As much as we all hate to admit it, not every relationship is destined to succeed. Unfortunately, sometimes that includes the relationships established between parents and their children, biological or otherwise.
That’s why it’s important to start working on problems as soon as they’re noticed, rather than letting them build up.
But there are methods that are more harmful than good, cringed the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit.
After attempting to talk to his wife and becoming tired of their fights, Redditor Garrbie thought he would write a performance review of his concerns surrounding his wife’s behavior.
When the stay-at-home mom accused him of being condescending, the Original Poster (OP) wasn’t sure what else he could do.
He asked the sub:
“AITA for giving my SAHM wife a written performance review with suggested areas needing improvement?”
The OP lived in a full household.
“I (33 Male) share one child (6 Female) with my wife (36 Female). She has another daughter (13 Female) who lives with us full-time, and we also have custody of our niece (15 Female).”
“The teens are each other’s best friends. They share a large bedroom, which was done at their request.”
“The dynamic here is pretty much mom and youngest against the teens, with me being the referee between everyone.”
The OP was concerned about what his wife was teaching their youngest daughter.
“My wife has taught the youngest she can blame others for her actions to avoid consequences. She just says the word, and one of the teens will get punished without question.”
“There’s no doubt she is my wife’s favorite. I love her, but she’s becoming nothing more than an entitled brat.”
“As just a mere example, my wife and I had an appointment we both needed to attend. When we came back, it was apparent the pool had been used. They’re not allowed to swim while we aren’t home.”
“As the youngest divulged, ‘Mommy, I was in my room coloring. I never went swimming.'”
“The teens said that was not true and that she had gone swimming as well.”
“Only the teens were punished. My wife refused to give the youngest any type of consequence.”
“I later found her wet swimming suit hidden in the garage. My wife and I argued, I felt strongly she needed to be not only punished for swimming but also for lying.”
“After a relentless disagreement, I was silenced as she gave the youngest a very minimal consequence.”
The pool incident was far from the OP’s only example, as well.
“Also, around Christmas, the kid’s bathroom toilet wouldn’t go down. We had to call in a plumber, he found someone had flushed a soap bottle which got stuck down in the pipe.”
“I asked the six-year-old, and she said, ‘I didn’t do that!’ She then proceeded to pin it on the 12-year-old. My wife went directly to the teens, screaming at them to come clean. Both of them promised it was not them.”
“She grounded them, took away their electronics, assigned them more chores to pay for the plumber costs, and then forbade them from having any friends over. I thought it was excessive punishment. We had no proof of who actually did it.”
“I just brushed it off to my wife that it was probably an accident, maybe the bottle fell off the counter and landed in the toilet.”
“Lo and behold a week later, I caught the six-year-old trying to flush three tennis balls. My wife said, ‘Well, she probably got the idea from the teens.’ BULLS**T. She completely refused to even lighten up their consequence, never mind letting them off the hook.”
“Other things are small in nature but still frustrating. Like leaving empty containers around the house, the six-year-old will blame the teens. A wet towel left on the furniture, teens. Spilled juice all over the kitchen floor… teens. Basically, anything and everything, she will not take responsibility even if you have evidence it was absolutely her.”
“Like, this p**sed me off. We had Chick-fil-A for dinner the other night. A wrapper and a cup were left on the side table. The next morning, my wife asked who they belonged to. No one answered, but the six-year-old said, ‘Not mine, I think the 13-year-old left it there.'”
“My wife started belittling her about how she’s not a child anymore and needs to pick up after herself. The kid got up and tossed it in the trash while saying it was not hers. Later, I tossed something in the trash and noticed the cup had a label on it that said lemonade.”
“The six-year-old was the only one who had lemonade. I showed it to my wife, and she argued it might not be the same cup that was on the table. Like what? It was right on top. The 13-year-old had just put it in the trash can.”
The OP was beginning to see a change in the teens, as well.
“The lying, blaming, and favoritism ultimately caused the teens to act out, understandably.”
“Most of their consequences are done by giving more chores, specifically the chores the six-year-old has. Or recently, they were removed from music lessons as a consequence.”
“I believe they’re so frustrated, they don’t even care when they verbally attack their mother after her unfair treatment towards them.”
“After all, they already get blamed and punished for things they don’t even do. From my perspective, lashing out gives them a release.”
