I have said it before, and I shall say it again:
Children change everything.
Postively, negatively and every way in-between.
Children are engines of growth and that growth can ripple outward in all sorts of unexpected ways.
So, what happens when the growth being fostered in the way that some think it should?
That was the issue facing Redditor and Original Poster (OP) imtrying__mybest when he came to the “Am I the A**hole” (AITA) subReddit for judgment.
“AITA for letting my son call my best friend ‘Dad’?”
OP started with a little background.
“My (30 Male) relationship with my wife Sam (29 Female) has been rocky since our son Oliver was born two years ago.”
“She got pregnant just a few months after we got married and things were fine up until Oliver’s delivery.”
OP had theories, but nothing definitive.
“I assume it was postpartum depression, Sam never sought out a specific diagnosis, but after he was born it was like she just couldn’t care less about our child.”
“We hadn’t planned to have children so early into our marriage and it was scary, but I can’t describe to you the all-encompassing love that comes with being a parent.”
“The fear was worth it for me. It still is and always will be.”
He laid out what he felt the core issue was.
“Throughout Oliver’s life, but especially that first year, I was essentially acting as a single parent.”
“The only help I had (and I don’t mean for that to sound diminishing because this man is a godsend) was my best friend, Matt (33M).”
“The plan was for Oliver to be breastfed, but my wife had no interest in it after he was born.”
“I was the one changing diapers and mixing up formula for bottles and being in the house we shared felt so… oppressive.”
“Like the joys of bonding with my son were being sucked out of me because of the energy there. So I would take Oliver to Matt’s.”
“I don’t want to ramble on for too long, but there have been exactly zero times in life where Matt hasn’t shown up for me.”
“I’ve known him since I was 19 and can safely say that even after all that time.”
“But this is the most wonderful thing he’s given me.”
“I could sleep soundly knowing my baby would be taken care of.”
“I had a place of refuge. He is so, so good with Oliver and is my shoulder to cry on. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to repay him but I’m definitely trying every single day.”
“Things with my wife have kind of started to look up but recent events have sent us in a huge downwards spiral.”
“Oliver was having some speech delays but he’s been really picking things up as his third birthday nears.”
“He’s babbled “dadada” towards Matt and I for a while now, but “daddy” has since been added to his vocabulary and that is used to refer to us both.”
“I have never corrected him.”
“I checked in with Matt to make sure he was fine, and he said he was honored to be bestowed with such a title.”
Then he got to the problem at hand.
“Sam got to hear this recently when I was on facetime with Matt and she basically went ballistic.”
“As much as I hate to admit it, I did say he was more of a parent than she had been which, while true, is hurtful. I need outside opinions on this.”
OP was left to wonder,
“Aita for allowing him to call him dad?”
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 asked for further clarity.
“I feel like there’s a lot missing from your wife’s side of things.”
“Does she literally do nothing?”
“Does she work?”
“Are you doing all the doctors appointments, grocery shopping, cooking meals, housekeeping, waking up through the night for your son, getting clothes, going to the park etc.?”
“Have you talked to your wife about what’s going on?”
“Encouraging seeing a therapist? Encouraging outings/spending time with her son? Or do you just go off to Matt’s place every chance you get?” ~ EarNo2652
“What *did* your wife do after Oliver was born? What was the nature of her interactions with him? Did you talk to her about the breastfeeding situation?” ~ swishystrawberry
Some suggested that OP’s feelings ran deeper than friendship.
“I think you are going to get lambasted for this one.”
“I’m going with NTA for me, however.”
“I have been hospitalized previously for depression and I think it’s amazing my now wife stayed. Sh*t gets rough out there but everyone gets to be happy. That includes you.”
“Soft toss on ask yourself if you are in love with Matt. Seems like you act as a couple. No judgement, but leave if it’s what you want.”
“wow surprised people are super upset about asking a dude to think about his feelings.”
“Also, commenters, try to call out your own bias.”
“I am a queer male who happened to fall in love with a woman and have beautiful children. Guys sounds like how I acted before I was honest with myself and open with others.”
