When a teenager takes a leap and asserts a courageous identity choice, their parent or parents’ acceptance of that decision is often the most significant of all.
But even if a parent does everything right, there are other family members who will respond in their own ways.
And while those may not weigh quite as heavy as the views of a parent, they do still matter.
One Redditor recently saw just how far that can go. She explained her son’s recent ordeal in a post to the “Am I the A**hole (AITA)” subReddit.
The Original Poster (OP), anonymously known as ThrowRA3829 on the site, began by painting a picture of her content life with her teenage son.
“I [35-year-old female] have a son, I’ll call him Jake for this post.”
“Jake [19-year-old male] is gay and has a lovely boyfriend, Derek [20-year-old male]. They have been dating for 3 years.”
“I am so happy he feels so comfortable around me, and that he trusted me to come out relatively soon after he realized himself. Derek practically lives at our house, his parents are awesome, he just likes it here too.”
“I’m pretty chill, cook great food lol, and let them sleep over in the same room.”
“As someone who was a young teen mom, I know sex going to happen, and it’s not my place to control anything about their relationship.”
But not everyone has been so accepting.
“Jake’s father is present but we are not married and he doesn’t approve of Derek. He is always invited to family events and his attitude has always infuriated Jake.”
“My family has always treated me as an outcast. I was kicked out when I became pregnant and I keep in contact because I have absolutely no backbone and I’m working on it.”
“Ever since Jake got a boyfriend, my family has been hounding me to send him to ‘get some serious help.’ They are heavily Christian and I am atheist.”
“They think he’s broken and send me conversion therapy propaganda.”
Those views evidently bothered Jake enough for him to hatch a scheme.
“Jake had the idea to go to Derek’s house for a couple weeks and pretend it was conversion therapy.”
“I said I wasn’t going to stop him, but this wasn’t solving the problem. It would probably just start comments about him being fixed now and just normal homophobic comments.”
OP’s reluctance led to some debate.
“Jake is understanding that I’m not a fan but Derek is furious that I don’t support the idea.”
“He’s rallied his family and they are now bombarding me with texts and calls about what a terrible mother I am and how Jake should just stay with them full time cause I obviously don’t care.”
And ever since, OP has struggled to know exactly what the right move is.
“I have several deep rooted insecurities about not being a good enough mother, and this has been a serious blow to my confidence. I’m worried Jake is going to be turned against me.”
“Am I being a bad mother by not being 100% supportive?”
“I try to appear as a happy, bubbly person, and I love my son more than life itself, but I don’t think this is a good idea.”
Anonymous strangers weighed in by declaring:
- NTA – Not The A**hole
- YTA – You’re The A**hole
- ESH – Everyone Sucks Here
- NAH – No A**holes Here
Most people agreed that OP wasn’t the a**hole, and they offered a variety of reasons.
Many highlighted just how half-baked the plan was.
“NTA. I mean, faking conversion therapy seems like a premise for a bad comedy, not an effective tactic to manage homophobic family.”
“Does Derek disappear after your son is fake converted?” — stannenb
“NTA So, he pretends to go to conversion therapy, and then … what? Pretends to be straight? Hides from the rest of his family? I’m not seeing what the end goal of this plan is.”
“They are a**holes for treating him like that, but you are right that such a deception is pointless, and Derek is being an ungrateful a**hole to treat you as he is after your kindness and support.”
“You are encouraging your son to be who he is and trying to shield him from your family’s bigotry. That is the right kind of support.” — Skippy2716
“Wait, so they want to pretend a vacation is conversion therapy? What’s the endgame? He comes back and is miraculous still gay? How is that going to help the issues with the family.”
“Don’t get me wrong, your family is seriously fu**ed in the head if they think your kid being gay is a bad thing or wrong in anyway. I just don’t get why you not going along with a prank is a bad thing. NTA.” — Literally_-_Hitler
A few couldn’t believe how far this plan had already taken hold.
“DEREK’S family is messaging you??? Why? Why?? WHY? I feel like we are missing a huge chunk of the story. This escalation makes NO sense to me.” — AlwaysPlaysAHealer
“Uh, nta, but why tf are you getting sh** from Derek’s family about this? It was not your idea and it is WILDLY inappropriate that he brought them into it. Honestly I think you need to put up a boundary there too.”
“Obviously one needs to be put up with your side, but it feels like Derek sniffed out that you are the scapegoat/black sheep of your family and is putting you in that role in his too. It’s a pretty red flag reaction to being told that you don’t support fake conversion camp.” — CrowEnvironmental511
Others explained that the scheme’s effectiveness wasn’t even the main issue.
“NTA. Faking conversion therapy just shows the family that you believe what they are saying, that you ‘know’ he is ‘wrong’ for being gay. And nothing could be farther from the truth.”
“Continuing to support your son, while not allowing them to dictate anything, is what your son needs. It sounds to me like his boyfriend has a little bit of an issue, and I would just try sitting him and your son down and explaining why letting these people think they are right is dangerous.”
“Also, way to go on being an amazing and supportive mom.” — Vel0city216
“Even pretending to go along with conversion therapy is a dangerous precedent to set. It would validate their opinion and tell them if they demand, you will do it. What’s more your son’s idea is basically to go back in the closet?”
“What’s the end game here, pretend he’s not gay when the family is around, hide his relationship from social media so it doesn’t get back to them? What happens when they ask into which torture cult… I mean therapy camp you sent him to? Where does it end?”
“NTA but tread carefully.” — Futurenazgul
Some people had a much more direct solution in mind.
“Going no contact with your family is probably a better option for everyone at the heart of this story!” — TeamChaos17
“NTA, but what you really need to do, as hard as it will be, is put your foot down with your family.”
“They need to know, in no uncertain terms, that your son will not be going to conversion therapy and the homophobic comments need to stop 100% if they want to have any relationship at all with you or your son. It’s time to grow a spine.” — badb-crow
“YTA – Like you said, you MUST grow a backbone and go no contact. As in, block then all right now. As soon as you see this comment. Just do it.” — Pr0fess0rKeat1ng
Hopefully, this groundswell of internet support and feedback will be enough for OP to stand up to so many people in her life who oppose her viewpoint.
OP, in an update to the original post, expressed the same wish.
“I will be cutting contact with my family and Jake’s father, I will post an update in a week or two. I need to have a come to jesus moment with Jake and Derek, so cross your fingers I guess.”
“I will also be addressing Derek’s family, but one thing at a time.”