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Teen Faces Drama After Refusing To Tell Her Estranged Dad That Her Younger Brother Recently Died

Claudia Wolff / Unsplash

We all deal with loss in our ways.

Some of us shut down, others get angry, and some watch lots of Netflix.

We all cope in our ways.

What happens, though, when someone tries to breach one of your boundaries and attempt to use shared trauma to do it?

That was the issue facing Redditor and Original Poster (OP) NotTellingFather when they came to the “Am I the A**hole” (AITA) subReddit for judgment.

They asked:

“AITA for refusing to tell my dad that my baby brother is dead”

OP began with some background. 

“So I (17) really don’t want to focus on this like my graduation ceremony is in two days.”

“Pretty much, my dad left when I was five, but he came back when I was eight and he and my mom had my baby brother Ian.”

“Then he left again and I haven’t seen him since I was ten years old.”

“I got an email from him last year asking to meet but I just ignored it cause I don’t want to see him.”

Everything was fine until,

“My brother died two weeks ago.”

“Honestly I wouldn’t go to Reddit for advice but I am so f*cking stressed out about this right now and my older brother Nat isn’t home so I can’t talk to him.”

“Pretty much, my mom asked me to find a way to contact my dad and let him know that Ian is dead.”

“But I don’t want to be the one to tell him.”

“One of our relatives can tell him and they probably already have.”

“But she said that even though he is what he is he deserves to know his son is gone.”

“No he doesn’t!”

“I don’t ever want to see him or talk to him again after he missed seven years of my life he doesn’t get to just walk back in.”

“I didn’t want to argue with my mom but I did and she just got even more sad and started crying again and then I started crying.”

“I mean the only reason she’s asking me is cause Nat doesn’t even want to hear his name.”

“But I’ve been feeling like sh*t since we argued about it last night and I know I shouldn’t have made my mom cry.”

OP was left to wonder,

“I know I was wrong for that but was I the a**hole for telling her that I’m not going to tell my dad?”

Having explained the situation, OP turned to Reddit for judgment.

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 decided: NTA

Some responses pointed out that this wasn’t OP’s responsibility.


“If your mom feels this strongly your dad needs to know, she needs to be the one to do it.”

“If she’s not comfortable doing that, she needs to understand and respect why you’re not, either, and not put that on you. I’m sorry for your loss.” ~ mm172


“I understand your Mom is grieving and so are you.”

“But your Mom is supposed to be the adult.”

“She laid with him and created Ian. She needs to women up and tell Dad Ian’s gone.”

“It’s hard to do, I know it is.”

“My 22 year old Son died in 2015.”

“No matter how much I hated my X, my Son’s dad aka the Sperm Donor, I still contacted him.”

“Sperm donor showed up in my Son’s life ever 5 years and usually because Sperm donor wanted something.”

“I dealt with everything having to deal with my X, I didn’t pawn it off onto my other child who was also grieving because guess what- I am the Momma, the adult.”

“It was sadly my job to do. Doesn’t matter if X had contacted my other child, it was for me to do.”

“I am sorry your Mom is trying to pressure you into doing this.”

“Please OP stand your ground. You don’t want to talk or see your Dad you don’t have to.”

“That is your Mom’s duty, as sucky as it is.”

“I am sorry for the loss of Ian, your Brother. I am sorry your heart is hearing.” ~ BitofDark

“Your mom is trying to make you do it because she’s a coward.”

“I’m sorry but this is her issue to solve, not yours.”

“You owe him NOTHING.”

“Take care of yourself. And tell your mom if she cares so much, she can do it, because you absolutely won’t.”

“NTA” ~ definitelyjanine5

While others tried to be comforting.

“Chances are she’s crying more for the situation than because of your actions.”

“It’s a terrible situation being abandoned by the father of your kids, and of course absolutely awful to lose a child, especially so young.”

“She’s not acting or thinking rationally, but her crying because you asserted a reasonable boundary isn’t your fault.”

“If you don’t want to stay in touch with him, could you, or your mum or older brother, create a throwaway email account, and pass on the information but make it very clear he is not to attempt to contact your family in any way?”

“Block him from emailing you on the account he knows about first.”

“My heart goes out to you and your family, sending love ❤️” ~ Katie00pupz

You’re not why she cried.”

“She’s grieving.”

“She’s crying because she’s sad and overwhelmed, and I’m sure you’re feeling that way, too. Just know that you’re not the one who made her sad or made her cry.”

“So yeah, this is a sh*tty time for both of you.”

“But she should not be putting that kind of burden on you.”

“It is not your responsibility to contact your dad about this.”

“If she can’t bring herself to reach out to him, then she should ask another adult family member to do it. She should not be asking you to do it.”

“Take care of yourself.”

“And try to be there for each other. Honestly, I think she’ll eventually realize she did wrong here and will apologize once she’s able to handle it.” ~ Goldilachs

Responders pointed out the terrible grief involved.


“I am so sorry for your loss. May your memories soon be a blessing and a source of joy, not tears.”

“This is an adult thing.”

“Maybe it can’t be a your mom thing either, because of her own grief, but it is definitely not the responsibility of a teenager who has both grief over an unimaginable loss AND trauma from abandonment.”

“You don’t owe him this information and surely you don’t have to chase him down to give it when he isn’t trying to keep communication with you.”

“I hope you have someone to talk to who is outside of the family because this time in your life is already so full of ups and downs.”

“But losing family so young and dealing with a sh*tty dad is more than you should reasonably be able to navigate and your mom and brother have to process their grief too.” ~ wildferalfun

“First, I am so sorry for your loss.”

“You should be celebrating your graduation. Instead, your whole family is in an impossible situation. My heart hurts for you.”

“You have every right to be angry at your father, at the world, at whomever you need to be angry at.”

“You have every right to grieve, and you should not be burdened with this task.”

“Your mom should not be burdened with this either.”

“She is grieving a loss that no one but a parent who has buried a child can know.”

“She is probably doing everything she can to get out of bed, to move, to think, to do anything.”

“She is likely feeling like a part of her died.”

“So, I would suggest that you cut her some slack, but don’t reach out to your father for her. This is a job for an adult, not a child.”

“Does your mother have any close friends?”

“She could ask them to reach out to him. I know you don’t want him back in, but he does have the legal right to know about his minor children.” ~chop1125

There were also personal stories.

“I am probably your mom’s age, and I have had to tell both my parents that friends or family members have died.”

“This isn’t your responsibility.”

“If your mom wants him to know either she can tell him or she can have another adult tell him. This isn’t a burden you should have to bear. You’re already suffering enough.”

“Also, your father had failed you in every way that matters.”

“If you don’t want to talk to him you shouldn’t have to.”

“He doesn’t get you back just because HE decided HE wants YOU.”

“My rule has always been “‘if you decide to leave, I get to decide if I will let you come back.'”

“NTA. I’m so sorry for your loss.” ~ abby-something

She did return to add some final context.

“edit: to everyone DMing and thinking I’m a guy, I’m not, I’m a girl”

Loss affects people in a myriad of different ways and we all face that challenge in our own time.

However, just because two people share a painful event together does not mean they will react to that in the same way or that it is okay for one person to steamroll the boundaries of another.

Be wary of anyone who puts their grief over your autonomy.

Written by Frank Geier

Frank Geier (pronouns he/him) is a nerd and father of three who recently moved to Alabama. He is an avid roleplayer and storyteller occasionally masquerading as a rational human.