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Dad Bans His Kids' Uncle From Seeing Them Because He Fears He's Being 'Replaced'

Photo: Oleg Golovnev / Shutterstock.com  
dad feeling sad and left out

We all go through the phase in our teen years when we basically want nothing to do with our parents. They're annoying, they're dorky, they're embarrassing, and we all turn to our friends or other relatives to one degree or another.

For one dad online, though, this teenage moment has escalated to a whole new level, and he seems to blaming all the wrong things.

The dad fears he's being replaced because his kids are so close to their uncle. 

Pulling away from our parents in our teen years is a common thing for a reason — it's actually part of normal child development and a function of teens beginning to form their own more adult sense of self. 

But for this dad, the distance has grown and intensified beyond what seems normal for a parent-child relationship in the teen years. He's convinced it's due to his kids' close relationship with his brother-in-law who helped raise them when they were little.

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Now, the kids go to their uncle first for support instead of their dad.

"Back when they were young, we had crazy work schedules," the dad writes in his post. Thankfully, his brother-in-law had a flexible schedule, so he was able to step in and help care for their oldest two kids. "The three of us took turns taking the kids to school and picking them up, [and] the kids sometimes stayed with him for a day or two," he says.

Things stabilized once the kids got older, but the bond the kids formed with their uncle hasn't waned. "The kids are incredibly attached to their uncle to the point it seems like I’m being replaced," the dad writes. On several occasions, they've gone to their uncle for support instead of their father.

"Once when our daughter ran out of panty liners, she called her uncle to ask him to pick her up some," the dad writes. "She didn’t think to ask me."

Recently, his son has been "questioning his sexual identity" and confided in his uncle instead of coming to either of his parents. Even birthday gifts have become a bone of contention — his daughter "was most excited about [her uncle's] gift" on her recent big day, and "didn’t take a second look at my present."

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The dad responded by telling his brother-in-law to stay away from his kids.

The "last straw" came on a recent day when his son was sick at school. The son called his uncle to pick him up instead of his dad, despite the fact his father was at home and available. 

"I was very angry when [my brother-in-law] dropped our son off," the dad writes. "I confronted him about over-stepping our family boundaries and we got into an argument."



Things quickly escalated, and when they reached a peak, the dad issued a firm directive. "I told him to leave our house and leave our children alone." His wife was furious when she found out about the fight and told him that he should be grateful they have her brother to help with their kids, but he doesn't see it that way at all. 

"I don’t like the way I’m being left out of my children’s life ... and I don’t want his help anymore." He doesn't understand why nobody seems to sympathize. "Am I wrong to want to be in my children’s life?" he asked. 

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Teens choosing another family member to confide in is normal behavior, but it's also often a sign they don't fully trust their parents.

This dad is absolutely not "wrong" to want to be in his kids' lives. If only all parents wanted to be as present as he does!

But he is trying to solve the completely wrong problem. Because the bottom line is two-fold. For one thing, teens not wanting to confide in their parents is a totally normal part of growing up.



But more importantly: If this dad's kids felt like they could fully trust their father with their needs, they would. That they don't is indicative of a bigger problem that has nothing to do with the uncle's presence in their life — whether it's just simply that their dad wasn't around much when they were younger, or because something else about his parenting has made them reluctant to trust him.



Therapists say that children who feel safe sharing their thoughts and needs with their parents will do so, but not if they feel they are going to be judged or scrutinized if they do. This trust is built long before the teen years, however. As life coach Keya Murthy puts it, "If you had a healthy relationship with your child in their preteen years, then it will pay dividends during their teenage years." 

One Reddit commenter summed the problem up perfectly. "If your children don't feel they can confide in you or depend on you, that is not your brother-in-law's fault. It is not your children's fault. It is not your wife's fault," they wrote. "You need to look at what you are doing to be involved in their lives."

Thankfully, this dad's relative absence from their earlier lives doesn't mean all is lost, but he will need to make a concerted effort to rebuild — or maybe build for the first time — the rapport he's missing with his kids.

Murthy recommends making a concerted effort to create time and space for teens, including organizing outings, to open the lines of communication and establish trust, while validating their feelings along the way.

screenshot from reddit story in which dad fears he's being replacePhoto: Reddit

Or as one Redditor beautifully put it, "Spend time with the kids and look at them. Let them see you ... Let them hear you ask questions. Let them hear you acknowledge them when they’re speaking ... Let them hear I LOVE YOU ... Make these changes to be present, be there. This is really what you're craving ... and no one can do it but you."

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John Sundholm is a news and entertainment writer who covers pop culture, social justice and human interest topics.