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Mom cancels daughter's sweet 16; 'I'm deeply concerned she's in a prejudiced cult.' AITA? UPDATED 2X

Mom cancels daughter's sweet 16; 'I'm deeply concerned she's in a prejudiced cult.' AITA? UPDATED 2X


When this mom is horrified by her daughter's behavior, she asks the internet:

"I cancelled my Daughter’s Sweet 16 Because She Was Being Mean Other Kids. AITA?"

AITA for cancelling my daughter’s Sweet 16 after I discovered her behavior at school? My husband "John" (45M) and I (41F) have a daughter, "Madison" (16F). Ever since she was little, Madison dreamed of having the perfect 16th birthday party.

Since Madison had always been well-behaved, we decided that we would throw Madison the birthday party of her dreams. We both have financial stability, so cost wasn’t an issue. We put months of planning into this party.

Madison’s actual birthday was on Monday, and we had a small family dinner at her favorite restaurant to celebrate since her actual birthday party was scheduled for three weeks from now.

Everything was perfect until Wednesday, when my husband and I were called into a meeting at Madison’s school.

We were surprised to discover that Madison was suspended for her involvement in aggressively being mean to a transgender classmate, "Kelly", who had recently attempted to do something that I’m not allowed to say on this post.

I’m ashamed to admit that I didn’t believe it at first, but after I forced Madison to show me her phone so that her father and I could look through her texts and social media, I was shocked to discover that not only was Madison involved, but she was the ringleader of a group of girls in her grade that bullied her.

There were texts of Madison telling Kelly that she would never be a real girl and asking if she still had a d%%k.

There were plans in the private group to pull Kelly’s pants and underwear down in the middle of the cafeteria to “prove” that she was a man. I also found posts on her social media where she referred to transgender women as “perverts” and said that they would never be women.

John and I were disgusted by Madison’s behavior. We raised our children liberally and consider ourselves LGBT allies, and Madison in particular has always been an outspoken feminist like me.

When we got home from the meeting, we talked it over and decided that not only would Madison have no electronics for the rest of the year, but we would be cancelling her party too. We wouldn’t get the money back for the venue and most of the arrangements we made already, but we decided that this is what needed to be done.

We informed Madison of our decision yesterday and she lost it, telling us that we were terrible parents for cancelling her Sweet 16 over a "boy" and that we were punishing her for speaking her mind when it wasn’t her fault Kelly did what she did.

She begged us not to cancel it and said that this was her dream, but I told her that her behavior didn’t warrant having the party of her dreams. She went back to her room crying.

We thought we did the right thing, especially when we told our two older daughters, but when we called John’s mother "Shannon" and told her that the party would be cancelled and why, she called us awful parents for crushing her dreams this way. Now we’re having second thoughts. AITA?

Before we get to OP's updates, let's take a look at some of the top responses:

fent7 writes:

NTA. You said that she considers herself a feminist, has she been reading up on TERF posts? It could explain her transphobic rhetoric.

OP responds:

I did see the word TERF used on some posts but I’m not sure what it means.*Note: TERF means "Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminist."

An advocate of radical feminism who believes that a trans woman’s gender identity is not legitimate and who is hostile to the inclusion of trans people and gender-diverse people in the feminist movement. Troon is a combo of Trans and cartoon or Trans and goon.

confra writes:

Nta, her behavior requires canceling her party. I would not be opposed to more punishment as she has dug her heels in and doesn't think her behavior needs to change. Relieve her of that notion.

OP responds:

OP: What else would you suggest? We have already taken her electronics away and don’t plan to give them back until next year. I mean next year as in a full year from now. Sorry for the confusion.

Basta09 writes:

Find a therapist who can talk to people who have been sucked in by cults. Because if she is using words like 'troon', she is deep in this hate cult.

OP responds:

OP: Thank you. It does seem cultish. We absolutely plan to start her in therapy and are looking into it right now.

As far as I know, the other girls have all been suspended, too. I think that Madison’s suspension is longer because she was the ringleader, but I’m not sure. And yes, we are banning her from ever spending time with those friends again. Thank you.

Before we give you OP's updates, let's take a look at some of the top responses:

earlylight writes:

NTA especially because she was the ringleader of the group. The last thing she needs right now is to be the star of the show at a big fancy event - thereby reinforcing her Regina George social hierarchy position. "Your behavior is not worth celebrating" or however you phrased it did a good job of conveying that.

