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Teen Can't Forgive Her Mom For Months-Long Punishment For 'Stealing' A Bracelet That Was Hidden The Whole Time & Wonders If She's In The Wrong

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Daughter, mom and a necklace

All parents make mistakes, and most kids get blamed for something they didn't do at one time or another. 

But the situation a teen on Reddit detailed takes things to a whole other level. And as she shared in a post to the "r/AmITheA--hole" subReddit, a forum where people ask for perspective on how they handled a conflict, her situation with her mom is so fraught it's threatening to upend their whole relationship.

A teen girl's mom accused her of stealing a bracelet when it went missing.

The bracelet was a gift from her mom's sister who passed away and was near and dear to her heart. So when the daughter could not prove she didn't know where the bracelet was, her mom automatically blamed her and retaliated with a vengeance that many found shocking.

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The girl's mom grounded her for a year, threw away most of her possessions, and publicly humiliated her.

"Threw away clothes, books, birthday gifts, anything that wasn't an heirloom or necessary," the teen writes. And that was only the beginning. She made her daughter do all of the household chores, forced her to break up with her boyfriend, "and texted all my friends' moms to tell them to keep my friends away from me."

Her mother even made new rules about what she could wear. "She made me wears shorts at home so I couldn't steal anything and hide it on me," she writes. Her mother also resorted to humiliation and ostracization tactics, not allowing her to interact with her other family members while they watched TV together. "I had to either leave the room or stare at the wall when the TV was on."

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After two months of harsh punishment, the teen's mom found the bracelet under the couch.

"She'd left it on the coffee table and it fell off and rolled under [the couch]," the teen reported before describing how angry she became at her mother's cruel treatment over what turned out to be nothing. 

"I screamed at her louder than I think I have in my life and ran off," she writes. Her mother immediately showered her with gifts. "I got several games, a pizza, and some new clothes," she writes, but it did nothing to quell her anger. When her mother asked her what else she could do to make amends, the teen told her, "leave me alone until I turn 18 and leave forever."

She goes on to say that her mom has resorted to literally begging for forgiveness. But the teen responded by flatly saying her mother has "failed and there's no use trying."

Her mother burst into tears but she held her ground and simply went to bed. Her brother has tried to intervene and get her to be open to forgiving her mother, but she feels like she can't. But she also feels like "my words hurt, and I've broken my mom."

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Parenting experts say harsh punishments do not work, and breed resentment and distrust in children toward their parents.

The teen's response may seem overwrought to some of us adults, but psychologically speaking, her reaction is right on target according to parenting coach Aly Pain. As she details in the TikTok below, parental punishment usually has the opposite impact that the parent intends. 



"Punishment does not include respect, and I guarantee you if you use it [your kids] don't respect you either," Pain said. 

Family therapist Eli Hartwood took things one step further, using neuroscience to lay out in a TikTok, seen below, how harsh punishments actually damage kids' mental development and can create reactivity and dissociative habits that parents often mistake for obedience—and which can lead to mental health problems. 



So what should this teen's mother have done? As therapist Kim Openo explained to us in December 2022, disciplining rather than punishing children of any age requires careful attention to a kid's brain development—and a lot of self-control from parents. 

"When you feel your anger escalating," she wrote, "walk away and take your own time out. Taking a short break to be mindful of your emotions aids in finding out if it is your frustration, fatigue, or irritation that makes you want to lash out."

Of course, in this case, the mom's response to her daughter when far beyond just harsh punishments, and many felt they constituted full-on abuse.

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People on Reddit were totally understanding of why the teen girl can't forgive her mom for her abusive punishments and felt she didn't owe her anything.

"This is terrifying and beyond abusive," one user wrote. "I can’t imagine doing that to my daughter, it’s a bracelet... You think YOU broke your Mom? Nah, she was already broken and she cut you on her edges."

"Your mother needs to understand that grounding someone for an entire year and disposing of all their possessions is entirely unacceptable, especially over some material thing!," another Redditor commented

And many were astonished by the level of abusiveness they felt the mother showed to her daughter.

One commenter criticized the mother for going "full police state" and refusing to "do any of the emotional work of parenting." They found her attempts at reconciliation absurd, too.

"All around a total failure. A pizza and a couple of games isn't going to make up for months of emotional abuse."

Here's hoping both this mother and her daughter get the help they need, whether they ever reconcile or not.

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John Sundholm is a news and entertainment writer who covers pop culture, social justice and human interest topics.