Anyone who has ever been a kid knows that if bullies can find something to tease you about, they will.
But is it better to ignore the bullies and hold your ground, or change the thing that has made you a target if you're able to?
Redditor justcallhimrick recently found himself at odds with his girlfriend after her son's nickname started to become problematic at school.
So he turned to the subReddit "Am I the A**hole" (AITA) to see if he was wrong for how he handled the situation, asking:
"AITA for telling my girlfriend it's wrong to call her son 'Dickie' against his wishes?"
The original poster (OP) laid out the issue.
"My girl and I have been together five years. She has a son 'Richard J[middle name]' who is 10."
"I've always called him 'lil man' or 'DJ' as a nickname, his family calls him 'Dickie.' Richard is a family tradition kind of name for them and most of the men have it somehow."
"Her dad goes by 'Dick' (also a Richard). I always cringed when I heard the name cause I knew the kid was gonna come to hate it when he got older."
"Well lo and behold the shoe has dropped, I'm surprised it took as long as it did. They have half virtual and half online learning this year and apparently other kids have been teasing him."
"My girlfriend had a phone conference with his teacher cause he got into an 'altercation' at school. He's about to go to middle school next year so it's just gonna get worse I'm sure."
"My girl says other kids need to learn to not bully and she won't change his name just cause kids are mean and she wants him to learn to stick up for himself."
"Honestly I don't see that working out too good since sticking up for himself already got him detention once 🤷🏻♂️"
"I talked to him 'guy to guy' after my girlfriend asked me to and asked what was up with school. He said kids tease him and make him mad over his name being slang for well... he hadn't even known the other meaning til the kids told him."
"I said he's gonna be at a new school for 6th grade so he can go by anything he wants then with a clean slate, and I told him Ricky or Rich or Rocky or R or literally anything could replace Dickie and he said he just wants DJ like I call him and I said ok, let's tell your mom."
"She wasn't happy."
"Long story short I'm in the doghouse now cause what I did was 'encourage' that his name is bad and undermine her cause she wanted to teach to ignore the bullies."
"I told her he has a right to use what name he wants and hell I don't even go by my legal name either people can choose their names, even kids. She pulled the 'he's not your kid he's mine' as if she didn't ask for my help and I haven't helped raise him too."
"I told her she's being a bully herself by doing something that makes lil man upset but she doesn't see it that way."
Redditors weighed in on the situation by declaring:
- NTA – Not The A**hole
- YTA – You're The A**hole
- NAH – No A**holes Here
- ESH – Everyone Sucks Here
They agreed that the OP was clearly NTA. But his girlfriend most certainly was.
"'She wants him to learn to stick up for himself.'"
"Oh, so does she mean like when he asks people to call him by his preferred name? Or does he only get to stand up for himself when it's about something *she* wants?"
"'I told her she's being a bully herself'"
"Yup. NTA, and she absolutely is. Kids have the excuse of being kids, she doesn't."—curien
"Love how you pointed out that standing up to her is exactly what she wants!"—Agirlnamedsue2
"Mom can stand back, pretending to be high and mighty while her kid suffers. And now that the kid's got the chance to get away from all the baggage of his name, she's ready to INTENTIONALLY make him miserable."
"I hope she's ready for Rick to tell people his mother's nuts and that his name is Richard."
"OP READ THAT FIRST SENTENCE AGAIN!!!!"
"She's making a stand knowing that someone else is the target. That her KID is the target."—GladiatorBill
"The kid hates his nickname. Not even his name... his nickname."
"And then she asked you to go talk to him, without instructions to convince him. So, you did, you find out he wants to drop his nickname and... you're in trouble?"
"What is with people giving nicknames others don't want? Man."
"NTA, at all. That poor kid. She's not the one who gets teased... he is."
"If I were him, I'd stop answering to Dickie and introduce myself by my full name or my chosen nickname only."—Agirlnamedsue2
Many pointed out the the OP's girlfriend should have known what was in store for her son.
"It makes me so sad to read posts like this, honestly."
"My parents f**ked up a lot of things in my life but even they sat down and thought about implications of names when they were deciding what to call me."
"There are a few words/acronyms that my first and last initials line up with, and although they loved a particular middle name that would have gone well with them, the initials were unfortunate, to say the least."
"So they went with a different middle name they didn't love as much (that, incidentally, I quite dislike), but that's miles better than having a name that gives kids such an easy opportunity to bully you."
"Like yes, most people eventually grow out of the bullying, but kids are ruthless and you don't need to make a child's life harder by calling them something which just makes them a target."—YellowPepper6
"But with my maiden name starting with a W? They opted against it..."
"Instead, I wound up sharing my first & middle initials with a very prominent auto company.....So as much as I hated all the name rhyming or alliteration references to germs, I think I'll take that over being the target of skinheads-in-training."—Labeled-Disabled06
"This is the same type of mom who back in the 80s would make their son have a "rat tail" haircut, even though the kid hated it."—rascalking9
"NTA. Online bullying today isn't what bullying was like when we were young. This stuff is no joke."
"The suggestion, whether stated directly or not, that he should man up and be able to take it badly understates what's going on in the lives of kids these days."
"She's applying yesterday's rules which are obsolete in today's world."—InTheory_
Maybe her son learned the lesson she was trying to teach him after all.
Just not in the way she expected.
"Your kid *is* sticking up for himself... by telling his mom that he doesn't want to be called that anymore."
"Maybe she should start respecting that since she wants him to learn that skill so badly."
"You're right; She is being a bully and right now? She's being a bad mom."
"DJ's a great nickname and if I were your kid, I'd start refusing to respond to being called anything but that or Richard."—cillianellis
"Absolutely NTA. The kid isn't a toy, he's his own person with his own preferences and they're going to get more frequent."
"How she didn't see bullying coming is frankly insane and I hate parents who say 'stick up for yourself'. The kid will just get themselves into trouble."
"You really want to start condoning violence against others?! Stop naming your kid after genitals and he wouldn't need to!"
"Mum needs listen to the kid and accept his preferences or she'll push him away."
"Joining a new school is a clean slate. School is hard already and fitting in at that age is EVERYTHING. Why make it unbearable for him?"—Caribooteh
Hopefully Richard can enter his new school being confident in the nickname he picks for himself, whatever it may be.