Parenting is a tough job, which is why an outside opinion can be helpful.
In a popular post on the AITA subreddit, a man asked if he was wrong in the way he punished his son. He wrote:
“AITA for the way I punished my son for what he said about his friend?”
I (36M) have a son (15M) and a daughter (17F), and they’ve been friends with our neighbor who I’ll call Ron. (17M) since childhood. Recently, my daughter and the Ron were hanging out with a friend, and they walked into our house as they left their friend’s place. This is where the problem occurred. My son, who was at home with me, let out a big sigh after seeing Ron and asked why he was here.
I was confused by what he meant. That’s when my son vented about being tired of the Ron’s constant presence and made hurtful comments about his sexuality(Ron is gay). It was shocking because my son had never expressed any issues with the neighbor before and had always been close to him. Ron was visibly hurt and offered to leave, but I insisted he stay but he said It was okay and left anyway.
My daughter and I were rightfully upset and I admit we were yelling. I asked what his problem was. He yelled back saying he couldn’t help not wanting to be around the Ron all the time. I tried being calm, asking my son why would he say something like that to Ron. At this point, my daughter had already left and went with Ron. My son refused to answer me and just kept saying he was sorry.
I told him I’m not the one to be saying sorry to. I told him I raised him better than this and this made him cry. In the heat of the moment, I made the decision to ground my son. I took away his phone, PS5, and all his electronics, leaving him with only the TV in his room without the remote.
He started crying even more and begged me not to go through with it, but I stood firm, telling him he needed to apologize to Ron the next morning. Now, I’m conflicted. My daughter supports my decision but when I spoke to Ron, he suggested I let it go assuring me he would be okay.
I think he might be right, I tried talking to my son again, but he is straight up refusing to talk to me and keep saying please leave him alone in a quiet tone. I don’t think I’m in the wrong for grounding my son, but I’m wondering if I went too far, considering it’s his first time saying something like this. Am I the AH for the way I grounded him?
Redditors left a lot of comments and questions.
Sounds like maybe your son has been hit on.
Yeah, I’ve been reading the comments and and a lot of people suspect that Ron did/said something to my son. I felt horrible because that never even came to my mind. I was thinking about confronting Ron and asking him about it, but I didn’t want to accuse Ron of doing something without evidence and potentially making things worse.
So I told my son I would consider giving his electronics back if he tells me why he said what he said and reacted that way towards Ron. I told him that I’m not going to force him to tell me, but I’ll be here when he’s ready to talk and he just told me okay.
NTA for calling your son out, and I can’t really speak on the grounding, I’m not a parent. I will say that I think a talk with your son about what those comments mean would be good. Even at 15, he may not really understand just how stigmatizing that is.
And it could be bred from stuff he hears at school and online. I also wouldn’t expect Ron to step in; it feels pretty embarrassing to have received those comments. I’d reassure Ron that he’s always welcomed, and that you’re talking about this topic with your son about it.
Adding on – Ron is probably asking you to drop it because he doesn’t want to be involved or be made the center of attention over this. That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t talk to your son or mete out some punishment, just that you shouldn’t force Ron to be a part of it. Also sounds like both you and your son might need a little time to cool off before a productive conversation can be had between y’all.
I also can’t say whether you over reacted, but maybe that’s also something you can discuss with your son when everybody has had, like, 24 hours of distance.
NTA. Ron doesn’t think it’s alright, but for a lot of teenagers the response to something like this is to say it’s fine so they can leave the situation, rather then showing everyone how upset or angry or sad that they are. Young men especially are pushed to not show most emotions beyond happiness or anger.
Your punishment isn’t over the top. You confiscated his electronics, you didn’t chuck them into a canyon. You 100% need to figure out WHY he said that.
Two weeks later, OP jumped on with an update.
Hello everyone, I wanted to provide an update on the situation regarding my son. First and foremost, I would like to thank you all for your insights and advice. It’s been a challenging time but I’m happy to share that my son was finally open to talk to me! After I grounded my son, he still refused to talk to be until a couple of days ago. On Wednesday he told me that he wanted to talk to me.
I was so happy that my son was finally open to talk to me. Anyway, long story short my son told me that he has feelings for Ron and when he told Ron that he liked him, Ron rejected him and told him that he viewed him more as a little brother instead. This honestly shocked me because I didn’t think my son was gay, so I guess some of you were right.
My son started crying and asked me If I still loved him and this broke my heart. I told him that I love him regardless but he has to understand that his actions were wrong and he can’t just be hateful towards Ron just because he rejected him. We then had a heart-to-heart conversation about love, rejection, and respecting others feelings.
After our conversation he told me that he didn’t mean what he said, but he just wanted Ron to leave as he didn’t want to see him. I then told my son that he should apologize to Ron but he said that he doesn’t want to see Ron right now because he feels it would be awkward. I decided not to force my son to apologize to Ron directly, understanding that forced apologies might lack sincerity.
Instead, I encouraged him to reflect on his actions and, when he’s ready, express his remorse in his own way and on his own time. Trying to be understanding, I decided to return his TV remote and PS5. However, his phone remains confiscated as a reminder to him that the way he behaved was not acceptable. Ron and my daughter have distanced themselves from hanging out around our house.
If I’m being honest, I’m positive Ron knew what this was about because he was adamant about not punishing my son for what he said. I do admire Ron because of his maturity and his kindness. Now, my daughter is now upset with me for being lenient. She said that I’m actively supporting his homophobic behavior.
I told her that I had a heart to heart conversation with her brother and that he understands what he did wrong but she still upset. My son didn’t want to come out to his sister yet so I didn’t feel comfortable telling her what the conversation was about.
Anyway, I’m glad my son was finally open with me about how he’s feeling and I’m glad that we were able to finally talk but I’m sad that my daughter is upset with me so now I have to work out a way to fix my relationship with her. However, I do think this will blowover once my son is finally ready to comeout to his sister and I’m hoping she’d be understanding on why I decided to be a little lenient with his punishment.
The internet was really glad to be updated.
You are a great dad OP. And kudos for not outing him to his sister, although if homophobic behaviour upsets her, she will probably be OK with it if he does tell her.
A teenage girl has probably already experienced being called ugly, a b#$ch, etc for saying no to a guy. She might not be that sympathetic to her brother lashing out because he got turned down. Gay or not, there should have been some punishment, though I’m glad to see Dad at least had a conversation about accepting rejection maturely.
I’d sit your daughter down and tell her that you understand how she’s feeling, but that you’d hope she’d trust you as dad. That you’ve had a heartfelt talk with her brother, but you’ve also talked to Ron about it from his perspective. That your decision to loosen the punishment a bit was based on both the conversation with your son, but also how Ron wanted it dealt with.
I’d tell her you’re glad she had a heart for justice, but that you hope as she matures she’ll discover that the heart of justice is (wherever possible) restoration and reformation not punishment.
And as her brother’s parent that is what you have striven for here, and while she doesn’t know (or need to know) the specific details, she can trust that your decisions were made with justice and restoration equally in mind.
Wow you are a fantastic dad. Just a small thought you should mention to Ron your thoughts about him. At 18 hearing an adult praise you for the way you handled a difficult situation really sicks with you. Let Ron know he made you proud.
“My son didn’t want to comeout to his sister yet so I didn’t feel comfortable telling her what the conversation was about.“
You are doing great in the weird world of fatherhood, and being a loving and understanding dad. To come out is on him, when he feels safe and feel better.
This ended in a surprisingly wholesome way, with OP and his son becoming closer.
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