When it comes to raising kids, we know we can’t always be the fun mom, dad, aunt, or uncle. There are times we need to be strict by setting rules, and punishing bad behavior. However, these adults are questioning whether they went too far with their punishments. Content has been edited for clarity.
Daughter Vs Stepmom
“I got married last weekend at my parents’ house, which has been in the family for generations. Due to health reasons, only immediate family attended.
My daughter (16F) had been calling her new stepmom (21F) names like ‘home wrecker’ and ‘hag,’ and I have been patient with her. She assumes I left her late mother because she had cancer. However, I did not leave her mother because she had cancer. Nobody decides to have cancer. Her late mother, however, used her illness to devalue me and my sense of identity. She criticized the way I took care of her, my hygiene, and even the cologne I was wearing. She made me feel worthless and like she was projecting her own insecurities onto me by saying that the smell of my cologne was disgusting. Despite the fact that I objectively found her disgusting at times, I stuck by her until my self-esteem was destroyed.
I would work hard, closing deals all day and be acknowledged for my efforts at work, yet I’d go home, and she’d criticize and nag about every aspect of my being.
I met her stepmom when I was in a dark place. She made me feel like I could be myself again. My wife made me feel unattractive and sexless, but with my new wife, I felt alive. Just the fact that she appreciated me and felt a physical chemistry with me made me want to do anything for her, to want to provide for her.
That’s when I decided not to continue living a lie with my wife and filed for divorce. Since then, my daughter’s relatives from her mom’s side have been poisoning her against me.
Last weekend, when I and her stepmom went to the wedding site early, we expected her to drive to the wedding later. Instead, she ended up going to stay with her aunt. Everybody asked where she was, and there was chaos from my side of the family trying to locate her.
As a consequence, I took away her car and allowance, and I have taken her phone away until I feel that she can learn to be respectful toward someone I love very much. I believe it will be impossible for her to do that if she keeps hearing negative influences from her late mom’s side of the family.
My parents have called and said that I am being too harsh. However, even when things are tough, I feel I cannot allow one of my children to believe they can just do whatever they want. Am I the a**hole?”
“Boys Will Be Boys”
“I have three kids; the oldest is at university, so it’s just me, my wife, and them (16M and 11F). All my kids are children who have been raised well, and they’ve grown to be people I’m proud to call my own.
My son recently had some friends over, and things were going fine. I went upstairs at one point to bring them the pizza they had ordered when I overheard my son talking about how his friends owed him something for asking a girl in their class out as a prank. From what I gathered, the girl was someone his friends didn’t deem attractive enough, and a load of other nonsense.
I decided to talk to my son about it after his friends left to save him from embarrassment. I did raise my voice a little, but that was due to how maddening the whole situation was. The same thing had happened to my cousin when we were younger, and I saw how the whole thing affected her as she entered new relationships.
My son argued back that it was just a prank that wouldn’t hurt anyone and that I was going against him by listening to his friends’ private conversations. He said that while he felt sorry for my cousin, he was ‘mature enough’ to understand not to pull the prank any further.
I didn’t listen to any other excuse he gave and decided to ground him for two weeks. He said that I shouldn’t have any say in this when the whole thing had nothing to do with me.
My wife claims that ‘boys will be boys’ and that it’s something harmless. When I asked her how she’d feel if this was played on our daughter, she simply said, ‘That won’t happen because she has good genes.’
My MIL and FIL are blowing up the family group chat about how I’m hurting their baby for normal teenage boy behavior.
So, AITA? If I am being too nosy about an act that has nothing to do with me, I will take back my son’s grounding.”
Blind Dad vs. Resentful Daughter
“My husband, Rod (52M), is legally blind. He is not completely blind, but close. It’s not a genetic issue but a brain injury that happened when he was a baby. Rod is completely independent but needs a little help reading small letters, cooking, typing on a computer, etc. In my opinion, Rod is a great father and husband.
My daughter, Reina (15F), has always been a little resentful of Rod. Growing up, she didn’t have the ‘normal’ father-daughter experience. Reina has always been into sports, but because of Rod’s incapacity to engage in physical activities that involve coordination, they were never able to bond over that. Reina has never ‘forgiven’ Rod for it, and my husband feels especially guilty about this.
Reina is going through her ‘angsty’ teenager phase. She has been acting out and is rude to everyone, especially my husband. Reina likes upsetting Rod, and he never defends himself, so he’s the perfect target.
Recently, we started going out more as a family. To go out, Rod uses these big, chunky glasses that make his eyes look huge, almost like a caricature. My husband is super insecure about his appearance when he uses them, and our family knows it.
My daughter comes downstairs and, with the most offended tone of voice, she says, ‘Oh my God, Dad! Are you trying to embarrass me? Your eyes look horrendous with those glasses on.’
I was ticked off. I canceled the outing and told her to go to her room and not come out until dinner time.
