The AITA (Am I The A$hole?) subReddit is a place people gather to tell stories about times they weren't sure whether they were the bad guy in a situation or not.
Readers cast their votes and sometimes, if we're lucky, we get an update afterwards.
Unsurprisingly, the subReddit is full of lots of bad guys and lots of throwaway accounts. Normally that's not worth writing about, but this time things went so off the rails that we had to talk about it.
It involves a disturbingly overbearing parent, a secret phone to track a teenage girl, outing a child as gay to his family and somehow in the end the parent is convinced that the solution is to be more strict.
We get that parenting is hard, but if a teenager has no history of being a behavioral issue is it really necessary to plant a secret tracking device or require their locations to be monitored at all times? Does that level of control end up doing more harm than good?
That seems to be the core of what the whole story boils down to, but let's start at the beginning with the parent's original post on Reddit.
"AITA for keeping an emergency family iphone secretly hidden in the car my daughter drives so I can always track the location of the car? Well the cat's out of the bag on this one, but it doesn't matter because now I have justification to reinstate previous, more stringent cell phone rules."
OK wait, we just started—like literally JUST STARTED and already we are talking about a secret phone to track their kid and how now they have justification to be even more strict? Justification?
That's a really weighty and telling word.
So basically they've wanted to be more strict but couldn't find a reason that wouldn't make them look bad, so they couldn't. But NOW they have justification.
They sound like a supervillain already.
Anyway, back to the post:
"My daughter is 16 and as most 16 year olds, she has her own phone with less parental control. But I still have sensible rules like no turning off iphone tracking, always answer my texts or calls immediately or within a reasonable time frame when not in school or practice, no dead battery excuses. But I know teenagers can be sneaky, so I have a backup tracking plan that I keep secret from her. I have an extra older version iphone on my family plan that I use as an emergency phone. I hide this phone somewhere in the car that I let my daughter drive, kept on silent. It's always charged so I can track it when my daughter is out."
Holy control issues, Batman.
We can't help but wonder if, at some point, something went catastrophically wrong in this person's life and it scared them (or scarred them) into believing that this was the best way to avoid that sort of trauma in the future.
"This past weekend, my daughter told me she was going to her friend Brett's house to prepare for an academic competition and an oratory event. When I checked on her iphone and the secret iphone, the locations matched up. She was at her friend's house. After dinner, I checked again. Curiously, her iphone's location was at her friend's house, but my secret iphone was clearly in downtown near all the bars and nightlife. I called my daughter and she told me everything was fine, including the car."
They're tracking their child's location through multiple devices to cross reference them multiple times a day? This is not normal.
It's just not.
The fact that they mentioned that the kid was going to prep for an academic competition and oratory event means the child isn't exactly out here runnin' these streets. If anything, that makes the kid seem like the responsible intelligent type.
Why the Big Brother treatment?
"I drove to my car's find iphone location to see if maybe it was wrong, and eventually found my car parked along the street near the LGBT night life area. I called Brett's father (Brett's parents are divorced and the dad does not live with Brett, and Brett's mom had the night shift so I called the dad)."
"Before Brett's dad got there, I walked around asking the bouncers at the bars if they had seen my daughter or her friend (I showed them photos). I finally talked to one who remembered turning away my daughter and Brett earlier in the night for trying to use fake IDs. I was livid. I wandered the area and eventually found my daughter and Brett hanging out at a coffee house. I waited for Brett's dad to park before going in. I asked him what his understanding of the situation was, and he told me as far as his ex told him, the kids were supposed to be at home doing prep work for a oratory competition."
Are they in the FBI? This is some FBI level stuff.
Like, we could see this as part of the plot line of a comedic film about a retired spy/assassin who is trying their hand at parenting teenagers because their sister passed away and left the kids to them.
Dwayne Johnson would star.
Amy Poehler could play his kid's principal, who he may or may not have accidentally gassed one time when she walked in on him trying to dig though her files for intel. You're welcome, Hollywood.
That's literally the kind of thing this sounds like.
What do they mean they walked around and interviewed bouncers?
"I told Brett's dad where I was and he and I walked into the cafe together to retrieve our kids. After we returned home, my daughter confessed to trying to sneak into a gay club with Brett, who apparently is closeted to his parents and school. She was most upset that I outed Brett to his parents this way. But she has not given me any reason to trust her or her friend Brett given their behavior this weekend."
"Stricter rules are on the way. She continues to think I am the biggest villain in her entire world but really, if I hadn't installed an emergency phone in the car, I wouldn't have known the shenanigans these two were up to under the guise of studying. Sure, I violated her and Brett's privacy, but I feel it's justified."
There's that word again. Justified. Hmm....
Maybe we're just misreading this all. Maybe the child had some serious issues previously and needs to be chaperoned and supervised 24/7. So we dug through the comments looking for some clues.
That's where we find out that the child has always been pretty well behaved, actually. Except for the "7th grade incident."
That could definitely be eye opening and change the way this looks, right?
"She found a way to crack my parental control password on her iphone when she was in 7th grade, and seems like she never learned her lesson, just upping the ante now. I thought she learned her lesson. Apparently she hasn't."
That's it. That's her big infraction.
She unlocked a password on her own phone. Now, if you don't have kids you might not realize just how much gets locked down when you have a parental control password on these phones.
You can't use Siri. You can't get on YouTube.
You have to ask for permission to use Google in some cases. Ya know, things a 7th grader might want or need to do.
The child's big offense, something so big it's still considered an "incident" years later was to unblock her phone so she could use it.
