The passing of a loved one is never easy.
The effects ripple up and down family lines and stretch out to touch every relationship touched by the person who passed.
What happens when the death of a loved one alters an existing relationship so severely, it turns toward abuse?
That was the issue facing Redditor and Original Poster (OP) Thrwawymanofthehouse when he came to the “Am I the A**hole” (AITA) subReddit for judgment.
“AITA for telling my mom I don’t want to be the man of house?”
OP started with tragic news.
“Last year me (16 male) and my siblings (14 female, 8m, 4m 2f) lost our dad.”
“It was extremely hard for us and our mom.”
Then explained the problem at hand.
“Ever since he passed, my mom has been making me do more things around the house. I understand of course but lately it feels like it’s too much.”
“For example she makes me take care my siblings all the time, like if I didn’t have a part-time job I’d be home all the time watching them.”
“I understand why, but my grandpa lives down the block and doesn’t mind watching them.”
“Another example is whenever I get paid my mom asks for the whole thing for bills.”
“This wouldn’t be so much of a problem if we weren’t so well off, but my grandma left mom a lot of money when she died”
“She also comes to me often and asks me if she can just talk to me to get her feelings out.”
“Once again I understand but the things she talks about are things that she only used to talk to dad about, and I often don’t have any idea how to respond.”
“Yesterday she came to me again and I told her that maybe she should go to a therapist as it could help.”
“She told me that her and dad used to talk about their stress all the time together and that I should be able to listen.”
“I told her that I could listen but I can’t help her with everything.”
“She told me that since dad died I need to step up and be the man of the house, and that it was my duty to help her out.”
OP then explained why he felt he might be in the wrong.
“I then told her that I don’t want to be and that I just wanted to be a teenager, and that she needs to help herself.”
“She got upset and told me to leave her alone.”
“It’s now been a day and she keeps refusing to talk to me and sends my sister to rely things.”
“I feel bad since I know she’s been having a hard time and I regret saying that she needs to help herself.”
Having explained the situation, OP turned to Reddit for judgment.
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: NTA
Some responses were very direct.
“You are still a child.”
“While you should help around the house with some responsibilities, you are not expected to be a grown up” ~ RedRose_Belmont
“She’s demanding his entire paycheck, she definitely isn’t giving it back for babysitting.”
“Grief is terrible but this situation is not acceptable. OP, look for outside help” ~SCVerde
“NTA. You are her child, not her husband.” ~ Euphoric-Zucchini-18
Others urged OP to seek local help.
“OP, you mentioned that your grandpa lives close by; if you told him what’s going on, do you think that he would intervene on your behalf?”
“You are not your mother’s husband and it’s unacceptable for her to treat you like you are.” ~ calliatom
“Exactly, it was a bit creepy reading this, like the above poster has stated you are not her husband and she should not be treating you this way in any way shape or form, can you speak to your grandpa about this or any other adult in the family you feel comfortable with?”
“OP, nta. Good luck!” ~ TechnicianPerfect1
Several responders were worried about the mental health of all involved.
“NTA. At. All.”
“What your mom is doing has a name.”
“It is called ’emotional incest syndrome'”.
“It isn’t sexual, but she is using you, her child to replace what should be an adult relationship with an actual adult.”
“There is even a book out on this with the same name by Dr Patricia Love that I suggest you read.”
“You still haven’t had time to grieve the loss of your father.”
“Your mother is totally out of line and should look into getting therapy.”
“What she is doing is destructive and inappropriate. Sending you a big hug.” ~ Minkiemink
“There’s this thing called emotional incest and it sounds like what’s happening here.” ~ curls-cat
“It’s possible that since OP is becoming a young man, he is starting to resemble his father. Not that that’s any sort of excuse for how his mom is treating him, but grief is weird.” ~ apatheticsahm
“Reach out to grandpa and ask for help.”
“This is sooooo above a 16 year old child’s responsibility.”
“OP is not the ‘man of the house’. Gross.”
“OP is one of 5 siblings. Not replacement daddy.” ~ StreetofChimes
“Yea, the whole point of Freud’s Oedipal complex was that it’s subconscious.”
“You’re not actively looking at your mom as a potential partner, but seeking out partners who remind you of her in some way.”
“What’s happening here is more reminiscent of a Jocasta Complex; which also unfairly named.” ~ DebateObjective2787
“I get that all of you are still grieving, but she’s taking it to an unhealthy place.”
“It started with parentification, and now it’s straying into actual emotional incest.”
“You guys need family counselling, stat.” ~ Old_Mintie
There were personal stories as well.
“Parentrification, too. Poor OP.”
“I hope he can tell his grandfather or extended relatives what is happening. this isnt healthy or normal.”
“My dad moved out when I was 11, before I was 12 my mom had vented all about the crap he had done wrong in the relationship -to her-.”
“But ya know, no mention of how he would abuse myself & siblings almost daily. I wasn’t ok for a long time. I hope so hard OP can get 1 or 2 good family members in his corner” ~ Sheanar
“I wish I could talk to your mom.”
“My husband passed when my kids were 11 and 18. I had to work at not using the older child as a sounding board with my adult problems.”
“Yes, with a great loss, everyone has to step up and roles change, but mom needs to confide in another adult, whether it be a therapist or a trusted friend.”
“There are some good grief support groups out there too.”
“I’m sorry for your loss. NTA. Be gentle with each other in these hard times.” ~ dwells2301
“My mom used me as her therapist for a long time, and it was very damaging as a kid your age.”
“I was not ready or able to provide the support she needed, and it made it very difficult for me to learn how to set appropriate boundaries with other people.”
“What your mother wants from you is not good for you, and I am so proud of you for setting a boundary and acting to protect yourself.”
“I would strongly encourage you to talk to your grandparents about this and ask for their assistance. It sounds like they want to help and are capable of helping.”
“I do not think direct confrontations with your mom are as safe for you as we might hope, but you can likely get your grandparents to intervene on your behalf by reaching out to talk to her more often.” ~ LostDogBoulderUtah
Others were worried about OP’s income.
“OP, Can you sign up for direct deposit and have your check go to your savings account?” ~ dwells2301
“Open a checking account and put grandpa’s address on it so she can’t find it.”
“Then you won’t have to give a thing because you don’t have it!” ~ Kidhauler55
There were even responses that covered multiple parts of the issue.
“Yes, THIS, a thousand times!”
“OP you are 16 and need to save for your education.”
“If your mother has other money, she can fund the household that she heads up and feed the family that she chose to have.”
“She is the adult — you are not there yet.”
‘”I then told her that I don’t want to be and that I just wanted to be a teenager, and that she needs to help herself.'”
“Yes this also!”
“Keep repeating it! Do not allow yourself to be drafted into a role you are utterly unequipped for.”
“Next time she ditches the younger kids with you…”
“Phone up Grandpa, ask if you can bring them over, and DO IT.”
“Also tell your grandpa what is going on with the money, the emotional venting, everything. This needs to STOP.”
“And I’m so sorry for the loss of your father.”
“You will discover as you go along that he is ‘built into you’ and you can never lose him entirely…”
“But still, grief is an awful journey. Be kind to yourself and nice to your siblings, okay?” ~ little500HondaCBR
Remember to set careful, stable boundaries with the people in your life.
This can be a difficult process when the people you love are hurting, but in their attempts to feel better they can harm you accidentally.