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“My Ex is Angry That I Took Our 12-Year-Old Son and His Friends to the Barbie Movie for His Birthday”

Single Dad is Abused By Ex for Taking Their Son to See the Barbie Movie

The funny thing about parenting, is that even before we meet our little ones we form an idea in our mind about who they might be, the things we might do with them, and who they’ll become. Often, they surprise us, and it doesn’t take long to figure out that they have their own personality and all thoughts about how we thought things would be go out the window. It’s not our job as parents to shape and mould our children into what we think they should be, it’s to guide and support them to discover their own unique strengths and reach their full potential.

One dad who recently shared his story on Reddit, seems to be nailing his parenting role, but his ex-partner doesn’t agree with the amount of support he shows his 12 year old son when it comes to pursuing activities that she doesn’t perceive as masculine enough.

I’m a single father to Michael who just turned 12. My son is not who you would typically imagine when envisioning a preteen boy. He’s a fashionista, very into make-up. His friends are all girls and he won’t touch sports with a 10 foot pole. And honestly, who cares? He’s happy and staying out of trouble, I think that’s all that matters.

Michael’s mother Daniella does not like a lot of Michael’s interests. She doesn’t say it outright but she does say some passive aggressive things like how Michael shouldn’t have so many female friends at his age or criticizing me for supporting his more “feminine” interests.

Like I mentioned earlier, Michael just turned 12. Daniella used to throw a party inviting Michael’s class but Michael just finished 6th grade, so that isn’t an option anymore like it was in elementary school.

Michael told me that he wanted to go see the Barbie movie with his friends but that his mom kept insisting against it so he told her that he didn’t want a birthday party anymore. I know I may be an asshole for this, but I took Michael and his friends and deliberately didn’t tell Daniella about it.

Michael and his friends all had a blast. Like I mentioned earlier, Michael is very into make-up, so for his main present, I got him a Sephora gift card since he loves to go there and I know I probably wouldn’t pick out the right thing.

Daniella ended up calling me a few days ago because she saw the Sephora gift card after Michael pulled out his wallet for something. Michael was honest about the movie birthday and gift card when Daniella asked him about it.

Daniella said we’re supposed to be a team in parenting Michael, and accused me of “sending mixed messages” as a way to spite her by making things with Michael harder for her. She ended up getting family members and even a few of our mutual friends involved, and most of them are not on my side.

They said there’s nothing wrong with Daniella wanting Michael to “branch out” with more “masculine” interests and they were concerned as Michael has had issues with kids at school wanting to be stupid and even occasional adults wanting to make immature comments.

Anytime I hear about a bullying issue, I talk to Michael’s school and have it shut down. I haven’t heard about any issues from Michael in a while. I’ve always told Michael that if he’s honest to himself then he’ll meet good people and find his place.

These friends and family members accused me of “living in Fantasyland” because as much as we say to just be yourself and ignore bullies, Michael’s starting 7th grade, and bullying will only get worse as the kids become older and stronger, and I am failing to prepare Michael for a professional world that will not be as open-minded. AITA?


Commenters were quick to praise the Dad’s attitude towards his son’s interests and pointed out that it wasn’t him that was sending his son ‘mixed messages.’

Here’s the mixed message:

Mom: “If you’re gay, that’s bad and I’ll hate you. You should pretend to be something you’re not.”

Dad: “Happy birthday. I love you.”

100% NTA. (Remarkable_Inchworm)

Others suggested that the boy’s mother was the one that would be doing him the most harm.

You’re the furthest thing from an AH I can envision.

Unfortunately you are coparenting with one of your son’s bullies. By suggesting he is ‘less than’ for not having the right friends or interests it is belittling him.

You are the parent who nurtures him as he comes, and that’s the most powerful attribute in a parent imaginable.

Keep up the great work.

NTA. (landlocked_mermaid)

Many commenters also suggested that the single dad should flip the switch on the ‘we’re supposed to be parenting as a team’ narrative.

NTA. Going to a movie and trying on make-up are harmless, and “we’re supposed to be a team” doesn’t mean “I make the rules and you have to agree to them.”

Sounds like you’re a great dad and have dealt with the bullying exactly how it needed to be dealt with. The only ones who seem to be bullying him anymore are, sadly, his own mother and her flying monkeys.

Tell her you’re proud of him for being mature, honest, and responsible, and you support him making his own choices and expressing himself. And tell her she needs to support him too because “we’re supposed to be a team” and if she discourages him from expressing his identity, she’s “sending mixed messages.” (SkkepticCole)


Mom doesn’t get to play the “we’re a parenting team” card when she’s parenting her fantasy of your child. He’s into makeup. He wanted to see Barbie. That’s the son you’ve got. Daniella can have another baby if she wants to try for one with more masculine interests.

Props for supporting your kid. (princessluni)

A paediatric nurse also weighed in on the conversation pointing out how outdated the mother’s thinking was, and how progressive schools and workplaces are these days compared to the past.

OP, depending on where you live, he’ll soon be old enough to choose where he stays, so that takes care of the issues with mom.

And I’ll say this: as a pediatric nurse, the kids are a lot more open minded these days and are more keen to protect others from bullying. Yes, there are the outliers, but broadly speaking, the new generation is killing it in this area. Professional settings are also a lot more open minded and larger organizations are pretty harsh on anyone perpetrating discrimination. My most recent senior resident wore nail polish, facial piercings, and the occasional eye shadow. The president of our hospital is openly gay and pretty flamboyant.

You’re doing the right thing for your child and it warms the cockles of my heart. (nololthx)

It’s pretty safe to say that this dad is far from being an asshole! He’s the perfect example of how we should support and nurture our children!


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Jolene enjoys writing, sharing and connecting with other like-minded women online – it also gives her the perfect excuse to ignore Mount-Washmore until it threatens to bury her family in an avalanche of Skylander T-shirts and Frozen Pyjama pants. (No one ever knows where the matching top is!) Likes: Reading, cooking, sketching, dancing (preferably with a Sav Blanc in one hand), social media, and sitting down on a toilet seat that one of her children hasn’t dripped, splashed or sprayed on. Dislikes: Writing pretentious crap about herself in online bio’s and refereeing arguments amongst her offspring.

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