While Mom was in the ER with Her Son Her Teenager Left Her Other Daughter With Strangers So She Could Go Out With Friends. Should Her Teen Be Punished?

The original poster (OP) is a single mom of three kids: Poly (16), Trevor (12), and Cassie (8). The children’s father left after Cassie was born, and she has no family nearby. OP has two babysitters she can call on as needed and would only ask her teen to watch her siblings as a last resort. OP says she hires babysitters so her daughter doesn’t miss out on her teenage years watching her siblings all the time. She has only asked Poly to babysit once and paid her more than minimum wage, $15 an hour, to do this.

One day OP’s son Trevor was feeling ill but tested negative for Covid. However, he had a very high fever, which spiked, so OP took him to the ER. The sitters weren’t responding to OP’s calls, so she asked Poly to watch her little sister for even more money, $18 an hour, than last time. Poly was angry because she was supposed to go out with friends and wanted to leave Cassie with the neighbors. OP said no because she doesn’t know them, and they just moved in a month ago. OP told Poly she was welcome to invite any friends over that she wanted while she was watching her sister.

While waiting in the ER with her son, Poly kept messaging OP, asking if the sitters had responded. OP told her they hadn’t and that she was called in to see the doctor, so she wouldn’t be available for a while. Then she found out her son had RSV and had to be admitted for the night.

When OP called Poly to update her, she heard people in the background and asked if she had friends over. Poly said that she was out with her friends and dropped her sister off at the neighbor’s, despite OP disagreeing with this. OP was furious and told Poly to go home and get her sister. Poly didn’t even have the neighbor’s number. At first, Poly refused to leave her friends, but then OP told her she was grounded. She made Poly FaceTime when she got home and picked Cassie up from the neighbors.

OP’s mom drove two hours from her hometown to come and stay with the girls. When OP was home with her son the next day, she lectured Poly about what she had done and grounded her for two weeks. Poly was angry and said she was expected to drop her plans and was upset that OP refused to pay her. OP emphasized this was an emergency and she wouldn’t have been asked to care for her sister otherwise.

OP also apologized to the neighbor, who was nice about the situation and said he would have called had Poly left her phone number.
Poly is telling her that she is overreacting. OP is wondering if Poly is right?

The Readers Comment

“There are a lot of posts on here about forcing teenagers to babysit and this is most definitely NOT one of those. This was an extreme situation (emergency even) and Polly acted amazingly selfish and irresponsible. She left a young child with strangers and exposed them to an unknown illness as an added bonus. Also, considering how the folks around her were sick, it should be common courtesy/sense to not want to expose her friends as well. She is old enough to fully comprehend how terrible and dangerous her actions were, but instead doubled down on being petulant. Not my kid, but Polly earned a hefty punishment and consequences.”

“Left the child with the neighbors with no way to contact mom or anyone in an emergency, even. SO irresponsible! I’d be hopping mad in OP’s place, and there’s absolutely no way I’d pay that ungrateful, immature child a dime.”

Many are wondering if OP’s punishment is in fact severe enough for what Poly has done.

“No offense but you’re EXTREMELY lenient with her. Maybe that contributed to her entitlement?”

“I’ve done much less to be grounded for a week or two in my household. If I had done something like this I’d be lucky to ever see the light of day again.”

“If Polly was my kid, she would be grounded for months and months! This is borderline unforgivable!”

Many love the suggestion that Poly be supervised by a sitter like her little sister. 

“OP, whenever you need a babysitter, have your oldest stay at home too. That should make it clear that teens who drop kids off with strangers aren’t old enough to be trusted alone.”

“I love this. A 16-year-old being babysat like a kid, the perfect punishment for trashing your parent’s trust to be independent.”

“Act like baby get treated like a baby. Sorry honey you wandered off like an unsupervised 3 yr old so now you gotta stay with the 21 yr old watching your older (oops I mean younger) sister.”

Several readers suggested further consequences and felt just grounding her wasn’t enough. 

“Not even grounded, grounding really is like…a stupid punishment imo. I don’t believe it does anything to assist in learning a lesson. She needs something that’ll break this entitled attitude and drive home you don’t treat people like she treated her mom and Cassie. I’m not there, so I don’t know what would really work for them, but there’d definitely be a loss of phone in there, whether it’s me not paying for it anymore or confiscated, and apology letters to Cassie, the neighbors and the parent.”

What do you think? Is OP overreacting? Is Poly’s punishment sufficient?

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This post originally appeared on Reddit.

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