Birthdays are special occasions meant to be celebrated with loved ones. But what happens when a husband celebrates his son’s birthday without his family?

A user recently asked, Would I be a jerk if I took my son and his friends out for his birthday instead of my wife and step-daughters? We want to hear your thoughts.


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The Original Poster (OP) (M42) has three kids. A son Isaac (almost 13), with his ex, who is no longer in the picture, and twin step-daughters from his wife’s previous relationship, Emma and Ava (7).

What Does OP Say

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OP says, “Isaac’s 13th birthday is coming up next week, and he said he wants to go to the movies and asked if he could bring two friends along. I agreed, and we planned a day of fun (arcade, pizza, and a movie). These were all activities that I know that my son and his friends (nerdy middle school boys) would enjoy.”

What Happened When OP Told His Wife About His Plans?

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When OP told his wife about their plans, she suggested they should have a family outing instead and proposed a local kiddy play place that his stepdaughters love. He said that Isaac and his friends would be very disappointed and that he wouldn’t have fun at the kiddy play place.

She tried to convince him that Isaac could still have fun because there was an ‘arcade’ (two claw machines, a pinball table, and a small DDR machine). She also said that since he sees his friends at school daily, family time should be prioritized over friends.

What Did OP Say

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OP says, “I told her that forcing Isaac to spend his birthday at a kiddy play place instead of with his friends was unfair.

She accused me of favoritism and not loving my stepdaughters as much as Isaac. This hit me pretty hard because I grew up with a step-father who neglected me in favor of his kids, and I’ve been trying my hardest to be the father figure I never had.”

OP Wants To Know

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OP’s been spiraling down a rabbit hole of doubt about his own choices and for the sake of his sanity. Would he be a jerk if he took his son and friends out on his birthday?

Someone’s Gaslit Here

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“Say ‘I would never ask the girls to spend their bday doing something Isaac wanted to do, and you should show the same respect.’

Also, She’s gaslighting the crap out of you. And I’m betting it’s not the first time,” said one.

“Not the first time! She sounds super manipulative and inconsiderate,” replied another. 

What She’s Doing Is FAVORITISM

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“You would not be a jerk! Ironically, if you did go along with your wife’s idea, you would be showing favoritism to your stepdaughters over your son. Stand your ground; your wife is emotionally manipulating you.” said one. 

“This is sooooo true! Why should a 12/13-year-old have to go to a kiddie place for HIS birthday? Maybe she should stop showing favoritism to her daughters over OP’s son. That is such ridiculous logic. 

Let Isaac have HIS day that HE picked for HIS birthday.” another added. 

Play Places Are Not Meant For 13-Year-Olds!

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“A play place is not somewhere a 13 year old lad wants to take his friends for his birthday. it’s HIS birthday, not the daughters. as much as i understand wanting to do family things, you can do that on another day!” said one. 

“I’m not even sure 13yos are *allowed* in those places.” another added. 

Is She Aware Of Your Past Trauma?

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“Your wife is showing FAVORITISM to her daughters. This is Isaac’s birthday celebration, not Emma and Eva’s. And does she know about your issues with your step-parent? Because if she does, then she’s a BIGGER jerk for using it against you.”

Think Of Something Age-Appropriate, Maybe? 

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“A kiddie play place that appeals to 7-year-olds is not a suitable birthday choice for a newly-minted teenager.

Suggest to your wife that if she wants a family birthday party (in addition to, not instead of, his outing with friends) she needs to think of something age-appropriate to be appealing to a 13 year old, and which the younger kids may also like.  But for his birthday celebrations, his interests need to be prioritized.

And when it is the younger children’s birthdays, tell her you’ll expect him to be polite about a family outing that caters to their age group.”

Isaac’s Birthday, Isaac’s Choice

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“Um, no. Isaac’s birthday, Isaac’s choice. On his 13th birthday, it’s reasonable for him to want to spend the day with his friends doing teen-friendly activities.

Plan a family dinner and cake or something to celebrate together, but his birthday does not need to accommodate his younger siblings’ preferences specifically. That’s what their birthday is for. Your wife is way off base.”

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This article was originally published on Mrs Daaku Studio.

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