When a family is about to get bigger, a baby announcement is generally a happy occasion.
But sometimes not everyone will be happy about the news, pointed out the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit.
Redditor throwra579675 was shocked when her teenage son had a negative reaction to the fact that she was having another baby, a second younger sibling for him.
But when she found out the reason why, the Original Poster (OP) was incredulous.
She asked the sub:
“AITA for punishing my son for how he reacted to my pregnancy announcement?”
The OP thought that the arrangement in her home worked.
“I (36 Female) divorced my ex-husband 6 years ago. We have a 16-year-old son together, ‘Jamie.'”
“I remarried to my current husband and have a 10-year-old stepson, ‘Nick.'”
“Jamie and Nick are close and get along most of the time as well.”
“Nick depends on Jamie in a lot of things, like helping him do homework, fix and organize his toys, cleaning his room, etc.”
That was until a friend taught her son about parentification.
“Things have been going great until Jamie started seeing this girl who kept claiming that my husband and I are ‘parentifying’ him by having him do things for Nick and seemed to be filling his head with nonsense about us taking from Jamie his time and not letting him live like other kids his age.”
“My husband had a stern talk to her which caused Jamie to get into a fight with him.”
“Things have been bad since then.”
Jamie didn’t take a family announcement well, either.
“I recently found out that I’m pregnant.”
“We wanted to wait until all my family was together so we could make the announcement.”
“We did it this past Sunday, and everyone was happy and excited for us except for Jamie who remained quiet for a few minutes then loudly asked, ‘So am I expected to take care of this one as well?'”
“My husband and I were shocked. We didn’t know what to do.”
This turned into an argument.
“My husband stormed out and I started arguing with Jamie, asking him why he said that.”
“He said that because it was the truth, he feels as if he has some type of responsibility towards Nick because of the things he has to do for him and felt that he’ll do the same for his half-sibling.”
“I told him this was his girlfriend spouting nonsense and brainwashing him because we expect nothing of him and he was wrong to say that we do.”
“I had to punish him for ruining the announcement and making a scene and making my husband upset.”
“He thought that it wasn’t fair he had to get punished for stating an opinion.”
“He blamed my husband for ‘filling’ my head too, but my husband is innocent in this, except he knew that that girl is being rude and intrusive.”
“It’s been a few days and Jamie has gone completely silent about the whole thing.”
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 wholeheartedly agreed with the girlfriend’s opinion.
“YTA, the girlfriend was right.”
“Raising Nick is NOT Jamie’s responsibility, and neither is he a free nanny for you to keep avoiding your responsibilities as parents.” – CanofSoy
“I sorta assumed he had to make sure the kid did it but either way – that’s the parent’s job, not his.”
“Maybe okay, if he’s doing that instead of other chores. But it seems problematic in addition to helping the kid with his homework and everything else.”
“Her son is their free babysitter who can’t say no because he gets punished and is a bad “brother” for complaining.” – rak1882
“Reading between the lines, I think there’s something to the parentification thing.”
“Parentifying isn’t just expecting a kid to take care of their siblings. What it means is that the parents are so immature that one of the kids ends up taking on the role of ‘the adult in the room.'”
“When Jamie made this comment, the husband got p**sed and walked out, and the mom ‘had to’ ‘punish’ Jamie because the husband was upset.”
“That’s a massive role reversal, with the husband acting like a child and Jamie being expected to be the mature one in the relationship.” – withthebride
“The OP says themselves that the younger son is dependent on the older son. This is an inappropriate relationship between the sons.”
“Children should be dependent on their parents. They should be comfortable with their siblings to ask for help and such, but a 10-year-old should not be ‘dependent’ on a 16-year-old.” – justforfunnsies12
“Yeah, mom is totally projecting onto girlfriend right now. I think mom knows she’s wrong, in so many ways, and the girlfriend is quickly becoming the scapegoat.”
“It’s easier than actually speaking with, and trying to understand the viewpoints of, your teenager.”
“Oh, mom. YTA. Bigtime.” – ScumBunny
“He (your spouse) should have NEVER talked to the girlfriend, so wrong and way overstepping on so many levels.”
“Your younger son should not ‘come to depend’ on your older son. By saying that, you are in fact admitting you are expecting the older child to parent the younger child. So your older son has every right to feel taken advantage of and more than likely a bit resentful toward you and your spouse.”
“Thank goodness for this girlfriend who wasn’t afraid to speak the truth to this boy and encourage him to stand up for himself, however sad it may be that he even has to do that.”
“Can’t even begin to address the whole OP title, of punishing him… I hope you are able to see how wrong you and your spouse have been, and by your own admission, I might add.”
“Mom, YTA big time, and so is your spouse. You both need to take a step back and parent your boys! Stop putting unrealistic expectations on them, because that will only continue to trickle down as each older child flees home the second they are legally able to.”
“WAKE. UP.” – Important-Worry-9765
Others said the OP should have had more of a conversation with her children.
