We all know that families come in all shapes and sizes, and sometimes what one family needs will not work for another family at all. And sometimes what one family will do will look totally strange to another.
But that is not reason enough to judge without educating yourself first, challenged the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit.
When their family’s circumstances changed, Redditor Boring-Dragonfly9153 found herself needing to care for her younger sister who had Down Syndrome, along with her own children. After a while of living together, the family found it would be best to place her sister in a group home that she loved.
But when her sister-in-law openly criticized her abilities as a mother, the Original Poster (OP) couldn’t help but ponder her decisions.
She asked the sub:
“AITA for laughing at my SIL (Sister-in-Law) and telling her I have zero desire to raise her child?”
Years ago, the OP decided to place her younger sister in a group home that she loved.
“I (44 Female) am married to my hubby, Jimmy (48 Male) for over two decades.”
“My parents died suddenly in a car accident 10 years ago. I have a younger sister, Abigail (39 Female) with Downs Syndrome, and Jimmy and I are guardians. Abigail is my sweet angel on Earth.”
“When my parents passed, I was a working mother of three young kids, helping to build our family business with my husband. At first, Abigail lived with us full-time. Jimmy has always been at my side with her care and loves her to bits.”
“After a few months, we realized that my sister needed more attention than we could give her. There was just not enough time in the day.”
“We discussed what would be best for her and decided to put her into a private adult home for special needs people. It’s very costly (over 10k a month) and comes from our own finances. The facility does all sorts of activities and field trips.”
“She loves her home, her friends, and the ‘special’ days the facility hosts.”
“We are always stopping by to either visit, sign her out on holidays to spend with family, keep her overnight for special sleepovers with my kids, and take her on every vacation with us. We never go more than 24 hours without one of us making sure she’s okay.”
The OP’s sister-in-law was obviously critical of the arrangement, however.
“I have a SIL (Sister-in-Law), Jenny (42 Female) who had her first child after years of trying. She’s become the typical first-time mom who believes she invented motherhood and is openly opinionated about things she believes other parents fall short on.”
“I mostly ignore her and so does Jimmy.”
“We hosted a BBQ at my house for Labor Day with my FIL (Father-in-Law), MIL (Mother-in-Law), Jenny, her husband, her baby, and my kids.”
“Abigail had a planned trip to the zoo and asked if she could go. Of course, we said OK.”
“While we were eating, Jenny turned to me and asked me where Abigail was. Her tone was more accusatory than questioning.”
“I simply didn’t want to get into it with Jenny, so I said Abigail wanted to stay at the home.”
“Jenny then turned to her hubby and said, ‘See, this is why it won’t ever happen.'”
“My MIL asked Jenny what she was talking about.”
“Jenny, all snarky, said to the whole table, ‘We did our wills last week and knew these two wouldn’t be suitable as guardians of our baby if something happened to us. They tossed her sister into a home rather than be real family to her! I won’t let that happen to my child.'”
The OP had the only reaction that made sense at the time.
“I didn’t let it show, but I was extremely hurt she could say this.”
“Instead of yelling, I laughed at her and said, ‘Well that’s great news since I have ZERO desire to raise your kid.'”
“More was said, but that’s the gist of it. Jenny left with her family calling me nasty swear words as she walked out. (I might have said a few swear words myself right back at her!)”
The family had since pressured the OP to reconcile.
“It’s been over a month now and Jimmy is still getting nasty texts from Jenny, demanding I apologize.”
“My MIL knows she overstepped with her comment but is asking me to be the bigger person and say sorry to keep the peace.”
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 couldn’t fathom how anyone thought the OP could be the AH in this situation.
“NTA and Jenny is a major AH. If she had actual concerns, she should have talked to you or her brother. And if she had half a brain, she would see that sometimes living in a group home is better than with family who don’t have the time or resources to properly care for or enrich the life of a person with special needs.”
“Sounds like you are still involved in Abigail’s life and she’s happy. That is what’s important.”
“Also, if SIL does feel this way, she doesn’t need to make it known and do so in such a hurtful and insulting way.” – friendlily
“So as the DIL (Daughter-in-Law), YOU need to be the bigger person? Why is that?”
“My own mother would have told me off if I acted like your SIL did. But your SIL has a strong personality so your MIL (Mother-in-Law) wants to take the easy way out. Is it okay that she hurt your feelings but not that you hurt her daughter’s?”
“By the way, It warms my heart Abigail loves her group home. Why your SIL doesn’t value that, too, is beyond me. NTA.” – Kmia55
“NTA. What’s she upset about? You agreed with her! In fact, I probably would’ve gone further and said, ‘Yes, we tossed my sister in a home that helps love and care for her, which sounds like more than what your real family is going to be able to give your kid if that’s your attitude.'”
