Everyone views parenting differently—how they parent, how they think others could parent better and even what qualifies as parenting.
For one woman on the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit, she was more of a “furry kid” parent than a “human kid” parent.
Redditor CastielAOTL was not afraid to share her love for her pets, either.
But when she was ridiculed by a “real mom,” the Original Poster (OP) wondered if she had gone too far in her parenting.
She asked the sub:
“AITA for giving my cats middle names?”
The OP had a special relationship with her cats.
“Look, I know. I know the title is just so… SO stupid, and IMO (in my opinion), the situation isn’t much better.”
“Anyway. So I have 2 cats. I love them more than words can express, and for as many headaches as they give me, I know I would not be here without them, especially after the year we’ve all had. They are everything to me.”
Because of that, she gave both of her cats special names.
“As such, I often refer to them as ‘my son’, ‘my little girl’, etc. No one has ever had an issue with this before.”
“I’ve given my cats names that could be human names if you didn’t know better. Well, one of them is a common pet name (Luna), but the other I’ve never heard of another domestic pet with the name. For the sake of anonymity, let’s call him ‘Alfred’.”
“Alfred is a troublemaker. I’ve had to take him to the vet in a panic a few times. He just has an impressive talent for getting into s**t he shouldn’t (y’know, like a cat).”
“So I sometimes say his ‘full government name’ when he’s in trouble. It usually just serves to make me not upset at him for whatever he’s done, and make me laugh a little.”
“I gave Luna a middle name, too, when I first got her.”
The OP recently made a new friend at work, how has a “human kid” instead of “cat kids.”
“So this new woman ‘Alice’ started working with me at my job a few months back. We really hit it off, became fast friends.”
“She’s maybe late 20’s and has a young daughter. I don’t have kids, never want ‘my own’ kids, and don’t plan to adopt for some time.”
“She seemed a little put-off by how I refer to my cats as my kids, but never said anything.”
But after the friend came over for a visit, she felt threatened by how the OP treated her cats.
“Last week, Alice came over as she’s helping me pack up all my crap for a move. I went to get her a drink from the kitchen and heard the unmistakable sound of my children getting into trouble.”
“I called out ‘Alfred Wayne, if you knock over one more box, I’ll feed all your treats to the raccoons!’ or some such ridiculous threat.”
“When I came back to Alice with her drink, she seemed upset, so I asked what was wrong.”
“She asked why I called ‘that cat’ what I did.”
“I said, ‘Oh, that’s just his middle name, y’know, for when he’s really in trouble.'”
“She flipped, got really upset at me, and scolded me for being so ‘childish’ and for ‘disrespecting real moms’ by treating my cats like children.”
“She said, ‘They’re just CATS, OP! You need serious help!’ and kept harping on how my treating them like children diminished what real moms go through (somehow?).”
“I tried to tell her that me valuing my cats doesn’t take away from her parenting her kid, but she just would not have it.”
“I asked her to leave. She did so after a few more insults.”
After the incident, the OP and her new friend were unable to reconcile.
“I avoided her at work this week, and yesterday, my other work friend asked me what was up with us, because Alice seemed really upset.”
“I told her what happened, and she was like, ‘Dude, you know she lost her son to SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) like eight months ago, right?'”
“I did not know that, but I don’t see what that has to do with anything.”
“My friend said I was being insensitive and I should apologize.”
“I completely disagree and still think she’s losing her mind over nothing.”
“But I do feel bad for her, and see how MAYBE I might have triggered her?”
“So I just want to be sure. AITA?”
Fellow Redditors weighed in by declaring:
- NTA: Not the A**hole
- YTA: You’re the A**hole
- ESH: Everybody Sucks Here
- NAH: No A**holes Here
Many pointed out that neither parent was wrong.
“You are absolutely not the a**hole but… grief is weird.”
“She probably doesn’t actually think you’re an a**hole either but, 8 months is not really a long time and she’s not really processed losing her child.”
“There’s nothing you can say to fix this. You can’t apologize and say, ‘I’m sorry but…’ and justify how you live your life without coming off as more of an a**hole.”
“But you’re not in the wrong either. Like… I don’t have middle names for my cats, but I’ll call them by their last names if they are being jerks and I have 2 human kids of my own.” – Efficient-Leek
“You’re not wrong, and she not right. The whole situation is just sad and unfortunate.”
“Your name situation has nothing to do with how much losing a kid sucks, but somehow her grief is connecting the two. FWIW (for what it’s worth), my pets have middle names. Why not? Names are fun.” – Ambystomtigrinum
“For sure: my daughter named her cat Ginger Unicorn Sparkles Princess Fluffy. We call her Kitten. I have taken to calling her Madame Duchess FrownyFace McFluffyButt.”
“This post is just about a grieving mother who got hit sideways. The OP is NTA. It’s just a crap situation.” – Cephalopodium
“I don’t think it’s about the middle names, I think it’s about you calling your cats your children in general. That’s a little odd to many people, but normally a harmless sort of thing.”
“Right now, because of her grief over the loss of her own child, it sounds like she’s taking anything she sees as minimizing the value of children super personally. She seems to be taking it as if you are saying people’s babies are equivalent to pets, which hurts her a lot right now.”
“Look, you aren’t an a**hole. (NAH.) But if this is a normally nice woman, she’s clearly struggling with the loss of her child and that isn’t leaving her completely rational.”
“I think the kind thing to do (and smart, since you work together and work drama isn’t good for you either) would be to not refer to your cats as your kids in front of the grieving mother now that you know that she takes it badly. We can’t really demand she be rational about it, that’s unlikely to work.”
“You can also try telling her you are sorry and that you never meant your pets were real children, you didn’t know about her son/daughter, and you’re so sorry for loss. Is there anything you can do? (If true, only say that if it’s a real offer.)”
“Maybe give her flowers or a piece of cake or some other small token. Not because you were wrong, but as a sign that as a friend, you are trying to comfort her in her grief.” – HatOnTheCat
Some said the OP wasn’t wrong but gave suggestions for how she could sort of apologize.
“I really think the best course of action would be to either say nothing and give her time and space to cool down.”
“Or just talk to her and say, ‘Hey, I know how I am with the cats bothers you and I was a little insensitive about it. I’ll be more mindful around you going forward. I really didn’t mean anything by it.’ Don’t mention her loss, don’t make a big deal about it.”
“Just take responsibility for the fact that cat people are a little weird and if you really want to salvage the relationship, maybe don’t talk about Mortimer James and his bedtime escapade anymore.”
“FWIW (for what it’s worth), my cats are my kids, too. I have a 10-year-old and an 8-year-old. While I do care for my kids more and prioritize their well-being, my cats are still treated like babies.” – Efficient-Leek
“It would be lovely if you to have this conversation. She might be feeling miffed still, or embarrassed about how she acted, or a mixture of things (including grief). It would be kind to put away the stupid argument you had and reach out to Alice.” – deadonimpression
“I think the right way to smooth this over is to tell your friend that you meant no harm and this is just a silly foible you have with your cats that doesn’t mean anything and does no damage, and if there’s anything she wants to talk about, you’re there.”
“You are not obligated to love your cats less because of the way other people love their kids. You are not required to devalue your cats because other people have children. You are allowed to love your cat even if other people are in pain. These things aren’t in conflict with each other.” – d**nedifyoudo_throw
As the subReddit pointed out, there’s more going on in this situation than simply cats having middle names.
The OP certainly wasn’t wrong for expressing affection to her cats, and she should be free to name them however she wishes.
But as the sub pointed out, grief is a strange entity, and the OP’s actions may have been enough to trigger her.