No, Emotional Control Isn’t Good Parenting

Stop with the guilt trips, okay?

An angry mother’s letter to her teenager went viral for calling out his sense of entitlement, and demanding that if he wanted to be independent then he must pay his own way. It has been hailed across the internet but it exposes a massive power imbalance between parents and children.

Seeing a stack of dishes that aren’t yours is infuriating. Picking up after someone else is just plain insulting. No doubt teenagers (and young adults, because millennials are trapped out of buying their first home) are a pain to live with, but this doesn’t give parents the right to guilt their children.

Teenagers and young adults have enough problems to face. There are few opportunities. There’s the choice between a lack of well paying and secure jobs or going to university and coming out with few prospects and tens of thousands of pounds worth of debt. In a heated row, it’s not okay for parents to guilt or to demand what they see as their fare share. There can be boundaries set up, indeed, parents shouldn’t be expected to pay for first class trips to Ibiza but there’s a difference between that and threatening financial ruin for a young person.

If you don’t think this is a serious threat then here’s a reminder – roughly 1 in 4 homeless youths identify as LGBT. They didn’t meet their parents expectations so they were cut off.

The fear of being cut off from parents is inherently an ageist threat. Our generation has fewer opportunities due to previous generations and now we must rely on greater support. It’s a humiliating experience. Furthermore, teenagers were not chosen to exist. The state and families, no matter how large or small, do have a duty of care and to provide support. Certain behaviour may be obnoxious but it’s no right to effectively blackmail someone into acting better.

“The fear of being cut off from parents is inherently an ageist threat”

It cannot be a joke when so many young people are feeling trapped. Such threats strip away the right to autonomy. Young people are not the tools of their parents. Young people have the right to make their own decision without facing financial punishments. The teenager at the centre of this story also stated that he wanted to make money from Youtube which was also mocked online. Youtube though is providing many young people with platforms, influence and money.

Social media is still sneered at by many but it’s young people who are utilising these platforms best. Any online success should be celebrated just like any professional success. Right now, so many parents seem resentful if teenagers and young adults can’t make money but also sneer and act dismissive if they actually do.

Making jokes at the powerlessness of young people shouldn’t be going viral to applause. We should be doing more to empower young people, not to humiliate them.

One thought on “No, Emotional Control Isn’t Good Parenting

  1. Um… …the mother in the letter was not joking. She was trying to set the boundaries you are talking about. Granted, she was doing it very badly (if that had been attempted on me, then she’d have been talking to a police officer because under-16s can’t be charged rent in the UK, for a start…), but it wasn’t a joke. (Some commenters probably read it that way, but that was their error, not hers).

    Lying about homework, taking other people living with you for granted and refusing to help with household expenses while living in said household are bad habits to have. However, especially at that age, they’re learning experiences. Treat them as learning experiences rather than opportunities for power plays and the youngster is likely to learn. Sure, the child is apparently doing as told. But will the child learn from the experience – or are they masking their true state of ignorance, much as the mother probably had to mask her true beliefs and behaviours back when she was getting abused?


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