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Dad Furious After Teen Son Intentionally Ruins Hoodie That Belonged To Stepbrother’s Deceased Brother

Xiào Chong Pan/EyeEm/Getty Images

With the minimalist movement becoming increasingly popular, more people are seeing the value of living with less.

Though we may be learning to live with fewer possessions, we still understand the importance of extremely sentimental items, especially those that were owned by a deceased loved one.

Doing something that would harm one of these items would be incredibly selfish and hurtful, agreed the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit.

Redditor AT466433 found himself having to teach his son an important lesson after he deeply hurt his stepbrother.

But when some of his family pushed back, the Original Poster (OP) wondered if he should have chosen a different punishment for his son.

He asked the sub: 

“AITA for canceling my son’s birthday party upon discovering that he ruined his stepbrother’s deceased brother’s hoodie?” 

The OP’s family had a difficult dynamic.

“I [Male] 45 have a bio son, ‘Leo’ (16), from my previous relationship.”

“I married his stepmom, who is a mother of two boys, ‘Connor’ (20, deceased) and ‘Derek’ (12).”

“I’ve never had the pleasure to meet Connor, who tragically passed away from a motorcycle accident.”

“Derek was so devastated by this loss, and although it’s been years, he’s still pretty much grieving.”

“I’ve seen tons of pictures and videos of Connor and made efforts to get to know who he was as a way to share Derek’s grief and be there for him, to lend an ear and a comforting shoulder. It’s safe to say that Derek and I grew a strong bond in no time.”

“But my son Leo isn’t close to Derek. Understandable because not all siblings and stepsiblings are the same.”

“Leo and Derek are different in every way, which isn’t a bad thing, but Leo calls himself the brutally honest type and makes insensitive comments about Derek most of the time. They tend to be under the guise of ‘advice’.”

“Derek never complained, so I had to step in and tell Leo to stop being insensitive towards his stepbrother, especially with everything regarding Conner and his memory.”

“Leo would say, ‘OK, I get it,’ and ‘I won’t do it again.'”

Leo recently acted out against his stepbrother, Derek. 

“Days ago, Leo wanted to hang out with friends and asked Derek if he wanted to join.”

“Derek agreed and put on Connor’s hoodie before going out.”

“Leo commented on the hoodie and called it ugly and asked him to put on something else, but Derek insisted on wearing it or not go. Leo dropped it.”

“Hours later, Derek came home crying with his hoodie in his hands.”

“He said Leo and his friends cut it into pieces while he was in the bathroom after they convinced him to take it off.”

Leo didn’t agree this was a problem. 

“I was furious. I asked Leo, and he said it was his friend’s idea.

“Then he said he had to do it since Derek wears it everywhere and it looked old and embarrassing.”

“I reminded him who this hoodie belonged to and he said, ‘So what, maybe this will help him move on in life.'”

“I told him his birthday was canceled and his friends aren’t welcome anymore.”

“He pitched a fit, saying his birthday was a right, not a privilege, and I can’t cancel it.”

The rest of the family had mixed feelings. 

“He had my ex criticize my decision.”

“She wanted to host his birthday party, but I refused because he’s grounded, so no party anywhere.”

“She and her family called me awful and ridiculous and asked me to think how Leo will hate me for this.”

“I insisted he needed punishment for putting his stepbrother through this.”

Fellow Redditors weighed in:

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

Some said Leo had no right to demand a birthday party. 

“He is absolutely right that the birthday is a right. He can have his birthday, nobody can stop him from turning 17, but celebrating it is a privilege and not a right.”

“As cruel as he was, he deserves the right to turn 17 without any fanfare. NTA”shopgirl2

“‘He said his birthday was a right, not a privilege.’ That may be one of the most entitled things I’ve ever heard.”

“He did something absolutely terrible and that hoodie can’t be replaced. I cannot believe the complete lack of empathy that he displayed with his actions—what he did to Derek was cruel.”

“He absolutely deserves to have his birthday celebration canceled.”

“NTA, and good on you for actually disciplining him, even though he’s your bio son (for context, there are quite a few AITA posts where a parent will choose their bio child over their stepchild even when they’re clearly in the wrong).”EddaValkyrie

Others said Leo was in serious need of therapy. 

“Kids can be unusually cruel sometimes but this kid is old enough that he KNOWS when he’s doing something wrong.”

“OP: You might also want to handle his ‘brutally honest’ habit. I’ve found that more often than not, people who hide behind the ‘I’m brutally honest’ line are using that as an excuse to be unfiltered a**holes to everyone and anyone.”

“There’s a difference between being honest at all times and being an a**hole who says the first thing that pops into their head.”

“Him missing out on his party is nowhere near to the same level of grief that he and his friends put Derek through.”

“He doesn’t deserve a celebration. The only thing your bio son needs right now is discipline and therapy to figure out why he’s so bitter and cruel at such an early age in life.”

“Your ex-wife taking his side doesn’t help, but perhaps you should have a conversation with her about how not addressing his cruel behavior is only going to hurt him as an adult when mom and dad aren’t there to help him.”

“NTA, you sound like an amazing stepdad. Don’t let your son bully that kid.”pictishwilds

“The brother has no empathy and is a bully. Worked with at-risk teens and a few showed this kind of behavior and more… they were sociopaths…”

“They both need counseling.”

“The fact that Leo thinks this is okay is a major red flag that he has MAJOR issues. He needs major counseling and consequences. It is disturbing.”

“I would talk to the other boys’ parents and find out the full story. He might have done all of the cutting. NTA. Good luck.”Feeling-Fab-U-Lus

“Developmentally, teens are INCREDIBLY self-centered unless TAUGHT to be otherwise. To Leo, this could be the kid who came between him and his dad, and now embarrasses him by wearing old ratty clothes around.”

“Just because we as adults understand all the other dynamics going on, doesn’t mean Leo’s undeveloped brain does.”

“NTA.”

“But I think you and your bio son both need therapy together to work on your relationship. Still discipline him for being a bully and everything. But don’t leave it there. Take this warning sign that your son is crying out for attention.”kiki_moribundi

Some recommended ways the OP could repurpose Conner’s hoodie. 

“I’ve also heard of people making teddy bears or other stuffed animals out of a person’s old clothes? That’s another idea to look into if the hoodie is damaged to the point it can’t be sewn back together.”

“And if y’all have anything else that belonged to Connor, give some of it to Derek (other hoodies/jackets/shirts, paraphernalia from hobbies they had in common), and make sure there’s a way to secure them from Leo.”notorioussnowflake

“So there’s this Japanese art technique called Kintsugi, where broken pottery is put back together using gold to hold together the pieces/replace the destroyed bits.”

“I think it would be kind of cool if Derek could use one of his shirts/hoodies as the ‘gold’ to remake his brother’s hoodie.”

“If I could sew worth a d**n, I’d totally offer to do it.”marshmolotov

Though the OP was a little torn because of the family’s response to his punishment, the subReddit was sure the OP needed to follow through with this punishment and potentially more. What happened was disturbing and likely emotionally devastating, all of which needs to be addressed.

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.