No More Free Babysitting: Woman Insists Sister’s Husband Takes Responsibility
It often doesn't take long for people to take their loved ones for granted and that's especially true when it comes to childcare. And depending on how those loved ones' personalities are wired, it can take years before they fully realize how starkly they're being taken advantage of.
But when a person gets used to having someone else fill a vital role in their lives, one can usually expect a meltdown to follow when that someone finally stands up for themselves. And that's why one young woman is seeking advice after hitting her limit.
A constantly helping hand
In a Reddit post explaining her situation, a 22-year-old woman expressed that she's been helping her 38-year-old sister Iris take care of her children since they were born.
It's worth noting that Iris has two daughters, aged seven and five.
About a third of her life
Even from this brief introduction, it's hard not to get the impression that she's been practically raising her sister's children alongside her since she was 15 years old.
And while that would be a hard but understandable situation if Iris were a single mother, that is not the scenario here.
In theory, the father's there
Iris had these children with her husband David, but this man has made a habit of not taking an active role in the day-to-day work of raising his children.
And since this has been the case since the first of these children was born, Iris called on her sister to help.
Not mean, but not fair
In a supplementary comment, the woman explained that this doesn't mean David is cruel to his children. She describes him as making them laugh, taking them out for ice cream, and taking them on vacation during school breaks.
But as she put it, "He plays the part of the fun uncle."
One excuse out the window
And before anyone asked, the woman explained that the problem wasn't that David puts too many hours in at work to be present on a daily basis.
Because while he has a nine-to-five job at a bank, Iris is a doctor who works twice the hours he does.
Over the last seven years, the woman has had to consistently cancel plans, trips, and other life experiences to care for her nieces. For every ten plans her friends made, she may have been able to attend one of them.
As she said in another comment, "At a point, they just stopped inviting me because they knew I wouldn't come."
What's the point?
Yet 90% of the time that she went over to watch the children, David would also be right there.
The only difference was he would either be watching sports or hanging out with his friends each of those times.
A people pleaser
It wasn't lost on the woman that she was watching David have the kind of fun she couldn't all the time.
But in her words, "I didn't have the guts to say anything when I was younger, so I just shut up about it."
A new development
Although this has clearly been an issue in the woman's life for a long time, a more recent event compelled her to ask for the internet's perspectives on her situation.
Namely, Iris was pregnant with her third child.
The not-so-good news
While the woman's excited for Iris, she also couldn't help but dread the implications of this news.
Because while the two children have reached ages where she's found it slightly easier to care for them on her own, a third child would make her experiences nightmarish all over again.
An exhausted ultimatum
With this in mind, the woman told Iris that David would need to step up and take his parental duties seriously now that she has a job and less free time.
In response, her sister told her, "What's the point of that comment?"
What did she think the point was?
In response, the woman said she had been doing David's share of the kids' parenting for seven years.
As such, she insisted Iris tell him to do more because she wouldn't be "playing dad again."
Hold on, what?
This ultimatum made Iris angry, as she said she trusted her sister to look after her nieces.
But as the woman relayed, she added, "Women are naturally better at it than men."
A very specific village
Using the old adage, "It takes a village to raise a child," Iris went on to say that her village consists of just women and girls.
But while the sister said she was happy to be part of that village, she refused to be a parent because that's not a job she signed up for.
After the woman stood up to her sister, Iris froze her out and reportedly hadn't spoken to her for a week at the time of her post.
These circumstances led her to ask whether she was in the right in this dispute.
Although the woman's story was brief, it left users with a lot to unpack. But they were particularly quick to affirm that Iris' kids were not the woman's responsibility.
As one person put it, "You have your own life to live that doesn't revolve around hers, and she needs to learn that sooner than later."
Another theory develops
Some commenters suspected that Iris is aware of how little David is doing as a parent and is letting her anger about it go unvoiced.
But the woman's experiences compelled her to disagree.
Both of them loved this arrangement
The woman is almost certain that David is acting exactly as Iris would like him to. She mentioned that they've been together since she was born and are just as in love as they were then.
In her words, "They take at least several date nights and trips alone together and can't take their hands off each other for the most part."
So what gives?
As the woman continued, "Iris just has deeply misogynistic views on parenting. She just doesn't believe men should hold any domestic responsibilities. David doesn’t think so either. Match made in heaven, I guess lol."
Men and women alike in the comments found Iris' views deeply offensive, but a sudden realization made them even more concerned.
A potentially dangerous bias
It wasn't lost on people that Iris is a doctor, which made them concerned about the potential for her views to bleed into her professional life.
As one commenter said, "If she really is this sexist, how is she interacting with some of her patients?"
Another thing didn't make sense to them
Others noticed that, given their occupations, Iris and David should have no problem affording decent childcare.
Other than because it was easier to take advantage of Iris's sister, people wondered what their rationale was for never hiring a babysitter or nanny.
They weren't wrong
The woman agreed that the couple had the means to hire a full-time nanny if they wanted to, but Iris mentioned that she didn't want "random people" raising her children.
With that in mind, users wondered if the woman had been paid for all the time she's sacrificed for her sister's children.
An unsavory pattern
The woman replied that, for the most part, she wasn't paid for her work.
Her sister would give her some money for the rare occasions she could go out with her friends or for takeout when asked, but she otherwise watched her nieces for free.
Her meekness worked against her
Although the woman doesn't feel she needs the money at this point in her life, she said she couldn't bring herself to ask for any when she was younger.
In her words, "I'll gladly babysit my nieces for free, just not several times a week. I don't have that kind of time anymore."
Learning not to be a doormat
The woman said that standing up to her sister's expectations is part of a long-term effort to stop being a people pleaser and learn to say no to them.
As she wrote, "This whole conversation was very out of character for me; she was so shocked lol."
How this happened at all
When asked why she had to do any of this, the woman replied that her family was oddly used to pretending that David wasn't capable of showing the slightest responsibility for his children.
She added that he's not even the third in line to watch his kids if Iris or her sister can't do it.
It's always somebody else's problem
As the woman told it, the only time David is expected to step up is when literally nobody else can. This includes her mother.
As she put it, "She's old and has arthritis, so can't do much, but she's still more likely to take care of the girls than David will. It's ridiculous."
Another possibility arises
Some commenters weren't optimistic that Iris and David would agree he should step up even with this ultimatum.
And while some imagine them leaning harder on Iris's mother, others predicted that they would start pressuring their oldest child to take care of the others.
Other commenters told her that the silent treatment she's getting from Iris isn't likely to last long because her family will likely want her to babysit soon.
She agreed and is thinking of a polite way to decline before that happens.
Well wishes abound
However she does it, the woman knows she has Reddit's full support.
It's unknown if Iris and David will ever change the way they look at his ability to parent, but at least it will no longer be the woman's problem if they don't.