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Man starts his own family; parents say, 'You KNOW this is a betrayal.' AITA? UPDATED

Man starts his own family; parents say, 'You KNOW this is a betrayal.' AITA? UPDATED


When this man is upset with his family, he asks the internet:

"My parents resent me for starting my own family. AITA?"

I had somewhat of a revelation this weekend. I’m still processing how I feel about it and considering if I should confront my parents. Anyway, here it is: I believe my parents resent me for starting my own family.

I(40m) come from a big family. I’m the 2nd oldest of 9 kids. My older sister, Jane, is just a year older than me. There is a 6-year gap between me and the next sibling, then my mom had a kid every 2 to 3 years.

Since Jane and I were the oldest we always helped with the little kids and the chores around the house. In fact, it was common for my parents and other adults to refer to us as “Jane and OP and the kids.”

It’s like Jane and I were not considered children, it’s more like we were two other adults living in the house.

We were home schooled, so we were home all the time. Part of my “job” is that I would wake up, make breakfast for the kids, then get them started with their school or activities before I started my own schoolwork.

Jane would sleep in because she was more of a night owl, and it was her job to help at night with the baby (because there was always a baby.)

Jane and I did most of the chores around the house. We took turns either cleaning the kitchen or doing the laundry, of which there was a lot. I did all the “guy” stuff, like mowing the yard and taking out the trash.

As I got older, I would delegate some of these chores to my younger brothers, but it was still my responsibility to make sure it got done.

Once I was old enough to drive, I would run errands and take the kids everywhere. I can’t tell you how many times I would take the kids to things like playdates or doctor’s appointments.

I would often tuck the kids in bed and tell them stories. To me these things were all just normal, but looking back on it I was more like a 2nd dad to the kids than a brother.

Jane and I did have a lot of freedom as teenagers to go out with our friends, if the chores were done. We didn’t have cell phones back then, if we wanted to go out we would just tell our parents we were going and they didn’t care, as long as we were back by the next morning.

I moved out when I was 20, but I still spent a lot of time at my parents, and one of my younger siblings was almost always at my house. One brother, JJ, pretty much lived with me since he was 14 because he and our mom didn’t get along.

When JJ was 17 he got in a wreck and he called me instead of calling dad, because I was just the one who handled those kinds of things.

During all of this time my parents always talked about how important it was for Jane and I to help with the kids because they were so busy with their ministry. I can’t count how many times I had to drop what I was doing to take care of something because mom or dad were “counseling” someone.

Sorry, I feel like I’m rambling. I hope I have painted an accurate picture of my childhood. Let’s move on.

I had not really dated much, but when I was 25 I met and started dating Ann. We fell in love fast, and got married less than a year later. My younger siblings love Ann. She is a great cook and hostess; our house became the hangout spot.

My younger siblings started calling her “Mama Ann”, something they still do to this day. We have now been married 15 years and have 2 kids of our own.

My mom and Jane did NOT like Ann. Jane and Ann get along ok now, but Ann and my mom do not have a good relationship. I never understood why, but I think I have finally figured out it’s because they see it as Ann having taken me away.

As Ann and I focused on our relationship and started a family, I spent less and less time doing things for my parents. My dad liked Ann at first, but over the past few years their relationship has soured.

Throughout the years my dad has made comments to me about keeping up my responsibilities. One time he called me about one of the younger kids, who had gotten in a fight with my mom, and said “You better get your brother and change his attitude! It’s not ok how he treated your mom and you are going to make him apologize!”

A few years ago Ann and I set some boundaries with my parents, telling them we were not going to raise or discipline their kids. Our home is always open to my siblings, but we no longer let my parents try and use us to “straighten them up”. My parents have not taken this well.

About a year ago Ann injured her foot and couldn’t walk for a while. Just as she was getting better, I was diagnosed with kidney disease, which then turned into kidney failure. I’ve had several surgeries, with another one coming in a few weeks. It’s been a rough year.

During this time my parents have not only refused to help, they have actively made things harder for us. Things like promising to help with our kids but then canceling at the last minute (usually because something “ministry” related came up.)

Recently my sister-in-law (who lives in another state) had a baby, and my mom has been staying with her and helping for the past 6 weeks. My SIL has said that mom is a godsend and is so wonderful. My dad has gone to help every weekend. This hurts me, because my mom wouldn’t give us a single night to help with our youngest when he was born.

Anyway, I’m sorry this post has turned out longer than I thought it would. I needed to get some of this off my chest. This weekend I was talking to another sister and telling her how I don’t understand why mom and dad don’t treat me like they do the rest of the kids, even Jane.

It’s like I’m not one of their children. And it just kind of hit me that they resent me for getting married and starting my own family and leaving them to raise their own kids.

Part of me is relieved to finally realize why they treat me like they do, and part of me is sad. I’m kind of scared about this upcoming surgery, and I really wish I had a parent I could talk to about it. But I don’t feel like I have parents, just some people that I co-parented my siblings with.

Before we give you OP' updates, let's take a look at some of the top responses:

cramu writes:

I’m sorry you had to deal with all that parentification for so many siblings. Your eyes have been opened to the fact your parents do resent you and it is a painful realisation. They decided early on that you and Jane would be the de facto parents to the children they would bear.

You became the live in help which became more set in stone once you both proved to be capable on managing their parental responsibilities.

The most surprising fact is you actually had your own children - most children who have had to do the parenting roles get so fed up with being Carers that they had had enough of babies by the time they grow up.

I would not be surprised if your parents (especially your mother) had planned that in their old age both you and Jane would take care of them whilst all their other children went out and had their own families.

