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Dad Stunned When Wife Neglects To Feed Their Kids After Fight About Whose Job Is More Important

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A fairly common argument for a couple to have is how to break up the responsibilities around the home.

But having that conversation shouldn’t lead to potentially insulting someone’s job, agreed the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit.

On-call for work, Redditor Unique_Confusion9528 had an argument with his wife, who did not want him to observe his responsibility to rush to work.

But when his wife refused to even care for their children while he was gone, the Original Poster (OP) wondered if he had somehow handled the situation poorly.

He asked the sub:

“AITA for telling my wife that my job has to come before hers?”

The OP and his wife had very different work lives. 

“Me (35 Male), my wife (34 Female), and our two kids (3 and 5) live in a VHCOL (Very High Cost of Living) city.”

I make about 5x as much as my wife, so we do pretty well. If my income were the same as my wife’s, we would not be able to afford to live in our city.”

“My job is pretty low stress, about 35ish hours a week with the only requirement that I am ‘on-call’ for 1 week out each month.”

“Normally nothing ever happens, so I do my usual routine with the understanding with my wife that if I am needed, I will drop whatever we are doing and work until the work issue is resolved.”

“This only ever happens maybe once every quarter and only lasts a few hours.”

His wife’s work life was much more stressful.

“My wife, on the other hand, has a much more stressful job. Her boss is incredibly demanding and often demands random and inane things just as a power play with her subordinates.”

“She usually works about 45-50 hours a week.”

“As a result, I take care of most home stuff, drop off / pick up kids from daycare, cook meals, and generally keep the house clean.”

Everything seemed ordinary when the OP’s wife started a work assignment.

“It was an on-call week after work hours when my wife got a text from her boss about fulfilling an emergency ‘request’ for a client.”

“My wife complained to me that this request really could wait until tomorrow, but she would rather get it done so she doesn’t have to listen to her boss b***h at her in the morning if it was not done.”

“I had no problem with it, but I reminded her that I am on-call so I might need to switch with her if something came up.”

“She made a grunt of acknowledgment but nothing beyond that.”

But then the OP got called into work. 

“About 2 hours later, I got an all-hands call to immediately come into the office.”

“Normally I can resolve issues remotely, but we had an issue that prevented us from remoting in.”

“I rushed upstairs and told my wife I had to leave, only for her to turn around and say, ‘Sorry but my issue came up first, you are going to have to tell your work you can’t.'”

“I was taken aback and told her that no, this issue isn’t something I can skip for anything short of an ‘I am physically in the hospital and can’t come in’ scenario.”

“She got increasingly angry and started ranting at me, but I told her that I didn’t have time for this, and that I am leaving, when I get back we can discuss this.”

“She started crying, but I had no more time, so I left for the office.”

The OP’s wife was not done talking.

“On the way to the office, she called me to continue the argument.”

“In the heat of the moment, I said, ‘Look, I respect that you put a lot of time and energy into your work, but we cannot afford our house or lifestyle without my job, so when push comes to shove, my job has to come first. Otherwise, we are going to be on the streets.'”

“She hung up on me after that.”

The OP’s wife took the phone call harder than he realized. 

“When I got home about 3 hours later (around 11 pm), the kids were crashed out on the living room couch with several bowls of cereal spilled around them.”

“I went upstairs and my wife was locked in the bedroom and refused to talk.”

“In the morning, I found out from the kids that she spent the night crying in her room and didn’t feed them dinner or tuck them in, so they made cereal and had a sleepover in the living room.”


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 appalled by the wife’s behavior as a mother. 

“I was shocked that she just left a 3 and 5-year-old unattended. I understand being stressed out, but you can’t just abandon your kids because of an inconvenience.”

“OP’s point was also logical. He was on call. The wife’s work emergency wasn’t truly time-sensitive; OP’s emergency was and could have resulted in him losing his job.”

“What did she expect him to do?” – Electrical-Date-3951

“My youngest brother had to be strapped to his high chair when he was that age because otherwise he would just stand up and jump after he finished eating. The reflexes we had before we got the harness!”

“OP’s wife has issues and is absolutely an AH. Young kids have NO survival skills, and WILL do something lethal if given half the chance.” – jegerikkeher

“The fact that the five-year-old had the sense to make cereal makes me think this isn’t the first time they’ve had to fend for themselves.” – fidelises

“Them just deciding they would have a sleepover? Like, I’m glad that’s the idea they got into their heads, but it’s just evidence that they’re young enough to get ideas into their heads. It could have gone a lot worse!”

