The parentification of kids is a very hot topic on Reddit. It basically means when parents expect children to run the household or provide childcare on a consistent and regular basis well beyond the bounds of what is expected by way of “chores” and “helping out the family”.
So make no mistake — when someone posts about anything that even SNIFFS GENTLY of parentification, Reddit goes absolutely batshit.
u/Few-Rush-5955 recently wanted to know if she was wrong “for snapping at my BIL and threatening to never let him see my kids after he told my son to be the man of the house?” and the users of AITA’s subreddit were quick to say NOPE. Let’s check out why.
OP’s husband and his brother grew up in a single-parent home. The older brother was “man of the house”.
My husband, Dan, grew up in a single parent household. His dad died when he was young. His older brother, Martin, was definitely parentified and became the “man of the house.”
OP and her husband had three kids… and very sadly, OP’s husband died about three months ago. It’s been horrible, but she knows she does not want to treat her kids as adults.
Together, Dan and I have 3 children: Sydney (12F), Gabe (10M) and Charlotte (3F). Unfortunately, Dan passed away 3 months ago. It’s been a terrible struggle trying to balance my grief, my children’s on top of the rest of the responsibilities. I have a great support system, so I have been cognizant to make sure my babies still have a childhood. I always said I wouldn’t do what my MIL did.
Things were really tough for a few days, so OP’s brother-in-law and his wife came over to help. But when OP got back, the BIL was telling her oldest son to help out more.
Recently, I was having a bit of a tough time. Charlotte was sick, Sydney is in about a million activities and the housework was piling up. Martin’s wife, Rachel, offered to come by and help me out. She generously cleaned the house and looked after Charlotte while I ran Sydney to her activities. When I arrived back home, I found Martin and Gabe in the kitchen. Martin was telling him that it shouldn’t have gotten to this stressful point and he should be helping me more. He told him that he was the man of the house and it was up to him to step up.
OP said no — it’s her kid’s job to be a kid. She sent her son off and laid into her brother-in-law.
I cut in and told Gabe to not listen to his uncle, that he is a little boy and it is NOT his job to take over for his father. Rather, it’s his job to play, go to school and just be a kid. I sent him to play. I tore into Martin. I asked him how dare he say that to my son?! I said he may have been parentified but he will NOT do the same to my son. I said if he pulled crap like that again, he’d never see my kids again.
Her BIL saw it very differently and escalated the argument.
Martin told me I was being ungrateful, he was only trying to help. He said more than anything, he was defending his wife as it’s not her job to help me. I reminded him I never asked Rachel for help, she offered. Martin said she wouldn’t have if I wasn’t complaining about how hard my life is.
OP’s former in-laws have been furious with her, the situation spiraled, and people are accusing her of alienating her husband’s family.
Since, Dan’s family has been telling me what a bitch I am. They say this is all Martin knows and I was way too harsh on him, especially threatening to cut him off. They told me I need to get my shit together. My MIL especially thinks I need to suck it up and expect my kids (not just Gabe, but Sydney too) to help me with Charlotte. I told her off and that only made it worse.
Everyone is accusing me of alienating Dan’s family, which I’m not trying to do. AITA?
She also clarified that of course the kids have chores — that are age appropriate!
Edit to clarify: My children do have chores and help around the house. The work in question was things that are out of their age bracket and were my responsibility. Thus why I was falling behind considering I also have to take care of the kids, drive them places and do more things that are not age appropriate or their job.
Phew. This poor woman. That’s so much to deal with.
Reddit was quick to support OP’s boundaries and offer NTA verdicts.
“NTA. You talking to Rachel is called venting. Martin was deflecting to remove the light from his mess up. There are some things the kids could to help; pick up their own toys, put dishes in the sink or away. Small things. Run a vacuum cleaner. It teaches life skills. I get why you blew up at what he said. Kids don’t need to be man of the house. Add to that you are trying to juggle 3 kids, keep the home afloat, and probably haven’t gotten to grieve properly,” said another user.