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Dad Called Out For Rejecting His Mom’s Help With Baby While Accepting Support From In-Laws

Grandmother holding her newborn grandchild
Abraham Gonzalez Fernandez/Getty Images

When young adults start making a life of their own, complete with their own home, a partner, and perhaps children, many are likely to not want to listen to their parents’ advice about their life choices.

What’s hard is when a young adult is more open to receiving advice from one parent over another, agreed the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit.

Redditor Guilty_Oven2939 did not want his parents to be involved in the parenting of his newborn, but he did not feel it was his place to set that boundary with his in-laws.

When his mother realized his in-laws had different boundaries than she did, and complained about it, the Original Poster (OP) felt conflicted.

He asked the sub:

“AITA for asking my parents to please leave the parenting of their grandson up to me and my wife, yet not doing the same with my in-laws?”

The OP was struggling to set boundaries that would stick with his mother.

“I (26 Male) have a three-month-old son with my wife (24 Female). He’s our first child.”

“I have a good relationship with my parents. However, they (especially my mom) have a difficult time respecting my boundaries, and they were a bit overprotective of me growing up. I am their only child, so naturally they are going to feel protective of me.”

“While I wouldn’t go as far as to describe my mom as a helicopter parent, she seemed to have a hard time allowing me to make mistakes. She would want to have a say in anything I was doing and offer advice whether I wanted it or not.”

“When I was little, this was totally understandable, but as I grew up, it became very annoying.”

“When I moved out, I told her that now that I’m grown up, she needs to respect my boundaries, as well as accept that I might do certain things differently from how she does. I’ve requested that she please ask me if I want help/advice with something, and to please respect my wishes if I say no.”

“She seems to have a very hard time with this; she’ll reluctantly say she’ll try to do that, but honestly, I don’t think she’s making enough effort.”

“We’ve argued about this many times. It really feels like she doesn’t trust me.”

The OP set a firmer boundary when his first child was born.

“When my son was born, I asked both of my parents to please leave the parenting up to me and my wife, and if we need help we’ll ask.”

“They agreed, though my mom seemed reluctant (I’m not surprised).”

“Now, I didn’t think it was my place to ask my in-laws to do this, because they’re her parents, not mine. I told her that if she would like her parents’ help/advice with raising our son, it was fine with me, and the decision of how much or how little involvement her parents had was up to her.”

“I am also more comfortable with my wife’s parents because she’s the youngest of four children, and therefore they have more experience as parents. They know when it’s appropriate to offer help, and when they should take a step back.”

This decision backfired at a recent family dinner.

“Anyways, today we’re having a barbecue for the fourth of July. We invited both of our families. It was the first time we’d all been in the same room since our wedding.”

“My mom saw how much my in-laws were helping with our son; feeding him, changing him, putting him down for a nap, etc. (they’re mainly doing this because my wife is busy in the kitchen).”

“My parents took me aside and asked why I want my in-laws’ help but not theirs.”

“I told her the reasons. Dad took it pretty well (he enjoys being a ‘fun Grandpa’) but my mom is very hurt.”

“Now I feel bad. I was looking forward to a fun day with our families, but now I’m feeling guilty. My mom basically is just standing around doing nothing and looks hurt.”

“My feelings of wanting her to leave the parenting up to me and my wife haven’t changed, but I don’t know how to express this without upsetting her. Honestly, I’m kinda wishing everyone would just go home.”

“AITA for telling my parents to leave the parenting up to me and my wife, yet leaving the decision on how much my in-laws are involved up to my wife, because I didn’t feel it was my place?”

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 understood why the OP had set the boundaries.

“I’m going to go with NTA.”

“Some people don’t know when to quit, so it’s best not to let them get started. It could also be in how the advice is delivered.”

“We tried to let all of our parents do the same things with our son, but it wasn’t working out. Some weren’t good with safety, some ignored how we wanted things done, etc.”

“It sounds more like your mom doesn’t treat you as an adult, or at least struggles to, and your wife’s family doesn’t have that issue. That is going to cause some problems.”

“I would maybe sit down with your mom and tell her as she gets better with understanding and respecting boundaries, you two (three with your wife) can reevaluate what you’re comfortable with.” – Worldy_Science

“As someone raised by that kind of parent, I’m putting my vote as NTA.”

“I’ve almost gotten into a fistfight with my brother because my mom was stomping over my boundaries concerning my child and I told her to stop. He tried saying, ‘Her house, her rules,’ and I went, ‘F**k you. MY child, MY rules, no matter where we are.'”

“That was the last time we ever went, and we are now full NC (no contact) and so d**n happy.” – Odd-Comfortable-6134

“I think putting his son’s needs over his mom’s feelings is always going to make OP NTA.”

“He knows his mom’s style of parenting and since his in-laws are helping, he has probably seen theirs too, so maybe his mom should ask herself why instead of being mad.” – cat-i-am-not

“I think it sounds like the in-laws know how to respect boundaries, thus they can have more flexibility and lend a hand here and there, whereas OP’s mom has shown time and time again that she has trouble respecting boundaries and decisions, so she gets a much firmer boundary. If she were given the same flexibility, it sounds like she’d stomp all over or guilt trip him… NTA.” – EPark617

“My mother had 15 years of my adulthood being told to please back off and stop being manipulative and controlling. She is now not in my life at all. You have to have this type of parent to even begin to understand what OP is going through.”

