Redditor Wontimepost is a mother who did what she thought was best for her nine-year-old daughter from a previous marriage who was struggling with feelings of loneliness.
But when her ex-husband accused her of being a bad parent, she visited the “Am I the A**hole” (AITA) subReddit and asked:
“AITA for putting my young child in therapy?”
The Original Poster (OP) began her post by describing the characteristics of her daughter’s struggles.
“My child is about 9 years old. The past 1.5 years she’s struggled with her emotions and communication. She’s also been isolating herself from the family and didn’t go out much to play with her friends.”
“I noticed she was keeping more to herself and her way of talking was through drawing how she felt. I noticed a few months ago she was drawing more frowned and crying faces and after several talks and lots of crying she told me she didn’t want to be here anymore.”
“Think the first part of the 1800 song lyrics by Logic (to keep this post safe). Well obviously concerned I scheduled her to see her doctor who recommended her see a therapist. She was shy at first but has started opening up more.”
“She does therapy one on one and we do family therapy once a month as well bc I thought it’d help with our communication.
“A lot of her emotions of being upset seemed to revolve around her feeling alone and left out. Her father and I separated when she was a baby, we both have remarried and have a child each with our significant other. He only talks to her every few months and doesn’t see her much either.”
“So I put aside an hour a day just for ‘girl time’ where we try to talk, play, etc. sometimes we just lay together watching tv. As for her father, nothing has changed. She’s also mentioned she doesn’t feel pretty or smart. So we’ve been working on self-care and self-love to help try to boost her confidence.”
“I’ve noticed Some improvement in her, and although she does has more bad days then good days. She doesn’t seem to say she doesn’t want to be around anymore. And is slowly starting to communicate through words more and less pictures.”
“The problem is the last time she spoke to her father, she mentioned she was doing therapy. And he was angry. He’s threatening to take me to court to have her stop going. His reasoning is that she’s young, her feeling aren’t valid bc she only wants attention, and it’s all in her head.”
“She’s making it up. I’m doing a bad job at parenting. She isn’t crazy, only crazy people see therapist. And that I’m over reacting about her threats of not wanting to be here. And that he doesn’t want his child support to pay for this (it’s paid by my insurance). Also that, no child at her age has done the thing to not be here.”
“My husband supports my decision with my daughter and encourages her as well. My question though, in this type of situation. Was I over reacting? I want to support my daughter in her mental health and want her to feel love.”
In edit, the OP added:
“He brought up my past depression and attempt, saying that I’m purposely making her feel this way so she’d hate him. He also mentioned that I’m doing all of this to show he’s a bad parent and I’m blaming him for her depression.”
“Even though I never told him what she speaks about in therapy. I feel it’s her privacy and if she wants him to know she’d tell him. He told her if she really felt that way then she would have just done it and not said anything. And he called her a drama queen and a cry baby. Which makes me sick.”
“He hasn’t spoken to her since (about a month ago). I don’t know if this extra information is important on the decision.”
Anonymous strangers on the internet were asked if and where guilt belongs by declaring:
- NTA – Not The A**hole
- YTA – You’re The A**hole
- ESH – Everyone Sucks Here
- NAH – No A**holes Here
Redditors declared NTA and commended the OP for seeking professional therapy for her daughter.
“110% NTA !! My depression started around the same time as your daughters. Unfortunately my parents didn’t notice or care which resulted in many attempts. YOU ARE DOING THE RIGHT THING!”
“It’s never easy seeing your child go through those feelings and the fact that you want to help her instead of doing what your ex is doing says everything about your love for her. You ex sucks major a**.” – BreadQu33n
“NTA. I wish that my parents had been as proactive as you. It is a family joke among my aunts and uncles that I was ‘the sad grandchild’ and was crying in almost every picture once I was old enough to realize my photo was being taken.”
“My mother still says ‘you were so sad’ but she never did anything about it until I was in high school. By then, I was neck deep in depression and depersonalization and had made at least one attempt.”
