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Mom's Month of 'Tough Love' Punishments Has People Questioning If It's Child Abuse

Photograph by Reddit

It's probably fair to say that most kids need a bit of a reality check at some point or another. (And if you haven't yet had to have one with your teen, chances are your parents had more than a few with you.) But a Reddit post is drawing some major ire this week after it shared one mom's controversial approach to giving her daughter some "tough love," with many saying she goes a step (or three) too far.

In the post, a Redditor shares a screenshot of a Facebook rant, in which a mom sounds off about her daughter's bad behavior.

Photograph by Reddit

"Tough love is all I know how to give!" the post begins, before the mom continues to sound off on how she's "reached her limit" with her teen.

"Several talks ... plenty of chances, and [yet she] still chooses to act a fool at school and at home," the mom wrote.

As for how exactly the teen was "acting a fool," her mom doesn't get into too many details, other than to say she needs to learn how to "watch her mouth and respect her elders."

Whether or not the behavior was extreme isn't clear; but what is clear is that this mom has HAD IT. Her particular method of discipline is raising some major eyebrows, though.

"She will learn to appreciate having a nice cozy bed, now that she's sleeping on the floor," the mother declared.

That's right — she's forcing her daughter to sleep on the floor to learn her lesson. And what's worse, by the looks of the photo she posted along with her rant, the teen's bedroom isn't even carpeted, meaning she'll be spending her nights on cold, hard tile.

But that's not all.

The mom also stated that she will learn to appreciate the clothes and shoes her parents buy for her, now that she's limited to a scant few: three pairs of pants, tops and undergarments, one hoodie, one jacket, and two pairs of shoes. That is all the teen will be allowed to have for the next month. And to really make her appreciate the convenience of that washer/dryer Mom and Dad have, she'll be forced to wash them all — by hand.

And as for that cell phone her parents pay for? She'll be missing that too, her mom says, since she'll now be "disconnected from the world."

"NO SOCIAL MEDIA, NO FRIENDS, NOTHING!" the mom wrote, before adding that teenagers "nowadays think that us parents NEED to give them all that extra stuff" — when, in reality, they don't.

"All we need to do is provide the basic needs, a roof over [their] head and food," she concluded.

The good people of Reddit, however, begged to differ.

Most were taken aback by the mom's comments, with one person even calling her line about "tough love" one of the saddest things they've ever read.

Photograph by Reddit

"I'm all for discipline and 'tough love' can be appropriate in some circumstances depending on your definition," wrote one user, "but my kids will never be made to question our love for them."

"'I don’t care about my child’s needs for love,'" wrote another user, mocking the mother's line of thinking. "'I’m just going to do what’s easiest for me and dole out affection whenever I feel like it.'"

The post also opened the flood gates for others to share memories from their own childhood that still sting.

Photograph by Reddit

One user said that reading the post gave him "sudden flashbacks" to his mom's anger.

"She always sounds angry when she talks to me even if I'm telling her about something happy or that I'm proud of," the user explained, adding that it's "just another way she was abusive," and "probably ties in to how now-a-days I always feel like people are upset with me."

Others pointed out that it seems the mom might be the one who needs the reality check.

Photograph by Reddit

"The irony is that this kid is probably acting out because she isn’t getting the attention she needs at home," wrote one user. "Then she’s punished for it."

"IMO most cases of tough love is just an egotistical parent not receiving the (usually unreasonable) standard of love and respect that they think they deserve from their child and then punishing the kid for it," wrote another. "Half the time the poor kid doesn't even know why Mum/Dad is angry at them."

Some could see the logic in what the mom was trying to do, but agreed she had crossed a line.

Photograph by Reddit

"What bothers me most about all this is how excessive it is," wrote one Redditor. "If the kid had to endure one of these things at a time, then that would be reasonable, but all of it at once? That's why it seems abusive to me."

Indeed, a lot of users found the mom's remarks — as well as her methods — to be abusive, and worried about the long-term impacts.

Photograph by Reddit

"People don't realize emotional/mental abuse is still abuse," wrote one user.

Another added, "Emotional abuse is so insidious, it breaks down every part of your psyche."

Experts agree.

"Emotional abuse can be so deceptive, that most of the time, people who are victims have no idea they are being abused," wrote Shari Stines, Psy.D., in an article for PsychCentral.

What's more, it can have ripple effects across a person's life for decades. According to Healthline, the long-term effects of psychological abuse can include chronic anxiety, social withdrawal and even insomnia.

While it's impossible to say what the future will hold for this teen — or to know if the mom lived to regret the punishment later.

But either way, experts urge that parents try to discipline with empathy as much as possible when doling out punishments. Abusive patterns — whether physical, emotional, or both — are often passed down through the generations, meaning the cycle has to stop with us.

"In the end," Kathy Caprino wrote in an article for Forbes last year, "empathic parenting benefits and empowers not only your children, but your growth and development as an adult, and paves the way for healthier and happier future generations as well."

This post was originally published on Mom.me sister site CafeMom.

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