Is it OK for parents to delete their kids' video game progress to punish them? That is the subject of the latest viral post from Reddit's "Am I the A-hole?" This dad's actions have prompted strong reactions from tons of people, and it's easy to see why.
In the post, he explains that his 9-year-old son had a Minecraft world "where he built quite an impressive castle on an island." His son eagerly showed it off after all his hard work.
But, he explains, since school was canceled and he's home due to the pandemic, his son has been waking up late in the mornings. According to OP, he's supposed to wake up at 7, but has often been sleeping until 9 or 10. He has an alarm, but he sleeps through it.
OP writes, "I don't wake him up because waking himself up is a skill that he needs to learn." He told him two weeks ago that there would be "consequences" if he kept oversleeping every day, and for a while, his son seemed to understand and woke up on time.
However, he started slipping, and yesterday, OP told him it was his "final warning." The next day, he slept until 11. So his dad went on his computer and deleted his favorite Minecraft world. He also took away all computer privileges for a month.
"When I told him," OP writes, "he started screaming and crying. He told me that he spent a whole year working on that world, and he's very distraught that he's never going to see it again. He has been crying and sobbing throughout the day and has refused to eat any of his meals."
Dear parents that don't play games,— Rami Ismail (@tha_rami) May 5, 2020
You can discipline kids in a million ways, but if you destroy their digital homes, their creativity, or the things they love - you are being cruel.
They will never trust you with anything they care for again, and they'd be right not to. pic.twitter.com/zPpBCsjcPT
I don't blame that kid one bit. He worked on his world for a year. It was his. He put his creative energy into it, and his dad had no problem destroying it. It's just so mean. Parents shouldn't be mean.
Yes, sometimes kids' bad behavior needs to be punished. But: a) I'm not convinced that's the case in this situation, and b) Punishments should never be cruel for the sake of being cruel.
First, if a 9-year-old kid is having trouble waking up in the morning, maybe it's because, oh, I don't know, his whole world has turned upside-down? He, too, is grappling with the fact that we're facing a dangerous global pandemic?
One commenter wrote, "Is it possible he is not sleeping well because he is stressed, or anxious because the entire world has changed pretty abruptly? Is it possible that he is more tired than he normally would be because his mind is processing big changes right now?" He sounds depressed, not willfully defiant of his father's rules.
And even if he is, there's a reason for it, and that's not an excuse to destroy something he's worked so hard on for so long. His father should work to understand what's going on with his son rather than destroy the thing he cares about. Just because it's a video game doesn't mean it's not creative and personal. Would this dad rip up his son's paintings or journals? It's the same thing.
"Even on the scale of negative punishment, this is insane," another person wrote. "I don’t know why the wake-up was such an issue when it’s basically the apocalypse and kids are going to have issues that should be worked through with kindness, but even if it was something worth punishing, how hard would it have been to say, 'For every half-hour late you wake up, you lose 15 minutes of computer time'?"
This punishment truly does tip the scales into wildly over-the-top and mean. This isn't parenting. This is cruelty. It truly seems like an immature move by someone who was out for petty revenge, which, coincidentally, was the subject of another Reddit post, this time from the Relationships subreddit, and this time, about Animal Crossing.
In this post, when OP's boyfriend refused to make dinner after realizing they were missing an ingredient, she got angry and took a shower to calm down. When she got out of the shower, he was playing Animal Crossing. He told her to come look at what he did, and that's when she realized he had destroyed her entire island.
"Stuff that I had spent literally hours working on during quarantine gone in minutes," she writes. "I know this sounds really embarrassing and child-like but I lost my job recently, I'm housebound, and it's just something I was proud of. I couldn't stop crying."
It's not childish. If your impulse is to destroy something meaningful to your partner or your child to punish them and make them feel bad, you are mean and cruel and wrong. It still hurts my heart when I think about Amy burning Jo's novel pages in Little Women, and they are fictional characters.
There are mature and reasonable ways to have disagreements with your loved ones or express anger and disappointment with them. This is so not it.