Online commenters criticized a father who attended his stepdaughter’s 11th birthday party instead of his biological son’s high school graduation party.
The father, u/throwawayyyy7718, shared his story in Reddit’s “Am I The A**hole” (AITA) forum, where it has received over 7,800 upvotes and thousands of comments from Redditors who slammed the father for “playing favorites” with his children. You can read the full post here.
Do Parents Play Favorites?
According to BetterHelp, an online mental health platform, despite their best efforts, parents sometimes “inadvertently favor one child over another,” due to temperament, shared interests or “necessity.”
“Parents play favorites by necessity when one child has more needs than another. Newborns and children with either acute or chronic illnesses have a legitimate need for more care and attention than their siblings,” BetterHelp explained.
If the “appearance of favoritism” is “caused by legitimately differing needs between children,” parents need to find a way to ensure their other children’s needs are also being met. They can do this by scheduling one-on-one time or even enlisting the help of other adults.
In situations where favoritism is “unnecessary,” Dr. Martha Edwards, a psychologist, told CBS News that parents should spend alone time with each child, avoid “over-praising” them and “let go of defensiveness.”
“Empathize with your child if they come to you with a favoritism concern. Do not try and defend it. Minimize comparison. Say, ‘I miss spending time with you too. What would you like to do?'” Edwards advised.
Unfortunately, u/throwawayyyy7718 said his sons have approached him with favoritism concerns. But as one Redditor pointed out, he’s tried to “negate” their feelings. As a result, his sons won’t talk to him.
In his post, the father explained he has two sons—Andy and Sam. He also has a stepdaughter named Emma, who he considers his own.
“Sam graduated back in June and was having a graduation party about a month later. But, his party happened to be the same day as Emma’s birthday party. She was really excited about her birthday and told me she wanted me to stay for her party. I said I’d try and call my son about it,” the father wrote.
“The day before their parties, I told Sam I would try and stop by, but he kept insisting I come for the full thing. I told him I’d try, but Emma’s birthday party is on the same day, and my wife and I have been planning it for over a month now. He just said ‘okay’ and hung up the phone,” he continued.
On the day of the parties, the man’s wife told him to go see Sam, but Emma “really wanted” him to stay. So, he planned to split his time between both. Unfortunately, he “lost track of time” and ultimately missed Sam’s party.
Sam later accused his father of favoring Emma, saying his father “always forgets about him.”
“I didn’t go to his 18th birthday party because of a big meeting I had, and I get why he was mad about that, but this seems like an overreaction. I apologized to him, but he didn’t accept it,” the man wrote.
“My ex-wife and wife said I should have gone and that I was being an idiot. My oldest son says I always choose Emma over him (which is not true) and that I was being a horrible father. I do feel bad, but I lost track of time…AITA?” he concluded.
Redditors slammed the father for not only missing Sam’s party but also for belittling Sam’s feelings, and argued that he’s definitely “playing favorites.”
“YTA [you’re the a**hole]…in this case, you absolutely DID choose Emma over him. It doesn’t help that you say at least twice that he’s overreacting, trying to negate his feelings on the issue,” u/notlucyintheskye wrote.
“OP [original poster] didn’t even try and make an attempt to be there for his son; he allowed himself to be steamrolled by a literal child and threw his hands up, like, ‘welp, the boss said no, what can I do?'” u/Phoenixflame3009 said. “Maybe—and bear with me here, this is gonna sound really radical but just bear with me—he could…act like a parent, to both of his children…it’s better and less harmful I think than blatantly playing favorites like OP has been doing.”
u/Motor_Crow4482 added: “YTA. This is a pattern, and he’s called you out on it…own your behavior, apologize, and do better in the future.”
Newsweek has reached out to u/throwawayyyy7718 for comment.
Other ‘AITA’ Moments
A mom was praised Monday for having a police officer escort her boyfriend’s daughter from her home.
Earlier this month, a dad was slammed for excluding his stepson from a “bonding” trip with his biological trip.
And in June, Redditors applauded a woman for not wanting to cover her stepson’s college tuition costs.
If you have a similar family dilemma, let us know via [email protected]. We can ask experts for advice, and your story could be featured on Newsweek.