“The number of times people with good parents have told me that I owe my mother access to me and my life is staggering. NTA.” – AdeleBerncastel

“Before leaping to any conclusions, there is one person whose voice is equally important in this situation: your wife.”

“What is HER take on your mother’s role with your child? Is she comfortable with the boundaries you have drawn? Does she, in fact, prefer those boundaries be in place and that you are managing the situation as you are?”

“If you are taking the role of protecting the both of you from your mom’s undue interference, then NTA. BUT you also have to accept that the consequence of that boundary-holding is exactly what happened at your family gathering, and your mom’s feelings getting a bit hurt.”

“It will take her a while to re-learn new behaviors, so I would advocate patience patience patience with lots of talking and more patience with each other. As long as you and your wife are both on the same page, I am sure you will figure things out.”

“Congratulations on your new baby, OP.” – busyshrew

But others encouraged the OP to set equal boundaries for everyone. 

“I really think YTA. Initially, when you said you wanted them to allow you to parent, I was with you, but the things you described your MIL doing were not parenting tasks. Those were tasks anyone close to you and your child would be allowed to do.”

“I understand not wanting her to butt in with her opinions, but why can’t she change a diaper or put the kid down for a nap?”

“It more sounds like you’ve tried to push her out of your kid’s life and keep her apart like she’s just an acquaintance.” – keesouth

“YTA.”

“There is absolutely no reason why your mom can’t feed or change the baby or even put him down for a nap. That is not her ‘parenting.’ And if your boundary is ‘leave the parenting duties up to the parents,’ then yes, that needs to apply to your in-laws as well.”

“Or you should have been parenting your child while your wife was busy. Why wasn’t that an option?”

“You hurt your mom. You made it seem like not helping was how you and your wife were raising your child together and it turns out it is the way you are raising your child but not the way your wife is raising your child. Parallel parenting doesn’t really work with a married couple.” – sheramom4

“YTA. You don’t let them help feed the baby or hold him while you do other tasks? When you said ‘parenting decisions,’ that sounded like ‘does baby have a pacifier,’ ‘when do we start solids,’ or ‘is breastfeeding best.'”

“You have basically told your parents you want them to have nothing to do with your child ever because you don’t like them. That’s really hurtful and it will fundamentally change your relationship with your parents and prevent them from having any relationship other than maybe a preapproved birthday gift relationship with your child. That sounds like what you want.”

“Oh, and you showed every other person around that you distrust your parents so much they can’t even feed the baby while you are busy, and then complain your mom is standing around doing nothing. Well, you don’t want her helping you, you don’t want her being by the baby, and everyone is going to be awkward because now that is public knowledge. Maybe just don’t invite them in the future or maybe they will realize it’s not a real invite and decline to come.” – JustAnotherUser8432

“YTA. Why can’t your mom feed the baby or change him? It’s not like she changes him because she doesn’t like his outfit, or moves his bassinet to another room, or rocks him to sleep when that isn’t your routine.”

“Give your mom a chance to learn the boundaries.” – Slight-Bar-534

“Why can’t she do the ‘grandparenting’?! Helping with the physical tasks, and playing and spoiling the babies is grandparenting, and it’s a far cry from parenting. There’s a huge difference.”

“You’re going to alienate her terribly and likely break her heart in the process. You haven’t said anything SO horrible that she can’t be a grandmother. Let her have a chance and deal with any overstepping as it comes up. I’m sorry but… YTA.” – Vicem1972

“Soft YTA, but it’s not totally on you. When our granddaughter was born, I (MGM) spent much more time with her than her PGM because I babysat for the first 18 months of her life. Her PGPs lived out of state and only saw her on holidays. If we were all together, I made it a point to involve her other GM, asking her to help care for her.”

“You, your wife, and her mother all could have made an effort to involve your mother in caring for the baby. Feeding, changing walking are all things your mother could have done while your MIL helped your wife, who you apparently left alone to deal with the food.”

“I do think you are allowing your past resentment to cloud the situation. There is no need to have a turf war over a baby. Babies thrive on love from everyone.” – TransportationNo5560

Everyone could agree with the importance of setting and keeping boundaries, but they were less convinced about how the OP was handling the situation.

Some believed they’d had similar experiences with their parents and understood why the OP needed to have this boundary with his parents and not his in-laws. But others felt it would be only fair for the OP to set the same boundaries for all the grandparents to avoid hurting someone’s feelings.

Written by McKenzie Lynn Tozan

McKenzie Lynn Tozan lives in North Chicago, where she works as a poet, freelance writer, and editor. She received her MFA in Creative Writing from Western Michigan University, and her BA in English from Indiana University South Bend. Her poems have appeared in Rogue Agent, Whale Road Review, the James Franco Review, Thank You for Swallowing, and elsewhere; and her essays and book reviews have appeared with Memoir Mixtapes, The Rumpus, BookPage, and Motherly, among others. When she's not reading and writing, she's in her garden or spending time with her family. For more, visit www.mckenzielynntozan.com.