We all have relatives in our family who are problematic at best. By now we’ve developed our best coping strategies, whether that’s avoidance, or wine, or some other method of just nope-ing out of the room whenever our relative starts in on something that makes us want to crawl into a hole.
However, it takes awhile to develop that skill. Reddit user Terrible_Note_9384 was coming up against that moment with his daughter, and wasn’t sure if the way in which he’d approached her about it was out of line.
After his daughter was unhappy with him, he went to the popular subReddit “Am I The A**hole?” or “AITA” to get some clarity on whether or not he could have done better:
“AITA for discouraging my daughter from speaking her mind?”
Our original poster, or OP, ended up back with his parents, which put him in this difficult situation, especially with a conscientious daughter:
“My wife and I f***ed up and we lost our home. We are staying with my parents, who are not happy, and have plans to move out pretty soon, but we need to save some more money.”
:My daughter is 13 and an amazing kid. She cares deeply about the world around her and has tons of opinions. My wife and I always encourage her, but unfortunately my mom finds her exhausting.”
“I have asked my daughter in the past not to be so vocal with my mom, because my mom isn’t going to change or engage, and just gives me a look like get this kid away from me.”
In a moment ripe for conflict, OP’s advice was put to the test:
“The other day my mom’s best friend was over, and she was sobbing because she found out about her husband’s affair. they were in my mom’s bedroom for a while and she calmed down by the time they came out, but they were sitting in the kitchen and my daughter was making her school lunches, so not eavesdropping but they had to have been aware she could hear them.”
A moment arose when OP’s daughter and mother clashed:
“My mom’s friend was saying she doesn’t know what to do, she can’t just leave. My mom was telling her to make him suffer, but of course she can’t leave.”
“My mom then said leaving wouldn’t be worth the money, and she shouldn’t have to give up her lifestyle. My daughter gave her opinion, that that is totally wrong and no woman should feel trapped.”
“Women have options now. My mom rolled her eyes and said ‘yeah, let’s go get jobs for 8 hours a day, that sounds like a fun option’ My daughter said that is why it is important to be financially independent.”
At that point, OP’s mom mocked his daughter:
“At this point i told my daughter to come in the other room. My mom turned to her friend loudly and said ‘I know he sucks but look on the bright side. You aren’t ever going to have to be financially independent’.”
“She said it in a very mocking tone. My daughter was upset and opened her mouth to say something, but i ushered her out of the room.”
“I told her that i agree with her, but there is no point in fighting with her grandmother, and that we are living in their house.”
And OP unfortunately, for the time being, had to ask his daughter to not put their housing in jeopardy:
“She said that doesn’t give her the right to be sexist, which I agree but they could kick us out. I told my daughter that while we are living here she needs to keep her opinions to herself, and she probably shouldn’t have gotten involved in that conversation anyway, because it was between them.”
And OP’s wife was not happy that he took that tactic:
“My wife got mad and said I should be encouraging her to stand up to outdated ideas, and my wife is super against telling her to stay out of adult conversations.”
So OP wanted to know: is he at fault?
Redditors helped OP decide 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
Reddit agreed that OP did the best he could here.
“NTA. She shouldn’t be inserting herself in a discussion that she hasn’t been invited into, that’s just rude for starters. You might also remind her that feminism means we all get to choose how to live our lives, including your Mom and her friend.”~RB1327
“Yes, establishing financial independence would have helped this woman early in her life and marriage so she wouldn’t feel stuck now. What good is that stance when you’re talking about post-retirement age people who have been married for decades? It’s worthless. That’s like playing the Game of Life and saying near retirement, you would’ve won if you chose College at the start.”
“It’s not only unhelpful but it’s antagonistic. Your daughter would also be wrong to tell her 94 year old grandma she should have had the foresight to make different choices in the 30s so she wouldn’t have relationship issues in 2020.”~4zeezer
“NTA. Its not even about what her opinion was, that was a personal conversation between your mom, your wife, and a woman who was in a difficult and painful situation. Her opinion wasn’t asked for, and probably upset the woman even more. Inserting herself was flat out rude and she should have stayed out of the conversation and probably left the room. Letting her be involved in adult conversations is fine, but letting her intrude into other peoples personal conversations is not okay. She needs to learn the difference.”~Javyswag
“I agree with this. And while I also broadly agree with OP’s daughter’s opinion, she really has no idea what it’s like to be a middle aged woman trying to re-enter the workforce after years out. They misogyny and ageism this woman would face, and the likelihood of her actually gaining financial independence may be quite slim, in particular if she has to start building a pension.”
“OP’s daughter shouldn’t have commented but also she should be more sympathetic. They may have been expressing it crudely and crassly but they are also aware that leaving would mean a massive readjustment in their financial situation.”