“Hopping on to point out how assholish it was to not tell Jamie and Nick about the pregnancy in private. Their daily lives are going to be greatly affected and you don’t respect either of their feelings enough to tell them in private? You spring it on them in front of everyone and then you’re shocked this doesn’t go smoothly? Awful.” – The_Krudler
“She punishes him for causing a scene and the all-important upsetting the husband. Was there any care that the son was clearly upset with this news? Any in-depth communication? Any heart-to-hearts? No.”
“She just had to punish him because the son should just shut up and take it. But that’s okay because, by the time the oldest son escapes as soon as he can, the ten-year-old should be juuuuust about old enough to take care of the infant. Win/win.”
“YTA.” – Blue-Being22
“What do parents think happens when you punish a kid for a feeling or expressing a feeling? Like, it’s a feeling. It’s not stealing your car. You can’t ground a kid into feeling a better feeling. So dumb.” – Acrobatic_Reading866
“I would like to know more about where this came from as well. This seems like normal sibling behavior. OP didn’t indicate that they ask him to do any of this. If you take the information as presented, calling it parentifying is extreme. That’s just people being primed to jump to that conclusion by other posts here.”
“OP is still definitely the AH here even if we set that aside. She doesn’t get to own his feelings and punishing him for feeling that way is just cruel. They also should have told him and his stepbrother separately. Not jump it on them with the rest of their social circle.” – joolzian
“I am also very concerned that the husband took it upon himself to have a ‘stern talking to’ with the girlfriend!”
“She’s not his daughter, he has no right to be haranguing her for expressing what she’s observed.”
“If he had a problem, he should have spoken to her parents, not taken the opportunity to intimidate a teenage girl!” – aizarphilia
“10 years old is plenty old enough to organize toys and clean a bedroom. Help with homework, I can get, but Jamie has to be the one to do it should be a last resort. It should be one of the parents most of the time. Nick should not have to “depend” on Jamie to parent him.”
“And the other thing, is the husband gave the girlfriend a ‘stern talking to’? Talk to her parents if you’re upset, not a teenage girl. That’s so wildly inappropriate.” – BellanaBlack
“You are definitely an asshole. Your son asked a reasonable question based on previous experience and events.”
“You’re just mad that he feels put upon, asked a question you didn’t want to hear and called you out for your parental responsibility delegating while he and his girlfriend were right.”
“Also, who were you two to lecture his girlfriend about stating a logically accurate opinion? Then you punish him like he snuck out and took your car?”
“The audacity and self entitlement of you is just appalling. You had the kids, you take care of them.”
“Your stepson is not a parent, thus this level on parenting on his part is outrageous and really inconsiderate. Do it yourself.” – JoshuaofHyrule
“Have you ever considered that your son complained to his girlfriend and she explained that you guys are parentifying him? Why aren’t you or your husband teaching the 10-year-old how clean up his room or why aren’t y’all helping him with homework?”
“That does sound like parentifying to literally every single reader. Your son’s reaction is 100% valid because that’s how he felt and did state the truth.”
“He is literally a teenager it’s not wrong for him wanting to have fun with friends rather than raising his stepbrother. You punishing him for expressing his emotions just shows he can’t trust you at all or else you’ll silence him.”
“Great job on ruining your relationship with him andshowing him he can’t express his emotions with you or else he will be punished. Trust me he won’t ever forget this and possibly won’t ever confide in you with anything.”
“YTA and broke your child’s trust.” – lol_x12
“YTA for blaming this girl for your son’s behavior. You refuse to see him as his own person when you accuse him of being ‘brainwashed’ by her etc… Also you’re basically saying he’s dumb enough to not be able to think for himself.”
“He was right to throw your rude ‘brainwashing’ assertion right back in your face. Kudos to him, he seems like a smart kid.”
“Why would a 10-year-old need help cleaning their own room? Aren’t parents supposed to help the kid with their homework?”
“Jamie isn’t 100% right, but he’s nowhere near 100% wrong either. Your eagerness to blame ‘this girl’ for things is going to drive Jamie away from you.” – Pleasant-Try9103
“Repeat after me: Your 👏 oldest 👏 Child 👏 isn’t 👏 a 👏 live-in 👏 nanny 👏”
“Why does Nick depend on Jamie?? Who’s supposed to be the parent here?”
“YOU decide to take the responsibility of raising that child when you chose to marry a man with a child. Why are you two irresponsible adults pushing that burden on a 16-year-old??”
“The girlfriend isn’t brainwashing him; you ARE parentifying him. As you clearly didn’t bother, let me put the definition here for you: Parentification is the process of role reversal whereby a child is obliged to act as parent to their own parent or sibling.”
“Sounds familiar? No? It should, because that’s what you are doing to your oldest child. The girlfriend only gave him enough courage to stand up for himself.”
“What’s even the punishment for? Because you didn’t like what he said?”
“What, he can’t have opinions now? Of course not.”
“That way he won’t be a nice little puppet that will take care of the children while the adults go out.” – BlackSky83
While the OP thought her son had behaved inappropriately during her pregnancy reveal at the family dinner, the subReddit had other feelings.
Instead of blaming the son, the subReddit was more concerned about how the father reacted, as well as his decision to speak to the son’s girlfriend. Not to mention the OP’s admission that her younger son was already depending on his older brother, which was pretty telling of how she had raised her children.