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Did This Reddit Mom Go Too Far When Punishing Her TikTok-Loving Teen?

TikTok is everything for most teens (and many adults) at the moment. The video-sharing social media platform became super popular at the start of the pandemic in 2020, and in the time since we’ve been treated to 15-second to 3-minute clips of dance routines, cooking, fashion and beauty must-haves, and more. Another popular TikTok trend is pranks — and that’s where one mom reached her limit. Her 13-year-old daughter, who lives for the app, played a cruel prank on her brother — and there were some pretty hefty consequences from mom. But now she’s wondering if the punishment she handed her teen fit the crime, according to this post on Reddit‘s AITA forum.

Let’s start at the beginning: The original poster (OP) is a mom of a daughter, 13, and a son, 17. According to the OP, she and her husband find their daughter’s “24/7” TikTok habit to be “annoying” but “bearable.” The OP admits that she and her husband are pranksters and they do “harmless” things like, “waking someone up and telling them they’re a little late, when they’re actually right on time, then revealing it 5 minutes later.”

Recently, their daughter “shattered all our rules” by pranking their son. While he was asleep, the daughter “walked into his room with his electric razor and shaved off a massive part of his hair.” Angry, he ran into the bathroom to see the damage, and then the daughter “came up behind him and shaved a large part off the back of his hair. She’d set up a camera in the bathroom.” The OP shares to Reddit that she looked at the video, and her daughter was giggling and having a grand time.

Side note: The son is sensitive about his hair, according to the OP, and recently got to a place where he’s comfortable with his mane.

The daughter’s take: “It’s just hair, and you’re not even a girl. Get over it.”

The “furious” parents felt the daughter deserved “to be massively punished.” They’ve taken away her phone and her laptop (only giving it back for homework), and she’s been grounded for the next year, or until her brother’s hair grows back.

The OP’s sister thinks the punishment is way too harsh, saying “it’s just a joke and it was funny, and we need to give her a small punishment only.” Now the mom is wondering if she and her husband gave their daughter the punishment she deserved for cutting her brother’s hair.

Commenters on this Reddit post overwhelmingly agree that the parents gave their daughter an appropriate punishment, although one person thinks the parents went too far.

“Taking away her access to TikTok and even other social media is an entirely appropriate punishment,” chimed in user neurealis. “Completely cutting her off from her friends and extracurriculars, as well as most forms of entertainment, for an entire year really isn’t. At 13, that will do some serious damage to her mental health, and two wrongs don’t make a right.

“Also, it sounds like she doesn’t actually understand the impact of what she did, and the punishment won’t help her understand. It would be much better if she could earn back those freedoms by developing her empathy, by volunteering or [by] reading about the importance of bodily autonomy and body image.”

Commenter WallabyInTraining thinks the daughter was influenced by her parents’ pranking habits, so it’s not totally the 13-year-old’s fault. “Although I agree the parents are not the assholes for the punishment itself, in my opinion they do have at least some responsibility in this. They apparently run a household where pranks are commonplace… Of course a 13-year-old will take it too far. They don’t have an adult brain. The parents should be aware of that. If you run a pranksters household, you need to be hyperaware of this and make sure your kids know exactly where the line is and what the consequences for stepping over that line are. I feel this aspect of the story is not yet explored.”

Other Reddit users, like Hawly, fully support the parents and their punishment. “She’s old enough to know better. This will be a good lesson for her, I think.”

At 13 years old, we agree that the daughter is old enough to understand the consequences of her actions, but she’s also young enough “to be impulsive and not think things through,” like user DillyCat622 shares. While losing her devices for a while is appropriate, a whole year seems excessive. The daughter could probably use some talks about empathy, which may be tricky (pun intended) for parents who are pranksters.

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