We can all agree that some family traditions are beautiful, and it’s clear why the tradition is so important to the people involved.
But some traditions have a way of creeping people out, admitted the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit.
Redditor hairbear_throwaway was shocked, however, when his wife was grossed out by his family’s teddy bear tradition.
When his wife refused to give the bear to their daughter, the Original Poster (OP) was at a loss for what to do next.
He asked the sub:
“AITA for giving my daughter a stuffed bear filled with human hair?”
The OP’s family had a special tradition for every newborn baby.
“My (33 Male) wife (31 Female) and I just had our daughter, our first child, three months ago.”
“My family has a tradition where the firstborn will get a special stuffed animal.”
“I got one from my mother when I was born, who got one from her mother, who got one from her father, and so on and so on.”
“The reason that it’s special is that the stuffing is made from their parent’s hair.”
“The way it works is that once a child is old enough to start getting their hair cut, their parent will save as much of that hair as they can. When the child becomes a parent themselves, the new grandparent will use the saved hair to make a stuffed animal to give to the baby.”
“The hair in the toy represents the new parent’s connection to the child and is a tangible measure that shows that they’ll always be close by.”
“The care taken by the new grandparent in collecting the hair and using it to make the toy represents the child’s connection to its family history and is a tangible measure that shows the extended family will always support them.”
“In short, the stuffed animal is a way of connecting the new life to their new family.”
The OP was excited to share the tradition with his newborn daughter.
“After my daughter was born, my mother spent a lot of time making a stuffed bear from scratch to fill with my childhood hair. She just finished last week.”
“Since my leave from work is just about over, I was excited to give my daughter the bear and share the tradition with my wife.”
“I thought she would think it was sweet, but she blew up at me.”
But his wife was incredibly grossed out.
“Instead of liking the bear, my wife said it was gross and disgusting and that she wouldn’t have it around her daughter.”
“I told her that it’s our daughter, not just hers, and that there’s nothing disgusting about my family’s tradition.”
“She said it was unhygienic.”
“I told her that it’s not; the hair is clean and well-preserved.”
“We argued, and eventually, she said that if I ever put ‘that thing’ near her daughter, she would throw it in the trash.”
“I was shocked. This is something that represents decades of my mother’s work and planning and generations of my family’s history.”
“I told my wife that if she’s so cruel and callous about something that means so much to me and my family, then she’s not the person I thought she was.”
The situation dramatically escalated.
“She just called my family’s tradition ‘weird and culty.'”
“I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t think my wife was this kind of person.”
“I told my mother about the fight, and now she’s feuding with my wife too.”
“My wife then got her family involved before calling me some vulgar names.”
“Am I really an a**hole for wanting to give my special girl her special bear?”
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 thought the tradition was incredibly weird.
“A point of clarification – is this just the hair from that first baby haircut (presumably mixed in with plenty of stuffing) OR like all the hair that’s ever been cut from the parent’s head?”
“Because the first option is kind of sweet and vaguely Victorian (lock-o-hair bear?). The second option sounds witchy, itchy, and completely terrifying!!” – beeeeeebee
“This is one step away from the teddybears with teeth for me.”
“A hard f**king pass.” – DoNotReply111
“There is psychology behind finding this gross. I cannot remember the name of the phenomenon but we, as humans, are generally grossed out by body parts that have become not part of us anymore.”
“Fingernails are fine until you clip them. The spit in your mouth is fine to swallow, but you’re not going to spit into a cup and drink it up.” – SuspiciousCupcake23
“In a bunch of cultures I know that’s the only reason to have human n hair dolls. It’s too curse someone.”
“Seriously, this is such a weird tradition, I’d be completely creeped out. No way human doll hair is going near me or my children. OP only doesn’t realize it because he’s always around it.” – HumbleConfidence3500
Others thought this should have been discussed long before the baby was born.
“As an aside, whilst OP isn’t an AH… the wife’s visceral reaction suggests that he has never mentioned this tradition to her until now?”
“If it were me, I’d be pretty caught off-guard if my husband told me that one of the biggest family traditions was gifting our child a bear stuffed with locks of his hair, it’s weird if it’s never come up until now.” – elag19
“I really need to know the origins of this tradition and how generations of spouses just let this persist and fester.” – Zykium
“This definitely should have been discussed when they discussed whether they wanted children.”
“Traditions, especially such uncommon traditions, need a lot more breathing room than this.” – jelli2015
“This is why before every gift giving holiday my husband would ask, ‘What’s the level here?’ That is, until he got into the groove of things. Because we’ve been doing things a certain way for a long time.”
“But this – this is one of those things you need to talk about like a year before you start having kids.” – WhiteRoses7252012
“Traditions are just peer pressure from dead people.”
“I can’t believe this never came up once in their marriage, during pregnancy, nothing?”
“I mean, this sounds like some serious ‘Voodoo’ s**t. Should get some brick dust, and light some candles, because the Hair Bear Countdown seems like something that should have been discussed a looong time ago.”
“NAH, just because it’s weird what gets normalized when you’re raised with it.” – cleavage_2_beaver
“This is a thing in SO many schools of superstition and religion. Basically any spiritual belief or tradition that includes the existence of curses has some rule somewhere about not letting anyone get their hands on your trimmed or shed hair, nail trimmings, blood, saliva, etc.”
“because it can be used to control or curse you. I actually theorize that the whole “gift your betrothed a lock of your hair as a sign of affection” tradition began as a gesture of ‘I trust you not only to not use this as a way to act against me, but also to protect it and never allow it to fall into the wrong hands of those who would do me harm.'”
“I don’t know how to vote on this though. I understand the wife being weirded out, even though I think her reaction was more cruel than necessary.”
“I also don’t think the tradition is that weird nor is it gross or unhygienic, I actually think it’s sweet, but I don’t think it’s something you should surprise your spouse with either. This highly specific tradition should have come up before at least once, no?” – TheBathCave
A few tried to be sympathetic to the OP’s connection to the tradition.
“Just because it’s strange doesn’t mean she has the right to be cruel, and the wife is being cruel.” – Dense_Yak_2295
“NAH. Because I understand this is emotionally meaningful to you, but it’s also, fairly objectively, pretty f**king weird.” – Temporary_Badger
“If it’s happened for generations, it could go as far back as the turn of the 19th century, when keeping hair as a keepsake was much more normalized, and plushies would not have all been filled with polyester fluff that is, essentially, plastic.” – smuffleupagus
“It’s unusual, but it’s not unhygienic or disgusting. Human and animal hair has long been used to stuff furnishings and toys, and human hair has also long been used in personal keepsakes like love tokens and mourning jewellery.” – Normal-Height-8577
Though the OP was clearly hurt by his wife’s reaction to his family tradition and his excitement to gift their newborn daughter the family teddy bear, the subReddit was divided.
Some were as thoroughly creeped out by the idea as the wife was, while others thought it could be sentimental and sweet for that family.
But what everyone could agree on was the OP’s lack of timing skills. Creepy or sentimental, this is a conversation that should have taken place a long time ago. While the teddy bear could have been a surprise gift to their daughter, it never should have been a surprise to the OP’s wife.