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'AITA for telling my wife we shouldn't force our daughter to hang out with her cousin?' UPDATED 4X

'AITA for telling my wife we shouldn't force our daughter to hang out with her cousin?' UPDATED 4X


Just because you're family, doesn't mean you have to be best friends.

"AITA for telling my wife that I don't think it is right to force our daughter to hang out with her same aged cousin?"

My wife has two sisters and is close to both. Their mom died when they were young so they bonded over the loss and became very close. We have two kids. Chris (16M) and Kaylee (13F). My wife's old sister also has two kids. Owen (17M) and Emma (16F). They live about 5 minutes from us and our kids attend the same school.

They have always hung out as a group of 3. My Chris and their Emma are a week apart in age and Owen is only a little over a year older so they grew up together and used to call themselves triplets. They are still quite close. My wife's younger sister has a daughter, Gia, who is 3 months older than mine.

The younger sister always made comments when our girls were babies about how she can't wait until they are the ages of the "big kids", meaning Chris, Owen, and Emma, because they'll be just as close. The problem is that Kaylee doesn't like hanging out with Gia and it's becoming more obvious as they get older that they are two different people. Kaylee likes soccer and video games.

Gia isn't allowed to play video games and isn't interested in sports. Kaylee is a social butterfly and Gia is a homebody. All of this was manageable but Gia also has some more immature interest. She still enjoys playing with dolls and engages in pretend play. For example, when Kaylee goes over their house to sleepover she says Gia likes playing "school" or "mommies."

Playing school means they set up all of the stuffed animals and pretend to teach them. Mommies is when they play with the baby dolls and pretend to be mommies. I have nothing against pretend play and think it's nice that Gia doesn't feel pressured to grow up too fast but it's clear that Kaylee and her are on different wavelengths.

Now that things are opening back up Gia's mom said she can't wait to have Kaylee over. Kaylee said she doesn't want to sleepover Gia's. She said she'll still interact with Gia at family events but doesn't want to sleepover there anymore or go over to play. This upset my wife a lot. She said Kaylee doesn't get a say. Later that night I told my wife I sided with Kaylee.

I don't think she should be forced to hang out with Gia. My wife flipped and said that I am an only child so I will never understand her family values and how this isn't up for discussion. I told her that wasn't fair. Kaylee should get a say and she said that you don't get a say when it comes to family.

We argued for a while before I told her that we would be having this discussion later and she didn't talk to me for the rest of the night. Was I the AH? I haven't brought it up again but plan to unless I am totally in the wrong.

Not long after posting, OP shared a series of updates.

Edit one: I thought I made this clear but will say it again because of the comments I am getting. Kaylee is not interested in hanging out with Gia other than for full family events. For example, we normally have dinner with my wife's sisters and dad every Sunday. Kaylee is fine hanging out with Gia then but doesn't want to beyond that. Other than her immature interest Gia is a normal 13-year-old girl.

Edit two: Gia does cry when she doesn't get her way and that's another reason Kaylee is no longer enjoying playing with her cousin. I wouldn't say it's tantrum behavior. Her mom and my wife think it's just h0rmones and normal but she locks herself in the bathroom until she pulls herself together. I should have mentioned that earlier but my wife and her sisters think it's normal teen girl stuff.

Edit three: Sorry for so many edits. Just trying to paint a clearer picture. Last summer Gia and Kaylee hung out about 4 to 5 days a week. Now, this was normal for Chris, Emma, and Owen when they were 12/13. I would say they were over more often than that and had sleepovers most nights. They have a lot of the same friends since they go to the same school and play some of the same sports.

My wife and younger sister are trying to recreate this with Kaylee and Gia but Kaylee doesn't want it. Again, she is okay with the weekly dinners but doesn't want the one on one "playdates" and sleepovers with Gia. I am getting a lot of heat over the word immature. All I meant by that is Kaylee, who stopped playing mommies a long time ago, sees it as immature.

If Kaylee suggest another game then Gia cries and locks herself in the bathroom. To me that is childlike behavior but I do NOT think any less of Gia because of this. I do not dislike her. I love her like she is my own blood. I am very sorry for hurting people with the use of the word immature.

The internet had plenty to say in response.

87_north wrote:

"This upset my wife a lot. She said Kaylee doesn't get a say."

NTA. Your wife is controlling. Kaylee is 13, and old enough to realize what interests her. They may become friends as they get older, but forcing it is awkward, and will never work.

puppyjito wrote:

NTA. As it stands now, your daughter doesn't mind hanging out with her cousin at family events. If your wife keeps forcing her to hang out with her outside of that she will start to resent her and it may push her to be cold or mean towards her cousin. Your wife isn't doing anyone any favors here.

Bell-Book-Candle wrote:

NTA - maybe your wife will start to get it after your daughter snaps at her cousin. It sounds like their emotional maturity levels are different and your wife is setting Gia up to get made fun of to her face.

[deleted] wrote:

NTA. i feel like children at that age absolutely have a say in who their peer group is unless the peers they want are questionable. This is just someone she has nothing in common with and thinks is kinda off. Nothing wrong with that. She shouldn't be forced to attend sleepovers there. And your daughter was very diplomatic about it.

