Members of a popular internet forum were quick to call out one mother who wanted to turn her daughter’s academic trip abroad into a vacation.
In a viral Reddit post published on r/AmITheA**hole, Redditor u/Acrobatic-Flan-6059 (otherwise referred to as the original poster, or OP) explained that her 26-year-old daughter is in the process of obtaining a PhD, and expressed her frustrations with not being included in any of the academic trips she takes around the country, and rest of the world.
Titled, “[Am I the a**hole] for telling my daughter to get over herself?,” the viral post has received more than 8,100 votes and 2,800 comments in the last day.
Writing that her daughter is the first member of her family to attend college, the original poster said that during a recent FaceTime, the two spoke about the 26-year-old’s upcoming trip to Germany.
“She mentioned she was meeting with an adviser to talk about submitting an application for a grant to go to Germany for two weeks in the summer,” OP wrote. “I said it sounded awesome, especially since I am half-German…and that I’ve always wanted to see Germany so maybe I could come out with her and make it a girls’ trip.”
Following her inquiry, the original poster said her daughter immediately shut down the idea.
“She said that ‘it’s not a vacation, if I go I’m going to be teaching and researching and networking the entire time,'” OP wrote. “I said she can do that during the weekdays and we can go out to dinner in the evenings and then go sightseeing on the weekends.”
“She said it is already a very cramped amount of time and that she wants to spend her free time networking with other ‘academics’ there,” OP continued.
“At this point I was feeling completely tossed aside…like she would be embarrassed to have me around,” OP added. “So I said, ‘you need to get over yourself and quick, because all of these ‘academics’ aren’t going to be the only people you meet and not everyone loves her unconditionally to put up with such annoying and elitist talk.'”
Decreased involvement in the lives of adult children can be difficult for many parents.
Although college-aged offspring often reside outside of their childhood homes and live lives independent of their parents, mothers and fathers watching their kids grow into adults often struggle with seceding control of their children’s lives.
Bonobology, a website dedicated to relationship and parenting advice, credits this struggle to “empty nest syndrome.”
“For these parents, letting go of adult children is a real challenge,” Bonobology writer Ranjana Kamo asserted. “It could be that they’re suffering from empty nest syndrome or maybe they’re unable to recognize that their child is now an adult, but they’re not willing to come to terms with letting go of a grown child.”
“You don’t want adults overly attached to parents because that is going to stop them from living their best life to their maximum potential,” Kamo continued. “This over attachment could get in the way of your kid’s well-being. Parents who can’t let go can get seriously annoying and may actually force kids to cut ties with them for good.”
In thousands of responses to the viral Reddit post, commenters echoed this sentiment, and assured the original poster that her daughter’s denial of a girls’ trip in Germany had nothing to do with embarrassment, and everything to do with an overbearing parent.
“[You’re the a**hole,]” Redditor u/NoUnicornPoo4You wrote in the post’s top comment, which has received more than 27,000 votes.
“Your daughter is not going on vacation. Get that through your head,” they added. “Take your own advice and get over it. You’re not entitled to go on these trips.”
Redditor u/A_Birdii_, whose comment has received nearly 10,000 votes, told the original poster that she is actively interfering with her daughter’s work, and that accompanying her on an academic trip overseas should not even be considered.
“This is her job. Grad school is work,” they wrote. “It would be incredibly inappropriate for you to attend a work trip with your daughter.”
“I’m literally stunned how you could think it’s ok to go with your 26-year-old, grown adult child on a work trip,” Redditor u/Apart_Zucchini5778 added. “Who does that? It’s not about being embarrassed by you because you aren’t educated. It’s about being embarrassed by you because NO ONE brings mommy to work functions.”
In a pointed response, Redditor u/Left-Car6520 relayed a similar message and detailed the difficulties of obtaining a doctoral degree—even without your mother watching over your shoulder.
“She’s right. They’re not pleasure trips,” they commented, defending the original poster’s daughter.
“For a PhD candidate especially, they’re intense. And if she wants to get somewhere in her field she does need to invest in the networking. It’s a lot of work she’ll be doing on those trips,” they continued.
“And of course it would be weird to bring your mother to work events,” they added. “Like in any other job, it would look extremely childish and unprofessional to bringing your [mom] along like you’re a kid getting dropped off at a sleepover.”
Newsweek reached out to u/Acrobatic-Flan-6059 for comment.