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Mom Sparks Drama After Forbidding Her MIL From Taking Her Daughter To A ‘Purity Ball’

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Mothers-in-law can be a real hoot, can’t they?

Sure, some of them are great, but we see stories all the time, all across the internet, of mothers-in-law who overstep, meddle and generally think their way is the best way.

Take this woman, for instance, who has been struggling against her mother-in-law (MIL) for a long time on the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit.

Redditor ashley-indigo shared how their differing views had impacted her parenting and her marriage more than once.

But the Original Poster (OP) still wanted to confirm she wasn’t in the wrong on this one.

She asked the sub: 

“AITA for not allowing my MIL to sign my daughter up for a ‘purity ball’ at her church?”

The OP compromised on something she didn’t totally agree with.

“I’ve posted here before about my MIL, and now I’m back with another issue.”

“My daughter Tess (9[Female]) has gone to church with MIL periodically since she was little. I don’t love that, as I’m not a religious person and my MIL is an aggressive Baptist, but my husband thinks it’s a good bonding activity and so I don’t complain. Plus, it gives us adult time on Sundays.”

“Well, because of the virus, services have gone online. Tess still goes over to MIL’s place and helps her set up the laptop for them to watch together. She also Zooms into a girls’ Sunday school group after the service.”

Then her daughter came home talking about something she really didn’t agree with.

“Last week, Tess came home chattering about the ‘ball,’ and how MIL is going to take her shopping at a fancy shopping center in our town. I thought she was playing an imagination game, so I just nodded along.”

“Then, my husband chimed in to remind Tess that ‘the budget is $50.’ I was super confused and asked him what was up.”

“He gave me kind of a shady look and said that the girls’ Sunday school class was having a dance this June.”

“I asked him how [the pandemic] would affect that, and he didn’t know. My spider senses were tingling so I pulled him aside to the back porch.”

“Eventually, I gathered that he was talking about an annual purity ball for the 10-14-year-old girls.”

“He said my SIL had done it in middle school and it was just a fun thing and not a big deal.”

“I started blowing my top, to be honest, and I informed him that ‘purity’ ideals are bad for girls.”

“I thought we were on the same page about those topics, but he thinks it’s just a ‘fun thing for girls to do and get dressed up’.”

“My husband claims that he wasn’t trying to hide it from me and that he thought I knew, given how popular the purity ball is at their church.”

The OP reached out to her mother-in-law about it. 

“I put my foot down and texted MIL to ask if she’d signed Tess up.”

“She said not yet, and I made clear I wouldn’t allow it. Period. Ever.”

“MIL sent back her usual stuff implying that I’m a-hole who led her son down a bad road and I’m an unfit mother.”

“AITA for forbidding the ‘purity ball’?”

“The only reason I could be the a**hole is I unilaterally decided against my husband’s input, and I think Tess will be disappointed.”

Fellow Redditors weighed in:

  • NTA: Not the A**hole
  • YTA: You’re the A**hole
  • ESH: Everybody Sucks Here
  • NAH: No A**holes Here

One Redditor confirmed purity balls can be harmful to young women. 

“Southern baptist survivor here! Please stick to your guns on this one.”

“All of the purity classes, camps, sermons, and dances I was forced to go to in middle and high school did a real number on me.”

“I was always the one kid to question the double standards between the boys and the girls but they always made me feel like I was basically worshipping Satan if I questioned what they were teaching.”

“So much so that my self-esteem plummeted and I ended up in really terrible relationships with problematic power dynamics. Anytime my boyfriend and I went a little too far physically it felt like he was blaming me for tempting him.”

“Even into early adulthood, I would feel terrible about myself when I would question things. I felt like I was a bad Christian and therefore a bad person.”

“In fairness, I was a bad Christian because I never fully bought into it all which again made me feel guilty.”

“Don’t let your daughter go through this. Don’t let her think you are okay with these teachings by allowing her to go.”

“Don’t let her feel guilty for thinking a boy is hot.”

