Parenting is not for the faint of heart, even the most well-meaning and loving people are bound to make mistakes. But the inevitability doesn't make those mistakes easier to watch.
In a popular post on the AITA subreddit, a sibling asked if they were wrong for insulting their sister for her parenting mistake. They wrote:
My sister and her husband adopted 15 year old “Jake.” He’s cool, he has his “issues” but he’s a good kid. The main reason my sister decided to foster/adopt is because she was told she couldn’t have kids. I was a bit worried because she tends to be a bit naive but she’s doing pretty well. Jake seems to really like her as well.
Anyways, my sister managed to get pregnant and revealed she was 6 months along. We’re all happy for her but Jake’s become a bit snappy. In my opinion, I think his attitude is understandable considering his background and I’m sure he’s just terrified. I figured my sister knew this and was working on it behind the scenes.
Well she called me in tears last night saying that Jake came home high and started insulting her and the unborn baby. She then cried about how she doesn’t know why he’s acting like this and that he broke her heart. I was sympathetic but then I wondered, has she talked to him about any possible changes that may come with the baby…has she reassured him or anything like that?
I asked her this very gently and she went quiet. She then went “oh…oops? I’m an idiot, of course he’s scared. That makes so much sense.” I was a little shocked. I mean… she really didn’t talk to him…at all? She kind of laughed it off and said “dumb blonde moment, my bad.”
Idk but that rubbed me the wrong way so I asked her if this was a joke to her. I then said “I hope you know Jake isn’t a doll you can throw away, he’s your kid now, you can’t have dumb blonde moments…and how on earth is this a silly “my bad” moment?” I won’t deny that I sounded pretty snarky but c’mon?
She got upset and said that it’s her first time being a parent and I can’t blame her for making mistakes. That she knows he’s her kid and that’ll never change and that my implications are incredibly offensive. She then told me to try adopting a troubled teen with 0 prior experience then insult her. I just hung up.
I might’ve been a bit harsh because all parents make mistakes but I feel like she should’ve known better just this one time. Still, she really does love that kid and I know she feels bad. AITA?
YTA. It's a perspective issue. Jake has instability leading to trauma in his background. Of course he's freaked out. Your sister however KNOWS she has no intention of abandoning him and that the adoption made him a permanent part of her family. She was probably blind to his specific concern because she was blind to the idea of abandoning Jake. That's not the worst kind of mistake to make.
And if she explains it that way to Jake I think it will go a long way to reassuring him about why the conversation didn't happen sooner.
And OP responded:
I’m sure she’s talked it out with Jake by now. Again, she genuinely loves him and I know she regrets not realizing sooner. I can see how her being blind to this concern due to the things you mentioned may not be the worst mistake. But Jake has severe trauma and abandonment issues, I feel like it’s not something you just become blind to…if that makes sense.
At the very least, don’t laugh it off. It’s just one of those things, you know? However, I will apologize for my harshness, she’s in a tough spot and at the end of it, I just want the best for her and her family. I just hopes she doesn’t make a mistake like this again.
My suspicion is that “laughing it off” wasn’t dismissing the error so much as trying to defuse the tension around that oversight because the guilt would be significant. It sounds like she’s more than capable of judging herself harshly and getting that judgement from someone else when she’s feeling pretty vulnerable probably hurt a lot and felt like a sunburn slap.
Genuinely good that you pointed it out, and look, I also feel that it’s obvious, but the above commenter is likely right about why she didn’t see it. Once she admitted she felt stupid about it, then you don’t have to keep going. It’s clear she’s going to address the issue. (I’m glad you’re going to apologise, and again, it’s good that you raised the issue!)
Given that you're a parent yourself, you may want to consider this question: if you make a mistake in the future with your kids, do you want her to show you grace or to make pointed comments that will make you feel badly about yourself? Then act accordingly.
And OP responded:
My point isn’t that she made a mistake. It was her response. No parent is perfect. I don’t expect perfection from anyone! It just felt odd to hear her laugh about not telling her adopted child with severe trauma and abandonment issues that she won’t abandon him. It was a very strange thing to hear in the moment.
Maybe it being on the phone made it even weirder. And I’m sure I’ll make mistakes. I already do. But if I do something pretty bad, I’d hope someone knocked some sense into me.
"I might’ve been a bit harsh…"
Ya think? Here’s my read of this situation: your sister is in a very rough spot. She calls you for advice. Your sister, naively and without malice, has created a situation she just didn’t predict. She tries—obviously embarrassed—to downplay it or joke it off just in the conversation to you. Inside, she’s feeling pretty awful. You know she’s already hurting, so what do you do? You insult her. Badly.
"He’s your kid now, you can’t have dumb blonde moments…"
Do you have any idea how many times even the best-meaning parents f up in raising a child? Do you know how hard it is?
Raising a kid is basically an exercise in being dropped in the deep end and told to swim. Meanwhile, your sister hasn’t had any experience with this. She got a teenager to start with. As if parenting isn’t hard enough, having an angsty teen with teenage problems as a first foray into parenting must be brutally hard. YTA.
This is fair. I have kids of my own but they’re still pretty young so you’re right that we’re in different positions. I can understand her downplaying everything because of embarrassment. I was just taken aback. It’s such a significant thing and for her to just laugh and brush it off kind of left me a little…shocked?
Regardless, I don’t think she’s a bad person and I probably could’ve been nicer. Thanks for sharing your perspective.
You should text your sister an apology for overreacting.
Already done, all is forgiven. She acknowledged her fault as well. We’re meeting for dinner this weekend and we’ll discuss it more then.
I really don't think you should talk this out with her in length. You've already patched things up so what's the point? What more could possibly be said? You sound incredibly condescending in these responses and could make the situation worse.
And OP responded:
We’re going to talk about how we can help him and how we can sort of learn from this whole thing, not necessarily about what she or I did wrong.
She adopted when he was 15 or he is just 15 now and been with her for years?
And OP responded:
He’s 15 now, but she only adopted him recently. Way before she got pregnant.
How did you get from her feeling broken hearted and having missed a big need to assuming she's going to abandon him? That's as big a screw up as hers, but you're not in the learning curve of having a sister, so you have no excuse.
Of course, people with zero experience with adoption always seem to think they know everything about adoption and are duty-bound to "educate" the actual parents. YTA.
And OP responded:
I’m not saying she’s going to abandon him. I’m saying that her lack of care regarding this certain issue is not a good sign in Jake’s mind. I don’t mean to “educate” her or act like a know it all, but reassuring a child you adopted (with abandonment issues) that you still love him seems like it would be obvious. Of course, I’m not in her position and I can acknowledge that I was overly harsh.
Clearly, the internet agrees that OP was TA, but it looks like OP and their sister have been able to mend things on their end.