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Mother Makes Teen Daughter Sleep Outside In The Cold After Taunting Homeless Man

Photo: Cristofer Maximilian via Unsplash / Deborah Lee Rossiter via Shutterstock
sad teen girl and tent

A 34-year-old single mother took to Reddit to figure out if her parenting decision may have been a bit too harsh.

The mother aimed to teach her daughter a valuable lesson after she made fun of a homeless man.

Her daughter Jasmine, 16, had taken a video of her other daughter Jessica, 14, berating a homeless man who had simply asked for some spare change.

“Stop asking me for money,” the mom recalled her daughter saying. “You'd earn it yourself if you weren't so [expletive] lazy and spending what you earned on substances.” When the homeless man continued asking for money and then complained about the cold, her response was, “Yeah people camp for fun, even in December. You can't complain, you're living someone's holiday.”

Earlier in her post, the mother mentioned how her husband had passed away while she was pregnant with the younger daughter, and the family was barely surviving paycheck to paycheck.

“Point is, I know how hard it is to be at the bottom of society,” the mother explained, “and my daughters know this, which is why I was livid at my daughter's actions.”

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Upon seeing the video, the mother took action.

She found the homeless man, made Jessica apologize to him, had her pitch in for a hotel room for him for a night and signed her up to volunteer at a food bank.

But that’s not all. Since Jessica was so adamant that people go camping for fun on cold winter nights in England, she gave her daughter the choice of sleeping in a tent outside for the night or getting her phone taken away until the holidays were over — Jessica chose the night in a tent.

Her mother set up the tent with blankets and a sleeping bag, and put Jessica in the backyard garden. She also put a sign on Jessica’s bedroom door that read "closed for the holidays," and slept in her daughter's room with the closest view of the tent in case anything went wrong.

In the morning, Jessica complained about how horrible it was to wake up on a cold mat and have her sleep disrupted by birds.

After the mother comforted her daughter, she asked her if she’d like to do that every day like the homeless man has to, letting the gravity of her daughter's actions really hit home. When she got home from work one afternoon, Jessica was making a big meal to donate to the homeless people who lived on the road near their house.

When the mother’s sister and nephew showed up, Jessica talked to her cousin about what had happened. Upon hearing the story, Jessica’s aunt thought the punishment was too harsh, and that the apology and £20 would have been enough — even though Jessica had rolled her eyes and was insincere in her apology when she did it — causing the mother to second-guess herself.

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People largely supported the mother's decision

When it comes to effective punishment, clinical child psychologist Ross Greene, PhD, told to VeryWell Family that parents and children should work together to come up with a solution that "addresses the concerns of both parties, rather than the adult just imposing their will.

As many commenters pointed out on Reddit, this mother achieved that when she allowed her daughter a choice between getting her phone taken away and sleeping outside. While the daughter likely chose the latter believing that, as she herself put it, it would be like "living someone's holiday."

homeless man outsidePhoto: Ground Picture / Shutterstock

Overall, people praised the mother's parenting, using the opportunity to help her child experience the hardships of another person. And that's exactly what Jessica did — she learned how hard it was for the homeless man. In fact, she had it better in that tent than the homeless man, and her reaction to the whole experience is what cements this as a moment of good parenting.

"This is solid gold, fantastic parenting," one person wrote. "Especially because you weren't trying to simply punish her, you were ensuring she experienced what it is she was abusing the man who was homeless for."

While not every parenting experience will be fun, this seems particularly satisfying for a mom who just wanted her daughter to learn the importance of empathy.

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Isaac Serna-Diez is a writer who focuses on entertainment and news, social justice and relationships.