“Lol just because some of us are in heterosexual lives/relationships doesn’t mean we don’t understand/ haven’t gone through stuff like this.” ~ yeti_mann12466
“Lesbian speaking, totally sounded like he was going to say in the next paragraph they fell in love but haven’t figured it out yet…shocked I didn’t.”
“Also speaking up since I’m a woman, I don’t feel that commenters (respectfully gentle) question was coming from a sexist place lol.”
“I’d too assume the same of two women if one of them was saying things like “my safe space and shoulder to cry on”’
“But tbh even more wholesome that they’re just bros lmao, good dad vibes all around I’m just surprised it seemed immediately sexist to others” ~ cummaster42
“I agree with you.”
“I’d also add that the fact that op is so willing to share the dad title with someone who isn’t a father of the child (biological or adoptive or step) led me to have this feeling as well.”
“My mother and my sister and a few female friends have been an incredible help to me with my children but I would die before I allowed them to be called mother or mommy.”
“I love them with all my heart but that’s my place.”
“The only way I feel like I’d be comfortable with it is if she was my spouse/partner/or long-term girlfriend.”
“However, if they are just close like that then it is still super sweet.” ~ Its_Actually_Satan
Others pointed out that mom could step up.
“A parent is a person who raises a child. Sperm donors, egg donors, and incubators are appreciated, but not parents.”
“If she wants credit where credit is due, she has to put in the effort.”
“Not to say postpartum depression is not an issue, and I really hope they sought help.”
“But aside, if she wants to be a mother, she needs to give love.”
“The baby doesn’t have a love capacity. You don’t have to take away love the baby is receiving. She can start contributing whenever she is ready.” ~ jays0n93
“Tbh, I feel like a lot of the y t a comments on here are kinda glossing over the child’s feelings on this.”
“This isn’t a newborn who won’t know the difference. I have memories going back to shortly after my second birthday, and this kid is nearly three.”
“Kid absolutely has the ability to distinguish between the adults in his life at this age, and from his perspective he has ‘daddy who lives at one house’, ‘daddy who lives at the other house’ and ‘strange woman who lives at the first daddy’s house but never touches or looks at me'”.
“Even if mom can be persuaded to get treatment, how long is that going to take?”
“A year, two years? Long enough that kiddo could be starting school with Matt still acting as one of his primary caregivers?”
“This wouldn’t be a simple matter of ‘get her some therapy, go back to your house and spend the rest of your lives playing Happy Nuclear Families’ even if the therapy part were simple.”
“If they want to avoid potentially traumatizing this kid, Matt is going to have to keep playing a role of some kind.” ~ Cheeseanonioncrisps
Commenters also commiserated with personal stories.
“I grew up in a house with a mom with severe depression caused by bipolar disorder, she also had PPD after me though obviously, I don’t remember that.”
“This might be an unpopular opinion given the way these comments are going, but I think you’re doing the right thing by ensuring your child has at least one supportive and loving adult outside of the home.”
“Growing up with a mom who was not very interested in me and always depressed seriously f*cked up my ability to emotionally regulate myself.”
“I don’t think you should limit your wife’s time with her kid, obviously, but the kid should also have loving and positive spaces.”
“Anyone making fun of you for criticizing the bad energy of your home must have never experienced a space like that themselves, but it’s truly real.”
“Please encourage your wife to seek help, let her know how it’s affecting you, and maybe be more gentle with her on her parenting because it is a mental illness.”
“However, NTA because you’re just looking out for yourself and your kid in the end. You cannot force someone to get help when they have repeatedly refused it.” ~ elizardbethj
Children are engines of change.
That change can be scary or painful or wonderful. The change, however, is unavoidable.
So when those changes begin to spiral outward into the relationships that we cherish we can only ride out the waves.
Do not forget to communicate and protect each other from the rough stuff, but be open to redefining relationships that don’t function in the old way anymore.
Remember that while we’ve created many templates to help build relationships, your family doesn’t need to fit one to be correct.