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'AITA for refusing to host Easter dinner if my nephew is invited?' MAJOR UPDATE

'AITA for refusing to host Easter dinner if my nephew is invited?' MAJOR UPDATE


If you sense danger, it's best to listen to your gut - especially if you're a parent saddled with protecting a baby.

"AITA for refusing to host Easter dinner if nephew is invited?"

I (37) and my wife (35) have been arguing about this all week.

Our nephew (22) has always been troubled, even though SIL (44) and BIL (48) have always treated him well. Some examples of his unsettling behavior:

He was caught feeding one of BIL's horses avocados (p*isonous to horses) to make it sick. I have dogs and don't want him to hurt them as well.

He demands to be called the names of two specific fictional characters. He believes he is these characters, reincarnated. If you call him by his real name or refuse to go along with his delusions he becomes aggressive.

He carries around a plushie of one of these characters everywhere. There is a hole in the back. The hole is stained. I have tried not to jump to conclusions about what he does to that plushie and failed. It smells, and honestly just thinking about the thing makes me want to vomit.

I have tried so hard to be patient with his "quirks" as my wife puts it, but what really pushed me over the edge was an incident that occurred a few weeks ago. For context, wife has struggled with infertility for our entire marriage, and we had given up on having our own kid until we recently discovered she is pregnant. Given the fact that she's 35, we have been surprised and overjoyed.

A few weeks ago, wife started randomly getting rude texts from nephew, insulting our baby. One text implied that our baby would have FAS, due to my wife's previous drinking problem, even though she has been sober for years. I wanted to call up that insensitive brat and tear into him, but wife insisted we gently let him know via text that we didn't appreciate his comments.

When he kept going and my wife started crying, I called SIL. She was able to shut him down and get him to apologize. I have no idea what the hell got into him, but I suspect it has to do with his hatred of women.

Wife believes that he may be on the spectrum/ have undiagnosed mental illness and that he needs to be treated patiently. I think he has been coddled his entire life and it has only made him worse. I think if someone doesn't put their foot down, his behavior will escalate into something dangerous. Here's where I may be TA. Each year, wife and I host Easter Dinner for her entire family.

Wife has already forgiven nephew for the incident and is insisting we invite him so that he isn't isolated from his family, something she believes will worsen his behavior. I see her reasoning, but enough is enough. I refused. I said she's being a doormat like everyone else in the family, and that our man-child of a nephew can't just make her cry and get away with it with an empty apology.

Some of my friends are saying that I am being controlling and that I can't stop her from seeing her own family. I feel like I am going insane. AITA?

Commenters had OP's back all the way.

SlowLime wrote:

NTA - and honestly I wouldn't want him around my wife if I were in your shoes. He sounds a bit dangerous (the horses for example) and ab*sive. He needs help, and his parents need to step up and realize that he needs serious intervention and attention.

You setting this boundary might be the exact thing they need to actually do something about him. Yes it will be hard and yes it might cause a family rift, but you could preface it with "we love him and care for him but don't him around us until he is getting help." Stand firm. This is about protecting your wife (and tell her so) and your sanity.

JetFaerie777 wrote:

NTA. He has a history of p*isoning. He has a history of hating women. He has a history of mentally ab*sing your wife. He has a history of saying the baby will have birth defects. It seems like it would be fully within his capabilities to poison your wife to hurt the baby. Sounds crazy but this guy definitely is.

OP responded:

This is exactly what I am afraid of. I feel like nobody in the family wants to admit that his problems aren't just him having quirks; they're warning signs of potentially dangerous behavior later on and they need to be dealt with. I am glad I am not alone in thinking this-- I was starting to wonder if I was overreacting.

Like, the plushie thing and him thinking he is certain fictional characters is one thing, but the animal cruelty and anger towards women is what really have me concerned.

JetFaerie777 responded:

Yes, the animal cruelty is a clear sign of him being an actual psychopath. The issue is how to make your wife see this without pushing it. Most people don’t want to believe their family is capable of such cruelty. You’ll have to be very very gentle if you intend to discuss it at all. Worst comes to worst, very carefully watch the food and drink.

Personally I can’t believe anyone in the family puts up with that utterly disgusting plushie! I mean how can they expect you to bring your future child around that.

OP responded:

His parents got it for him when he was a kid. They thought it was cute when he brought it everywhere. I think on some level, they still see him as a child so they kind of refuse to acknowledge what he does to that thing.

savinathewhite wrote:

You are NTA for trying to limit her nephew from coming to the house.

