As his punishment, her son would not be getting branded clothes or sneakers for a year and he would be driven around in an old Jeep.
Editor's note: This article was originally published on April 13, 2021. It has since been updated.
Children from all walks of life interact with each other in the setting of a school. Research by the UNESCO Institute for Statistics has found that almost one-third of young teens worldwide have experienced bullying. One important factor for bullying was found to be the socioeconomic status of the students. Two out of five poor youth are bullied.
One mother found out that her son was bullying kids who were less wealthy than them at his school. So she decided to teach him a lesson in humility and took away all signifiers of wealth. While her son was obviously annoyed, her husband thought what she was doing was wrong too. The mother took to Reddit to explain her predicament.
First, she laid down some background of her family. "I am a mother to a teenage boy. The father is hardly in the picture, he pays child support and that's about it, he is very absent otherwise," she wrote. "Another relevant thing, I'm pretty well off, I work in tech. My son's father is extremely wealthy and the court order for child support is enough to pay for the best for my son. He goes to a fairly competitive private school, is in a lot of extracurriculars that cost a decent bit, etc..." The boy's school informed the mother that he was found bullying some of his peers for being less wealthy.
The teen was picking on others for things like being dropped off at school in a budget sedan or having name brands clothes that are not as expensive as other name-brands. "I was appalled by his behaviors," his mother exclaimed. She had a talk with him about how what he was doing was wrong. She told her son that being wealthier than some of his peers was not something that he should have any pride in. "He has no job, no savings, no investments, no wealth of his own. By totally random chance he happened to be born into good circumstances. And that's it," she explained and had her son apologize to the kids he bullied.
As punishment for this behavior, the mom decided to shop only at thrift stores for a year and stopped buying her son branded sneakers or clothes. She even decided to drive him to school and all other places in her old '92 Jeep. He would no longer be chauffeured in the Porche or the Jaguar. He was also made to borrow club equipment instead of bringing his own. Her son was upset about all these changes and said it was causing problems with his friends at school. He said it made him look bad and that his friend's parents wouldn't have their kids getting in such an old vehicle with no doors. He also said that he was embarrassed to pretend he was poor.
She went on to write that her ex-husband was not pleased with these changes. Word had gotten around his circles that his son was being driven around town in "a junker," among other things that had changed. He told his wife that it was not a fair punishment because "impressions matter" and that it would affect the rest of their son's life. "AITA for having this approach to parenting my son who was bullying kids for being 'poor'?" she asked Reddit. The mom was declared not the jerk in this situation as she was only teaching her son better values.
Reddit user Art of Rebellion wrote, "Maya Angelou said, 'I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you make them feel.' The kids he bullied will remember him and how he made them feel for far longer than he will feel ashamed to be seen in an old car. NTA. OP is an excellent parent."
Another person said, "NTA. Good lesson. The only reason it’s causing a problem with his ‘friends’ is because they are also bullies and not his friends. You could even take it one step further as someone else said and have him get a job at one of those thrift stores. Let him feel what minimum wage feels like. Or have him volunteer at a shelter etc. great lesson. High five for you!"