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New Mom Asks If It Was Wrong To Tell Stressed Husband About His Parents’ Surprise Birthday Visit

A man staring at his birthday cake.
milan2099/Getty Images

It’s always a risk to surprise someone.

Mainly because we never know how that person is going to react.

Some people welcome surprises of all kinds and will be overjoyed.

Others might not be thrilled but will at least feign their excitement.

Then there are those who do not hold back on their displeasure in being surprised, resulting in a far different reaction than anyone probably expected.

Redditor Maybe_Days was less than thrilled to learn that her in-laws were coming to pay a surprise visit.

Mainly owing to the fact that the original poster (OP) did not think her husband would be thrilled by this news.

As a result the OP felt compelled to make a risky decision regarding her in-law’s upcoming surprise visit.

Wondering if she made a mistake, the OP took to the subReddit “Am I The A**hole” (AITA), where she asked fellow Redditors:

“AITA for ruining my husband’s 30th birthday surprise?”

The OP explained why she felt compelled to spoil one of her husband’s upcoming birthday surprises:

“For background, my husband (29 M[ale]) and I (30 F[emale]) are currently expats living abroad.”

“We recently welcomed our first child, who is four weeks old.”

“My mother(50 F) has been staying with us for the past three weeks to help and support us through this stage.”

“A few days ago, my mother-in-law (MIL) (67 F[emale]) informed me that she and my father-in-law (FIL) (70 M) would be arriving in 6 days to surprise my husband for his 30th birthday and meet their grandchild.”

“MIL insisted I do not tell my husband about their visit as that would ruin the surprise.”

“They have fully planned and booked their trip without consulting myself or my husband on timing, plans, etc.”

“My mother will be leaving two days after their arrival and my husband is currently working weekends for additional income.”

“So, I will be alone with them the majority of their visit.”

“My in laws are elderly so I do not expect help with our newborn.”

“We were anticipating his parents would visit eventually but expected a break in between having our parents here, and would have planned it so my husband would be off work during their visit.”

“I must add that we are not close with his parents, having a very limited relationship with them due to their actions in the past and behavior during our wedding.”

“We have had to put boundaries up to protect our family.”

“My husband is the middle child.”

“So he has always felt neglected by his parents and considered himself the least favorite child.”

“Under different circumstances, this surprise(flying halfway around the world for his birthday) could be considered a grand gesture.”

“However, my husband and I are exhausted and sleep-deprived.”

“My husband mentioned he was looking forward to having some alone time since everything has been so hectic since the baby arrived.”

“Today I decided to tell my husband that his parents would be surprising him for his birthday in two days.”

“He immediately looked stressed but understood why I decided to tell him.”

“He said he would act surprised when they arrived but hasn’t said anything about their visit since our talk and went to sleep early.”

“My MIL messaged me asking if my husband knew that they would be surprising him, and I said he was still unaware.”

“AITA for ruining the surprise?”

Fellow Redditors weighed in on where they believed the OP fell  in this particular situation, by declaring:

  • NTA – Not The A**hole
  • YTA – You’re The A**hole
  • NAH – No A**holes Here
  • ESH – Everyone Sucks Here

The Reddit community unanimously agreed that the OP was not the a**hole for letting her husband know her parents were planning a surprise visit.

Everyone agreed that the surprise was clearly not going to be a pleasant surprise for the OP’s husband, so it was the right thing to do to warn him in advance so he could brace himself and feign excitement. Many felt that the last thing new, sleep-deprived parents needed were surprise guests.


“There are times when surprises are unwelcome.”

“This is one of them.”

“I do hope that your in-laws have booked a hotel room for themselves.”- Individual_Ad_9213


“There shouldn’t be any surprise visits to the new parents.”- Delicious-Ad-9156


“You’re doing the best you can in a crappy situation.”

“You knew your husband well enough to know that he’d like a heads up in this situation.”

“Sounds like he appreciated it, so he can mentally adjust.”

“I think if he were preparing himself and getting excited for time alone as a family without guests, he would be much more upset when his parents show up, and then they’d be offended by his less than ecstatic reaction.”

