Anyone who has ever cared for children will understand that a child will prioritize their comfort and function over the style of the clothes, every time.
But that’s especially true for children who have sensory issues, pointed out the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit.
Redditor NoCollars knew that their son was uncomfortable with collars, so they had them altered to still fit the school’s dress code but be more comfortable for their son.
But when they were accused by their mother-in-law of being inconsiderate of the money she’d spent on those expensive collared shirts, the Original Poster (OP) began to wonder if they had different priorities for their son.
They asked the sub:
“AITA for taking all the collars off my son’s shirts?”
The OP’s son had sensory issues with his clothing.
“My son is autistic and hates collared shirts. He says they rub his skin and hurt.”
“I never buy him collared shirts, but his school uniform is collared, and sometimes other people buy him some, so I just take them to the tailor.”
“My MiL bought him several nice shirts for Christmas, and I just picked them up from my tailor.”
The mother-in-law (MIL) was furious about the alterations.
“My son wore one to lunch with my wife’s family yesterday. My MIL was furious that I altered the shirts because they were very expensive.”
“I think my MIL knows about my son’s sensitivity to collars, but she’s very absent-minded. She’s gotten worse as the years go by.”
This led to an argument between the OP and their wife.
“My wife asked me to apologize to her mother, but I don’t think I should.”
“It is silly for him to have shirts he will never wear. This way he will actually get use out of them.”
“My wife said it hurt her mother’s feelings, and we could have just bought him new shirts instead of altering the ones she bought.”
“What is the point of a shirt just sitting in a closet unworn? Is it rude to alter a gift?”
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 applauded the OP for prioritizing their son’s comfort.
“NTA. Before mass production, good quality clothes were handed down, or sold and then altered. There is nothing wrong with altering and using clothes rather than letting clothing go to waste.”
“Once a gift is given, it is up to the receiver as to what happens to it. You are not responsible for your wife’s mother’s feelings when there is no wrongdoing.”
“There are some clothing and shoe stores online for children with sensory issues. My granddaughter has just had some shoes from one of these websites and they are the very first shoes she hasn’t taken off in school.” – Which_Pudding_4332
“NTA, and I wonder if the MIL bought them that way on purpose to ‘fix’ him into wearing collared shirts. I’ve had people do that to me (I’m autistic, as well) with food I had aversions to as a child.”
“You did nothing wrong, OP, and I love how dedicated and kind you are to your son!” – Questionableundead
“NTA at all. I am autistic and sometimes altering clothes is necessary. It sounds like your mother-in-law cares about her gift but not about her grandchild.” – AdelleDeWitt
“NTA. Sounds like your in-laws don’t understand being on the spectrum and the sensory issues that may go along with it. If your MIL truly cared about her grandkid, she would have taken this into consideration with presents. But she didn’t. It’s not about her.” – PipeInevitable9383
“NTA and good on you for being empathic to your son’s hypersensitivity. The fact you actually have a tailor for him is amazing.” – TheLovelyMadamToh
“NTA. Here’s the thing: once you give a gift, you no longer have any say over that gift. Your MIL needs to learn that.”
“If she’s not okay with what people do with the gifts after she’s given them, she shouldn’t give gifts.” – leigh094
“NTA. Don’t apologize, that’s super weird and controlling to get mad that it was altered. If it was too big and you needed it altered down to a smaller size, would she get mad?”
“How old is she that she has never learned that once you give a gift, it belongs to the person you gave it to, and you you no longer get to have a say in what happens to it?”
“If she wanted to retain control over the shirts, she should have claimed she was lending them to your child, so you could say no thanks, lol (laughing out loud), we don’t want to borrow these shirts.” – IntelligentMeal40
“If you are not allowed to remove the collar, your son will never wear the shirt.”
“If grandma doesn’t know/care, the gifts are a total waste of her money.”
“I think you did the correct thing.”
“Does grandma expect her gifts to be art pieces that just hide in the closet?” – Mamertine
“NTA. Function before form always. You are supporting your son instead of fighting a pointless battle about a piece of fabric and granny needs to take a chill pill.” – Exmormonwheels
“NTA. You’re accommodating your son out of love, she’s gifting to him for self-gratification. Gifts are about thought and consideration for the recipient, she got him something impossible for him to use, and you respectfully altered it so that he could still wear her s**tty gift. Good on you.” – fibonaccihoe
Others agreed but thought an additional conversation with the MIL needed to happen.
