As most parents know, trying to foster the best childhood you can for your children is imperative to their success.
For many it becomes an attempt to recreate their own idyllic childhood—but for others who were less fortunate it can turn into a desperate need to right a wrong by giving their kids the childhood they never had.
Recently, Redditor heyinlar clashed with his wife about this issue, so he turned to the subReddit “Am I the A**hole” (AITA) to see if he was wrong for what he said.
“AITA for telling my wife she needs to go to therapy to become the mom our kids deserve?”
The original poster (OP) first explained his wife’s turbulent past.
“My wife had a crappy childhood. Her mom wasn’t great, in and out of prison.”
“She had to raise her little siblings. So with our own kids, I know she overcompensates so our girls can have the childhood she didn’t.”
But there’s one big problem.
“The issue is, she can’t see that our daughters might not want the same things as she did as a kid.”
“She put them in dance and one loves it, the other hates it but my wife made her do it until [the pandemic] hit and the studio closed. When I tried to talk her down, she said that she’d learn to love it.”
Her disregard for their kids’ wants and needs was on full display at their oldest daughter’s birthday party last year.
“Our oldest (6) has severe anxiety. She’s actually in therapy for it. As a result, she hates crowds.”
“We had her birthday last January and she spent it huddled in a corner and cried through ‘Happy Birthday’, after begging my wife not to make people sing. My wife shrugged it off and said it’s ‘part of the experience’.”
And it sparked conflict once again this year.
“This year we can’t do a big party for obvious reasons but my wife wanted to do a thing where everyone drove up to say hi, decorated their cars and sang.”
“Oldest said no. When my wife tried to push, my daughter said she won’t leave her room if they come over.”
When the OP tried to talk to her about it, it only made things worse.
“My wife was upset and hurt. She told me she wants to give them the childhood she didn’t have.”
“I said that’s nice but our girls do have a childhood. They’re not raising each other, neither of us are in prison and we’re stable.”
“I said that she needs to let them have the childhood THEY want. That includes activities, toys (our youngest is a tomboy and that’s led to issues), what they wear, etc.”
“She started arguing and I said she does all of this for herself, not them. I clarified she’s not her mom, but she’s not being a great one by doing this and told her she needs therapy to be the mom they deserve.”
“Now my wife isn’t talking to me. I wonder if I overstepped. AITA?”
Redditors were then tasked with giving a verdict by declaring:
- NTA – Not The A**hole
- YTA – You’re The A**hole
- NAH – No A**holes Here
- ESH – Everyone Sucks Here
They let the OP know he was right to look out for the best interest of his kids.
“NTA. Her mom was the reason your wife and her siblings didn’t have a great childhood but she seems like she’s overbearing which can be just as negative.”
“You’re not overstepping, those are your kids too and you do have a say in their upbringing. She needs to work through her trauma before her kids get older and want nothing to do with her.”—mandirahman
“NTA. Your wife isn’t giving the girls the childhood they need, she’s giving them the childhood *she* didn’t have. I can guarantee if she keeps going down this route they won’t be remembering their childhood fondly and they will have their own issues with her.”
“You’re 100% right that your wife needs therapy, and keep defending your daughters. Your wife should not be forcing your daughters to do things that make them miserable just because she wanted it at that age.”—DutyValuable
Many agreed with the OP for wanting his wife to deal with her issues in therapy.
“This is a very beautiful – and profoundly sad – example of some of the ways intergenerational trauma can play out.”
“Most of the time when people hurt people, it’s on accident. But it still hurts to find out that you’re responsible for somebody else’s pain.”
“Especially if it’s the kind of pain you’re familiar with, and swore you’d protect your loved ones from. It makes sense that she’s having a hard time dealing with this – she genuinely thought she was doing the right thing the whole time.”
“A good therapist can do a lot here. They can make space for mom to process what she’s been through, and they can encourage mom to meet those needs in ways that are constructive.”
“She might even find communities around CPTSD (Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) or support groups for parenting with trauma – she’s not alone here. I hope she can find support.”—Neurotic_Bakeder
“Also, therapy isn’t a punishment or something only ‘crazy’ people need to ‘fix’ them.”
“It sounds like she could really benefit from working through her childhood with a professional rather than projecting onto her kids – this would help everyone in the family.”—Inner-muse
One Redditor laid out exactly how much damage his wife’s behavior has already caused—and how much worse things could get if it’s left untreated.
“‘I know she overcompensates so
our girls SHE can have the childhood she didn’t.'”
“Sorry OP, but this is what your wife is actually doing. She is living vicariously through your girls to experience what she didn’t get to.”
“Stereotypically, this is more commonly seen with parents in the pageant, acting, modeling, and athletic scene.”
“These children become a vessel for all the hopes and dreams of what could have been for that parent, had life only been ‘fair’, or had they been able to pursue whatever it is they have their child doing now.”
“All children want to be loved by their parents, and by extension, want to make them happy. Having a parent who lives through them vicariously though, will make a child sacrifice themselves in order to see that happiness.”
“It’s obvious this is happening with your children, because your 6-year-old is in therapy for severe anxiety.”
“Let me repeat that, because I’m not sure you fully realize how heartbreaking it is that this has already carried on long enough to cause so much pain: Your 6 year old child is in therapy for severe anxiety.”
“While it’s obvious this girl is psychologically hurting, I’d like to make sure the physical damage is something you’re aware of too, OP, and I’m not talking about future eating disorders or cutting (though these are valid concerns any parent should watch for).”
“Stress can *destroy* your body. I, myself, originally no idea how far-reaching it could be.”
“Stress permeates the whole body. Things like blood pressure, heart health, and ulcers are usually known.”
“Stress also changes things like your breathing patterns, how you hold your body from muscles never relaxing, and your sleep quality.”
“Just those last three can each possibly cause an immeasurable amount health problems; some of which can cause disability, and a shorter lifespan.”
“Underlying stress has left me fighting to have at least some quality of life right now, and I’m an adult. I don’t even want to imagine what it can do to such a young child.”
“I know everything I said can sound like I’m being dramatic, OP, but I’m trying to help convey how important it is that you not let this go on. This is a hill worth dying on.”
“Your #1 priority is your children, and their long-term emotional well-being comes before the short-term emotional well-being of your wife.”
“I say short-term regarding your wife because while she’s upset now, she’s going to hurt far worse later on, when her girls go no contact with her.”—DragonCelica
Hopefully the OP can convince his wife to seek professional help before she inadvertently perpetuates the cycle of unhappy childhoods she so desperately seeks to stop.