To be honest, I’d be concerned about your wife’s safety in this situation.

It sounds like her nephew has undiagnosed mental health problems that are serious and aren’t being addressed. If he’s willing to poison animals and showing active hostility to your wife and baby, then there is a risk that he might try to poison your wife. This is unfortunately easy to do.

And if I can think of half a dozen things that could potentially end a pregnancy if ingested, then they can’t be that hard to find on Google. Do you know if he’s harmed other animals? If he’s demonstrating a psychosis about being a fictional character, he might easily slip into the delusion that the fictional character would do things and it’s ok.

To be honest, this is not your problem to fix - it’s the massive failure of your BIL/SIL as parents to not get their son the help that he needed years ago. If your wife insists on allowing the untreated mentally ill, potentially dangerous, relative into your home, it would be perfectly reasonable for you to literally stand guard over him to make sure he doesn’t do anything that could put your wife at risk.

Pretty sure that wouldn’t go over very well. Personally I can’t imagine my husband letting anyone into our home that would upset me, so I hope you and your wife can come to an agreement.

OP responded:

I do not know if he has harmed other animals. He was actually vegan for a few months at one point, and was very anti animal cruelty. I don't know why he flipped and tried to hurt one of the horses, and honesty the fact that he can go against his own supposed values like that also scares me.

I think I need to emphasize to my wife that this is a matter of safety rather than me just being mad at our nephew for his comments (although that is also a part of it). My wife has always wanted kids so badly, and before she got pregnant.

I think she projected a bit of that onto our nephew as we watched him a decent amount when he was younger. I get that he's family and she loves him, and it's hard to admit that someone you love could be a danger to you, but she also has our baby to think about.

I think I will show her these comments in the morning after I make her tea and apologize for calling her a doormat/getting upset while arguing. I need to approach this a bit more gently, as you guys are confirming for me that it really is more serious than him just being rude.

cosmiccharmander wrote:

NTA but honestly the whole family are for allowing this to continue. How long has he behaved like this for? I can’t believe no one has taken him to a doctor I mean just the fact that this adult man is carrying around a stinky stained plushie of a fictional character is bad enough but the trying to hurt a horse thing?

And no one thinks that’s worth looking into?

Cut ties before your baby is born, you do not want this man around a helpless baby.

OP responded:

His mom does try to push him to go to therapy and to get a job, and he usually will get a therapist-- for a few weeks. And then she is back to begging him to get therapy. She didn't want to push him when he was younger, but now that he is an adult she cannot make him do anything.

At least he has learned (after getting fired for this previously) not to take his plushie to the jobs he manages to hold down for a month or two.

FeuerroteZora wrote:

Holy shit, NTA. Your wife and her entire family are enabling this absolute AH of a nephew and now they're mad at you for putting your foot down?

Look, I think your wife is absolutely correct that he may be on the spectrum and/or have undiagnosed mental illness, but therein lies the problem: why the F#$K is he undiagnosed?? If anyone actually cared about his health and wellness, they would've taken him to see some specialists and gotten professional help and advice specific to whatever his issues are.

Simply saying "Oh I think he's on the spectrum" first of all does a massive disservice to people actually on the spectrum who are fully capable of not walking around regularly with a f**kplushie, and second of all does not help this guy at all.

So I have two suggestions for you: First off, anyone who says you're controlling is just being ridiculous. You're not stopping your wife from seeing her family. You are saying "I do not want this rude and potentially dangerous-to-animals guy in my house.

You can hang out with him literally anywhere else in the world, but not in the place I live and where my dog is at home." And that is eminently reasonable. Next time some AH tells you you're controlling, thank them for offering to host nephew at their place and ask when he and your wife can stop by.

Second, and more important: Tell the family that nephew is not banned forever; you will absolutely consider hosting him again when he has been diagnosed, is working with professionals, and is making clear progress. They are not helping him at all by coddling him, no matter what his problem is - I mean, what do they think he's going to do when his parents are no longer around?

He's not capable of living in the real world as things stand now, let alone holding down a job, but with the right help he might be able to. He desperately needs therapy no matter what, and if he has a mental illness, then he probably also needs specific treatment or medication; and if he's on the spectrum he needs some kind of life skills development and behavioral interventions.

If the family's not willing to help him get the help he needs, they're irresponsible AHs. But that's their choice to make - I just think you need to make it clear what exactly it is they're choosing.

Half a day later, OP jumped on with an update.

