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Parent Torn After Daughter Wants To Display Family Portrait She Drew That Excludes Her Brother

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We’ve all heard of sibling rivalries, siblings picking on each other, and even siblings not liking each other very much.

But most wouldn’t go so far as to say that they wish their siblings literally did not exist, pointed out the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit.

Redditor Diligent-Tea-4379 was at a loss for what to do next when their daughter presented them with a family portrait she put a lot of effort into, only to realize she had intentionally not included her brother in it.

When their husband insisted they still hang the portrait, to show their support of her artistic abilities, the Original Poster (OP) wasn’t sure what to think.

They asked the sub:

“WIBTA (Would I Be the A**hole) for not wanting to hang up my daughter’s artwork?”

The OP was upset when they saw the family portrait their daughter drew.

“My daughter (12) is a very good artist, and recently unveiled something she was working on for a couple of weeks: A portrait of our family, and she wants to hang it in the house.”

“This isn’t a picture of stick figures, this is a semi-realistic charcoal sketch of me, my husband, our dog, and our cat.”

“But my son and her brother (10) isn’t in the picture. My daughter claims that she ‘forgot,’ and ‘there wasn’t any room for him in the picture,’  but I am very sure she did it on purpose.”

This wasn’t just a family portrait without her brother in it.

“To explain why I am sure this was on purpose, I have two reasons.”

“First off, the portrait depicts me next to my husband, and my daughter between us with the cat on her lap. The dog is next to us all. I am no artist myself, but it’s very clear just what my daughter was trying to say.”

“Second, my daughter has always had a very adversarial relationship with my son. She has always tried to get him in trouble, bullied him, and resented him for existing.”

“My son doesn’t do much to aggravate her anymore at least. (He used to try to get on her nerves, but that stopped during the lockdown.) He doesn’t go into her room, he doesn’t try to take her things, he only reacts to her.”

“Most days he’s never in the same room except for meals. And even when we have meals, he never talks to her, she never says anything to him, but at least they aren’t fighting.”

The OP felt conflicted about showing support for their daughter’s artistic gifts.

“The picture took her a couple of weeks to do, and this isn’t something on an A4 piece of paper. This was done on a canvas (18 x 24) with charcoal.”

“It was pretty clear that a lot of work was put into it, yet she could include our dog and our cat, but not her brother.”

“My husband thinks it would be rude not to hang it up, but I am pretty sure that our son will feel excluded because he wasn’t in the picture.”

“My husband says that this is actually an improvement since the last time our daughter drew our son, it was done to anger him.”

“This is of course raising red flags to me that he considers exclusion to be ‘improvement.’ (Yes, she has used her art to demean my son in the past.)”

The OP was at a loss for what to do.

“My son is aware of what my daughter did, but he’s trying to put up a brave front. He tries to say that my daughter doesn’t bother him, but I know it really does hurt him. I know his tells.”

“I am thinking that maybe not wanting to hang it up might cause discouragement for her that we don’t want to show it off to anyone.”

“So I am wondering: WIBTA if I didn’t want to hang this in the house because my daughter didn’t draw her whole family?”

The OP clarified in a comment her daughter’s feelings about her brother.

“My daughter is already in therapy, because she did things like telling her teachers, ‘I don’t have a brother,’ she made him miss the bus by lying about which bus he was supposed to take home from school, and I have seen her draw pictures of her brother as a bearskin rug.”

“I asked what on earth he does to her to ‘justify’ such behavior, and her response is that she never wanted him, she never asked for him, and we should never have had him.”

“I have asked her brother what his issues with his sister are, and his response is always about how mean she is and how he has decided to just ignore her.”

The OP also clarified some of her son’s problem behaviors from “before.”

“My son basically stopped acknowledging her existence in 2020 when he was about 8-9.”

“Before that, he used to do the standard ‘I’m not touching you, see?’ stuff while holding his hand a few inches away from her, playing movies/TV shows she hated, dried her toothbrush once, smacked himself, and yelled. ‘OW! OW! OW! DAD! HELP!’ to get her off the computer…”

“He’d argue, fight over wanting the last piece of pizza/cake or the last cookie, arguing that they wanted to watch different movies or TV shows, scribbling over her drawings, wearing her pencils and crayons down into a nub… (I am actually glad they don’t use crayons anymore…)”

“However, those were the times he was the aggressor. A lot of the times, it was my daughter.”

“I did not think this was horrible because that was the sort of stuff that most kids do to their siblings. Right now, what he must do to elicit this behavior is ignore her. If she is in the room with him, he will either leave or just pretend she isn’t there.”

“The biggest red flag of my daughter’s behavior is that she says her biggest problem with her brother is that ‘he exists.'”

