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Teen Calls Out Parents’ ‘Stupid’ Plan To Help Grieving Sister Return To Old Self After Friends Die

upset teenage girl seated in school hallway in front of lockers
izusek/Getty Images

Grief is extremely individual and situational.

Not everyone grieves the same way or for the same length of time. And losing a contemporary when you’re 60 hits different than losing a close friend at 16.

An older brother who thinks his sister needs to process her grief in her own way, on her own timeline, came into conflict over his parents’ plans to make her snap out of it and go back to “normal.”

So he turned to the “Am I The A**hole” (AITA) subReddit for feedback.

Entropic_hound asked:

“AITA for calling my parents’ plan stupid?”

The original poster (OP) explained:

“I (17, male) have a sister (14 but one month away from 15, female) who recently had 3 of her good friends die. She was very energetic and, to be honest, rather ‘girly’ before that.”

“Now she’s stopped styling her hair—something she spent a lot of time and effort doing once, she does the bare minimum bathing and grooming, and wears the same few hoodies and sweatpants.”

“More strangely, she’s been going at cardboard boxes with a knife until they look like the product of an angry animal.”

“She’s also been drawing herself hanging out and doing activities with these two characters I’ve never heard of: Sunny from Omori and Kris from Deltarune—if anyone has knowledge, appreciated.”

“Our parents want to ‘incentivize’ her to go back to her old self.”

“They talked about removing the non-pink and white girl stuff from her closet while she’s showering and redecorating her room while she’s at a cheer practice—which they haven’t let her quit after she asked—to try and ‘get her into the correct headspace.'”

“I straight up laughed and called that the dumbest idea I ever heard. They ignored me at first, but I continued and said that I would not let them live their failure down.”

“They said if they wanted my thoughts, they’d ask. Things got heated, and I said that with them, there’s no wonder she’s miserable.”

“They’ve begun to give me the silent treatment.”


The OP summed up their situation.

“I think calling their plan stupid was disrespectful and not in service of anything.”

“I took her to the zoo, bought her an airsoft pistol she wanted, took a sick day to hang out with her on a particularly bad day for her, helped make a chocolate cake for no reason, and drove her to therapy a lot.”

Redditors weighed in by declaring:

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

Redditors unanimously declared the OP was not the a**hole (NTA).

“NTA. The truth is it’s just going to take time. I lost my best friend—very unexpectedly—when I was the same age and it f*cked. me. up.”

“It’s been 20 years now, and there’s still trauma related to that that pops up in my life. I could not imagine losing three friends all at once.”

“The truth is she may never go back to how she was. She will improve, she will get better, but she might never be the girl she was before.”

“The death of close young people changes you in a way I cannot even begin to describe. She needs therapy, support, understanding and most of all time.”

“There is no magic shortcut through this—it’s going to take a lot of time.”

“What she does not need is her parents ransacking her room to try and force her to get better to ‘be who she was’. That is NEVER going to work. Ever.”

“That will f**k her up like no other and utterly destroy your parents’ relationship with her, yours as well if she finds out you knew and did nothing to stop it. For the love of everything do not let your parents do this.”

“I understand you can only do so much and cannot actually stop them, but you best go to bat for your sister; if that means screaming at your parents as they’re rummaging through her room and putting sh*t back, that’s what you do.”

“If your parents go through with this idiotic plan to betray her like this, YOU are all she has. She needs to SEE and HEAR you defend her against their bullsh*t.”

“She may logically know she is not alone, but her emotions will not let her believe that. So showing her you are on her side, for her and love her is what she needs right now.”

“I would also suggest you find her therapist and send an email—they will not be able to reply back or tell you anything—but they will act on the info and confront your parents and try to talk them out of this madness.”

“I know it’s disturbing to watch her rip apart cardboard, but if she’s not a danger to herself it’s likely cathartic and helping her deal with the anger in a healthy manner. You could attempt to talk to her about it if you’re super concerned, but if she doesn’t want to, it might be best to leave it alone and let her counselor deal with it.”

