Modern parenting has many pitfalls to navigate. Technology can make things like cyberbullying easy and keeping up with trends difficult.
But sometimes, it’s classic, old fashioned bullying that makes parenting so complicated. This is especially true when your family inadvertently supports the bullying.
MsAnonymouse84 of Reddit explained her situation with her two daughters to the “Am I The A**hole” (AITA) subReddit.
The Original Poster (OP) asked:
“AITA for telling my family they can’t see my daughters anymore, unless they treat both equally?”
The OP went in depth about her situation.
“I have two daughters, one aged 13 and one 14. It makes me cringe to write this, however… My 14 year old has done work as a child model, and my 13 year old is more plain.”
“They’re both gorgeous in the eyes of a mother, but I know very well it’s a significant difference in the eyes of society, and it breaks my heart.”
“Yes, we regret letting her model for catalogue items, even though clothing (including sewing) and Barbie fashion shows/photo shoots were her childhood passion.”
“No, we did not put her in gross pageants. Yes, I would rather she resent us now for not letting her take advantage of the job offers.”
“What my 13 year old supposedly lacks in her face, she makes up in sweetness. She is such a good girl, and no mother could ask for more.”
“We have frankly had trouble reigning in my 14 year old’s arrogance and increasing, bullying behavior. I cry at night sometimes knowing she has turned into that mean girl other girls fear, despite raising her to be a kind and upstanding lady.”
“We are setting up therapy for her in 2021 as ‘everyday’ discipline—grounding, lectures, etc… isn’t cutting it. We have also put a halt on any modeling work.”
“She became this way in part because so many people treat her like a living goddess. Teachers, physicians, store clerks, total strangers and, sadly, my extended family.”
“Witnessing the way all of these people treat my 13 year old (invisible) has contributed to her snottiness and superiority, I am sure. And I feel like it is slowly killing my 13 year old.”
“Concerning family, there are never any compliments for the ‘other daughter’.”
“When we walk in on Thanksgiving or Christmas Day, they exclaim how lovely she looks. They marvel at how she may be even more beautiful this year.”
“They want to hear all about any catalogue or social media work.”
“They engage her in discussions and shower her in warm attention. She is loved.”
“My 13 year old gets a greeting, and an off-handed question about how her schoolwork is. Then she’s left to wilt in a corner.”
“I have watched her self esteem plummet. She has become more and more introverted.”
“She has no confidence anymore—I think she is developing depression.”
“Her father and I try to compensate for the coldness of the world, but I feel SO many people are trying to drill her unimportance into her head. She may need therapy eventually as well.”
“I have told my family that we are having difficulties with my daughter’s arrogance. I have asked them to stop fawning over her.”
“I have asked them to please be loving to both my daughters, for their mental health. I have told them they’re hurting my youngest in deep, potentially unfixable ways.”
“I have told them their behavior isn’t appropriate. And still, it continued.”
“I finally told them we would be doing no more get-togethers until they could get their ACTS together. Long story short (most dramatic phone calls ever), it has caused a lot of resentment and anger in my family.”
“They think I am being ‘insane’. ‘Cruel’. They’re so upset my husband is second-guessing our decision.”
“He is especially worried about cutting off my older relatives who may not have a lot of time left. But I’m sticking to my guns.”
“So, AITA for cutting them out?”
In the comments, OP gives a little more information about her situation.
“My daughter wanted to [model] after we were approached with the opportunity. Fashion and modeling are her passions—she learned to sew at a very young age because she wanted to make clothing for both her and her sister.”
“I did not think it would change their personalities, or the way my family treated them. They were cutesy shots in Sears catalogues and the like.”
“Kid’s work. Do I regret it now? Yes.”
“But it was something she was excited to explore, and I wanted that door to be open to her if she was intrigued by the option.”
“I guess I was naive.”
“I completely hear what you are saying, but this is something my husband and I have spoken about. We are careful in our behavior and really can’t pinpoint any major differences in our attention levels.”
“When my eldest went off for a job, my youngest and I had a fun day. Trips to the mall to book shop—her favorite.”
“Making pizza from scratch. Baking cookies. Dancing to exercise videos, which she always had a hilarious love of!!! Me, not so much—whew! ;)”
“I grew up with favoritism in the house, with five siblings. So I’m a little sensitive to those potential dynamics.”
“If my youngest went off to a club or camp day, then my eldest had special time with mom. I know that the popular view of bullying right now is that the bully him/herself is often suffering.”
“That bullying is a cry for help.”
“But sadly, I think some people do it for the thrill and rush. And I fear that is my daughter’s situation.”
“Therapy will hopefully shine more light on this, but she’s a capable student as well and does not appear to be jealous of her sister in the slightest.”
“She does not seem to think much of her at all anymore.”
On the AITA board, people are judged with the acronyms:
- NTA – Not the A**hole
- YTA – You’re the A**hole
- NAH – No A**holes Here
- ESH – Everyone Sucks Here
And the judgement for this post was OP was NTA.
“NTA. I wish my mom protected me as well as you are protecting your younger daughter. In a way you are also protecting the older daughter.”
“I am a little unsure on how to handle cutting out grandparents who really wwmay have limited time, because that is tough. Still, I feel your hands are tied.” – YeOldeOrc
“You’re right not to fall for their manipulative tactic of saying older relatives may not have a lot of time left. It takes no time at all on their part to be loving to both your daughters, a bottom barrel ask on your part. NTA” – concretism
“NTA, and it sucks that the adults can’t understand the damage they’re inflicting and the entitlement they’re furthering. Good for you for all the decisions you’ve made regarding your oldest, hopefully she’ll learn soon enough those things you’re trying to instill.” – JessicaJones2
“NTA – You are handling this entire very difficult situation very well, and you should be supported and commended for trying to do what is in the best interest of both of your children.” – HowardProject
Other people have come up with ideas for OP to try and help resolve this situation.
“I wonder if you can arrange for one on one visit with older relatives like grand parents. That will give each daughter a chance to bond with the grandparents on their own terms.”
“And if you can arrange, set these visits for a longer duration of time like half a day or whole day.”
“I am assuming that even in the case of older daughter, fawning and getting dazzled by her beauty would exhaust in a few hours and both the parties would have to dig deeper to find other things/activities to talk about.”
“Once they have a good bond with both the daughters, you can try family get togethers again… who knows the dynamics might change.” – Taleof10tails
“In addition to therapy, try to encourage your oldest to find a hobby or skill. That way she can have self esteem in her skills.”
“It is damaging that all the adults only compliment her looks, it might be what is giving her the idea that looks is most important” – sunrisesnakeplant
The central issue here is preventing one child from becoming an arrogant bully and boosting the self-esteem of another.
Therapy is recommended in the comments and can help. But for it to really work, OP’s family has to understand the problem and their part in it.
Until they figure that out, time away from them seems to be the best solution.