A mom who allowed her 14-year-old daughter to bring a 13-year-old male friend over to their home said her daughter’s behavior shifted to disrespect as soon as said friend arrived. Feeling both embarrassed and angry, the mom turned to Reddit for advice on punishment.
The OP, who goes by the username sonofacrakr, said that she had made the her daughter aware of very basic ground rules. These rules included that he would have to leave by 10 p.m., because they have a family function the next day, and there would be no cooking, because the last time he visited “they both trashed the house making breakfast in the middle of the day” and she had to send him home.
To her shock, her daughter’s attitude toward her changed once the boy was there. “She started to show off in front of him and demanded I take out ingredients for cooking. I said, ‘We discussed this, and no.’ She pushed all the limits and asked for ice cream then her cellphone so they could watch YouTube videos. She then said she was ‘mad at me’ for saying no to ice cream so she was going to eat all the cookies I worked hard to hand make.”
The daughter’s behavior was so disrespectful, the OP said “the poor kid who walked over felt bad for me and said to please not treat me this way.” Unfortunately, that didn’t stop her daughter’s tantrum. The OP said her teen then “proceeded to stand in the living room (food-restricted area) and shove cookies in her mouth as fast as possible,” while mocking her.
At the time she penned the post, which appeared in the Parenting subreddit, the OP explained that her daughter and the friend were still in her home and that she was “trapped upstairs” in her own bedroom, “fuming,” and looking for the worst punishment. She did not send the boy home because “it wasn’t his fault.” And although she considered taking her daughter’s cellphone away for the rest of the weekend, she said she feared that her kid would “probably just throw another tantrum.” She continued, “She has never done anything like this, and I don’t want her to have friends over ever again. She is acting like a toddler. Help?”
Many users urged the mom to send the boy home, even if it wasn’t his fault, and not allow the teen to have friends over for a while.
Redditor Smallerbuttercup commented, “You let it get too far. [You] should have nipped it right when it started, [and you] should have addressed the boy, ‘X you should go home. Y is clearly having some issues we have to discuss. I’m sorry you had to witness such behavior.’ [Then] proceed to scold and ground her…This isn’t behavior you should brush off. She wants to push boundaries, and she’ll continue if you let it go.”
User monicaperkins thought the mom should make the girl bake cookies to replenish what she had eaten. “Take her to the grocery store and have her buy all the items needed to remake the cookies. If she doesn’t have the money, give her a list of chores to do to pay it off. She remakes the cookies, plus extra to donate to the senior center or such place, where she will be volunteering for the next few weeks instead of doing what she wants. No friends over for a while. This was a display meant to show off and look ‘cool’ somehow in front of her friend. She needs to learn respect.”
Redditor cagirlgapeach felt the OP needed to step up. “You sound like you’re scared of your own kid. So you won’t punish her because you’re worried of her tantrums? You’re the parent not her. You send him home, ground her for two weeks and take her phone. Show her who is boss. She throws a tantrum—BAM—no TV for two weeks. [If] she keeps going you keep punishing. And the most important thing is that you follow through.”
Others, however, felt the mom might have been too strict, leading the daughter to have a tantrum. “It seems like pure restrictions and punishment don’t seem to work that much…For example: if she wants to cook, she can. But in return she has to clean up after herself immediately,” wrote user Mautarius. “My point is: could you give her more responsibility so the doesn’t feel treated like a toddler and stops acting like one?”
Redditor this-is-test chimed in, saying parents often fall into the trap of controlling their kids’ lives “because they want everything to turn out perfect.” The commenter continued, “Think about what kind of dynamic that creates for a child. You control the household to such a level that you don’t allow them to fail and learn from mistakes and enforce rules that may be excessive in teaching her about her autonomy. You control her life but she needs to learn to make decisions, learn to think, learn to regulate herself, learn to say no. In order to bring back some of that power she is now fighting with you and creating an unhealthy power dynamic.”
And Redditor SmallScience felt a conversation was a must. “Please sit down and talk to her about why she thought this would impress her friend and how he probably really felt, and what can be done next time to handle things better … Every kid’s screw-up is a learning opportunity not JUST a power struggle! At least give her a CHANCE to learn from her mistake. Thirteen-year-olds have A LOT of difficult emotions and hormones, and teaching them how to handle them is also your job and will help your daughter figure things out without just devolving into who’s the bigger ALPHA. If you want to alienate your kid and encourage more rebellion follow the other advice.”
As for what the OP ended up doing? In an update to the post, the mom shared that she saw the Reddit replies, and sent the boy home because her daughter showed her even more disrespect. “She slammed her door, then tried to use her school-issued tablet to get on YouTube and social media! So, I shut off the Wifi.”