One of the most important jobs a parent has is to teach their children to be empathetic and respectful to others. This is especially true for how we treat our houseless neighbors. One mother was appalled to find out her daughter yelled and cursed at a homeless man and decided to come up with a creative punishment that would teach her an important lesson. However, her family felt that she went too far.
The mom of two explained in a post on Reddit that after her husband died, she went through serious financial hardship and felt she was at rock bottom. Because of this experience, which she shared with her children, the mom thought her daughter would have more empathy for the homeless. So, she was shocked when her 16-year-old daughter Jasmine showed her a video of her 14-year-old daughter Jessica yelling at a homeless man who had asked her for money.
The mother was livid and decided that in addition to making her daughter pay £20 toward a hotel room for the man, she would also be sleeping outside in the cold for a night. She did give her daughter a choice, she could take away her phone instead, but Jessica chose to sleep in a tent in the backyard. After this experience, Jessica suddenly had much more empathy for what the man was going through and decided to cook meals for the homeless people who live on her street.
Everything seemed to be solved until Jessica shared with her cousin what had happened, and then the mom’s sister reached out to say that she felt the punishment was too harsh. The mom then posted her story online to see if Reddit users agreed that she went too far. Read on to see their reactions.
For Illustration Purposes Only (With Models) – istockphoto.com/AndreasWeber
You never want to see your children doing something hurtful to another person. In her post on Reddit the mother shared:
“Yesterday, Jasmine showed me a video of Jessica cussing a homeless man out and telling him, ‘stop asking me for money, you’d earn it yourself if you weren’t so lazy and spending what you earned on substances.’ When the homeless man complained about the cold (we live in NE England), Jessica responded ‘Yeah people camp for fun, even in December, you can’t complain, you’re living someone’s holiday.’ Fury was an understatement for what I felt, as I thought I had raised an empathetic daughter.”
She continued, “I locked her bedroom door so she couldn’t go in, put a sign on it saying Closed for the holidays, pitched a tent in the garden and filled it with blankets and the sleeping bag I used when I was camping in Norway on a family holiday as a teen (aka really bloody thermal). I slept in the room closest to the garden for that night so I was nearby if anything was to go wrong. She was reluctant to do it but chose it over the option of not having access to her phone until the Christmas holidays are over.”
After that, things changed. The mom added, “In the morning, she was crying about how horrible it was to wake up on a cold mat and get disrupted sleep due to birds. After comforting her, I asked her if she would like to do that every day like the homeless man. It struck a chord with her and she was crying over her actions … This afternoon, I came home from work to Jessica making a big meal to donate to the homeless people who live on the road near our house.”
For Illustration Purposes Only (With Models) – istockphoto.com/RUBEN RAMOS
The reason the mom was seeking other opinions was that her family thought she was wrong for making her daughter sleep outside. “My sister said that my punishment was too harsh, and just the £20 and the food bank would have done the trick, and I was acting irrationally due to my past. Now I’m second-guessing myself,” she wrote.
The majority of commenters agreed with the mother’s decision. One person said, “OP gave her daughter a choice- either a learning experience or a punishment (losing her phone for break), and I feel like that made it even better. Her daughter could have ended up just resenting it if she’d been forced to sleep in the tent with no option, but because she chose it, it had more impact.”
Another person added, “Sounds to me like it worked wonders on her attitude. the realization that you could end up in that position yourself if things went just a little bit wrong, does wonders for people. though I have to admit, I’m cackling at the ‘closed for the holidays’ bit. that was pretty funny.”
Others even said they would do this with their own children if needed. A third commenter wrote: “Not only did it teach her empathy, but you were able to teach her in a very low-stakes way. She isn’t roughing it as an adult with no one to turn to. She is roughing it as a child who has a parent who would step in if it got dangerous. The point of being a parent is to get these lessons across when you’re still able to step in if it goes haywire. This is the best way to teach empathy, frankly. I will be using this if our children ever do something similar.”
For Illustration Purposes Only (With Models) – istockphoto.com/martinedoucet
Do you think the mom went too far? What would you do in this situation? Let us know and be sure to send this on to your loved ones with teenagers.