*The following article contains discussion of suicide/self-harm.
Many parents are incredibly interested in appearances when it comes to their children, and they’re interested in their children achieving above the others around them.
But at what cost, the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit questioned.
When their daughter needed to go to therapy for anxiety, Redditor aita0193 was perplexed that her grades continued to not increase, despite her demeanor otherwise improving.
Thinking that they would teach her to be more diligent, the Original Poster (OP) decided to take something important away from her as punishment.
They asked the sub:
“AITA for canceling my daughter’s therapy sessions because she has bad grades?”
The OP’s daughter was recently enrolled in therapy with positive results.
“My daughter (14) had anxiety problems ever since she was little but it was not severe. Three months ago, my daughter changed drastically. She stopped eating, talking to us or her friends, and her marks dropped.”
“We were really concerned and her teachers strongly suggested we take her to therapy, which we did, and she was diagnosed with severe depression and social anxiety, which was expected.”
“The therapy sessions look like they helped her well. In the first month, she already began making progress and started talking to us and her friends again and is eating whatever her mother is cooking.”
“We were really happy to see this, and every day she would get better and better.”
“The thing is, her marks did not improve. They are terrible, and she ended up barely passing the year.”
The OP was not happy about this.
“This is what infuriated me and made me cancel her therapy sessions.”
“I know to some it might sound terrible, but paying $120 per session and seeing no progress in her marks makes me feel like I am seriously wasting my money (now that she returned back to normal).”
“Not only that, but since she really enjoys going to therapy, I think telling her that she needs to get higher marks to continue her therapy sessions will motivate her to study harder and thus score better marks (I’m thinking of it as an equivalent of her spending time with a good friend and earning that time).”
But the OP’s wife was not convinced.
“My wife disagrees with my logic and we had a massive argument because of it.”
“It ended with her saying that she is going to pay from ‘her money,’ which hurt me since I see my and her money as ours.”
“My daughter is also really upset with me and was begging me to keep her therapy sessions, but I think I am going to stick to this plan.”
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 certain the OP had made the wrong decision.
“God, they’re so lucky this child LIKES THERAPY and is drastically improving and has an excellent rapport with her therapist, and that their family can afford it all.”
“OP’s sitting on the Holy Grail of how to help a child with mental disorders and he’s just like, ‘Welp, still no better grades, so I’m gonna punish you by axing your medical treatment that’s WORKING.'”
“Depression can affect grades, but if everything else is improving except grades, it means she likely needs more academic help. Not less help in general.”
“She could even be expending so much energy on healing right now that she has less energy for schoolwork, and she just needs more time.”
“Last time I had a terrible stretch of depression, I actually had to get a three-month extension/leave from university because it was widely recognised (and I had a doctor’s letter) that all of my attention needed to go toward adjusting to my new meds, healing, getting my feet back on the ground, catching up with my life and readjusting to being a functional human again.” – boudicas_shield
“A lot of classes, like math, have material that builds on material previously learned that year. so say the class was learning topic A and after a few weeks moved onto topic B that uses concepts from topic A.”
“If daughter failed to learn topic A because she was struggling with depression/anxiety, she’s STILL going to struggle with topic B even if she’s more attentive in class.”
“YTA. Therapy isn’t a reward for children that behave the way you want, it’s a tool that helps them develop skills for managing their emotions.” – mddie_mct
“Punishing her by removing mental health care is abusive behavior, and I have a feeling that the daughters issues might stem from OP’s treatment of her.” – Vailoftears
“My son is like a mirror image of what OP described. He has displayed some lower key anxiety issues since he was little and then at twelve, it hit hard. He went through some things personally and it brought everything out.”
“His love for school tanked and he’s become reluctant to participate and it’s very, very difficult to get him to do his work. The anxiety and depression make him feel like it’s pointless or he’s so afraid to be wrong that he just won’t try.”
“It’s a long long process that he will go through his entire life and you know what, he would NEVER be pulled from therapy because WE PREFER OUR SON ALIVE. This has infuriated me to read.” – stinkykitty71
“YTA. Let me spell out how this will play out for you if you cancel her therapy.”