You having your own family changed that. Do you think it is a coincidence that there is a gap in ages with you and Jane in comparison to the other siblings?

You mentioned how your mother didn’t really understand your health problems. Did she ever really have to deal with health issues for her children or did you and Jane take care of most of that? Does caring mean she has to offer to help?

The out of state brother and helping your SIL is a few things - they can look great for bragging rights, your parents can completely control how much time they spend with them ( this is important because as you are close by, you could ask for help at any time)

plus going to visit them means they don’t have to be at home with their own children. Avoiding parenting again.

They may view this brother and SIL as easier to control. Additionally, they need to ensure they have a plan for who will take care of them in their old age, because they can’t rely on you - not only because of Ann but because you are unwell and you both put up boundaries.

They do not want boundaries. Ann saw through your parents and helped you with boundaries and that’s why they didn’t like her.

It sounds like your father had said the quiet part out loud about you needing to discipline your sibling when it was his God-given responsibility not yours. I’m sure your mother has done the same with Jane.

If you decide to write a letter to send them, make sure you take a photo or at least a copy of it. You need a copy. If they turn against you and Ann, expect they will try to turn your siblings against you.

They will twist what you wrote and make out they are being victimised. A copy of the letter is your evidence. In the meantime I would suggest each day sit down and write about your life growing up, put those experiences down on paper as it will help deal with the memories and help you clarify your thoughts.

I strongly suggest you read up on FOG and narcissism, because I believe the extra knowledge will help you understand how you were raised and understand your parents. I wish you all the best with your health and for your own little family.

spookyfathe writes:

Your parents are good at having kids, but are not when it comes to raising them. Your parents used religion as a way to further avoid their responsibilities, and threw all their responsibilities on your back when you were just a kid.

You and your wife have a lot on your plate right now too, but you both are still parenting while your parents are still trying to shirk their responsibilities.

That is the reason that they are acting as horrible as they are to you - they see Ann as the reason you set boundaries which forced them to pick up their own slack.

Of course they are resentful that they actually have to take care of their own kids for a change! I think the best thing you can do for your mental and physical health is distance yourself from your parents.

And now, OP's update:

Thanks to everyone who engaged with my last post. It has been therapeutic. This post is a brief update and then I will answer some questions.

Update: I spoke with my wife, Ann, about it last night. I said something along the lines of "I've realized that my parents resent me for starting my own family and not helping them as much, and that is why they treat me so differently.

And I think you've been trying to gently tell me this for years but I was too dense to get it." We were sitting in the bed at the time, and she leaned over and patted me on the head and said, "You are SO pretty."

I laughed for like 10 minutes, it was a great emotional release. A lot of you said she sounds wonderful, and she really is. I just can't express how much I love her.

About Jane (my older sister): Jane did get married and start a family, about 2 years after I did. Jane and I had a falling out and didn't speak for several years, but we are ok now, just not very close.

Our falling out was more about religion than anything. She is very religious like my parents, while I am not. I am religious and we attend church, but it's not our whole life like it is for my parents and Jane.

Younger siblings: The youngest is 22, so they are all adults now. The 2nd to youngest passed away several years ago, so there are 8 of us now. I am very close with all of my younger siblings.

They still come hang out at my house all the time, and they are all great aunts and uncles to my kids. All of them, including Jane, are upset with how my parents treated me this past year.

Help with my kids: While I am disappointed in my parents for not helping, I do not NEED their help. Ann and I have close friends, plus we both have siblings that help. Ann's parents live far away, but they help when they can. We really are ok and feel very blessed and loved with all help we have received.

Therapy: Part of my kidney treatment plan includes access to a therapist, and I love her. She has been great in helping me learn to live with an illness.

I'm not sure if she is the right person to speak with about my parents, but I will ask her and see if she can refer someone if not. I will wait until after my surgery to bring this up, as I need to just focus on that right now.

Setting boundaries: When I say my parents won't help, it's not that they say they won't help, it's that they offer to help and then either bail at the last minute or they change the plans so much that it causes Ann and I a lot of stress.

A few months ago Ann was sick and my mother offered to pick our kids up from school. It's a long story, but she kept changing things and making it very complicated and my youngest ended up being left alone for a little while and he got scared.

After that, I had a harsh talk with my parents and told them how disappointed I was in them, and how I needed to focus on my health and they were making things worse.

I told them they are not allowed to take my kids anywhere, and they are not allowed to just drop by at my house, and in fact they were not even allowed to offer to help (because my mom doesn't take no for an answer and will nag until she wears me down.)

My parents were mad about this but all 7 of my siblings took my side and rallied about me, and so my parents have respected that so far.

Going no contact: A lot of people recommended going no contact. I don't want that. I still love my parents, even though they have not been great parents. My kids love them too, and I don't want to take that away.

They are good grandparents (when they show up). I don't think my parents are awful people, I think they had this vision of how they wanted to have this big family and this big ministry and I think they just didn't realize the responsibilities they put on Jane and I.

I have spoken to them in the past and expressed how it was messed up that they put so much on us as kids and they have apologized.

Putting my parents on blast at their church: Several people recommended going to their church and telling people how they have treated me. You don't understand this church, they would praise my parents for putting God and the ministry above everything else. These super-religious people are crazy.

I guess that's it for now. My surgery is in less than 2 weeks, so I'm going to focus on that. I'm going to put this thing with my parents on the back burner and later I will decide what, if anything, I'm going to do. Thanks again to everyone for your comments, it has really helped me work through some feelings.

What do YOU make of OP's story? Any advice for him?

Sources: Reddit
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