“Once again, it really comes down to just being there for her. Letting her know you love her and are there for her whatever she needs.”

“Sometimes all it takes is sitting in the same room with her, quietly going about your life, but intentionally in her presence so she knows you are there.”

“I know this is so much to ask of you. More than anyone should be asked. I know it’s horrible to watch her suffer, to deal with your parent’s hare-brained schemes, and to feel like there’s nothing you can do.”

“But you’re doing an amazing job. I wanna make sure this is very, very clear—if you find anything that’s being suggested on this post—my suggestions, others suggestions, literally anything from anyone—as way too much, THAT’S OKAY.”

“You’re not a monster for being unable to help or get through to her. Sometimes we just can’t help no matter how much we love someone.”

“I am so, so, so, so sorry your sister and family are going through this. I genuinely, with all my heart, hope you all feel better and get through this together much sooner rather than later.” ~ llamadramalover

“NTA. Your sister is grieving—just about the last thing she needs is to have her space and autonomy violated. Having your space changed and things taken away in an instant would be difficult to cope with at the best of times, but when she’s already hurting?”

“Horrific. What she needs is acceptance, support, and continued grief counseling or grief support groups. With the internet you can find online grief support groups for other young people that know, at least a little, what she’s feeling like.”

“What she doesn’t need is to feel like her parents don’t give a sh*t about her struggling but instead the fact that she isn’t performing happiness for them.” ~ SheepPup

“So after suffering a devastating loss which she had absolutely no control over… they’re going to take away what little control she has left in her life and give her something else to grieve?”

“Yeah, that’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard. NTA.”

“Grief is ugly and raw and uncomfortable. If your parents actually want to help their child through that, they need to learn to suck it the f*ck up and sit with their discomfort instead of trying to force the child into what they would be happiest/most comfortable with.”

“They don’t like that she’s a mess? News flash: she’s supposed to be.”

“She loved her friends, and now they’re dead. Let the poor child process that however they like as long as they’re not a danger to themselves or others.” ~ SapphireEcho

“The parents want to remove the clothing that she *is* wearing, leaving only the ‘girly’ clothing they want her to wear. The hoodies and sweatpants are comforting to her right now, and the parents want to get rid of them. This is a really bad idea. NTA.” ~ TRex65

“My son lost his best friend at a party… and died in his arms. It has been nine months, and some days are better than others.”

“He sees a therapist for trauma specifically and anger management also because he’s angry over what happened. As his parent, I don’t push him to act ‘normal’ because who he was is gone.”

“This changed him. But he knows I’m here when he needs me. I encourage him to come out with family, and he’s just now taking me up on it.”

“Tell your parents to be supportive, but don’t expect her to act normal. NTA.” ~ EnvironmentalBlock36

“NTA. It’s going to take time. I know that they’re probably really worried about her and feel helpless, which is why they concocted that idiotic scheme, but your parents need to get a grip on their emotions.”

“Trying to force her to be the happy girly girl they knew is only going to add to her frustration and grief. Even if she hadn’t lost 3 of her friends in a tragic manner, the odds are that she’d be dressing ‘weird’ by your parents’ standard and discovering new interests while discarding those of old.”

“That’s what teenagers do and your parents would know that if they quit panicking and took the time to remember what they were doing at her age.”

Meanwhile, she isn’t clinically depressed, slacking in school, or doing drugs. All things considered, that’s a win. Your parents need to appreciate that and calm down.” ~ Sufficient_Soil5651

While the conflict got a little nasty, hopefully, OP can help his parents see their daughter has changed.

Forcing her to wear pink and pretend to be perky for their comfort doesn’t help anyone.

Written by Amelia Mavis Christnot

Amelia Christnot is an Oglala Lakota, Kanien'kehá:ka Haudenosaunee and Metís Navy brat who settled in the wilds of Northern Maine. A member of the Indigenous Journalists Association, she considers herself another proud Maineiac.