The original poster (OP) has three children, one in university, and a 16-year-old boy, and an 11-year-old girl at home. He believes he and his wife raised their children well and are proud of them. However, he decided to punish his 16-year-old son for recent events.
The Boys Were Hanging Out
His son had some friends over to hang out. He went upstairs to bring them the pizza that they had ordered.
He Overheard Their Conversation
While in the room with them, he overheard his son talking about how his friends owed him something for asking a girl in their class out as a prank.
They Pranked an Unpopular Girl
From what he understood, the girl was someone his friends deemed unattractive and not someone they would want to date.
He Was Furious When He Heard What the Boys Did
He was upset when he heard this but decided not to address it immediately in front of his son’s friends to not embarrass him. However, he was furious and expressed that afterward when he talked to his son about it.
He Witnessed the Same Prank on His Cousin
He told his son the same thing had happened to his cousin when he was younger. He witnessed how the situation affected her when she entered into relationships.
He Punished His Son
His son argued it was just a prank that wouldn’t hurt anyone. His son was also upset that he was listening to his private conversation with his friends. He said he felt sorry for the cousin, but he was ‘mature enough’ to understand not to pursue the prank any further. He refused to listen to any excuses and grounded his son for two weeks. His son is upset and says the prank has nothing to do with him, so he doesn’t understand why he’s being punished.
His Wife is Upset with Him
His wife is siding with his son, saying that “boys will be boys” and that the prank was harmless.
It Would Never Happen to Their Pretty Daughter
He asked his wife how she would feel if a boy played the same joke on their daughter, and she replied, “That won’t happen because she has good genes.”
The In-Laws are Angry with OP
His in-laws also commented on the situation in the family group chat, saying he is “hurting their baby for normal teenage boy behavior.”
Should He Take the Punishment Back?
He is reaching out to readers online because he wonders if he was being too nosy and should have stayed out of it. He is also considering taking back his son’s punishment.
The Readers Respond
Most readers agreed with him and believed he was right to punish his son.
“Your son is a bully. Your wife sounds like a piece of work.”
The thread quickly became a safe place for people who had experienced the same prank and the aftereffects.
“As someone who was asked out as a prank and still has scars from it 20+ years later, NTA. OP, this is not a harmless joke. I guarantee the girl that he was talking about won’t find it funny. Please, please don’t back down.”
“My “best” friend pulled a prank like that on me in 4th grade. Fifty-plus years later, I still hate her guts for it. It ruined my dating years because my self-confidence was destroyed at 9 years old.”
“This happened to me in 5th grade, and I found out in high school it was a whole joke at the other middle school that a geek like me thought someone as cool as Matt would date me. I used it as a teaching tool when I taught middle school, but I still think about how horrible that was to do to someone.”
“I was asked out as a ‘prank’ by a guy I liked when I was 13 years old. We had been “close friends,” and I had thought he genuinely liked me. It destroyed my confidence. It’s not a harmless joke. It’s followed me into my 20s and will likely follow me for years to come. NTA, OP. Please don’t back down.”
The Mom is a Disappointment
Now let’s turn our attention to the other parent who appears to lack empathy and the desire to teach her son to respect women.
“The mom worries me almost more than the son.”
“She’s a cool “boy mum,” though. Her daughter has good genes and won’t at all go through an awkward, gangly teen phase, so she doesn’t even have to worry about that. At 16, their kid should absolutely have the understanding and empathy to see why doing something like this is incredibly hurtful, but he doesn’t because mummy is a covert bully.”
“I am so pleased to see a man standing up for a girl he doesn’t know against his own family. We absolutely need more of this. People need to learn that this behavior is extremely hurtful for any person. The wife sounds like a total nightmare, and the reason toxic expressions like “boys will be boys” still exist. Does she honestly think because her daughter has “good genes,” that no guy will ever do hurtful things to her? I guess when they do, she can just shrug it off and say, “Oh well, boys will be boys.”
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