For parents of young kids, finding any moments you can have just yourself can be tricky—even the (typically very private) act of using the bathroom.
But by instituting certain boundaries with your youngsters, are you actively harming them by denying them access to you, or simply teaching them a valuable lesson?
Redditor and mother-of-three hoimklo recently clashed with a fellow mom friend over this issue, so she turned to the subReddit “Am I the A**hole” (AITA) to see if she was in the wrong.
“AITA for telling my friend ‘It’s not my fault that I have boundaries with my kids’?”
The original poster (OP) explained her parenting strategy when it came to using the bathroom.
“Like many people who want kids, I had grand ideas about what kind of parent I’d be when I had kids. Only a few things actually stuck and one was, I wasn’t forfeiting peeing in peace.”
“When my kids became toddler age and could understand, I told them unless they’re bleeding or the house is on fire, don’t bother me in the bathroom. Anything else can wait.”
And that respect for privacy works both ways.
“It did take a few times of the door jiggling or them passing me things but eventually they stopped and learned the boundary. (Equal respect, I don’t go in the bathroom when they’re using it once they can use the toilet on their own).”
But her parenting technique was recently called into question by a fellow mom.
“My kids are now 8, 5 & 3. I have a friend with a kid who’s also 3.”
“We were talking about the kids and she told me ‘yeah, I haven’t peed alone since (child) learned to walk’. I replied that I nip that in the bud early on.”
“She asked me to explain, so I told her above. She said that’s mean and I said no, it’s setting a boundary.”
“My 8-year-old would hate it if I walked in on her. She said that we should always be accessible to our kids. I said if it’s truly an emergency, they know to tell me.”
After her friend kept pressing the matter, the OP finally snapped.
“She kept arguing and finally I said, ‘It’s not my fault I have boundaries with my kids. You don’t. That’s cool.'”
“Well, this offended my friend. She says I’m a mean mom. Am I being an a**?”
Redditors then gave their verdict on the situation by declaring:
- NTA – Not The A**hole
- YTA – You’re The A**hole
- NAH – No A**holes Here
- ESH – Everyone Sucks Here
They assured the OP teaching her kids boundaries early on in life isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
“And no you’re not being an a**, she said you were a mean mom for setting clear boundaries for your kids, that’s not damaging them in any way. Kids need boundaries and so do moms.”—Elegant_Syllabub8608
“NTA as she was implying your style of parenting is incorrect. I don’t have kids, but that boundary seems reasonable.”—The_biters
“NTA – Had the same boundaries with mine. Alongside ‘don’t talk to me through the door if it can wait’.”
“I don’t mind you coming to the bathroom door to ask I’m nearly done because you need it. I don’t need to hear what you want your barbie to wear at that precise second.”
“You didn’t jump straight to ‘disrespectful’. She did when she made it sound like you don’t care about your kids.”
“Also can we just agree the hardest part is getting a kid to understand what constitutes an emergency/important?”
“Literally had her hold an entire conversation while she peed but then fail to shout to any of us three adults directly outside the door (each waiting to pee – the joys of one bathroom) that she had now swung herself back and dropped her bum in the toilet and was stuck.”—PompeyLulu
“That friend is the kind of mother that’s creating anxiety issues with her kids because she doesn’t teach them to be self sufficient and unafraid when they don’t see mom for a few minutes.”
“She thinks she is being nice but in reality she’s doing the opposite. Like parents that think their children can’t fall asleep on their own.”—ImFinePleaseThanks
And while some vouched for the other mom’s style of parenting, they weren’t a fan of her calling the OP “mean” for having a different approach.
“Choosing to be there for your kids whenever they reach out for you while they’re little doesn’t actually do those things though.”
“It’s not detrimental and you can have very independent children while still rocking them to sleep until they don’t want it anymore or while making yourself available to them whenever they want while they’re too young to understand.”
“What is detrimental is being an a** about your chosen parenting style and acting like any other way is wrong, mean, or not good enough just because it isn’t what worked for you.”
“Sources: attachment theory-based research and having lived it with a 9yo and 10yo who are so independent and capable that I regularly get compliments on it from strangers.”—qednihilism
“This is super true but till a certain age I’d say.”
“I learned while attachment parenting that 1) it’s really true, that American impulse to ‘teach them independence’ is totally unnecessary but 2) the corollary is, make sure you don’t teach them dependence by accident.”
“(Obviously you didn’t, I’m kind of saying this for the general public. Including so that people will know where the ‘attachment parenting gone wrong’ stories they’ve read have come from, for some people that’s all they’ve seen.)”
“To me it’s about letting your own legitimate wishes come into play instead of attempting to be ‘selfless’* (which I think is how some people teach dependence by accident) and kind of watching for the moment when it’s your wishes against their mere wishes instead of your wishes against their needs.”
“When my kid was a little crawling dude he was seriously distressed if I disappeared, so of course he came in the bathroom.”
“When he was 4 (or it might’ve been a young 5, I forget) he was only frustrated at not having my attention for the exact minute he wanted it, and I was kind of desperate to pee and change clothes in one minute of peace, so I tipped the balance and set the boundary then.”
“*I really think this is so important. I wouldn’t want to overblow it because we do need to set our wishes aside for our kids a good bit.”
“But there’s an important process of training them to respect our wishes and pushing back when they don’t, without which they’ll have trouble realizing they should respect the wishes of others later on.”
“I’ve seen parents think they’re bad if they’re not selfless all the time, and the kids can end up… selfish. It’s not a binary one-side-against-another thing like the internet loves though… it’s ALL about learning to strike a balance.”—Crooked-Bird-20
The OP agreed with these assessments, commenting:
“And I have nothing against this. If it works for your family, all the more power to you. I would’ve let my friend’s way go had she not called me a mean mom.”
A few Redditors even chimed in with some of their own parenting horror stories.
“I remember seeing this exhausted-looking dad in a grocery store very politely asking his 2-year old to *please put down the oranges, Tyler, thank you*.”
“As much as I love seeing parents treating their kids with respect and love, and as much as it seemed to be working (kiddo was being a toddler and running around a bit, but not going hog wild like some kids I’ve seen) I definitely had a moment of ‘yeah my folks would have just picked me up by the back of my jacket and gotten on with their days, huh'”—Neurotic_Bakeder
“God, I’ll never forget the time I was at my (now ex) boyfriend’s (25M[ale]) parents’ house and he went to go poop and his MOTHER followed him into the bathroom and sat on the edge of the bathtub across from him WHILE HE WAS TAKING A DUMP and they just continued their conversation like IT WASN’T REALLY F**KING WEIRD.”
“And left the bathroom door wide open to boot! I was positively shocked and very, very weirded out. How do you *not* establish those kinds of parent/child boundaries, especially well into adulthood?!”—FierceCupcake
“Totally true. Kids like boundaries because they are learning what the rules are. The day Mom truly isn’t available, they won’t have any idea how to cope.”
“I saw this with a coworker who used to leave work every day to make dinner for her son by 4 pm. Then she came back to work.”
“Her son was 16. And driving a new car she got him. He didn’t know how to use the microwave, just the toaster.”
“He ended up on academic probation his first semester of college and never went back. It wasn’t him struggling to get to class on time, which is not uncommon for freshmen.”
“No, it was the girlfriend who dumped him over his insistence that if she really loved him, she’d make him meals like he was used to. She told friends, who mocked him and he was too embarrassed to go back.”—Itsjust4comments
Hopefully both the OP and her friend will be successful with their individual parenting strategies and raise healthy, independent children.
But perhaps a refresher on respecting others would be helpful.