A mother has been supported online for disciplining her daughter after it was revealed that the 17-year-old had been body-shaming her friend.
The woman shared on social media that she had made the decision to cancel her daughter Abby’s birthday vacation after it emerged that she’d labeled her friend “too chubby.”
“Four months ago she [told me that for her birthday] gift she wants a vacation for her and her friends instead of the huge party that I had promised for her 18th. I said OK,” the woman wrote on Reddit.
“Fast forward to last weekend, we started preparing for her vacation. I called the other two girls’ parents to confirm whether the girls would be coming along and learned that Abby’s best friend Betty won’t be. Betty loves traveling and was looking forward to the vacation, so I asked why. Apparently, Abby uninvited her because ‘she is too chubby to look good in pictures,'” she said.
Horrified by her daughter’s heartless comments, the mother encouraged Abby to work through her feelings and acknowledge that her behavior had been unacceptable.
The woman shared that Abby refused to take on any self-awareness: “I calmly talked to Abby and reminded her how Betty would feel. I insisted that Abby should apologize to Betty for body shaming her. I also threatened to cancel the vacation if she didn’t apologize because [she should not] put others down. She stormed off and went to her dad.”
Earlier on in the lengthy post, the woman had explained that she had separated from Abby’s father a few years ago but that both have a close relationship with their daughter.
“I later received a call from my very angry ex-husband telling me off for making decisions for Abby, and using this as an excuse to cancel. He also insisted that he pays an extra 10 percent for Abby’s needs. I told him off for enabling her bullying and hung up,” the mother wrote.
She went on to explain that she called Abby after their heated discussion, and pleaded with her to apologize to Betty for her unwarranted comments. The mother opened up that she wasn’t asking Abby to invite Betty along on the trip if she didn’t want her to be there, but that she just wanted her daughter to recognize her problematic behavior and apologize for it.
“She didn’t apologize,” the woman continued. “Instead, she tried to get Betty to talk to me and tell me that she had lied about being uninvited and that she herself canceled on the vacation because she wasn’t feeling well.”
The humiliated mother explained that Betty respected herself better than to lie for Abby and that she refused to do as she had been told, but that her daughter became furious at her friend’s unwillingness to comply.
“When Betty said no, she sent a ton of hateful texts and body-shaming insults to her that I can’t even write down. Betty sent me the screenshots, so I canceled the vacation. Some of my friends agree with my approach while others think that I should have put my daughter first,” the woman detailed.
The post which can be seen here had been shared to Reddit on March 18 by @WinLoseRepeat-908. Since then, it has been upvoted by 97 percent of the users who engaged with it and commented on over 800 times. The majority of the Redditors interacting with the post chose to back the woman and argued that she was in fact putting her daughter first, because she was teaching her how to become a better and more thoughtful person by being unafraid to hold her accountable.
“Teaching your daughter to not be a horrible human being is putting her first,” one user commented.
Another user added: “Being a parent isn’t about giving your kid zero consequences so they like you. Being a parent is doing everything in your power to ensure your child grows up to be a good person”.
How Can You Teach Your Child Good Behavior?
Dr. Sarah Bishop, a clinical psychologist who has provided the U.K.’s National Health Service (NHS) with psychological services since 2004, told Newsweek that it is important for parents to differentiate between their child and their behavior.
“If we tell a child that they are ‘mean’ (rather than that their behavior is mean) it is very difficult for them to see how they might or could change this, as they then learn that there is something inherently bad or wrong about them which can feel impossible to change,” said the psychological expert who has also held research positions at the University of Birmingham.
“All this can then become a self-fulfilling prophecy and increase mean behaviors,” Dr. Bishop explained.
The clinical psychologist instead advised parents to focus only on individual behaviors in a non-shaming way.
“Try to praise and reinforce what was done well and problem solve what they did wrong,” she told Newsweek.
By this logic, parents could tell their child things like “it was really kind of you to play your game with Tim, but it is not ok to take away his turn; his feelings will be hurt and he won’t want to play. What do you think we can we do to make Tim feel better?” instead of criticizing Tim for his character.
“This response sets clear rules and makes it clear that there are real consequences to being mean whilst encouraging empathy and making amends,” Dr. Bishop explained.
The clinical psychologist also flagged that it’s important for parents to praise positive behavior at any opportunity and be specific about what has been handled well, all while making sure that grudges are not held and that the child learns the value of forgiveness.
“it is vitally important to role-model healthy emotional responses. We cannot expect our children to be respectful towards others when they witness a lack of respect between the adults in their lives, or from the adults towards them,” she added, raising the importance of modeling and showcasing healthy relationships and behaviors in front of children.
If you have a family dilemma, let us know via [email protected]. We can ask experts for advice, and your story could be featured on Newsweek.