Part of a parent's job is to teach their children the difference between being kind and being mean.
But there's a grey area in how we approach our kids.
Are we blunt and totally unapologetically honest, or do we take caution?
Redditor you-did-it-son asked a question to the popular subReddit "Am I The A**hole?" or "AITA" to answer:
"AITA for calling my son a loser?"
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It is not as clear cut as it seems at first glance.
"I'll try to keep this quick. For his birthday last month, I (43 Male) bought my son (13 Male) a Nintendo Switch console and a few games, one of them being Animal Crossing, as well as a year subscription to the service that lets him play with his friends."
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"I was making dinner, when my daughter (16 Female) came in and told me he was using the game to bully other kids on a program called Discord. I had played the game a little bit myself (I like to test play anything I give my kids in case it's not appropriate) and wasn't sure what she was talking about."
Discord, a chat app for gamers, allows plenty of opportunities for bullying.
"She showed me a post someone had made on another social media account about how some kid invited people over to their island. My son and a few of his friends showed up and somehow ruined the other kid's game. I didn't really understand most of it, buy my daughter explained he put inappropriate images on the little character's clothes, dug up all their trees and grass, and generally undid what my daughter described as several weeks worth of work."
Dad was pretty annoyed that his son had done this.
"I was pretty angry, because upon further research I was able to decipher that the kid my son and his friend's harassed in game was very young, around 9 or so, and my son should be old enough to know that isn't appropriate. I sat down and talked to him about it, and he was not apologetic at all. I explained that picking on younger kids in a game meant to be nice and collaborative was something 'Only a Loser would do.'. He got upset and started crying, and hasn't talked to me since. My husband says I was way overreacting, but I feel like my son is acting like a child and a bully. He doesn't respond to me explaining why it's not appropriate."
Our dad and his husband were left with one simple question:
People on the "AITA" subReddit assigned blame with the following terminology:
- NTA - Not The A**hole
- YTA - You're The A**hole
- ESH - Everyone Sucks Here
- NAH - No A**holes Here
"NTA, he's being a troll and a bully. Personally I think he should have his switch taken away until he can show improvement."~FfbeHauclir
"NTA Alternatively, you could revoke his access to Nintendo online since he isn't respectful to other players and can't be trusted to play in an online environment. Good job coming down hard on this one!"~milomochi
"NTA. You didn't say 'you are a loser' you said basically only losers bully. I agree."~hmg07
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"Absolutely NTA- it is a loser thing to do. Being strict and teaching him that it isn't okay is the best thing you can do. Ask him how it made him feel when you called him a loser and use it to teach him the empathy for the boy he was mean to. Ps, your husband should back you up. There's no way you're overreacting."~weeniehutswag
"I feel this is one of those cases when you can be the asshole and also be right. I think what you said will stick with him and make him reflect. You told the truth, and a bully doesn't deserve to be coddled over their bullying. I don't think you were cruel either. If you don't teach a firm lesson here, you might end up with an adult who thinks it's okay to destroy other people's hard work. NTA." ~EndlessPotatoes
"NTA I play a fair amount of multiplayer sandboxyish games myself, what your son is doing to other people's islands is called 'griefing' and it's a horrible thing to do as most people open up their worlds to share their hard work with others. Your son needed to hear those words, if he bully's people online he night be more inclined to bully people in real life."~matrixzone5
"NTA. It would break my heart as a 32 year old woman if I invited a group over to my island only to have it destroyed. Animal crossing is generally a sweet game that depends on goodness of the players. There are some measures to stop this kind of stuff from happening but I can see a 9 year old kid putting randoms on his 'best friends'list and putting himself at risk. Even so that is so upsetting. You drove the point home. If he's sad, he should think about how that poor kid felt." ~mushroomrevolution
"NTA. He cried because psychologically you hit him where he needed to be hit. It is possible he's been called a 'loser' by a bully and he's been compensating by acting like a bully."~autotelica
"NTA. He did something very bad, and you made him feel bad about it. Keep going. Make sure he helps fix what he destroyed, or take away the game. This is a hard lesson for kids to learn and it's up to you to make sure it sticks."~dmcdd
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The son learned a hard lesson via his dad that day.
The original poster, or OP, edited his post to say:
"I have spoken with my husband again and explained the situation a little more. He doesn't understand a lot of stuff regarding video games, so I don't think he really realized the full situation. We are going to have a talk together about how to approach this behavior, and then try to talk to our son together."
Hopefully our OP's son will learn that bullying is never okay.
*If you enjoyed this article, you can read more like it by clicking on the AITA link below.*
The book Confessions of a Former Bully for kids 8-12 is available here.