A post about a husband who says that his wife should “lower her standards so that she’ll be less overwhelmed” with parenting duties has gone viral on Reddit, where it had over 13,000 upvotes.
In a post shared on Reddit’s Am I The A***** (AITA) subforum under the username Creative-Decision675, the 38-year-old husband said he and his 37-year-old wife share three children (age 12, 10 and 8).
According to the poster, his wife is “in a constant state of overwhelm and very easily irritated, constantly complaining how it’s all too much. I’m of course happy to help and do my fair share for the kids or household, but it’s never enough because her standards are too damn high.”
Nannette Williams, a licensed marriage and family counselor based in Charleston, South Carolina, told Newsweek: “It’s fairly common for parents to have different ideas about what children need and how to fulfill what they feel are their roles as parents.” Which parent is being unfair to the other in the viral Reddit post? “Probably both,” Williams said.
The couple’s dilemma comes as no surprise as mothers and fathers in the U.S. have shown varying differences in their views on parenting.
In a September-October 2022 survey conducted by the Pew Research Center, moms were found to be more likely than dads to say being a parent is tiring (47 percent vs. 34 percent) and stressful (33 percent vs. 24 percent) all or most of the time.
A higher portion of mothers than fathers were also reported to be “extremely or very worried” about their kids facing a range of hardships at some point in time, from mental health issues to being bullied or kidnapped, the survey found.
‘She Creates the Stress for Herself’
The father in the viral post said his wife “insists one of us has to be up at 6:45 every morning to make sure the kids are ready and make the bus which comes at 7:45. I told her they’re old enough to not need that much help already.”
He says “there’s no reason” the couple needs to be up in the morning. His wife says their 10-year-old, who has attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), “will definitely struggle without help in the morning.” She also “wants to see them [the kids] off and kiss them goodbye for the day.” His wife later allegedly gets upset that he never gives her “a morning off.”
According to the poster, the mom is also “super strict about screen time during the week [two hour limit per day] and is exhausted and snappy from arguing about it with the kids,” while he believes “as long as homework is done, why not [allow the kids screen time] until bed.”
His wife says the kids “need to play outside…entertain themselves in more ways than one.” The poster says: “I agree they should enjoy other things but not seeing why we have to make such a rigid limit.”
The father also noted that his wife “likes to get out on weekends and do stuff like zoos, museums etc, but then complains about the planning for the outing…I say let’s just chill at home and voila, you’ve cut the work!
“I’m an engaged and active parent, I’m not trying to get out of it, but I don’t think I should have to help my wife dig herself out of her own self created holes. She creates the stress for herself and then turns to me to alleviate it which I think is unfair…”
‘Both Scenarios Sound Extreme’
Williams said that “the chaos of trying to take charge of three children every morning who need to be dressed, fed, and put on a bus” versus “two parents lying in bed while said children attempt to get themselves ready without parental supervision…both scenarios sound extreme.”
The licensed marriage and family counselor said “the husband is correct” in that there are tasks that kids can handle on their own. However, the wife is “smart enough” to know that you can’t “leave three children to fend for themselves in the mornings.”
Williams suggested that a way to compromise would be for the parents to “teach the children how to assume some of their own self-care, have each parent get a ‘morning pass’ once a week to sleep in and let the other parent take over.”
She noted: “Most importantly, make certain you present this plan to the children and allow them each to have one request in the process.” Other issues, such as screen time and weekend activity, can be approached the same way.
Williams said: “Don’t forget that parenting is not only about the children but how you tackle the job together so you maintain a healthy committed relationship as a couple.”
‘100 Percent Neglect’
The Reddit post has sparked fury among several users who criticized the father.
Outrageously_Penguin said: “YTA [you’re the a*****]. Your wife’s standards are just…being a decent parent…family time and enriching activities are also important. Maybe those can be cut down slightly, but ‘just chill at home’ all the time isn’t the answer either. Stop being lazy and become an actually engaged parent like your wife is.”
Susannah_Mio said: “if my parents would have been home and decided to sleep in instead of getting up with me I 100 percent would have felt neglected as f***…Holy s*** OP [original poster] is completely out of touch with reality.”
User homeworkunicorn agreed, saying: “It is 100 percent neglect to let children those ages try to fend for themselves in the early morning trying to get ready for school.”
Freyja2179 added: “Seriously, he thinks sitting on the couch and watching screens is being an engaged and active parent…that’s not even the bare minimum.”
Newsweek has contacted the original poster for comment via the Reddit messaging system.
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