She'll be cordial and friendly at family functions, but just doesn't want to be her cousin's bestie because they have nothing in common and just are not on the same wave length.

I do think that the reason Gia's mom is so gung ho may be because the only kids Gia has managed to get to stick around long term ARE family members. Meaning she probably has difficulty making friends and keeping them in school or other activities, which I find likely based on your description.

Is your relationship with the mom good enough that you could maybe raise the issue with her in a kind way and maybe offer some insight and advice on what she can do to encourage her daughter to make friends that aren't there, you know, by force? It's a thought.

Three weeks later, OP shared an update.

Recap: I made a post 3 weeks ago after getting into an argument with my wife. To make a long story short, my 13 year old daughter didn't want to hang out with her 13 year old cousin outside of our Sunday family dinners. She had nothing against her cousin but they have very different interest. My daughter, Kaylee, likes playing sports and video games and talking about boys.

My niece, Gia, likes playing "mommies" and "school." Nothing wrong with that but Kaylee outgrew it and feels like they don't have much in common. To make things harder Gia get very upset if things aren't going her way (locking herself in the bathroom) and won't sleepover our house because she gets homesick so all sleepovers are at Gia's house.

Update: I talked to my wife about everything and she agreed she overreacted. She said that after he mom died she felt like it was her job to hold the family together. She is the middle child so she felt like she was the link between her two sisters. Their dad stressed to them how much they needed to stick together and that is where the weekly family dinners started. It was a way to bring everyone together.

When my wife got pregnant with our son Chris at the same time her older sister got pregnant with her daughter Emma my wife said it felt like fate, especially since her older sister's son Owen would only be a little more than a year older than both kids. My wife said watching all 3 of them bond like they did made her proud because she knew it is what her mom would want. Even now the kids are close.

My son slept over their house last night, they play some school sports together, have classes together, share some friends and sit at the same lunch table. When we found out we were having Kaylee only a few months after Gia was born my wife and her sister imagined the girls growing up together the same way the older 3 did.

For a while they did but now that they are growing apart it has been hard on both my wife and her younger sister. When the older 3 were in middle school they hung out everyday in the summer but that was by choice and usually with a larger common friend group.

I explained to my wife that this is different because we would be forcing Kaylee to miss out on time with her friends to spend with her cousin multiple times a week even though they have virtually nothing in common. My wife apologized to Kaylee and talked to her sister about giving the girls some time apart. We will still see them once a week for Sunday dinners but we aren't going to force it.

My wife's sister was upset because Kaylee is Gia's only "friend" but said she will just have to spend more time with Gia to make her feel special. My wife and I feel bad but we want to make sure our daughter knows that she has the right to say no and have that be respected if she isn't comfortable with a situation even when it's family.

The internet had OP's back.

henchwench89 wrote:

In glad your wife has come around. It’s important you show your daughter her wants are important as well. Hearing your wife say she doesn’t get a say in your original post made me so angry.

Based on your original post and what you’ve written here it sounds like Gia’s mum babies her way too much and im guessing indulges her tantrums and gives in to her? That could be why she doesn’t have any friends. Not your problem to deal with and I'd recommend not saying it to your SIL.

OP responded:

Yeah, we feel that Gia is being babied. Whenever Kaylee goes over there and suggest playing something other than dolls Gia cries, locks herself in the bathroom, and my sister-in-law ends up telling Kaylee to just go along with it to stop Gia from being upset.

Voyager_AU wrote:

I'm worried about Gia. It seems her mother babies her too much. She is 13 but still plays "mommies" with her dolls? Her mother also says she doesn't have any friends. That makes sense. Other 13-year-olds have matured and might think Gia is weird.

There might even be some b*llying. Since Gia can't play video games, can Gia's mom work with Gia to find more mature interests? That would help her mature and open the possibility to find friends.

dwhyyou responded:

That's the first thing that came to my mind. My youngest sister had this exact same problem where she didn't really bond with people her age because my mom would cater to her for everything, and even now as an adult she struggles with social interaction. Forcing Gia to spend time with others might do her wonders.

OP responded:

I think she is okay with letting Gia be Gia. When the older kids were in middle school she made comments about how they were growing up to fast. My nephew Owen started dating the summer before 8th grade. I know that sounds young but calling it dating was a stretch.

They went out to the movies a couple times with their parents and got to sit in a different row and went over to each others houses but that was really it.

My son Chris, nephew Owen, niece Emma, and Owen's girlfriend all hung out a lot together at the 3 houses during that summer and Gia's mom would say how inappropriate it was and things like that. Now that Gia is that age her mom is okay with keeping her younger.

WBooz wrote:

Doesn't this scream developmentally delayed or autism spectrum disorder or ADHD or something to anyone else?

Let's go over some of Gia's behaviors:

Likes to take part in non-age appropriate activities (dolls/mommies/school)

Inability to compromise

Throws tantrums

Has crying fits

Uncomfortable in strange environments (can't sleep over at Kaylee's house)

Sources: Reddit
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