A working mom is catching flak for her confession on Reddit that she doesn’t see a problem with her husband’s refusal to take care of the couple’s 2-year-old son. Not surprisingly, her embrace of what she calls a “traditional parenting dynamic” isn’t a popular one—and her post quickly went viral.
The mom took to the site’s AmITheAsshole subreddit, to seek advice on a thorny situation with her sister, in a post titled, “AITA for not forcing my husband to do hands-on childcare yet?”
In her post, she explained that she’s a full-time working mom who handles all of the physical care of the couple’s toddler when she’s home. (He’s also cared for by a nanny, her mom and her sister.) “My husband pointed out that it was much more logical for me to handle the things I was already good at, rather than stress out our son by leaving him with someone who wasn’t an experienced caregiver (as opposed to my mother and sister and me).”
“I’ve always been as encouraging with him as possible to take on more childcare, but no matter how much I tell him he’s a great dad (and doing it differently from me isn’t doing it wrong!), he insists that it’s best for our son to have ‘an expert’ handling things instead of someone who ‘is still learning and therefore obviously won’t be as good,’” she continued.
Already, this looks like a pretty shaky excuse for her husband to get out of changing diapers and the other less-pleasant parts of parenting, but it gets worse.
“My husband (like a lot of parents!) isn’t super in to the baby stage, and prefers not to take on the bulk of the hands-on parenting yet. He’s really excited for the ‘kid’ stage to start in a few years, but prefers a more traditional parenting dynamic for now,” she said.
Her family members have seen through this bad dad’s charade. When the mom asked her sister to take care of her 2-year-old while she traveled for work, her sister was understandably “hostile.”
“My sister says I’m ‘mistreating’ my son by ‘denying him time with his dad’ because I’m ‘enabling’ my husband being ‘an abjectly shitty father,’” she continued. “I just don’t feel like our situation is out of the ordinary? Or that my husband is any worse a dad than any other dad I know!”
Um, yes, OP, he is, and your sister hit the nail on the head. There are so many problems with this dad’s lazy parenting we barely know where to start. Commenters were quick to point out the flaws in his logic. Mainly, that women don’t inherently know how to take care of children. We learn it as we go along, just as dads do.
“The ‘I’m not experienced!’ thing is so fucking ridiculous,” one said. “Guess how you get better at stuff, OP’s husband? By doing it! It’s childcare, not brain surgery. If literal teenagers regularly do it for extra pocket money, I’m sure a grown-ass man can figure it out.”
And the OP’s sister wisely pointed out that the dad could simply be stalling—with no plans to ever parent his kid. “My sister keeps saying, ‘well how do you KNOW he’ll actually make an effort in a few years?’”
It’s a very valid concern. Research shows that fathers who took two weeks of paternity leave or more are much more likely to be actively involved in their child’s care nine months after birth—including feeding, changing diapers and getting up in the night. They are also more likely to help with chores around the house, because they know just how hard it is to take care of a little one. Since this dad has never had primary responsibility for his son, he has no clue how much work his wife does—and he’s even pressuring her to have another baby!
“Once your baby is a kid, do you think he’s going to take on scheduling doctor’s appointments and taking time off work for parent-teacher conferences and researching summer camps?” One commenter astutely noted. “Or is he only planning to be the ‘fun’ parent who takes your son to baseball games and out for ice cream while you do all the emotional labor and hard work and discipline? You are setting yourself up for a lifetime of the shit end of the stick by not making him do any work now.”
The gist of the responses? Yes, this mom is the asshole, because she expects her sister to pick up the slack for her kid’s deadbeat dad. As one person put it, “How you two share the burden at home is your own business… But when you start to ask for outside help because your husband is incapable or unwilling to burden his responsibility, that’s where it crosses a line. Your sister is correct that this is his job—not hers—you should only use her as an option when absolutely necessary.”