Having a child with special needs brings all sorts of complications, especially when you have other children who also need your attention.
A woman on Reddit found herself in this situation as she struggled to balance the needs of her daughter, who has PTSD, with those of her other children. So, she went to the AITA (Am I The A**hole) subReddit for input.
The Original Poster (OP), who goes by aitaattention on the site, asked:
“AITA for giving my daughter more attention than my sons”
“3 years ago my (40 f[emale]) husband (39 m[ale] at the time) died in a car crash. My daughter Kate (10) was in the car with him. Luckily, Kate wasn’t seriously injured but she has severe anxiety and PTSD from the crash.”
“Kate’s PTSD relapsed and she’s having nightmares to the point where she wakes up screaming almost every night, has flashbacks at least once a day, and she’s extremely attached to me.”
“She’s working with a therapist and is slowly getting better (she didn’t wake up screaming last night) but she still needs a lot of attention. I used to make dinner with my oldest (17m) while Kate played in her room but now she usually makes dinner with us and when she’s not, she’s sitting at the kitchen table watching.”
“I also used to watch a movie with my oldest and my middle son (16m) after Kate went to bed but now our bedtime routine takes longer (I used to braid her hair and tuck her in but now I braid her hair, tuck her in, and read to her until she falls asleep because it helps her calm down) and I don’t have time to watch a full movie with them.”
“Last night Kate fell asleep pretty fast so I had time to watch a movie with my sons but when I asked them if they wanted to watch a movie, they told me to go back to Kate’s room since I’d obviously rather be with her anyway. I tried to explain that she needs this right now but they wouldn’t hear it.”
“AITA for giving my daughter more attention?”
OP later returned to provide a bit more context:
“I’m realizing that I didn’t make this clear in the post but Kate hasn’t been like this for 3 years. She’s had anxiety and PTSD since the crash but it’s been manageable until around 2 weeks ago when her PTSD relapsed.”
People on Reddit were then asked to judge who is in the wrong in this situation using the following acronyms:
- NTA – Not The A**hole
- YTA – You’re The A**hole
- ESH – Everyone Sucks Here
- NAH – No A**holes Here
Many felt strongly OP was the a**hole.
“I hate to say it but YTA, you have three children. Yes your daughter is going to need a lot of help right now but so are your boys.”
“They lost their father too. I suggest getting individual therapy for everyone, including you. And apologize to your son’s for not being there for them.” —Bugaby_Hamy
“light light light YTA, OP is in an extremely difficult situation. 2 teenage boys and a young girl to take care of. i hope that OP is able to clearly communicate to her boys why her daughter needs a little extra attention.”
“maybe group therapy can help. if a therapist explained that to the boys, perhaps they can gain a little perspective from it.” —alejandrojesus
“This is so tough. Very very very soft YTA. Yes, Kate probably needs you right now more so than them.”
“But they all lost their dad. They all need you. I don’t see the harm in extending Kate’s bedtime routine, but you need to find some way of ‘making it up’ to the others, maybe a day of just them.”
“Or maybe find a tv show that’s only 30 minutes you can watch at night with them if there’s no time for a movie. You should also think about having family dinners again to keep that open communication.”
“They lost their father, too, and need you.” —particularapricot485
“I’m not going to call you an a**hole. But I am going to ask you to *please* reconsider how you’re treating your sons. I grew up with a sibling who needed a lot of extra time and attention.”
“None of that was my sibling’s fault. But what it meant was that there was simply nothing left over for me.”
“I was told this to my face repeatedly. ‘I have nothing left over to give you. I’m already at my limit’.”
“I cannot count how many times I heard this. I’m sure it was true, but the result was that I grew up with an understanding that my needs didn’t matter and that I simply wasn’t important enough to be bothered with.”
“To this day I isolate myself as much as possible because I cannot shake the belief that reminding anyone that I exist is selfish. Your daughter lost her father: your sons have lost both parents.”
“If I sound harsh, it’s because I’ve traveled the road you’re putting them on. No child should ever have to sit alone and wonder ‘Why am I so horrible that even my own mother can’t be bothered to give me the time of day?'” —anakerie
But others felt strongly this was a question for professionals, not strangers on Reddit.
They urged their fellow Redditors to reconsider their responses.
“I think this might be above our pay grade honestly” —JudgeJedd100
“Really this is the only answer. I don’t understand people calling someone TA when they lost their spouse and are trying to take care three kids alone.”
“They’d probably also call OP TA if she was ignoring her daughter to make her sons happy. It’s a rough situation for everyone and impossible for others to judge.” —sydneyunderfoot
“Would you be saying the same if the daughter was not experiencing PTSD but was paralyzed from the waist down?”
“Yes, it sucks for everyone, but mental problems can be just as debilitating at physical ones. They all need some kind of therapy, but there’s nothing to say she’s neglecting the others.”
“She just needs to make more of her time available to one in particular than she used to.” —resonantSoul
“OP doesn’t indicate she’s neglecting her other children, and I don’t think missing movie nights because 10 y/o has had a post traumatic stress relapse and is hard to console constitutes as ‘not being there for them’ – nor does her distressed, young daughter being in the kitchen rather than alone in her room while mother and son cook together…”
“…Anyway, NTA IMO but this is obviously well above our pay grade and I don’t think any of us should be sitting here behind our keyboards calling a widow an a**hole because her ability to balance the suffering of three dependants, on top of her own, isn’t up to some imaginary standard.” —rbkforrestr
“TSS… the situation sucks I can’t possibly say YTA or ESH because everyone is hurting and this is an impossible situation.” —Dressupbuttercup
Hopefully OP can find a way to balance the needs of all of her children.