Redditor Throwaway__3994 is a father with two sons—one of whom is the youngest and is his biological son named Benjamin.
Benjamin is 17 and thinks he has a sense of humor.
However, his father does not think his son is funny, especially since he makes hurtful comments under the guise of a joke.
When Benjamin demonstrated a gesture that ruined his older step-brother’s 32nd birthday party, the Redditor made a decision that was unpopular with other family members.
He visited the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit and asked:
“AITA for canceling my son’s birthday because of the gift he brought his step-brother?”
The Original Poster (OP) gave some backstory before revealing what the humorless “gift” was and why it was considered hurtful.
“I have two sons (Matt-32) and (Bejamin-17) Matt is my stepson (my wife’s bio son) and Benjamin is my biological son.”
“He and Matt are not close due to the age gap and because they don’t live in the same house but they’re cordial to each other.”
“Matt is married and he and his wife have infertility issues that they’ve been struggling with for years.”
“Benjamin is known for his ‘sense of humor’ but I don’t think he’s funny.”
“He’s focused on making comments about/teasing Matt and his wife such as ‘I don’t know what it’s like to have a niece or nephew and probably never will’ Or ‘The age gap between me and y’all makes people assume I’m y’alls son.'”
“It’s hurtful for Matt so I told Benjamin to tune it down but to no avail.”
“Last week we celebrated Matt’s birthday at my house. Matt is like a happy child when it comes to presents, he liked all the gifts we got him except Benjamin.”
“Benjamin brought a gift and handed it to Matt, Matt said ‘thanks,I really appreciate the effort.'”
“Benjamin said he could open it and Matt quickly unwrapped the gift and revealed a red t shirt with the words ‘best dad ever’ on it. He and his wife looked at each other.”
“I felt terrible I kept shaking my head as Benjamin laughed telling him to try it on so everyone can see how it looks on him.”
“Matt and wife were upset, my wife and family were silent. I got in an argument with Benjamin as Matt and wife got ready to leave.”
“Benjamin acted dumb when I asked what he was thinking pulling this stunt and offending Matt like that.”
“He said there’s literally thousands of people wearing t shirts that say a lot of stuff and that in no way means that they insult the person wearing them and it’s not like every t shirt people wear has to be accurate with their life.”
“I replied that no matter how he tried to spin it, giving Matt a best dad ever t-shirt knowing he’s struggling to become a dad was tacky at best and cruel at worst.”
“I then said because of what he did I’m canceling the dinner reservation for his 18th birthday in 2 months times and he lost it saying he was just teasing Matt and it wasn’t big deal, He tried to negotiate but I shut it down.”
“He called his uncle and aunt who treat him as if he was their son and made excuses for him. I had an argument with his uncle after he said I shouldn’t cancel Benjamin’s birthday dinner over a teasing gift and that it wasn’t his fault some people are hypersensitive and can’t take a joke.”
“I refused to discuss it after more family members asked I let it go and told them they were free to host his birthday instead. AITA?”
Strangers on the internet were asked to declare one of the following:
- NTA – Not the A**hole
- YTA – You’re the A**hole
- NAH – No A**holes Here
- ESH – Everybody Sucks Here
Many Redditors sided with the OP for his decision to punish Benjamin for his actions.
“NTA. Sounds like Ben has a mean streak that people excuse as humor.”
“I can think of a bunch of t-shirt messages for him on his birthday.” – Ipsissima_verba
“That ‘gift’ wasn’t funny. It was cruel and beyond insensitive. Cancelling his birthday dinner is letting him off lightly in my opinion.” – daydream128
“He knew what he is doing. He’s repeatedly stabbed the same open wound. This is just bullying.” – Tanooki07
“I sincerely hope that OP’s son will one day look back on this ‘joke’ and cringe from a momentary feeling of self loathing. It will mean he’s grown through this terrible phase.”
“NTA OP. Except it is past the time, to curtail this behavior.” – MrSuccinylcholine
“The presentation is important.”
“OP, go rent a car. A nice one. Get a HUGE bow. Put the bow on top of the car. Tell your son his present is outside under the bow. When he goes outside and tries to get in the locked car, tell him it’s UNDER the bow.”
“That’s where he finds his ‘World’s Best Driver’ gift, on top of the car, *under* the bow.”
“Oh, I just rented the car as part of the joke. I mean it’s a joke, no need to be so hypersensitive about it, right?” – Mykiedawg
“You DO NOT let any of the other relatives host a birthday party/dinner either. Your son needs to face a real consequence for his actions so he can maybe actually learn something since your talks to ‘tone it down’ clearly did nothing.” – Bight_my_a**
“Ben is a cruel person.”
“This was a cold and calculated attack on Matt.”
“He knew what would hurt him the most and went for it.” – sweetpotato37
“NTA. A joke is only funny if both parties find it funny. That wasn’t a joke, it was just being malicious.”
“He’s old enough to know what he’s doing and know all about actions have consequences, etc.”
“It’s a cliché, but he’s played the stupid game and won the stupid prize.” – Alottalurkin
“Nta. That was cruel and mentally abusive. Honestly, I would try to find an additional punishment that would show him how comments like that affect people. Maybe make him volunteer at a shelter or something.” – OldKindheartedness73
In response to the above comment, the OP said:
“Unfortunately, this has been a pattern and Benjamin has been getting way too comfortable with his insensitive jokes and it’s frankly worrisome because he had some friend cut contact with him because of his behavior.”
“I fear that he’s going to be cut off by Matt as well but he keeps saying he’s just teasing/joking which is still unacceptable.”
This is why many of the Redditors suggested canceling Benjamin’s birthday party two months down the line was not immediate enough of a punishment to help him understand that what he did was cruel and insensitive.