Commentators were quick to defend a mother after she revealed that she had summoned her 16-year-old son for bullying and told him she “doesn’t like him very much at the moment”.
The anonymous woman, known only as u/hkeydustyjane, posted on the popular Reddit forum “Am I The A**hole” where she received over 11,000 upvotes and 1,550 in just 15 hours, and many users support her decision to call her son’s behavior.
In the post titled “AITA To Tell My Son I Don’t Love Him?” The woman explained that she has three sons, aged 21, 19 and 16.
“I love my sons more than anything, I have 3, and they were all brought up to respect everyone regardless of their differences,” the post read.
The woman said her two older sons are great at respecting others, but was recently told that the youngest is bullying a gay student in his class.
She said she gave her son the opportunity to invite the student to dinner to apologize but he “refused” and said he wouldn’t say sorry.
“I was not happy with his treatment,” the mother wrote. “I ended up putting him off but it doesn’t seem to affect him at all and he clearly hasn’t learned his lesson.”
The woman said she called the student’s family to tell them what was happening, and they agreed to meet for dinner to give her son a chance to apologize.
“He got so upset/angry, probably both and said no one liked the ‘f’,” the woman wrote. “Of course she apologized and left the family.”
The woman said she got into a “big quarrel” with her son after leaving the family. Her son said he had no regrets and that “nobody likes this kid.”
“I told him I don’t like him very much at the moment,” the post read. He paused, apologized, and went to his room.
The mother was told that her son eventually apologized for bullying the student and that she rejected him but said that her son was still “hiding in his room” and that they “seldom spoke”.
“My ex says I shouldn’t have told him that I don’t like him and that there is no excuse and of course this behavior [sic] He’s the reason we’re not together, because I can’t help but be miserable,” he said. And he was frankly bullying. Eta?”
Megan Devine, an author and psychotherapist, wrote in an article entitled Empowering Parents that parents cannot make a child have better behavior. Instead, it is important for parents to focus on teenage behaviors rather than situations.
“There is a payoff to focusing on your child’s behavior and not his own: you will teach them one of the greatest lessons of all – how to be responsible in the real world,” Devine wrote.
Devine writes that when children and teens change the focus on their behaviors, their attitudes tend to shift naturally as well.
While many parents prefer to sit back and watch their children learn, some parents prefer the “tough love” approach. While each approach has its pros, Devine said it’s important not to try to change a child’s attitude.
“It is normal for teens to have a nonchalant or dismissive attitude toward anything other than what immediately interests them,” Devine wrote. “And when you focus on trying to change your child’s attitude, you set yourself up for frustration.”
More than 1,500 users flocked to the comments section, many of them supporting the mother for calling out her son’s behaviour.
One user commented, “NTA. This kind of behavior needs to be stopped, and it looks like you’ve been able to stop it effectively.” “You told him you didn’t like him ‘now,’ well, at the time he was acting very undesirable.”
The user also suggested that the woman give some space to her son, and if she allows him to do so, he will talk to her when he is ready.
Another user commented: “Thank you for trying to raise your kids in a respectful way, but they will decide for themselves what to believe in.” “I hope 16-year-old realizes [sic] That they can believe whatever they wish, but to speak ill of others is beyond the bounds.”
Other users noted that the woman never said she didn’t love her son, and said she didn’t love him “now”.
One commenter said, “It means you didn’t like the way he acted, not that you didn’t like him as a person in general.” “Given the seriousness of what your son was doing, I think it was worth saying. In fact, it seems to be the only thing he’s come up with. It’s a pity that your ex has undermined your efforts.”
Another user wrote: “You can totally love someone and not love them so much at the same time.”
NEWSWEEK I reached out to u/hakeydustyjane for a comment.