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New Dad Sparks Family Drama After Telling His Wife That Her Racist Father Isn’t Welcome Around Their Newborn Son

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With inequality in the spotlight, a new father feels how he speaks of others is especially important now, especially around children.

But his father-in-law, who is 70-years-old, does not feel the same way and frequently throws around the “n” word socially. The new dad has always been uncomfortable with this, but given events and his newborn son being exposed to his grandfather’s word choices, he’s feeling more resistant to his father-in-law’s racist behavior.

Redditor “throwaway8282287” asked the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit if he was wrong for feeling this way about his father-in-law, as well as wanting to limit his time and influence around his newborn.

The Redditor asked the thread: 

“[Am I the a**hole] for not wanting my wife’s racist father around my newborn?” 

The Redditor shared first his father-in-law’s typical behavior.

“My wife (30F) just gave birth to our first baby boy.”

“Her father, 70M, often says the n word and is just in general not very accepting of the Black community.”

“He has gotten so much worse in the past week with all of the current events: throwing the n word around left and right and just being discriminatory.”

“I guess that this is just the ‘old generation’ but nonetheless that is completely a dealbreaker for me.”

He has put up with his father-in-law’s behavior in the past, but the stakes are higher now.

“I have put up with family gatherings with him for our entire relationship. If it was my father I’d cut him off immediately but I can’t make that decision for her so I keep my peace.”

“I have told him I don’t like the word respectfully but he just keeps doing it. I’m old enough to make to decisions, my child is just born and will absorb what is around him.”

Now that their son has been born, he wants his father-in-law to be more mindful.

But his wife and father-in-law do not agree.

“I told my wife I do not want him around our son unless he refuses to say the word.”

“He says he will say whatever he wants because he’s 70 years old and my wife agrees and thinks I am being controlling.”

Now he’s wondering if he’s in the wrong for his feelings.

“I think I have good morals and want what is best for my kid.”

“AITA?”

Fellow Redditors shared their opinions anonymously, using the following scale: 

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

Some were quick to point out this is not “generational” or “70-year-old” behavior… it’s racist behavior. 

“It’s not a generational thing, it’s a racist a**hole thing. NTA.”DLS3141

“NTA. And no, it’s not a generational thing. Lots of people from that generation know not to say it. 70s is not that old anymore.”MissEssquire

“Yeahhhhh NTA. I am a close to your wife’s age and my dad is close to your wife’s dad. I don’t think the ‘old generation’ rationalization works here. 70 is not so old you’re going senile and say non-pc things he’s just being a blatantly racist a**hole.”

“If I had a kid I wouldn’t want them picking up that kind of language either. Kids mimic things they hear from adults. My Grandpa is awesome but would yell ‘Godd**nit!’ when he was angry, and me as a two year old gave my parents quite the shock when I shouted that with such gusto.”

“Now imagine that with a horrible racist word… Not good.”bodeejus

Others agreed and added the daughter is also being racist by allowing her father’s behavior. 

“[Wanted] to say NTA and your wife is kinda racist too(allowing racism should be treated as racism)”thetoiletslayer

“NTA. Ask your wife why she enables racism”PlushieTushie

“NTA… and I’d say your wife may be at least a little racist too if she’s willing to let him continue.”deanybabi

“NTA. Your wife is enabling her father’s racist language, and to turn around and accuse you of being controlling for attempting to set boundaries is appalling of her. The real problem lies with her. He wouldn’t pull that racist crap if she told him not to or cut him off.”

“I think you should seriously consider if you want to be married to someone who enables racism the ways she does.”Pollypocketful

Some confirmed that mindful word choice in exchange for family visits was a reasonable boundary. 

“NTA. Racism is learned. You don’t want your child taught racism and that is a very good thing.”RAbites

“NTA- and you’re not being controlling but talk to your wife about your boundaries (father can’t use derogatory language around your kid) and you guys create reasonable consequences when those lines are crossed.”

“Like if he start dropping n-bombs, you guys leave. Her relationship with her family is important but your morals are just as important.”

“Plus he’s 70 not a Civil War vet, he’s young enough to know better and make the change. Your wife needs to hear your concerns and as parents you need to be a moral example to your kid.”EuphoricRealist

“NTA. Seriously, if more white Americans were willing to ostracize racist relatives, this country would be dramatically improved. Keep your kid away from that.”AntiquePangolin

A few also questioned the OP’s willingness to put up with the racism even before his son was born.

“Obviously NTA but leaning towards ESH because how was this not a deal breaker ages ago? You just tolerated this behavior at family dinners? If you really want to protect your child, take a hard look at the behaviors you yourself are willing to let slide. Grow a spine, dude.”steeveebeemuse

“ESH The racist father especially, obviously. But you waited until after you had a child to bring this up?”

“If this mattered to you (which is reasonable) then you should have discussed this with your wife before you two got married and before you two had a child together. You don’t bring up significantly important to you parenting stances that she had reason not to expect after you have a child unless it’s unavoidable.”sqitten

“ESH, he was always like this and you’re just now after having a child deciding it’s a dealbreaker? Bro wut? She doesn’t think a line needs to be drawn and never had and she probably never will.”

“Also if you’re a good parent you’re going to be teaching your child good morals in the face of bad ones anyways.”

“You either got to suck it the f**k up and have the family you planned and not make ultimatums now while teaching your child to be good, or make the choice to move on and separate from your wife, knowing she will possibly then have shared custody with you and your son will still be around her father”Set-To-Wumbo

One Redditor offered thoughtful advice about how to raise his son, even with racist relatives. 

“NTA and I hate to tell you, but if your wife doesn’t draw that boundary, then she doesn’t believe there needs to be a boundary. Let’s hope it’s just because she’s tired and scared and needs to pick her battles, and this ain’t it.”

“But pay attention over the next year or so to see if she tells you she’s racist by implying or outright saying that white people are superior, either because we are naturally better or bc we behave better or bc we have a better culture. The N word from an old man is the least of your problems, if your wife believes her dad is correct but knows how to hide it.”

“Right now, and for the next few months, keep your peace completely. Hold your tongue because your kid doesn’t understand language. Look up ‘grey rocking’ and don’t rise to his provocations (bc he will try to provoke you).”

“But during that time and for years afterwards, educate yourself, quietly & humbly, about racism. As your son’s language center begins to blossom, fill his world with positive books and wonderful stories that are anti-racist. Not ‘color blind’ but anti-racist. Look it up.”

“And use factual words: your FIL isn’t ‘not very accepting of the black community.’ He is racist. No matter how many black friends he has, no matter how much he likes ‘the good ones,’ he is a racist SOB who is frightened that the USA is turning brown.”

“If he didn’t freak out about White men with long guns terrorizing state employees trying to work, he shouldn’t be riled up by brown people walking with signs in response to a man being slowly murdered over $20. And looters? They aren’t the protestors—they are humbugs happy to have an excuse to destroy & steal stuff.”DisfunkyMonkey

Though these conversations are hard, and having them with family and friends is even harder, people still need to work to do better to support others.

By holding himself and his family accountable, even if that’s hard for his father-in-law (and maybe even his wife), this new dad is attempting to raise his son better, so he can live in a better world.

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.