When is the right time to discuss death with your children?
That is something one father had been struggling with after the death of his first wife.
When he decided to seek the help of a therapist to tell his children the truth about how their mother died, his plans were unexpectedly derailed by a family friend.
After being criticized for his reaction, he visited the “Am I the A**hole” (AITA) subReddit and asked:
“AITA for cutting out my wife’s friend after she told my kids how my wife died?”
The Original Poster (OP) described how the friendships of his late wife benefitted him in the beginning.
“My first wife had a group of best friends she was super close to. They were like sisters. One, we’ll call Faith, is the godmother to our oldest child.”
“Sadly my first wife died due to complications with childbirth with our second child. The group of friends, Faith included, were there for me. This was 5 years ago.”
“3 years later, I met my current wife and we married this year. Through a lot of conversations, we finally decided it was time to answer my kids’ questions about how their mom died.”
“In the past, I told them that she got sick and passed away, which is technically true. But I never went into details.”
The OP’s goal was to explain the truth about the death of his first wife without upsetting their second child—a daughter.
“They’re 5 & 7. I didn’t want my son blaming my daughter, I didn’t want my daughter to have any guilt. So, I finally decided to get them a therapist to talk about it. But with the pandemic, we have to wait a month.”
“The issue came up with Faith. She watches my kids. I told her our plan. She told me I should tell them, not a therapist.”
“I said I’d rather have a professional’s help. Faith was really against it but I didn’t think much of it…until I came home from work and found out that she had told my kids.”
“A child friendly version (‘mommy got sick when having daughter’) but a version nonetheless. I was pi**ed.”
“I’ve banned her from the house and seeing the kids, while trying to help my kids emotionally process this. My wife is looking at nannies.”
“The rest of the friend group says I overreacted, that Faith was just trying to help.”
The OP was so overcome with resentment, his wife took notice and voiced her concern.
“I say it wasn’t her place. I told them if they keep it up, I’ll cut them all off.”
“I’m so furious. My wife has told me that I’m starting to go too far.”
“Am I being an a**?”
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 generally agreed that it was not Faith’s place to tell the kids their mother died giving birth to one of them.
“NTA. Faith might have had ‘good intentions,’ but that under no circumstances gives her the right to talk to someone else’s children about how one of their bio parents passed away. smdh.” – Jroostah
“He straight up told her he wanted the professional’s help, yet she went behind his back and did it by herself anyway. NTA.” – ThunderKrackr
This Redditor mentioned that Faith’s actions were reflective of what she really thought of the OP’s parenting skills.
“Exactly this. She not only overstepped in a massive way, and put the kids at potential risk for emotional harm – she has clearly demonstrated she doesn’t respect your ability to parent.”
“Even after you told her your plan and gave her a reason when she questioned you (which is already more than should have been required), she decided you were wrong and didn’t know how to raise your kids as well as she did.”
“That’s something that isn’t going to go away, she will continue to question you and overstep.” – PoweredByCarbs
“I almost always have a big problem with the ‘she’s just trying to help’ justification.”
“He told her how to help. Her helping would’ve been staying tf out of it and him telling his children with a professional.”
“She blew right by his wishes and did it anyway. There are consequences to those actions. Big time NTA.” – lizzolemon
This Redditor encouraged the OP to stick to his initial plan anyway.
“I think you should still go talk to a therapist and see where to go from here.”
“Removing her from their life if she’s a big part of their life might be difficult for them especially directly after hearing about what happened to their mother from her. You can easily say because of social distancing she can’t be there for awhile while you navigate this.”
“But she f’ked up. Big time. She overstepped and crossed a line that can’t be taken back.”
“She’s obviously going to have to do a lot of work to gain any potential semblance of trust back and needs to be respectful of your parenting decisions moving forward if there is a forward because who knows what she’ll say or if she’ll do something similar again.” – Otisbolognis
Though this person declared NTA, they agreed with the OP’s wife about taking things too far.
“NTA. I could understand that she did it thinking she was being helpful. However, you expressly told her how you wanted to handle it.”
“It was extremely disrespectful of her to handle it for you; it was not her story to tell.”
“Banning her forever is probably overkill, especially since she’s the Godmother to one of your kids, but perhaps a bit of a timeout isn’t such a horrible idea.”
“Boundaries are there for a reason; perhaps they need to be redefined before she’s allowed access to the kids again.” – oylaura
However, this person wasn’t fully on board with the wife’s concern.
“I only wonder what’s making his wife think he’s going too far? OP has every right to cut Faith off (people will respond as they always want to keep ‘peace’).”
“But that is in no way OP’s concern. Perhaps she’s concerned threatening to cut off family and other people who are genuinely supportive of the children might not be in the children’s best interests?”
“One for OP to consider.” – SSH16
The thread’s “Ignite!” award went to this Redditor for the following comment:
“NTA at all. You clearly laid out your plan- a BOUNDARY- and she boldly crossed it with complete disregard.”
“You and your children absolutely do not need someone like that in your lives. Major red flag.”
“I would not even consider allowing that person to be alone with my children ever again, much less socialize with them. I’d also question your friends who are defending this person’s actions.”
“Preposterous. Totally out of line.” – justicecain
Based on the comments, most Redditors agreed that Faith definitely overstepped the father’s boundaries, disrespected his wishes, brought potential harm to his children by dumping this information on them while their father and stepmother were not home all because she decide she was right and had a lot of making up to do before she deserved to see the children again.