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Dad Blasts MIL For Telling His Six-Year-Old Daughter To Act More ‘Ladylike’ While Playing Sports

Young girl playing baseball

As we all know, double standards – when it comes to what is acceptable for men vs. women and vice versa  – have been around forever and will likely remain for some time.

Most of us also know that generations before us weren’t made as aware of these double standards as we are now. (Kudos to us.)

But do we just let things slide because others or unaware, or do we assertively take action when we feel someone has been unfairly subjected?

A dad on TikTok who called out his mother-in-law for telling his daughter to act more “ladylike” when she was playing sports with her brother was accused of being disrespectful and inconsiderate, so he turned to the “Am I The A**hole” (AITA) subReddit to seek feedback from fellow Redditors.

Redditor VampireDuty asked:

“AITA for telling my MIL that she needs to stop telling my 6 year old to be ‘ladylike?'”

The Original Poster (OP) explained:

“I am a dad of 3 (10/F[emale], 10/M[ale], and 6/F[emale]).”

“My 10-year-old daughter is pretty girly, but my 6-year-old daughter follows my son around like his little shadow and is what people sometimes call a tomboy (Disclaimer: I have no idea if that is an offensive term now, but apologize if it is).”

“She loves sports and being outside with her big brother and they are pretty close.”

“For the spring she just started playing lacrosse, which my 10 year old son has been playing for years, and they have been spending so much time together outside practicing.”

“It’s pretty cool to watch as a dad since I was worried about my singleton bonding with the twins when she was born.”

But when little sister imitated her big brother, their grandmother was not happy.

“Anyway, my MIL was over the other day and the kids were outside playing while we were on the porch watching and my wife was making dinner.”

“They were just playing catch and my son leaned over to spit so my 6 year old did the same.”

“My MIL said nothing to my son about it but yelled, ‘Rosa! You need to be more ladylike. Don’t copy your brother when he does that!'”

That did not sit well with dad.

“I told her it wasn’t that big of a deal but she insisted that we need to get this under control because Rosa doesn’t act like a lady should and is getting too old to think it’s okay.”

“I argued with her a bit and she ended up leaving.”

And now dad is the bad guy.

“Now my wife is mad because she thinks I disrespected her mother and should have understood that it’s cultural for my MIL and she will always think this way.”

“If it matters, I am a white guy from New England, and my wife’s mom is from Nigeria, but my wife was born and raised in the US.”

“My wife insists that I need to be more understanding of the cultural differences and understand where her mom is coming from.”

After several comments, OP added that the underlying issue is that his mother-in-law corrected only his daughter.

“Edit: Guys, this is not a spitting in public debate.”

“I would have been fine if my MIL corrected both kids because spitting is gross.”

“I am annoyed that she ONLY corrected my daughter because of her gender.”

“Can we please stick to the issue at hand?”

OP has offered the following explanation for why he thinks he might be the a**hole:

“I could be the a**hole for not understanding cultural differences and being disrespectful by taking back to MIL.”

Redditors weighed in by declaring:

  • NTA – Not The A**hole
  • YTA – You’re The A**hole
  • NAH – No A**holes Here
  • ESH – Everyone Sucks Here

Redditors decided the OP was not the a**hole.

“NTA take your time and educate the women in your life, both of them. Your daughter is growing up into a world very different than these women grew up in.” – Psychological-Ad7653


“You can absolutely understand cultural differences and still understand they are wrong.”

“All MIL is doing is enforcing gender roles.”

“Why? Partly out of an innate selfish desire to see our offspring reflect our own identities and partly because they want the next generation to fit in and not have problems.”

“But a girl being whatever she wants when she becomes a woman isn’t a problem in this country.”

“Your wife is on the wrong side of this argument.” 

“There is something to be said for not letting kids simply do whatever they want as a means of ‘being themselves.'”

“That’s not good parenting either.”

“Kids need to understand that there’s a lot of doing what you don’t want to do that goes into being a functional adult.”

“Going to support family by attending events, going to religious services, doing chores, etc.”

“But I think it is perfectly healthy for your daughter to pursue the hobbies she wants to pursue.” – WTxLeanin


“I think it is very wrong to ever tell a girl to be ladylike.”

