Content Warning: Post-Partum Anxiety, mental health, medical treatment
Nearly all of us have had some sort of mental health struggle in our lives, even if it was “just” being anxious during a big move or having a surge of seasonal depression.
But when a sudden change in our mental health happens, and we have children to take care of, we need to act quickly to get better, agreed the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit.
Redditor Spirited_Block_6783 wasn’t sure what to think when his wife became increasingly anxious after being pregnant but refused to take medication.
But when her anxious behavior impacted their young daughter’s ability to be enrolled in a daycare program, the Original Poster (OP) considered giving his wife an ultimatum about her condition.
He asked the sub:
“AITA for saying my wife will have to quit her job if we get booted from another daycare?”
The OP’s daughter had gotten off to a rocky start in daycare, but not by her own doing.
“My wife and I have a three-year-old daughter, Alexis. Both of us work and Alexis has attended daycare since she was one year old.”
“In the two years since, we have been asked to leave two programs because my wife is a micromanager.”
“I cannot be the primary contact for daycare due to not being able to have my phone on me at work, so my wife is.”
“I admit both of us went into the first program not really understanding daycare. I quickly learned that they can’t provide personalized care, and after learning from her teachers, I reset my expectations.”
“My wife, however, has a lot of anxiety and worries about our daughter. She hates when she gets even a little upset.”
The OP had concerns about his wife’s mental health.
“She’s in therapy and is working on it. She’s been going for about a year.”
“She’s been diagnosed with PPA (Postpartum Anxiety) but will not take meds for it.”
“She also will not attend couples therapy. I have tried to bring it up. She says therapy is ‘her thing’ and that I can’t be a part of that.”
The OP’s wife’s behavior got them kicked out of their first two daycares.
“In the first program, my wife would constantly watch the live feed and call the daycare multiple times a day. We had several talks about it and the school talked to us twice.”
“My wife ended up screaming at one of the teachers and then the director. We were terminated immediately.”
“The second daycare was a little better because my wife began therapy. But my wife was still so nervous and had a complaint for them every single day.”
“These were not important things; they were small things, like how she saw another child take a toy from Alexis and she would cry. The teacher would give the toy back to Alexis but my wife didn’t understand why the other child wasn’t punished for it.”
“This daycare didn’t kick us out but did eventually suggest that this may not be the best program for us. My wife and I decided to pull Alexis out.”
“My wife because of her anxiety, and myself because I knew my wife had burned bridges and was becoming ‘one of those moms.'”
The couple tried their luck with a third daycare.
“We chose a smaller home daycare this time as we couldn’t afford another center.”
“The woman who owns it is very nice but also firm. She stands by her boundaries and won’t let my wife break any rules, whereas the centers were definitely more accommodating.”
“My wife would take any inch she got. This time, she doesn’t get that opportunity.”
“I thought all was well as the owner only speaks to my wife for the most part.”
It looked like the OP’s wife was well on her way to getting them kicked out of that one, too.
“Then, I got put in a group text, saying my wife has been bombarding the owner with texts every day, despite the owner saying she will text her at lunch when things are settled.”
“She said at this point, she will only be responding at specific times of the day and not looking at the rest.”
“The owner then added sent several pages of the contract with passages highlighted, reminding us of certain policies my wife had violated.”
The OP sat his wife down with an ultimatum.
“I was p**sed. When Alexis went to bed that night, my wife and I talked.”
“I pointed out this was our last option for daycare. The other centers are too expensive and this was the only home daycare in the area that we like. A nanny is not in our budget.”
“My wife made a million excuses, including that it’s not her fault she’s anxious.”
“I said if we were asked to leave this program, too, my wife will be the one quitting her job to watch Alexis, not me.”
“This upset my wife.”
“I pointed out I’ve spoken to her kindly about this plenty of times. I encouraged her to keep up her therapy. But she can’t keep getting us kicked out of programs.”
“My wife is now not speaking to me.”
