Very few parents enjoy punishing their children.
But sometimes, a punishment is the only way to teach children that actions have consequences, and words can hurt.
There are other times, however, punishments can backfire, and whatever lesson was meant to be taught fails to land.
Redditor meanbdaymom2323 felt that her daughter needed to be punished after she overheard her call a friend a name, and felt that she was given a worthy punishment.
But after being called out by several friends and fellow mothers, the original poster (OP) took to the subReddit “Am I The A**hole” (AITA) where she asked fellow Redditors:
“AITA for cancelling my daughters birthday and making her call her classmates to explain why?”
The OP first let readers know that her daughter’s upcoming birthday party was going to be a significant chapter in her life.
“Here is the situation.”
“My daughter Abby just turned 11 and was supposed to have a birthday party last month with the girls in her class.”
“She is autistic and has ADHD that we haven’t found the right treatment for, so she struggles to make friends and this would have been the first non-family party she has had.”
“In the last few months, Abby went to 2 other birthday parties where the whole class was invited which is why she asked to have a larger friend party this year in our backyard.”
There would, however, be one notable absence at Abby’s birthday party.
“Unfortunately because of the timing, Taylor (her best friend) wouldn’t be able to make it because her family was out of town.”
While overhearing Abby invite her other classmates over the phone, the OP was horrified by how Abby was handling Taylor’s absence.
“The day before the party, I was letting Abby use my phone to give her classmates the time and location information and I overheard this exchange:”
“Other girl: Is Taylor going to be there?”
“Abby: No, she’s lame and can’t come.”
The OP felt that Abby’s resorting to name-calling was worthy of a punishment, and there was only one punishment she thought would be acceptable.
“I sternly told Abby to hang up and explain herself.”
“She tried to tell me that she wasn’t serious, but I thought it was incredibly mean to call her only friend ‘lame’ and felt like she was behaving horribly.”
“She insisted that it was just a joke and wouldn’t agree when I told her that Taylor would be heartbroken if she heard Abby call her lame.”
“I felt that she didn’t deserve to have a party if she couldn’t cherish her friend, and decided to teach her a lesson.”
“I made her call all 12 girls that were invited (including the ones she had already called to tell the information) and explain to them that there wasn’t going to be a party after all, because she was being punished for saying something rude about Taylor.”
“She was appropriately embarrassed and cried a lot, and I think definitely learned her lesson.”
However, the mothers of the girls invited to Abby’s party, including Taylor’s mother, were less than convinced that Abby deserved losing her birthday party.
“So I felt like this was done and dusted, but Taylor came over last weekend for a sleepover and I talked to her mom for a bit at drop off.”
“She told me she heard about what happened because the other parents had been discussing my punishment and thought it was too harsh, and insinuated I should go easier on Abby because she was ‘a sweet and sensitive kid’.”
“I wasn’t expecting this so I brushed it off until she left, but got annoyed that other parents are judging me for my actions when my kid did something that was NOT sweet or sensitive.”
“When Taylor’s mother returned to pick her daughter up, she again laid it on thick how much Taylor liked Abby and how she was glad they were friends, and I said ‘Yep, and now Abby knows to treat her friends well and not to take them for granted’.”
“It got awkward when Taylor’s mom kept gushing about Abby and low-key implying that she didn’t deserve to be punished and I snapped back ‘Well, I guess you and everyone else knows how to parent better than I do’.”
“I am still seething over this and want to know if my actions with Abby and with Taylor’s mom were warranted, because I feel like everyone else is taking crazy pills.”
Fellow Redditors weighed in on where they believed the OP fell in this particular situation by declaring:
- NTA: Not the A**hole
- YTA: You’re the A**hole
- ESH: Everybody Sucks Here
- NAH: No A**holes Here
The OP found little to no sympathy from the Reddit community for making Abby cancel her birthday, finding her to be the clear a**hole.
Everyone agreed that the OP’s punishment was far too severe, and there were much better ways for her to make her point.
“Here’s what a sensible parent would do.”
“‘Hey Abby don’t call your friend lame’.”
“She deserves a gentle nudge you knocked her across the room.”
“That’s a pretty standard thing for kids to say.”
“And taking away her birthday celebration and embarrassing her in front of peers is not good parenting.”
“Even if she was rude (don’t think she was), did your punishment succeed in teaching her about social interactions?”
“Or did it teach her to just make sure you can’t hear her conversations?”
“You taught her that someone else’s perception of other peoples feelings were more important than her friendships.”-fabulousautie.
“This is too harsh and is unjust considering current preteen and teen culture .”
“My daughter is 14 and this is just how they talk nowadays.”
“Even about close friends.”
“To their faces even.”
“They don’t take it seriously.”
“It isn’t meant harmfully.”-MzzBlaze.
“YTA – that’s such a ridiculous overreaction.”
“You went immediately to the nuclear option when a simple discussion about unkindness and a ‘I don’t want you to talk like that’ would have been sufficient.”
“‘My daughter has trouble making friends, so I humiliated her and cruelly cancelled a friend event to teach her a lesson about not being unkind to other people’.”
“I cannot even begin to describe how much you‘re TA.”
“She said some random reply to someone’s question, and you’re banning her from a party?”
“She didn’t even use slightly harsh language.”
“I’d be shocked if a single person on the internet thought her comment was out of line or rude.”
“Now you‘re annoyed that other parents are judging you, so you come on to reddit so all of the internet can judge you?”
“Yes, every other parent does know how to parent better than you do.”
“My cat could parent a mouse better than you parent your child.”
“’She’s lame, and can’t come’.”
“That’s seriously why you ruined your daughter’s birthday party.”
“A girl who struggles to make friends.”
“Now she’s going to struggle with friendships because she’s the daughter of the pyscho parent.”
“And no, we aren’t taking crazy pills.”
“You didn’t leave enough for the rest of us.”
“She struggles making friends and now you’re hindering that even more.”
“The correct thing would be to have her tell the friend on the phone why Taylor actually couldn’t come and that she wasn’t ‘lame’, just couldn’t make it cause she was out of town.”
“Also you’re judgmental AF saying all the other parents are ‘taking crazy pills’ cause they thought you were harsh.”
“YOU need to call all the parents and apologize for saying they’re crazy when they’re looking out for your daughter.”-External-Judgment-77.
Upon reading the numerous comments condemning her for her punishment, the OP gave an update to her post, admitting that she made a mistake the way she punished Abby.
“I have said in multiple DM’s but I will say here as well that I was wrong and I am disgusted with myself.”
“I will clear up that Abby does go to weekly therapy, but we haven’t seen a psychologist or done family therapy since she was 8.”
‘I was also suspected of having ADD as a child but my parents didn’t do much to investigate after one type of medication failed to help so I don’t think about it that much and don’t know if that’s relevant.’
‘I sat with Abby after supper and apologized for my actions and enforced that she is a good kid and a great friend to Taylor.’
‘She started tearing up and told me she was hurt that the other girl asked about Taylor because apparently some kids had said they wouldn’t go since Taylor wasn’t.”
“Abby felt guilty because while she was just joking about Taylor being lame, she was hurt that they liked Taylor and not her.”
“I hadn’t even considered this and I’m heartbroken for her that I kicked her when she was down.”
“She is a sweet and sensitive girl and I’m very lucky she forgave me.”
“I will be looking into family therapy and connecting with the school to fix this, and told Abby she has a week to decide how and with who she wanted to celebrate a belated birthday.”
“Thanks to everyone who advocated for my daughter when I failed her.”
Here’s hoping that Abby’s belated birthday party is a very happy one indeed.