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'AITA for telling my MIL that she needs to stop telling my 6 year old to be ladylike?'

'AITA for telling my MIL that she needs to stop telling my 6 year old to be ladylike?'


"AITA for telling my MIL that she needs to stop telling my 6 year old to be 'ladylike'?"


I am a dad of 3 (10F, 10M, and 6F). My 10 year old daughter is pretty girly but my 6 year old daughter follows my son around like his little shadow and is what people sometimes call a tomboy

(Disclaimer: I have no idea if that is an offensive term now but apologize if it is). She loves sports and being outside with her big brother and they are pretty close.

For the spring she just started playing lacrosse, which my 10 year old son has been playing for years, and they have been spending so much time together outside practicing. It's pretty cool to watch as a dad since I was worried about my singleton bonding with the twins when she was born.

Anyway, my MIL was over the other day and the kids were outside playing while we were on the porch watching and my wife was making dinner. They were just playing catch and my son leaned over to spit so my 6 year old did the same.

My MIL said nothing to my son about it but yelled, "Rosa! You need to be more ladylike. Don't copy your brother when he does that!" I told her it wasn't that big of a deal but she insisted that we need to get this under control because Rosa doesn't act like a lady should and is getting too old to think it's okay.

I argued with her a bit and she ended up leaving. Now my wife is mad because she thinks I disrespected her mother and should have understood that it's cultural for my MIL and she will always think this way.

If it matters I am a white guy from New England and my wife's mom is from Nigeria but my wife was born and raised in the US. My wife insist that I need to be more understanding of the cultural differences and understand where her mom is coming from.

Edit: Guys, this is not a spitting in public debate. I would have been fine if my MIL corrected both kids because spitting is gross. I am annoyed that she ONLY corrected my daughter because of her gender. Can we please stick to the issue at hand?

Here were the top rated comments from readers in response to the OP's post:


NTA take your time and educate the women in your life, both of them, your daughter is growing up into a world very different than these women grew up in.

The OP responded here:


That's actually a good point. My MIL is in her 70s so she grew up in a much different time where women and girls had certain expectations.


Can't wait until she gives your kids career and real estate advice 🤣


NTA. You can absolutely understand cultural differences and still understand they are wrong. All MIL is doing is enforcing gender roles. Why? Partly out of an innate selfish desire to see our offspring reflect our own identities and partly because they want the next generation to fit in and not have problems.

But a girl being whatever she wants when she becomes a woman isn’t a problem in this country. Your wife is on the wrong side of this argument. There is something to be said for not letting kids simply do whatever they want as a means of “being themselves”.

That’s not good parenting either. Kids need to understand that there’s a lot of doing what you don’t want to do that goes into being a functional adult. Going to support family by attending events, going to religious services, doing chores, etc. But I think it is perfectly healthy for your daughter to pursue the hobbies she wants to pursue.


NTA. I think it is very wrong to ever tell a girl to be ladylike. It's putting a constraints on her, and restricting her opportunities. I was told this 50 years ago, and I thought it was wrong then, and it's wrong now.


NTA for your message overall, as your daughter should absolutely be able to play sports and rough it with her brother. Your MIL is old fashioned and rude. However, don't teach your kids to spit? That's also rude, and gross, boy or girl. No-one wants to walk in someone else's spit. Give them a water bottle so they stay hydrated when playing.


NTA. The kids is being a kid. Your wife is the disrespectful one. She needs to tell her mom not to say those things in your house because it's a cultural thing that guests let the parents, parent. Let her use her reasoning on her mother instead.

You MIL is also TA. She can believe what she wants but It's not her place to yell at a 6 yr old and definitely not for some nebulous thing like being more ladylike. A 6 yr old doesn't know that that means. If she has concerns she can talk to you calmly when the kids are not around.


NTA. It's not cultural. It's sexist. She is forcing the societal expectations of what it means to be a woman on your daughter and your son by saying what she said. And it's completely unacceptable. Your wife needs to get on board.

She is raising her children in a very different time than her mother did, the world has moved on, and those gender stereotypes have been proven to be incredibly harmful to everyone. Don't let your MIL inflict those outdated and cruel stereotypes on your children.


NTA. Being culturally sensitive is one thing, being okay with someone pressing their outdated beliefs about what’s appropriate based on your child’s gender is something else entirely. Your wife should be backing you. Your wife should be backing your daughter.

So, what do you think about this one? If you could give the OP any advice here, what would you tell them?

Sources: Reddit
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