Raising children is admittedly a difficult task and one that some parents, quite frankly, get wrong.
One of their biggest blunders? Not celebrating their children’s successes, or showing excitement for things that bring them joy, pointed out the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit.
When his seventeen-year-old Autistic stepson spoke his first words after years of speech therapy, Redditor nonpbb wasn’t nearly as excited about it as his wife.
So much so that when his wife wanted to go out and celebrate, the Original Poster (OP) declined.
He asked the sub:
“AITA for refusing to go out and celebrate my stepson’s ‘first words’?”
The OP had a teenage stepson and a young biological daughter with his wife.
“My (36 Male) wife, Fran (35 Female), and I have been married for four years. We have a beautiful home and a healthy daughter (3 Female) and we’re doing amazing.”
“Also, my wife has a son, Nick (17 Male). His father is out of the picture, and never really was in it, so Nick has been part of our family since the beginning, without distinction to our daughter.”
“Nick is on the spectrum; he’s non-verbal, (or non-speaking, as my wife says), but he has always been great at communicating effectively with Fran, and he’s doing better every day.”
“To my understanding (i.e., what my wife tells me), Nick is able to communicate via his phone and his AAC communication device, but he is still considered non-verbal because he has considerable difficulties with verbalization.”
Nick recently hit an important milestone.
“Well, it turns out that, a week ago, Nick said his first fully formed ‘words.’ He mumbled something along the lines of ‘I-love-you.'”
“That’s great, and I’m incredibly happy about it.”
“The issue is that my wife, who was overflowing with joy, wanted to celebrate that very same week and go out and have a fancy dinner with us, her sister, and her mother.”
But the OP wasn’t particularly interested in going out.
“It was a Friday night, and honestly, I didn’t feel like going out, and I wasn’t in the mood to celebrate, but I said, ‘Okay, sure, let’s go,’ to please my wife.”
“However, Fran thought I was in a bad mood, and she kept teasing me about being grumpy, so I teased her with, ‘Well, we didn’t celebrate our daughter’s first words, did we?'”
“That started a big argument. After that, I decided not to go out to ‘celebrate’ Nick’s mumbled words, and I stayed home.”
Not going out led to a massive argument.
“My wife was visibly upset, and the fight escalated on both sides.”
“I pointed out who paid half of Nick’s expenses, and she pointed out that she raised him by herself for more than a decade.”
“We both said stupid things. But to be clear, I didn’t say the celebration was stupid or unnecessary, I just pointed out it was unusual and not a traditional thing people celebrate.”
“That’s it. I think she was drowning in a glass of water, and the situation was stupid and escalated out of nowhere. It’s not THAT crazy to not want to go out and ‘celebrate,’ is it?”
“Needless to say, her entire family thinks I’m the AH. I don’t want to make this a big deal.”
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 urged the OP to prioritize his wife’s and stepson’s values more.
“YTA, this is your wife, your stepson. You stepped into their lives. You should know how important of an achievement this is for your stepson. But you decided to not celebrate with your wife for what reason? You didn’t want to go out?”
“Nick may be a older teenager now, but it is an amazing moment that he was able to verbalize that sentence after 17 years of being non-verbal.”
“Do you love your wife and Nick? Do you want to continue being in their lives? If so, start being the husband and stepfather that they need you to be.” – throwawayatwork1994
“This post makes me really sad for Nick and your wife. In 17 years she has never heard her child speak, Nick has had to work so hard for something that comes naturally to most of his peers.”
“If she told anyone else, teachers/carers/family members/friends they would all be immensely proud. H**l, even strangers on the internet are.”
“And you can’t feel anything at this moment for people you supposedly love.”
“It’s only heartbreaking, of course YTA.” – Icy_Cabinet_4366
“YTA. Comparing his achievement of his to that of your daughter isn’t fair. Your daughter does not face the same difficulty.”
“Was it really that hard to just celebrate with her? Do you not understand how big a deal it is when a non-verbal person speaks? Does it need to be tradition to do it? Could you not have been just a little more empathic to her feelings?”
“Why was it important to pat yourself on the back for paying for many of his expenses? The timing couldn’t have been more off.”
“Her family thinks you’re the AH because in this case, you are.” – Throwaway-2587
“YTA. As someone with a non-verbal sibling, those first verbalized words are so special as you are often told after a certain age (usually four or five), they just will never speak…”
“You’ve done four years. If it was your daughter on the spectrum and ‘mumbling’ her first words after nearly two decades of being unable to speak, I bet you would want to celebrate and fuss her, so she felt special and wanted to continue trying to speak.” – G_r_t_95
“A non-verbal child saying their first words is a massive developmental step. It is, indeed, cause for celebration.”