“Also, it’s kind of a sad little scene and stuck with me.” – agoldgold

“I don’t even understand why she couldn’t still do her work-related thing without OP being there…? It sounds like whatever she was doing could be done remotely, however, whatever OP was doing, he needed to leave.”

“Nothing about needing to share a car was talked about, or any other particular constraint that involved both of them. Correct me if I’m wrong, but it literally sounds like OP’s wife is so immature, she can’t handle doing her work without OP being in the house or something… which, if she pulled a screaming crying tantrum and refused to feed her children, sounds about right.”

“NTA, OP, but you are if you continue to let your wife be alone with your children, because it’s very clear she’s not responsible and will neglect them for her own ’emotional needs,’ which definitely makes her an unfit parent.”

“She couldn’t even get over herself being upset about her husband being called out of work for long enough to go throw some leftovers or a frozen meal in the microwave to feed her own children really quick and get them to bed.” – Dauntless-One

“Honestly, I believe that whilst deteriorating mental health should be met with understanding and genuine care, it shouldn’t be an excuse for rage and neglect. When mental health becomes an excuse it allows the harm caused to be brushed over too easily.”

“Imagine the damage she’d do to her kids if she were a single parent and every time the pressure at work made her snap, she neglected their base needs.” – ButterflyOfDeath

But others were concerned by just how depressed the OP’s wife seemed.

“OP, she sounds very very depressed.”

“Please ask her if she likes this job or if she’d like to take time to look for something she genuinely wants to do. If you make that much more, it could be worth her taking some time off to find something else.”

“Her behavior is unacceptable, I can’t imagine not feeding my 3 and 5-year-old, let alone leaving them be, BUT people who are severely depressed don’t always make good decisions. She needs help.” – Avoidingthecrap

“OP is NTA and totally right, but he needs to realize that his wife is now suffering from acute stress (maybe depression) and she is unable to see things from the OP’s logical perspective.”

“I see here a person who is screaming for help and she doesn’t even know it.” – Jomuin

“I left my job of 20+ years. I used to have to take a week on-call every month as well, so I feel ya. My whole world revolved around work that week. I loved my co-workers and some aspects, but management? Nope…”

“I was turning into what OP described. Rage, inflexibility, crying… all symptoms of depression magnified by a crappy job environment.”

“Even the therapist I went to see suggested I get the hell outta Dodge. And I did. And I have been calm and happy since.”

“OP, yes, she was TA here, but I agree that there’s more to this behavior than this incident.” – socks_dont_match

“I think (and OP, correct me if I’m wrong) the point was that OP does the housework/looks after their kids when they are on-call. So his wife started her job, thinking OP was going to look after the kids. And when OP left, his wife was supposed to look after kids, and that clearly didn’t happen.”

“The meltdown is completely disproportional but might be something their wife built up from stress at work, so when OP left, that may have been her ‘final straw’ (though obviously not an excuse to take that out on her family).” – kjh9597

“I’ve seen someone saying she shouldn’t be judged for having a mental breakdown. I’m more seeing her flying off into a rage, throwing a fit, and not looking after her kids.”

“Even if it were some sort of breakdown, she should have picked up the phone and had someone come to be with them. I had awful postpartum and had to phone for support quite a few times because I knew I wasn’t myself.”

“Nothing excuses leaving a toddler and a kindergartner alone. What if they just decided they knew where grandma lived and walked out of the house? What if they decided they were going to cook something and started a fire? The list of bad possibilities is endless.” – PhilosopherInside956

The entire subReddit was shocked on the children’s behalf and grateful that the 5-year-old had the sense to pour cereal for the two of them, though some were concerned about where they might have learned that from.

Whether the wife was unfit to parent her children, or if this was a symptom of being severely burned out, the subReddit couldn’t decide, but one thing was for certain: her unhappiness absolutely should not have been taken out on her kids.

Written by McKenzie Lynn Tozan

McKenzie Lynn Tozan has been a part of the George Takei family since 2019 when she wrote some of her favorite early pieces: Sesame Street introducing its first character who lived in foster care and Bruce Willis delivering a not-so-Die-Hard opening pitch at a Phillies game. She's gone on to write nearly 3,000 viral and trending stories for George Takei, Comic Sands, Percolately, and ÜberFacts. With an unstoppable love for the written word, she's also an avid reader, poet, and indie novelist.