Though not all parents like to admit it, children experience varied moods just like they do, but without emotional regulation.
This can be just as true for teenagers, if not even more so, pointed out the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit.
Redditor throwaway677433749 was shocked when he heard the insult his younger brother came up with, which he knew he would have to correct.
But when the teen was sobbing over his reaction, the Original Poster (OP) wondered if he took his punishment too far.
He asked the sub:
“AITA for not leaving my brother alone after he called my girlfriend a dishwasher?”
A harsh comment ruined a fun night out for the OP, his girlfriend, and his brother.
“I am ‘babysitting’ my little brother (13) while my parents are visiting a friend of theirs abroad who’s on her deathbed. My girlfriend and brother got along pretty well the past few days.”
“Last night, we went bowling and then had dinner at a restaurant afterward. It was a great night because we had so much fun.”
“We were walking back home after dinner, and my girlfriend and brother were arguing about ‘Stranger Things.'”
“It started as a fun little debate at first, but when my girlfriend corrected him, he didn’t like it, so he told her, ‘What do you even know? You are just a dishwasher.'”
The OP tried to correct the situation.
“I was shocked and furious at him.”
“When he saw our reactions, he tried to backtrack, saying it was just a dumb joke that he didn’t mean.”
“I told him to shut up and went to catch my girlfriend because she walked away.”
“I apologized for what he said and told her that he will do the same thing.”
“I knew that an apology wasn’t enough, so I promised her I will give him a stern talk and ground him for the remaining time he’d be staying with us.”
His girlfriend insisted on a more severe punishment.
“She said that I didn’t have to apologize, because it wasn’t my fault.”
“She added that his apology wasn’t going to be sincere, so she asked me to leave him alone outside to teach him a lesson about not disrespecting women and throwing around sexist insults.”
“I told her I can’t do that, because it was late, and I wasn’t comfortable leaving him alone, especially since it was a 20-minute walk.”
“She suggested I call an Uber for him because she wasn’t going to walk back with him.”
“I refused again because he was my responsibility and I couldn’t let him go with a stranger, because if something happens to him, my parents would never forgive me.”
“She sarcastically told me it felt nice being supported by her boyfriend when she literally just got insulted.”
“She said that my brother wasn’t a child and that many teenagers ride in Ubers alone, but since I wasn’t interested in going with her, she’d call one for herself.”
The OP reprimanded his brother after his girlfriend went home.
“During the walk back home, I told my brother that if he insulted my girlfriend or anyone else in my presence again, he could forget that I am his brother.”
“He started crying, but I was so angry that I told him to save his tears, because he should’ve regretted what he said because it was disrespectful and not because I threatened to cut him off.”
“I informed him that he would not be allowed to leave the room except for the bathroom or to eat until our parents come back, so he kept sobbing the whole way back.”
Everyone went to bed angry.
“When we arrived, my girlfriend had just been dropped by her Uber.”
“It was very awkward because they both were angry at me, and when we entered the house, they directly went to their rooms and closed their doors.”
“So now I can’t sleep and have been just lying on the couch, wondering what the f**k was I supposed to do.”
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 were concerned about the message that was being sent to the 13-year-old.
“Threatening people doesn’t teach them lessons. If anything it’ll stop the brother from saying things like this around OP, or stop saying it out of fear, instead of stopping saying it because he realizes it’s f**ked up.”
“Thirteen-year-olds aren’t toddlers, but they still deserve many chances to get their act together from family.” – pyramidheadismydaddy
“It’s an edgy 13-year-old. In a couple of years, he’ll look back at how he was and suffer shame and regret. Everyone was edgy and rude as a young kid, it’s literally part of growing up.”
“But yeah, he now knows what he said is wrong, but now he’s gonna have the doubt of if his brother even cares a tiny bit about him since he’s ready to get rid of the kid for the rest of his life.” – A**att
“Christ, if you threatened to disown a young teenager for every stupid mistake they made, there wouldn’t be enough therapy in the world to undo your psychological damage on that child.”
“His brother isn’t a 15-year-old telling a 13-year-old to never talk like that or else they won’t be brothers.”
“He’s a loco parentis and the 13-year-old child’s mom and dad are out of the country. OP f**ked up to placate his girlfriend.” – pxchip
“It is much more f**ked up to threaten a 13-year-old child with immediate abandonment in the middle of nowhere at night and with long-term abandonment as their brother for a dumb and out-of-line comment than what the brother said about girlfriend being a dishwasher.”
“Educating him about why it was wrong to say it would have been the much better path to go.” – Ankchen
“13-year-olds may be old enough to know that words can hurt, but they’re still not old enough to always know where the line is between teasing and something that’s genuinely hurtful.”
“When he realized he’d crossed a line, he tried to apologize for it, but instead, he was taught that he could unintentionally ruin his relationship with the people he cares about. Poor kid’s going to second guess everything he says for years.” – ExplodingPuma
Others were especially uncomfortable with the girlfriend’s reaction.
“Arguing with a 13-year-old over ‘Stranger Things,’ then said 13-year-old calls you a ‘dishwasher’ and you get that butt hurt and then demands that your boyfriend abandon his little brother? Who’s the immature one here again?” – Coletorino72
“Teenagers don’t always have impulse control. At 13, his brain is not completely developed. Yes, it was wrong, but he needed to be told why it was wrong. Not threatened with abandonment.”
