Parents Banish Teen Boy to a Tent in the Yard for Stealing -- but He's Cool With It

tent

At first, it sounds like a case of parents getting a bit too extreme with an attempt at creative discipline: 16-year-old Adam Boggus of New Mexico is being forced to spend the majority of his summer living in a tent in his backyard as punishment for stealing his little sister's iPod. Seems pretty harsh, but surprisingly, the teen says he deserved his sentence and isn't angry at his parents at all!

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Adam doesn't have to live in the tent 24/7; his parents, Jacob and Angela Boggus, allow him inside the house to eat, use the bathroom, and sleep at night. But the rest of the time, he's reading and working on summer school homework in his tent -- and as his mother told People, this mandatory campout was a long time coming (as in, Adam has had an issue with stealing since kindergarten). 

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She told the mag:

If he didn't get something he wanted because he was grounded, he would get up late at night and just go take it. Over the years, he's done that again and again. You can't do that in life. So we decided to do what we could to put a stop to this now. If we don't, what happens when he's on his own and doesn't make enough to have that new car or new bike? What then?

Apparently Angela and Jacob warned Adam last year that they were going to make him live in a tent and write book reports if he didn't change his thieving ways, and that threat kept him on the straight and narrow for a while ... until last month, when, as his dad told People, "it happened again." Jacob explained:

So we bought him a tent and he picked out where to place it and pitched it himself. Some people actually think we're being too soft on him by allowing him to come inside at night. But since we have the occasional snake and tarantula around here, we decided to let him come in every night at 9.

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The arrangement will stick until Adam finishes reading five books and writing reports on them. But shockingly, he's not bitter about it -- like, at all. As the teen told People:

I've finished one and I'm about to finish two others. I know I screwed up, so I don't want people coming down on my parents about this. I know that they love me. They're not trying to abuse me in any way. They're only trying to show me that what I did was wrong. 

Astoundingly mature for a kid who just got busted for lifting his little sister's iPod! But Adam's attitude is precisely why, even though I tend to think "extreme" punishments like this one are over the top and potentially damaging, this story doesn't really bother me at all.

As a mom, I definitely fall on the "softie" side of the discipline spectrum, which is why hearing about parents making their kids stand by the highway off-ramp wearing signs detailing their wrongdoings or throwing all the toys they didn't pick up in the garbage usually make my hair stand on end. But this one is different.

Not only does Adam clearly understand why his parents are making him live in a tent, but he also doesn't appear to be having a particularly bad time of it out there (plus, he actually spends his mornings at a nearby summer camp studying Shakespeare, math, and cooking).

Even local law enforcement is okay with the arrangement: After neighbors called the authorities out of concern, police officers have made several visits to the family's home but "haven't seen anything that's harmful to the child," according to Gary Hall, chief deputy for the Valencia County Sheriff's Office, who also told People that he was "grateful" for the parents' efforts.

"I'm hoping now that he won't become someone we have to deal with for the remainder of my career and the start of someone else's," he said.

I'm sure that's what Adam's parents are hoping, too! To me, this story proves that there's no such thing as one-size-fits-all discipline. The same punishment might break another kid, but Adam is taking it in stride -- and obviously his mom and dad knew that he'd be able to handle it. Even more importantly, they knew he'd be able to learn from it. I mean, let's face it: What are the odds this kid ever steals anything again?


Image via Geir K. Edlund/Flickr 

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