OK so we're essentially stalking a good kid, and that leads to outing a closeted child to their family. The daughter is more upset over the outing than the stalking (clearly she's used to it at this point) but the parent just cannot see where they're in any way wrong.
Their punishment for the child, by the way, was to shorten the leash even more and to humiliate her by involving people who had literally nothing to do with it.
"Now that she has lost phone and driving privileges, I may not need as many gadgets. She will also need to write a personal appreciation letter to her speech and debate coach for providing extra supervision to her while she is away on competitions and an explanation of why she needs extra supervision and check-ins by chaperones. I also know she will ditch the car and get rides from friends, that's why I will eventually have to give her a phone that she has to answer with the expectation of surprise facetimes." - Mysteryparent
The child's speech and debate coach had absolutely nothing to do with anything, but the parent is involving them by making them keep close tabs on the child specifically, and then making the kid confess to them like a sinner to a priest.
And don't think we didn't notice that phrase "as many gadgets." How many gadgets are there and why?
What is even happening? What do they mean "the expectation of surprise facetimes"?
Maybe it's just me, though.
Maybe I'm reading this all the wrong way.
Let's see how Reddit users felt.
"You're the a$hole. Kids do this sh!t because of parents like you. Quit f*cking stalking your child." - grumpyspudgal
"OMG seriously. WTF OP??? You literally outed a closeted 16 year old boy to his parents, having NO idea what would happen to him because of this. You have been stalking your daughter for who knows how long. Like the comment I'm replying to says, if parents weren't crazy strict and controlling, and didn't violate their children's privacy constantly, their kids wouldn't feel the need to lie to them out of fear of getting punished. My mom was SOOOOOOO strict on me as a child/teen, and guess what? I never told her the truth. About anything. If I had a problem, I never came to her with it. I was always too scared of getting in trouble to be honest with her about anything. And it seriously damaged our relationship for a long time. We have a great relationship now, but it took a good long while. And despite that great relationship I still to this day get moments when I feel resentful about how she treated me growing up, and I'm in my 30's now. You need to think long and hard about what you're doing, because you're probably causing irreparable damage to your relationship with your daughter, if you haven't already. Also just to reiterate, YOU OUTED A 16 YEAR OLD GAY TEEN TO HIS PARENTS. You have no idea what goes on in their home (well, unless you have a secret iphone there too, I'm just going off what I know here), and I'm sure you've heard the horror stories that so many gay teens have to tell, or gay adults who were once gay teens. How could you possibly feel that ANY of what you did was okay?!?!
YTA YTA YTA YTA YTA" - _My9RidesShotgun
"Yeah, you're the a$ - occasionally I will learn about some inappropriate behavior my adult son participated in while in high school. I assume that there weren't that many because He never got in any trouble and I never discovered his indiscretions. If he'd gotten in trouble we would have dealt with it. But he didn;t and now he's a CPA living a satisfying life.
At some point you should have taught your daughter most of the mores, ethics and instructions needed to be on her own for a few hours. I do believe it's important to protect your children from dangers they don't understand, but teaching them to be independent is also a big part of growing up.
You can't let your fears or your need to control or be right, or whatever it is that caused you to put the phone in the car,
steamroll the process of your daughter learning to be an independent person. Yes, it is terrifying and yes things could go wrong, but you cannot control it." - loverlyone
"Seriously, this is insane to me. Was this person not 16? I would have been livid if my parent hid a tracking device. I came of age just before all of this nonsense and parents like this make me thank god. And you know, this same person will be complaining in 3 years their kid doesn't know how to do anything and isn't self sufficient at all and they'll wonder why.
Obviously YTA." - ingodwetryst
"God! Reading OP's post gave me so much anxiety. My father did this too me and it was beyond uncomfortable and made me fucking depressed. I understand that using a fake ID was wrong but you as a parent are pushing them to that limit and it could have been far worse.
I moved out at the age of 19, one year too long. Even after that I had to cut all contact with him Just seeing "Dad" on the incoming call would ruin my day. I'm 33 now and I can't help but to have some of those feelings come out when my father calls. He has come to his senses and has apologized for how he handled and treated me, but even as grown adults I still get those dream where I'm trying to get away from a presence." - goodoldyoung
"YTA, and massively so. This post is so strange that I genuinely wonder whether it's a troll post. Let me ask you: why do you feel the need to track your daughter's every move without her knowledge? Has your daughter given you any reason to distrust her? Because I find that weird as hell. Granted, I didn't get an iPhone until I was 23, but I can't understand why you would need to know where your daughter is at every given moment. Especially because, by tracking her primary phone movements all the time, you've just given her a reason to deliberately leave her phone behind if she goes somewhere.. leaving her possibly stranded without a phone.
Your daughter's takeaway is that you don't trust her, you never trusted her, and now, she's not going to trust you. You didn't even call her to ask her where she was or give her a chance to explain.
You did not have an iPhone growing up because they didn't exist yet; your parents didn't secretly track your every move. How would you have felt as a teenager if your parents secretly installed a GPS somewhere in your body of clothes?" - MiniPleisiosaur
"YTA. You outed a teen before they were ready and obsessively stalked your daughter. Sixteen is old enough to begin earning some independence, and I would guess she snuck around like this because she already knows you aren't a safe adult she can trust. You owe your daughter an apology and a sincere discussion about both of your expectations - Hearing her out and not being a controlling figure. Unless you've left something out about your daughter being a drug dealer or underage sex worker, she doesn't deserve to be policed like this." - DidntAskDontCare
Turns out nope, Reddit feels the same.
Chill, dude, chill.