Entertainment and media often portray parents-in-law as clownishly oblivious at best and downright mean at worst. But for some people, it’s their own parents’ behavior toward their spouses that causes family strife.
Redditor momsreplacementson turned to the “Am I the A**hole” subReddit for perspective on her uncomfortable family situation.
”AITA for telling my mother that my husband is not her replacement son?”
The original poster (OP) explained:
“My parents have 2 kids, me (f26) and my brother Dan (m34). Dan had a rough time growing up and frankly, my parents failed him. As a teenager he struggled with severe addiction and mental illness and they did almost nothing to help him.”
“By the time he was done with college, he had completely cut off my parents. To this day, Dan and my parents are still estranged. I on the other hand still speak to my brother regularly.”
“My parents, especially my mom, take every chance they can get to ‘mourn’ the loss of their son and act as though my brother wronged them by leaving. Dan has told me he wouldn’t mind reconnecting with them, but only if they reach out and apologize first. I’ve encouraged my parents to do this, but they insist that he betrayed them.”
“I got married early last year to my husband Jeff. We have a happy marriage and he is adored by all my friends and family, but I feel like my parents have been crossing some boundaries. For example, whenever we’ve gone to visit them, they insist that he sleep in Dan’s room, saying that their son (my husband) has come home and should sleep in his ‘rightful bedroom’.”
“Before the pandemic, my dad would take Jeff out to sporting events and introduce him as his only son. Most of the pictures of my brother in my childhood home have been replaced by pictures of my parents with Jeff.”
“The other day, my mom called to invite me and Jeff over for the holidays. I told her I wasn’t comfortable traveling during a covid spike. She was irritated but dropped it.”
“THEN she called Jeff and begged him to visit without me because apparently ‘it’s cruel for a mother to be without her child on Christmas.’ Jeff politely told her he wasn’t going to visit without me.”
“She’s been emotionally blackmailing him ever since, sending him pictures of stockings with his, my mom’s, and my dad’s names on them and saying ‘but we already promised so-and-so that our son will be in town!’”
“This felt ridiculous and unsettling, so I called her up yesterday and explained to her that she’s violating our boundaries, Jeff is not her replacement son, and no matter how much she pretends she doesn’t have an actual son, she does and it is her responsibility to make up for the damage she did to that relationship before it’s too late.”
“She started crying and called me cruel for mentioning Dan and said I have no idea what it’s like to be a mother and it’s disgusting that I’m trying to deprive her of a son when she has already lost one by keeping Jeff away from her.”
“My father agrees with my mother and Jeff agrees with me, though he doesn’t like to rock the boat and thinks I should apologize anyway. I thought I did the right thing, but now I’m really not sure if I went too far. AITA?”
The OP asked Redditors to weigh in and rule:
- NTA – Not The A**hole
- YTA – You’re The A**hole
- NAH – No A**holes Here
- ESH – Everyone Sucks Here
Redditors were overwhelmingly united in their reactions to this situation.
“NTA and your parents sound hella abusive emotionally. If you plan on having kids, set your boundaries well before you start that journey.” ~SlartieB
“NTA. I don’t know what level of abuse you experienced, but it sounds like your brother got the worst of it. Narcissistic parents often treat one kid (knows as the scapegoat) far worse than another (the golden child). Looks like you might’ve been the latter, and you seem to have an awareness of that.” ~classyraven
“NTA you need to cut them off too they are insane. I would have never stepped foot in that house again after the bedroom thing, let alone allow it to escalate to where it has. Seriously these people need therapy you need to protect yourself.” ~brettoseph
“DEFF NTA, So not your fault (in my opinion) they have done one of two things here.”
- They have you painted in there heads as the golden child.
- They cannot accept that they could ever possibly be bad parents so instead have diluted themselves into thinking he is there son they never had.
“Either way its creepy they need therapy, take your boo and run until they do.” ~fox13fox
“NTA- your parents need some help because this isnt healthy or normal. Your parents don’t see Jeff as your husband but your brother. They are already interfering with your marriage by having Jeff sleep in your brothers room away from you.” ~Mevneriel
“‘My father agrees with my mother’?! Look, there are not two reasonable sides to this conflict.”
“Your parents together are rewriting history and then demanding that you not only humor them, but also forget your own brother and allow them to get creepy with your husband. (You actually slept apart, with him in your brother’s childhood room, so they could pretend he WAS your brother??!)”
“NTA so far, but getting close! Stand up for yourselves, your brother, and reality by setting firm boundaries. Covid is a good time for that, actually. And get some therapy! They sound emotionally abusive AF.” ~MagsWags2020
“NTA. There is nothing healthy about this and, unless you resort to name-calling or long bouts of yelling, holding your boundaries is completely appropriate.”~Melificent40
The OP added two thankful edits after the judgement, writing:
“Edit: Thank you all for the support and advice! I appreciate it so much. I haven’t been able to sleep so I’ve been reading every comment. I don’t know if I have the emotional energy to post in justnomil yet but I’m reading a lot of what’s posted there and already feel less alone.”
“My tentative plan is to arrange for me and Jeff to get individual therapy and maybe couples therapy later on. We’re going NC with my parents for a while. I’m also planning to invite Dan to stay with us over the holidays. I have a lot to make up for and I want to spend as much time as I can with him and let him know he’s loved.”
“Edit 2: Also in response to the people pointing out the gross incestuous implications behind this, with the way my parents talk about me and my husband, most people who didn’t know me growing up assume that I’m their daughter in law and Jeff is their son until one of us corrects them.”
Setting clear and firm boundaries for yourself and family is important, especially when facing situations that are as unhealthy as this one.