Fed-up with her son’s behavior, a mom decided to dish out some tough love in a letter that she later posted online. Little did she know, she’d soon be left defending her actions after getting shamed for her parenting choices.
Heidi Johnson, a 33-year-old single mother, became the target of intense mom judging after she shared a stern, handwritten note to her 13-year-old son Aaron, giving the cocky adolescent an ultimatum. The post quickly went viral on Facebook, but not everyone was a fan of the tough love displayed in the letter. Instead, Heidi found herself the center of a storm she never anticipated.
After reminding Aaron that he was a child and Heidi was the parent, the note informed the teen that it was time for a “lesson in independence” and called on him to start paying his share of the rent and bills as well as doing his share of the household chores if he wanted to continue behaving “like a roommate.” Heidi even outlined the amount to be paid each month, resulting in a $717 bill for the boy.
Aaron wasn’t thrilled with the letter, Heidi admitted, saying, “He came home, saw the note, crumpled it on the floor, and stormed out of the apartment,” according to a post by Upworthy, featured on Newsbreak. However, she quickly pointed out that Aaron was simply doing as he’d been taught. “I have always encouraged him to take a walk when he is upset so that he can collect his thoughts so when we try to talk, we are able to talk, and not just yell at each other,” Heidi explained.
Aaron was “still livid” when he got home. “He decided to stage a ‘sit in’ in my room, where he did laugh at me and repeat, ‘Really? What are you going to do? You can’t take my stuff,’” Heidi recalled, adding that he was asked to leave her room until he “could be respectful” while they discussed the issues further. And, it seemingly worked.
“He went to his room, and after about an hour, he had removed some electronics and items I missed that he felt he should have to earn back for his behavior,” Heidi recalled. “He apologized and asked what could he do to make things better and start earning items back. He earned his comforter and some clothes right back. I did leave him some clothes, to begin with, just not the ones he would want to wear every day. He also had some pillows and sheets, just not his favorite ones.”
While the public post earned mostly cheers from fellow parents who could relate, it also attracted its fair share of criticism with some social media users accusing Heidi of publicly shaming her son and condemning her for being a bad parent, according to Today.
“[You’re] shaming your child and doing something to him that will last for the rest of his life,” Kevin Weinberg, a social media user who disagreed with the mother’s methods, wrote. “You are a terrible mother and you should have your child forcibly removed from your home.”
While Heidi admitted that it does make her “a little sad at times that moms are so quick to judge the actions of another mother,” she told Today that she “can’t let the negative comments that others make hurt [her] or take them too personally,” and instead, expressed gratitude for those who were brave enough to agree in the midst of the backlash.
“I do appreciate that other mothers defend me,” Heidi said. “They are the ones that have either been there before themselves or are able to take a minute and walk around in my shoes.”
In a follow-up post addressing the controversy shortly after her letter to Aaron went viral, Heidi provided some background information, explaining what led to the “tough love” letter. According to the fed-up mom, Aaron had been lying to her about doing his homework and making money with his YouTube channel. She also expressed the difficulties many parents face while raising a teen son, sharing some of her own philosophies on parenting as she called herself a parent who loves her child.
Like her initial post, Heidi’s explanation received many supportive comments as well as a few attacks, but Heidi was undeterred. Although she admitted to feeling the negative effects of having her post go viral, she said she was determined to have a positive outlook and denied having remorse over the post.
“It’s out there, and I am not ashamed of what I wrote,” Heidi said. “I don’t believe in regrets,” she added. “If you have learned something from an experience that helps you to become a better person, there is nothing to regret,” the mom continued. “I have to believe that some greater good can come from my mistake of making that post public.”
According to Heidi, she believes she quickly started to see some benefits after posting the note as she received messages from many other mothers who were seeking advice on parenting an unruly child, including one mom who messaged her “about her 7-year-old that was having some behavior issues.” According to Heidi, she “spent several hours one evening compiling some tools and ideas that she could use” in an attempt to offer the other mother a helping hand.
“My post seems to have opened a door, and people feel safe coming to me and asking for advice, venting, or even just have someone bear witness to their experience by listening and opening up and sharing a piece of myself in return,” Heidi explained.
Like most mothers, Heidi Johnson ultimately just wants to do her best as a parent, and she hopes to inspire others to do the same without the fear of being labeled. She realizes that parenting is often a process of trial and error and sometimes you mess up, but her message for others in the same boat is that you simply have to keep trying.
“I have made loads of parenting mistakes, just as we all do,” Heidi admitted. “You keep trying keys until you find the one that unlocks the door to what will work for your child.”
In an attempt to reassure her critics, Heidi admitted that she wasn’t going to put her 13-year-old child out on the street if he couldn’t pay the bill outlined in the letter, adding that the point wasn’t to have him pay anything. Rather, she wanted “him to take pride in his home, his space, and appreciate the gifts and blessings we have.” That should be something all parents should want for their children.
Sadly, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all method to parenting, and anyone with more than one child knows this well. Instead, we have to try different things in an attempt to teach them in a way they will understand. Thankfully, Heidi seems to have achieved that, saying the post “hasn’t hurt” her relationship with her son. “He and I still talk as openly as ever. He has apologized multiple times,” she said, admitting that Aaron is “trying harder” after the incident
“This came down to a 13-year-old telling his mother she had no right to enforce certain rules and had no place to ‘control’ him,” Heidi Johnson declared. “I made the point to show what life would look like if I was not his ‘parent,’ but rather a ‘roommate.’ It was a lesson about gratitude and respect from the very beginning. Sometimes, you have to lose it all to realize how well you really had it.” I couldn’t agree more.