While children are growing up, it’s a wonderful opportunity to allow them to try different activities, to help them discover what they like and what they might want to do when they’re older.
But when an adult in their life is not supportive, it can have a negative impact on the child, pointed out the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit.
Redditor fluteteach felt terrible after deciding not to teach their nephew how to play the flute anymore after hearing the harsh feedback of the boy’s father.
When their sister called them up to complain, the Original Poster (OP) wasn’t sure if they were wrong or not to have given up.
They asked the sub:
“AITA for refusing to teach my nephew the flute?”
The OP enjoyed teaching their nephew how to play the flute.
“I teach private flute lessons at home. Home lessons are a great way to make a little extra money on the side, and I honestly love teaching.”
“My nephew, ‘Leo,’ has been playing the flute for almost 2 years. He’s extremely talented, especially for his age, and he genuinely enjoys playing.”
“Leo was my first student, and I consider myself privileged to watch him grow in music and in his talents.”
Leo’s father was recently back in the picture.
“When Leo was first born, his father, ‘Ian,’ wanted nothing to do with him.”
“He claimed that he was ‘too young’ and couldn’t be ‘tied down’ so soon.”
“He left my sister, ‘Leigh,’ and Leo homeless a few months after Leo’s birth.”
“Over the past year, he’s supposedly cleaned up his act and has moved in with Leigh. I’m not the biggest fan of his, but Leigh seems to be happy and Leo likes him, so I’m not going to judge.”
Ian was not supportive of Leo playing the flute.
“I visit Leo twice a week for his lessons. For the past 3 lessons, Ian has watched us.”
“Usually, this wouldn’t be a problem (parents watching their children practice is nothing new to me), but Ian likes to make snide remarks.”
“For example, if Leo messes up, he’ll scoff under his breath and say something like, ‘Even I could do that’ (I guarantee you, he cannot).”
“The comments are affecting Leo’s self-esteem but when I asked Leigh to tell Ian to stop, Leigh claims that Ian is ‘pushing Leo to be better.'”
“Before we started Leo’s lesson, I pulled Ian aside and asked him to stay silent as it was affecting Leo’s confidence. He was annoyed but seemed to agree.”
The OP had to make a tough decision, fast.
“When I was getting ready to leave, Ian pulled me aside, furious, and told me that I was a ‘terrible b***h’ for trying to police what he could or couldn’t say to his son.”
“He said that I was turning Leo ‘girly’ (flute is only for women apparently), and that he’s been the best father to his ‘gay son.'”
“At first, I was trying to argue with him, but every time I spoke, he would grow even madder, so I gave up.”
“Ian said that he didn’t want me to teach Leo anymore, and I agreed.”
The OP felt incredibly conflicted over what had happened.
“Later that evening, Leigh called me, asking why I suddenly refused to teach Leo anymore.”
“I explained, but she said I could have ‘sucked it up’ for the sake of Leo.”
“Honestly, I made that decision in the heat of the moment. Ian is slightly taller than me and a bit intimidating, and so I honestly made that decision out of fear.”
“However, I feel like that’s a non-legitimate reason to refuse my nephew something. He’s a really good player, and I don’t want to lose a relationship with him or my sister because of this.”
“But I’m not sure whether Leigh has a point or not.”
“I made that decision in a hurry, and I hadn’t considered the consequences to Leo (whom I honestly love).”
Fellow Redditors weighed in:
- NTA: Not the A**hole
- YTA: You’re the A**hole
- ESH: Everybody Sucks Here
- NAH: No A**holes Here
Some took issue with Leigh’s perspective on the situation.
“NTA. Your sister is condoning the abuse of her son just for the sake of keeping around a man who simply is not worth it.”
“Can you teach him away from the house? It sounds like your decision to pull away is only going to hurt Leo.” – bluecougar57
“I’d say Ian’s not to be present at future sessions. I’d also be asking Leigh what the h**l she thinks she’s doing, allowing her son to be treated this way.”
“Does she not care when Ian waltzes in being abusive and destroying her son’s self-esteem? Is that what she wants?” – Ok-Beginning-5922
“Leigh is actually making the situation worse by insisting OP ‘suck it up’ and continue teaching in front of the AH father who thinks the flute is ‘gay’.”
“How would that be anything other than horrible for that little boy? That would completely kill his love of music.” – CarrieCat62
“First and most obvious: you were fired. You didn’t end the lessons, Ian did. He told you he didn’t want you to teach Leo anymore and he’s the dad so that’s the end of the story.”
“Second: you haven’t been allowed to teach flute to Leo for the last 3 lessons. Ian has been interfering and you’ve asked for it to stop and it doesn’t stop.”
“Third: no, you should not be expected to “suck it up” when it comes to disrespectful behavior from Ian. You are a human being and you’re entitled to be treated decently by all people at all times.”
“Tell her you’d come back under the condition that Ian apologizes to you for his treatment of you, asks you to come back, and promises to not interfere while you are teaching from this point on. And if he doesn’t want to do that, maybe he should ‘suck it up.'” – nylonvest
“NTA. You need to tell your sister that Ian is a homophobic, abusive creep and that she’s enabling it. Tell your parents and relatives, and tell Leigh that you won’t sit there and witness it while she lets her kid be beaten down and eats s**t from Ian herself.”
“No one is obliged to ‘suck it up’ from someone else’s abusive AH partner or father.”
“Leo is in a horrible situation and needs intervention on his behalf.” – Sea-Mud5386
Others were worried about Leo ultimately being the one punished in this situation.
“However, this is punishing Leo for Ian’s behavior.”
“Simply state that lessons for Leo will only continue if Ian can keep comments positive or is not present during the lessons.” – mdthomas
“OP has the upper hand now if she handles it correctly, ‘I’ll continue his lessons but only at my house and Ian can’t be involved, this is the only way I’ll agree to continue.'”
“NTA, sounds like this kid would be better off with no father than this guy.” – randomusername71175
“Tell the sister, the lessons only happen if Ian isn’t there. Then you and your sister can decide where the lessons happen without Ian.”
“It also would be best to say Ian not being there does NOT mean he’s simply in the other room. He definitely seems the type to find a reason to walk through the room.”
“And turn it on the sister, that she is punishing Leo by not obliging.”
“NTA by the way.” – One_Saturday_Morning
“NTA. The father is undermining your authority as Leo’s teacher. He can either not be present for lessons, or the lessons won’t occur. He’s not standing up for his son, he’s mentally and emotionally abusing him.” – TrelanaSakuyo
“His ‘father’ shouldn’t be in the building when his son is getting lessons if he can’t be anything other than 100% supportive.”
“Soft ESH? Use this to get your nephew out of that environment as much as possible, don’t punish him for his horrible father.” – toketsupuurin
“Poor Leo. He went from having a happy life, where he could blossom in his talents, to having an abusive sexist and homophobic overlord. Poor little thing.” – Ok-Beginning-5922
“What a terrible scenario for such a talented wonderful-sounding child! Not only are you NTA, and Ian is 100% the AH, and his mother needs to grow a backbone and not allow her child to be bullied by such an influential life figure!”
“I am so sorry you have to witness that and Leo has to live with it.” – dazed_succubus
The subReddit completely understood why the OP was so upset in this situation, and they urged them to try to find a way to keep assisting their nephew in his lessons and development as a musician.
Because ultimately, the only one who stood to lose anything here was the nephew, Leo. From what the OP wrote, he was talented and passionate about playing the flute, and if Ian kept being allowed to treat his son in this way, he would lose the thing he loved.