Kids grow up. And as they grow up, they start trying more and more adult things, such as dating.
How parents respond to that is….variable to say the least. Some parents foster an environment where their child can safely explore the things that they are curious about.
Others fight against it.
Redditor Ok-Bad-7566 found himself dealing with this when it came to his own son, who started dating a guy and bringing him around the house.
Though his son’s mother strictly forbade it, he decided to give his son a place to safely explore dating this guy.
After a poor reaction from his ex, our original poster, or OP, went to the popular subReddit “Am I The A**hole?” or “AITA” for objective feedback from strangers:
“AITA for letting my son hang out with his bf at my house even though his mom forbid it?”
Our OP talked about the dynamic between he, his ex, and his son.
“Me (40M[ale]) and my ex (37F[emale]) got divorced when our son (14) was 5. We’ve been for the most part amicable ex’s other than when we get into arguments about our son.”
“Ever since he was little she’s always coddled him and kept him from doing things that she thinks he’s not ready for.”
“Like he still slept in the bed with us til he was almost 4 and she still won’t let him watch r rated movies, and still doesn’t think he’s ready to date even though he’ll be 15 in a few months.”
“And he’s told us he’s had crushes on boys at school. He’s growing up now and I keep trying to tell her that she’s stifling him, but she won’t hear it.”
“I try my best to allow him to do more within reason when’s he’s with me.”
OP knows his son’s growing up after he brought home a boy from school.
“This year he seems to have found himself a boyfriend the same age.”
“I met him a few weeks ago when I was picking him up for school and saw them holding hands and even though he was embarrassed he introduced us and his bf seemed like a nice kid who was super respectful.”
“I didn’t tell his mom and sometimes they’d come over to my house to hangout. I laid down rules about no closed doors, gave him the talk, and no being at my place when I’m not home.”
“His mom found out about it when she went through our son’s phone wondering why he was spending so much time at my place and called me yesterday morning screaming at me about how I betrayed her trust and how we agreed he wasn’t ready to date yet.”
“I yelled back that I never agreed to that and that she’s holding him back and that he’s not a little kid anymore and she says he’s too immature and tries to get me to forbid the bf from my house, I tell her no and she yells and hangs up the phone and we haven’t talked since.”
Anonymous strangers weighed in by declaring:
- NTA – Not The A**hole
- YTA – You’re The A**hole
- ESH – Everyone Sucks Here
- NAH – No A**holes Here
Redditors agreed what OP was doing was more beneficial to his son than what his ex was doing.
“NTA. Her coddling behavior is dangerous and will leave him ill-equipped for life.”
“And here’s the thing. If you tell him no dating well he’s just gonna ignore what you’re saying and do what he wants to anyways.”
“He’s a teenager and while still needing structure, he also needs more freedom”-michaelscott1776
“I grew up with a mom like this. I realized pretty quickly that she didn’t understand boundaries. OP’s kid knew not to tell her he was dating, knew not to tell her bf came over.”
“Only thing he got wrong was not locking his phone – though that would have been a whole other fight.”
“I’m not saying her ‘parenting’ won’t cause issues. It will. But the kid will still learn to survive. He’ll have to work on understanding healthy boundaries for sure.”-Light_Side_Dark_Side
“It’s been a while since I was a teenager, but unless things have changed even more radically than I think they have, being a gay kid hiding a relationship can put a queer teenager in some very dangerous, very compromising positions.”
“Sometimes the kinds of people who will ‘support’ your kids are not the kinds of people you want around them.”
“And if you cut yourself off from that aspect of your kid’s life, you’re not going to be able to help said kid make wise choices when it comes to things like party drugs and other risky behavior. NTA.”-gammahamster
“NTA You can’t forbid them from seeing each other anyway. I mean, you can. You can say those words, but it doesn’t mean anything.”
“They’ll still see each other. They’ll still have a relationship. ‘Forbidding’ is something that makes a parent feel better.”
“Do you have any idea from his mom when his magical ‘ready’ time is? He’s 15. The time from now to the point where he can pack up and be on his own is going to pass VERY quickly.”
“Also, how is he to ‘get’ ready to date and have a relationship if he’s not allowed to try?”
