Teen With Temporary Custody Of Her 'Feminine' Brother Asks How To Balance His Feelings With Their Dad's Expectations

There is nothing wrong with toddlers embracing interests outside their gender norms.

teen sits in flower field with toddler brother MNStudio / Shutterstock

An 18-year-old recently stepped in as temporary guardian of her 4-year-old brother to ensure he grows up in a safe and loving environment.

As she navigates the hurdles of parenthood and learns more about his unique personality and identity, she wonders how she could best manage his experience.

The teenager took to Reddit to ask for parenting advice on how to validate her ‘feminine’ brother’s feelings when their dad is so disapproving.

In the r/parenting forum, she explained that her little brother enjoys traditionally ‘feminine’ activities, like playing dress-up and having tea parties. She sees no harm in him exploring his interests and supports him no matter what. Their dad, on the other hand, is less supportive. While he lets his daughter lead the way in raising her brother, he tends to comment negatively on his flamboyance, claiming he needs to act like “a real boy.”


“My brother is only 4 and still a baby in a lot of ways,” the teen shared. “I let him guide our play, and I don’t think him playing ‘tea party’ is going to ruin him.”

RELATED: 17-Year-Old Refuses To Acknowledge His New Half-Brother As His Sibling After Being Mistreated By His Father


The teen explained her brother doesn’t relate much to other boys, and she grew concerned after he came home one day upset that “the other girls” in his class wouldn’t let him play with them. She explained she didn’t want to read too much into it, and was focusing on validating his feelings regardless of his unconventional behavior. She comforted him and said it’s not nice to exclude people.

But she couldn’t help worrying about what he might be implying with his choice of words and if it may signify a desire to be a girl, especially considering their discouraging dad and how he might react.

Reddit users confirmed that she is doing a great job comforting and supporting her brother and need not overthink it.

They said all she could do was show her support, which would offer him a safe space to grow and discover himself without any pressure weighing over him.

“You don’t need to ‘do’ anything in terms of his behavior or demeanor; just keep affirming that he is wonderful and loved just the way he is,” one person said.


Other Redditors contended that there was likely no deeper meaning to the boy’s choice of words in calling the girls of his class “the other girls.” Seeing as he is only 4 years old, improper pronoun usage is common. Rather than making assumptions about his identity, commenters agreed that his behavior was perfectly natural and he should simply be given the safety and freedom to be himself. As for her dad’s sexist comments, parents in the comments advised the girl to ask that he keep his opinions to himself or ignore them.

@asanda_madi Debunking A Myth: Something has to be put in a box to make sense. I've had this thought on my mind for a while because it makes me so sad. I had this thought even more especially in December when I see parents sharing their boy children dancing confidently and vibrantly in a school concert and the comments are "does she know", "should we tell her", "he's definitely.....". These are the same reasons some parents would bring their children to therapy to figure out their "behavior". But essentially we are asking 4 year olds to think about their sexualities, gender identities, sexual orientation etc forcefully. And don't get me wrong, if your child brings up those conversations at that age, it should definitely be discussed but if the adults in the child's life are uncomfortable because they just don't know "what/who" this child is, then they need to be able to deal with their own discomfort by themselves and not project their triggers onto the child. Let's not hurt our children with this reductionistic thinking. #clinicalpsychologist #mentalhealthawareness #genderstereotypes #thequestwithasa #emotionalliteracy #fyp ♬ original sound - Asanda | Clinical Psychologist

“Even if the concept of being transgender has never entered a child’s mind, they will frequently mix up / interchange pronouns … just because they’re still learning,” another user wrote. “The fact that he said ‘the other girls’ doesn’t mean anything necessarily about how he views himself in relation to them.”

Parents also emphasized the growing consensus among many forward-thinking parents regarding allowing kids to explore various interests and activities regardless of society’s view on gender roles. In fact, people are striving to eventually eliminate gender stereotypes altogether to promote a more inclusive and open-minded environment.


“Kids don't have the same ideas of gender stereotypes that adults have unless we teach them to,” someone pointed out. “There's nothing inherently wrong with wanting to wear a dress or play with dolls.”

Rather than focusing on gendered language, parents encouraged the teen to focus on building her brother’s confidence and showing him love and support.

RELATED: Dad Tells His Son He Should Start Wearing A Shirt Because He's 'Uncomfortable' When His Teenage Sister Doesn't Wear A Bra

Some parents also expressed concerns about the teen’s well-being, sacrificing her youth to play a parental role in her brother’s life.

“I'm sorry you have been dealt such a difficult situation with your parents,” one parent mentioned in the comments. “Please, please be kind to yourself as well.”


Three months prior to this post, the teen sought advice as she navigated gaining custody of her brother to avoid him being sent to a toxic environment.

In the r/adoption forum, she explained their mom passed away a few years back when her brother was just a baby, and her dad has been facing some personal struggles, prompting him to spend some time in a rehabilitation center.

Due to his absence, he planned to send the boy to live with his aunt, but the teen explained she is “borderline abusive.”

@tays_lore Replying to @Ashley<3 i wish you nothing but support that your family gets though this. The videos i made a year ago are tagged here👉🏻@🧚‍♀️Tay🧚‍♀️ @🧚‍♀️Tay🧚‍♀️#kinship #kinshipparent #guardianship #fostercare #cpssurvivor #childwelfaresystem #traumatok ♬ original sound - Tay💙💗💜

“She insults us (mostly me) and our mother at every opportunity, and has me take care of all the housework (in a large house) and doesn’t believe that school is important,” the girl explained.


Seeing as the teen is officially 18, she explained her aunt won’t allow her to stay with them anymore, and the girl worried for her brother’s well-being if he had to live there alone.

“Although my dad has been in the picture, I have been the one raising my brother. I know how much responsibility it is and that it will be difficult,” she wrote. “I can’t allow him to stay with that horrible woman.”

The girl clearly loves and cares for her brother, and he is lucky to have her.

It’s a shame that the teen has had to grow up so quickly and parent her little brother, admitting she has been working and saving money to support her and her brother since she was 14. But she is doing a noble thing, and her brother will grow up in a secure environment because of her dedication and compassion.


Despite their unfortunate situation, the bond she is growing between her and her brother will last a lifetime. He will certainly always look up to her.

RELATED: After Woman Adopted Her Little Brother Out Of Foster Care, She Brought Him To Disney World To Heal Their Childhood Trauma

Francesca Duarte is a writer on YourTango's news and entertainment team based in Orlando, FL. She covers lifestyle, human interest, adventure, and spirituality topics.