Encouraging your child’s creativity and unique spirit is part of a parent’s job. But is there ever a point when doing so makes you the bad guy?
One Reddit user, who opted to go by “Aitathrowaway7878” to protect their identity, doesn’t feel like the bad guy for letting their son do “girly” things. But their mother and a few other people disagree.
Obviously, this was a job for the AITA (“Am I The A**hole?”) subReddit. Before we get into their story, though, let’s talk about how this works.
The original poster (OP) gets things started by sharing their situation as a post. Other Reddit users leave comments casting their votes and explaining why they feel that way.
The voting options are pretty straightforward.
- NTA – Not The A**hole
- YTA – You’re The A**hole
- ESH – Everyone Sucks Here
- NAH – No A**holes Here
Here’s their post
“I was with my ex for 5 years, and we separated a year ago. Ex was a terrible partner (financial abuse, emotional abuse, verbal abuse, just a peach) and not a good father.”
“I stopped working for medical reasons when my son was born. My ex worked 40h a week. This is important because him working meant that my son spent most of his time with me.”
“Ex never took care of our son, by the time kiddo was 15 month old his father still didn’t know his bedtime routine. Never played with him, only fed and changed him when I asked etc. I was a single mom but with a roommate.”
“When I finally got the courage to leave, I couldn’t afford a place so my son and I moved in with my mom. We stayed 5 months with her.”
“Onto the issue: my son is almost 3 and absolutely loves nail polish, lipstick, jewelry and hair accessories. I really think it’s partly because he basically only lived with women.”
“24/7 with me when I was still with my ex, then my mom & me and then me alone with him. So he just wants to do like the adults around him I guess. And then of course it’s also because it’s just who he is.”
“Anyways. When I put on nail polish, my son wants some too. So I put some on like 1 or 2 fingers on each hand.”
“He asks for lipstick when I do my make up so I put a tiny bit on his lower lip (my make up is organic and allergens free). My mom gave me some cheap jewelry she didn’t wear anymore and my son loves wearing it, like necklaces and wristbands.”
“My ex sees his son twice a month, Saturday morning to Sunday afternoon.”
“When he sees our son with nail polish or jewelry he FREAKS OUT. He just hates it.”
“Here’s where I might be the ass: Ex told me that when it comes to decisions about our son we should both be involved.”
“On principle I agree because he’s still his father after all. But on this particular subject? Hell no.”
“I pretended to not understand that he was talking about the “girly” stuff and I said I agreed. If my son wants to wear a sparkly pink necklace I’m not going to let his dad’s fragile masculinity stop it.”
“And it’s not like son acts “like a girl” anyway (whatever that is), he plays with trucks, toy guns, loves soccer and rolling in the mud etc. He just does it while wearing nail polish and hairbands.”
“Ex expects me to stop allowing it. I won’t.”
“When my son goes to his dad’s I remove the nail polish and keep the jewelry with me because I don’t want him to be grounded or berated for it, but when he’s with me I let him be.”
“Ex saw some pictures on my social medial and went on a rant about me and how I’m only doing this to spite him. And to be honest yeah.”
“I would let my son do it anyway, but the fact that his dad hates it just make me a tiny bit happier.”
“My mom thinks it makes me an a**hole because morally it’s wrong to enjoy pissing off your kid’s other parent, and because I played dumb and agreed to make decisions with him but didn’t go through with it (only about this subject tho, I still involve him with anything else.)”
“I know it makes me immature and petty, but I don’t think I’m an a**hole.”
Reddit had a lot to say about Dad’s behavior.
“NTA. Your son’s happiness is the most important thing here, not your ex’s.”
“You’re not doing anything to harm your son, and letting him express himself and play how he wants is a good thing.”
“So…. your ex-husband would ground or berate a 3 year old? Lolwut. What a guy.”
“NTA at all OP. My little nephews are very typical little boys, and they also like for their mommy to paint their nails sometimes.”
“Sometimes their dad even gets his nails painted along with them, because who the hell cares?”
“And I don’t even know what this has to do with any agreement you and your ex have about making decisions for your son together.”
“How is painting a couple nails, or letting him wear a necklace, “making decisions?” Are you involved in “making decisions” about everything your son wears or plays with when he’s at his dad’s? LOL” – jarroz61
“NTA. Kids like what they like, and as long as they don’t hurt someone or something there’s no logical reason to deny them.”
“Obviously he’s emulating his mother and is seeking acceptance. His dad is inured in a narrow mindset of masculine identity, which is sad, but to keep the peace keep doing how you’re doing; let the boy dress up with you, but present himself more to Dad’s liking when he visits him.” – SamW20910
“NTA – your son will be able to identify toxic masculinity a mile off through his father!”
“Your son is totally normal, his happiness is key. Your parenting is yours in your home, and it’s the dads business at his so long as there’s no neglect/abuse.”
“I see no problem with you telling your ex what he wanted to hear, in order to live your life in peace. It’s called “picking your battles”.” – upthecreekwithnocanoe
“NTA you are prioritizing your kids happiness. Just let the kid know people are all different and enjoy different things.”
“I would look into cultural examples. So like if some says he isn’t being a man he can point out such and such culture men wear jewelry. Example in many south west Native American cultures men quiet commonly wear the larger bracelets and rings.”
“There is nothing wrong with guys wear jewelry,nail polish, etc. give him examples so if anyone try’s to hurt his feelings he knows he isn’t alone in his little enjoyments.” – Misc_Fluff
“NTA. But OP you should already be talking to your son about self expression and what it means, because your ex at some point will start shaming him for his choices if he doesn’t ‘approve’.”
“The sooner you start equipping your son with knowledge and confidence to make his own decisions the better.”
“The next few years he is going to go through the asserting independence phase. Don’t let your ex undermine his ability to do what’s right for HIM because ‘daddy won’t love him’ if he doesn’t choose what daddy wants.” – nessa_ac
Redditors agreed, mom was not the a**hole.