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Mom Balks After Husband Wants Her To Punish 7-Year-Old Daughter For ‘Cheating’ On Boyfriend

Seven-year-old boy and girl holding hands
Klaus Vedfelt/Getty Images

It’s fair to say that if parents were to catch their teenage child cheating on one of their first romantic partners, they would be disappointed in them and might even discipline them in some way for it.

But when the child is literally a young child, the expectations around any “romantic” relationship will look quite different, agreed the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit.

Redditor EfficientAd4006 was pleased to see her daughter developing friendships and even having a “boyfriend” at the age of seven.

But when her daughter didn’t stay with the same boy for very long, the Original Poster (OP) was surprised to see her husband become angry about their daughter’s faithfulness.

She asked the sub:

“AITA for not punishing my seven-year-old daughter for her play-relationships?”

The OP’s daughter recently had her first childhood relationship.

“My husband and I have a seven-year-old daughter together, Layla.”

“A few months ago, Layla got a ‘boyfriend,’ Lucas. They are both seven, so it’s obviously not a real relationship. They just hold hands sometimes and they drew each other hearts for Valentine’s Day.”

But the relationship was over as quickly as it started.

“This week, Layla was apparently holding hands with another boy, who also sent Layla a Valentine’s Day love letter.”

“Lucas took offense to it.”

“We found out because Lucas’ parents called to tell us Lucas won’t be coming over to us this Saturday like it was originally planned because he is mad at Layla.”

The OP was surprised to see her husband’s reaction to this.

“My husband wants us to punish Layla and wants me to have a talk with her about faithfulness.”

“At first, I thought he was joking, but no, he was serious.”

“He says that Layla cheated on Lucas and I, as her mother, should do something about it.”

“I told my husband that Layla is seven, not a cheater, and I won’t treat her as such.”

“He then accused me of ‘raising a cheater’ and encouraging her bad behavior.”

“AITA for not wanting to punish Layla?”

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 and didn’t think the daughter needed to be punished for this.

“She’s seven. It’s ridiculous to call her a ‘cheater.'”

“At the same time, you can sit her down and explain why Lucas is upset and doesn’t want to see her. That’s more than enough of a lesson.”

“NTA.” – Gr4nd45

“I would definitely suggest that she does both. This can be an important lesson for Layla about the feelings of others which is so important as she develops her own understanding of empathy and the consequences of her behaviors.”

“On the other hand, it’s also extremely important that OP talks to her husband to ask why he seems to be so triggered by the situation. OP better handle this now and put the husband in check before Layla is a teen and is navigating more serious relationships.” – VenusXo12

“What a missed opportunity.”

“Lucas’s parents could explain about different types of love and most definitely help walk him through the obvious jealousy.”

“Younger relationships are such a great time to learn to walk through our emotions. My stepdaughter is barely a teen and in middle school. She’s battling insecurity of her first boyfriend being so popular and is afraid he might get stolen.”

“It’s hard for her to understand he’s not something that can be stolen. Or worth her time if he doesn’t value her. (He is a very sweet boy, but him spending time with anyone else gives her anxiety.)”

“At seven, OP’s daughter can learn that Lucas’s feelings were hurt by her actions. But punishing her and telling her a cheater is crazy.” – PolyPolyam

“I would argue that explaining to her husband that his misogyny will not be tolerated should take priority… because if he has some gripes with women or cheating, he needs to deal with them in therapy, not project them on his seven-year-old daughter.”

“This strikes me as a man who will shame her in the future for how she dresses, telling her she’s inviting any harassment she gets, etc.”

“This is why it’s extremely important for women to fully vet the men they plan on procreating with. because otherwise, this s**t will keep getting passed on to future generations.” – addangel

“I thought about this for a while, I’m all about recognizing anyone’s feelings and why we’re upset, but it also felt so wrong to explain a seven-year-old about committed relationships and cheating, they can’t fully grasp the concept of a romantic relationship.”

