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Dad Balks When His Coworker Tells Him He Can’t Bring His Young Kids To A 21+ Camping Event

Stock photo via Getty Images

We all like to be invited to and included in things, and surely, parents are no exception.

But there’s a time for everything.

A father and his coworker recently quarreled about this on the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit.

After realizing the father wanted to bring his kids, Redditor bybehp questioned if that was appropriate.

But after receiving serious pushback, the Original Poster (OP) wondered if they was being too picky.

They asked the sub:

“AITA for uninviting my coworker from camping when he was pushy about bringing his young children for a drinking weekend?” 

The OP frequently hosts camping weekends to which anyone is welcome.

“I host camping trips often and some of my coworkers I’m friends with were interested. It’s a big party in the woods on my aunt’s huge rural property.”

“It’s a group of people in their 20s and early 30s. Nobody’s ever brought a kid or anyone under 21 for that matter.”

“Another of my coworkers I don’t know well asked if he could join and I said, ‘Yeah definitely, anyone can come! It’ll be a great big party!'”

But as it turns out, there was a certain caveat to the OP’s rules.

“I didn’t think much of it and then I made a group text of everyone I had invited camping to organize things. I asked the group if anyone needed to borrow camping gear.”

“My coworker then asked if my one-person tent would be good for two small kids, four and six years old.”

“I texted back saying, ‘Sorry this isn’t really a kid trip, sorry I didn’t explain well enough, but it’s more of a big party in the woods.'”

The OP and their coworker debated the logistics of the situation.

“He texted me privately now, outside the group chat, and said that he and his wife are European and they do not do the American thing of sheltering their kids from drinking or even bad language. He was comfortable with the family coming. The kids can play pretty independently and they go to bed early.”

“I felt weird and uncomfortable about this.”

“I texted him back saying, ‘Sorry, really not comfortable with that, this is a 21+ trip because I’m not ok having anyone underage at a party I’m hosting.'”

“He sent me a message saying, ‘They’re children, they’re not teenagers trying to sneak a drink. I already told them they were invited. You said anyone was welcome.'”

“I said, ‘Yeah, didn’t mean to imply anything. I just think a family campground would be a better fit for kids. I can send you some recommendations of places I’m sure your kids would like more than hanging out with us drunk idiots!!'”

They continued the conversation the next day.

“He didn’t text me back after that but asked me in-person at work the next day.”

“He told me that it was inconsiderate of me to invite him and say anyone was welcome and then uninvite him when he took me at my word.”

“And that as a parent of young kids, it was difficult to get time to spend with other adults and he and his wife were really looking forward to socializing, especially after the year spent at home.”

“I asked if he would be able to get a babysitter for one or even both nights, he and his wife would be welcome to join. Or he could join if his wife could stay with the kids.”

“And he got cross with me at that point, saying that I was immature and didn’t understand the realities of living life not just selfishly. That you can’t just pawn your kids off when it is inconvenient or rudely uninvite someone when it is inconvenient.”

Since then, the OP has had mixed feelings.

“I felt bad hearing that, I do feel a little like I got his hopes up and his kids’ hopes up about camping, because I wasn’t clear enough about it at the start.”

“AITA for uninviting my coworker from camping?”

Fellow Redditors weighed in by declaring: 

  • NTA: Not the A**hole
  • YTA: You’re the A**hole
  • ESH: Everybody Sucks Here
  • NAH: No A**holes Here

Some were immediately concerned about liability issues.

“This is private property so there are liability issues with drunk adults and kids that I wouldn’t be thrilled with if I were OP.”JuryNo7670

“I had the same thought. Some of my family has a lot of property in rural KY and hosts big parties in the woods a couple times a year (pre-pandemic). No one under 21, full stop.”

“That used to not be an official rule, mind. It used to be a kind of thing where we invite people and if they want to bring some friends, awesome! The more the merrier!”

“But one year someone brought their kids (like 5 and 10) without warning and sold a sob story to my family, who made an exception. The second night, kids go to bed early, parents start drinking/partying. 10-year-old gets up to go to the bathroom, wanders into the dark, gets lost, trips over some fallen branches, and tumbles down a small hill and breaks an arm and her ankle.”

“The parents of the kid tried to sue my aunt (who owns the land). Now there are no attendees under 21, full stop.”

“Obviously, it’s highly unlikely anything like that would happen to these kids — but me, personally? I wouldn’t want them there at a party-in-the-woods kind of camping event, either. NTA, OP.”blackesthearted

“Having a bunch of kids around alcohol and drinking/drunk adults is also SUCH a liability.”

“This isn’t Europe. If something were to happen to those children while everyone, including their parents, were drinking, everyone present could be charged with child endangerment.”

“It’s fine to not shield your children from those things. IMO (in my opinion), it needs to be a bit more normalized so the whole, ‘forbidden’ aspect is nulled and there’s less temptation.”

“But that’s in the privacy of your own home. Not a camping area full of drunk adults.”veloxaraptor

Others couldn’t believe the father was so pushy about bringing his kids.

“That should be enough that any responsible parent should know that they can’t party down and supervise their children in such a place. Hold your ground. It sounds like you’re protecting your co-worker from himself.”asymphonyin2parts

“Oof with substances in play, it definitely wouldn’t be safe for a 4 and 6-year-old.”

“When everyone’s trying to have a good time and is clearly inebriated, no one is going to be able to take care of those children. They’re too young to be able to take care of themselves, even if they can ‘play independently and go to bed early.’ If y’all are partying in the same vicinity as the tents, I doubt they’d sleep very soundly anyway.”

“So then with edibles and weed coming into the mix, that’s a hard no on children. What happens if they see a brownie / cookie / candy bar / whatever edibles y’all have bought and eat it? (Because what kid doesn’t love sweets??)”

“And then the potential of getting a second-hand high, I can only imagine how poorly that would end up for the kids. A high can be scary enough as an adult. NTA for not wanting to endanger children while out in the woods with a bunch of inebriated adults.”h*edownthrowdown1

“You need to express this in the future (and very soon to this guy – he may try to crash it thinking you’ll cave when they get there).”

“A lot of people think in very black and white ways; this guy may not be considering the fact that it could be dangerous to have children there and pissy for that reason. Sometimes, you have to really spell this stuff out for people.”wheres_jaykwellin_at

“If he complains again you should just look at him with utter disbelief and say you can’t believe he has so little concern for his children’s safety or something like that.”Worthless_Tired

It’s fair that the father might be missing some time around people, and even to get out of the house with his wife, especially after the year that everyone has had.

But as this subReddit pointed out, there are so many risks to bringing children to a party like this. They’ll need to decide if this party is important enough to get a babysitter or to simply wait until the next party.

Written by McKenzie Lynn Tozan

McKenzie Lynn Tozan lives in North Chicago, where she works as a poet, freelance writer, and editor. She received her MFA in Creative Writing from Western Michigan University, and her BA in English from Indiana University South Bend. Her poems have appeared in Rogue Agent, Whale Road Review, the James Franco Review, Thank You for Swallowing, and elsewhere; and her essays and book reviews have appeared with Memoir Mixtapes, The Rumpus, BookPage, and Motherly, among others. When she's not reading and writing, she's in her garden or spending time with her family. For more, visit www.mckenzielynntozan.com.