Post-partum depression is a serious health issue that affects a lot of new mothers. Without proper treatment and support, women suffering from post-partum can behave in ways completely unrecognizable from their 'regular' personality, and hurt those around them in the process.
As with any mental health issue, finding the balance between supporting a loved one and enabling destructive behaviors and attitudes can be a fine line. And the pressures and stress of parenthood add to the tension of this balance.
AITA for going off on my wife for commenting about our 3-week-old daughter’s looks?
My daughter, our second child, is three weeks old. Pre pregnancy, my wife was diagnosed with general anxiety disorder and depression, and in the days since birthing our baby girl, is most definitely experiencing post-partum depression. Our first child, our son, looks very much so like her.
In fact, if you look at baby photos of my wife, they look almost exactly like our son’s baby photos. And my wife is a looker, so my son is damn cute thank you very much. Our daughter got a bit more of my side’s gene pool. Her hairline kinda has a widow’s peak (which I’ve had since I was a baby). Her lips are relatively thin (like me). Her nose is a little larger than our son's was (I have a Middle Eastern classic hook nose).
Nearly every day in my daughter’s 21 days on this earth, my wife has made a comment to baby girl about how she’s so sad she got daddy’s features. Some of the things wife has said to baby girl:
Don’t worry, I’ll get you a nose job as soon as you’re old enough.
I wish you had gotten more of my features. My family is beautiful and all the women are timeless. Your dad's family, not so much.
[Son] has the beautiful pouty lips and you got stuck with those pencil lips - oooh it’s really tough being a girl.
Up until yesterday, I was taking a softer approach with comments like - “ok be nice” and “ok chillax” but today I had enough and just snapped and yelled at her for like five minutes straight, and I cursed quite a bit too.
The gist of my statements were:
I don’t care if she can’t yet understand what you’re saying, stop putting that s**t out into the universe.
[Son] can understand you, so stop this garbage.
I can understand you, so stop putting this s**t in my head and making me listen to it.
Yeah, life for girls is tough in this world, especially when their mom is sh**ting all over their appearance.
She’s f**king three weeks old and is still perfect and noble and hasn’t hurt a goddamn soul. Stop projecting onto her.
You regularly tell me how your mom f**ked up your psyche with all her comments about your appearance so why the f**k are you doing the same to baby girl?
Anyways she was understandably hurt by my comments and we haven’t really talked about it or debriefed since.
I recognize that part of her comments stem from her anxiety/depression as well as her post-partum depression, and I also recognize there a lot of this stems from her mom’s influence on her psyche. I also recognize that yelling and berating people is rarely the right thing. So AITA here?
NTA. Who promises a three-week-old plastic surgery because they take after their father? She needs to talk to a professional. NTA and congratulations for your baby.
NTA she’s hurt is she? Imagine what it’s going to be like for your daughter when she’s older if her mother keeps up this attitude towards her.
I have a weirdly similar experience to this. I don't look anything like my mom, more like my dad's Latino side, and she made comments about my appearance and how unfortunate it was I didn't get any traits of hers for my entire life. I felt worthless for so many years and it took a long time for me to feel beautiful.
My dad was my biggest supporter my entire life and the only one who stood up for me. If it weren't for him I might still be stuck in that awful pit of self-hatred. NTA, not in the slightest, please continue to stand up for your daughter and do everything in your power to stop this behavior from your wife before your girl gets old enough to understand and be hurt by it.
I made weird comments about my own body until one day, I caught my then 3-year-old daughter pinching her thighs and asking if she looked fat. Broke my heart and I haven’t commented on my body like that since (15 years). Now I comment on how strong I feel, how capable I am, whether or not my energy levels feel good enough to take on the day.
NTA and I hope your wife reflects enough to be able to say thank you down the line. And maybe don’t wait next time until all of that just explodes out of you. Establish good habits, talk to your wife early and often. This will help you to be a good role model, showing your daughter what a healthy relationship looks like.
This is what our kids need most from us. I always remind myself: you are raising an adult, so show her what good adulting looks like.
NTA. Your reaction is human but I encourage you to learn how to communicate without yelling and berating. This post really broke my heart. “Out of the heart the mouth speaks.” anxiety and depression is not an excuse.
Your daughter is going to need you so please learn to be assertive and not aggressive with Mom or your kids are going to have problems due to the anger and chaos in the home. Get your wife into therapy ASAP and if she refuses, divorce her and file for custody. She’s going to make a Narcissist out of your golden boy son and a scapegoat out of your daughter.
Soft NTA - I don’t think you approached it the right way by yelling and cursing at her, but if I’m being honest I’d probably get fed up and start a fight if someone was insulting my genes, my family, and my LITERAL INFANT, in front of me. Even in spite of her mental health issues and her mother's influence this woman is, first and foremost, this baby girl's mother.
She should treat her with love and respect and some gd dignity. Being an adult and being a parent means handling yourself in a grow-up way and not projecting your issues onto others. That especially applies to children!!!! You’ve heard before that kids, even babies, are sponges and the environment around them WILL influence them without a doubt.
She needs to do better for her baby, for your son, and for your family (including herself) because this kind of attitude is only going to hinder the baby, you, and your son's outlook on women.
Ask her if she intends having any meaningful relationship with your daughter because if she keeps up with the comments your daughter is going to, at the very least, resent your wife for her entire life. NTA.
NTA - this doesn’t sound anxiety driven. She just seems vain. I don’t want to assume race, but if your daughter is more ethnic looking and all she does is comment on that it’d seem she has more to work on than just nasty comments. I think it important to find the root here. But you’re not wrong for wanting her to stop calling the babies look into question.
OP is definitely NTA here, and it looks like there are some deep issues that need to be resolved for this marriage and coparenting to work long-term.