Shouldn’t parents teach kids about real beauty and how people from different backgrounds look? It’s an important part of being a good parent. In a world where looks can be important, showing our children to respect and accept everyone’s differences is a really important lesson.

An internet user asked, “Am I a jerk for punishing my son for his ‘preferences’?”. 

Here’s the full story for you to decide. 


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The Original Poster (OP) (41f) has two children (14m and 11m) from her previous marriage. OP’s 14-year-old is the subject of this post. Let’s call him Andrew.


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Andrew has recently begun his first year of high school. He doesn’t have a lot of friends because they live closer to a different high school than most of his former classmates ended up at. Luckily, one of his very close friends from a few years back goes to his school. A girl OP decides to call Dana. 


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Andrew and Dana have become close again over the last six weeks. They spend time together at school, and she has been coming over on weekends or at her house. Andrew talks about her a lot. 

“To be honest, I thought they had crushes on each other. By the way, Dana is mixed Black with Vietnamese, and we are white. Unfortunately, that is relevant.”, says OP. 


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Last weekend, Dana was over for dinner. Things were usually going until OP’s 11-year-old joked about Dana being Andrew’s girlfriend. OP’s husband and he have been lightly teasing Andrew for a couple of weeks about Dana being his girlfriend, and he always denies it hotly. 

That night after her joke, Andrew denied it and spouted, “I don’t like black girls!” loudly for the entire table to hear, including Dana. OP was stunned. 

“Dana looked highly embarrassed. I knew at that moment I would talk to him later, but just for the time being, I said something like, ‘Hey, that isn’t cool.’ The remainder of dinner was very awkward, and then Dana left.”, says OP. 


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Once Dana was gone, OP told Andrew he probably hurt Dana’s feelings. OP explained how black women and girls already struggle with feeling accepted in society and that he was ignoring the other half of her race entirely. 

Not to mention the bad example he was setting for his brother. He went into defensive mode and said he thinks dark girls are ‘ugly’ and is tired of people at home and school thinking he would date ‘someone like her.’ 


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After that conversation, OP told him that he was grounded until he offered Dana a sincere apology and made an effort to learn about misogynoir through reading. OP then said to him that if she were Dana, she would not want to be his friend anymore after his racist remarks. 


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To OP’s astonishment, this has been unpopular with OP’s ex-husband as well as her current husband. Her current husband is Puerto Rican, so she was doubly surprised he didn’t side with her. They both say that Andrew is entitled to his own preferences regarding girls, and OP is wrong to punish him. 


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“I took it more seriously from my current husband, who has been on the receiving end of racism. I now do not know what to do.

Andrew has apologized to Dana but has yet to find a good book on misogyny and read it. Am I wrong for punishing him? Should I let him off the hook? Am I a jerk?” asks OP. 


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“Everyone’s in the wrong except Dana. It looks like he’s fed up with the teasing and was embarrassed in front of Dana. He didn’t want her to think he’d described her to his family as his girlfriend, tried to make it clear he hadn’t said that, and was so vehement he made a fool of it. 

Fourteen-year-olds are easily embarrassed by their families, especially in front of their friends, and sometimes they’re clumsy with their words. It’s possible he’s racist or has been picking up racist viewpoints from others, but it’s also possible he’s a socially awkward teenage idiot. 

Doing some reading around racism, misogyny, and misogynoir would be a good thing for him, same as it would be for anyone, but it shouldn’t be used as a punishment.”


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“Not the jerk, but it would be helpful if you expound on why what he said is a problem. A blanket statement like that suggests that all black women look the same and have the same personality, values, and more. It’s dehumanizing and reductive. 

Black women are unique individuals; the only way someone could be sure they would never be interested in any black woman is if they are racist. Time to do a deep dive into his social media and figure out where this is coming from.” 


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“Not the jerk. You seem like a great mom explaining why you don’t say something like that. It seems he’s more worried about what people at school think, and with both dads backing him up, he feels even more justified. Having a dating preference is one thing, but that’s definitely not how this came across.”


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“Your son is 100% wrong in his outburst, and Dana was probably hurt and humiliated. But you were teasing him, and it wasn’t just his brother for her being his girlfriend when it is just as likely that their friendship is platonic.

He is 14. Having a girlfriend (or boyfriend) isn’t unheard of, but it’s also not something you should be pushing on him. A lot of people don’t date at 14. Hell, pushing the relationship angle is annoying no matter the age.”

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