“It’s putting constraints on her and restricting her opportunities.”

“I was told this 50 years ago, and I thought it was wrong then, and it’s wrong now.” – kimba-the-tabby-lion

“NTA for your message overall, as your daughter should absolutely be able to play sports and rough it with her brother.”

“Your MIL is old-fashioned and rude.”

“However, don’t teach your kids to spit. That’s also rude and gross, boy or girl.”

“No one wants to walk in someone else’s spit. Give them a water bottle so they stay hydrated when playing.” – Euffy

“NTA. The kids is being a kid.”

“Your wife is the disrespectful one.”

“She needs to tell her mom not to say those things in your house because it’s a cultural thing that guests let the parents, parent.”

“Let her use her reasoning on her mother instead.”

“You MIL is also TA.”

“She can believe what she wants, but it’s not her place to yell at a 6-year-old, and definitely not for some nebulous thing like being more ladylike.”

“A 6 yr old doesn’t know that that means.”

“If she has concerns, she can talk to you calmly when the kids are not around.” – Parasamgate


“It’s not cultural. It’s sexist.”

“She is forcing the societal expectations of what it means to be a woman on your daughter and your son by saying what she said.”

“And it’s completely unacceptable.”

“Your wife needs to get on board.”

“She is raising her children in a very different time than her mother did, the world has moved on, and those gender stereotypes have been proven to be incredibly harmful to everyone.”

“Don’t let your MIL inflict those outdated and cruel stereotypes on your children.” – Cursd818


“Being culturally sensitive is one thing, being okay with someone pressing their outdated beliefs about what’s appropriate based on your child’s gender is something else entirely.”

“Your wife should be backing you.”

“Your wife should be backing your daughter.” – kiwihoney

“NTA. I am 10 times your daughter’s age.”

“My mother threw that at me, my whole childhood.”

“The thing about it is I had no idea what a lady was? I have no good examples.”

“It seemed to mean dressing like the women in the Sears catalog modeling dresses? Carrying a purse over my arm?”

“I simply couldn’t imagine those were my only options, when the boys got to do whatever they wanted.”

“I didn’t know what it meant, but I did know that it meant I wasn’t allowed to have fun when everyone else was.”

“In my case everyone else was boys.”

“Why wouldn’t I want to do the things the boys are doing? They’re having fun!”

“But I’m supposed to be ladylike and sit down and keep my knees together?”

“By the way, they told me to keep my knees together because I had to wear skirts, and they didn’t want anybody seeing my panties.”

“Did anybody ever think to maybe give me pants? Nope!”

“I had to be ladylike, not knowing what it was and not being in control of anything in my life.” – cornylifedetermined


“Kids spit in their own yard while playing sports. THE HORROR!!!”

“People need to chill the hell out about this.” – epichuntarz


“She’s a kid who’s just barely starting to learn about the world around her, and it isn’t surprising that she’ll copy those around her to at least some extent.”

“It isn’t your MIL’s business to ‘correct’ her behavior when she didn’t actually do anything wrong in the first place.”

“All she did was fail to meet MIL’s standards of ‘ladylike’ behavior, which means all of nothing to a 6-year-old.” – Chance-Contract-1290

“NTA. I hate when people use culture as an excuse.”

“Yeah, spitting is kinda gross, but honestly, she isn’t hurting anyone, and I think it’s adorable that she’s so close to her brother.”

“Let Rosa be Rosa.”

“Nothing wrong with a girl loving sports and getting dirty.” – Freeverse711

“You need to let both your MIL and wife know that the word ‘ladylike’ is just an excuse to make women subservient and property.”

“In other words, it’s bull! NTA” – Thesexyone-698

According to his fellow Redditors, it sounds like Dad is the one who should be upset, and his mother-in-law was the one who was being disrespectful.

A conversation on the topic would definitely be helpful!

Written by AB Keith

AB Keith is an educator turned roadtripper who is currently teaching virtually while touring the USA. Her dream is to visit all the national parks and create a series of nonfiction children's books about NP adventures through the eyes of her dog, Backpack Benny.