For good or for bad, social media has become a place to air grievances, vent frustration, and impulsively overshare during the heat of a moment — a coping mechanism this Reddit dad has experienced thanks to his teenage son. While using social media in this manner can be cathartic, there are times when a line is crossed, and that’s what this dad is trying to determine if his son has done or not regarding comments made online by the boy about his mother.
Taking to the platform’s “Am I the A—hole” forum, the dad sets the scene by explaining that he and his wife are in their mid-30s, and their only son is 14 years old. The dad has always been a stay-at-home parent, with his wife preferring to work. He notes that their son “gets great grades and is well behaved,” and punishments have been rare “thanks to open and consistent dialogue” between himself and the teenager.
He then begins to unveil the specifics of the situation, writing, “I have a long-time friend who plays in a decently popular local band. He’s a father figure to my son and they also have a very close bond thanks to similar interests. My son has always been the artsy type and he’s so excited when Friend comes over because it means he can show him the latest guitar he’s added to his collection or a new riff he’s learned.”
Having positive role models is great for kids, so we’re curious to see where this circumstance takes its negative turn. Reddit Dad continues, “During Friend’s recent visit, he mentioned going on tour soon and my son was intrigued. After pressing for details, he came to me later and asked if he could go with them on his fall break. He had plenty of promises at the ready – that he would listen to whatever Friend said, that he would be on his best behavior, that he would never ask for anything ever again. After talking it out with him, I gave him a ‘maybe.’”
This, too, sounds like normal teen behavior, and if the friend is a trusted individual and someone both the dad and mom feel comfortable with their son being around, a short tour sounds like it could be an enriching experience for the teen as he considers what he might like to do for a living in adulthood.
The man continues, explaining, “I reached out to Friend for his thoughts, and he was all for it. I figured he wouldn’t mind since he has a son around my kid’s age who goes on tour with him occasionally (another thing my son had mentioned while pleading his case to me.) I asked my wife and after a very brief conversation, she agreed.”
Well if the friend is already accustomed to his own son accompanying him on tour, it seems like it would be a safe and sound experience for everyone involved. Mom is on board, so it seems settled. But nay nay — that’s not where this story ends.
“Fast forward to the beginning of last week when he got packed up and set to leave,” Reddit Dad sets the scene. “My wife asked where he was going, I reminded her, and she said she thought I was joking. I had no idea what part of it sounded like a joke, but she claimed my son wasn’t allowed to go. I eventually persuaded her after our child went to his room in near tears.”
Well, that makes the mom’s perspective confusing, to say the least. From what the dad has written so far, he seems like a rational, non-sarcastic guy. Granted, we weren’t there for the conversation, nor did the dad relay much of it, but it sounded to be pretty straightforward, not like he delivered the idea of his son briefly joining the tour as a joke.
The dad continues, sharing, “When he arrived home yesterday, I had never seen him so happy. He got to help the roadies set up for the shows, he got let into bars (he intentionally didn’t wash off one of the X’s on the back of his hands just so he could come home with it and show me), and Friend was singing his praises over how helpful he was.”
Reddit Dad notes that his son “was not exposed to any ‘sex and drugs’ culture in the bars. He was not given alcohol. He hung out with the other roadies, drank mocktails, [and spent] a majority of the time… by the soundboard,” further explaining, “He’s very, very interested in that as a future career path and this just ignited an even deeper love for live music.” This all still seems reasonable — of course a teenager would view being let into a bar as an unbelievably cool experience. He didn’t partake in alcohol or drug consumption, so no harm, no foul — it was purely about the music.
Then the man gets to the heart of the issue, writing, “A few hours later, my son made a social media post compiling photos from his time on tour. The caption was a long one but included such gems as ‘this almost didn’t happen, thanks mom.’ And, ‘Friend spent a lot of his free time with me (unlike my mom.)’”
He continued, “This led to a pretty big argument where my wife, upon being alerted to the post’s existence, demanded he take it down. He refused, so she turned to me and asked me to talk to him. I refused. I told her that while I didn’t think what he was doing was right, it was clearly coming from somewhere. And that somewhere was a place in which he was feeling unheard and ignored by her. She’s been ignoring me since.” Then, he poses the all-important question: AITA?
Redditers had thoroughly mixed reviews in the comments. Some agreed with the dad, with one user pointing out that the issue between the son and his mom seems to run deeper than just this one instance, writing, “If the kid feels mom doesn’t spend a lot of time with him, then the disagreement clearly isn’t rooted entirely in the misunderstanding around the trip. That definitely warrants more than a mere, ‘Make him take down the post, he’s being mean to me.’ If the son feels neglected by his mom, and her first concern isn’t to fix that, but to make sure nobody else knows about it, then she’s the problem, not OP.”
