Most parents consider their children their biggest priorities in life, and their parenting styles tend to reflect that. However, those styles also differ a great deal from person to person.
For this single father, it all came to a head when his long-term girlfriend watched his daughter one night while he was out. Needless to say, some words were exchanged, and what the girlfriend said to the daughter did not sit well with this dad.
Taking it slow
By the time he looked for advice on Reddit, the man about to tell his story had been seeing his girlfriend for three years.
In his words, "I'm a widower, so I wanted to make sure that our relationship was serious before I was ok with her moving in with me and my daughter."
A promising start
Six months before his post, however, it seemed the man was confident enough in the relationship for all three of them to live in the same house.
And as he told it, things went well for a few months, and his girlfriend and daughter largely got along.
Some clear boundaries
The man also mentioned that at the beginning of his relationship with this woman, he was clear that it was neither necessary nor desirable for her to take on the role of the daughter's stepmom.
It is his view that since the daughter is 16 years old, "She's old enough that she doesn't need a 'new mom.'"
No reason to worry
And that was the understanding the father had on one weekend when he went on a camping trip with some friends. This left his daughter and his girlfriend at home together.
This was also a weekend that saw his daughter attend a party, and she had already cleared her attendance with him.
Returning to drama
However, by the time the father returned, he had learned that his household had not been as peaceful as he would've assumed.
Although his daughter did go to the party as planned, she told her dad that his girlfriend did not make that as easy as she would have hoped.
She put her foot down
Apparently, the girlfriend had a problem with the makeup the teen was wearing.
The dad didn't specify her look, but he relayed that she said his daughter had to go with a less "provocative" style before she was allowed to leave the house.
A broken agreement
This news made the man angry as he didn't consider it his girlfriend's place to order his daughter around. After all, he had long established that he wasn't looking for her stepmom.
And he was especially incensed at the idea that the girlfriend thought she could prevent the teen from doing something he had already agreed to.
An icy aftermath
This response apparently led the couple into a severe argument that barely left them on speaking terms in the following days.
Although the dad resented the idea of his girlfriend appointing herself as his daughter's babysitter, he nonetheless wondered if he had handled the situation appropriately.
A strong consensus
For the most part, commenters agreed with the father's response and felt that his girlfriend had overstepped some clearly-defined boundaries.
While some were hesitant about the rule until they were made aware of the daughter's age, they were less than impressed by what the girlfriend was implying when they found out she was 16.
A stepmom's perspective
Speaking from experience, one woman in a similar living situation thought that it was natural to have some concerns about the minor she shared a home with.
And indeed, she thought it was an issue when her husband's nine-year-old daughter started wearing makeup to school.
Yet she wasn't really disagreeing
However, she noted the difference in her situation, which was that she expressed her concerns privately to the girl's biological parents, whereupon all three parties came to an agreement.
And other than cases where the teen is in imminent physical danger, the woman didn't see any reason to step in on the daughter's aesthetic choices unilaterally.
A reconciliation proposal
But while it likely felt affirming for the dad to see such widespread validation, some instead tried to focus on finding a productive way forward in the relationship.
As one commenter said, "Conversations like this aren't a one-stop shop; they need to be revisited as the relationship and dynamics evolve."
That person went on to make the following suggestion: "I would have a calm talk and gently remind her that you appreciate her concern but do not want her input with your daughter unless it impacts your gf."
Four days after his initial post, the man made an update that noted this was only one of many posts making this suggestion.
A sinking feeling
These comments led him to try having a long talk with his girlfriend about the boundaries they had discussed and their relationship in general.
However, it was hard to feel encouraged by this as he warned, "Unfortunately, this update is not exactly a happy one."
She couldn't take this back
Apparently, their discussion had started to devolve into another argument when the girlfriend stated why she felt it was so important that the daughter wash her initial makeup look off.
Without repeating the word, it's worth noting that she described the teen's makeup look with a derogatory term often used to shame a woman's attire and flirtatious attitude.
The last straw
As far as the man was concerned, that word and his daughter didn't belong in the same sentence. So as he wrote, "For me, that was just too much."
By that, he meant that the girlfriend was no longer welcome at his house.
A conflicting end
Just hours after that conversation, the girlfriend moved out and was out of the house by the evening.
Given how quickly his relationship spiraled downward, the man was left wondering whether he had made the right decision in kicking her out.
He still loves his GF
On the one hand, it was staggering for the man to think that a three-year relationship could come to an end so abruptly after going well for so long.
And even after that fight, the man affirmed that he did truly love his girlfriend.
The first priority: his daughter
But regardless of his feelings for the woman and how hard his decision seemed, it wasn't one that he felt he could back down on.
As the man wrote, "I just couldn't let anyone talk that way about my daughter."
If the man had intended to stay in touch with the girlfriend after she moved out, he quickly discovered this was unlikely to happen.
Because other than her texting him to say when she would pick up the rest of her belongings, the former couple has been silent.
Back to square one
Ultimately, the man decided that he didn't regret his decision even if he was saddened by its dramatic results.
He also wasn't exactly looking forward to the single life again.
After the man mentioned feeling conflicted about his decision, many commenters were quick to reassure him that he did the right thing.
While they understood how sad he must feel in the aftermath, they were impressed by his willingness to sacrifice his relationship for his daughter's sake.
A pivotal age
One commenter further pointed out that 16 is a more tender age than people realize for parents to nurture relationships with their children. In particular, this person remembered how harshly their parents reacted over similarly petty matters.
In their words, "Your daughter will never forget you backing her up now, like I'll never forget my own parents [dumping] me."
Grasping at straws
Although the man's story attracted a great deal of support, some felt compelled to take the girlfriend's side. However, arguing in her favor seemed a struggle for them.
Some commenters apparently thought she was right to police the daughter's makeup and clothing choices with a slippery slope argument that suggested she would one day become a single parent herself.
The father felt this argument had some logical issues, especially speaking as someone who has walked the exact road the commenter was alluding to.
As he put it, "I became a father at 17, and my then girlfriend was a typical tomboy. It wasn't her appearance that caused the pregnancy; it was my stupidity."
One commenter, in particular, seemed keen to accuse the man of using his girlfriend as a domestic servant while shutting her out of the actual decision-making aspects of parenting.
In other words, they were convinced he was trying to have her fulfill the labor of a parent with none of the authority. Apparently, this was based on the fact that he didn't mention how much work she had done around the house before she moved out.
A lot of assumptions
This commenter seemed convinced that the dad hadn't mentioned the household division of labor because he was hiding something about its inequality rather than because it wasn't relevant to the story. From there, they jumped to conclusions about the kind of partner he was.
In response, he affirmed that his daughter is more independent than they realized and reiterated that he did not ask the girlfriend to stay home and watch over her. She just happened to want to stay home that weekend.
Finally, others seemed insistent that the dad doesn't know what his daughter wears when she goes out as much as he thinks he does.
Presumably, their implication was that the girlfriend caught her with makeup and attire that she had been hiding from him.
Not as wise as they think
Putting aside how these commenters could be so confident in this assertion despite never seeing the outfit or makeup in question, the father assured them that he knows what his daughter wears everywhere.
That's because she tends to post about nights out like that party on Instagram, and he's open about following her.
A relationship of trust
What he knows or doesn't know aside, the father went on to say that he's not afraid to tell her if he feels she's wearing something inappropriate but that skirts and crop tops don't meet that definition in and of themselves.
He said, "I worked hard to build a relationship with my daughter where she can feel comfortable expressing herself whether it's through clothes, hair or makeup without having to fear any judgment or criticism from me."