The OP knew something needed to change.
“We’ve had countless, tiring arguments. She’d either not see her faults, or we’d agree to do this and that, but it was never actually done.”
“I decided to write her a performance review, as a SAHM (Stay-at-Home Mom).”
“Her areas in need of improvement, well, it was a lot. But I touched on how she needs to listen better, and stop being biased. Be fair in all her decisions, and stop making rash decisions without taking all three kids into consideration.”
“I recommended she give each child the same amount of one-on-one alone time to speak, or just be with one another.”
“So it wouldn’t be entirely a slap in her face, I also gave her accolades on her strong points for other areas aside from parenting.”
The performance review did not go over as the OP had hoped.
“I guess I felt this would work best because I could organize my thoughts on paper without her interjecting.”
“However, it quickly backfired in my face. She was quiet the first hour after I handed it to her. Then she completely exploded on me, said if we’re going to do this type of s**t, she’ll get a private bank account and take half my paycheck every week.”
“She further said the review was abusive, and a manipulative sexist move.”
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 OP’s critiques based on his post.
“The performance review was his last attempt at speaking to her about it, though, it sounds like he’s attempted several times to discuss his concerns with her, but it always turns into a fight. Writing things down is a great way to relay one’s thoughts clearly and precisely without having a back n forth argument before a complete point is even made.”
“What you’re seeing is desperation, not manipulation. NTA.” – stylinred
“You are not TA at all. Sounds like you are frustrated and have been for some time. Your wife is training your six-year-old to be a dishonest little a**hole.”
“I would suggest sitting her down with you and the teens with the six-year-old far far away, lol (laughing out loud). Get them to talk to your wife about her behavior and treatment of the teens and yourself. If nothing changes, I don’t want to tell you to leave, but why should two other kids have to suffer.” – ChangePurple2401
“I invite you to think of your six-year-old as a scared child and not a manipulative brat. Your wife’s anger is unhinged and concerning. Your main concern seems to be that she doesn’t get angry enough at the six-year-old for doing things that are pretty normal for a six-year-old (forgetting to put stuff away, breaking plumbing).”
“It’s not good that she blames the teens but it’s understandable that a six-year-old would be scared of her mother who seems like she’s on the brink of an angry meltdown 24/7 and your six-year-old doesn’t trust that you will help her out (probably because your main concern in the original post is that she doesn’t get punished enough not that your wife is unstable and abusive to the teens).”
“The six-year-old probably wouldn’t be able to put it into words, but she’s well aware that as soon as the teens aren’t around/in trouble, she will be a target too. A lot of commenters are calling the six-year-old a ‘golden child,’ but you should look up narcissistic parents and golden child/scapegoat dynamics and remind yourself that the dynamic is created by abusive parents, or one abusive parent plus one passive or enabling parent not by the children who are all being abused.”
“You should also make a divorce/escape plan because all of your children deserve better than this.” – theoriginaltay
“NTA, if you called it a letter rather than a performance review, it would be NTA. Time to step up and give your wife an ultimatum. Either she goes to therapy with you, or you start to protect your older daughters and get their clearly abusive mother out of your house.” – OneNo7524
“The six-year-old flat-out lied. How is that not on her? No matter how you slice it, the six-year-old has issues. And let’s not pretend that favoritism doesn’t come into play in family dynamics, and stuff like this is very common when blatant favoritism is shown.”
“NTA. When calmly talking to his wife didn’t work, and she refused therapy, OP escalated until she heard him. Her refusing to listen and then threatening to take half his paycheck shows she doesn’t see OP as an equal. He’s an ATM to her and that’s it.”
“OP made his wife listen to his concerns by any means necessary, and she refused to budge. If the genders were reversed, every single person would be calling for divorce.” – kowboy42
Others thought the OP’s youngest was a big part of the problem.
“There is an eight-year gap between my oldest sibling and us younger ones. I ABSOLUTELY knew how to get her punished for things I did long before I was six and my sibling was 14. In fact, getting the eldest punished for our infractions was prime entertainment for us.”
“My mom thought we were too young to know how to lie. Yeah, the little one is a kid, but she totally knows what she’s doing. We wanted to alienate our older sibling, and my parents let us do it.”