Reina is big into her appearance. She wears colored, graduated contacts because, ironically, she needs to wear glasses, but she hates to wear them. She isn’t uncomfortable wearing them or gets any headaches; she just doesn’t like how she looks with glasses on. As a punishment, Reina will not be allowed to wear contacts for a month.
I told Reina about her punishment, and she is tremendously mad at me. She has a party in a week, and since the punishment is for a month, Reina will attend the party with glasses on. She’s also returning to in-person classes, so she will attend school wearing glasses. She says that she will apologize to Rod and will never disrespect him again, but I don’t believe her. Rod chimed in and said that maybe the punishment is way too harsh, but I don’t think so. Reina then called me names and locked herself in her bedroom.
Rod says that I’m being way too hard on Reina and bordering on AH (a**hole) territory, which is why I’m here.’
Attractive 22-Year-Old Neighbor
“My wife and I have been separated for 2 years. I have primary custody of our two kids (a 17-year-old daughter and a 14-year-old son) and live in the home that we’ve owned for 20 years.
On Monday, I came home to find my son and two of his friends up on the roof of our little sun deck. I asked him what he was doing and if he was being safe. They said they were playing army and since I’ve coached the other two kids in mountain biking for almost 6 years now, I knew their parents wouldn’t mind either.
They did this every day this week until Thursday when my daughter asked me if I was really so stupid to think my son and friends were playing Army. Then she let me know that the real reason was that our 22-year-old neighbor was in her backyard topless and Aiden had set up a perch on the sun deck to get a better view. I climbed up thinking that she was just trying to get him in trouble but sure enough, the deck had a perfect view of the chaise lounge where I assume the girl had usually sat. I told my son to knock it off and he said he would.
This morning I got an angry knock on the door and it was my ex-wife and the neighbor (they have been friends for many years). Apparently, the neighbor called my wife sometime midweek and they had agreed they would ‘confront’ me and my son Saturday morning.
We sat down and it went from a calm ‘this is something we’re concerned about to ‘accusations of me being an irresponsible absentee parent’.
I tried to remain calm and explain that they were just acting like 14-year-old boys and I’ve gotten them to stop. My wife asked if I planned on punishing him, I said that I didn’t feel like he did anything punishment-worthy and rather this was a learning experience about respecting people’s privacy.
My neighbor said that if he were her son he’d be in intensive psychotherapy and medicated. I told her that was really overkill. My wife told me not to talk to her friend like that and I asked them to leave before it got any more nuts. My wife has texted me that I am being incredibly irresponsible and if I don’t do ‘something’ she’s going to her lawyer to revisit the custody arrangement. In all of that, she called me a prick several times and said it was more miserable being divorced from me than it was to be married to me.
I guess that’s about it…but am I the jerk for how I’m handling the issue with my son?”
“My wife and I have a son (17M) together. Sixteen years ago, I was drunk and slept with another woman, which resulted in another child (16F). My wife forgave me, but she made it clear that she doesn’t want to be anywhere near my daughter. I have my daughter every other weekend, and my wife goes to her parents’ home every time she is with me.
A few days ago, we were going out with my extended family, and my daughter was also invited, but her mom wasn’t invited. She asked me if I could give her a ride, and I said yes. However, when my wife found out, she said that while she doesn’t have a problem with my daughter being there, she doesn’t want her to come with us. I tried to change her mind, but I couldn’t. So, I asked both my brothers if either of them would bring my daughter with them. They both said yes, so I called my daughter and told her I had some problem and asked her to come with one of her uncles, and she agreed.
Well, we went there, and both my brothers arrived, but my daughter wasn’t with either one of them. They both said that my daughter told them she was going with the other one.
I called her and her mom, and all her friends, but no one knew where she was. So, everyone just left to search for her, and after a few hours, my son found her. I was so mad at her; I yelled at her and told her how she made us all worried. I took away her car (that I bought for her) as a punishment.
Her mom has been calling me, saying I’m a jerk and demanding I give her car back.
Just to clarify, she didn’t drive there because it had a dangerous road, and she is not a good driver. So, I told her she is not allowed to drive there.
I tried to talk to her, but she doesn’t want to talk. However, she talked to my son, and he told me she was very upset and didn’t come because she thought I didn’t want her there. The reason she didn’t tell us where she was going was, as I guessed, to ruin my day and make me angry. I called her and apologized and told her that we are going out again and promised that she’ll come with me this time, and she seemed happy about it. I also had a conversation with my wife and told her that as much as I wanted her to come with us, if she can’t be in the same car as my daughter, then she needs to find someone else to give her a ride. She left to her parents’ home, and I’m not sure what she is going to do.”
“Don’t Take Candy From A Baby”
“My niece is 7, and my daughter is 2 and very possessive. You know the saying, ‘Don’t take candy from a baby?’ This scenario is quite similar.
