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Woman refuses to learn sign language for boyfriend's mute daughter. AITA? UPDATED

Woman refuses to learn sign language for boyfriend's mute daughter. AITA? UPDATED


AITA calling my girlfriend selfish for refusing to learn sign language for my daughter?


My daughter Ruby was born mute. She can understand words, but we use sign language to communicate. While she can use her phone or write, obviously she prefers to sign.

The issue is my girlfriend, Amanda. We've been dating for around 9 months, and introduced our children around 3 months ago. They don't know sign language so communication with Ruby was awkward at first, she hates having to write or use her phone at home.

So I taught Amanda some basic signs beforehand, and I've continued teaching her and Mia more in this time. Mia is getting a lot better actually.

But Amanda has apparently decided it's too hard and refuses to learn any more. She says that it's 'unnecessary' since Ruby can understand her and communicate other ways. While Ruby is usually willing to do that for them, she doesn't enjoy it and finds it frustrating.

I told Amanda she's being selfish and lazy. That it's not fair to put all the effort on Ruby. It's one thing if she doesn't get it after years, but it's only been a few months. It's just ridiculous.

We got into a fight over it and she basically called me an a**hole and said it's not her fault she struggles with it. But that doesn't mean just give up. If she wants to be in our life it's the bare minimum effort to put in.

I clearly think she's just being selfish, while she thinks I'm an a**hole and unfair. I vented to my brother and he agreed with Amanda. That I can't force her to learn and not everyone is good with language. And that Ruby doesn't 'need' it and I'm 'coddling her'.

I'm honestly still pissed off but I do love Amanda. She's normally thoughtful and kind, and I guess it's possible it's just me being overprotective of Ruby. I think it's a reasonable expectation, but I'm starting to doubt myself.

Here is what people had to say after reading:


NTA. This should be a dealbreaker for you.


Your brother is an AH too. Asking for someone that I'm guessing you might see a future with to learn how to best communicate with your daughter is not coddling her and she does in fact NEED to be able to communicate but more importantly in a manner she feels most comfortable with (your daughter I mean).

Asking a CHILD to accommodate an adult is honestly one of the more entitled things I've heard. The fact that an adult is saying 'This is to hard for me, do it how I want to' is troubling and something you should really consider before taking any further steps with Amanda.


Amanda has shown that she isn’t “thoughtful and kind” towards your daughter. NTA, but you will probably end up being the AH if you continue trying to blend your families. Ruby shouldn’t have to deal with a stepmom who won’t try to learn to communicate with her. The best thing to do is to not put either of them (Ruby or Amanda) in that situation.


Your daughter should be able to communicate with her family at home. If your girlfriend isn't interested in conversing with your child in a way your child is comfortable with, I think there's only one solution. If I were you, tell her to start packing.


1:In all fairness Sign Language is tricky to learn 2:Flash Cards can provide a good alternative


I grew up next door to deaf neighbors. The wife was born deaf, and the husband lost his hearing when he was 8 or 9 years old. They had 4 kids, but all of them were grown by the time we moved into the area.

I can remember being 6 years old and my mother marching me next door with a piece of paper that said, 'Teach me sign language. You need to be able to talk to someone if there is an emergency.'

I couldn't even read half the words on that paper, but I learned sign language. I never got 100% proficient at it, but I could sign the alphabet and some frequently used words.

Now, I get that there are a lot easier ways to communicate today than there were back in the 70s. But I still don't understand how the GF could NOT learn it.

I was 6 and could've spent more time playing with my friends instead of 2 to 3 hours a week learning sign language, but my mom explained why it was important and 6 year old me didn't mind learning. I did this for someone I hadn't known.

My 1st encounter with them was handing them the note from my mom. It just seems like common decency to me. OP needs to reevaluate his relationship with this woman. His daughter and her comfort need to come 1st.


Not the AH. First I believe introducing the kids was a little soon, IMO. If there were ever a medical emergency and you're not around and shes unable to use cell phone there could be a serious issue. To nurture and have a good relationship with her potential step child one would think she would try harder. Wonder if this is truly a relationship for you AND your daughter!!

The OP returned a week later with an update:

UPDATE: AITA for calling my girlfriend selfish for refusing to learn sign language


I want to thank everyone for the advice and responses. I definitely don't agree with everything but I can see both sides.

First I do want to clear up some stuff. I'm not sure why so many people act like I sprung it on Amanda. I never said I did, and I certainly didnt. I told her upfront about Ruby and was clear that I expected a partner to be willing to put in the effort for her sake.