“You’ve set solid boundaries and mom sounds very much that she’s noT ReaDy fOR heR BaBy to GRoW uP, which I also get, up to a point. But they grow up anyway.”-prometheus59650
In fact, people said Mom’s coddling will probably end up for the worse later on.
“Definitely NTA. Reading between the lines is she not okay with his sexuality? I imagine she has aspirations of him getting married to a pretty girl and having grandchildren.”
“By preventing him dating she is delaying having to deal with the reality.”
“You are being cool and talking dad to dad…. Better to be the good guy and have some influence than suppress and force them to go behind your back which is dangerous as you no doubt already well know.”
“I agree wholeheartedly with your position and would have said pretty much same.”-Motorcycle-adikt
“NTA, in fact, you’re probably your child’s safe haven right now. You’ve set rules for your son, the very same rules I had growing up and my children had.”
“You’re being respectful of him as a young person and acknowledge he deserves to have the same rules as everyone else. GOOD ON YOU, DAD!!!”
“Your ex seems to have control issues, but that’s her problem, not your sons. He’s very lucky to have you and I wish you all well in this crazy thing we call parenting.”-jcacca
“NTA. You’re doing great. Giving your son rules to follow will only reinforce his confidence with navigating the world.”
“Consistently being told he’s not enough is harmful and can make him doubt himself, especially if it comes from someone he admires.”
“Hopefully she can see reason but if this has been the routine his whole life, maybe family counseling can help bridge that gap.”
“I would suggest it in a way that doesn’t put her methods down (even though we all know this isn’t right) and instead is an opportunity for both of you to raise the tater tot into a strong confident person.”-Kitsundae
“NTA I had different rules at both parents house and my parents parented me differently from each other as all parents do in their own way.”
“You’re giving him freedom and rules associated with his age which to him is a sign of responsibility and respect and the more your ex tries to hold him back from age appropriate responsibilities the more he’ll dig in and do what he wants.”
“To quote Uncle Ben ‘ With great power comes great responsibility ‘ to which your son is learning.”-G8RTOAD
And as a dad, giving the child a healthy space to grow and develop is such an important step that often gets missed for queer kids.
Several people chimed in to let OP know what he’s doing is not just good, it’s important.
“NTA. While it would be ideal to have a good co-parent relationship this is also not an ideal situation.”
“Your sons beloved smother is basically squashing the maturity out of him and if she had her way he’d probably still be breast feeding.”
“Part of a healthy parenting relationship is that the parent has to adapt to the fact that their kid is getting older, which you have and she hasn’t.”
“In situations like this it’s perfectly acceptable to say, ‘nah, I’ll let him do what I let him do in my house, thank you.'”-Sad_Muffin7908
“Better to guide with instructions and clear rules, then to hold them back and kickin em loose at 18 like loads of parents seem to do…”
“Clearly your kid feels safe with you, after all he introduced his bf to you, and they hang out together at your place.”
“They don’t seem to have issues with the rules you gave em. Which is really a good indication at that age, they respect you and your house/rules.”
“Mom is way out of line here… Son will grow to dislike her at the very least. She can kick rocks imo, be there for your child and provide a welcome and safe space for him when needed/wanted.”
“You are very much NTA!”-Fun_Macaroon9841
“NTA You did everything right (although i don’t really get those ‘door stays open’ rules) with being open and honest, giving him the talk and giving a safe space where they can hang out.”
“You are right, he’s not a child anymore.”
“Continue the way you do. That way at least one parent will see him as a teenager and not a child and he will feel understood at least by you.”-A9J9B
“NTA. As someone who had their first bf at 13 and was active with them (gay guy here).”
“Before I came out my parents were very anti-gay and in insight having to run around in secret was not healthy.”
“I would have benefitted much better from having a safe place or an understanding adult to discuss things with and it seems like OP understands that.”
“Some parents can’t face their children growing up and maybe that’s what’s going on with Mama Bear here but she needs to work with the son so he grows and develops healthily as does their relationship.”-CuriousPasserby93
OP is giving his son a lot of grace, and in doing so, is fostering an even healthier relationship with him when he turns into an adult.
Hopefully mom realizes the error of her ways before it’s too late.