My wife and I had a long talk this morning in which I made it clear that I was more concerned about her and our baby's safety than anything (I also apologized for resorting to name calling last night. Wife isn't a doormat, she just has a lot of love and patience for her family).

It was a hard talk with some tears from both of us, but she agreed that this has escalated to a point that may become dangerous, in part due to the enabling from all of us. Honestly I am also guilty of coddling him, especially when he was a kid. It's hard to admit when someone you took care of as a kid has grown into someone unsafe to be around.

But I think the idea in this comment might work as a way to set boundaries without shutting him out permanently. We are going to call his mother and explain that Easter Dinner isn't happening this year if nephew is coming, and that he is welcome to come over when he has a diagnosis and has stuck with a therapist for at least a couple months. Thank you all for your advice.

Two weeks later, he jumped on with a more comprehensive update.

This bizarre series of events started on Easter and has only gotten weirder since. For those of you who did not read/don't remember my original post, my Nephew was banned from our recent Easter dinner due to a concerning pattern of behavior, including recent disturbing text messages to my pregnant wife about her unborn child.

Since then, his parents eventually agreed to not bring him after a lot of arguing. SIL (nephew's mother) eventually admitted that he may need professional help and that Wife and I "may have some reason" to be worried for out safety around him. And on Easter, our worries were proven more than reasonable.

He showed up uninvited, using BIL's car (his parents came in SIL's car). Our dinner was interrupted by aggressive pounding on our door. I don't know how to put this without it sounding insane so here goes: Nephew was at our door, holding a sword, and dressed as the Joker. He tried to say something, but I slammed the door in his face and told everyone inside what was going on.

Chaos, predictably, ensued. BIL, a generally calm guy who I have never seen freak out or get angry, turned beet red and went outside. He ended up literally chasing Nephew around our house, screaming at him, in an attempt to get him to leave. Neighbors came outside and SIL went into damage control mode, talking down one concerned neighbor from calling the p*lice somehow.

He dropped his sword in the chase and BIL tackled him on our front lawn. They got him into SIL's car somehow and they left with him. Easter dinner was ruined. Wife was in tears. I was so mad I was shaking.

Good news is that this was a wake-up call for SIL and BIL. Under threat of them withdrawing financial support, Nephew has agreed to seek therapy and surrender access to his Tumblr blog, which he previously would spend hours a day posting on.

His mother went through it and found a lot of alarming posts, including content about his hatred for women, screenshots posted of his text exchange with my wife with captions bragging about his hurtful behavior, and several disturbing "fan fictions" with violent s*xual content.

They believe him being too online is worsening his behavior and are hoping that limiting his access and forcing him into therapy will help. Thank you for all who convinced me to stand my ground in the comments of my original post.

The internet had a lot to say in response.

wcs4696 wrote:

Ummm, I think it's a little more than seeing a therapist & "we take away a little social media." That young man needed the cops called & a 5150 hold. I hope y'all start putting things like security measures in place. Good luck and you're still NTA.

OP responded:

I might suggest the 5150 hold to his parents, but his mother is already worried that taking away the phone was "too much" as if he didn't show up at my house with a weapon.

HulkeneHulda responded:

I don't want to fearmonger, but with him so strongly idolizing the Joker, him coming with a sword was a pretty mild outcome. I was afraid the moment you wrote that you shut the door in his face because having the door open at all could have meant he had an opportunity to throw acid in your face. A big part of the Joker character is disfiguration through acid.

The problem with him identifying with a cartoon character isn't that it's a cartoon, it's that it's a dangerous one like the Joker. Even without the delusion that he is the Joker, the glorification would have been concerning in itself just like it's concerning when people adopt the things in Fight Club that was supposed to be criticised.

He needs all his electronics confiscated and looked through by police tech department to find out what circles he's in that is encouraging this mindset because this is the same pattern as all those inc*l shooters. The only difference is that at the moment he's kept it to terrorizing family. I'm glad you guys have his tumblr, but he might have a reddit account as well and other forums.

TallOccasion4453 wrote:

So they took his online account, but do they know it’s really easy to just make another? Sounds to me like he needs to be committed and really evaluated, and then het the help heed needs.

This kid is so messed up and quite dangerous, just a normal therapy like once a week won’t help him, especially when he isn’t ready and willing to change completely. Good luck OP, for your family. Keep us updated? And I hope your wife has a wonderful pregnancy. And a beautiful birth.

All there is to say is: yikes.

Sources: Reddit
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