When it comes to parenting, especially in blended families, there tend to be disagreements from time to time about what’s right for the child.
Sometimes that means discussing how much privacy and autonomy a teen can have.
And this can be a doozy of a conversation, pointed out the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit.
Redditor PTV420 recently found himself in the middle of this exact conversation when he and his wife, his son’s stepmother, didn’t see eye-to-eye.
When she was thoroughly disgruntled by his opinion, the Original Poster (OP) wondered if he was doing the right thing for his family.
He asked the sub:
“AITA for telling my spouse that she can’t see my 13-year-old’s phone without my permission?”
The OP’s spouse regularly monitored his son’s living habits.
“Backstory: So I have been with my spouse for 8 years and have a 13-year-old son with a different mother.”
“Living with his mother a couple of hours away, he comes to visit us every other weekend and sometimes full weeks in the summer.”
“My spouse is very OCD and will frequently ask many questions (between 10-30 questions) every time he takes a shower or before he leaves back home to ensure that he’s doing everything properly and calls him out (sometimes rightfully so) when something hasn’t been addressed.”
“Due to her constant questioning and authoritative-type parenting, he tends to avoid her every time he can over the last few years.”
Once he had a cell phone, the OP’s spouse wanted to monitor that, as well.
“Fast-forward to the present day and he has a cell phone with a plan under his maternal mom’s name.”
“My spouse is now demanding that she has the ability at any time to look at his cell phone under the guise of protecting him, although she’ll be the first to call him out for cussing with friends, looking at his texts, seeing if he’s into drugs, seeing if he has visited any porn sites, etc.”
“I have stepped in to say that my spouse must go through me first before she can view his phone.”
“She is in complete disagreement with this, even though there is no suspicion to believe that anything absolutely harmful is occurring in his life.”
“AITA for protecting my son from my spouse to be able to look through his cell phone at any time?”
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 said the OP was NTA for setting this boundary with his wife.
“NTA. She’s being intrusive and is not respecting the parenting techniques you and the biological mom adhere to.”
“She’s crossing lines and making the kid not want to be there. She needs to back off and he needs a password on his phone.” – DotNetDeveloperDude
“‘I have stepped in to say that my spouse must go through me first before she can view his phone.'”
“You should’ve told her she has to go through ‘not in a million years without a good reason’ first.”
“This is controlling bulls**t and absolutely toxic for their relationship, and I can guarantee you that as soon as he is an adult, he won’t have anything to do with her besides necessities.”
“NTA, but you need to stop this kind of behavior completely. You obviously still need to parent a 13yo, but you also need to start giving children of that age some privacy unless there is a reason not to (drugs or criminal behavior, for example).” – Lotex_Style
“NTA – Your spouse is awfully overbearing towards her stepson that she only sees every other weekend.”
“She doesn’t seem to have much respect for privacy. Parents like that give kids reason to withhold the truth from their parents.”
“Also, having OCD isn’t a valid excuse for being a controlling person.” – allsevenpizzas
“NTA – your spouse is controlling and this kind of behavior is absolutely not okay. Sounds like you did the right thing.”
“Now I would implore you to consider if there is any other behavior you need to step in and stop before your son decides he just won’t visit you anymore.” – Ok-Succotash7483
“You might consider the possibility that she is deliberately trying to alienate your son.”
“She may indeed have OCD but she could be hiding purposeful harassment behind her diagnosis. She must stop these routine invasions of his privacy.” – Delicious-Insect-693
Others said the OP was TA for not setting these boundaries much sooner.
“You are allowing your wife to abuse your son, possibly verbal sexual abuse, depending on what questions she’s asking about him showering. There is no reason for her to ask a thirteen-year-old anything about his bathing habits.”
“YTA. She’s worse than an a**hole.” – Spoonbills
“This poor kid.”
“OP, YTA for letting your wife badger your son for apparently years, ‘sometimes rightfully so.’ Step up a bit more.” – Left_Ad8182
“OP, YTA, not for siding against your wife, but for letting your wife treat your son like this at all. Don’t be surprised when your son goes no contact with you both the first chance he gets if this continues.” – Schuld6
“How many questions can you ask someone about their shower and how can they be appropriate?”
“If my (F) stepdad asked me if I was washing my face and shampooing and getting my armpits and don’t forget to wash my butt and did I hang up my towel, I would refuse to come over. Ever.”
“I assume that is what she is asking about. What is happening with the shower to freak her out? Or is it, ‘Did you scrub the sink and wipe the floor and clean the mirror?'”
“YTA if it’s personal, and if it’s about cleaning, give the kid a checklist.” – Fredredphooey
“I have a 13-year-old. I never ask questions about their shower. Like what questions could she possibly be asking a 13-year-old about their bathing habits? I have a 9- and 10-year-old as well.”
“I do ask my 9-year-old if he has used soap b/c well… he’s a boy and sometimes just likes to stand in the water. But that is the most questions I ask about their bathing time.”
“YTA, OP, for not standing up for your child sooner. Your wife sounds unbearable.”
“Don’t be surprised if your son decides he doesn’t want anything to do with you if the wife is around.” – concernedreader1982
The OP may have felt a little guilty for standing up against his wife and what she wanted to do, but the subReddit encouraged him to do that, and more.
With a teen in the house, the OP would need to be a parent who respects boundaries and privacy, and to have an effective, welcoming home, his wife would need to agree.