“Your daughter is typically developing, I assume? There’s no need to celebrate her first words as they are expected to come at a certain point in her development.”
“And why do you insist on pointing out they were mumbled? Who cares? He said the words clearly enough for you to infer the meaning. Would you rather he screams them instead?”
“Moreover, it was important to your wife. Her child did something she never thought he would. If she wants to celebrate, then celebrate with her, for her.” – Kelosaurus_rex
Others were disgusted all of this started over not wanting to go to dinner.
“Can you imagine throwing a fit because you couldn’t be bothered to go to dinner? Even if OP didn’t agree… shut up and eat, or don’t, it’s not about you! What a selfish person. YTA.” – erbear048
“We had a previously nonverbal child say his first ever words in my workplace once (I don’t typically work with kids specifically just the general public) and the mother got really emotional and rushed him out.”
“When she came back another time she told us, and even us strangers cried. What a f**king moment.”
“For a stepfather who supposedly loves this boy, this is an inhuman response. If that mother had asked me to cook and serve dinner for them on the spot, I would have.” – Full_Time_Mad_Bastrd
“From the post, it’s clear he sees his stepson as nothing more than an expensive burden and not an actual person that deserves to be treated as part of the family.”
“It’s shocking to me that OP has so much resentment for the poor kid that he went out of his way to ruin a family dinner. This is the behavior of a spoiled child when they don’t also get presents on their sibling’s birthday.” – Legitimate-Tower-523
“‘To my understanding ( i.e., what my wife tells me) Nick is able to communicate via his phone…’ What the heck, OP? You’ve been married for FOUR YEARS, but you haven’t taken any of that time to attempt to communicate with your teenage stepson??”
“And then you can’t, if not feel happiness yourself for this huge milestone, be happy FOR your wife and stepson enough to have a nice dinner?? No one asked you to organize a parade.”
“YTA.” – kelsday84
“YTA. His first words were ‘I love you’ at the age of 17. Of course your wife was happy as a good mother and wanted to celebrate. But boohoo, you didn’t want to go out on a Friday night so acted grumpy at dinner. You don’t seem very mature. Apologize to your wife.” – needstobesaved
“This is something that was unexpected for Nick. Having a nice family dinner to celebrate isn’t too much to ask.”
“Also, bringing this up? ‘I pointed out who paid half of Nick’s expenses.’ That has nothing at all to do with Nick’s accomplishments. It’s what pushed me even more to think YTA.” – sandi375
“Your wife waited seventeen years to hear her child say he loves her. She probably thought it would never happen and it IS worth celebrating. Seeing how joyful it made your wife should have been enough for you to want to celebrate it, too. YTA.” – tenpercentofnothing
After receiving feedback, the OP defended himself and his phrasing in the original post.
“People read a 3000-character post and think they know your entire life. J**us. I misspoke three times.”
“1. ‘Non-speaking’ is the correct term.”
“2. When I said, ‘what my wife tells me,’ I meant the definition of non-speaking and why Nick was diagnosed that way. Of course, I communicate with Nick on a daily basis, I’ve been in his life since he was 12, and I love and support the kiddo. We’ve shared a home for four years and he’s my stepson, for f**k’s sake.”
“3. When I said ‘mumbled his words,’ I didn’t mean it in a derogatory way, just wanted to be clear that they weren’t super clear words.”
The OP also clarified why he didn’t want to go to dinner.
“Did Nick want to go out that night? Yes. Nick always gets excited to spend time with his aunt and grandma. He was happy and in a great mood that day.”
“Why was I in a bad mood? I had a rough week, truly a hard week, and Friday nights are usually my time to get some rest. It was a bad day/week for me, and I said the wrong things.”
“I don’t hate my stepson. Nick is my son, Nick is our son, I was making a distinction to make the context clear. When I introduce my family I don’t even mention he’s my stepson, I introduce Nick as OUR son.”
“To be crystal clear: I’m proud of Nick and his achievements. I do believe it’s worth celebrating; I just didn’t feel in the mood to do so that day.”
“If that makes me an AH, I’m okay with it, but don’t f**king pretend you know me or my family or that you know what I’ve done to support them. I love my family. Point blank period.”
The subReddit was angry, not just because of the OP’s refusal to go out to dinner, but because of his lack of interest in supporting his wife in her excitement, and his choice of words when describing his stepson and his achievements.
Whether he misspoke or not, sometimes the misspoken words speak volumes.