Parents Clash Over Forcing Daughter Into Hanging Out With Her 'Lame' Cousin

aphrodite74/iStock

girl playing with dolls
aphrodite74/iStock

In some families, cousins grow up together and feel almost like siblings. In others, cousins might be the same age but simply aren't destined to be BFFs. A parent recently took to the Am I the A-hole subreddit to explain that they and their family are attempting to navigate the latter scenario. The parent asked if they're the jerk for thinking it's wrong to force their 13-year-old daughter to hang out with her cousin who is the same age.

  • The original poster's (OP's) wife has two sisters who she's close to.

    "Their mom died when they were young so they bonded over the loss and became very close," the OP explained. "We have two kids. Chris (16M) and Kaylee (13F). My wife's older sister also has two kids. Owen (17M) and Emma (16F). They live about five minutes from us and our kids attend the same school."

  • Advertisement
  • The older teens -- Chris, Owen, and Emma -- have always hung out as a trio.

    But the OP explained that their wife's younger sister has a daughter named Gia who is three months older than Kaylee. Although the adults had hoped the girls would grow up to be close, the Redditor shared that "Kaylee doesn't like hanging out with Gia, and it's becoming more obvious as they get older that they are two different people."

  • The OP's daughter likes soccer and video games, whereas her cousin isn't allowed to play video games and isn't interested in sports.

    "Kaylee is a social butterfly and Gia is a homebody," the OP noted. "All of this was manageable, but Gia also has some more immature interest[s]. She still enjoys playing with dolls and engages in pretend play. For example, when Kaylee goes over their house to sleep over, she says Gia likes playing 'school' or 'mommies.' Playing school means they set up all of the stuffed animals and pretend to teach them. Mommies is when they play with the baby dolls and pretend to be mommies."

  • The OP has have nothing against pretend play and appreciates that Gia "doesn't feel pressured to grow up too fast." 

    But it seems clear that Kaylee and Gia "are on different wavelengths." 

    Yet, with social distancing rules becoming more relaxed, Gia's mom wants the girls to get together.

    "Kaylee said she doesn't want to sleepover Gia's," the OP explained. "She said she'll still interact with Gia at family events but doesn't want to sleepover there anymore or go over to play. This upset my wife a lot. She said Kaylee doesn't get a say. Later, that night I told my wife I sided with Kaylee. I don't think she should be forced to hang out with Gia."

  • That's when the OP says their wife "flipped."

    "My wife said that I am an only child, so I will never understand her family values and how this isn't up for discussion," the Redditor shared. "I told her that wasn't fair. Kaylee should get a say and she said that you don't get a say when it comes to family. We argued for a while before I told her that we would be having this discussion later and she didn't talk to me for the rest of the night."

    The OP then turned it over to the community, asking if they were in the wrong.

  • Commenters overwhelmingly sided with the OP.

    "Your wife is controlling," one Redditor noted. "Kaylee is 13, and old enough to realize what interests her. They may become friends as they get older, but forcing it is awkward, and will never work."

    Another shared, "13 is old enough that courts will take a child's opinions/desires into consideration when deciding a custody arrangement. Much less whether or not to sleep over at someone's house. Also, have a cousin my family tried to force me to be close to when we were kids. Now that we're adults we do not speak or interact in any way, because we were forced to spend time together all the time."

    A third observed, "It's sweet that your family is so close and that you guys want cousins to be close, but your wife trying to force it is only gonna make it so much worse. It's clear that Kaylee doesn't dislike Gia, which is good, but she absolutely shouldn't be forced to hang out with her all the time if Gia is really that bad."

  • One commenter pointed out that forcing Kaylee to socialize with Gia is a mistake, but the adults need to step up. 

    "Your SIL will need to be careful not to crush Gia's feelings," the Redditor suggested. "She will definitely notice if Kaylee suddenly never hangs out anymore. It may be a better idea to offer to have Gia over so that she can do things that Kaylee enjoys. Another alternative would be to find something like a board game or craft project that Kaylee would feel was age-appropriate for her and enjoy doing with Gia."

    Here's hoping the parents can have a civil conversation in order to reach a solution that keeps both girls' best interests -- versus their personal agendas -- at heart.