A pregnant mom of five is being slammed online for using her older children as “free babysitters.”
Post to Reddit’s Am I the A******? (AITA) forum on September 26, user u/Unusual_Squash9119 explained she’d fallen out with her oldest son after he refused to watch his siblings while on vacation.
After the 21-year-old said he wanted to “relax and chill,” the angry mom told him to help babysit or move out when they return home.
At the time of writing, the post has received over 5,000 upvotes and almost 3,000 comments, many from users blasting the mom for “parentifying” her children.
What Is Parentification?
Parentification is when a child is made to take on the role and responsibilities of an adult. There are two types of parentification—instrumental parentification and emotional parentification.
Examples of instrumental parentification include caring for parents or younger family members or taking on adult duties such as cleaning or paying the bills. Often, these tasks are not appropriate for their age or ability.
Emotional parentification is when a parent is heavily on their child for emotional support, such as listening to the parent’s problems, meditating family conflicts or household arguments, or comforting younger siblings. However, the child rarely receives emotional support for their parents in return.
Although there are varying levels, parentification has been shown to have a long-term effect on a child’s mental health and emotional wellbeing. Research indicates that parentified children often grapple with attachment issues as adults, making it harder to form bonds or have a healthy relationship.
Despite these struggles, a 2017 study found evidence that adults who were parentified as children showed higher levels of resilience and cognitive empathy, allowing them to better predict and understand the emotions of others.
‘He Wanted To Relax’
In her post, u/Unusual_Squash9119 said she is a mom to two 10-year-old twin girls called Sophia and Lisa, a 17-year-old boy named Joshua, a one-year-old girl called Emily, and her oldest son , Danny.
The family recently took a trip to Hawaii, but the poster’s husband couldn’t make it due to a last-minute work emergency, leaving her to care for the kids alone. While Joshua stepped in to watch the twins, and the twins tried to help with the baby, Danny chose to avoid the family instead.
“My twins cried, A LOT,” she wrote. “My son Joshua and I comforted them, but Danny stood doing nothing.
“Whatever we did, Danny was absent for it. Like for example, going to the beach, banana boats, Luaus, and watching his younger sisters when they just wanted to go to the pool, he’d stay in his room on his phone , chat with his friends.”
As the vacation wore on, the poster became more frustrated with Danny’s introverted nature.
“I hated having to put most of the work on Josh because he wanted to have fun too, and my daughters [were] helping with the baby,” she said.
“I called him down to help, but he said he ‘wanted to relax and chill.’
“We literally came here to relax, chill, and have FUN, though we weren’t having lots of fun with less help, a crying baby, two ten year olds who wanted to go to the pool, and my other son who wanted to get away from his sisters for at least an hour. It was a mess.”
Eventually, the poster said to Danny: “If you can’t step up and help the woman who gave birth to you, lets you live in her house rent free, while giving you a job, whose money you just spend on silly games instead of getting an apartment, then you can get out of my house and pay for your own stuff.”
Shocked by the outburst, Danny left to call his paternal grandparents and aunt, who criticized the poster for yelling at her son and asked her why she’d “shout at my son when he did nothing.”
“I told them ‘he’s been doing nothing except eating and chatting in his room with his silly friends, instead of helping his mother and siblings,'” she said.
When the family returned home, the poster’s husband berated Danny for not helping out more and “sent him to his room.”
The majority of Redditors supported Danny’s right not to babysit, with many accusing the poster of “parentification.”
“It was your choice to give birth to five kids. Not Dannys,” said FunnyGumo0_0. “What exactly are you doing in this story? Except for being pregnant. Again.”
“He’s not your husband or the father of your kids,” wrote kirbygay. “Stop popping them out if you can’t handle so many. And I say this as a parent.”
“It very much sounds like Danny was brought along against his will to ‘coparent’ his younger siblings,” commented killerbekilled92. “Hence why he spend the whole trip sans food in the hotel room talking to his friends.”
However, others backed the poster, chastising Danny for not helping out more since he lives at home rent-free and his mom is his employer.
“Danny is an adult now,” said veni-vidi-dixi. “He’s 21, so if he wants a free vacation with his family he better be prepared to pitch in and act like a member of said family.”
HowFunkyIsYourChicken agreed, writing: “Quit with the b******** about parentification. He’s been given a free trip to Hawaii and asked to take his sisters to the pool because Mom doesn’t have Dad there to help.”
While Valherudragonlords commented: “I don’t buy into reddits complete opposition to the idea of kids helping out the family unit just because they’re kids. I don’t see anything wrong with a bit of babysitting or everyone working together as a team .”
Newsweek has reached out to u/Unusual_Squash9119 for comments. We could not verify the details of the case.
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