Parenting is full of tough decisions, and as a child ages, a lot of what parents will teach them involves positive or negative consequences.
But sometimes those consequences, or punishments, go too far, pointed out the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit.
When Redditor Dadthrowaway788 returned home from a work trip, he discovered that his son had been pressured by some friends to try some beer and became somewhat drunk because of it.
But when he found out what his wife did to punish their son for the slip-up, that was when the Original Poster (OP) really became mad.
He asked the sub:
“AITA for freaking out when my wife locked our son out of the house at night after he drank alcohol?”
The OP’s son had tried drinking for the first time while the OP was on a work trip.
“I (39 Male) have a 16-year-old son with my wife (40 Female). This incident happened a few days ago and she’s still mad at me.”
“I was on a work trip so my wife was at home with our son. When I got back, I found out that he had been hanging out with his friends, and they convinced him to drink some beer, and he got a little drunk.”
“I’m not saying what he did was right, but he and I had a talk about it, and it’s fine now.”
But the OP’s wife’s punishment for their son did not match his crime.
“The problem is that when he came home and my wife found out, she was furious and kicked him out.”
“She refused to let him back in until the morning. He was begging her to let him, but she wouldn’t.”
“When I found out, I was furious. Regardless of what he did, she made a slightly drunk teenager stay outside by himself at night. Something very bad could have happened to him.”
The punishment led to a massive argument.
“We had a huge argument over it. I asked her how the hell she thought that was okay.”
“She just kept saying that it was our son’s fault for drinking alcohol.”
“My wife isn’t really talking to me now, and my son isn’t talking to his mom. I feel like I’m in the right, but maybe I’m not.”
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 sided with the OP and argued this was a serious safety risk.
“A minor child is an adult’s responsibility. The mother endangered the son! Unfortunately, the drunk teenage son seems to have more sense prevailing than the mother. NTA, OP.” – crack_crack9000
“Your wife denied your child shelter at night while he was intoxicated. She endangered your kid. NTA and I have to ask your wife the following: what the f**k is wrong with you?” – Spectre-907
“NTA. No matter if he was a little drunk or very drunk, he’s a vulnerable minor, and I would not leave him outside. There are a lot of other ways of setting high expectations and disciplining a kid. Child neglect isn’t one of them.”
“You two need to talk and get on the same page as far as discipline goes so you have a set of consequences and rules you are both comfortable with.” – Athena2560
“NTA. He is not the first 16-year-old to show up at home drunk. Giving him a lecture is fine. Locking him outside is not. He is a minor. Safety should still be considered. That is one of your tasks as a parent.” – Butterbeary
“Short of physical violence, there is basically zero legitimate reasons to lock a child outside their home all night. Even if the reason is legitimate, as the child’s guardian you are responsible for their safety, period. That’s what being a guardian means.”
“NTA. Your wife fu**ked up massively. This is not something you can let her get away with. She endangered your child while you were not around to help.”
“I am never the weirdo Redditor encouraging everyone to break up, but this actually divorce-worthy if you can’t get her to see sense. She absolutely put your son at risk of danger or injury with her actions, unless your living situation is unique and you have like a huge private backyard with hammocks and cabanas, and sleeping outside is normal or something. But that seems unlikely to me.”
“Irrelevant to the whole thing, but for the record, drinking laws in the US are asinine, and people who freak out about underage drinking are typically either extremely obedient to the law (gross) or have intense religious reasons to oppose drinking (also gross). There are cultures and countries around the world where 16-year-olds have a beer with their friends without the sky falling.”
“Learning to drink responsibly at a gradual pace seems much healthier to me than zero tolerance until 21, at which point, they go, ‘WOO, I CAN DOWN THIS WHOLE BOTTLE OF JACK MYSELF, I’M INVINCIBLE, WOO, TIME TO DRIVE HOME, I DON’T EVEN FEEL IT, WOO!'”
“Just my two cents. NTA.” – deefop
Others agreed and pointed out there were other things the son needed to learn.
“NTA, I get that she’s trying to teach your son that actions have consequences, but the much more important lesson to teach here is, ‘When I screw up, I can always go home. Mom and Dad might be mad, but I know I will be safe with them, and we can talk it out.'”
“Punish him for drinking underage, but that’s being grounded or having your driving privileges taken away.”
“This is an important moment in the parent/child relationship. You want to be home base and not the police here.”
“Just to be clear, I am not in any way saying DON’T punish him. He did something wrong.”
“But coming home drunk your first time drinking is not the time to be berated and kept outside. It’s the time to hear, ‘Sleep it off, and we’ll be discussing this in the morning.'”
“Signed, The son of parents who immediately punished and did things like your wife did, so now we have a very superficial relationship (they get next to no news/info because I’m still nervous it will somehow be used against me) and I don’t seek them out whenever something happens to me.” – MizZo2
“NTA. Your wife single-handedly taught your son that if something is wrong, he can’t trust her (to keep him safe).”
“Withholding safety is not a punishment. It’s cruel. I really hope your son has seen you stand up for him on this, that you have or will sit down with him and tell him that what he did wasn’t okay but that her reaction was entirely unreasonable and unacceptable.”
“She cannot do this kind of thing in the future. Talk with both of them about what rules he is not allowed to break and what will happen if he does (none of which should be abusive responses intended to scare or embarrass him).” – chaosinthedeep
“NTA. His mother has just ensured that he will never call her for help for anything if he needs it.”
“And in saying that, I really hope he understands that he can call you because kids do dumb s**t, and he needs to know he has someone who isn’t going to hate him for making a mistake.” – payne2588
“Great, now your son will drink behind her back and will not return home out of fear for her reaction if he’s too drunk or call her. He might not even call you when he’s too drunk in case you tell her, Good job, Mom. You’re NTA, Dad.” – Better_Detective_804
“NTA, and your wife is guilty of child neglect.”
“The biggest problem is that she doesn’t think she did anything wrong. That means she would do that again. You need to put a hard stop to that.”
“My inclination would be to suggest making a police report and having them come over and let your wife know what would happen to her if she tried that again. The problem with that approach is that once you start the ball rolling, you never know where it will stop. You want her to take it seriously, but you don’t want her actually arrested and potentially prosecuted for that first offense.”
“Or, a different idea. Tell your son to call the police if that ever happens again. Let your wife know what he has been instructed to do.” – extinct_diplodocus
“NTA, OP. I grew up near the area where the serial killers Bernardo and Homolka were active… This is why you don’t leave your kids outside and unprotected, even if they got up to sh*t like underage drinking. Leslie Mahaffy is gone now simply for breaking curfew, which isn’t so different from drinking beer for the first time when it comes to teen experiences.”
“And the punishment certainly does not fit the crime, with regards to your son. I fear that even when you guys move past this, your wife has permanently damaged her relationship with your son.” – National-Return-5363
The subReddit was deeply appalled by how the OP’s wife had treated the OP’s son while he was away, especially over something as small as trying alcohol for the first time as a result of peer pressure from close friends.
What they were more concerned about, though, was how this would impact the son’s ability to trust his parents in the future. If he was kept out of the house all night long while inebriated over a mistake like this, what punishment would he receive if he did something more serious?