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Single Mother Sparks Backlash After Demanding Widower Dad Of Two Not Be Let Into Mom Group Chat

father playing with his two children
Catherine Falls Commercial/Getty Images

Gender roles in a society centered on a gender binary—my paternal and maternal ancestors recognized five genders, not two—and the restrictions they place on women are very real.

But they also get a lot of light shined on them because the exclusions women face in those societies are often based around power, financial security and bodily autonomy.

Whereas the restrictions placed on men often center around stepping into stereotypically “feminine” spaces. Like being the primary—or only—caregiver for their children.

While society calls on men to take a more active role in their children’s upbringing, fathers often find parenting spaces exclusionary or centered on women.

Are there diaper changing stations in every men’s bathroom?

Are most parenting resources still labeled with mom or mommy instead of parent?

A woman who decided the parenting group at her daycare was moms only found herself in conflict with the other members. So she turned to the “Am I The A**hole” (AITA) subReddit for feedback.

Notcomfyaita asked:

“AITA for not wanting a guy included in our mom friend group?”

The original poster (OP) explained:

“I (35, female) am a single mother to 2 kids (5 & 3). Both my kids are in daycare, and over the years, I have built a solid friend group with a handful of other moms, and our kids regularly get together for play dates.”

“The father of my kids is not in the picture at all, and my relationship with him is non-existent. This is 100% for the best, and I am currently in therapy to deal with a lot of things that my ex did to me.”

“This friend group has literally been a lifesaver for me at times.”

“A few months ago, there were two new kids that started at our daycare center. They are similar in age to my kids and were placed in the same classes as them.”

“I noticed that their dad was the only parent to ever pick up or drop off the kids. He would try to make small talk with me a few times, but I am uncomfortable around strange men, so I would be polite but not engage further than that.”

“Our mom group has a group chat that we use to support each other and arrange play dates. A few weeks ago, one of the moms texted the group chat that she was adding this new dad to our group chat because he wanted to have his kids participate in play dates outside of daycare.”

“I privately texted that other mom and told her that I don’t feel comfortable with a man I don’t know having my contact information and told her that she should have consulted all of us before deciding on her own to add him to our group chat.”

“I then texted the rest of the moms and told them that I want them to keep a separate group chat without the other dad because I don’t know him, and it makes me uncomfortable.”

“This resulted in a lot of divided opinions, with about half of the moms agreeing to a separate chat and the other half saying that it would be too difficult to keep track of and that it is wrong to exclude another parent just because he’s a man and that I’m being unreasonable.”

“The mom I texted privately replied to me that she has talked with this dad numerous times, that he seems like a nice person and a good parent, and that his kids shouldn’t be excluded if they want to hang out with their friends outside of daycare.”

“She told me I am being difficult and making this all harder than it needs to be.”

“The other day when I picked up my kids, my 5-year-old was upset because a bunch of his friends were talking about a playdate that he wasn’t invited to.”

“I texted the moms about it, and they said that they were getting the kids together with the new dad and didn’t invite my kids because of how I was acting.”

“I told them it was rude to exclude my kids like that, and a couple of the moms told me to grow up because that’s exactly what I was trying to do to this dad and his kids.”

“I’m at a loss because these moms have been so supportive to me in the past, and as soon as this dad comes into the picture, it’s like they pulled a 180 and didn’t seem to care at all.”

“There are still other moms who agree with me, but now it’s like our friend group has been divided by this.”

“Why does he have to be included in our long-standing group chat?”

“I don’t care if they text him on their own. I just don’t want men I don’t know having my contact information, it makes me uncomfortable.”

“Being a dad doesn’t make someone a good person. Just look at my ex.”

“Just because he’s a widower doesn’t mean he’s a good guy.”

“My trust needs to be earned, not just given out to anybody.”

The OP summed up their conundrum.

“My mom’s friend group has been divided because some moms want to include a dad and his kids in our group, and I am uncomfortable with it.”

“Some of the moms agree with me, but others are telling me I am being difficult and unreasonable.”