Also I never criticised Amanda for not being fluent. I had no expectation it would be easy or quick, hell I struggled at first. I've never insulted her or had issues with her progress. My only issue was that she refused to try anymore.

While my words were immature, it was only after she basically said it wasn't worth learning sign language that I got upset and said it.

I find the idea it's too soon honestly strange. Wouldn't it be worse for us to be engaged or married before I know if she's willing to put in the effort for my daughter? I don't expect perfection, just for her to try.

I understand that Ruby needs to be able to communicate in other ways. She has to for school. But that doesn't mean she should be forced to at home. Besides all this I did consider our relationship serious, I love Amanda.

With that aside, I think it's mostly been resolved. Amanda came over and apologised for how she acted. She explained that she had been trying to hide how much she was struggling, and got frustrated seeing how quickly Mia was getting it while she understood nothing.

Basically Amanda was seeing how quickly and 'effortlessly' I was getting close to Mia, and was feeling like she was useless with her lack of progress, especially knowing how important it was to me.

We had a long talk about it. I apologised for my immature reaction and explained that it was always non-negotiable for me. And I brought up that if it would make her miserable and resentful it may be better to separate.

Amanda did not like that and we talked about our relationship and expectations. I considered it serious the moment she met Ruby. While Amanda didn't see it quite the same way, she knew she wanted me in her life and understood that meant she had to try with Ruby.

Amanda has decided to find her own professional teaching. She thinks it will be better for her frustration to show there than with Ruby or I. I'll keep teaching Mia, because she really enjoys it. It doesn't matter whether she is fluent, as long as she's trying. I know Ruby will appreciate the effort.

For now Ruby will still have to use other methods to communicate (she was anyway), but hopefully one day she won't have to.

Unfortunately my brother stands by what he says. He said that even though Amanda has 'given in', it was still unfair of me. That I'm 'lucky' Amanda is willing to put up with it. I've honestly lost a lot of respect for him with all this. I don't understand how he can think that about Ruby and I.

Still, overall I'd say it's gone well. Thanks for the advice, whichever way you lent. I think we'll be able to get through it.

After the update, here is how people responded:


Interesting Dilema. I get where you are coming from and where your partner is coming from. It sounds like you resolved it. You going to have to be very patient as this sounds like its going to take a long time for your partner to achieve tho.


Your brother said 'Amanda puts up with it' that hit me the wrong way...


I feel like OP is accepting the bare minimum of “good will” towards his daughter because of the unbridled animosity his in-laws have. People showing super basic kindness seem great compared to them. In reality, his brother and current girlfriend just aren’t “there” in my opinion.

Their support is pretty limp-wristed. He really should focus on his little girl right now when she’s already so someone emotionally immature enough to prioritize their own hurt feelings over fostering a relationship with your daughter is really not the play.


It's understandable you want this for your daughter, but asking someone to learn a language like this is a bit much. Not everyone in your daughter's life is going to accommodate her, and you shouldn't expect them to.

Even talking about your brother - he may be a tiny bit of an AH, but he has a right to his opinion, and it's not like his opinion is unreasonable.


I'm glad she's still gonna try learning. Some people on the last post were total a**hats, thing you it's unreasonable and that a lot of people don't know sign language so your daughter should have to adjust instead, like yeah expecting every stranger to know it is unreasonable but your gf would literally live in the same house as her why the f*ck would it be unreasonable to expect her to learn sign language.


I’m glad to hear that your girlfriend is making an effort to learn sign language! Ruby is your child. In a serious relationship where there’s a kid involved (especially a child with a disability) I think it absolutely fair to expect there to be some effort on your SO’s part to learn how to accommodate them.

It isn’t fair to expect every partner you have to do so—some people just don’t want that out of a relationship, so I can understand to a degree perhaps what your brother was saying if (and ONLY IF) he isn’t completely aware of how serious your relationship is, and perhaps this is something to communicate to him.

He is Ruby’s uncle, and he should be more aware of how this could impact her when considering a long-term relationship with someone (and honestly, how that statement in itself could impact her).

That being said, all that matters is that you and your girlfriend are on the same page. No one will ever know your relationship better than the two of you.

You and your girlfriend clearly love each other and clearly value each other’s presence in your lives—I think that’s wonderful! Happy to see that everything is going well for you three. I wish you guys the best!

What would you tell this father to do to make the best life for he and his daughter?

Sources: Reddit,Reddit
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