Another user agreed, commenting, “I think I’m the only person who doesn’t see what the son posted as that bad. Was it a shot at mom? Yeah. But what teenager hasn’t complained about their parents on Social Media? It’s not like he went on a long rant calling her abusive or neglectful. It was a small cry for help, but one that should clearly be addressed.”
Some users heavily disagree with the dad, with one person in particular detailing their issues with his parenting strategy: “Of course your wife is ignoring you… you’re supporting your son publicly disrespecting your wife because of a simple misunderstanding between you two about the tour.”
The user continued, “Your son is 14… yes, there will be plenty of times where he’s upset with either of you and will want to vent. But you just told him that it’s ok to passive aggressively post those emotional and hurtful words publicly. You just supported him in hurting your wife instead of teaching your son to handle those emotions in a healthy and respectful way. I wouldn’t be surprised if you always play ‘cool friend’ to your son and force your wife to always be the ‘bad cop.’”
Another user agreed with the above commenter, writing, “I agree and said the same thing, sounds like Mom might get only the hard parts of parenting. I also think a lot of people would have qualms or problems with their 14 yo son going on tour with a band, it doesn’t make her some sort of monster.”
The OP took in the feedback he received in the comments and shared an update on the original post, writing, “I am not encouraging my son to air our dirty laundry on social media. I just don’t think the first move should be to tell him to delete it when there is clearly legitimate hurt motivating what he’s saying. We’re the parents, we can’t move on impulse based on our feelings. It might be the gut reaction to ask him to delete them, but instead I want us to take a pause and come to him with empathy and understanding where we discuss the matter together and help him decide what’s best.”
The dad continues, “As a lot of you are saying, this definitely is a teachable moment, and not one that can be easily impressed onto him by just saying ‘delete the posts!’ and not reinforcing the why, along with more positive ways to express himself.”
He went on to explain that he’s not only heard the Redditers’ feedback, but he’s also already applied it to the situation: “When my son woke up this morning, I took him out for breakfast where we had a talk about everything. Just as I mentioned in a comment, I wanted to have a talk with him in a way that led him to see what he had done wrong and hopefully independently inspire him to fix the post.”
“Pretty quickly into our discussion, he pulled out his phone and showed me that he already had,” OP revealed. “He said he had started feeling guilty and edited it the night before. If this hadn’t been the case or if he had refused to make changes, I would have put him on a two week social media ban. (Because despite what some in the comments have said, I DO set boundaries my child… discipline typically falls on the parent who is around their child the most, in my experience.)”
He then shared a bit more about the constructive conversation he had with his son, writing, “We discussed how it can feel good to get things like this off our chests on social media, that it’s a thrill to be a little petty and have people SEE it, but that the excitement is short-lived. Obviously he agreed as he was already feeling guilty.”
OP continued, “I suggested journaling, writing a letter and giving it to me, mom, or another trusted adult he can vent his grievances to, etc. I reassured him that his feelings were valid and I wanted him to express them, just not in a public arena where – if he gets too used to running to social media – he could say something really inflammatory and awful in a moment of anger and then really, REALLY regret it.”
Reddit Dad then addressed the main issue at hand, explaining that he wants to keep his son’s feelings on the nuances of his relationship with his mom private out of respect for both parties, but he did share, “I can tell you we’ve decided to have a family meeting before dinner tonight to discuss solutions, like family therapy. I’m committed to helping foster a connection between them in whatever way I can. I think this can best be done with the help of a therapist of a mediator. My own relationship with my wife and what that will look like in the future needs some fixing as well. Most of all, I want us to be strong co-parents.”
Lastly, Reddit Dad humbly thanked his fellow Redditers for the reality check on his own shortcomings: “Thank you for everyone who engaged me in a polite manner. I definitely agree I was the asshole in some aspects here: I should have acted sooner and rectified the situation last night. I need to work on communication with my wife. I need to do more in supporting her connection with our child. The advice was appreciated.”
While we agree that the situation could have been handled better by all three individuals involved, we love to see that at least two members of the party have already recognized their faults, and that the family has a healthy plan for building stronger relationships amongst themselves. This was truly a 12 out of 10 example of how to navigate interfamilial disagreements and deeper-rooted issues. Who needs a TED Talk when you have Reddit?
Before you go, check out these unbelievable stories about Reddit’s worst dads.
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