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 concerned about the son’s mental health and physical safety.

“I had a younger brother and, to be fair, he was very aggravating without intending to be. He was always coming into my room, looking at my magazines, and listening to my records.”

“My parents told him over and over to stop it and there were consequences, but he’d wander in any way like a moth to a flame. That went on until he was about 9 or 10 when he got more interested in his own stuff and started to ignore me.”

“It’s easy to blame the parents but it sounds like the daughter has resented the boy since he was born. It is not normal for a 12-year-old to completely eliminate her younger brother from a family portrait no matter how aggravating he once was.” – DaffyDoesIt

“None of the daughter’s behavior sounds normal when you put it together. Trying to trap him in the trash or under a deck is dangerous.”

“When he was young enough not to know which bus to take home from school, she lied and tried to put him on the wrong one. Maybe she was hoping he would end up going to a random location, getting lost, and never coming back?”

“Combined with the drawings of him dead or missing and her insistence that he shouldn’t exist, the rest sounds less like normal sibling behavior and more like genuine attempts to get rid of him. If I was OP, I would be genuinely worried for his safety.” – MediumSympathy

“Most of these behaviors could be viewed as normal until the daughter started drawing him as a bearskin rug.”

“The brother completely ignores her, according to OP, and leaves the room when sis enters, but his sister continues to bully and abuse him. He needs way more support than it sounds like he’s getting.” – CheckIntelligent7828

“The daughter’s behavior seems to have started first, before the brother’s ‘annoying’ behaviors, and appears to be much darker: locking him in tight dark places, throwing him in the trash, drawing him as a bearskin rug, etc.”

“When asked why, she says, ‘He exists, I didn’t ask for him.'”

“Little brother’s behavior sounds like s**t one of my older brothers did to me growing up, normal sibling s**t we got over, while older sister’s behavior sounds like how my (abusive) father treated his younger brother. These are signs of serious aggression/disdain vs childish antics while learning empathy.”

“My father still thinks his brother is the worst for ‘just existing’ and ‘making me look bad (by being better)’… Meanwhile, my uncle is mentally ill and cannot live alone without being a suicide risk.”

“Yes, ‘boys will be boys’ parenting is foul, but it doesn’t appear that this is what is happening here.”

“OP’s daughter actually hates her brother, wants him dead, and has taken actions to try to remove him from the family.”

“Only when that was prevented and she was put into therapy did she start only removing him from the family symbolically. I can see why the husband thinks this is better, but it’s not.” – EarlAndWourder

Others questioned if there was more going on behind the scenes.

“What we seem to know: The son was at least annoying as a young kid. The daughter was no angel either. Sounds like normal sibling issues to me. As for what you see, it probably depends on what you grow up with though.”

“The son stopped his behavior and leaves her alone. For over a year now, the son leaves his sister alone and she continues to bully him. Frankly, that sounds like she is the golden child as she can do that and no parent cares.” – Ascentori

“Sounds like stuff my brothers did. Especially the one a year younger than me (I have three younger brothers terrible all of them). They got away with that stuff all the time.”

“I was constantly told to ‘just don’t talk to him,’ or ‘Ignore him,’ or my favorite, ‘stop antagonizing him.’ I dislike that one sibling. He was terrible to me and never was punished. Never got help. Instead, my parents put a child with anger issues into martial arts.”

“I don’t know what is happening with those siblings, but if the brother was never punished for pushing boundaries or simply being an a**, of course, the sister is going to despise him. Because she probably got in trouble instead.” – SheepherderHot4503

“She really glossed over that the son doesn’t aggravate her daughter ANYMORE. Like going into her room and taking her stuff, he just ‘reacts’ to her, which implies he used to torment her and stomp on her boundaries.”

“She makes a point of calling the daughter a bully and saying she tried to get him trouble, Probably because she was trying to get her parents to get control of him. Mommy excused her golden boy’s behavior, so of course, the daughter would resent him.”

“YTA.” – badkitty627

“YTA. Absent parenting led to this, and the son is just as much to blame as the daughter for them not getting along, but you’ve unfairly pinned all the blame on the daughter.”

“I’m not convinced the son hasn’t previously done something to elicit this behavior from her, especially since you state he doesn’t ‘do anything to aggravate her anymore.’ Ok, what did he used to do? You wouldn’t be the first parent to wave away their son’s wrongdoing.” – mzpljc

The subReddit had many concerns about this post, namely what initiated these behaviors and if family therapy was in the works.

But one thing they could absolutely agree on was to move forward with not hanging the picture. Whether or not the daughter had some justified reason to not want her brother in her life, that was not something she needed to detail in something she titled as a “family portrait,” and it wasn’t a vision the parents needed to support in their home.

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