There’s a subreddit called AITA — “Am I the Asshole?” — in which people can describe what they did in some situation and ask other commenters for an objective opinion on who the “bad guy” is. Am I the asshole… or is it the other person?
In some posts, the answer is clear to literally everyone except the submitter. That’s what happened this week when a mother posted about a punishment she gave her son for not attending church. She wanted to know if she went too far.
In brief, she’s Catholic and her 16-year-old son is an atheist. That has led to conflicts on Sundays:
… I told him that was fine and I would still love him anyways, but because we are a catholic family that goes to church and believes in God, that every Sunday he doesn’t attend, I’d disable his internet access for the day and he was to read a book called The Case for Christ (because Lee Strobel is an award-winning author who effectively demonstrates that Christianity is true). Because that is what we do as a family and if he doesn’t want to participate then he shouldn’t expect free reign of the internet.
This past weekend, her son (who knows his way around a computer) found a way to gain access to the internet anyway. So she grounded him. That led to a shouting match and an ultimatum from both sides:
He then said for me to “listen carefully” and that if I kept doing what I was doing, he would “sever all contact when he loves out, not invite us to his graduation or wedding, never allow his kids near us, and throw us in a nursing home until we die, our choice” and slammed the door in my face.
He hasn’t spoken to me since yesterday. If he wants to cut me off then fine, no college funding for him. No computer engineering degree for him.
To put it generously, she says he lives under her roof, so he should have to play by her rules. So who’s the asshole in this situation?
The most popular responses were overwhelmingly on the son’s side. Here’s just a sampling:
YTA [You’re the Asshole]
He’ll find another way to pay for college. You won’t find another way to replace your child.
By the way, Lee Strobel is a complete hack and that book isn’t legitimate scholarship.
I’m glad your son plans on cutting you out of his life, and I don’t blame him at all. Was exactly what I did to my parents the moment I could (for reasons not to different from yours) and I don’t regret it one bit.
I am so proud of your son for standing up to your vile religious indoctrination. And I say that as a practicing Catholic.
You on the other hand are what gives us a bad name. You’re a controlling, ignorant, fanatic who’s more concerned with perception than reality. You ARE going to lose your son. Scholarships exist. Loans exist. It sounds like he plans to go into a lucrative field. If he’s spelling it out for you now then he’ll find a way to his educational.
YTA. None of your actions speak love.
YTA. And a psychopath of a parent. He’s old enough to choose what he believes.
YTA ugh, this is why religion gets a bad rap. You really think punishing him is going to get him to wake up one day and say, “Huh, this catholic thing is pretty cool?” Even if it would work it’s still a lousy thing to do. He’s 16 and you sound like a totalitarian parent. You’re pushing him away.
There’s a lot more where that came from. Some people also (rightly) called out the mother for attending church in the midst of a pandemic.
But here’s an interesting development.
In an edit now appended to the beginning of her post, the mother now says she’s rethinking her position:
… I took the time to read them, and after doing so I’ve begun to question everything, my faith, family, and how I go about things, and now I feel quite terrible for all that I’ve done. I really shouldn’t have done what I did, and feel there’s a hell of a lot that I have to do to make everything up to my son. I don’t expect him to ever forgive me, or even talk to me once he leaves, and I deserve it because what I did was wrong.
There’s a lot to unpack in there… I’m not sure how much of it is sincere or what the tipping point was. Her comments as of two days ago were fairly defensive of her original position, so the change would’ve taken place since then. I reached out to the mother for more information but haven’t heard back as of this writing.
In any case, the commenters are hitting on all the right points. Punishing a kid for not wanting to go to church, and then trying to indoctrinate him from a distance using a horribly argued book isn’t going to bring him any closer to Catholicism. That’s how you create atheists… and kids who want nothing to do with their parents.
If the details she provided are true, then I hope she changes what she’s doing for the sake of her family. The kid shouldn’t be punished for daring to think differently, especially when he’s absolutely right.
(Image via Shutterstock)