The Hand That Rocks The Cradle, a film from the early 90s, deals with the terrifying subject of a hired babysitter trying to steal the child and take over the lives of the parents in the house, but as it’s just a movie, it’s not something to worry about.
That’s what Redditor AAll_Jkh thought—until, to her horror, the person she’d hired as her babysitter started claiming her children as her own.
Confused and upset, she banned the sitter from the house. In the face of blowback, she turned to the objective strangers on the subReddit “Am I The A**hole?” or “AITA” for judgement on her behavior:
“AITA after no longer allowing my mother in laws friend to baby sit my children after she started calling them her babies?”
Our original poster, or OP, talked about what brought the sitter into their lives.
“I (26 F[emale]) am the mother of two kids (4F and 3M[ale]) My husband (27M) and I both work office jobs.”
“Due to this, we need someone to watch the kids while we aren’t home. We mostly had babysitters but a few months back my MIL (48F) suggested that her friend could watch them for free.”
“I told her it wasn’t necessary since we could afford a babysitter just fine, but she insisted. I didn’t really see any harm in it after she kept asking, so i gave in and her friend (45F) started babysitting our kids.”
“Everything was perfect for the first few months, she was always on time and always fed my kids and put them to bed at the time I suggested.”
Until OP’s daughter came to ask an uncomfortable question.
“My kids seemed to really like her, but about a few weeks ago my oldest came to me and asked me if I was their real mommy. I was confused, and asked her what she meant.”
“Well turns out, MILs friend had been telling my kids that they were her babies, and when they protested saying they weren’t, she would yell at them saying that I was just their money maker and that she was their real mommy.”
“I told my husband about this and he hired a babysitter on the spot. Then me and him called my MIL and told her about the situation, we told her that we weren’t going to have her friend over anymore because it made us uncomfortable. We even told her what my kid had told me.”
And the reaction was quite a bit out of proportion.
“Well, MIL didn’t take it well. Over the phone she started screaming, saying that quote on quote ‘my friend doesn’t have any kids or grandchildren, so your kids are the closest things she’s had to it, and you’re going to take that away from her?!’”
“My husband and I tried to calm her down, but after a bit we just hung up. I received a photo of MIL friend crying on MIL couch later that night.”
“I feel horrible for making her upset, but I don’t like how she was telling my kids these things. I understand that she doesn’t have kids, but that doesn’t excuse her behaviour.”
“But for my peace of mind, AITA?”
Anonymous strangers weighed in by declaring:
- NTA – Not The A**hole
- YTA – You’re The A**hole
- ESH – Everyone Sucks Here
- NAH – No A**holes Here
Redditors were just as creeped as OP and advised her that she’d done the right thing.
“NTA, she claimed ownership of your kids and decided to hide it from you for a long period of time. During this time she viciously yelled at your kids for denying this ‘fact’ and defending you.”
“That’s not a woman whom you want around your kids, she doesn’t sound mentally stable and it makes the kids doubt their identity and be dubious of your motherhood and your relation to them, which is vastly detrimental to them and has the potential to cause further problems.”
“It’s sad that she doesn’t have any kids of her own, but it seems like she has gone too far and she isn’t able to take care of them while thinking of them as hers and ingraining this mindset in them.”
“She proved incapability to do that, it’s not your fault. You gave her the chance to prove herself and unfortunately, she failed.”
“You’re not the ones to blame here. MIL’s anger was directed at you unjustifiably, but in these situations the ‘victims’ try to blame others.”
“Moreover, I don’t know if it’s just me, but I found the whole ‘sent you a picture of her sobbing’ thing weird.”
“Who takes a picture of his friend whilst she’s crying and sends it to someone else to guilt-trip him, implying that he has caused it?”
“It seems unhinged and unnatural. I don’t know if the friend consented to this or not. If she did, she was an accomplice in an attempt to guilt-trip them into making them feel guilty and rehire her.”
“Whereas if it was done unbeknownst to her, it crosses the line. She was vulnerable and MIL took advantage of that to prove her point.”-Compensate1995
“NTA. If anything you underacted. Would your MIL ever help your friend see them? To the point of taking the kids behind your back?”
“I’d take them to a few sessions with a therapist. They were clearly confused and the damage this unhinged woman did can run deeper than you know right now. Kids internalize that kind of stuff.”-ObjectiveLocksmith4
“NTA. I work as a pro nanny, and this is giving me major heebie-jeebies. If you keep her, one day you’ll come home to your kids gone.”
“Or at the very least, they’ll end up with a serious complex. Kids need safety and security from their parents, and having someone say you aren’t their real mom when you are will hinder their emotional and mental development.”
“Also, I use tons of nicknames for the kids I nanny. And sometimes, yes, I call them my babies. BUT! It’s done in a very innocent sweet way, and I always refer to myself as the nanny.”