“To this day, my older sibling hates us, wants nothing to do with us, and hasn’t lived in our hometown since age 18. Let the teens know you see them, you know they’re trying, and get your wife to family therapy.” – eightmarshmallows
“Man, you need to do something, or not only will your older children resent you and maybe eventually cut you off for allowing this abuse to happen to them, but you’ll raise a person who’s entitled and manipulative because she’s always gotten away with it.”
“Get it together, put your foot down, and get those girls away from your wife or do something beyond just telling her her punishments are too harsh. Telling her anything hasn’t protected your children in any way, and that includes your six-year-old.”
“Why aren’t you protecting her from the consequences of favoritism? Do you know what a horrible disadvantage this will be to her when she gets older and not encounters others who won’t let her get away with lying and manipulating? J**us Ch***t almighty, step up, dude. Take action. Force a change in the situation. This is untenable.” – hellothereitsmesatan
“Wow, this is horrible. I feel so sorry for the teens. How a six-year-old can be this manipulative is scary. This is probably affecting the teens really badly on the inside and they might end up hating their mom/aunt to the point of no contact as they grow older.”
“I hope your wife wakes up from this nightmare she’s causing soon. I hope you can be there for the teens emotionally at least and talk to them more about how they’re feeling etc…” – StatisticianHappy393
“This is highly disturbing. Your six-year-old is clearly the golden child. This happens far too often. Your wife sees her as her only ‘real’ child, meaning the only child she biologically shares with you.”
“If she is able to reverse punishments, why can’t you? You need to make a serious stand, or you will lose the teens forever. They WILL move away at 18 and go NC (no contact).” – fromeighttillate94
But some questioned why the OP wrote the performance review at all.
“The examples you’re giving sound really bad. Like your wife is really biased. But I’m voting ESH because you could not have picked a more condescending way to communicate with your partner. Like, a performance review is so condescending, it makes me cringe.”
“You guys need to go to therapy or counseling or something. You need a referee and a safe place to talk about your concerns and figure out how to work on communicating. Your teens need support too.”
“The situation you’re describing sounds very unfair and it’s bubbling over into toxic. I hear you trying really hard, like you genuinely want things to be fair, so I want to validate your frustration and let you know that I don’t think you’re a HUGE AH (honestly, I’m inclined to say your wife is being a bigger AH than you) but honey, you gotta figure out a better way.”
“A performance review was bad. Super bad. Take the L, apologize, and propose therapy. Quickly, before irreversible damage is done to your family.” – lapachamamita
“ESH. The concerns you have are legitimate and it needs an urgent solution. But, the way you went about it is really unhealthy. The parenting of your children is not a project.”
“You are not her boss, you are her husband and the father of her kid. Giving her a performance review comes across as really condescending and as she said, manipulative.” – ScentedPasta
“Are you her EMPLOYER, because employers give performance reviews. Partners do not give performance reviews. Your family, INCLUDING YOURSELF, needs therapy. A lot of therapy. A LOT of therapy. YTA.” – PrairieGrrl5623
“OP, the problem here is not the youngest. Six-year-olds are only just starting to have the brain function to think beyond themselves. From ages two to seven, a child’s only thoughts are ‘me’ because of the structure of their brain. Their morals are based on themselves – lying is okay if they avoid being punished.”
“I would encourage you to look up child development. Ways to encourage her to stop lying include: helping her to avoid situations where she feels the need to lie; in completely neutral times, talking to her about lying and telling the truth; praising her when she does admit to lying/doing something ‘wrong’ or ‘bad’ (and not necessarily punishing her when she does tell the truth); role modeling telling the truth in tough situations yourself.”
“The issue definitely seems to stem from your wife’s response to the youngest lying, not the youngest lying in and of itself.”
“And I am really sorry that everything you have tried has fallen on deaf ears. I can only imagine your frustration.”
“I would argue that your performance review was 100% one of the worst ways to go about expressing your frustration. Cathartic though it may have been. I definitely feel as though you and the kids should go to therapy. If your wife eventually joins, all the better.”
“But you’re building a lot of resentment and running out of ways you feel like you can communicate. A good therapist can help with those things.” – Gizwizard
The subReddit could appreciate the OP’s frustrations and what he was trying to do when he wrote the performance review. But they had to argue that the performance review was not the way to go and that it may have done more harm than good to their relationship.