In 2023, people are becoming much more mindful of what qualifies as racist and derogatory.
But some people have to do a lot of personal work to unlearn what they’re taught by families who have carried these negative beliefs through the generations, pointed out the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit.
Redditor ab2twt was happy to support his son in wanting to change his name to something more reflective of his beliefs, but he was concerned by how his daughter responded to the change.
When she lashed out, the Original Poster (OP) had no choice but to punish her.
He asked the sub:
“AITA for suspending my daughter’s allowance?”
The OP recently found out about the racist connotations of his son’s name.
“I (37 Male) have two children, my son who is 13, and my daughter who is 15.”
“My wife was the one who came up with the names for our kids, as I never had strong opinions on a baby name.”
“My wife decided to name our son after her great-grandfather, and I never questioned it and never bothered to learn more about him, which looking back, was probably a mistake.”
“A few months ago, our son was at a party with his friends from baseball, and they were sharing Tiktoks with each other. One of the boys shared a Tiktok about an ‘almost name’ (basically, like it sounds, what your parents almost named you). One of my son’s friends asked about my son’s names, and he mentioned who he was named after.”
“The boy decided to type the name into Google and was scrolling through results until he found something interesting.”
The OP’s son immediately wanted to change his name after that party.
“My wife’s great-grandfather was a state legislator in the Southern US before the civil rights era. As you may have guessed from that, he was a segregationist and voted in favor of bills to maintain segregation.”
“When we picked our son up from the party, he started to yell at us and we had to calm him down. He asked why we would name him after a bad guy like his great-grandpa.”
“This started some arguing in the car and when we got home later that night, we discussed it. Our son told us he talked to his friends and he was changing his name, and that was final.”
“My wife was a bit upset, she grew up here in the South when I’m originally from a hippie little town in New England. My wife has become a lot more accepting since we met, but this was still a bit hard for her. She eventually accepted it though, and moved on.”
The parents accepted the son’s name change, but his sister did not.
“We now refer to a name chosen by our son with the help of his friends, his classmates at school have started to use it, and while he’s had some issues, it hasn’t been terrible.”
“One of my son’s friends is a trans boy, and he has had it worse, though my son and his other friends always work on protecting the boy from bullying.”
“My son’s new name is one he’s proud of and named after someone he looks up to. Recently he got some items with his new name, like a men’s necklace and a sign in his room.”
The sister was so angry about the name change that she physically lashed out.
“The issue is, a few days after he got the items with his new name (which was two weeks ago), our daughter went and ruined them by breaking the chain on the necklace and banging his sign.”
“Our daughter doesn’t like the name change, saying her brother is just being a ‘sensitive zoomer’ and something about boys being too ‘weak’ these days. Our daughter has said ‘edgy’ stuff like this in the past year or so, even when we condemn her.”
“As a result of the damage, my wife and I told her we were suspending her allowance until the price of the damages was paid back. Our daughter is saying we are being unfair to her and has apologized for what she did.”
“My wife went on her Facebook mom’s group to ask for help, and most of the moms agreed we were too hard on her.”
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 reassured the OP that the punishment was reasonable… or even not enough.
“The monetary punishment perfectly fits the crime. She caused damages intentionally, so she pays for it. To be honest, she should really have additional punishment (e.g., grounding, phone privileges restricted, etc.); she shouldn’t get in the habit of thinking she can cause problems for others and simply buy her way out of it.”
“While her opinion sucks, I suppose she has the right to hold it. What she doesn’t have the right to do is damage others’ property because they don’t agree with her. That’s pretty sociopathic.”
“I would criticize your wife for wasting time on a Facebook mom’s group looking for advice; that’s one of the last places to get a reasonable opinion. Of course, I’m saying that while posting on Reddit, so…” – JsCTmav
“NTA. Your daughter purposefully broke items that were meaningful to her younger brother because she disagreed with something that has no actual impact on her. Suspending her allowance to pay for replacements is a perfectly fair and logical consequence. At fifteen, she needs to understand that just apologizing doesn’t make everything go away.” – IntrovertedBookMan
“NTA. Using her allowance to repay the items she broke (and not accidentally at that) is completely fair. After all, just apologizing won’t replace the things she broke.”
“It’s ironic that she accuses her brother of being too weak, but she herself can’t take the consequences of her own actions. That seems par for the course for people who call others weak.”
“But, you need to tackle this ‘edgy’ phase she is going through. She can dislike other’s choices all she wants, but she doesn’t have the right to break things just because she doesn’t like them. If she keeps this up, she is going to wind up arrested.” – bamf1701
“NTA. She’s 15, not five. She knew exactly what she was doing. It wasn’t an accident. She can pay to replace them.” – QueasyReveal4674
“NTA That is entirely proportional and fair (I’m a fairly laid-back mum of teens, too).”
“I think you and your wife handled your son’s concerns really well and were respectful about his feelings.”
“Your daughter obviously has some stuff going on. When you say she is being edgy, do you mean she is pushing boundaries about what is acceptable and what isn’t, like following more extreme views and perhaps saying stuff that isn’t socially acceptable? That sounds really challenging (and tiring), and I think you are aware needs careful handling.”
