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Mom Called Out For Forcing Tomboy Daughters To Wear Dresses While Visiting ‘Traditional’ In-Laws

Pair of "tomboy" teens unhappy to be wearing dresses
Tasha Tarusova/EyeEm/Getty Images

Whether we want to admit it or not, sometimes there are people who come into our lives who we really want to impress. It might genuinely be to impress them, or to simply make a complicated situation easier, but the pressure to impress remains the same.

We might even be so distracted by this desire, we may not realize who we could be hurting, pointed out the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit.

Redditor PresentationNice6101 was worried about her “traditional” in-laws’ perception of her daughters, who she felt presented as “tomboys.”

But when they felt uncomfortable presenting themselves as more feminine, the Original Poster (OP) began to wonder if she’d taken her need to impress her in-laws too far.

She asked the sub:

“AITA for making my daughters wear dresses when they visit their grandparents?”

The OP recognized that her in-laws had certain standards for women.

“My in-laws are what you would call ‘traditional.’ They seem to think the world should have stopped 50 years ago and think everything since then is evil. They aren’t racist (that I know of) or outwardly bigoted, but they just are very old-fashioned.”

“My husband and I have three children (16 Female, 14 Female, and 10 Male), and we go to visit all their grandparents since they live close.”

“Here’s the issue, they don’t like the idea of women wearing pants. My MIL (Mother-in-Law) says it’s ‘showing off,’ and my FIL (Father-in-Law) always says it isn’t Christian.”

“Now I’m pretty feminine, so I don’t mind throwing on a dress when we stop by, but our daughters are not.”

But the OP’s daughters were uncomfortable visiting because of those standards.

“They don’t like visiting my husband’s parents, which breaks his heart, because we make them put on a dress before they go.”

“They are both pretty tomboyish, and they never wear any dresses otherwise. I had to buy each of them a few dresses specifically so they can go.”

“To be clear, it’s not like they aren’t allowed over if they wear pants, it’s just that the grandparents won’t shut up the entire time about how much they hate it.”

The two daughters made it clear they hated wearing dresses.

“Our daughters hate this and think it’s unfair. I guess it is, but in a lot of cultures, women only wear skirts and dresses, so I don’t think it’s a big deal. Plus, it isn’t like it hurts them to wear a dress a few times a week for a few hours.”

“The issue is our oldest is planning to never speak to her grandparents again after she’s 18, and I’m worried it’s affecting them.”

“AITA for making them wear dresses when we visit?”

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 pointed out that the grandparents were incredibly misogynistic. 

“My parents lived downstairs in our two-family home for 13 years and once my daughter was older, she might see them for an hour or two a week. She had homework and extracurricular stuff that garnered her time at that point.”

“This seems like a ridiculously excessive amount of time for teenagers to spend with their grandparents, especially in clothes they hate wearing.”

“I wonder if the kids are homeschooled? That’s the only way I can see how they might have this much free time to spend with their grandparents at ages 16 and 14.”

“OP, YTA for supporting your grandparents’ ideals, which are actually outdated and sexist, not old-fashioned.”

“When I think old-fashioned, I think of Emily Post-style manners, saying please and thank you, setting the table before dinner and eating as a family, ironing and starching your clothes, baking from scratch, etc.”

“You know, things that modern people often skip, but feel like a unique or satisfying experience when taking the time to do something the old-fashioned way. (Manners shouldn’t be old-fashioned but I feel like they really are these days.)” – MollzJJ

“YTA. You’re teaching them their comfort doesn’t matter and it’s their responsibility to cater to how other people think they should dress and act. It’s misogynistic and gross. Stop it.” – willfullabandon

“You said, ‘My MIL says it’s ‘showing off,’ and my FIL always says it isn’t Christian.'”

“This? Right here? Is the problem. YTA for letting your in-laws treat your daughters this way.” – thecoffeefrog

“Assuming the minimum definition of ‘a few’ is one that most people would agree on, it’s a minimum of nine hours a week (three hours, three times a week).”

“That’s a significant chunk of time that they don’t get to spend on extracurricular activities or other things they enjoy, because they’re sitting in a uniform they hate while listening to Grandma and Grandpa A**hole whine about politics or whatever.” – calliatom

“I can guarantee that Grandma and Grandpa AH spend hours saying AH things about other stuff, too, not just their grandkids’ clothing. That kind of negativity and controlling narrow-mindedness gets all over everything, it doesn’t just shut off when you appease them about one thing. These poor girls.” – capn_ginger

Others pointed out the OP was encouraging their poor behavior.

