There are lots of ways to show respect.
Using preferred names, standing up straight, even something as simple as a smile can be interpreted as respectful.
What happens, though, when the form of respect you’re looking for isn’t given?
This was the difficulty facing Redditor and Original Poster (OP) aita-respect when he came to the “Am I the A**hole” subReddit for clarity.
“AITA for wanting my son to call me ‘Dad’ instead of my name?”
He jumped right to the problem.
“So, my (38-male) son (16m) started addressing me by my first name instead of ‘dad’ – I’m not okay with it.”
OP tried to communicate his preference to his son.
“I had asked him to not call me by my first name and he said he can call me however he wants, and I can’t force him to call me dad.”
“My wife (his mom) told me not to get too hung up on this, since it really isn’t an issue, I told her that it is an issue, for me – just not an issue for her since son still calls her mom.”
“Yesterday, I sat my son down – and asked him to please stop calling by my first name.”
Son’s choice brought consequences.
“He refused – and so, I grounded him – took away his electronics and only give him access when he needs it for school.”
“I’m not going to just be disrespected like this in my own home, and told him once he learns some manners will the punishment be lifted.”
“To say the least, he’s pretty angry with me and doesn’t understand why I’m so hung up on not being called ‘dad’.”
“My wife is now staying out of it. but did tell me I’m going too far – and that son is just a teenager and that I should know how teenagers are.”
OP was left to wonder about whether he’d gone too far.
“so, here I am now asking if I really am an a**hole – AITA?”
With his wife offering no further opinion, OP came to Reddit for advice.
Redditors weighed in by declaring:
- NTA – Not The A**hole
- YTA – You’re The A**hole
- NAH – No A**holes Here
- ESH – Everyone Sucks Here
Redditors decided: ESH
Some felt that this might be a sign of something larger.
“I really, really wouldn’t want to presume what’s going on in your life, so discard this if it doesn’t jive, but to me, the most striking thing about the account is not your son’s behavior but your wife’s behavior.”
“She wouldn’t or couldn’t see this as an issue while you clearly did.”
“One reason a teen will call one parent ‘mom’ and the other by a first name is because they’re demonstrating allegiances.”
“One way to address your child’s behavior might actually be to work on your relationship with your wife.”
“Even over this disagreement: she couldn’t see this issue from your point of view, and it’s entirely possible you’re missing something that she’s seeing too.”
“The kid is out of line, no doubt, but if they are picking up on tension between you and your wife that might account for it.”
“I always recommend marital counseling even to happily married couples. It’s a wonderful opportunity to talk about uncomfortable things in a non-stigmatizing environment.”
“If you and your wife are able to function more as a unit then your son may well have more difficulty perceiving you as separate enough entities to have it make sense that one would be “mom” and the other a first name.”~Appropriate-Low-4850
Others had more interesting advice.
“When I was 5 I did this to my mum and she said ‘I’m changing my name’ and wouldn’t respond to mum or her real name for about 30 minutes until I was in tears asking her what she changed it too and she said ‘Rumpelstiltskin’. “
“Your kid is just doing it to get a rise out of you. Grounding him won’t do anything.”
“Change your name to Rumpelstiltskin, because that apparently works.”~ahhhd*mm
“I did this to a coworker who couldn’t / wouldn’t get my name correct, the passive aggression was obvious.”
“His name was William.”
“I would call him Kyle, Ryan, Jeff, Chad or any name that came to mind that wasn’t William.”
“He was one of 2 men there and the other guy had a very distinct name so there was no way he would be confused.”
“It didn’t take long for William to get his head right.”~Sea-Spray-5987
People chided OP for his reaction.
“Your kid is being a little sh*t, but you’re rising to the bait.”
“Did you know two people can play that game?”
“Did you ever have a super-embarrassing nickname for him during his toddler days? Like “little poopsie-whoopsie”? Maybe it’s time to dust that sh*t off and give him a taste of his own medicine.”
“Him: Ok Charles.”
“You: Well thank you so much for being so helpful little pumpkin pie!”
“Double points if you can drop it in front of some of his friends…”
“*Yes, I know, this would make me an a**hole to. But I am. I’ll wear that.*”~New-Perception670
Some pointed to the similarities between OP and his son.
“There’s some interesting symmetry here.”
“You asked him why he changed what he calls you; he doesn’t answer and just says he can call you what he likes.”
“People here ask you why it’s important to you; you don’t give a reason and say it just feels less respectful, just because.”
“Neither of you understand the other’s motivations.”
“It sounds like you’ve made some kind of initial effort, maybe, to understand his, but there hasn’t been a real, connected conversation in which you explain why it’s important to you and say that you’d really like to understand his reasons.”
“It sounds like at the moment it’s just a case of: ‘respect my authority because I tell you to’ vs. ‘no I don’t want to’.”
“I know that’s what a lot of parent-child relationships are built on but personally I believe it doesn’t really help either person to grow or be happy.”
“I would say that it’s up to you to take the conversation beyond where it currently is and put some more effort towards creating mutual understanding.”
“With that in mind, I’d err on the side of YTA but not massively.”
“It doesn’t sound like you’ve made your fundamental reasons for wanting to be called ‘dad’ clear enough, so I don’t think the punishment is really justified.”~OmariZi
Respect is something that we all need.
The difficulty, of course, is that sometimes respect requires vulnerability.
Let’s all try to be a little more respectful of those around us, and a little more open about how we want to be respected.