“Now my kids are being excluded from things. I think I might be an a**hole for not wanting a dad included in our mom friend group.”

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 the OP was definitely the a**hole (YTA).

“YTA. You absolutely have the right to set boundaries based on your own experiences and comfort level.”

“You absolutely don’t have any right to impose your boundaries on everyone around you.”

“You think this is a moms’ group chat with the sole purpose of women supporting women, but clearly, other members think it’s a parents’ group chat about interacting with and supporting other parents.”

“This dad is a single parent. His dead wife can’t join the group chat so his kids won’t get excluded by your unreasonable demands.”

“You’re scared and distrustful of men, so you can choose to keep them out of your social groups. But you can’t force your fears onto everyone else, which is what you decided to do.”

“Also, you claim, ‘My trust needs to be earned, not just given out to anybody,’ but you admit to giving it out automatically to the women who are added to the group.”

“If you’re uncomfortable in this space, then you need to leave. You can’t demand everyone conform to your needs.” ~ OglalaWinyan

“YTA. Oof, if this continues, the kids are going to pay the price.”

“Even back when I was a kid, men drove carpools, coached soccer, ran after-school computer clubs (that will give away my age), did tutoring, hosted birthday parties, dropped me off after sleepovers, and otherwise interacted in such a way that my parents ended up spending time with them and sharing contact info.

“They didn’t stay ‘strange men,’ but they started that way—and the reason they didn’t stay that way was because my parents interacted with them. Literally, everyone starts a stranger.”

“And that was 30-40 years ago when the “mom does everything” was much more normalized. It’s even more likely for her kids to be around dads now, whether or not they’re single parents.”

“Refusing the minimum amount of contact required to do things like plan play dates is going to affect her kids’ socialization in general, over time, if she doesn’t address it.”

“I empathize with her trauma; I truly do. She needs help. But this is not the way to deal with it.” ~ thievingwillow

“‘I’m not comfortable about this man simply because he’s a man and he exists, so I forbid you to be comfortable with him either. I’m so uncomfortable about his existence that I’m threatened by him even having my contact info or knowing my name. I forbid this group from including him in our completely innocuous chat group about mundane parenting topics and group-related functions.”

“Misandry, thou name is OP.”

“‘My child is upset that they are not invited to a play date because the man that I dislike for simply existing is attending. When I said that I was uncomfortable with him in our group, my intention was to exclude HIM and HIS KIDS from our chats and play dates. I never wanted you to exclude ME and MY KIDS! I did nothing wrong, and clearly he did by being a man and existing!’.”

“Well, she got her wish. She doesn’t have to participate in functions or play dates that he attends. Super awesome that she’s teaching her kids early to judge an entire gender by one or two terrible people that have wronged her and are that gender.”

“That’s going to translate well for everyone later in life when they start noticing things like race and sexual orientation and gender norms and religion and politics. A1 parenting there OP—you taught your kids misandry and how to be judgemental and exclusionary in one fell swoop.” ~ Amazing_Cabinet1404

“YTA. She has issues, and she wants to man bash with her ‘mommy group’, who she uses for her therapy between her appointments. Sounds like she has more issues than National Geographic, especially with people who happen to be male.”

“She is unwilling to even attempt to get to know him because of her hang-ups. She has zero consideration that as a widower, he is a single parent and would benefit from the support of these other parents.”

“I have a suspicion that this mommy group is tired of being her in-between therapist stand-ins. Too bad it is her kids who will suffer from the consequences of her hang-ups.” ~ tillieze

“YTA. In her comment OP says her trust needs to be earned, yet she actively refuses to engage with this dad. Like how dense can you be?” ~ Papatrev4ever

“I can tell her kids are young because she hasn’t already had her contact info added to a bunch of group chats with random people she doesn’t know for her kids’ 1,000 activities.”

“YTA. She needs to work this out with her therapist. She will have to at least casually interact with men and fathers as her kids get older.”