Fellow Redditors weighed in:
- NTA: Not the A**hole
- YTA: You’re the A**hole
- ESH: Everybody Sucks Here
- NAH: No A**holes Here
Some were worried about how the daughter was being harmed in this situation.
“OP, your wife is abusing your child. Maybe not with mean words and fists, but it is abuse nonetheless. I understand that your wife is in therapy, but you also mention that she’s not complying with the therapeutic regimen. If your wife were physically hitting your kid, would you just stand by and hope it gets better or would you act to protect your child?”
“As a survivor of some pretty awful stuff, I hope you understand the urgency of the situation and act to keep your child safe.” – BilliousN
“OP is NTA, and his wife will need to be much further along in therapy to reestablish the trust required to let her solo childcare decisions.”
“She is putting her anxiety as a higher priority than her child’s welfare; not doing that would look like her texting OP or compiling a list of complaints to discuss with OP after work.”
“I get how impulse-instant anxiety is, and how torturous not having immediate feedback is with severe anxiety. I have really bad anxiety, my mom has it too, and I’ve had to take her to my own therapy appointments to have her not project these anxieties onto me.” – monsterdove
“I had a parent like the OP’s wife. My life was so rigidly restricted around their tolerance for worry, mess, etc.”
“I was literally euphoric for months after getting to college and having the ability to control what I ate, when I ate, what I wore, when I went to bed, how long I stayed on the phone, etc. Going back home to that restrictive environment was torture. This person meant well, but really screwed me up.”
“OP’s life and his daughter’s life are headed down that path, as well. He has a responsibility to protect his child from his wife.” – Loud-Bee6673
“Your kids NEED to experience low-level conflict. They need to learn how to negotiate, how to handle social slights and mistakes and mild bullying and things not always being fair, and the fact that in real life people will not always swoop in to help you.”
“That’s how they develop skills to survive and navigate all sorts of social interactions. You do serious harm by rescuing them all the time.” – spoondroptop
“The daughter, or possibly any other kids OP and his wife have, will be affected by the wife’s behavior emotionally and psychologically. What will happen when the daughter goes to school? Gets invited to birthdays or sleepovers? Goes out with a boy for the first time?”
“I am glad OP’s wife is getting therapy now, but I hope she soon learns to utilize her therapy sessions in her real-life scenarios.” – the_greek_italian
“If your wife freaks out about a toy being taken from your kid, then your kid is going to have a really hard life.”
“What happens if she falls? Is your wife going to forbid her from any activity where she might get hurt and cry? What happens if a kid in the park takes away a toy? What will she do to that child? So many questions here.” – ChronicallyTired85
“It would be helpful for OP to point out that her current behavior and mindset are abusive and are actively harming their child.”
“This type of overprotective, overbearing paranoia/anxiety doesn’t just magically lessen with time. What happens when the kid hits elementary, middle, and high school? What happens when the kid can’t even go to extracurricular activities without Life 360 installed on her phone?”
“What happens when her mom goes through all her texts and possessions because she’s anxious that the kid is doing drugs or having sex or even just talking to other kids that Mommy doesn’t approve of?”
“What happens when the kid is almost an adult and applying for jobs and colleges and Mommy won’t let her interview without being there in the same room, and calls the employer/college to harass them if they don’t give the kid a favorable response?”
“OP, do you think your child will magically grow into a functional and healthy adult despite her mother’s behavior? Do you think your child will become an adult who still wants to talk to the mom who did all those things… or the dad who just sat by and let her because he was too afraid of being a bad husband to be a good father?”
“Your wife is making the conscious choice to not actually try to get or be better. She is making the conscious choice to refuse accountability and is instead pushing and projecting the blame onto you and the world and her disorder, anyone and anything but herself.”
