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Man plans to pull niece from gymnastics after injury, wife says 'ask her first.' UPDATED.

Man plans to pull niece from gymnastics after injury, wife says 'ask her first.' UPDATED.


Parenting decisions are no light matter, and they feel much heavier when you can't agree with your partner on them.

In a popular post on the AITA subreddit, a man asked if he was wrong for telling his wife she doesn't get to make the final call about how to raise his niece. He wrote:

"AITA for saying to my wife that I’m the one who gets to make decisions about my niece?"

My (43M) niece (14F) is being raised by my wife (40F) and I - it’s a long story, having to do with my sister getting herself pregnant from a deadbeat and proving overall unfit to be a mother. Bottom line is, I see my niece as my daughter and love her just as much as my own biological children (11M/8M). I know my wife also loves her the same way, however I’m legally my niece's sole legal guardian.

My niece has practiced gymnastics for the past 10 years, and when she was about 7 or 8 one of the coaches at her gym took notice of her potential and suggested she could really make it as a professional athlete. I personally believe my wife and my niece/daughter were taken by this promise of future glory (“can you imagine if she competes in the Olympics one day?”, my wife said).

I was always VERY cautious because I do realize the shots are slim; I also knew that could cost us a lot of money going forward, but the coach believed so much in her that they managed to cover some of the costs of her training on the gym’s dime. And when I say training, I mean TRAINING – some serious hard work.

I told them I was fine with the idea as long my niece was happy doing gymnastics and it didn’t majorly impact her life. And then, last month, she tore her ACL during practice. We do have insurance, so the medical costs were covered. However, she’s going through a painful recovery, all the while wondering when she’ll be healthy enough to get back to the gym.

But I told my wife I don’t want her to do this anymore. Seeing her get hurt and in pain made me realize this is a dangerous sport, and the toll it's taking on her body is simply not worth it. My wife said I couldn’t make this decision without considering what my niece wants; I said I can because I’m the adult here and she’s still a child.

So my wife said there was still the matter of her disagreeing with my view, and that we were supposed to make this parenting decisions together. I then said that's true regarding our boys, but not when it comes to my niece. All I meant is that I'm the sole guardian in the sense of being responsible for her; what my wife got is that I was undermining her as a surrogate mother. AITA here?

Redditors had plenty of thoughts to share.

facinationstreet wrote:

YTA. Your wife should have just as much a say in decisions regarding the niece as you do. That being said, time for all 3 of you to consult with sport professionals (not just some coach at some gym who sees potential): professionals who can give real insight into coming back from this type of injury, professionals who can evaluate her potential, etc. Unilaterally just deciding she can't go back to a sport she loves? AH.

Didntlikedefaultname wrote:

YTA. First sentence: my niece is being raised by my wife and I. Overall message: I am my niece's guardian and get to make all decisions on her behalf. These two do not work together. Excluding a 14-year-old from their own life choices also doesn’t work. I’m sure you mean well, but these are not your decisions to make by yourself. Don’t alienate your family to keep control.

admiredpanda1230 wrote:

YTA. Your niece is old enough to make her own decisions about how she wants to spend her time. Your wife has been by your side helping you raise you. You don’t get to just unilaterally decide what your niece does or that your wife has no input just because you’re the only one who signed the papers.

This should be a conversation between the three of you. Discuss the risks of injury, discuss the time commitment, discuss what your family WANTS.

Nericmitch wrote:

You are absolutely YTA…first you are not taking your niece’s wants into consideration. You say as long as she’s happy and she wants to continue but you're scared. Injuries happen to all athletes and that doesn’t stop them. If she loves it how can you take that away from her. That makes you a bad dad since you don’t actually care what your niece wants.

Second: you undermine your wife who has done just as much for your niece and consider her a daughter. That makes you a jackass since you are fine having your wife help raise her but she can’t make any decisions in regards to her. That’s BS. Be a better dad and husband.

Mistral19 wrote:

YTA. Your wife doesn’t get to be ‘mom’ only when it suits you. She’s helping raise the kid and so she gets input in all decisions. On the gymnastics front, I coach at a gym that has 3 current Olympians. Yes, it is exceptionally hard to be one of the select few that are both in peak form and peak condition (no Injuries) at the right time in the Olympic cycle. So no, she most likely won’t be an Olympian.

BUT, firstly, she loves the sport. Secondly, she may very well be good enough to get a college scholarship and compete at the national level. Thirdly, high-level gymnasts can have great careers in theater shows, cirque du Soleil, performing on cruise ships, etc. Depending on her future interests, this is a possible career path. She may even want to coach or open her own gymnastics school.

Is injury possible? Of course. Gymnastics is very hard on the body. But loads of sports run the risk of injury. Skiing, running, cycling, cheerleading, football etc. It happens. But if you take away her sport, something she enjoys and knows she has a proper shot at doing well in, she will resent you forever. You can’t wrap her in cotton wool.

After being thoroughly called out, OP shared an update.

Edit: Some additional information, to be clear, I still haven't talked to my niece about this. I shared with my wife that, given the severity of her injury, I didn't want her training anymore. This discussion was between my wife and I, it didn't involve our girl so far.

Clearly, OP is TA here - both for keeping his wife out of the decision, but also choosing to steamroll his niece.

Sources: Reddit
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