“My son does basketball, and I just got added to a group chat with a bunch of dads without anyone asking me. No big deal. it’s just used for reminders and letting the coach know when we won’t be there.” ~ InfiniteLIVES_

“YTA. She asked to be excluded. She was excluded. Maybe next time she’ll think before she makes a demand.”

“She has all the right in the world to set the boundary she did, but she can’t then reasonably be upset at the other parents for following and respecting that boundary.”

“But of course, she didn’t actually want to be excluded.”

“What really happened here is she thought she was so loved/important/etc… to this group that they wouldn’t dare exclude her and would instead exclude the new parent for the crime of being a man.”

“Now that she’s found out she isn’t that special, she’s upset. Too bad.” ~ AsherTheFrost

“She sounds like one of those high school girls who think they’re living in a TV show who doesn’t see her friends as actual people and instead views them as her entourage. ‘You’re not allowed to be friends with him, I don’t like him’.”

“She doesn’t seem to realize people can just stop being friends with her. YTA.” ~ PurpleFlavoredCherry

“YTA. Oh God, organizing stuff with young kids is such a pain already at the best of times.”

“What sweet Hell is it when some random mom hijacks the group dedicated to that to serve as her own on-call support group on top of everything else?” ~ nottherealneal

“YTA. Your hypocrisy astounded me. They followed your wishes in theory.”

“They didn’t invite you where Dad was coming. You’re just mad you got the boot and not him.” ~ throwthedough1

“By her logic, it’s okay to leave his kids completely isolated and not involve them because it’s a father as a single parent.”

“So his kids can suffer, but not hers. She sounds a bit entitled to me—unable to put herself in other’s shoes.” ~

“YTA: And quite frankly, well done to the other mums not caving in to pressure from you to exclude another single parent trying to do the best for their children.”

“As women, we have suffered with discrimination for centuries and felt firsthand how difficult life can be when you’re not taken seriously in a role simply because of your gender.”

“Now you want to exclude a fellow single parent (and his innocent children) simply because he is a dad when he seems to have given no reason for you to distrust him.”

“As a society, we love to criticize how men don’t do enough for their children. Meanwhile, you’re actively trying to exclude a father who is making an effort to socialize his children and build friendships.”

“I am sorry you’re dealing with past trauma, but if you don’t feel comfortable communicating with him, that does not give you the right to try to force others to exclude him and his children.”

“Single dads deserve an emotional support network too. It’s up to you to step back if that is what’s best for you. But you need to accept the repercussions that will have on your children.” ~ Sun_Sea_and_Sony

“YTA. For several years, I was that dad. I brought my child to a birthday party at someone’s house, for example, and there was a bit of an awkward exchange before the mother invited me in.”

“The mothers of every other child at the party were all there and knew each other. I was the only father there and the only one who didn’t already know everyone.”

“I am fortunate that this woman invited me into her home because that was the first step in getting to know the moms and the moms getting comfortable with me. It was a lot harder for me, but I was eventually brought into the mom group.”

“At the end of the day, we all just want our kids to be happy and safe. I don’t care if my child’s friend has two dads. I don’t care if my child’s friend is a different race or from another country. I don’t care if my child’s friend practices a different religion.”

“I just want my child to be able to be a kid and play with other kids. All I’m trying to say is this: dads are parents too!” ~ junkman21

The OP didn’t provide any updates or indication she took her judgment to heart.

Hopefully, she can work through her issues regarding her ex before her children start school full time.

The men she doesn’t know might be teachers, administrators, support staff, and bus drivers. Fathers will be volunteers for activities her children want to participate in.

She’ll be inundated with men she doesn’t know who need her contact information—or she can choose to isolate and exclude her children.

It sounds like getting to know this father was an opportunity she wasted.

Written by Amelia Mavis Christnot

Amelia Christnot is an Oglala Lakota, Kanien'kehá:ka Haudenosaunee and Metís Navy brat who settled in the wilds of Northern Maine. A member of the Indigenous Journalists Association, she considers herself another proud Maineiac.