A dumbfounded mother watched as her daughter cussed at a homeless man. She immediately decided it was time she gave the 14-year-old an important life lesson on empathy.
So, to make the girl realize how misplaced her words were, she was made to spend a night out in the cold like a homeless person, just to get a taste of what it feels like to live in the streets without a roof over her head.
Granted, this is a harsh lesson, and the girl's aunt (her mom's sister) did not hesitate to point this out.
The mom gave her sister's words some thought and finally took to Reddit to find out if she had crossed the line or not.
Mom Was Teaching The Girl Some Empathy
The mom had never been homeless, but she explained that she knows how it feels to be at the bottom of society. After she lost her partner while pregnant with her second daughter, she had to become a single mom who struggled to provide for her two girls.
Fortunately, she completed her degree and secured a good job. However, she has not forgotten how hard life can get.
This is what made her so furious to see a video of her daughter cussing out at a homeless man. Her eldest daughter said these words to the destitute man:
"Stop asking me for money. You'd earn it yourself if you weren't so f***ing lazy and spending what you earned on substances."
In his defense, the homeless man told the girl he had to sleep outside in the cold weather. However, the girl had a rebuttal:
"Yeah people camp for fun, even in December, you can't complain, you're living someone's holiday."
When the mother saw the exchange, she was shocked, saying she thought she had raised an empathetic daughter.
She even went to the lengths of finding the homeless man and making the girl apologize to him. The mom even paid for a hotel room for him.
In addition, she made the girl sign up for a volunteering opportunity at a food bank. Still, she felt that the girl had not learned an important lesson in empathy.
Mom Decided To Make The Girl Sleep Outside
Since her daughter had described sleeping outside as camping outside for fun, she wanted the girl to have some "fun" by sleeping outside.
First, the mom locked her bedroom door, and she pitched a tent in the garden and put some blankets and a sleeping bag inside. Then the mom slept in a room close to the girl in case she needed her help.
Since Jessica was not exactly thrilled by the idea, her mom gave her the opportunity to lose access to her phone over the Christmas holiday as an alternative. The girl chose to spend the night outdoors.
The plan worked perfectly, just as the mom imagined:
"In the morning, she was crying about how horrible it was to wake up on a cold mat and get disrupted sleep due to birds. After comforting her, I asked her would she like to do that every day like the homeless man. It struck a chord with her and she was crying over her actions."
When the mom came home later that day, she found the girl in the kitchen preparing some food for homeless people. Obviously, the mom was beside herself with pride.
However, the girl had called her cousin and told her everything, and he had in turn told his mother about it. That's when the aunt called the mom and said the punishment was too extreme:
"My sister said that my punishment was too harsh, and just £20 and the food bank would have done the trick, and I was acting irrationally due to my past. Now I'm second-guessing myself."
Reddit's Judgment: Not The A-Hole
Reddit generally agreed that the mother was right to give the girl this punishment. The commenters agreed that the lesson was important in helping the girl adjust her attitude.
They also pointed out that an apology and cash donations might not have worked as well as a night of being "homeless" could.
Besides, many people noted, the girl had a choice of sleeping outside or spending the holiday without access to her phone, and she chose to sleep outside. If the girl had no other option besides spending a night outdoors, she could be justified in blaming her mother for the punishment.
So, she clearly made this choice herself based on the misguided belief that sleeping outside is just like taking a camping holiday. In general, people congratulated the mom for teaching her daughter empathy in such an effective and loving way.
We Are Nothing Without Empathy
Without empathy, we would not have good relationships or feel the need to act ethically. This sentiment allows us to understand how other people think and feel.
There are also a number of ways to teach empathy to kids. The first option is to empathize with the kids themselves.
Similarly, the children can be taught to care about the needs of others, and they can also be given opportunities to be empathetic.
Encouraging kids to see things from a different perspective is also important, even if the person in question is not a relative.
Clearly, this is what the mom did. She made the girl apologize, and even went to the extent of letting her walk a mile in a homeless person's shoes.
Later, the mom posted an update saying the hotel stay did the man a lot of good. It turns out he was a 25-year-old man and the mom is helping him find work.
You can bet that the girl and her mom will probably not forget this homeless man in this lifetime. The girl's life has definitely changed after this incident.