Father/son spats can be stressful.
But no one ever expects one to arise because of name overlap with the family dog.
Reddit user throwaway45684567 has a problem. He recently married and discovered after-the-fact that his new wife's dog has the same name as his son.
At first, he thought this was just a funny coincidence, but apparently his 13-year-old son is offended by now sharing his name with the family pooch and is demanding it be changed.
The father is now wondering whether he has done the right thing in a Reddit post titled "AITA (Am I the A**hole) for not demanding my stepkids to change their dog's name because it's the same as my son's?"
"This situation has been a complete nightmare. 2 months ago, I married my wife after 3 years of long distance dating. Before we got married, we made sure her two children and my son met and got along. We also did family counseling with everyone to make sure marriage was the right option for the kids. We only proceeded after making sure everyone was ok with it."
"But for some insane reason, the name of my wife's/stepkid's dog never got discussed. Everytime I've been around the dog, he's been referred to as "Mick". I never saw the dog that often because he used to split time with my wife's ex along with the kids. But after we got married and bought a house together, it was revealed that the dog's name was the same as my son's."
"My son and I found out about the name together. In that moment, I found it as a funny coincidence and my wife just didn't think it was important. I can understand why she felt that way because I feel the same. But my son was very offended and demanded that the dog's name be "officially" changed. This created a conflict with my stepkids because the name has sentimental meaning to them and they feel it's not fair to the dog."
"I felt really stuck because I didn't want to jeapordize my relationship with my stepkids in this critical stage. So I tried to get them to come up with a solution together. They compromised and said that they will only call him "Mick" when my son is around."
"But my son feels it's still too similar to his name and wants it changed to something completely different. And he wants the collar tag changed to show that, which again my stepkids disagree with because the tag has sentimental value. Their late grandfather got them the dog."
"My wife had been slowly trying to convince them to change the name because while she has a similar attachment to the name, she understands my son comes first. But while this has been going on, my son has badmouthed my wife and stepkids to my family and it's created a whole other drama."
"And my son has even stopped talking to me on the phone, let alone visit me. My wife took a stand yesterday and told my stepkids that the name will change. I texted this to my son and he said I should have demanded that earlier myself and it's too late."
"AITA for not demanding the name change myself?"
Responses on Reddit were mixed.
Many people thought the son was acting unreasonably.
"NTA (Not the A**hole). Honestly, I feel like your son is wrong in this situation. I get you're trying to keep the peace, but this is petty and if your son is causing all sorts of other interfamilial conflict, sounds like he is just a drama queen. Tell him to get over it." -static_delirium
Others felt the father's lack of a stance was making the situation more difficult than it had to be.
"You need to stop letting the child run your house and set the rules. Obviously you're trying to make it work for everyone, and that's admirable, but your son is being a jerk. Everyone now has to tiptoe. Resentment will build."
"The dog has a name, your son has a name. Changing the dog's name teaches your son to throw fits and alienate his family when he doesn't get his way. ESH (Everyone Sucks Here)" -Ooicu812dude
Perhaps there's no real "blame" in this situation.
Maybe there's just lots of people who need to adjust ever-so-slightly.
"NAH (No A**holes Here). If one of your wife's kids had the same name as your son, would he expect them to change it? Your son is being ridiculous, but he's 13 and dealing with a lot of upheaval in his life, so I'm reluctant to call anyone an a**hole in this situation."
"Honestly, your wife is wrong here. She's bending over backwards to please your son at the expense of her own children. You all need some family therapy STAT." -nyorifamiliarspirit
Some people made a compelling case for why the father should insist the dog change its name.
"INFO: How much is your son worth to you? Are you willing to lose a relationship with him over this? He sees you picking your new family's dog over him in terms of importance. That is all he sees. He's 13."
"It would be inconvenient, embarrassing, and frustrating to share a name with a dog in your home. It seems like a small issue, but it is obviously a big issue to him. How much do his feelings matter to you?" -KnowTheDifference
"Thank you! I can't believe what I'm reading on this thread. All these comments calling a 13 year boy TA for being upset about a brand new mixed family situation where his dad immediately sides with his new stepkids over him."
"Have some empathy holy sh*t lol. Yes he's being overly sensitive but he's still a child and now there's an entire reddit thread of people bashing him for having feelings." -adashofhoney
13-year-olds are hardly known for being reasonable.
But that doesn't mean parents shouldn't respect their feelings.
"Thank you, I feel like I'm taking crazy pills. I mean he's a 13 year old boy who doesn't know how to process feelings, his dad has a whole newfangled family all of a sudden, and their dog has the same name as him? An adult knows how to take that on the chin but how is a tween going to feel about his replacement family having a DOG that has the same name as him?"
"This dog's name was so unimportant that he didn't even know that his son and his dog had the same name until he and his wife were actually married, the son is clearly upset that the dog has his name, but this is a situation that needs to be up for debate? The son's reaction is intense but frankly if my own dad was more concerned with changing a dog's name that isn't even called by that name versus my feelings I'd be pretty rankled too."
"Not to mention, 13 is peak bullying time and while it's not wildly likely, what exactly is the son going to say if he brings his friends over and has to explain why the dog has the same name as him? Also the fact that OP can somehow empathize with his new family's sentimental attachment to their UNUSED DOG'S NAME but thinks his son is overreacting about his attachment TO HIS OWN NAME seems a little weird to me."
"And I'm not at all surprised that son now wants nothing to do with him. The name was obviously a huge part of the issue, but another obvious component to this seems to be that the son is trying to figure out where he stands with this new family."
"In his mind he drew his line in the sand and demanded that he have more respect than the family dog, and his dad hemmed and hawed and had to actually think over whether or not the dog or his son took priority. I'm not necessarily saying that's how it happened, but I imagine that's how the son saw it." -TheJujyfruiter
The original poster later returned to update us on the situation.
"Thanks to everyone who replied. I feel pretty guilty that my son is being called all sorts of names. His issue isn't that that a dog in general has his name. It's that a dog in the same house has his name."
"After much thought I can see why it would be humiliating. Especially when we've just started blending our family. My stepkids have admitted they wouldn't like it either and are open to changing the name to something that sounds similar so the dog won't get confused."
"I've let my son know that the name will be changed but it looks like he's still not ready to talk to me. I let him down at an important time. I will work on fixing that. I've also talked to my own family to stop riling him up and help repair the situation instead." -throwaway45684567
It seems this situation is a bit more complicated than many expected, but hopefully with plenty of communication and love this family will come out on the other side ok.