“Clamping down on her for them will lead to alienation and increase her belief in these viewpoints. (Your allowance punishment is okay because it is in relation to a separate event. Punishing extreme views doesn’t work; that is much more complex to manage and takes time.)”
“Would she attend therapy? If she isn’t listening to you and it is escalating, I’d recommend seeing a skilled counselor who works with this kind of issue. If it has been going on for a year, I’d be seeking help.”
“Sometimes it can just be a bit of teenage rebellion, but there’s a lot of dissatisfaction these days (quite understandably), and it can be easy to get swayed into believing in a cause. If she is feeling misunderstood at home, that can drive external belonging, too. I’d be looking for help now before the problem gets too big.” – South_Body_569
Others questioned the information the daughter was gaining from social media.
“NTA, but you need to lock down her internet access and monitor like you’re a three-letter agency.”
“The punishment is absolutely reasonable. Especially at this age. To get it over quicker, she can get a job or get more hours. To use your daughter’s emerging ideology against her… do the crime, do the time.”
“This isn’t being edgy. This is extremist talk using vocabulary extremists like to use. I see this talk in real life with some former church friends (we are no longer part of the church), and they have also left the church but became super conservative with some very hateful ideology, persecution complex (them against the world), and borderline cult-like in their religious and day-to-day living. These people find others like them and ONLY interact with people with the exact same views.” – maybeRaeMaybeNot
“You need to be scouring through every last bit of her internet history YESTERDAY. I would bet good money she’s already been or is well on her way to being radicalized. She’s angry at your son for not wanting to be named after a segregationist and is using the kind of language about it I’d expect from a racist grandpa on Facebook.”
“Alarms should be going off in your head. Start with YouTube history and TikTok likes.” – Merrik4t
“BUT GET AHOLD OF ALL HER INTERNET HISTORY YESTERDAY. THIS IS LANGUAGE USED BY PEOPLE BEING PUSHED TO A RADICALIZED RIGHT.” – AutoRedux
“NTA at all. Your daughter clearly needs discipline. The troubling crap about ‘zoomers’ and other edgy stuff suggests she’s getting fed a lot of right-wing nonsense on social media.”
“Regardless of what your political affiliation is, the idea that you can just destroy someone’s stuff because you don’t like their new name is a great way to end up in jail. At 15, she’s already far, far too old not to have learned this. Taking her allowance is a very gentle punishment.” – Remarkable-Intern-41
“NTA, but you have a bigger problem. Your daughter did not come up with this stuff on her own. Unless your wife is saying this stuff behind your back, your daughter is being fed some scary information through social media, YouTube, or her friends at school. You have to get to the bottom of this as soon as possible before it sticks.” – Latter-Shower-9888
Some agreed but wondered if the mother was at fault, too.
“OP, I’d look into what your wife or other relatives (could be either side, honestly) have been saying or excusing when they’ve been talking with your daughter. This is especially the case if you know that someone is a Lost Cause apologist. It could be that something that was said either recently or in the past is allowing your daughter to rationalize her attitude in her mind. What was said may have been deliberate or inadvertent, so tread cautiously.” – plsuh
“Look at his wife. She named her son after a segregationist. This s**t almost always starts at home. I wouldn’t be surprised if mom is less open-minded than the OP thinks.” – Own-Break9639
“I’d worry about the wife too, I don’t know if anyone said this yet, but that ‘Facebook mom group’ sounds ‘traditional’ and racist if they think this stuff is okay. Especially because mom sounds ‘traditional’ and racist herself.” – string-ornothing
“What your daughter is saying isn’t ‘edgy’… it’s downright hostile and shows she getting into alt-right radicalized ideologies that should be extremely worrying to you.”
“Although, I have a feeling your wife is not as accepting as you think and may be the source of at least some of it.” – chubbyunicorn13
“I get the feeling mom is the real problem here. She agrees with the daughter on some level but knows better than to act like a racist in front of her husband and son. So instead, she looks to mitigate the punishment by going shopping for a bunch of conservative women to give her the feedback she needs to rug sweep the daughter’s seriously inappropriate behavior.”
“OP, your wife is the driving force behind the daughter’s behavior. The daughter knows mom’s secretly in her corner and it’s made her brazen as h**l. NTA.” – theloveburts
“My first thought after reading the post was he needs to have a sit down with his wife and daughter. His wife had already named their son after a segregationist. How much else has she been excusing when it comes to what the daughter has been hearing?”
“You should probably check her YouTube and TikTok history and see what she’s watching and have a long conversation to find out where this is coming from. If it’s not nipped in the bud, your daughter might end up with a really messed up outlook.”
“Also, I just want to take a minute to point out how it’s kind of funny that the daughter (who is 15) called her brother (who is 13) a ‘sensitive zoomer.’ Like, she’s literally also a zoomer, what boomer did she hear that from?” – BigBlueWeenie88
The subReddit took absolutely no issue with the OP’s choice of punishment for his teenage daughter, though some wondered if the punishment should have been more extreme. The daughter not only needed to learn not to damage other people’s things but doing so because she didn’t agree with a name change that wasn’t her own was incredibly troubling.