We all waited in line for 45 minutes at the local ice cream place. I got my daughter one cone and my niece one cone. However, what happened was that I handed my niece her cone, walked around to the other side of the car, and then handed my daughter hers. But in the meantime, my niece gave her cone to my daughter so that my daughter would go first. I didn’t notice until my daughter was holding two ice creams.
The thing about my daughter is that if I took an ice cream away from her, it would result in an atomic meltdown. It’s the kind of meltdown where you just say ‘forget it’ and go home immediately, abandoning any other plans you had.
I told my niece that she shouldn’t have given her the ice cream because if we were going to continue our day, she needed to have both; we didn’t have time to wait in the entire line again. She understood, at least as much as a 7-year-old could. There was some visible disappointment but she accepted it.
Was I in the wrong? To make up for it, on the way home, we stopped by McDonald’s and got her a cone, but it’s not the same. The ice cream place we went to is a common tourist destination and it’s really good, much better than Micky D’s.”
Does This Mom Have A Favorite Son?
“I’m a mom of 2, Chris (16, biological) and Sammy (13, stepson). I’ve been married to Sammy’s father for over 4 years. The boys argue sometimes, but it’s usually minor everyday issues. Since my husband is busy all the time (he’s a nurse), I often handle the boys’ issues.
Last week, Chris was bringing Sammy his laptop from his room since Sammy asked for it. Unfortunately, Chris fell off the stairs, injuring his knee, and Sammy’s laptop broke. Sammy was upset, even though it was an accident. I told him I’d get it fixed quickly. However, he kept bringing it up and arguing with Chris about it, even after Chris apologized.
The next day, Chris showed me his laptop and was crying, saying Sammy did it intentionally to get even. This was unacceptable behavior. Sammy didn’t deny it; in fact, he bragged about it and said Chris would learn not to mess with his stuff.
I was very upset with Sammy and told him he made a mistake, grounding him as a consequence. My husband asked me to wait and questioned why I only punished Sammy when Chris had also broken his laptop. I explained that it was different because Chris didn’t mean to break it; it was an accident. Sammy, on the other hand, intentionally damaged Chris’s laptop. My husband called me ridiculous, arguing that the outcome was the same and that it was fair to ground both of them. However, I refused.
We began arguing, and my husband pointed out that my actions appeared to show favoritism and could harm the kids’ relationship. I insisted that it was unfair to ground both kids, while he continued to accuse me of playing favorites. Sammy was already upset.
I decided to take BOTH laptops to the store to get them fixed, but my husband sent me a text with the word ‘favoritism,’ emphasizing his point. He believed I had mishandled the entire situation.”
Fun Uncle Had Enough
“I’m staying at my wife’s parents’ home for a week during the Christmas/New Year period. My wife has two sisters, and between them, they have two kids each, ranging from ages 5 to 9. My wife and I are in our late twenties and do not have children of our own.
I have a close and affectionate relationship with my nieces and nephews, whom I adore. I actively engage with them in various ways, such as playing games, helping with bedtime routines, feeding them, and providing discipline when needed, like timeouts (with the parents’ support). I’m often the only adult who actively participates in their play activities throughout the day, while the other adults usually set up activities and let the kids play on their own. I want to emphasize that I’m not criticizing anyone; I simply want to convey that I genuinely enjoy spending time with the children. The kids even call me the ‘fun’ one.
During our stays at my in-laws’, the kids tend to make a lot of noise in the mornings, usually starting around 7 a.m. or 8 a.m., which often disrupts our sleep. Even with earplugs and my phone playing white noise at full volume all night, I am frequently awakened multiple times.
We have repeatedly instructed the kids to keep the noise down in the mornings, but it hasn’t been effective. I decided to impose a consequence: I told them that they could only play Mario Kart on their Nintendo Switch and that I’d take them to the park if they remained quiet in the morning and didn’t wake us up.
However, the following morning, they were noisy again, and I followed through with the punishment. They argued that not all of them had made noise, so they shouldn’t all be punished. I insisted that the deal was for all of them to be quiet, as multiple voices had woken me up. This led to some grumpy kids and protests about fairness. They refused to calm down, so I extended the punishment to include no Switch and no park visit the next day unless they behaved.
Their mothers supported my decision, stating that if I had given them instructions and they didn’t listen, I had the right to enforce consequences.
My wife, however, felt that the punishment was too severe, especially extending it for an additional day. She argued that it wasn’t fair to all the kids as not everyone had been noisy, and it was Christmas, so they should enjoy themselves together. I disagreed, believing that I shouldn’t back down from the consequences I had set.
To provide some context, my wife and I have discussed my approach to discipline before, as I tend to enforce it more strictly than some others might. I believe that discipline is essential, but I also balance it by being a fun and involved uncle.
Am I the a**hole in this situation?”