Man Splits Opinions by Letting Child Call Friend 'Dad'

Commenters were divided after a man revealed he allows his toddler to call his best friend "dad" without his wife's permission.

The Original Poster, known as u/imtrying__mybest, posted about the situation in Reddit's popular "Am I The A**hole" forum where it received more than 12,200 upvotes and 3,400 comments. The post can be found here.

What Is a Parent?

According to Parents.com, American families are shifting focus from the traditional married couple and children to more individuals opting to raise children with platonic friends or multiple partners.

"In a platonic partnership, both parents are making a conscious decision to be involved in the child's life," clinical psychologist Dr. Jenny Yip told the magazine. "If a child is living in a well-functioning and healthy environment with platonic parents, it's much better for the child than living in a toxic traditional family."

Man criticized for son calling friend dad
Here, a stock photo of a couple talking in front of a child. Commenters were divided about whether the anonymous parent should let his son call his friend "dad" even though it upset his wife. fizkes/iStock

In a 15-year study conducted by author and expert on polyamorous families, Elisabeth Sheff discovered three conditions that individuals needed to meet for children to consider them a parent:

  • Enter the child's life when they are young
  • Are involved in the child's life for several years
  • Live with the child

Although Sheff said that it is less important that the adult lives with the child than the ongoing level of interaction with them.

'AITA?'

In the post titled "AITA for letting my son call my best friend 'Dad?'" the 30-year-old man said his marriage with his wife Sam, 29, has been "rocky" since their 2-year-old son Oliver was born.

"She got pregnant just a few months after we got married and things were fine up until Oliver's delivery. I assume it was postpartum depression," the post read. "Sam never sought out a specific diagnosis, but after he was born it was like she just couldn't care less about our child."

The man said that although neither of them planned to have children so soon, the fear was "worth it" to him.

"Throughout Oliver's life, but especially that first year, I was essentially acting as a single parent," the post read. "The only help I had (and I don't mean for that to sound diminishing because this man is a godsend) was my best friend, Matt (33M)."

The man said the initial plan was for Oliver to be breastfed, but that Sam had "no interest" after he was born.

He added that he was the only one making Oliver's bottles and changing diapers, making the joys of bonding with his son get "sucked out" of him because the "energy" in the house was so "oppressive."

'Place of Refuge'

So rather than stay in the house he shared with Sam, he said he started taking Oliver to Matt's house.

"There have been exactly zero times in life where Matt hasn't shown up for me," the post read. "I've known him since I was 19 and can safely say that even after all that time. But this is the most wonderful thing he's given me. I could sleep soundly knowing my baby would be taken care of."

He said Matt's house was a "place of refuge" and that he was a shoulder to cry on who also helped take care of Oliver.

"Things with my wife have kind of started to look up but recent events have sent us in a huge downwards spiral," the post read. "Oliver was having some speech delays but he's been really picking things up as his third birthday nears."

The man said Oliver has said "dada" to him and Matt but recently started calling them both "daddy." He said he felt no need to correct Oliver and Matt said he was honored to be "bestowed with such a title."

"Sam got to hear this recently when I was on facetime with Matt and she basically went ballistic," the post read. "As much as I hate to admit it, I did say he was more of a parent than she had been which, while true, is hurtful. I need outside opinions on this."

Redditor Reactions

More than 3,400 users commented on the post, some defending the man for not correcting his son and others sided with Sam in the situation.

"I had severe postpartum depression. It was the lowest I've ever felt in my entire life," one user commented. "My ex-husband was not supportive, he didn't even catch it, my mother did. Even with medication, it took me a year to feel like any semblance of myself...the low blow you gave her of the insult physically pained me to read. YTA for that comment."

"Matt is not his father. You are. And she is his mother. He has two parents. Matt isn't one of them," another commented. "Your wife isn't wrong for wanting there to be a distinction here."

"Hot take: A parent is a person who raises a child. Sperm donors, egg donors, and incubators are appreciated, but not parents," another user commented. "If she wants credit where credit is due, she has to put in the effort. Not to say postpartum depression is not an issue, and I really hope they sought help."

"I think you are going to get lambasted for this one. I'm going with NTA for me, however," one user commented. "I have been hospitalized previously for depression and I think it's amazing my now wife stayed. S**t gets rough out there but everyone gets to be happy. That includes you."

The user also asked if the OP was perhaps "in love with Matt" since they seem to act like a couple.

"No judgement, but leave if it's what you want," the comment read.

But other users disagreed with the commenter.

"I don't think anyone would be asking OP to examine their feelings if OP were a woman describing a friendship with another woman," one user replied. "People need to stop the sexist assertion that men can not be emotionally close and vulnerable with one another. Not only is it perfectly acceptable and healthy for two men to have an emotionally close friendship, but it should be more normalized so men feel more comfortable forming close connections with their buddies."

Newsweek reached out to u/imtrying__mybest for comment.

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