It has the side benefit of letting her asshole friends witness the consequences. Were their parents also called in for conferences? If not, seeing the fallout for Madison may get them to stop before they're also in big trouble at home.

dinodanny8 writes:

NTA. Wow. Your daughter’s behavior, ring-leading an attack on a trans kid, easily could have resulted in the end of a life. The fact that she has no empathy for that is chilling. Cancelling her party is the right move, and also the least you can do for your daughter.

If she never accepts trans people, that sucks, but she HAS to learn how to manage her feelings and control her behavior so that she can function in society. Not only will that protect other people in the future, but it gives her a shot at change and a more stable life.

This is not good. Help her. Hold her accountable. Be consistent. She’s not remorseful, and that’s frankly very concerning.

waok8 writes:

Absolutely NTA. That is awesome parenting. I am so sorry - I can't imagine how horrifying that must have been to discover. Obviously this needs more than punishment/consequence to address the underlying bigotry but this is an absolutely appropriate consequence for your daughter's actions.

I have no idea how you're going to work through unpacking her attitudes and educating her to understand how what she has done, and the reasons she did it, are so awful and completely inappropriate and offensive. Best of luck and stick to your guns.

timtam writes:

NTA. It seems your daughter has fallen in with online radfems, who are very keen on feeding teens hateful rhetoric and encouraging them to act cruelly toward trans people.

I suggest that she needs some exposure to books and documentaries and such by trans creators, because she desperately needs the other side of the story that her hatemonger internet buddies won’t tell her. For example some documentaries and books like Janet Mock’s Redefining Realness, Susan Stryker’s Transgender History, and other books of that ilk.

The TERFs have fed her a narrative that trans people are evil perverts who basically only exist to be the downfall of women — maybe she needs a reminder that these are people she’s hating on, who just want to live happy, complete lives.

(Incidentally, if one is to call people perverts… wouldn’t that name be better suited to the group of girls who decided to, in effect, se%ually assault a classmate by exposing her body in public, and simultaneously causing others to see her forcibly exposed body in the process? Someone here planned to show the other kids at school a set of genitalia, and it wasn’t Kelly…)

washmedown writes:

NTA - I’m assuming the individual is being pushed to unalive themselves? You’re on the fence to if your “child” (demon) deserves a party?! Are. You. Serious. She doesn’t deserve a bed to sleep on.

Let your asshole daughter know she’s free to her opinion and free to speak on whatever she feels, however there are consequences. And this is one of them. What she’s doing is horrible. How would you feel if she were bullied like this?! Tell she didn’t want to be on this Earth anymore. Not only shouldn’t she have anything, she should have to volunteer her time to something associated to the cause.

Actually. You need to go harder. She’s not remorseful. No new clothes. No vacations. No anything special. A child wanted to end their life over her actions. She needs a jolt to her system.

And now, OP's major update:

My daughter said that she wishes "I was dead." My daughter "Madison" (16) began therapy last week to address her behavior. She organized a campaign against a classmate and posted harmful social media posts for context.

She has not been adjusting to therapy well because she believes that she did nothing wrong, and this has resulted in arguments between her, myself and my husband. If anything, I think this has caused her to double down on her behavior.

This morning we got into an argument because I discovered her trying to steal her confiscated cellphone from my husband’s office. I took the phone back from her and plan to put it in his safe along with our other valuables, but she threw a fit when I took it and started to scream at me that she hates me and wishes I were dead.

I have plans to tell Madison’s therapist, but I’m distraught by what happened. I keep sobbing and even woke my husband up from how loud I was. I never thought that one of my children would say this to me. I don’t know where I went wrong but I feel like a fool for not noticing this behavior sooner.

Update 2:

I wasn’t going to post an update but I felt that I owed it to all of the people who responded to my previous post.

I’m sorry to report that "Madison" has only doubled down on her behavior in the weeks since my last post. She’s now refusing to talk to me unless it’s about dinner or to bully me into handing over her electronics.

She has started at a new school this semester because we wanted to keep her away from her victim and the friends that she organized the harassment with, and she hasn’t adjusted to it well.

As far as I know she has made no friends yet, but my husband "John" and I are refusing to transfer her back to her old school and this frustrates her. We also refuse to give her electronics or social media back to her, and it will stay that way for the rest of the year.

Unfortunately, she blames "Kelly," the girl that she was mean to for everything that’s happened, and it seems to have made her hatred for her worse. She has said a lot of derogatory things about her including slurs...

so John and I have discussed with her therapist about enrolling our daughter in a LGBT sensitivity workshop aimed at teenagers. We have also discussed taking her to see a psychiatrist, and we have an appointment made for Tuesday.

