Mom goes on strike after teenage son said he'd be better off without her. Did she go too far?
Her mother-in-law called her "petty."
Every parent knows that sometimes their kids, especially teenagers, can say things in the heat of the moment they don’t really mean. But the mother at the center of this story took her teenage son’s outburst seriously and turned it into an opportunity to teach him a lesson. The question is, did she go too far to make a point?
A 35-year-old mom wanted to learn if she had been too hard on her 14-year-old son, so she shared her story on Reddit’s AITA subforum (we've abbreviated the forum's name to avoid printing foul language). AITA is where people vote on whether the poster was right or wrong in how they handled a situation.
“Lately, he has been acting out a little at home and school, so I decided to sit him down to try and figure out what was happening,” the mother wrote in a post that received over 800 comments. She said that the boy had been cursing out his parents as well as his teacher.
“He is my only child, and his dad and I are still together. I tried to sit him down and ask why he was acting out…but he wouldn’t budge," the mother wrote. “I asked him whether there were any issues going on at school because if there was, I would be more than happy to help him.”
But all the boy could muster was that “all 14-year-olds should act out a little.”
When the mother pressed her child for an answer, he blurted, “My life would be better if I didn’t have a mother.”
The mother was immensely hurt by her son’s words, so she decided to show him whether his life was, in fact, better without her around and she went on strike.
Spoiler alert: His life wasn’t better.
That night, the mom made dinner for herself and her husband. “When my son smelt food, he came downstairs and asked where his was,” the mom wrote. “I responded, ‘I made dinner for myself and your dad. Since life is easier without a mom, there’s some heatable food in the freezer.’”
The next day when he got up for breakfast, there was none to be found. “Where’s my breakfast?” the son asked. “Your mother would normally do that for you,” the mom responded. “But if life is easier without one, you’ll need to prepare your own breakfast. Also, take the bus to and from school.”
After “a few swears,” the teen made cereal and hopped on the school bus. The mother believes the teen may have complained about his mother’s strike to her mother-in-law, who called her, saying that she was “a horrible mother” who was “starving my child” and “being petty.”
To see if she did the right thing by going on strike, the mom posted her story to AITA, and the commenters overwhelmingly said that she was right in the situation.
"It’s not like you actually deprived him of anything," Shrimp-34 wrote in the most popular post on the thread. "He still had access to food and a way to get to school. It was definitely petty, but he wasn’t harmed in any way, and maybe sometimes you have to fight fire with fire?"
"He isn't being starved, he's 14, he can feed himself,” bahahahahahhhaha wrote in a post that received over 2,300 upvotes. “He isn't being kept home from school, he's 14, he can take the bus. [You would be wrong] if you kept this going for weeks, but doing it for a couple of days to help him realize all the things you do for him and appreciate them better is actually a really good life lesson—and its natural consequences. He doesn't want a mom? You are letting him have his wish."
A few commenters thought the mother should have taken the high road.
"I know it's hard, but you can't take that stuff personally and then retaliate like a teenager," Turbulent_Cow2355 wrote. "You have to model the behavior that you want to see in your kids, and that means taking the higher road, even when don't want to. You are being petty. Don't teach your child that pettiness is a good idea for conflict resolution."
The good news is that the mother and son were able to patch things up, and the teen’s realization helped him avoid further trouble.
“My son had a half day, so I texted him asking if he would like me to pick him up or the bus,” the mom wrote in a story update. “He texted back, saying he wanted me to get him. So I did. In the car, he immediately apologized for what he said, and he said that his friends were acting out, so he wanted to fit in. His friends got suspended today for something they did, and they wanted my son to join. My son did not, and he said he was sorry for how he was acting. I also apologized for my actions.”
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