“I wish more parents were like you.” – Jesoko
This Redditor addressed the daughter’s viewpoint towards not feeling “pretty” or “smart.”
“OP, there’s a whole conversation to be had about how being ‘pretty’ and/or ‘smart’ are far from the be-all and end-all of the world. There are many MANY gorgeous and intelligent people out there who are utterly miserable.”
“Although, that sort of conversation may need to be had with her therapist, to break it down to her in ways she can hear and understand.”
“In the mean time, take ALL focus off of inherent traits like looks or intelligence, and put the focus on traits she is in charge of. For instance, it’s not whether she’s ‘smart’ or ‘clever’ – it’s whether she worked hard and put in a lot of effort.”
“It’s not whether she’s ‘pretty’ – it’s ‘you picked out a great outfit’ or ‘that hairstyle really suits you’. It’s not about being ‘popular’, it’s about being a good friend by doing XYZ.”
“Help her find her self-worth based on things that she has control over, and she’ll end up far happier in the long run.” – KahurangiNZ
“This may be stemming from the absent father though, too.”
“The relationship between daughters and dads is very dynamic and there’s a lot of psychology on just how much this affects daughters. Her friends may have positive relationships with their dads who tell them these sorts of things.”
“‘My daddy took me to ___ and said I had the prettiest dress.’ ‘My papa and I saw read a book together and he said I’m the smartest reader.’ Girls are not trying to be mean or bullying. But girls literally idolize their fathers for better or worse.”
“At 9, they’re not capable of understanding that talking about their dads in a positive way is harming OP’s daughter in some way. Trust me. As a teacher, 9 year old girls are NOT that nuanced.”
“Now they could bully her and tell her her dad doesn’t love or doesn’t think she’s pretty because he never sees or something.”
“But I’m just pointing out she could also be seeing girls with happy relationships with their dads and could be internalizing negative self views as a result.” – CATeach878
“Whenever people say that a mental health issue is ‘all in your head’ I always want to respond with, ‘Yes, correct. Where else would you expect it to be?'”
“My mental health resides in my head. When I struggle with it, I see a professional trained to deal with the things that are in my head. What’s the question here?” – Kitten_Foster
“Yes, the primary thing she’s depressed about is that she feels unloved and unwanted by her parents who have new families and new children. Giving her attention will help with her diagnosed mental illness.”
“Yes, brain chemistry and mental illness tend to be in the head.”
“The problem is that he’s right in all of the wrong ways. It makes me so, so angry when people actively contribute to the problem while also denying that the problem exists.”
“He also needs to stop stigmatizing mental health concerns. Ignoring depression in children contributes to the teenage suicide statistics, especially if you’ve got parents basically daring their children to ‘prove’ they are really suicidal by just doing it instead of talking about it.” – cynicallycharged
In an update, the OP addressed her ex’s comments.
“I’ve mentioned them to both her doctor and therapist who have noted it. As a precaution I was told to hide all objects that might give her an idea as they weren’t sure how big of an impression it would leave on her.”
“She hasn’t mentioned it in family sessions and I’m unsure if she’s mentioned it on her one on one. I don’t want to push her into talking about something she doesn’t want to so I’m just waiting at this point.”
“He told her a few talks back bc of [the virus] he won’t be seeing her for the rest of the year so for now there’s no current communication other than him calling every few months for 5 mins or less.”
The OP’s current husband offered a solution that would benefit her daughter’s mental health.
“I’ve also talked to my husband again who suggested I quit my job at least until January and he’d get a part time job. He feels now is the time our kids, especially my daughter needs me the most. And says more time together could help her improve more. Then in January see where we’re at. If her MH has improved then I could try to go back to work but if not he has no problem giving her extra time to heal.
“My fear was that my ex was right and if we went to court, the courts would side with him and I was the problem to my daughters depression so they would take her from me.”
“But after reading so many supporting comments I feel much better about the decision I made and don’t plan to stop the therapy anytime soon.”
A majority of Redditors declared the ex-husband as the a**hole and praised the OP for recognizing the warning signs and taking action to help their daughter.