“So I’ll say something like ‘hello my baby, nanny pretty fly thinks we should go on a walk!’ And I always refer to the parents as ‘mama’ and ‘dada.'”
“I love the kids I nanny, but I’m not their mom and would never ever act that way.”-prettyflyforahobbit
“NTA. Childless people can certainly fill parental roles for children. These can be valuable and beneficial for both.”
“But MiL’s friend went a step further – a BIG step over a very important boundary. She decided that it wasn’t enough to fulfill a parental role, she decided that she WAS the parent.”
“This is a mental/emotional issue that is beyond OP’s ability to deal with. OP’s most important duty is protecting her children.”
“OP may also want to reconsider the relationship her family has with her MiL. She is not only enabling, but actually encouraging and PUSHING her damaged friend.”-pcnauta
“NTA. It’s not your job to provide a stranger with pseudo grandkids. The hand that rocks the cradle level craziness here & I can’t believe your MIL Thinks it’s ok for her friend to try to Alienate your kids from their parents ( that’s a crime btw.)”
“I would never allow that woman near your kids again she is unbalanced ( & mil isn’t far behind).”-Competitive_Tea2413
People strongly advised OP to be safe.
“NTA and that is honestly terrifying. Your kids must have been super upset if it got to the point they were confused on if you were their mom.”
“Not having children or grandchildren is not an excuse to go all hand that rocks the cradle!”
“I would be very weary she doesn’t try to come around the house and maybe consider some outdoor cameras just in case!”-latefordinner__
“NTA even a tiny bit and I agree with a previous commenter that you may have under reacted.”
“I would personally be telling MIL that I will not be allowing unsupervised time at her home since she not only finds this behavior acceptable, but she knew and is encouraging it.”
“The behavior on MIL’s friend’s part is NOT NORMAL OR HEALTHY, it’s ::delusional and dangerous::”
“I would change the locks, install cameras outside at the bare minimum and have a camera in the living room at all times while you’re not home.”-amazonpixie81
“OMFG. I wish you could see my face after I finished reading the second paragraph. WOW.”
“NTA and that woman seriously needs some help. This is a little scary. I do love the extra touch of your MIL sending a photo of her crying.”
“I don’t think you should feel badly about this in the slightest. This is an extra slice of crazy and who knows what she’s capable of.”-Lola_M1224
“NTA Your kid got confused by what she was saying and gave her an out- MIL’s friend could have said that it was an endearment and was a reference to how important the kids were to her. But she didn’t.”
“And even if this isn’t exactly what she said. (1) it’s what your child heard and (2) she didn’t tell you- hey this conversation came up with your child, this is how I explained, I hope they understood it.”
“So you didn’t get a different version from your kid. Since she didn’t do that, you have to assume that your child is telling the truth and that she was concerned about bringing this up to.”
“MIL gets a ‘we’re sorry that you are upset about your friend but it isn’t okay for her to tell our children that she’s their real mommy. we can’t trust her around our children.'”
“And honestly, I’d be surprised if it was awhile before you allowed your MIL unsupervised around the kids.”-rak1882
And more people were suggesting extra caution, including monitoring any presence around the house among other things.
“NTA, and wowwwww!! That woman is *not well* and you should absolutely keep the kids away from her and your MIL.”
“Change all the locks, explain to the children that Grandma’s friend is sick, and to tell you immediately if she comes around again.”
“Also, I wouldn’t allow Grandma access to the children alone until she realizes just how awful she was being by enabling the other woman’s bugnuts crazy behavior.”-jen4k2
“NTA. ‘How are my babies today?’ Is ok.”
“’That’s not your mommy, I’m your mommy and she’s just your money maker’ Is wildly inappropriate and you should change the locks.”
“The first one is, I feel, relatively harmless identification of the children. We had two little old ladies next door to us and they literally called every kid on the street their babies.”
“The second one is deliberately trying to alter the children’s concept of their family and who their parents are.”-Megmca
“Woah!! Good that you got to know now.. MILs friend might be unstable, and worse case scenario she can take off with your kids saying she is their mom!!!”
“NTA.. it’s unfortunate that she doesn’t have kids and wants then, but she can’t do this kind of creepy stuff with your kids, and yelling at them.. a big NO If she wants a kid so much she should’ve adopted.”
“Also, please check your security, and inform your baby sitter that she isn’t to be allowed at all.. she might tag in with your MIL when you’re both at work!!”-Little-Mouse-91
Boundaries are real and deserve to be respected—and OP’s mother-in-law’s friend clearly crossed a boundary by trying to tell the children she was their mother, and not their real parents.
OP and her family will hopefully keep themselves safe following this unsettling development.