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Parents Clash After Their Teen Daughter Is Punished For Creating A ‘Business’ At School

Jose Luis Pelaez Inc/Getty Images

Side hustles have become increasingly popular in recent years, especially during the pandemic, and child entrepreneurs are establishing themselves at younger and younger ages.

It totally stands to reason that a 15-year-old girl might be trying to create a path for herself while in high school.

But according to the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit, there’s a right and wrong way to go about doing that.

Redditor AITADaughterSelling, however, didn’t see anything wrong with the rules her daughter may have been breaking.

But after receiving backlash from her husband and the high school, the Original Poster (OP) needed a second opinion.

She asked the sub:

“AITA for saying I don’t care about my daughter selling stuff in school?”

The OP fully supported her daughter’s side hustle at school.

“My (34 [Female]) daughter, Amy (15) has a ‘business’ at school.”

“She purchases multipack items such as snacks, drinks, etc., and sells them individually.”

“She has been doing this for about two years and the profits have been pretty good from what she’s said.”

“I don’t mind her doing this, personally. It’s not illegal like selling drugs or anything like that, and it means she doesn’t have to ask me for money.”

“Since she started she’s bought herself a lot of new dresses and shoes.”

But then the school demanded the daughter to stop.

“However, the school apparently does not support this.”

“She and a few others doing the same thing were caught and were given a week of detentions, with the possibility of suspension if they are caught again.”

“My husband was enraged. He wanted to ground Amy and give her additional punishments.”

“Personally, I couldn’t care less.”

“She’s found a way to earn money so she can buy what she wants.”

“It’s not illegal, and her grades are good so it’s obviously not distracting her from school.”

The OP didn’t agree with the school, however.

“I’ve told my husband that I don’t want to punish her or stop her from selling.”

“The school is making something out of nothing.”

“He thinks that I’m ‘putting her education at risk’ by letting her continue.”

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 pointed out the daughter’s side hustle could, in fact, be very illegal. 

“It actually violates several food and safety laws because she’s breaking up the packaging and reselling individual units, which the manufacturers clearly label ‘NOT FOR INDIVIDUAL RESALE’.”

“So yes it is in fact illegal to do.”

“If someone else dies because they didn’t know an allergen was potentially in the food they consumed, she can be criminally charged and face jail time.”Seliphra

“It actually might be illegal. I doubt she has a business license, insurance, or tax id number.”

“Also, public schools are government property (I think) and if she doesn’t have permission to run a for-profit business on the property, there could be some legal ramifications there, too.”

“Other than that, her education could be in jeopardy if she doesn’t stop and that should be reason enough.”MrsMayhem17

“Liability falls on her, she took individual items out of their bulk packages and sold them separately.”

“Know where the warning labels typically are? At the very least where they are the most prominent with listed ingredients? On the main bulk packaging.”

“Not to mention not all allergies are so easy to work out.”

“Not all kids will know what different candy contains, it does happen.”Pengalin

Others said the school wasn’t okay with it, likely because of allergies and vendor agreements.

“I’m not so sure it’s not illegal. If she’s doing it on school grounds, then she has to meet nutrition guidelines. If she’s doing it off school property, then she probably needs a peddler’s license.”

“If she’s making enough to buy ‘a lot of dresses and shoes,’ then she might be hitting the point where it needs to be reported as income.”

“Regardless, if the school tells her to stop, she needs to stop.”rusty0123

“Vendor contracts often include exclusivity provisions, allowing the vendor to be the only seller of items at that site. If the school allowed a kid to sell food, it would be violating the vendor’s contract.”

“While the kid does not violate a contract she is not a party to, the school has the legal duty to shut her down due to its own contractual obligations. In a highly technical legal sense, the kid could potentially be interfering with the vendor’s contract rights.”Leading_Lock

“At our school, Coke had a contract with the school so they sponsored sports stuff and only Coke products could be sold on campus, even if there were like bake sales or if Business Ed set up tables.”

“If her school had a similar contract and she was selling a different company’s products, she could get the school in trouble.”enelyaisil

On the contrary, a few suggested how the daughter could continue her business. 

“With a little creativity, OP’s daughter doesn’t have to quit. Maybe try setting up at local sports fields during kids’ games or practices. She could ask the school if she could set up a table at afterschool events.”

“Honestly, this shows a lot of hustle and entrepreneurial spirit. Find a way to encourage it that won’t get her suspended.”

“Also recommend helping the daughter open a junior checking account and start saving, and learn about earning interest.”

“One of the most successful guys I know retired at 35 and his first entrepreneurial venture was doing the exact same thing, reselling snacks at school as a kid!”NotUrSpecialLadyFrnd

The subReddit was very quick to set the record straight for this mother, in favor of the father’s and the school’s points of view: the daughter should not continue selling pre-packaged products on school grounds, period.

There could be issues with vendors, with being properly licensed, with allergies, and even with petty arguments among students about who bought the last chocolate chip cookie package.

But as some Redditors importantly pointed out, this teen clearly has an entrepreneurial spirit. No one suggested shutting that down. If anything, the OP should encourage her daughter’s pursuits, simply in a different fashion.

Written by McKenzie Lynn Tozan

McKenzie Lynn Tozan lives in North Chicago, where she works as a poet, freelance writer, and editor. She received her MFA in Creative Writing from Western Michigan University, and her BA in English from Indiana University South Bend. Her poems have appeared in Rogue Agent, Whale Road Review, the James Franco Review, Thank You for Swallowing, and elsewhere; and her essays and book reviews have appeared with Memoir Mixtapes, The Rumpus, BookPage, and Motherly, among others. When she's not reading and writing, she's in her garden or spending time with her family. For more, visit www.mckenzielynntozan.com.