We’re human, so we’ve all made mistakes or said something we shouldn’t have at some point.
Fortunately, most of us have the good sense to apologize when we mess up, even if it takes a little while to do it, pointed out the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit.
But Redditor throwaway528272 was pretty convinced that, since he’d meant to make a joke, that he shouldn’t have to apologize after hurting his daughter’s feelings.
But when his daughter and wife both essentially stopped talking to him, the Original Poster (OP) wondered if he was wrong for joking around.
He asked the sub:
“AITA for making a harmless joke about my daughter’s acne?”
The OP thought he was being supportive of his teenage daughter.
“This happened a few days ago. I (43 Male) have a daughter (16 Female) that is obviously going through puberty and just like any other teen, she is seeing a lot of changes in her body, most recently acne in her face and arms.”
“I try to be supportive of her and I have bought her special soaps and creams to help her control it although I haven’t seen much difference or I don’t think they really help that much.”
But then he made an inappropriate joke.
“Anyways, the other day at the dining table, she was complaining to her mother and I about how the soaps I have bought haven’t been working on her and that she feels very uncomfortable, so she asked if we could take her to the dermatologist to help her with her acne.”
“I then told her that she should just befriend the pimples since nothing she has been doing has helped and they just wanted to be a part of her, all in a very sarcastic tone.”
“I thought my daughter and wife would take it as it is, humor, but they both got really mad at me.”
The feud didn’t end that night, either.
“My daughter stormed to her bedroom, and my wife started scolding me, telling me I was a bad father while also telling me to apologize to her, since those comments can really affect her.”
“I told them I was just joking and that they should stop being party poopers and killing the mood.”
“My daughter hasn’t talked to me since that day and my wife thinks I am a huge a**hole for what I did and only talks to me to tell me to apologize.”
“AITA for making a harmless joke?”
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 being incredibly insensitive.
“Honestly, I could probably forgive the joke, you know we all say dumb s**t while trying to be funny, even if it’s hurtful.”
“But what I think makes the OP a huuuuuuge a**hole is that fact that when told ‘your comment hurt me,’ his response was, ‘it was obviously a joke, you’re just too sensitive and need to get a sense of humor,’ rather than, ‘I’m sorry I hurt you, I was trying to be funny.'” – jessieeeeeeee
“Uh, yeah, of course, YTA.”
“She’s insecure and having trouble with her appearance and what do you do? Decide that a joke would be appropriate. She’s clearly sensitive about the acne and asking for help, so why poke fun at that? How insensitive of you.”
“This is why children have trouble coming to their parents with their insecurities because they joke about them and treat the insecurity as less than.”
“It’s really sad that you’re wondering if you should apologize or not. If someone’s feelings get hurt, there’s nothing harmless about the joke.” – meIodramaz
“I really hope OP apologizes for being insensitive and doesn’t drop the, ‘I’m sorry if I hurt your feelings with my joke’ line, which is NOT an apology. I hate it when people act like others are should bear responsibility for their screw-ups.”
“Fun fact: If you feel that someone else is the AH, then you’re not sorry for what you did.”
“And by the way, if your ‘joke’ made someone sad or upset, then it wasn’t ‘harmless.’ YTA.” – randocollision
“Teens in puberty need their parents as shelter from exactly those kinds of insults.”
“This is your kid, you’re sensitive enough to see she’s already having a hard time, why would you want to make a joke at her expense?” – No_Appointment_7232
“Something I’ve come to realize recently is that there are really two separate questions in issues like this – what you intended and what your impact was.”
“You didn’t intend to hurt your daughter. You intended to lighten the mood.”
“Your impact, though, was different. You hurt her, deeply. This is probably something that she is getting mocked for at school, and probably something she already hates about herself.”
“Ultimately, it doesn’t matter what your intent was. It matters what your impact was.”
“When you find out you’ve hurt someone, you apologize. Now you know. Now you know that’s not a joke to her. Having the impact of hurting someone without the intent doesn’t mean you’re a bad person or irredeemable – it means that once you know, now you have the chance to fix it.”
“OP, YTA. But you still have a chance to make this right.”
“PS: About your wife – maybe sit down with her. It sounds like she was reacting to more than just this comment. Is this a pattern that she was trying to highlight? Is something more going on? Listen – really listen.”
“Because if this is part of something bigger, if you’re hurting the people you love most – your wife and your daughter – you have a decision to make. Are you going to get defensive and double down, or are you going to listen and learn?” – ladybuglily
Others were alarmed that the OP made a joke when his daughter was asking for help.
