Most parents struggle at some point with how quickly their children are growing up. The time simply goes by much too fast!
But no matter how uncomfortable a parent might be with their child growing up, they shouldn’t hold their child back to give them the illusion of still being a child, pointed out the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit.
Redditor Weary_Network_3174 looked on as her stepdaughter became increasingly uncomfortable with her body, especially her unshaven legs.
But when her body hair began to hold her back from participating in common summer activities, the Original Poster (OP) knew it was time to take the next step.
She asked the sub:
“AITA for shaving my stepdaughter’s legs?”
The OP was recently visiting her stepdaughter.
“I’m (29 Female) married to my husband (35 Male) who has a child (12 Female) from his previous relationships with his ex-wife (37 Female).”
“My husband and I currently visiting his daughter in her hometown. One of the things we did is we went to Target shopping.”
“Before going, I asked my stepdaughter’s mom what she’s allergic or sensitive to, what she’s not allowed to have, etc., because my stepdaughter tends to copy what I’m purchasing for myself.”
“Her mom said she’s not allowed any makeup and that otherwise, she’s not sensitive or allergic to anything.”
A surprise came up while the OP was out shopping with her.
“While at Target, my stepdaughter really liked some shorts, but she refused to get them because she does not wear shorts outside (even in summer).”
“She said it was because her legs are really hairy and her mom doesn’t allow her to shave. She’s a brunette with really thick hair.”
“My husband and I were really surprised to hear this. I didn’t have any shaving legs restrictions growing up.”
“We asked around with my sister-in-law, my stepmom, and some friends, and everyone said they were allowed to shave or their mom would help them to shave around this age.”
The OP decided to help her stepdaughter out.
“We had one more activity planned, to go to the water park, and my stepdaughter refused because she was ashamed to wear a swimsuit.”
“She loves water parks, though. My husband used to have a whole membership thing in one for her.”
“So I offered to shave her legs and she agreed. My husband also agreed to it and was present in the act, but he didn’t want to do it himself as he believed I was more experienced.”
“I used high-quality products and she loved the feel of smooth legs.”
The stepdaughter’s mother was furious, however.
“Her mom saw her legs hairless and sent my husband a very angry email calling us a**holes.”
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 were grateful the OP stepped up and pointed out the father was present, as well.
“NTA at all. Kids are ruthless at this age.”
“My mom refused to let me shave or wear a bra and it was awful.”
“She is doing her daughter a disservice. It’s good you have your stepdaughter’s best interests at heart.” – Aardeehar
“NTA. As a very hairy person, I used to sneak razors onto the school bus and dry shave in a moving vehicle because my mother was anti-shaving.”
“In theory, your stepdaughter should be able to feel confident and comfortable in shorts or a bathing suit without shaving, but let’s be real. Adults have a hard time with it, so why is a 12-year-old expected to do better?”
“And at the end of the day, it’s just hair. It’s gonna grow back, and her mother can attempt to put the horse back in the barn on her own time.” – fourstarlasagna
“The father was on board and the kid wanted it and is old enough to have a say in her own body. It’s the mom (not stepmom) who was out of line as far as I’m concerned.” – Ceecee_soup
“OP had no reasonable way of knowing the bio mom would react this way. That’s on the bio mom to communicate with the dad about these things in a co-parenting relationship. It’s not reasonable to expect a secondary adult (OP) who is helping raise your child to know what the rules are if the PRIMARY adult (dad) didn’t even know.”
“I can understand being upset because uncommunicated expectations were not met, but the bio mom should have acted like an adult and then had the conversation about her expectations as the girl’s mother in regards to shaving. Freaking out makes her the AH here.”
“And yes, the girl said her mom hadn’t allowed her to shave at her home, but unless she spoke to the dad about this there’s no reason to assume that that rule defacto applies in a situation when the girl is with her dad.” – notorre
“Flat out, I don’t care if people want to debate custody, her mom is emotionally stunting her verging on abuse for whatever reason. Shaving legs isn’t an issue and the whole thing is 37 Female mom decided she wants a baby and not a 12-year-old tween girl.”
