Disappointed by her stepdaughter’s awful behavior at school, this stepmom decided to conjure up the punishment of the century. What’s more, it all started with a little mother-daughter shopping trip.
Ally Olsen is a woman from Utah who caught the media’s attention for a particularly controversial reason. Olsen’s partner, Mark Lindstrom, had an 11-year-old daughter, Kaylee, from a previous relationship.
ABC News described Kaylee as a “self-proclaimed 4th grade fashionista.” However, it transpired that she paid a lot of attention to what her peers at school wore, too. Perhaps too much attention.
One day Olsen received a call from her stepdaughter’s school. Unfortunately, it wasn’t good news. In fact, Kaylee was in trouble for teasing a fellow student about what she was wearing. It was clear that she had been pretty cruel.
Indeed, Olsen learned that her stepdaughter had said some terrible things. “You’re ugly, you dress sleazy, you’re mean,” were some of the comments Olsen later relayed to ABC News. As a result, she was understandably horrified by Kaylee’s behavior.
The bullying was apparently so bad that the victim didn’t even want to go to school anymore. Olsen subsequently had a stern word with Kaylee, but when her stepdaughter didn’t seem to get the message Olsen hatched a new plan.
So, she invited Kaylee on a little trip to the local thrift store. Together, stepmom and stepdaughter had fun choosing the worst clothes they could. Every time Kaylee spotted something she thought was really ugly, Olsen told her to put it in their basket.
Thinking it was just a bit of fun, Kaylee picked out some particularly frumpy dresses in old-fashioned patterns. Of course, she had no idea what her stepmom was planning for her at this point.
However, Olsen then dropped a bombshell on the fourth-grader. The horrible clothes that they had bought were to be her uniform at school for the next two days. This was Olsen’s novel way of punishing the 11-year-old’s poor behavior.
So, off Kaylee went to school, wearing the ugly thrift-store clothes that she’d picked out herself. Did she get teased by the other kids? Absolutely. Moreover, how did it make her feel?
“Terrible,” is the word that she subsequently used to describe those couple of days at school. “I [was] like, ‘Why would they do that to me?’ I’m still a normal person,” she said. “It doesn’t matter what you wear.”
So, it seems that the message got through in the end. What’s more, she and the girl who she originally bullied have become friends as a result. Indeed, Kaylee told ABC News that they are now like “sisters” to each other.
Although it was controversial, Olsen and her partner stood by their punishment. They maintained that the whole point was to put Kaylee in the victim’s shoes, in order to evoke “a little empathy.” Furthermore, the couple were delighted with the result. “She learned exactly what we wanted her to learn,” Olsen said.
Moreover, Kaylee herself also maintains that she wouldn’t have wanted a different punishment. Nonetheless, that hasn’t stopped opinion being divided. Indeed, people on the internet have had a lot to say about this story – and not all of it has been positive.
“Glad to see a parent not being afraid to parent. Kudos to the mom,” one Daily Mail reader wrote. However, other people felt that this kind of “shaming” punishment was not fair on the child.
“Parents who think they can ‘teach’ their children a ‘lesson’ by using shame, humiliation or violence, are WRONG,” another reader commented. Some psychologists agreed with this sentiment, too, because such actions can have detrimental effects on children.
The argument is that shaming a child can “damage the parent-child relationship,” according to Jennifer A. Leigh, Psy.D. “Children need to feel safe and secure and to be able to trust their parents,” she continued. “Without such safety and trust, children’s brains do not grow and organize optimally.”
Kaylee’s story also brings into the spotlight the longstanding debate about compulsory uniforms at school. Some parents would prefer all kids to have to wear a uniform, in part to avoid such teasing over the latest fashion trends.
The incident is also one of many examples of parents finding original ways to punish their kids. There will always be people willing to criticize the way other parents do things, but Kaylee’s dad has always defended the decision.
“For us, we really feel like this was the best idea and the best solution for Kaylee to be the best person she could be,” he told ABC News. Whether you agree with the method or not, it seems that Kaylee will probably think twice before bullying anybody again.