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Mom Blasts Sister With Postpartum Depression For Treating Her Daughter Like Maid And Nanny

preteen girl playing dolls with toddler
Daniel Balakov/Getty Images

Support is important for people dealing with postpartum depression or anxiety (PPD/PPA). But as with all things, there should be limits and boundaries.

Especially if the person refuses to seek or accept treatment.

A woman dealing with her sister’s PPD turned to the “Am I The A**hole” (AITA) subReddit for feedback.

Asleep-Mycologist560 asked:

“AITA for refusing to let my sister take my kids anymore?”

The original poster (OP) explained:

“My sister (21) has 2 children, aged 3 years and 3.5 months, and suffers from postpartum depression/postpartum anxiety (PPD/PPA). I (30, female) have a 13-year-old son and a 11-year-old daughter.”

“School vacation just went by and my sister had asked if both of my children could go visit her for the week. I asked the kids and they said they wanted to, so I said yes.”

“Every single time my daughter FaceTimed me, she had my sister’s 3-year-old daughter. I didn’t think too much of it at the time because my daughter loves this little girl very much.”

“But by day 5, both my kids were asking me to come get them. I show up and my sister starts begging me not to take the kids until Sunday—our original agreement—because ‘having them here makes my anxiety go away’.”

“I simply told her the kids wanted to come home and we left.”

“Around dinnertime, my daughter made a comment about how she had the 3-year-old the entire time she was there. To a point where I guess my sister even asked to have the 3-year-old sleep with my daughter so she could get up with her in the morning so my sister could sleep in.”

“My daughter stated that the only time my sister came downstairs was to shower or make food for herself. The rest of the time, my kids were left to fend for themselves and take care of the 3-year-old—including meals.”

“My sister’s boyfriend lives there full time and doesn’t work either, so he never leaves. Therefore there were TWO adults in the house and neither of them watched their kid the entire time my kids were there.”

“My sister, her boyfriend and the kids actually live with my mother.”

“But my mother is on vacation currently and isn’t coming back until next Thursday. Typically my mother is home 24/7, so I know my niece is usually cared for.”

“I guess there were also multiple times that my sister asked my daughter to clean the house. I didn’t confront my sister originally, because I didn’t feel there was any point to it.”

“But she just called my daughter about an hour ago and my daughter says to me—while still on the phone—’Auntie wants to know if I can go back over there on Friday’. I said ‘absolutely not’ and went back to doing dishes.”

“Then my daughter hands me the phone; it’s my sister asking why my daughter can’t go there Friday.”

“So I say ‘because my daughter is not your maid or nanny. You made her wake up with your kid, take care of her all day, clean your house and then put her to sleep at night. My daughter is 11. She will not be parentified’.”

“My sister immediately starts crying and says ‘it wasn’t like that, she was just helping me’.”

“So I told her that both my kids wouldn’t lie or tell me the exact same story if it didn’t happen and that PPA/PPD is not an excuse to pawn 100% of your responsibilities off on a child, especially when her boyfriend was there full time.”

“Now she’s basically saying it didn’t happen like that and that my kids were just ‘helping’ her and that she enjoyed having them there because the noise helped her not to panic. I told her it still wasn’t happening and she called me heartless and said this is the reason women with PPD don’t ask for help.”

“She’s afraid of medications and she’s worried if she goes in for therapy or anything that the state will take her kids. Her and I were in foster care for years and unfortunately she still holds the trauma.”

“If she was paying my kids it MIGHT be one thing. I was a paid babysitter at my son’s age. But I mean, they didn’t even offer to make them food, let alone pay them.”


The OP summed up their situation.

“I feel like an a**hole because I know how hard it is to have PPD, but there is zero excuse for this.”

Redditors weighed in by declaring:

  • NTA – Not The A**hole
  • YTA – You’re The A**hole
  • NAH – No A**holes Here
  • ESH – Everyone Sucks Here

Redditors decided the OP was not the a**hole (NTA).

“‘…she called me heartless and said this is the reason women with PPD don’t ask for help’.”

“Except that she didn’t ask for help. She asked for your kids to go visit her, then put them in charge of childcare.”

