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Parent Called Out For Not Forcing Older Daughter To Invite Sister To Sit At Popular Table At Lunch

Girl holding a tray in cafeteria
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Not all of us want to look back and remember the teen years, and for good reason. For some, high school is the absolutely worst season of their lives, and it’s best left in the past.

That’s often due to not being able to find a social group where we feel like we belong, reasoned the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit.

Redditor Ok-Combination7341 could see that their younger daughter was struggling after losing the only friend that she had, while her older sister was popular.

But when their partner encouraged the older sister to invite her sister to the popular table at lunch time, the Original Poster (OP) wasn’t convinced that was the right approach, either.

They asked the sub:

“AITA for siding with my daughter that she doesn’t need to invite her sister to the ‘popular table’?”

The OP’s daughters were in very different friend groups.

“Both of my daughters are in high school. My oldest (Cindy) is 16 and my youngest (Emily) is 14.”

“Cindy is quite popular, she is on the volleyball team and has a huge friend group.”

“My youngest isn’t very popular and her friend (Beth) is her main friend or ex-friend.”

“It also doesn’t help that she is into hobbies most other high schoolers don’t care about (knitting, tree-shaping, and art club, which she recently quit).”

The OP’s younger daughter, Emily, recently needed some company.

“Emily and Beth got into a fight and Beth is not speaking to her anymore.”

“Emily is sitting alone at lunch now.”

“This came out yesterday and my husband wants Cindy to invite her to sit with her group of friends at the ‘popular table.'”

“Cindy refused saying she doesn’t want to do that.”

“My husband was mad but when he tried to get me to back him up, I told him Cindy has every right to not want her little sister in her friend group. I told him that he couldn’t do that to her and that Emily needed to make her own friends.”

The OP had other reasons for not forcing Cindy to include Emily.

“I just think Emily should have her own friends, not have to be forced to include her and force her friend groups to accept her.”

“She is allowed to have her own friends not attached to other family members.”

“I don’t think that will help it it will cause resentment, also now half the week it’s clear she is only getting an invite and it becomes more clear that the group doesn’t want you there.”

“I think it’s a lot worse to sit with people you know they don’t want you there and your invite being a pity invite.”

“Also, I can’t control her friends. What if Cindy loses a friend for trying to force her sister into the group?”

“This just sounds like a s**t situation in all. Even worse, what if they talk about something sensitive in the group and Emily uses it in a future argument between them?”

“This isn’t a good idea.”

The family was divided over the situation.

“My husband is p**sed at me and Cindy.”

“Emily is super upset that she doesn’t have people to eat with.”

“And now I am wondering if I made the right call or if I am being a jerk.”


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 agreed with the OP that Emily needed to find her own way.

“NTA. And I know what it feels like, my parents made me do it. My brother had fewer friends than me, and my father forced me to eat with him every day.”

“Of course, I’d gather some friends to the table. They were nice to my brother but weren’t very interested in him since we had a few years of age difference. My brother always tried to bring attention to himself and was angry when I wouldn’t do something with him in public.”

“My friends made me understand that his presence was not appreciated.”

“Even if it seems hard for Emily, I’m sure she’ll find a few friends to build her own circle, even if it takes some time.” – Leornado10

“NTA You can’t fix this for her. There are introverts and extroverts in the world. Emily may be upset, but it is part of growing up and people are different. Guide her where you can, but you are a guide and not a fixer. Don’t overparent.” – Lynfran

“NTA. Emily needs to make her own friends who share her views and interests.”

“I moved after middle school and started high school without friends for a while, I ate alone for about a month before I found a club that interested me, joined it, and made friends there.”

“Neither daughter is going to be happy if Emily is wedged into her sister’s friend group. Why would Emily enjoy spending time with kids she doesn’t share interest with?” – thaliagorgon

“My sister is a year older so we were consistently in the same schools. I have almost no memories of her in our high school. I don’t associate her with school at all. We had our own lives and friends. We are literally best friends now and spend most of our time together. We still have our own friends for the most part though.”

“Even as the younger sibling, I would’ve hated if my parents tried to force us together and it probably would have stopped us from becoming so close now that we’re in our 30s.”

“NTA OP, you are right that your daughter needs to find her own way because her sister will not be around soon and then she’ll have lost time when she could’ve found some really good friends. Some people, me being one of them, struggle to make good friends, but if they don’t try, then it’ll just hurt them in the future.” – Mo-2s2

“NTA. I found my best friend bc my sister finally kicked me away from her group during my freshman year of high school. It’s been almost 15 years and we’re like family. Emily needs friends, but her sister’s friends aren’t the answer.” – No-Engineering-2638

“You are NTA but what are you doing to help your younger daughter? When you say she has hobbies that most other people her age aren’t into, what do you mean? Is she on the spectrum or struggling with social interaction or is she simply a more shy introverted young lady?”

“The trouble with only having one friend is that when you fall out, you end up alone and feeling like crap. Your youngest is in the shadow of her popular pretty volleyball-playing sister and now her only friend has fallen out with her. The answer isn’t to hang out with her older sister’s friend group but to find other social outlets and make more friends who are into similar things.”