“Tell her you’ll apologize for your response after she apologizes for her initial, appalling comment.” – cbm984
“NTA. You and your husband have been doing everything right, in my opinion, and what the SIL said was horrible. All you did was agree with what she said, and in my opinion, she should be the one apologizing for her behavior.”
“If your sister is happy where she is and would rather go on the trip, then why not let her? She can clearly make her own decisions when it comes to where she wants to spend her time.”
“People with Down Syndrome are just as capable of making decisions as the rest of us, sometimes people just need a little help just like elderly folks. I hope the SIL stops attacking you and your husband; that’s just disgusting.” – ItzzZyi420
“It would be a cold day in h**l when I would apologize to this person.”
“Her relationship with your MIL is her business.”
“She is weaponizing that child. That is so sick. Hopefully, your MIL realizes this soon.”
“I would sit your MIL down. Let her know you love her and would do almost anything for her, but you can’t do this.”
“The daughter insulted you and how you are with your sister. The care you provide and what your relationship is. You can not overlook this.”
“The SIL needs to apologize.”
“NTA.” – Prudent_Border5060
Others agreed and reassured the OP that she did not need to apologize.
“Why can’t she be the bigger person and apologize for stepping out of line? Your MIL just wants to hear the end of it and is working any angle she has. We don’t know what she’s saying to your SIL, but your MIL will take whatever she can get. She doesn’t care about how she gets the outcome she desires, so long as she gets it.”
“NTA. Don’t ever apologize for doing anything wrong. If that’s how they think they can treat you, they need you more than you need them. If you capitulate, they’ll just keep walking all over you.”
“I don’t know why you’re even here; your SIL told you EXACTLY what she thinks of you, through and through. That was the most sincere, honest thing she’s ever said, and fucking off was her manifesto. It’s not like there’s going to be anything after this anyway.” – mredding
“Totally disregarding the Downs Syndrome for a moment, as your children grow and mature, they will have different interests and desires. It’s perfectly natural for them to exercise those and not be present at every ‘event.’ This is true for Abigail, too, and wanting to stay home; it’s not a reflection on how you care for her.”
“Your SIL is ill-informed, not only as to how you are treating Jenny but how life with growing kids evolves.”
“Don’t apologize. You are doing everything right, and she is the one who should apologize as she’s been rude, insulting, and has evidently fabricated a narrative to make herself sound wonderful.” – BefuddledPolydactyls
“NTA. Do not apologize. She was the only AH in that conversation, making disgusting allegations of neglect. All you did was agree that you have no desire to be involved with her family. Maintain that. Until she apologizes for her horrific allegations, she is not welcome around you, your children, or your home.”
“And your MIL can either get on board with that or be banished as well. You have done something wonderful for your sister by ensuring she has the right kind of care AND by having an open dialogue with her, ensuring that she has some agency over her life. Don’t let your awful SIL make you doubt yourself.” – Cursd818
“This is yet another example of people who can dish out but not take it. Your SIL openly insulted your character while all you did was tell her of your non-desire to raise her kid. And YOU are the one who’s supposed to apologize? Ridiculous. NTA, by a mile and a half.” – Alternative-Many3523
“Tell your MIL that her relationship with her daughter is between the two of them. She needs to make it clear to Jenny that she is a parent now, and she needs to realize how she treats people will be learned by her daughter. If Jenny wants to hold her child as collateral, then that speaks to her character.”
“As for your husband, Jenny was absolutely insulting him as well. She insulted both of you by saying that the two of you were unfit in her eyes. If Jenny wants an apology, give the most backhanded apology that isn’t an apology.”
“Something like this: ‘Jenny, I am sorry that you feel that way and were offended by my remark that I have zero desire to raise your child. Since you have made YOUR opinion on my and my husband’s parenting skills and how poorly you thought of them; I thought the feeling was mutual as you STATED that you want your child to be raised by people who were like-minded to you. It would be hypocritical for you to be upset that your wishes are being honored, wouldn’t it?'”
“And this: ‘After all, motherhood is all about putting the needs of your child above yours and not using them as collateral to justify bad behavior. Then again, I understand emotional intelligence may not be a skill that everybody has.'” – ViralLola
The subReddit was absolutely disgusted by how the OP’s sister-in-law had addressed her at a family function of all places.
But the one thing that bothered them more was the insistence on the OP to apologize for the part she played, though it seemed to them that the sister-in-law was the far more offensive player in this scenario.
Parenting and siblinghood aren’t easy, but it’s comments like the sister-in-law’s that make the job so much harder.