Parenting is not a “one size fits all” responsibility. Rather, it is a heavily nuanced, complicated one that varies from child to child.
And it becomes more complicated the more people who are involved, pointed out the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit.
Redditor cookies343 was furious when they found out how their ex’s girlfriend had treated their 4-year-old son when he wanted a cookie.
When this altercation led to bigger problems, the Original Poster (OP) wondered if they were wrong to get into the middle of it.
They asked the sub:
“AITA for calling my ex’s girlfriend a ‘horrible woman’ and threatening her over cookies?”
The OP was surprised to receive a call from their son’s nanny.
“This whole thing started after my ex’s nanny called me to tell me my son, who is 4, kept crying and asking for me because my ex’s girlfriend wouldn’t let him have cookies.”
“She said she had tried contacting my ex, but he hadn’t answered his phone.”
The OP decided to step in.
“I tried to calm my son down over the phone but it didn’t work, so I went over to pick him up.”
“When I got there, I asked the girlfriend what happened, and she admitted to refusing to let him have the cookies.”
“When I asked why, she said she was planning to have them later.”
“I asked her if she bought the cookies, and she said she hadn’t.”
“She then tried to justify not letting him have them by saying they were planning to go out for dinner, and if he had eaten the cookies, he wouldn’t have eaten dinner.”
This led to an argument.
“I told her she could’ve given him one, and she started telling me how that’s how kids become spoiled when adults give them every little thing they want.”
“I was really annoyed, so I told her she was a horrible woman for making him cry over cookies.”
“She told me I couldn’t talk to her like that and she was going to tell my ex.”
“I told her to go ahead and call him right now, and told her I hoped she had somewhere else to live before she called him, because I didn’t want her around my son again.”
“She took that as a threat and told me to get out of ‘her’ house.”
The OP shared in the comments when dinner would be.
“I don’t believe in starving my child until dinner. If they were going to dinner in the next 30 mins then fine but my ex wasn’t even home and wouldn’t have been for another 2 hours minimum.”
The OP also shared in the comments that their ex sided with them, not the girlfriend.
“He agreed with me and told her she couldn’t stay over anymore.”
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 agreed with the nanny that a child’s tantrum should not be answered.
“YTA. She’s right. You don’t give in to tantrums or you raise people like, well, you.” – ScienceNotKids
“You and the nanny overreacted. It’s not like she denied him food. She said no cookies. Cookies are not great snacks for young kids (especially before dinner).”
“Giving in to tantrums causes more tantrums. 4-year-olds need to understand boundaries and you need to say no to them – otherwise, you are raising a spoiled, entitled human.”
“Obviously, your child learned that he can scream and carry on and get what he wants. Fabulous parenting.”
“Oh, and in case you didn’t get it, YTA.” – Blue_iiii
“The child was authority shopping. Nanny said no? Go to mom. Mom said no? Go to dad.”
“This should stop at the first person who said no.”
“Otherwise, the kid will grow up to be a spoiled little brat.” – zeiche
“As a parent of a kid that throws up when he cries, YTA.”
“Unless there’s more to the story, the girlfriend is absolutely right. Don’t give a kid cookies because he is having a tantrum – giving in is how you raise spoiled kids.”
“You and your ex better get your co-parenting s**t together ASAP for the sake of your kid.” – mistressmemory
Others felt multiple people were at fault in this situation.
“The nanny is paid to be in charge of the child, and the girlfriend shouldn’t have interfered. In fact, the only reason she did interfere is because she wanted the cookies for herself.” – JingerBare
“All 4-year-olds are somehow perfect, and AHs all at the same time. The point is that if children realize they can authority shop, they can and will.”
“The adults should work together. Undermining the girlfriend might have felt good at the moment, but was it the right call?” – DisastrousDisplay9
“The minute a request goes into tantrum territory, means you do NOT give in. End of story. It is a hard and fast line.”
“It doesn’t matter the reason it was denied, because the tantrum happened.”
“OP is YTA. Enabling a child to continue with tantrums.” – NonorientableSurface
“I am a parent AND a stepparent. And the minute a girl/boyfriend attempts to set rules for a child that already has a PAID caregiver, they’ve stepped out of the boundaries of their authority. Which is why the child’s parents agreed with the nanny and not the GF.” – JingerBare
“It would be the nanny’s job to provide a snack if appropriate.”
“The girlfriend should not give or offer to give the child anything when there is a paid child care professional on duty.” – homebrew_ken_
“The OP wrote, ‘I said I hoped she had somewhere else to live because I didn’t want her around my son again.’ That’s not her call. She gets no say in who her ex dates. Nor who he lives with.”
“Unless that person is an actual criminal or child abuser (she’s not, not caving to a tantrum over cookies is good parenting), then he’s allowed to move on and live with another woman too.”
“It’s up to us as parents to be mature and try to get along with our ex’s new relationships and be on the same page with parenting. It’s more the girlfriend’s house than the ex-wife’s. The ex-wife sounds like a jealous ninny.” – BirdBearHareFishy
Some also didn’t like that the girlfriend wanted to keep the cookies for herself.
“The girlfriend wasn’t denying cookies because the kid needed to eat his chicken and peas. She admitted to wanting to eat them later.”
“Something obviously made the nanny think that the girlfriend wasn’t being an appropriate guardian for Nanny to call OP.”
“Good for the nanny. Nanny is MVP.” – LinwoodKei
“The only spoiled person here is the girlfriend. She only said no because she’s too greedy to give up a single cookie to a child.” – amalia13lightning
“Not her house, not her food, and not her child. “
“he nanny was responsible for the child. She literally has no say here, which is the problem, and she was interfering in his care because she wanted the cookies later.”
“The father agrees with OP, too, and has told the GF she shouldn’t stay over anymore.” – Ok-Beginning-5922
“My main issue is that the nanny was okay with giving him a cookie. The actual caretaker of the child. The girlfriend wasn’t the caretaker in this situation.”
“Why does the girlfriend’s desire of wanting all the cookies override the nanny?”
“The cookies were for the family to share amongst themselves, the girlfriend doesn’t get the right to just take all of them for herself. They were meant to be shared. Just because she wants them all doesn’t mean she gets to keep them.”
“The fact that the ex got upset with her for doing that, kinda points to this idea.” – Strong-Bottle-4161
“He’s a 4-year-old who’s been through his parent’s separation and now when he goes to visit his dad, instead of bonding time with dad, he gets random girlfriend. Then the girlfriend tells him the cookies (dad bought) are hers, and not his.”
“It’s not about giving in to a tantrum: she needlessly caused the tantrum because she didn’t want to share ‘her’ cookies. Son is being made to feel like a visitor in his own home and he’s not free to eat the snacks because of newcomer girlfriend.”
“I feel bad for this little guy. Everyone calling him spoiled, you have no sympathy for what this child is going through.”
“As a mother, I’d be p**sed that dad’s girlfriend is causing him distress on his visits.”
“It’s not about the cookie. NTA.” – throwtruerateme
This sounded like a messy situation that left cookie crumbs absolutely everywhere, but it seemed in the end that the OP and their ex-husband were in agreement about how to co-parent their child.
After all, there is such a thing as having “too many cooks in the kitchen” in the parenting world, and it seemed that the girlfriend was trying to assert dominance, where the leadership role had already been assigned to the nanny by the biological parents.