“Daughter is growing up in a world with a lot of different opportunities than her grandmother’s generation had.”~ACatGod
And while the sentiment expressed by OP’s daughter is spot on, the situation complicates it.
“NAH between you and your wife. NTA between you and your mom, but, you still have to put up with her.”
“Your daughter is kind of getting an education now in why financial independence is important – because at the moment, y’all don’t have that, and so you can’t afford to annoy the person who is putting you up. It would be great if your daughter could avoid this lesson for a very long time, but here it is. And it sucks, no question, but nothing is going to be improved by pretending it’s not what’s going on.”
“Please take your kid out from time to time, and give her the chance to speak her mind where it’s safe for her to do that. Get yourselves together and get out of your mom’s house as soon as you can.”~eaca02124
“YTA – you should have taught your daughter long ago that it is beyond rude to pass judgement on how people chose to live their lives. She wasn’t giving advise to a peer about being finance independent. She was speaking to an adult who is a peer of her grandmother and should be chastised for speaking about things she has no practical knowledge of.”~gingercandy365
“ESH Because you completely ignored teaching your child not to insert her opinions into a conversation about another person’s personal life. Yes, she overheard bc she’s in your parents house but that poor woman was in a devastated moment and shouldn’t have been used to make any one else’s point. Also, while she is a child and unaware of adult circumstances, you should’ve told her that she doesn’t have all of the facts in the first place so she shouldn’t impose herself.”
“Also, just FYI, women have options but not all of them are good or safe. Also older women face a whole different world than younger women and all women face challenges that men typically don’t face in the work world.”
“Your wife needs to know that not all conversations are meant to include everyone. People are allowed to talk about their personal lives with their friends without everyone butting in. Did she have any compassion for the woman who was probably vulnerable and not in the best frame of mind at the time? Was her 13 year old daughter’s opinion the EXACT thing that lady needed?”
“ESH except for the lady.”~Far-Side2489
“NTA. Your daughter is learning and she still has a lot to learn. She’s just a kid and it’s wonderful that she is thoughtful, social and bright, but she also has to learn when not to voice her opinion. But mistaking these sorts of mistakes is one of the ways a child learns proper social skills.”
“Your wife is the one in the red here. She is financially dependent on your parents. If she doesn’t want to be homeless, she has to be a considerate guest. That means knowing when to keep your mouth shut.”~SquirrelSharp
And with a complicated situation comes a complicated set of responses:
“NAH. You obviously understand how important it is for your daughter to be able to speak her mind. However, there are some times where you just gotta bite your tongue and she is currently in one of those times. I certainly don’t condone enabling sexists but you are living under your mothers roof and aren’t in a position to have that messed up. Keep fostering that independence and will to voice opinions in your daughter, but explain the situation and let it be a valuable lesson in sometimes just turning the other cheek.”~King-Brosidon
“NTA, your child isn’t an adult yet, although i do agree with her opinion on this subject, it’s a bit inappropriate for her to be commenting on an adult conversation. She has a right to her opinions, it just sounds like nobody has taught her when it is appropriate to interject. There is definitely a time and a place for her to express her opinions, that wasn’t the correct time or place.”
“I appreciate your wife for sticking up for her daughter but she is encouraging her to not be aware of the situation before she speaks. This time at her grandmother’s house may actually be an excellent teaching moment. I think it’s amazing that your daughter has such a strong sense of right and wrong, the trick is to teach her to be more aware of who she is speaking to and how they might react. If you hadn’t pulled her away from that moment, her grand mother could’ve been really nasty to her and none of you would’ve been okay with living there after that.”~floordit
“NTA, and your wife is oblivious if she thinks every situation is an opportunity for your teenager to shoehorn in her opinion. She wasn’t part of the conversation, her opinion was unwelcome, and she shouldn’t be encouraged to open her mouth at every turn. Part of growing up is learning what situations warrant input, and when discretion is the better part of valor.”~BattieJane
“ESH except for the friend.”
“I’m for raising a smart young lady. I’m not for raising a smart-a**. There’s a subtle difference.”
“It’s your responsibility to teach your child that you’re not supposed to jump into conversations that you’re not a part of. Especially in your mother’s house. Especially when you’re a guest in your mother’s house and relying on her kindness to not be homeless.”
“It wouldn’t hurt to remind her that you’re in a position of weakness and obligation in your mother’s house, and it’s to your advantage to stay on her good side. Talk to your 13yo as an adult. If she understands the risk of being on the street she might be able to better understand the importance of moderating her behavior.”~Decent_Ad6389
The young lady is definitely in an agreeable position, which Reddit echoes. However, the situation has put OP and his family at a disadvantage, wherein their livelihood depends on how his parents happen to feel about them at any given moment in time.
For the time being, OP’s daughter will need to learn discretion—a difficult lesson.