“Let her know these things are natural and nothing to be ashamed of. And absolutely don’t let ANYONE tell her that if she has sex before marriage nobody will want her because she is basically damaged goods.”

“Your MIL sucks and in this instance so does your husband. Tell him this is something you will not cave on.”

“Let your daughter pick out a pretty dress and take her somewhere special instead, but absolutely do not let her go to that dance. NTA”MichelleDenice

Others agreed and said the OP shouldn’t agree to a religious “compromise” at all. 

“The OP is also going to want to take a closer look at what’s being taught in the Sunday School and in that church if they think an annual purity ball is normal and fun. I suspect this isn’t the only “purity” based teaching going on.”Obiterdicta

“Church and Sunday school is not a ‘fun bonding activity.’ Religion is indoctrination (as with much else in life). If OP does not want this particular indoctrination for her daughter she should not send her over there every Sunday.”

“Also if my MIL called me a h*e, I would never talk to her again or let her see my kids. If my husband let his mother call me a h*e, I would be single, but then that’s just me.”mykidisonreddit

“I at least wouldn’t let her see my kids alone (to say who knows what when I’m not there?) as a compromise with husband if he still wanted his mom to see them. Though also, I’d be none too thrilled to be with a man who let his family call me a h*e?”

“And yeah, it makes no sense, she objects to her daughter being taught this stuff but sends her anyway so she can have alone time with her husband, but then is going to put her foot down at attending the dance? That’s not going to change anything.”TheHatOnTheCat

A few also pointed out that these problems weren’t all related to the MIL, but the OP’s husband, and maybe the OP, as well.

“I actually think ESH because OP shouldn’t have turned a blind eye to this in the first place.”

“Whether it’s because she wanted ‘adult time’ or just didn’t want to stand up to her sneaky husband or argue with her MIL, she did the wrong thing by her daughter by letting her attend the type of church that has purity balls in the first place.”

“I’m going to go out on a limb here and guess the church has a dim view of the LGBT community; what if Tess ends up not being straight?”

“OP, you have a serious MIL AND SO problem here and your desire to take the path of least resistance will have long-lasting negative impacts on your child.”

“Others have explained why purity balls and the culture surrounding them are completely toxic, and it sounds like you know that. It’s well past time you started standing up for your daughter and yourself.”Jilltro

“[The OP is] sending her daughter to the Sunday school and services where they teach that every week for her alone time with hubby.”

“I’m just so confused. She objects to the dance because they teach values she doesn’t like, values of the church OP sends her daughter, and to their Sunday school program.”

“Does she not understand Sunday school is there to indorenate children in the church’s values?”

“She can’t really think this is something they only ever mention once a year and only at this one party, can she?”TheHatOnTheCat

“Also lol at her ‘oh but it gives us adult time’ reasoning why Tess goes to church every Sunday.”

“A church with an annual purity ball espousing purity culture is fine weekly when it means mom and dad can work through their sexuality, but it is bad yearly when it has an event to mark the importance of virginity.”

“The logic here is wild. ESH. OP is fine with day to day messaging just not $50 special event messages and none of the adults actually communicate about this or show critical thinking.”IFeelMoiGerbil

It seems like the purity ball probably won’t be happening, but there are other fun things the OP could arrange for her daughter to do instead. What she really needs to worry about is how to address her concerns with her mother-in-law and husband before another event like this one comes up.

McKenzie Lynn Tozan

Written by McKenzie Lynn Tozan

McKenzie Lynn Tozan lives in North Chicago, where she works as a poet, freelance writer, and editor. She received her MFA in Creative Writing from Western Michigan University, and her BA in English from Indiana University South Bend. Her poems have appeared in Rogue Agent, Whale Road Review, the James Franco Review, Thank You for Swallowing, and elsewhere; and her essays and book reviews have appeared with Memoir Mixtapes, The Rumpus, BookPage, and Motherly, among others. When she's not reading and writing, she's in her garden or spending time with her family. For more, visit www.mckenzielynntozan.com.