Parenting is difficult, especially for new parents who are figuring everything out for the first time.
But when a parent also struggles with their mental health, it can be especially difficult to find their footing, agreed the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit.
Redditor 1thicdad73 decided it would be best for his wife’s mental health to not have visitors over upon first arriving at home with their baby so that she wouldn’t second-guess herself as a mother so much.
But when others demanded they be given a chance, the Original Poster (OP) wondered if he was being too harsh about not having visitors.
He asked the sub:
“AITA for banning everyone who critiques our parenting style from meeting our son?”
The OP’s wife really struggled with being pregnant.
“My wife has minor anxiety and OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder). She has been on meds for a long time but had to go off them when she got pregnant.”
“None of the pregnancy-safe meds worked for her. Pregnancy was really tough for her, she spent a lot of time reading about what foods and activities and such could harm a fetus, and she was basically paralyzed by fear that she was hurting our son whenever she did anything.”
“It was really rough for her and she hated being pregnant.”
“She had a mental breakdown and confessed to me that she didn’t want to breastfeed, she was feeling violated by the pregnancy and wanted her body back and to go back on her meds, but she was worried that our son would be terribly harmed if she didn’t.”
“I talked her out of breastfeeding because the pros were far outweighed by the cons and she clearly didn’t want to do it.”
A lactation consultant and family member didn’t respect the OP’s wife’s wishes.
“After the delivery, I was using the bathroom and my father was in the room with my wife.”
“A lactation consultant came in and asked my wife if she was ready to breastfeed.”
“My wife said she wasn’t going to breastfeed and the lactation consultant started pushing and reminding her of the benefits of breastfeeding (which to my wife, was reminding her of all the ways she was harming our son by not breastfeeding).”
“My father also started pressuring her.”
“She said she just kept saying, ‘I don’t want to,’ but was very close to capitulating because she was so tired and anxious and she just wanted it to end.”
“I came back into the room and kicked out the lactation consultant and my dad for not listening to her when she said no.”
The couple noticed an improvement when they got a little distance back home.
“Things got considerably better when we left the hospital. My wife was able to get back on her meds and was happy.”
“This was the first part of the pregnancy/birth process that she actually got to enjoy.”
“Her meds can take up to a month or two to have full effect, so the anxiety and OCD issues are still there, but much less.”
The OP decided to set a boundary with their family.
“The conflict comes in because I told my dad he couldn’t be around my wife and son for the time being because he participated in pressuring her when she said no.”
“I’ve also run into an issue when sending pictures of the baby to the family. A number of people wrote back nitpicking how my wife my holding the baby, what she was feeding him, the crib we’re using, and so on.”
“I stopped sending photos, but my wife and I talked and she said she was still feeling fixated on everything she was doing wrong as a mom, and these critiques would make it worse.”
They also decided to do a temporary ban on visitors.
“So I told everyone who critiqued our parenting that they can’t come to meet the baby.”
“They probably can in a month or so when my wife will be more secure mentally and as a mom, but until then, no one can come.”
“Thus far, the only people who have met my son are my wife’s parents, her sister, and my mom.”
“A lot of my family is saying that this is unfair because they have good intentions and are just trying to help.”
“My mom told me I should give them a chance, but I think the risk is too big.”
“Am I the a**hole for banning them?”
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 advised the OP on how to better explain what the new family needed.
“I wouldn’t characterize it as ‘banning’ or any other inflammatory language if I were you.”
“Just say, ‘The pregnancy and birth were profoundly difficult for my wife and we want to take a beat to regroup now that the baby is here. We’re excited for everyone to meet Baby but Mom and Dad need a few weeks alone with him.'”
“NTA.” – SeparateSwordfish
“Maybe there’s a better way to frame it other than ‘banning.'”
“Maybe just be blunt, say, ‘I understand that you think you’re helping and I appreciate the sentiment. While your criticism can be constructive, we just need emotional and moral support right now,’ Or, ‘We need less stress, not more stress, and your comments/criticisms are just creating more stress.'”
“Either way, NTA. You and you’re wife don’t owe anyone anything. If there not being helpful and they are making your lives more miserable then f**k ‘em.”
“This time you have with your baby is precious, you guys ultimately get to say who’s involved and who’s not. If the family can’t behave, then it’s on them.” – Shedeviled
“Just say, ‘If you really want to help, you will stop making those comments. They’re hurting us and making things worse.’ It preemptively robs them of that excuse because every time they bring it up you can just circle back to, ‘But you’re not helping, stop it.'”
“Regardless, NTA. They don’t need to meet the baby, but you both need to be focused and secure in your parenting.” – yaaaqu3
“‘We have a new baby, and we plan to make mistakes. But they will be our mistakes, and we want the joy of finding them for ourselves. So please say nothing, and don’t spoil our fun!'”
“…okay, that’s a terrible thing to share.”
“‘We appreciate the breadth of the advice our friends and family have to offer on parenting, but certain major decisions are ours and ours alone. Those include, but are not limited to: breastfeeding, diaper choice, vaccinations (baby’s and guests’), other medical care (baby and mother), daily routine (all three of us), visitation, and whether our child will be a Sith or a Jedi.'”
“‘Thank you for not offering unsolicited advice on those matters.'” – Crisis_Redditor
“Treat it like an application, ‘Thank you for your valuable contribution. Unfortunately, we are currently unable to entertain any suggestions. We will address them as soon as the opportunity to do so arises.'”
“‘Due to the overwhelming amount of submissions we’ve received, we will unfortunately not be able to provide individual feedback. We thank you for your involvement and hope to communicate with you in the future.'” – EebilKitteh
Others thought the family was acting entitled to meet the baby, which they were not.
“They’re also acting as if they are entitled to meet the baby, when anything like this is down to the needs of both the baby and the parents.”
“If they actually gave a damn about the new family, they’d do what the family needs, which is giving them space, rather than what these people actually want, which isn’t to help, but to poke at a new baby and then go home again.” – MILLANDSON
“In my opinion, they earned the inflammatory language when they were forceful and hurtful with their critiques/judgments. Karma is a dish served cold.” – theartbook35
“As someone with OCD (and with symptoms scarily similar to OP’s wife’s), this is the best response for OP to give.”
“Having people around who nitpick, judge, and just don’t understand, is so incredibly toxic. It can be torture for someone with OCD, and cause a pretty mean spiral.” – Slayro
“NTA. I’m currently 39 weeks pregnant and honestly, I think you are doing a wonderful job sticking up for and advocating for your wife and child. The birthing person’s mental health is HUGELY important, and a fed baby is a healthy baby, whether it’s breastfeeding or formula.”
“It sounds like you both are doing a great job putting your baby’s needs first, and you are doing a great job making sure your wife feels secure, safe, and at her best (as good as she can feel given the situation) while trying to navigate the new/terrifying ‘fourth trimester.'”
“Your family/the critics sound incredibly insensitive to the hormone-fueled, extremely mentally and emotionally (and physically!) taxing life change your wife is going through, not to mention you as her main support system.”
“You’re doing a great job. Your family unit’s health (mentally, emotionally, and physically) is what matters most.” – mutantj0hn
The subReddit completely understood the space that the OP and his wife needed during transition into the next phase of their lives and parents, and they only wished the family would be more understanding, as well.
Feeling entitled to see the baby, and to make comments about how someone is parenting, are not helpful messages to have around, especially when someone is struggling with their mental health and the baby is very young.