Struggles between generations are pretty common. Some people of older generations may have vastly different — or even archaic — values that have been tossed aside by younger generations. Usually, family members can get past their differences, but when someone marries into a family where the parents uphold traditions that are now recognized as problematic...well, tension can escalate, and that's exactly what happened here.
Recently, I was scrolling through the Am I the Asshole subreddit — where people go to share their personal experiences and ask other users who was wrong in the given situation — and found this story by u/Upbeat_Fix_4061, who invited both her and her husband's family over for dinner to announce they were expecting a baby.
For context, u/Upbeat_Fix_4061 — who we'll call Upbeat — explained that her husband and his father don't have the best relationship, but they keep in contact because his younger siblings still live at home. "My father-in-law is the type of person that still thinks women should serve men at dining times — like, he has to be served first because he's 'the breadwinner' and shit like that," Upbeat said. "We usually don't care since we mostly ignore them, however, this time my family was present."
"At dinner, both my husband and I cooked things we knew both of our families would like. The issue first started when my father-in-law tried to sit at one of the heads of the table and my husband said, 'No,'" she continued. "[My husband] sat at one end and I sat at the other. My father and sister sat on either side of the table, as did his brothers, so my father-in-law was kinda in the middle and didn't like it."
"The second problem and the cause of all of this is that everyone was serving themselves, however, my dad has a damaged nerve on his right hand and struggles when holding spoons or forks, so I offered to serve him his plate while my sister served him his drink, and then we all sat to eat and chat," Upbeat said.
"Three or four minutes after that, my father-in-law asks out loud, 'Is no one going to serve me my plate?' and my husband looks at him confused and says, 'No, we don't do that here.'
My mother-in-law just gets up in a hurry and takes his plate but my father-in-law said no, that 'the hostess did it for her father, so she can do it for me,'" she said. "I said, 'Yes, my father who has an injured hand. You're fine.'"
"He says he won't eat then, and I just shrugged and said that he could starve and I didn't care. He left with my mother-in-law, and while everyone agreed with me, my own father said it was a disrespectful thing to say and that I should apologize for the way I did it. So, am I the asshole?" she concluded.
The overwhelming majority of readers agreed that Upbeat was not wrong in the situation, but their reasoning differed. For one, a lot of people commented on the fact that she didn't instigate the situation, her father-in-law did:
"You're not the asshole," one user wrote anonymously. "You didn’t instigate the situation. He was being ridiculous and you declined to entertain his behavior."
Others agreed, pointing out that her father-in-law came into the situation wrong from the start by trying to sit at the head of the table to establish some sort of weird dominance:
"Who the fuck assumes they're going to sit at the head of the table at someone else's house, during a gathering they're not even hosting?" user u/lurker2531973 said. "A sexist A-hole, I guess. Damn, that takes some next-level self-centered entitlement. By the time the 'serve me my meal' happened, I would have definitely been at the 'No, starve' point. You are not the asshole. Congratulations on your pregnancy!"
A Reddit user who goes by u/Prudent_Border5060 argued that Upbeat's father-in-law and mother-in-law are free to act how they want within their own home, but should not expect to bring that energy elsewhere:
"Your father in law needs to know that not everyone follows his sexist views," u/Prudent_Border5060 said. "And in someone else's home he doesn't get to act that way. If his own wife wants to be his servant, that's her choice. In your home, you make the call."
On the flip side of agreers, one commenter said she enjoys cooking for her partner and making their plate as a display of love, but that it should be a choice and not something anyone is forced into:
"Look, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with making your man a plate. I grew up watching that, but the difference is my aunts and grandma weren’t FORCED to do it, it was something they LIKED doing. Hell, I say cooking for you is how I show love, but if I met a man like your father-in-law, I wouldn’t serve him a damn thing. Like you said, his attitude is messed up," u/Efficient_Living_628 said.
And finally, a few people did see how Upbeat's own father could watch the events play out and perceive his daughter's actions as rude, BUT said that being rude doesn't always warrant an apology:
"I can see how your dad sees it as rude and disrespectful since he probably assumed the right thing to do is just smile and serve," u/Maleficent-Day-1510 said. "However, your father-in-law was rude and disrespectful in your home and possibly made your dad feel less than by pointing out that he was served by you. Regardless, eff your father-in-law."
"Of course it was 'disrespectful,' but does he expect respect when he’s so anal? Spoiler, of course not. Does that make you an asshole? No," user u/tango421 said.
Now I'm curious, what do you all think about the situation? Let me know in the comments.
Note: Responses have been edited for length/clarity.