“I have a southern, conserved, Christian family and while they don’t care about girls in pants, they cared about boys wearing anything feminine.”

“I cut that s**t off immediately when my son was about two and started wearing his hair up like his older sister and wearing the occasional feminine-looking outfit.”

“I straight up said, ‘He’s two, he’s got the rest of his life for the world to s**t all over him. It’s not going to start with his own family picking on a toddler, so let him be.'”

“They didn’t like my cursing and they didn’t like being called out for bullying a toddler, but I said what I said and stuck to it, and they quickly stopped noticing the things either of my kids wear.”

“In fact, he’s six and just recently had his first haircut, down to where most boys in the family keep their hair, and there were gasps and near tears for his beautiful curls.”

“My point is, it never should have gotten this far. They should have established these boundaries well over a decade ago.” – sandwichcrackers

“My MIL was born in 1931 and scandalized her Kentucky hometown by not only wearing pants and saying no to her first suitor because he didn’t believe in birth control. She eventually met the man who would become her husband, and he whisked her out to California shortly after my husband was born in the early ’50s. They never looked back.”

“It’s not about age. It’s about misogyny. OP, if you see this, start standing up for your daughters or you will find their grandparents aren’t the only ones they cut off.” – Particular-Studio-32

“My mom was born in 1926. Her mother never wore pants, but my mom wore jeans in the 40s and 50s before it was cool to do so, and I think I remember three or four times in total when she wore a skirt.”

“I’m sure my religious grandmother didn’t like my mom wearing pants all the time, and my sister and I weren’t dress wearers except that we were required to in school, but I also don’t remember my grandmother ever saying a word about it.”

“OP, YTA for letting the grandparents treat your daughters this way.”

“You are taking the easy way by forcing them, but look what they’re doing to your kids already with one of them saying she wants nothing to do with them the minute she’s not required to.” – tasinca

“I love wearing dresses but would wear pants to visit in-laws like this, even if just to take the attention off my daughters.”

“We wear dresses to church. It’s definitely a cultural requirement where we are. If one of my girls objected, I’d make sure she had a nice pants suit or something similarly church appropriate but not a dress.” – Sweet_Permission_700

“YTA. I was reading this, assuming they had to see the grandparents every few months or so, and I still thought OP was an a**hole.”

“Then I got to this part: ‘it isn’t like it hurts them to wear a dress a few times a week for a few hours.'”

“What the h**l, OP!?! These poor kids have to be subjected to them several times a week!?!”

“You’re worried they aren’t going to speak to the grandparents again after they turn 18, you should be more worried they won’t speak to you or your husband either.” – TogarSucks

“OP is allowing her in-laws to bully her daughters and is not sticking up for them and their needs in order to avoid conflict or awkwardness with her in-laws.”

“She is invalidating her children’s feelings of discomfort, especially if they NEVER wear dresses to the point where she had to buy ones specifically to go to the in-laws’ house and are upset enough over it to go no contact with the grandparents at 18.”

“There is a larger issue here. It isn’t JUST a dress to them.”

“OP is an adult and should be putting her in-laws in their place. They have no right to dictate what her children wear, and she is showing her children that her in-laws’ wishes and avoiding conflict matter more to her than their discomfort.”

“She is also teaching them that they should be expected to be ok being uncomfortable and unhappy to appease others because… (checks notes) they are girls… As if society is not going to tell them enough that they are expected to change themselves or reduce themselves to make others (mostly men) happy.”

“These are lifelong damaging messages you are sending to your daughters, OP. YTA.” – codex42au

The subReddit was completely disgusted with how the OP was handling this situation, from forcing her daughters to wear dresses, to disregarding their feelings, to making them visit these grandparents multiple times per week.

The OP might be worried about her daughters’ relationship with their grandparents, but she might want to start worrying about their relationship with her and her husband if her behavior continued.

Written by McKenzie Lynn Tozan

McKenzie Lynn Tozan has been a part of the George Takei family since 2019 when she wrote some of her favorite early pieces: Sesame Street introducing its first character who lived in foster care and Bruce Willis delivering a not-so-Die-Hard opening pitch at a Phillies game. She's gone on to write nearly 3,000 viral and trending stories for George Takei, Comic Sands, Percolately, and ÜberFacts. With an unstoppable love for the written word, she's also an avid reader, poet, and indie novelist.