.”
“He threw a fit because of it. So I carried him and told him, ‘Now, how does it feel whenever someone mocks you? It hurt, doesn’t it?'”
“Then, I made it clear that starting today, I will remind him all the times how hurtful words could be. And that he should practice being kind to other people.”
Then, OP’s mom got involved.
“Now, my mom came into the scene, and scolded me. She claimed what I’m doing is wrong. His mother also found out about it, and is now wanting full custody.”
“I don’t want to give up on my son. I love him, and now that my time is more flexible, I want to make up on the time I lost.”
Redditors gave their opinions on the situation by declaring:
- NTA – Not The A**hole
- YTA – You’re The A**hole
- NAH – No A**holes Here
- ESH – Everyone Sucks Here
Most Redditors agreed OP was not the a**hole.
“This might be an unpopular response but NTA.”
“Your son sounds pretty young and it’s not like you bullied him excessively….just showed him it was hurtful and then explained why you did what you did in a calm way. He’s not going to remember this in a few years but hopefully learned a little empathy” ~ loc_nessmonster0
“I agree NTA.”
“Sometimes people have to experience something themselves to really understand it. You can talk and talk but sometimes the experience is worth way more than the words can convey.” ~ Armored_Butterfly
“It’s not like you abused him or anything super harsh, all you did was call him a monkey, which is hardly an insult. What he was doing to the old man wasn’t nice, and when you nicely tried to get him to stop, he continued to do it.”
“At that point, some light discipline is required, and it seems like it did the trick. He might be a kid, but he should know what’s wrong and what’s right.”
“I’m surprised by his mother and your mother’s response, did you not tell them he was mocking an old man? Demanding full custody over you calling your kid a monkey is extreme. Also, how old is he?” ~ akoudagawaismywaifu
“They knew. They just think my son is just being a child. But I think 7 should be old enough yo know words can hurt people, hence why I began disciplining him. I ain’t having a bully child. I was a victim of bullying myself, so I abhor it.” ~ tireddadonsunday
Some agreed OP’s kid needs to learn compassion.
“NTA. Yours you called him a name. You also made it clear to your son that you do not actually dislike him or think he’s a ‘monkey,’ but that words hurt.”
“Kids sometimes have a reeeally hard time understanding the consequences of their actions. He wasn’t understanding at ALL why he shouldn’t be rude and mean to someone, despite your repeated admonishment of his actions. So you gave him a taste of his medicine AND THEN clarified your intent.”
“I also think it might be a helpful lesson for your son to have to go over and talk to your neighbor and sincerely apologize. Teaching compassion and kindness to our kids is THE MOST important lesson we can teach them.” ~ Rice-Correct
“INFO: Why did you apologize to the elderly man instead of having your son offer the apology? What were the consequences to your son for the three times he ignored your instruction not to mock the man?”
“There are certainly better ways to redirect behavior you find unacceptable than this.” ~ ilovesarasboots
“I apologized in behalf of my son because it might be insincere if he does it. On the next occasions? I scold him. Repeatedly.” ~ tireddadonsunday
Most think OP’s mom was overreacting.
“Go no contact with your mom. I am sorry but calling a child a mean nickname one time to teach a lesson does NOT justify shifting to a full custody, that is ridiculous.”
“She already decided to undermine your parenting before this event, be very careful how much you want to expose your child to her. Unless you have a history that you did not told us, this reaction is extreme.”
“Edit: Changed CPS and MIL parts.” ~ RagdollSeeker
“NTA, I was a really empathetic kid and didn’t need this lesson, but my parents taught me that you should treat people like you would like to be treated.”
“In first grade someone kept kicking me hard under a desk after I asked them to stop, so I kicked them back and they never did it again because they realized how much that hurt/didn’t feel nice. Sometimes you have to put people in other peoples shoes.”
“Edit: This isn’t the same as spanking/scolding your child because there’s an actual lesson to it that they’ll remember.” ~ OneDumbPony
Parenting is hard, but teaching compassion is necessary.