“Also, the white lie to his parents so they think it’s still a surprise is not malicious, but protecting their feelings.”

“Sorry, they thought it was a good idea to surprise the parents of a newborn.”

“They’re AH for that.”- ceruleanbear8

“Ya know … it would be a shame… a shame, I say, if OP’s husband took her and baby away for a couple of days.”

“As a surprise, he had planned for his own birthday as a treat for them both.”

“And since OP’s husband knew nothing about an impending surprise visit from anybody, there is absolutely no reason they couldn’t take a spur-of-the-moment weekend to an Airbnb?”

“And since OP wasn’t supposed to spill the beans… lol.”

“Your husband needed a heads up so he could mentally prepare himself.”

“And, you know, you both get ready for damned house guests that are going to show up out of nowhere on their doorstep.”

“Most people aren’t guest ready, not for overnight, multiple days, guests-especially not sleep-deprived parents!”

“I’m sorry, your relationship and ‘promise’ to MIL is less important than your relationship to your husband.”

“Your loyalty is to him.”

“NTA.”- YouthNAsia63


“Where do they plan on staying?”

“If they didn’t make hotel accommodations, they are in the wrong big time!”

“You can’t just tell someone you’re coming without planning.”- Artistic_Tough5005


“I have a pretty firm rule that nobody gets to decide what I keep from my husband.”

“In my view, your MIL doesn’t get to decide that for you.”

“If she had said, ‘We have a surprise, but you can’t tell your husband, can you keep it secret’ before telling you what it was, that’s different.”

“But to say ‘this is happening, but you can’t tell him’ is different to me.”

“Add on the fact that the surprise is a visit, the inviting themselves, possibly staying with you, during an exhausting time?”

“Hell no, your husband deserves to be warned.”- punfull


“You mention their previous actions, you both distance yourselves from them for protection, etc. And it’s something that will interrupt your lives for several weeks.”

“You made the right call.”- PandaLand447


“Since you don’t have a good relationship with them, I’m surprised you didn’t shut down that visit immediately to begin with.”

“I would have have told them, ‘um, no. My mom is still here helping us with the baby, and we need some time to adjust.”

“‘Also, your son has been working weekends and will not be available to entertain you’.”

“‘If you want to visit in about three months, that would be great, but now is not the time’.”

“But since you allowed it, telling your husband I’d be good.”

“But I do have a few questions about their visit.”

“Did they book a hotel for the sta pay, or are they expecting free room and board from you?”

“How much of an inconvenience is their visit going to be on you financially, not to mention emotionally.”

“Maybe ask your mom if she can extend her stay to be a buffer and excuse for limitations put on in-laws.”- Empathic-witch


“Surprise visits with new parents isn’t a gift, a curse.”

“You did the right thing in telling your husband.”- Radiant_Composer_454


“A big surprise after a major life event is not the time to surprise a person.”

“And having a baby is one of those times.”

“Add that on top of the family dynamics, it doesn’t seem like a surprise visit would be best for your family.”

“You did the right thing by telling him.”

“It gives him time to prepare for their visit mentally.”- curlyg1rl

“What is it about a new baby being born that causes everyone to just ignore boundaries and social norms?”

“As soon as I had a baby, all kinds of people just FORCED visits on me.”

“Just awful.”- 4frigsakes

It would be one thing if the OP’s in-laws were coming expressly to watch their baby and give them a night or two of uninterrupted sleep.

But it seems that is not at all what they were planning on doing.

Leaving one to think that warning her husband ahead of time so that they could plan around their “surprise” visit was probably the right thing to do.

Novdoubt making it a much more pleasant visit for everyone.

Written by John Curtis

A novelist, picture book writer and native New Yorker, John is a graduate of Syracuse University and the children's media graduate program at Centennial College. When not staring at his computer monitor, you'll most likely find John sipping tea watching British comedies, or in the kitchen, taking a stab at the technical challenge on the most recent episode of 'The Great British Baking Show'.