Man Slammed for Giving Stepson Phone That Only Opens to His Face

The internet is backing a mother who said her husband decided to surprise her 16-year-old son with a phone for his birthday. While the gesture on the surface appeared nice, there was one caveat, the phone can only be opened using the husband's face.

Redditor u/AITA_Face_Lock79 wrote about the gifting incident on the subreddit "Am I The A*s*ole" in a post that has been voted on over 13,000 times.

The mother explained that she and her husband have been together for three years though only recently got married. She said her husband has tried to rush creating a relationship with her 16-year-old son and claimed he did not think the teen was "giving him a chance."

"As you know teenage years can be hard to navigate and I already explained to my husband why my son might not find it easy to open up about everything. Nonetheless they have a stable relationship," she wrote.

In a move that he said was an attempt at trying to move their relationship along, the man decided to replace the teen's broken phone with a new device featuring the personal security feature.

Pew Research Center reported in 2019 that 95 percent of teens in the United States said they have access to a smartphone—and 45 percent said they are "almost constantly" on the internet.

According to VeryWellFamily, there might be reasons for a parent to restrict their child's smartphone use. While some teens might find access to a smartphone a right, it is in fact, a privilege.

The outlet said "without spying" parents should keep an eye on their teen's phone usage and look out for any warning signs that they might need to enforce stricter guidelines.

If a child is not getting adequate sleep, slacking off on schoolwork or sharing inappropriate information through messages and social media, these might all be reasons to take a step back.

The Redditor explained that both she and her son were excited at the surprise phone though the excitement passed when it was discovered the teen could not open his phone without using his stepfather's face.

The mother said that despite her husband's claim, the peculiar move was for him to move along his relationship with the teen, which she thought was an invasion of privacy.

"I asked my husband why and he said he did this as a first concrete step towards having a parent-child relationship and move on from the friend-child relationship. I said he had no right to invade my son's privacy and have access to his personal stuff," she wrote.

She went on to say that she returned the phone and her husband "pitched a fit" calling her "ungrateful" and saying she treats him as "less of" a parent.

"I told him he can keep the phone unless and until the face lock, his face lock is removed because this is ridiculous. He got more upset and claimed that he's doing his best yet my son and I keep treating him poorly and get mad and oversensitive for no reason," the Redditor wrote.

"He said I should go hear how other 'fathers' trear [sic] their kids and realize my son is lucky to have him as his dad," she continued. "I couldn't stand the yelling so I went inside the kitchen. He kept saying I should encourage him and be on his side for wanting to ensure my son's okay but in my opinion this isn't the way."

Teenager phone
A post has gone viral on Reddit after a woman shared that her husband got her son a new phone that can only be opened using the man's face. Here, a stock image shows a teenager on their phone. BrianAJackson/Getty Images

Commenters backed the mother's decision to stand up against her husband's "controlling" move, and a few labeled the situation as "ESH"—or "Everyone Sucks Here"—given the woman's decision to be with the man in the first place.

"You can, and should, factory reset the phone, but can you factory reset your husband? Please let us know. NTA, but you are walking a fine line if you let your husband continue to try to control your son. This is not healthy," one Redditor wrote.

"[S]ure she may have married him not knowing he was this much of a hot mess, but how is this situation not the biggest reddest flag? OP, if you stay married to this a**hole, YTA as well," wrote another.

Dozens of commenters echoed the notion that the move came off as an act of control.

"NTA—he is trying to control your son, and you called him out on it," another commenter chimed in. "Gifts don't have strings attached—that one had a rope attached. The more he pushes, the further your son will get away when he's old enough."

Newsweek contacted u/AITA_Face_Lock79 for comment.