“She is making the conscious choice to repeatedly sabotage your daughter because that’s easier for her than acknowledging that she is the problem and actually working on herself. She is never going to change unless you either threaten to or actually just leave and forbid her custody due to her refusal to get actual, good-faith treatment for her psychological issues.” – DumpstahKat
Others encouraged the OP to give his wife an ultimatum other than leaving her job.
“Sir, your wife is making a choice not to get better.” – MissyJ11
“All I’m reading is your wife is manipulative. ‘I’ve got anxiety.’ ‘You’re bullying me.’ ‘This is your fault.’ ‘Why are you blaming me?’ Etc.”
“How she’s acting isn’t normal. Saying she needs to take her meds or you’ll need to review your relationship is perfectly acceptable because, this is the main point, you need to be looking out for your child first and foremost.”
“If she’s this bad now and not doing anything about it, because clearly the therapy isn’t working, she’s only going to get worse, your daughter will end up with no friends/her own anxiety issues and potentially cut you out when she’s older because your wife can’t step back.” – Tasty_Doughnut_9226
“OP, you can state an ultimatum. Explain that her behavior is unreasonable, and she needs to take her meds. Failure to take prescribed meds means that she is not doing her best to manage or treat her issues. Mental health issues are not her fault, but they are her responsibility. She needs to do more, and do better.” – Rohini_rambles
“That’s unacceptable. Your wife has a mental condition that she is refusing to treat. It’s not okay that she’s around your daughter, and I think she shouldn’t be until she takes her condition seriously.” – Mysterious_Salt_247
“Her therapy isn’t working. By refusing the take her meds, she is choosing to allow her need for control to override her child’s need for development and education. She needs a different therapist who will hold her toes to the fire. Her child deserves it.”
“OP, I grew up with someone whose mom was like your wife. Looking back, I’m not able to call it anything other than child abuse. My friend was not free to develop as an individual or as a peer who had strong relationship skills because of her mother. Her mom even watched us at recess from the roof of a nearby building.”
“It was truly so so sad to watch my friend’s education suffer… and it was also truthfully terrifying for us classmates because we couldn’t understand why someone’s mom thought the teacher was so ‘wrong’ all the time. It made us question if we were safe with the teachers, or if they taught us dangerous things.”
“Frankly? Your wife is not entitled to inflict that kind of stress on your kid’s classmates and their families.”
“She’s being so much worse than just anxious. She’s selfish and abusive. And this must stop. She’s hurting all three of you.” – itsjustmo_
“If her therapy team has encouraged her to take medication, consider talking with her and making it a requirement that she try medication for a set period of time.”
“I’m also curious if she recognizes that her behaviors while anxious are not reasonable or if she thinks it’s normal for a parent to be this aggressive with childcare staff because she seems to be making excuses.”
“I get panicky in heavy traffic and have had multiple panic attacks where I’ve had to open the door and throw up. I don’t think that is ‘normal’ or ‘reasonable’ in response to the situation even though I’m anxious and panicked about it. Does that question make sense?”
“You absolutely can make taking medication a requirement for a continued marriage and her having custody of your child. You can literally say, ‘This is untenable. I need you to try medication or we cannot continue this marriage and I will seek primary custody of our child.’ You can’t force it down her throat, but you can say, ‘I won’t continue living like this.'”
“That she thinks you’re bullying her as you’re trying to work towards a solution screams to me that she’s not engaging in therapy in good faith. I say that as someone who has previously not engaged in therapy in good faith and it damaged my relationships.”
“I obviously don’t know your wife but if she’s with a therapist that is encouraging her to say things like, ‘I can’t help that I have anxiety,’ or she’s just not listening to her therapist and saying that anyway, her treatment isn’t working.” – Huge_Researcher7679
While everyone could agree that mental health concerns need to be taken seriously and that a person doesn’t choose to have mental health struggles, it is their responsibility to do something to treat themselves, so they can be better.
The subReddit argued that this was especially true with a child involved. By not taking her treatment seriously, the OP’s wife was impacting their daughter in a serious way, and not just educationally speaking.