We all should be able to agree that parenting isn’t always easy. It can actually be really stressful and seriously limit sleep.
But it isn’t right to involve children in what should be childcare, stressed the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit.
Redditor Objective-Cry-9118 thought it would be okay to delegate some responsibilities to her teenage stepdaughter while she was struggling with sleep with the newborn of the house.
But when the stepdaughter realized how much work was involved, the Original Poster (OP) was shocked that she said no.
She asked the sub:
“AITA for asking my stepdaughter to wake 20 minutes early so she can make breakfast?”
The OP had a growing family with her husband.
“My husband and I just had our last kid a month ago. He has two from a previous marriage Paul (23 Male) and my stepdaughter Maddy (16 Female), who lives with us full-time.”
“We also had 4 kids ourselves: Jason (7 Male), Mia (5 Female), Louis (3 Male), and our baby boy, Joshua.”
“My stepdaughter isn’t really that involved with me, but she’s really close to her younger siblings.”
The OP felt like she was in need of help.
“I’ve never asked something like this before.”
“During my previous pregnancies, my husband was there to help me out since he had a more flexible schedule, but now he has a new job that requires him to be there at 6 am minimum, when our kids mostly wake at 7-7:30.”
“Lately I’ve been really tired since Joshua is a big crier, and I decided to take the long nights since my husband needs to sleep well, or he might have an accident at his job.”
“This has caused me to have big migraines because I sleep very little, and I wake up to screaming children running around.”
“My stepdaughter is very chill, I take almost no care of her since she’s pretty self-sufficient.”
“During mornings, she prefers not to eat breakfast since most times it makes her feel dizzy throughout the day, so while she wakes up with the kids, she just stays in her room to get ready.”
The OP attempted to ask her stepdaughter for help.
“Today I pulled her aside and asked her if she could wake up 20 minutes early, so she could help me make breakfast for the kids, and I’ll wake up by 8 to take them all to school.”
“This would give me one more hour to sleep and feel ready for the day.”
“She said no, because her siblings are pretty energic, and she doesn’t feel she can’t take care of them or get Louis to eat all of his food.”
“She pointed out that it also means that she has to make sure Jason and Mia are ready for school, dress them, and make sure everything is in their bags, so I can just grab them and take them.”
“I tried to explain how I’ve been feeling really bad because I’m not sleeping well.”
“She just shrugged and said, ‘I said no, I’m not their mom. Ask dad to help you or get a babysitter. I also stay up until late doing homework, but I’m not asking you to make me breakfast every day or drive me to school.’ Then she left.”
The OP’s husband was not happy with her.
“I texted my husband what happened, and I mentioned how I would like it if we could convince her.”
“But he said I was an AH and that Maddy was right.”
“We spoke on the phone, and he sounded pretty mad. He said I better not ask her again and that he’ll take the rest of the nights with Joshua and that I should’ve asked him before.”
“I’m confused, I only asked her to help and wake up 20 minutes early. She lives with us, after all, so I don’t know why is that 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 were immediately concerned about parentification.
“Your step daughter was 100% correct. You are the parent. She is not.”
“She isn’t just ‘making breakfast.’ You’re asking her to do the full morning routine for all of her siblings. Totally not okay.” – CaptSpacePants
“YTA. She didn’t ask the daughter to heat up a breakfast casserole she had premade or throw something in the toaster. She asked her to do EVERYTHING to get ALL those young kids ready to go in the morning. Feed them, dress them, get all their stuff ready, she knew it would all fall to her.”
“And the daughter came up with very real concerns that were completely brushed off. She’s a kid you are responsible for too.” – ReactionEuphoric5362
“Seriously, if it’s no big deal, surely she can do it? It’s understandable that handling a bunch of goblins is exhausting but gaslighting it as a ‘no big deal’ while she herself find it’s such a big deal she can’t do it anymore? Major TA.”
“Hey OP, exploiting a kid you’re supposed to care for is… frowned upon, to put it mildly.” – Arrasor
“I think OP asking her stepdaughter for help before asking the baby’s father is sexist. It’s obvious she sees childcare as ‘women’s work,’ and she’s trying to force the oldest girl in the house to do it. OPs husband was right to be mad, her actions were an insult to him and an imposition on his daughter.”
