The perspective people have of you can be influenced by many things, including society and the things you do. But at what point is it not your fault how people see what you’re doing?
When Redditor AlNuevoMundo took it on himself to watch his co-worker’s daughter, she thought it was creepy and called him out on it. The original poster (OP) doesn’t think he did anything wrong, but other co-workers are talking about it too.
OP decided to ask the “Am I the A**hole” (AITA) subReddit about what went down.
And now they ask about the co-worker’s reaction.
“AITA for playing with my co-worker’s daughter?”
The societal issue here comes from how OP’s country sees men in a different light.
“I (M[ale]27) work in a predominantly female workplace. I’m the only man in my team, which often makes me feel like an alien, as many of my co-workers tend to ignore me while talking about supposedly ‘womanly’ things (mostly children, family, school events).”
“Ironically, while I don’t have my own children, I’ve four younger siblings whom I adore and I’m generally a big fan of spending time with kids. In my family it’s practically a tradition that I’m always on babysitting duty during all events.”
“For a while I even considered becoming a kindergarten teacher but I dropped these plans as in my country it’s rather frowned upon for a man to work in early-education.”
“Recently due to personal issues one of my co-workers, Maria started bringing to the office her seven-year-old daughter, Cathy. Our whole team is head-over-heels with the girl and I really can understand it as she’s really well-behaving and resolute for her age.”
“Yesterday Maria and most of our team were on the meeting in other part of the building while Cathy stayed in our office. Maria didn’t tell anybody specifically to take care of her child, she just told Cathy to behave and wait for her.”
“I was one of the few people who weren’t on the meeting and as I hadn’t had a big workload, I tried to keep the girl entertained.”
“I think I didn’t do anything even remotely weird – I let her play with action figures decorating my desk, found her some paper and colorful pens to draw and chatted with her a bit about neutral things like food, her dog and school. I wasn’t even alone with the girl as few of my co-workers were also in the same room.”
“Cathy didn’t look scared or uncomfortable by any means, she was cheerful and talkative and I think she enjoyed having someone else than her mum to pay attention to her.”
“When Maria returned from the meeting she gave me a stink eye and rushed to take Cathy from my desk where she was drawing. When she was out of earshot, Maria told me it was totally inappropriate and creepy for me as a man to play with a young girl.”
“Few of her colleagues supported her, too, making me look like a pervert.
“I was shocked and hurt. I’d never do anything to any child, let alone one I see most of the days. I never did or said anything which would suggest I may be dangerous.”
“I don’t even look intimidating, or at least I don’t think so. Also, it’s not like I’m the first person interacting with Cathy, as our other co-workers were playing and chatting with her before me.”
“I told Maria as much but she still thinks that as a male I should keep away from other people’s children.”
“I think it’s unfair to treat me like a creep simply because I’m a man. I really don’t know what I did wrong, if anything. However, if I crossed the line, I’m ready to apologize. AITA?”
OP thinks he just kept Cathy entertained, but Maria thinks he should leave the young girl alone. Was OP the bad guy for what he did?
On Reddit, the users of the board judged OP for playing with his co-worker’s daughter while the co-worker was in a meeting
by including one of the following in their response:
- NTA – Not the A**hole
- YTA – You’re the A**hole
- NAH – No A**holes Here
- ESH – Everybody Sucks Here
The commenters were so confused about Maria’s reaction. The only thing OP did was ensure Cathy wasn’t bored while her mother was in a meeting.
According to this story, OP just provided the girl with some toys and paper. The cultural connotations may be the biggest problem here, assuming that men shouldn’t be caretakers of children.
The commenters agreed that OP was NTA.
“NTA but…I think you MUST go to HR before someone lodges some twisted version of what happened.”
“Explain exactly what happened. Emphasise you were never alone with the child. Highlight that this is discrimination based on you being male.”
“Ask what is the company’s policy if you ever find yourself the only adult left in the room – do you have to stop work? – leave the room?”
“If there’s an emergency, are you allowed to tell the child to leave? Physically help her to leave? Or not touch her even in an emergency?”
“If the child asks you a question, must you ignore her? Are you allowed to tell her you cannot talk to her?”
“If HR has no clear answers, or it’s going to interfere with the work the company pays you to do, then Maria needs to make alternate arrangements and not bring her child to work, because it’s creating a hostile environment for you and a distracting one for everyone.” – dragonsfriend-9271
“This is it. Don’t go to HR to ‘defend’ yourself… go because now YOU are uncomfortable and you expect clear guidelines as to how you are expected to interact with said child in all scenarios since you are being singled out as a man.”
“NTA” – TheViciousBitch2
“NTA. However, you mentioned that in your country it’s frowned upon for men to work in early education. Perhaps the mother’s reaction is a part of a larger cultural bias towards men?”
“In any case, you should report this situation to HR just in case the mother beats you to it and ‘reports’ you. She should not be taking her child to work even if it’s for personal reasons and then discriminating against a co-worker (you).” – Golden_rose28
“NTA and definitely go to HR. I could see maybe if you had privately isolated her in a room by herself but it sounds like this was harmless.”
“I would also insist on HR telling her to stop bringing her kid to work if it’s a problem. It’s a job not a daycare.” – Cash_phoenix88
Some of the other commenters looked at this situation from another perspective. That being Maria’s point of view.
A discussion about how Maria should react broke out in the comments.
“I say NAH here. She’s just trying to protect her kid and it’s completely natural that she’d think any man spending time with her is a predator.”
“Sounds like you didn’t do anything though so you’re obviously not in the wrong either.” – ApexMM
“NTA, then she’s a terrible mom for bringing her kid to an ‘unsafe environment’ and leaving her alone. you do hear how stupid that sounds right? ‘you’re a man, gotta be a predator, but a woman? oh you can do wtv you like, braid her hair, ask personal questions, etc’”
“i get the fear (im a woman) but it’s not a valid excuse to portray random men like that, especially if she’s the one who brought her kid into that situation. that’s his job, and now his coworkers see him as a creep because of wrongful accusations, that’s an asshole move.” – h_hay
“I think that’s blaming the victim. You should be able to have your kids run around and feel safe, but if something bad happened that’s the fault of whoever did it, not you.” – ApexMM
“nope, because i never blamed the kid. the parent is responsible for the kid and would be held accountable for leaving her kid in the watch of strangers (who knows if they have childcare experience, are trustworthy, etc) that’s the moms doing, so that’s on her.”
“this world isn’t rainbow and sunshines ‘you should be able to have your kids run around and feel safe’ okay well this isn’t a fairytale world, step back into reality for a bit.” – h_hay
“Most times women who act like this is because their husbands would never. Never just talk to their kid, never watch their kid, never think to give them toys ect.”
“If they see another man do it, it is a insult to their relationship and their husband. It’s just easier to make you out to be wrong.” – insane_normal
“This is something I had never thought of and but it has the ring of truth. People want to think that their experience is ‘normal’ and if someone else deviates from that, that other person is (not them) is the abnormal one.”
“Not them! Yes, that must be it! It couldn’t be that their husband is abnormal, a jerk! No, impossible!”
“I have several family members in my family who are devoted, wonderful fathers. It’s ‘normal’ to me. It breaks my heart that so many other people find such men an anomoly.” – goldenpoppy
OP may not be the bad guy, but he’ll need to go to HR and get ahead of this. See what rules are in place for having a child at work.