“NTA. You rock!”
“You found a simple solution to accommodate your son’s needs!”
“Your MIL’s absent-mindedness, or outright dismissiveness of your son’s needs, comes off as uncaring and thoughtless. If she can’t remember, she shouldn’t buy him clothing.”
“I don’t think you owe her an apology for altering the shirts.”
“I would let her know if she has that much of a problem with alterations, next time you will donate the shirts the way they were made.”
“Hopefully, because she made such a fuss this time, it will stick in her mind for the future.” – MorgainofAvalon
“If your son is autistic, it’s very likely that other family members will be too, whether diagnosed or not. This kind of rigidity is common in older ND (neurodivergent) adults who aren’t diagnosed and believe that everything should be done the way they would do it.”
“Remind grandma that your son has sensory sensitivities and that his comfort is your priority.” – Helpful_Corgi5716
“NTA. It isn’t rude to alter a gift to make sure it’s usable and is silly to just shove it into the back of the closet.”
“Although MIL’s feelings were hurt, perhaps what’s really needed is not a big apology so much as a serious conversation about your son’s specific autism and needs. It sounds like she doesn’t understand that collars are a serious issue (maybe she even thought it was being exaggerated and isn’t a big deal).”
“If she’s the sort that won’t talk until you apologize, give her a gentle, soft apology that leads into the conversation, along the lines of, ‘I’m sorry it hurt your feelings. However, it hurts my feelings that you don’t seem to understand why I had the shirts altered, and I think we need to discuss your grandson’s atypical needs…'” – Synistrel
“NTA. Surely MIL is aware of the situation. If she doesn’t understand that he has an aversion to collars, she needs to be brought on board. If she continues fussing, then that’s her being ableist.” – BeastOGevaudan
“Maybe NAH. We have no details on the argument/OP’s response. If there wasn’t much explanation, she might think that OP and his wife decided to cut up a nice gift that she thoughtfully picked out because they think their preferences are better than hers (and she doesn’t know if the kid had much input at all).” – misconceptions_annoy
“NTA. Though I would suggest you explain to her your reasons for altering the shirts as you stated that she’s absentminded and may have forgotten your son’s sensitivity to collars.” – idontcare8587
“NTA. I have autistic family members. Sensation issues are a major concern, especially because their bodies can’t turn the ‘I feel my clothes,’ sensation OFF. If it’s unpleasant, it’s a constant thing.”
“Shirts with collars might as well have a wriggling beetle stuck inside on the back of the neck.”
“You made it so he could actually use and enjoy them. I’d suggest apologizing gently for any hurt feelings as that wasn’t your intention, but not apologizing for taking care of your child. They’d have been tortured or unused otherwise.” – BookLuvr7
“OP ‘thinks’ she knows. So, probably someone told her once or twice at some point, and it doesn’t come up because she doesn’t dress him. I don’t get why every person in this comments section is so sure that an old woman didn’t really forget something that usually doesn’t come up.” – misconceptions_annoy
“Adults who buy expensive clothes off the rack take them to a professional tailor to improve the fit in order to make them worth their money.”
“(Frankly, MIL should know that.)”
“You could not have been MORE respectful and grateful than by making the shirts fit in a way that will cause them to be worn frequently by your son. Which is the very purpose why she bought them if you take a gift at face value.”
“Knowing all that, if she’s huffing that you paid additional money to ensure the items will be cherished, enjoyed, valued, and actually used rather than ignored or despised by your son, and also didn’t do the changes haphazardly, carelessly, or without proper skill at home… Then it follows that she bought the clothes to bully or make a point.”
“And if after all this, MIL still doesn’t form a solid memory about how he feels about collars, then at that point maybe she needs memory care.” – liminalleaves
The subReddit was grateful to the OP for considering their son’s needs before a few pieces of clothing, even if they were expensive.
Some thought it would be useful to have a conversation with the grandmother about what her grandson needed in the future, but few if any, felt that apology was in order.