“So it came to my mind: it’s not on you and her, it’s on the boy and his family! He shouldn’t have to possess behavior and feel like he could ‘demand’ anything.”

“While it may be a good idea to talk to your daughter about why he is upset and, if possible, tell her very clearly how important and right and good it is to set up boundaries whenever she feels it. But also has to accept others, but I honestly don’t know what exactly a child-appropriate explanation for this would look like. ESH except you and your daughter.” – Kaythekid

Others were more concerned about calling this a “relationship” at all.

“These children are seven, why are we encouraging ‘boyfriend’ relationships among seven-year-olds?”

“This is exactly why you don’t, because they are too small for concepts like faithfulness and infidelity. Kids change who their best friends are that young on trivial things like who has a cooler lunchbox.”

“It’s not that deep, even if someone got hurt. I’d stop encouraging the use of language like boyfriend and girlfriend and just stick to friends.”

“Don’t tell me both parents didn’t encourage this, either.”

“Your husband is also horrifically wrong for wanting to ‘punish’ her. Y’all need to have a deep conversation about gender roles, cause if he is saying stuff like this now, I cannot imagine when she is a teenager.”

“You should speak to your daughter about kindness and empathy for Lucas’s feelings, and maybe lay off encouraging ‘relationships’ and focus on inclusive friendships. They are kids.”

“ESH.” – HappyHalloqueen

“ESH. These kids are seven years old. She doesn’t have a ‘boyfriend,’ she has a friend. Seven-year-old friends hold hands.”

“You, your husband, and Lucas’ parents need to stop being creepy and let your kids be kids.” – LowCal-Calzone-Zone

“He might have been mad she’s hanging out with another boy in the general kid sense of ‘that’s my friend!’ Seven is old enough to get jealous of another attention or time going to someone else and wanted to skip the date in take-my-ball-home fashion.”

“An adult relayed the information to OP about cheating and might be projecting or adding their own incel nonsense to little kid drama. They are the ones who either would have told Lucas about ‘cheating’ or are using the term on their own.” – onmyfifthcupofcoffee

“NTA. But it’s good to sit your little ones down and just talk about how their actions affect others’ feelings and why he feels hurt.”

“But for one, she shouldn’t be made to feel like can only have one friend… this is not a punishment situation, and being punished could lead to her thinking she could hurt a friend’s feelings just by playing with another friend.”

“But, for two, talking to a seven-year-old about ‘being faithful’ to her ‘boyfriend’ is setting a super gross precedent and adding a much more adult role than should ever be put into this situation. A ‘relationship’ at that age is not that.” – TinyGreenTurtles

“This isn’t about faithfulness and cheating. This is about a very common dynamic among children: jealousy and exclusion. Leaving someone out, which engenders jealous responses.”

“Kid antics emerge in various directions, the boyfriend and girlfriend language isn’t the point. Explain to Layla that Lucas is feeling jealous. This isn’t because she’s done anything wrong, it’s a natural feeling people need to learn to contend with, and that often comes from feeling excluded or unvalued.”

“Perhaps consider encouraging her to be inclusive of Lucas, rather than pursuing friendship dynamics that are just about two friends at once. It’d be nice if Lucas’s parents were having that same conversation with him.”

“Layla should *not* be getting the message (as a seven-year-old girl) that it’s her job to make the men around her comfortable and happy. She should be getting the message that friends care about each other and try to include one another.”

“Definitely don’t micromanage young people dynamics.” – Soft_Two989

While the subReddit could understand why Lucas’s parents were upset that their son’s feelings were hurt, they felt that there must be a much better way to go about this, so that the right message was sent to both children, and so that more empathetic exchanges than this could occur in the future.

The OP’s daughter could learn at the age of seven that her actions have consequences, which include hurting other people’s feelings. Since Lucas was one of her friends, his feelings would likely matter to her, so she would want to consider his feelings in the future.

However, holding hands with another friend was hardly something that she should be penalized for, let alone in the context of an adult relationship she was a literal decade away from experiencing.

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.