For many teenagers, a dance is a loaded affair.
Consider all the moving parts: which outfit somebody wears, the table they sit at during that awkward, early portion of the event, and who somebody takes as their date.
All are weighty calculations.
And really, it’s no surprise. This is social status we’re talking about here. At that age, few things are more significant than where one falls in the hierarchy of their peer group. Reputation is always on the line.
So when one young Redditor–SureAlbatross9636, as she’s known on the site–felt she lacked control over her choice of date, she felt stuck and worried about the looming event.
Her ordeal eventually lead her to consult the wisdom of strangers on the internet in the “Am I the A**hole (AITA)” subReddit.
The title of her post laid out her predicament.
“AITA for not wanting to ‘help out’ a special needs kid by taking him to prom?”
She began by explaining the circumstances and the key players.
“There’s a yearly youth dance coming up in my church. A lot of people use it as a prom, so that’s what I’m calling it.”
“My mother’s friend has a son who is some kind of special needs.”
“I’m not sure exactly what’s wrong, but there was some kind of problem when she was giving birth and he ended up with some kind of brain damage. He gets very obsessed with things and has low impulse control of any kind.”
Then she shared some history.
“I think my mother has some kind of guilt that I am ‘normal’ and her friend’s son isn’t, because she has always made me into a living prop to pretend that her friend’s son can be just like everyone else, no matter what the cost to me.”
“She forced me to be his friend in school until she realized that it was making me a pariah and leading to me getting bullied, and not lightly either. It took years for me to recover and have any friends.”
And as things progressed, that stressor didn’t go away. In fact, it escalated.
“Ever since he hit puberty, I am constantly being told that this boy ‘loves’ me.”
“Now that this dance is coming up, I’m getting pressure from them that to go to the dance with him, and that it would make his entire life, not to mention a cute newsletter story (wink wink) if I accepted.”
So she put her foot down.
“I don’t want to do that. I have an actual boyfriend from my school, which of course doesn’t really count until there’s a marriage because he’s not in my family’s religion, although it’s fine otherwise. He can even go to this dance with me.”
“I would rather take him anyway because he does know other people there from school and it would actually be fun.”
But sticking to her guns about that decision hasn’t been so easy.
“My mother’s friend has started sending videos of him crying over me refusing to guilt trip me, which is making my mother mad at me and asking why I can’t just do this one little thing because it’s ‘not like this will count’…”
“…but I’m tired of it. I’m not a little kid anymore who can be part of props to pretend that this kid can have a normal life. I should have my own life.”
Anonymous strangers on the internet were asked if and where guilt belongs by declaring:
- NTA – Not The A**hole
- YTA – You’re The A**hole
- ESH – Everyone Sucks Here
- NAH – No A**holes Here
Most people on Reddit assured her that she was “not the a**hole,” and they cited a variety of reasons for that conclusion.
Some called out the adults’ inappropriate response to the emotions of a teenage boy.
“Wtf? NTA. Your mother’s friend is exploiting her son’s mental illness and his emotions to put herself on a pedestal. Sending videos of him crying? Seriously? And when you have a boyfriend?”
“Your own mother has questionable priorities of family here. Her role is to support you first, not a friend.” — –Replicant–
“NTA – you are not responsible for this boys feelings.”
“His mom and your mom are a**holes for enabling him. He needs to be taught boundaries.” — sharperview
“Omg OP NTA. You are a child and you are your own person. You do not exist for this boy. Set boundaries and be firm. Tell your mom that she’s literally putting this kid’s own needs to the detriment of yours.”
“He needs to be taught boundaries too, his mom is failing him.” — locheness4
“Whoa omg I was considering until you said his mom is sending videos of him crying?? That’s gone too far. Nta they’re trying to manipulate you. Period.”
“Put your foot all the way down.” — Canuhearmegloria
Others criticized more bluntly.
“So essentially your mother is trying to pimp you out.”
“Her behavior is totally inappropriate. You should speak to your school’s guidance counselor to intervene on your behalf. Or another adult you trust.”
“NTA.” — trumpsniece
“NTA – eeeeeek this is SO CREEPY. You’re getting pimped out by your mother. Dear lord I hope you get hitched to the love of your life at 18 otherwise I see you being guilt trip hitched to the other guy.”
“Run a mile [Original Poster]!” — upthecreekwthnocanoe
“NTA tell your mother you are not a prostitute she can offer around. Stick to your guts with this one” — nesseire
“NTA – I would remind your mother and her friend that they are coercing consent. This is unacceptable.” — loudent2
A few wondered just how far things might go if she yielded to the mothers’ demands.
“What if he wants to hold hands? Do you give in then? What about just a little kiss? Or a little feel? Or more? I don’t mean to sound all pervy, but that’s exactly what I was thinking.”
“He loves you and wants to date you – ok so where does this stop? How much is your mom ok with you allowing this boy to do so his mom can think he’s normal?” — rianic
“NTA and it really sounds like your mom and her are setting you two up for marriage down the road. Set your boundaries now or regret it for life.” — ybpaladin
“It’s always one little thing. Until the next little thing and the one after that. If you’re being emotionally blackmailed, you need to break the cycle.” — mama-tried-34
We hope the largely unanimous advice of the internet gave this young woman the conviction to advocate for herself in the way she feels is appropriate and met her needs.