“She’s growing older and it’s normal to grow apart from friends as she changes and settles more into her own skin, but it must sting to feel like she’s the ugly unpopular little sister who can’t keep a friend.” – Lulubelle__007

“This is essentially what happens with our kids. Our daughter (16) is quite outgoing and has several friends; our son (15) is not outgoing, autistic, and doesn’t have many friends IRL at all (most are online – yes, we make sure he’s safe). He sits at lunch on his own most days and he says he doesn’t mind, but there are times that he gets upset that his sister has so many friends when he doesn’t.”

“I can’t imagine telling our daughter to force her to bring him over, so we don’t do that. However, every now and then, she leaves her friend group to sit with her brother to let him know that he’s not alone.”

“He really appreciates that and she doesn’t mind because regardless of how annoying she thinks he is, she’s very protective of him (going as far as punching one of his bullies… he hasn’t been bullied since).”

“I’d absolutely say NTA, but if they have a relationship that’s close enough, perhaps ask your daughter if she’d be okay with giving up a lunch with her friends every so often in order to help her sister not feel so alone.”

“If she says no, then don’t push it. But it doesn’t hurt to ask.” – AllowMe-Please

But others felt the OP was missing the bigger issue than the popular table.


“You don’t have to force your one daughter to accept your other daughter into her friend group. You are correct. But how do you not see the bigger issue?”

“You have a daughter who is lonely and isolated. You have another daughter who apparently shows absolutely no empathy towards her own sister. I had varying relationships with each my siblings but one thing I can guarantee you is that I wouldn’t have let any of them sit by themselves at lunch with no friends.”

“How would this not concern you as a parent? Is high school social dynamics so important to you and your one daughter that you would condone this behavior? That’s what your response indicates.” – AllDawgsGoToDevin

“I think OP should try and raise her older daughter with some compassion. Here is a thought. Why doesn’t the older sister go and sit with her younger sister (without her popular friends) just to give her sister some support?”

“Seems like op favors her popular daughter. I wonder if she would be okay if the roles were reversed YTA op and your popular daughter.” – excaliber2022


“What kind of sister/mother would be okay with seeing her family alone like that in high school? There is no reason why she couldn’t hang out at that table until she finds her own friends.”

“In my opinion, this comes down to what’s more important to you to instill in your children, family or popularity?” – askewboka

“Soft YTA. I don’t this abandonment by her own sister, older sister can learn to be kinder. This whole thread is so American individualistic thinking ‘figure out on your own’ in a ‘dog eat dog world.'”

“We all will have battles in this world but there’s nothing wrong with showing kindness and leaning on each other in time of need.”

“Eating alone at lunch is so traumatic.” – NTX_Mom

“YTA. I taught my kids growing up, family first, love, respect, and protect each other. My son and daughter, they are two and a half years apart. They have been best friends since childhood. He officiated her wedding. You did not set a precedent while they were growing up.” – 68Snowflakes


“Emily will remember that you put Cindy’s popularity above helping her feel less s**tty and alone.”

“No, Cindy doesn’t have to permanently integrate Emily into her social circle, but she should be kind enough to temporarily offer her younger sister a spot at the table (and even, God forbid, have enough integrity to defend her family if her popular friends start being s**tty to her sister).” – bluejaybby

“It certainly sounds like OP favors Cindy over Emily. I don’t see any compassion for Emily in the post; just concern that Cindy’s popularity isn’t affected.”

“If Cindy loses a friend because she included her sister at the lunch table, is that the type of friend that Cindy should care about?”

“And what the h**l does ‘even worse they talk about something sensitive in the group and Emily uses it in a future argument’ even mean? Do these girls fight often? What would even be discussed over lunch that Emily could bring up?”

“IT’S LUNCH AT HIGH SCHOOL. It’s not parties on the weekend and every social event. The compassionate thing for Cindy to do would be to explain to her friends that her younger sister is having a hard time and could she sit with them at lunch until she makes some friends her own age?”

“OP, the other thing that really bothers me about your post and your defense of Cindy is the lack of concern about what this could do to Cindy and Emily’s relationship long-term. Cindy has the opportunity to be a compassionate big sister and is choosing not to be. Hopefully, this doesn’t drive a permanent wedge between them.”

“Family should be more important than high school popularity contests. YTA.” – Miserable-Arm-6797

This was one of those situations where there wasn’t a perfect yes or no answer to give, and it was more about priorities than anything else.

Some agreed with the OP that Emily needed to find her own way to encourage her individuality, independence, and surrounding herself with like-minded people.

But others felt this was more of an issue of support and empathy, both of which some felt the OP and her older daughter were lacking.

It was clear Emily needed to try to find some new friends, but it was unclear how she would feel about her family when she looked back on this moment in the future.

Written by McKenzie Lynn Tozan

McKenzie Lynn Tozan has been a part of the George Takei family since 2019 when she wrote some of her favorite early pieces: Sesame Street introducing its first character who lived in foster care and Bruce Willis delivering a not-so-Die-Hard opening pitch at a Phillies game. She's gone on to write nearly 3,000 viral and trending stories for George Takei, Comic Sands, Percolately, and ÜberFacts. With an unstoppable love for the written word, she's also an avid reader, poet, and indie novelist.