“Good for you for picking up your kids when they called and then advocating for them when you heard what happened. NTA.” ~ glimmerseeker

“Not taking care of her mental health and instead using an 11-year-old for childcare that she can’t do herself is far more likely to get CPS involved than going and getting help.”

“NTA, and good on you looking out for your children/keeping them from being parentified.” ~ caityjay25

“Her comment ‘this is why women with PPD don’t ask for help’ doesn’t make sense in this context. She is getting help with childcare, but she is not getting help with PPD/PPA.”

“Your 11-year-old daughter is NOT adequate ‘support’ for PPA/PPD. Professionals specialize in this stuff.”

“Sounds like the only ‘help’ she wants is someone releasing her from responsibility, not actual help for her issues. NTA.” ~ somewhenimpossible

“NTA. My compliments on that nice shiny steel spine you’ve got there.”

“This is an example of both parenting done wrong—your sister shoving her responsibilities onto your children—and parenting done right—you stopping the parentification in its tracks.”

“If your sister won’t get the therapy she needs, then she’s going to perpetuate the generational trauma.”

“I’d limit her access to your children without you or your mother present, until she addresses her mental health issues. It’s just not safe for your kids.” ~ savinathewhite

“NTA. Good for you for picking your kids up once they communicated they were over this. And good for you for not allowing them to be used in this manner again.”

“They already wasted their entire school break on providing free labor to your sister, it’s ridiculous she’s asking for more.”

“I hate to ask, but are your sure this is PPD and not a substance abuse issue? Are you sure the 3-year-old is being fed and cared for with these two parents who are completely checked out?”

“For her sake, I think it’s worth further investigation and, potentially, a call to CPS.” ~ JeepersCreepers74

“Lying about the pretense of having two preteens over is not asking for help. Actually asking for help is.”

“If she wants an explanation outside of ‘my kids are not your nanny/maids’, lying to you is also a big breach of trust.”

“I understand from your other comments she has trauma and refuses to get actual help…and I am honestly deeply concerned, but that is above my pay grade as a commenting rando online.”

“You are NTA and I applaud you advocating for your kids.” ~ Silent_Ad_8672

“NTA. Your children are NOT her emotional support animals. She needs to speak with a medical professional about her anxiety instead of using your children.” ~ Swimming-Fix-2637

“NTA. Your children called you and asked to come home. You didn’t just randomly show up and drag them kicking and screaming and force them to go home.

“So, she wanted you to force your children to stay there with her against their will?”

“Then when you said ‘no’, she called your 11-year-old directly to pressure her to go back. That’s wildly inappropriate.”

“She needs clear boundaries enforce when it comes to your kids.” ~ LakotaGrl

“NTA—it did happen like that and she knows it.”

“She might have ppd/ppa, but she also has a live-in sperm donor. If he’s such a sh*t parent, then she shouldn’t have had another baby with him.” ~ Secret_Double_9239

“NTA. You are right not to send your kids back there. It’s not fair for your sister to put that amount of expectation on them.”

“I’m worried about your sister. She would do well to get some help for her mental health.” ~ Socratic_Labrador_02

“Women with PPD are responsible for managing their mental illness. Not an underage niece or nephew or anyone else they ask/entrap.”

“Also, the boyfriend is just consuming air and space in this world. NTA.” ~ Radiant-Chipmunk-987

“NTA. I legitimately do not understand how a woman can expect a female child to operate like an adult—cook, clean, look after a younger child—but won’t expect a grown a**, unemployed man to do the same.” ~ RainGirl11

“NTA. She straight up took advantage of the situation. I understand getting a little RnR, but the first nap she took apparently felt too good to not repeat.”

“And your children were there under the impression that they would be having special time with their Aunt and cousin. Just NO.”

“I wouldn’t put an end to bonding time with Auntie if the kids want it. But I would definitely set up rules and boundaries.” ~ Pickme_og72queen

Mental illness isn’t a free pass for inappropriate behavior.

Until OP’s sister gets help for PPD, OP has not only a right but also a responsibility to limit access to her children.

Written by Amelia Mavis Christnot

Amelia Christnot is an Oglala Lakota, Kanien'kehá:ka Haudenosaunee and Metís Navy brat who settled in the wilds of Northern Maine. A member of the Indigenous Journalists Association, she considers herself another proud Maineiac.