“The girlfriend is the one acting like a child. She expected him to just leave a kid to walk home at night alone? No. She should have talked to the kid and explained why what he said was so insensitive.”
“You don’t just write a kid off over a stupid comment.” – Charming_Ad8910
“NTA. Your 13-year-old brother is still very much a child. He overstepped but beyond a word of correction, this doesn’t have to be ‘scorched earth.’ He needs to apologize.”
“Your girlfriend, however, is supposed to be an adult. She was out of line expecting you to abandon your brother on the sidewalk. She’s TA for that.”
“Now she is pouting in her room. Another childish act.” – ParticularReview4129
“My teens have gone too far before. I never had to yell at them to apologize to me. They sincerely do immediately.”
“It would have been far better to explain to his brother what he did was wrong and why and he should be apologizing sincerely. After all, he would want the same if someone hurt his feelings.”
“My kids have learned a lot if how to be people because I talk to them instead of handing down a severe punishment. OP and GF need to realize teens step into it, make mistakes and often say unkind things.”
“It isn’t something they do just to one person, they do it in general. With mine, I put it in perspective by reminding myself teenagers are going to teenage. As in, it’s a thing teenagers do and it’s a general thing, not them coming at me personally, as in only me.”
“It’s an adult’s job to be calm as much as possible, talk to them and teach them. Sometimes punishment is merited but severe punishment and threats will cause them to hide things and get better at a lot of things you don’t want them to.”
“While OP is not the a**hole for disciplining his brother, he is a major a**hole for how he did it, and his girlfriend is a mega a**hole for getting this out of control for a relatively minor insult from a 13-year-old.”
“Who ADVOCATES for ABANDONING a child as ‘discipline’. Seriously, what the f**k?” – CheelaChathArrna
Some thought that everyone needed to apologize in this situation.
“I’m so super sensitive about saying something hurtful to others, but I can think of at least a handful of times in my tween/early tween years that make me cringe to remember.”
“Kids make mistakes. Kids say stupid things. OP probably isn’t a teen and even he screwed up. Both of them need to learn from their mistakes.”
“The girlfriend, on the other hand, is the true AH. That’s a vindictive, cold-hearted person to want to leave a kid behind alone. Is it a mistake or learning experience for her, too, or is that her character?”
“All 3 of them owe each other apologies.” – sloppyballerina
“The simple solution is the best: call someone a dishwasher, you’re washing dishes for a month.”
“He takes every dish she uses directly from her hand to the sink. For. A. Month.” – 42DaisyPusher
“It’s especially bad because parents are out of the country for an indefinite period of time. OP and GF are so furious, 13m might legitimately be in fear that he’s kicked out on the street or otherwise abandoned. That has to be terrifying.”
“Imagine you’re 13, you screwed up bad and there’s no family members you love to support you. The only support you have says they might abandon you forever. His GF wants you out on the street in the middle of the night.”
“Where can you go? What will you eat? Will your phone still work? Should you call your parents? What if your parents hate you too?” – ErikLovemonger
“How can someone teach empathy and acceptance if they can’t also show it?”
“The kid is in a vulnerable position. And he’s a KID. The adults in this situation need to exercise some patience and compassion.”
“Take a breath, take a moment, take a step back and examine the power dynamic here, and inequality of life experience and cognitive function. The difference in impulse control and general knowledge. This isn’t black and white.”
“What happened: The kid got angry and lashed out at the girlfriend. Girlfriend got angry and lashed at OP, and OP lashed out at the kid. A chain of immaturity, of tantrums, and of threats.”
“What should’ve happened: Get everyone home safe. Sit down together. Ask the kid why he thought that was an okay thing to say. Make him explain it.”
“Then ask why he thinks girlfriend reacted the way she did. Listen to him. Let him listen to himself. Tell him you love him, but that you’re disappointed in his behavior.”
“Separate the kid from the kids’ action. He is NOT his behavior unless he makes it a habit. That’s what you’re trying to help him avoid doing.”
“Talk about his feelings, the girlfriends’ feelings, the right way to have a discussion, and the kind of person he wants to be. That to get respect and be heard, you have to give respect and listen.”
“And when someone makes you mad, you can’t just lash out and stomp off. Nothing gets solved that way. Nothing productive happens. You don’t learn, you don’t grow, and you don’t attract positive people, and positive experiences.”
“Then give a natural consequence. Such as, ‘Now we can’t go do/have etc, because you made a choice that took that off the table.’ Tell him we make choices every day that shift the balance from positive to negative, or negative to positive, and throughout life we’re constantly course correcting.”
“But he’s young, and this isn’t a life-altering consequence, just a learning experience, a growing pain. And as long as he can learn from his mistakes and take responsibility for them, it will be okay, and he’ll be stronger for it.” – UnicornBoned
Feelings and tensions were clearly high after the 13-year-old insulted the OP’s girlfriend in this way, but the subReddit was convinced that no one acted in the best way in this situation.
Not only did the teen need to understand why what he said was hurtful and apologize for it, but the couple dramatically overreacted in their punishments.
In order to repair this, a follow-up conversation would need to happen, now with what should have been discussed with the teenager, but also why these reactions were overreactions and why they are hurtful.