I wish I could say that things have improved, but my husband and I have formed a plan to get my daughter the help she needs. I hope to be back again with a more positive update next time.

Update 3:

What steps can I take to help my daughter realize that her actions were wrong? She was active in “TERF” communities and aggressively bullied a transgender classmate.

My apologies if this doesn’t belong here, please tell me if I should remove it. If you are triggered by mentions of violence, attempt to take own life, se%ual harassment and transphobia then I recommend moving to a different post.

My husband "John" and I have always considered ourselves to be LGBT allies, and have raised our kids to support LGBT rights as well.

However, we recently discovered that our daughter "Madison" (she is 16) was the ringleader in a violent campaign against "Kelly," a transgender classmate that sadly attempted to take her own life as a result of the bullying.

After looking through Madison’s text messages and social media, we were disgusted to find texts of her harassing Kelly, asking if she still had her genitals and telling her she would never be a “real” girl like her.

There were also plans between her and the other girls involved to pull Kelly’s pants and underwear down in the school’s cafeteria. We also discovered that she was active in “TERF” communities on various websites, and posted messages.

Obviously we are taking this very seriously. Her sixteenth birthday party was cancelled. We’ve pulled Madison out of her old school an enrolled her in a different one, her phone and electronics have been taken away for a year, she has started therapy and we have made an appointment with a psychiatrist.

We also plan to sign her up for an LGBT sensitivity workshop aimed at teens. However, Madison has only doubled down on her behavior. She doesn’t seem to show any remorse over what she did and what happened to Kelly, because she thinks she did nothing wrong, and she hasn’t taken well to therapy or her new school.

She has also attempted to steal her electronics back from my husband and I. I am trying to stay hopeful that the new environments will be good for her, but I am worried. So I decided to come to you all.

What else can I do to make Madison realize the gravity of what she did? She has had no social media or phone for almost two months now, but she is still very stuck in the “TERF” mindset. Are there any resources available on how to deter this mindset? I’m unsure of what else to do aside from what we have planned, but I have seen people say that TERF is a gateway into other dangerous beliefs.

Readers had more questions:

Frany writes:

Have you asked her what her preoccupation with Kelly is? Why is she so obsessed with this trans kid, and how did that lead to her being on hate groups?

OP responds:

OP: I did try to ask her this, why she’s so occupied with this girl’s identity, but she told me that I wouldn’t understand why. I’ve been hoping that therapy would cause her to open up more, but since the current therapist doesn’t seem to be working I’m going to consult with my husband and try to find a new one.

I did also try and get her to see the gravity of the situation by telling her that she took part in something that caused another girl to try and take her own life, and that things would be different if Kelly’s attempt had been successful.

She told me that she didn’t care. I don’t know how else to make her see how serious this is.

gaga09uy writes:

Why do parents resort to taking cellphones, wifi, playstation, etc. You're making it worse. I'm 32 btw reliving my parents tactics from reading your post.

OP responds:

OP: I took my daughter’s electronics because she used electronics to spread bigotry and hate against the classmate she bullied and LGBT people. It also helped her to organize the bullying campaign with her friends.

UZZZ2 writes:

I’m sorry that you have terrible memories associated with your parents but I fail to see how it’s relevant here unless you also used social media and group chats to harass another classmate to the point where she felt the need to try and take her own life.

I can’t imagine how stressful this must be for you & everyone else involved. The online TERF indoctrination is real and I feel like that’s likely what happened here. I think you’re taking all the right steps.

I don’t have much advice but I think it’s important to try and figure out what feelings led to her turning to these beliefs. The TERF community in particular often preys on young girls who feel helpess in a misogynistic society or who have been victimized by men.

If you look into it you’ll see many of them have experienced trauma at the hands of men & see trans women as trying to invade their women-only safe spaces to victimize them further. Obviously not an excuse for their beliefs but that is often where it starts.

Therapy is definitely the way to go, to get to the bottom of this … I was resistant to therapy in my teens but my parents just kept at it and eventually I opened up.

OP responds:

Yes, it’s been very stressful for me and my husband. Thank you for the advice. I wasn’t aware of that but I will try and get to the bottom of how she got indoctrinated into those spaces. It has been going on for a while at least because we found over six months worth of posts. We plan to continue with therapy.

What do YOU make of this story? Any advice for OP? How can she parent her daughter in this situation?

Sources: Reddit
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