“YTA.” – LA_Bibliotecaria
“Classic parentification. At least the dad has his head on straight. I can understand doing something small, or maybe driving a kid or two to school might be reasonable depending on the logistics. Not 100% of the early day parenting.”
“It’s especially bad because it looks like the first person she asked for help was the step daughter instead of the actual father of the children.” – letstrythisagain30
Others agreed and pointed out the OP needed to find other times to prioritize sleep.
“This woman is trying to pawn of a huge part of her parenting day of her young children onto her step daughter long before she actually tried anything else like getting help from her husband. Her priority seems to be new baby and husband over her other kids and step kid.”
“Get up and get your kids ready in the morning and drop them off to school.”
“Nap when the baby naps and give up other household chores you do in the day to prioritize sleep.”
“Let husband pick up the household slack or some night time feeding and changes.” – ReactionEuphoric5362
“OP should have talked to her husband about how badly the lack of sleep was affecting her. She didn’t include him until she wanted to complain about his daughter not taking over morning duties for four small children.”
“And straight away the husband said he would do night feeds. I’m so glad he had his daughter’s back. Too many parents would have forced her into that situation to suit themselves.” – PaddyCow
“I think that OP is sleep deprived & obviously not thinking very clearly since the thought of asking her husband for help at night, didn’t even cross her mind.”
“I truly don’t think she’s being malicious towards her stepdaughter. I think she is in the midst of a gigantic, hormonal brain fog. She’s unknowingly underestimating her husband’s capabilities.” – thatsnotmyname_ame
“At first when I read the post, I was under the impression that one morning she was running late and knew the 16-year-old was already awake, so she ran in and asked her to just heat something up or pour a bowl of cereal, which is not a big ask and understandable for that one task that one time.”
“But then I read that she would have more time to sleep, and my eyebrows raised.”
“OP, you cannot ask that of her. YTA.” – crew2017
Some were also proud of the teenager for standing up for herself.
“OP, have you even tried seeing this from your SD’s (stepdaughter’s) perspective?”
“Her dad remarried, and had no less than FOUR new kids with another woman than her mother. Her brother moved out, and now she, a teenager, has to share her dad and house with four children and a woman she is not close with. She has absolutely no say in how many babies you and her dad are making.”
“And now, you try to push her into taking care of them because the new baby is a ‘big crier.’ Remember, you’re probably not the only one who wakes up when your baby cry. Has it ever occurred to you that she might be exhausted too, and had no say in these decisions that affect her life?”
“YTA, you’re an adult and you and your husband are responsible for your kids, including your SD.” – Yellowmellowbelly
“I just want to give props to the 16-year-old stepdaughter. I think it is great how she stood up for herself and didn’t succumb to the stepmom’s pressuring her to parent her four young siblings.”
“A 16-year-old has all kinds of pressures to deal with herself. She doesn’t deserve to be taking care of four screaming kids before she goes to school.”
“Let her be a teenager and focus on her schoolwork, sports, friends, etc. Being a surrogate parent is not a normal chore.” – appsecSme
“OP, YTA for trying to pawn off responsibilities you chose onto your stepdaughter, but also YTA because you chose to keep having kids you won’t or can’t properly keep up with and care for.”
“I mean, 6 kids for f**k’s sake, what did you think was going to happen? Maddys 100% right, and good for her for not tolerating your selfishness.” – IAmWhatTheRockCooked
“YTA. Maddie just described a whole lot more going on that you expected her to do other than just getting up and making breakfast… Even then, you should have talked to your husband first and not press it.”
“Why do people have more kids than they can handle and then always complain about it when the teenagers don’t help enough?” – Kirin2013
The subReddit could empathize with the mother being sleep-deprived with a young baby who cried a lot at night, but they could support her ideas that came at her stepdaughter’s expense.
The teenager needed sleep just as much as her half-siblings, and asking her to get the kids ready in the morning could easily turn into parentification.