“The timing of it is what’s most upsetting and revealing to me. After the daughter asks to see a dermatologist is when the ‘joke’ is made that she should welcome her acne. Once dad has to potentially spend more money on treatment is when the “joke” is made that she should accept it.”
“Asking for medical care is sometimes very difficult and uncomfortable and to make her feel worse/shut her down right after asking is an absolutely horrible thing to do. I’m hoping the daughter doesn’t have trauma, in concern to asking for doctors, from this!” – furiously_curious12
“YTA some teenagers have acne that won’t clear up without prescription medication. She turned to you, her father, for help. Instead of reassuring her that you would get her the medical care she needs, you humiliated and mocked her.”
“Man up and be her father: Apologize for humiliating her with your not funny ‘Dad humor’ joke. Take her to a dermatologist.” – Fantastic_Nebula_835
“Not to mention that if the acne is bad enough to not be clearing up with over-the-counter soap and face wash, she might cystic acne which is physically painful.”
“It’s a lot less funny when you need a round of antibiotics first.” – marigoldilocks_
“I had acne at that age, and I was very sensitive about it. I would have been absolutely devastated and humiliated if my dad made a joke about my skin.”
“OP, apologize profusely, then take your daughter to the dermatologist as soon as possible.” – chickenfightyourmom
“YTA. The first clue that you were TA was when you insisted you were ‘just joking.’ That’s a kneejerk response by a person who was being mean and uncaring when the target of it gets hurt and offended.”
“If OP has truly been buying soaps and whatever for her acne, you knew she was very sensitive and bothered by the acne. Yet you still went there for a joke at her expense, but only you laughed. Because it wasn’t funny, it was mean.”
“After you apologize to daughter and admit to your wife you were wrong and hurtful, you do need to talk to wife about a medical appointment. If the daughter hasn’t had an appt with her doctor/pediatrician where her acne was seriously discussed (as in meds that might be useful, dietary changes, hygiene, etc.), think about that first.”
“If the doctor has been unhelpful, then yes a dermatologist is the next step: acne is often part of puberty (but is worse in some people than others depending on skin type and genetics) and some things can make it worse: not washing often enough, washing too often, using the wrong kind of soap or lotion, diet, etc.”
“Worse cases need meds to prevent horrible permanent scarring which your daughter really doesn’t want or need since she’s already sounding like she feels down on herself. But make sure doctor or dermatologist is thorough: not just meds first until a full exam and history of what’s been tried is done.” – farsical111
After receiving feedback, the OP shared an update.
“After reading all of these comments non-stop for about an hour, I want to apologize to anyone that felt offended because of my actions or because they remembered a sad time in their lives.”
“I want to say that I will apologize to my daughter and wife and I will try to be more supportive next time with my daughter since we are all different and not because I, a grown man, can withstand criticism, means she can do it.”
“I will be more supportive of her and I will for sure seek professional help to fix her problem.”
“I can see not everyone appreciates my way of thinking and I will also avoid making comments that might hurt my loved ones.”
But some Redditors were not convinced by the OP’s apology.
“Even his edit is condescending, ‘I, a grown man, can take criticism.’ No, he’s just a bully, and picking on his daughter’s insecurities isn’t cool.” – winterXwhispers
“That edit, ugh, the ‘apology’ – not because he said something insensitive, but because he forgot, ‘not everybody can deal with críticism.’ YTA.” – elalejoveloz
“About your edit, OP – even your apology is half-a**ed.”
“We’re not ‘telling you about a sad time in our lives.’ We’re telling you, from our own lived experience, how crushing and devastating this kind of ‘joke’ is, so YOU understand how awful your daughter feels, because of WHAT YOU DID. YOU made your daughter feel devastated.”
“Picture your boss at work, in front of your whole team, mocking you for something horribly sensitive. You don’t belong there? No one likes you?”
“The women there think you’re creepy? Think about how you’d feel. That’s how you made your OWN DAUGHTER feel.”
“You need to apologize abjectly, and you need to take your daughter yourself, to the dermatologist, so she can get the help she needs. And please do some work on something called ’empathy.'” – ThaneOfCadorrrr
“It doesn’t matter if the joke was funny or not, nor the intentions you had. As soon as you saw it upset her (especially to this degree), just apologize.”
“The fact you waited a day, came to Reddit to ask a bunch of strangers, read the thread for an hour, and then finally apologized is so weird.”
“YTA by a mile – not because of the joke so much as you were so determined to not just say sorry to your poor daughter.” – Dukeish
While he thought he was saying something funny, it was clear that it wasn’t funny to the rest of the OP’s family. The most important thing to the subReddit was for the OP to understand that jokes only work if they are funny to everyone, and if they are not, an apology is likely in order.