“If she can’t handle that, she can fork over full custody to 32 Female stepmom and her husband. Honestly, it sounds more and more like the daughter is going with them anyway.” – SisterCharityAlt
Being unable to shave gave some Redditors terrible flashbacks to their youth.
“NTA. Man, I remember being 12 and crying in the shower because my mum thought I was too young to shave my legs. I wore jeans to school on the hottest day of the year because I was too embarrassed to have my legs show.”
“(In fairness to my mother, I was also way too embarrassed to tell her how much it bothered me, and I’m sure she would have bought me a razor if she knew.)”
“The kid deserves to feel comfortable in her own body. But I hope you taught her how to do it instead of just doing it for her.” – jsquiggle123
“NTA. When I took my first high school gym class, I was teased mercilessly and came home in tears. My mom was a hippie and a teen in the 60s. Somehow that was how she wanted me to be too. As a teen in the ’90s, I can guarantee the world of high school was not the same as hers.”
“When she finally gave in and allowed it, I was scared to shave. I thought it would hurt.”
“My mom, who’d never shaved in her life, thought bringing in her friend’s daughter to teach me was a good idea.”
“Her friend’s daughter was 16, and I was 13. The next day at school, she and all her friends teased and bullied me worse than the kids in my own class.”
“Long story short; let the kid shave already! Having someone teach you how to do it properly will have saved her a lot of pain, I’m sure.” – Whatshername_Stew
“I lived with my dad full-time from age 12 and up, and I’m very thankful that he controlled nothing about any of that stuff, he didn’t want to get involved at all actually.”
“He had my grandma sit down with me and then she brought me to buy feminine products and razors and all that, and my dad told me if I needed any of that stuff to just add it to his grocery list. When it came to makeup, he didn’t want to buy it for me but had no objections to me wearing it.”
“Meanwhile, my best friend growing up had the opposite, her mom wouldn’t let her shave at all until high school because she was ‘too young to need to shave.’ She wore jeans or long skirts every summer because she was so embarrassed. She wasn’t allowed to wear makeup until she graduated and that just led to her doing it in secret and washing it all off before going home.”
“It’s unhealthy and weird to control your kids like that. OP is NTA, for sure.” – Maddyherselius
“She’s 12 years old. She’s hitting puberty, clearly. If she wants to shave her legs, she should be allowed to shave her legs. They’re HER legs.”
“I will never understand parents who restrict their teens and tweens from doing completely age-appropriate things like shaving or trying out makeup. Barring any kind of sensitivity or allergy, kids should be able to express themselves and figure out what they like, especially at that age.”
“My mom used to tell me I wasn’t allowed to shave above the knee (something that confuses me to this day). I have PCOS, and I have very dark hair. I did it anyway and, when she got mad, I told her that I wanted to. I think she was concerned in a ‘Who are you shaving for?’ kind of way which is… Well. Gross.” – Hazel2468
“Reading posts like this heal my inner child. I’m naturally blond, so my legs weren’t super obviously hairy. When I was in sixth grade, my friends would make fun of people who didn’t shave their legs and it made me super self-conscious.”
“I begged my mom to let me shave my legs and she and my dad said I was too young. I shaved my armpits already, but shaving my legs was too much. I don’t know.”
“So like OP’s stepdaughter, I also refused to wear shorts. Seeing everyone commenting that OP was in the right honestly makes me feel better.” – lydz31
While the subReddit could understand that the biological mother might be struggling with the fact that her daughter was growing up and longing for time to slow down, they otherwise felt that the daughter’s comfort needed to come before her mother’s.
Since her embarrassment had reached a point of impacting what she was willing to wear and what activities she was willing to do during the hot summer months, it was clear not shaving was standing in her way more than helping her, no matter what her mother’s beliefs were on the subject.