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Parent Asks If They’re Wrong For Refusing To Pick Up Sixth Grade Son Until He Showers At School

Photo by Channey Tang-Ho/Unsplash

Some conversations are never easy.

The level of difficulty can fluctuate depending on the dynamic of the relationship.

Parents have to have hard chats with kids.

And the outcome doesn’t always go well.

Case in point…

Redditor BaseballDry8227 wanted to discuss their story for some feedback. So naturally they came to visit the “Am I The A**hole” (AITA) subReddit.

They asked:

“AITA for making my son shower at school?”

The Original Poster (OP) explained:

“My son is in the 6th grade and showering is not a big deal to him anymore.”

“To make matters worse, he has sports after school (which is at his school) so when I pick him up, he stinks.”

“He will promise to shower but doesn’t or doesn’t do a good job.”

“Yesterday I went to pick him up and handed him a bag with shampoo, body wash, clean clothes and deodorant.”

“He asked me what that was for and I said he’s going to take a shower in the boy’s locker room.”

“There were a few older kids in there who shower.”

“He refused and I said he’s not coming home until he does.”

“He said he’d take one at home and I said nope.”

“I also told him not to bother calling his mom.”

“He did shower and was fresh and clean but had tears in his eyes.”

“I told him when I dropped him off that he either showers at home or at school and I’ll always have a change bag for with on me.”

“His mom says the whole thing is a waste of time.”


Redditors shared their thoughts on this matter and weighed some options to the question AITA?:

  • NTA – Not The A**hole
  • YTA – You’re The A**hole
  • NAH – No A**holes Here
  • ESH – Everyone Sucks Here

Redditors declared our OP WAS the A**hole.

It’s a tricky situation.

Let’s hear some thoughts…

“YTA. Forcing him to get naked in a place where he is clearly uncomfortable doing so makes you not only an asshole but an absolutely terrible parent.”  ~ vodka_philosophy

“Gods! I remember having a van full of 11 year old boys on a trip.”

“The smell! But they all broke out into a sing along and we had a good time. 6 months later, they all figured it out and have more shower gear than I do!”  ~ georgiemaebbw

“Yup!!! They start needing to shower a lot more than they ever did before, and parents just have to push them to do it.”

“Sometimes you just have to tell them they smell and they MUST shower.”

“You may also need tov refresh them on how much shampoo to use and to rub it thoroughly through their hair, now that it gets more greasy.”

“And sometimes you have to insist they change clothes.”

“But all of this should be taking place privately, at home.”

“Not the way OP did, for sure!”   ~ stiletto929

OP came back with a little more information…

“Edit: He can but won’t shower at home.”

“And very well when he does.”

“He’s not being prevented from showering at home.”

Reddit had more thoughts…

“ETA: OP I saw your edit, if he isn’t showering most of the time when he is at home or seems uninterested in it then it could mean a lack of motivation/depression.”

“I also re-read your post.”

“You refer to his mom as his mom and not your wife, so is she your ex/you two separated?”

“If yes then he could be stressed/depressed from that, especially if it’s recently.”

“If he is depressed, for whatever reason, he may need more than just tips on self care/hygiene.”

“He may need therapy or need to see a doctor if it’s severe.”

“I would also talk to him and ask of he is being bullied because you may of added fuel to the fire by either by opening him up to more bullying or made him more self conscious if he is being bullied for his smell.”

“If you and his mom are divorced then you doing stuff like this probably makes him feel even worse (because you saying not to bother calling his mom was like saying both his parents would abandon him over his smell).”

“And his mom being apathetic to the situation is also very harmful to him.”

“If anything, right now I recommend deodorant and also give him the option of sponge baths in times when he doesn’t want to shower.”

“Like if he doesn’t feel up to having a full shower when he gets home from school (he could be too tired/mentally exhausted/depressed/busy with school work to have a shower).”

“Or even possibly help set up/make a schedule/routine of self care (that goes beyond just showering).”

“Like a night time routine of shower, snack, brush teeth, bed.”

“Or see if he would want to try showering in the morning a couple times to test it out.”

“Sometimes it can be inconvenient/time consuming in the morning or wet hair doesn’t always look good so unless you have a blow dryer/know how to use one he may not want to and that’s valid.”

“Or even setting an expectation where he can choose what time of day it is but every 2 or 3 days he has to shower.”

“You need to have a sit down discussion about this with him though rather than passing comments/chitchat in the car.”

“Show and be non-judgemental towards him and go at it like you are supporting him, not punishing him for this.”

“Continuation of original comment:”

“I was thinking of the bullying aspect too, the older boys could of bullied him while he was in there and thats why he came out crying.”

“Also OP, if your son is at or around the age puberty starts and hormones fluctuating can cause them to become stinky and ITS NOT THEIR FAULT.”

“He may take a couple of years to balance out the stinkiness or if you’re so concerned about the smell take him to a doctor and maybe they can educate him AND YOU about it and/or steps to take to minimize/control it.”

“The way you are going about this isn’t instilling healthy self-care habits like you may think you are.”

“It’ll make him self conscious and feel depressed and also not feel safe around you.”

“You literally and essentially told him to get naked in a room with his peers (who may or may not be strangers and or who may or may not be bullies) or else you would ABANDON HIM at the school.”

“What parent does that?”

“(Answer: not a good one)”

“And your wife saying it’s a waste of time?”

“She sounds just as bad for:”

“1) not getting on your butt about what you did and…”

“2) seems uninvolved or uninterested in your son’s well being (including concern over his self care).”

“If he ends up staying at the school because you abandon him since he doesn’t smell good enough for you, I wonder what the principle and CPS will think.”

“This would fit child abandonment criteria in my opinion, which could mean losing him and any other kids you and your wife have.”

“Also how do you expect him to get home?”

“Hitchhike with a stranger? Hella dangerous.”

“Take the bus? What if they are gone by the time he comes out?”

‘Walk to your house? It’s probably far since you have to drive him.”

“Or try and get a ride with a friend?”

“Whose parents, may go off on you and or report you for what you did?”

“Your truamatizing and being abusive towards him.”

“If you love your son then educate yourself (and by extension your wife) and be supportive, not instill fear and shame into your son.’

“Remember: We all (including you) were stinky teenagers once.”  ~ TheoryAddict

“As a kid who got left at school until 3-4 hours after school got out, the principal and teachers probably won’t do anything or call C[hild] P[rotective] S[ervices].”

“CPS is not exactly the knight in shining armor people think it is.”

“And often makes kids lives worse.”

“The good teachers would probably just look out for him better and judge tf out of op for being an AH.”

“YTA, this is messed up behavior.”  ~ Electronic_Bad_4315

“The poor child, why are parents so cruel and don’t have any sympathy for their own children?”

“In my culture people usually shower after gym/PE, and I think we are more accepting of people being naked, because of sauna culture.”

“So, in general, I find it a bit strange to just sweat everywhere, buttttttttttt even so, everyone has a right to their own body.”

“Especially young people, who have such a hard time with their bodies and even more so if nudity isn’t so prevalent in society.”   ~ FluffyReport

“OP just lost his sons trust with this one.”

“He obviously isn’t comfortable showering with other people yet, and he’s in the 6th grade which is around the time kids start showering at school.”

“Now he’ll be traumatized forever because he was forced into it rather than gradually allowing himself to become comfortable with it, if at all.”

“YTA OP, and I would apologize to your son and begin working on gaining his trust back.”  ~ theOperentice

No one said parenting is easy.

But it seems like there are ways to deal with parenting issues with a bit more finesse that OP used.

At least according to the responses on Reddit.

Hopefully OP can sit down with their son and talk this out.