“I was depressed when I was 14. I ended up making two attempts on my life, and narrowly avoided dying the second time. My mother immediately got me into therapy, and about a year later, things were much improved, but I still struggle with depression and, at times, suicidal thoughts.”
“My point is this: I got better because, despite my slipping grades, what was most important to my mother was me, as a person.”
“If you take away your daughter’s therapy, there is a good chance she could end up attempting suicide, and succeeding. And if you think that your daughter’s depression isn’t that bad, then I’d be willing to bet you aren’t watching her closely enough. So if you’re willing to bet her life, go ahead and pull the therapy.”
“But a funeral will be a lot more expensive than $120 per week.” – cowzroc
Others agreed and were disgusted by the OP’s views of mental health.
“‘She’s returned to normal.’ I don’t think you understand how depression works.”
“It sounds like all you care about are her grades, and not that she gets to a better place mentally. YTA.” – ivi15
“You canceled your daughter’s therapy that was helping her because her grades were bad?”
“And you think she’ll do better and improve her grades now?”
“Yes, YTA.” – profmoxie
“YTA. When my depression developed during my second year at university, my grades plunged. Bad. I’m an honors, straight A student and started failing several tests.”
“I’ve been in therapy for a year and a half now and it’s the best thing I’ve ever done for myself.”
“The reason she’s opening up and becoming more social is likely a direct result of going to therapy. Progress takes time, it’s very unrealistic to expect her to completely improve within three months of treatment.”
“And the reality is, this will not motivate her to study more. She will spiral back to where she was three months ago and all progress she’s made will be reverted. Put her back into therapy, please.” – virgo_em
“YTA! Full stop.”
“Taking away health care for grades isn’t just an a**hole move, it is negligence.”
“By denying her therapy, you are just going to make things worse for her, possibly cause her to backslide into depression and make her see you as the enemy since you see how therapy is helping her but you are denying that to her.”
“Under this logic, you keep her from getting chemo if she cancer or refuse her insulin if she had diabetes unless she got her grades up. Mental health care is no different from physical health care.”
“Also, good for your wife in standing up to you and saying no to your a**hole decision. She is a good mom who is looking out for what is best for her child.” – cricket008
“Do you know how many people die from suicide each year?”
“Also, PLEASE do some research. You know NOTHING about what depression or anxiety is. It isn’t just feeling sad because other people’s lives are better. It is a chemical imbalance in your brain. It IS a physical illness IN YOUR BRAIN.”
“IT NEEDS TO BE TREATED NOW. HOLY S**T, WHY WOULD YOU WAIT UNTIL SHE IS SUICIDAL TO HELP HER? Treating stage 1 cancer is FAR easier than stage 4! It’s the same with mental illness.” – cbakapeiehnak
“I’ve seen a few Redditors comparing your situation to withholding cancer treatments, and it absolutely is a fair comparison; you obviously have been blessed with not experiencing some sort of mental illness and do not understand it.”
“Please educate yourself. I know you love her, but you are going about this all wrong, man.”
“Appropriate punishments for bad grades are like limiting electronic and friend time, not withholding medical treatment.”
“You have to understand that you can’t read minds, so just because someone seems okay doesn’t mean they’re not struggling inside, just like people with a handicapped placard for their car that ‘look’ like they’re not disabled. Does that make sense to you?” – Taramonia
After receiving feedback, the OP shared an update.
“I deeply apologize for my ignorant replies and for hurting so many people. Please know that I had no intention in offending anyone and it was so upsetting to see how mental illness has affected many of you.”
“I hope you guys can overcome this one day. I have talked to my wife and her therapy sessions will continue.”
The OP might be interested in appearances and in their daughter demonstrating high academic marks, but the subReddit reminded the parent that grades are not always the most important thing, in life or in school.
At this point, it was more important for the OP’s daughter to receive the care she needed to heal and to discover herself again, rather than stressing her out with potentially unattainable goals.
If you or someone you know is struggling, you can contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988.
To find help outside the United States, the International Association for Suicide Prevention has resources available at https://www.iasp.info/resources/Crisis_Centres/