A mom has been applauded for refusing to look after her sister-in-law’s 5-year-old daughter during a recent family vacation.
According to the mom, who posted her story to Reddit under the handle throwaway_babysit101, her sister-in-law Tina approached her on the holiday and asked if she would take her 5-year-old on a planned day out as she was feeling “overwhelmed.”
The mom was heading off on a day out with her husband and daughter and said she did not want to take Tina’s daughter as she finds “some of her behavior very off-putting.”
According to the post, Tina had a “meltdown” when she was told no and tearfully responded that as a “fellow mother” she thought she would “understand needing a break.”
It was a response that drew little sympathy online but plenty from parenting experts aware of the stress associated with raising children.
Parenting may be rewarding but it can also be tiring and stressful for many moms and dads. In a 2015 Pew Research Center poll, 15 percent of parents said that they found it tiring all the time, with a further 18 percent saying it was tiring most of the time.
Meanwhile, the same study found around 15 percent of parents had no support at all when it came to raising their kids.
According to the Reddit post, Tina ultimately convinced her husband’s parents to look after the kids but later made a pointed remark about the fact she felt some in the family could be a bit more “accommodating” with kids as “it takes a village.”
So, should the mom have offered to take Tina’s child off her hands? Not necessarily according to childcare author and parenting expert Sarah Ockwell-Smith.
Ockwell-Smith told Newsweek: “Just because one of the parents has asked for help and seems to be struggling, doesn’t mean the others are coping well. They could be struggling just as much behind closed doors; they may also be desperate for some rest and recuperation on the holiday.”
For many on social media, it was Tina’s perceived sense of entitlement that angered them most. As Curious-Mousse-8714 put it: “Asking was fine. Guilting or acting entitled was not.” GlitteringCoyote1526 echoed Ockwell-Smith’s assessment, writing: “If Tina ‘knows how hard it is,’ she should recognize that foisting her daughter on someone else is ridiculous.”
Dwassell73 said: “Tina threw a tantrum like her 5-year-old when she didn’t get her way. If she needs a break that badly she can herself hire a babysitter.”
However, others felt some sympathy, with Frequent_Equal9170 commenting: “Why did it take a meltdown for others to help her? It takes a village, but that village needs healthy communication.”
That assessment was shared by Ockwell-Smith who concluded that the family needs to “communicate better” in future.
“It sounds as if they see the parent who is struggling are somehow lacking in parenting skills and there is an undercurrent of belief that the child has lots of tantrums because of their parenting,” she told Newsweek.
“Young children tantrum because they are young children—it is developmentally normal. There is too much judgment of parents whose children are seen to ‘misbehave,’ when what they really need is empathy, support and a gentle listening ear.”
Newsweek reached out for comment to u/throwaway_babysit101 and could not verify the details of the case.
If you have a similar family dilemma, send an email to [email protected] with your first name and general location. We can ask experts for advice, and your story could be featured on Newsweek.