We’ve all heard the phrase, “blood is thicker than water.” It’s that family first mentality, the idea that no matter your relationship with your family, they come first, period. It’s the reason many people feel that they can ask family members for anything, even if it is crossing a clear boundary. A 29-year-old man with this mindset took to Reddit’s “Am I the Asshole?’ (AITA) subreddit to ask users if he was the bad guy for being upset that his sister wouldn’t watch his son for a few hours.
First a little background. The original poster (OP) shared that he and his wife welcomed their son 10 months ago and that he has “two maternal aunts and uncles (their husbands) by marriage as well as a set of maternal grandparents,” nearby. He also notes that he has a 26-year-old sister who is “a bit of rebel who swears she’ll never get married or have kids, and who claims to not even like kids.”
The OP goes on to explain that when his son was born, his sister visited them at the hospital (which “actually somewhat surprised” him), and said, “I don’t like kids, but he’s so cute that he’s an exception. He’s officially my favorite kid on the Planet. Don’t ever ask me to babysit, though.”
Naturally, a moment came when his son’s other built-in family babysitters were unavailable, and he and his wife were in a bind for child care. His wife works at a jail and was called in last minute, which the OP says she could not turn down due to her essential employee status.
“I work as a kitchen manager/head chef at an event hall. I had a huge event that I absolutely couldn’t miss,” he added.
“Our contigency [sic] plan just in case just that sort of thing should happen to occur was to have one of her sisters or her parents watch our son. However they just so happened to all be out of town together that day, so I had no choice but to ask *my* sister to just watch her nephew for a few hours until one or both of us were able to get away from our jobs. But she refused.”
Ultimately, his wife ended up “having” to stay home and called up her employer to say, “‘Well, I just can’t come in. Do what you have to in terms of discipline,’ which ended with her being receiving a written reprimand,” the OP wrote. So, to be clear, his wife, an essential worker, called off work to stay home with their child while he, a non-essential worker who wouldn’t face any form of formal reprimand for calling off last minute, went to his job.
The OP said he ended up “going off on” his sister, calling her “selfish, amoral, etc.” and told his sister “she should have a better sense of loyalty to her family just because that’s the right thing to do whether she’d ever ‘agreed’ to anything or not.”
The comment section blew up, tearing apart the OP for multiple reasons. Calling his sister a “rebel” because she “swears she’ll never get married or have kids,” makes it seem that the OP already is working from an antiquated view of women’s role in society.
“Let’s dissect calling her a rebel because she has chosen to not have children and stay single. That’s no rebelling. That’s having the freedom to choose. That’s self care. We have fought long and hard to have these choices,” replied one user.
The fact that he also prioritized his non-essential worker job and let his wife get reprimanded instead also rubbed a lot of readers the wrong way.
“OP, how in the hell did your kitchen staff supersede your partner’s essential status? She received an official reprimand on her record because no one else in your kitchen can make Béchamel sauce?” added another.
People also pointed out that maybe, just maybe, a contingency plan for a babysitter should include a paid or professional sitter. And, as one user rightfully points out, what happens when there is a family emergency? What is the plan, then?
“With your professional situations, your wife and yourself should have an official ‘in case of an emergency childcare,’” the user wrote. “She told you she would never babysit and your lack of anticipating that kind of situation is not her problem. She’s your sister. Not your sitter.”
Others noted that the OP was quick to say he was out of options as soon as the free babysitters were unavailable. Yes, child care can be expensive, often prohibitively, but the OP does not suggest that money is an issue between the two working parents. There are countless paid child care services that have background-checked and certified sitters ready at a moment’s notice.
One Redditor summed up the OP’s problematic thinking and why the OP was the asshole (YTA) in six succinct points:
- If your [sic] a head/chef kitchen manager you should of [sic] trained your staff to be able to handle an event without you YTA
- You let your wife be reprimanded from an essential workers position so you could still go to work YTA
- You expected someone who has made it clear they do not want to or will ever babysit your kids under any circumstance to just do it because it suits you more YTA
- You acted like a child and berated someone for making their boundaries clear and sticking to them YTA
- You knew this could possibly happen and didn’t set up a proper plan for child care YTA
- You and your wife are the only people responsible for your child’s care, the idea that you share some DNA with someone means that they should help you is f*cking stupid YTA
No, there is nothing wrong with asking family and friends for help, even for free child care. Lots of communities thrive off mutual child care — emphasis on mutual — OR EVEN THE “VILLAGE” OF PEOPLE, AS IT WERE. However, a family member’s very clear boundaries about not wanting to babysit do not dissolve as soon as you are in a bind.
The funny thing about “blood is thicker than water” is that there is more to the idiom than those five words. The entire phrase is, “Blood of the covenant is thicker than the water of the womb,” meaning the relationships and boundaries we choose are stronger than the ones the genetic lotto assigned us.