There’s been no shortage of jerk dad content in online forums (nor IRL, for that matter), these days. That’s probably why we gravitated to a story from a dad who is being the opposite of a jerk, or so we think. His problem is that he really wants to protect his wife and their new baby girl… from his wife’s parents.
“When my wife is trying to eat meals, they’ll say stuff like, ‘Now that the baby is born, you can’t still use her for an excuse as to why you’re fat,'” he wrote. “Or if my wife is tired they say stuff like, ‘Wow, you can’t even handle 1 child. Maybe if you pushed yourself to be a better mom, you wouldn’t need to call your parents to bail you out.’ (We have never called them to come over, they just come over). My wife decided to take a break from work and be a SAHM for a while, and I bought her a Lexus because it was top rated for safety. My MIL said, ‘Wow, isn’t it nice your husband treats you like a trophy wife when you aren’t even a trophy.'”
In light of this toxic behavior, and his fear that it will eventually carry over to his daughter, HolidayTill5 would like to ban his in-laws from his house altogether. His wife, however, does not want to go this far. A key point to add here is that the wife is Indian and he is white. As outside observers, we don’t know how different cultural norms and values have influenced the husband’s and the wife’s perception of her parents’ behavior.
“She has been to therapy about this,” he later edited his post to add. “She understands that this isn’t okay. We won’t allow our child(ren) to be raised like this, but she doesn’t want to cause drama in the community [or] alienate her family.”
Honestly, we have no idea how they should resolve this issue. Can we even wade into the intersection of racial stereotypes and sexism? Well, we all know Redditors have no such qualms!
“[M]aybe say something to them (after giving wife a heads-up) before outright banning them,” WabbitFan suggested. “Calmly tell them that the way they talk to your wife is unacceptable, and if it doesn’t stop, they will not be welcome in your home.”
Dracarys_Aspo added, “[I]t’s really important to not allow that kind of behavior around your child. Letting a little girl hear those awful things said about her mom by family of all people will ingrain in her early on that she, too, is useless and ugly. Letting any child hear it could make them think it’s OK to be treated like trash by people, or that it’s OK to treat others that way. It’s a great way to get either a beaten down child with self-esteem issues, or a bully, or both.”
We are also very interested in how people of Indian descent see this issue:
“One thing in Indian families is that, if they approve of their daughter’s marriage or her husband, they tend to hold her husband at a very high level of respect,” wrote Avee19. “So, my advice would be that don’t outright ban them from coming over or something, but instead try talking to them about it and tell them that it upsets you when they talk to your wife like that. If they aren’t against your marriage (they most probably aren’t, I’m guessing, because you haven’t mentioned it), then chances are that by you telling them not to, they might change their behaviour over time.”
“Indian here married to a white guy,” RipleyFox replied to Avee19. “I agree with what you’ve said here. My parents definitely listen what my husband has to say. I wouldn’t outright ban the in-laws but have the conversation. My husband stood up to my mom while we were wedding planning and I think it made her respect him more. Sexism sucks but you may as well use their backwards thinking to your advantage.”
But another Redditor with Indian parents poked holes in the presumption that this behavior is the result of culture and tradition.
“My mom has one brother, but she’s the only girl,” MissionStatistician wrote. “Her parents couldn’t imagine treating her this way. If anybody spoke to my mom or treated her the way your wife’s parents treat their daughter, they’d be paying for it in blood. They’re being cruel and unkind, and I frankly have zero idea why they’re over all the time, considering it’s their daughter, and she’s married, and technically ‘in her husband’s/in-law’s home.’ If they’re old fashioned enough to treat her with such casual sexism, then I’m deeply surprised that they’re not old fashioned enough to think twice about being around all the time uninvited.”
And since we’re still dumbfounded, we’ll let chrisbwritin have the final, rational say on the matter:
“I am cheering you out loud right now for being a super advocate for your wife,” he said. “I would try to convince her to have this conversation with them herself if you can. If you already know that won’t work, is there another way to handle this that might work for everyone? … My first instinct is that you could gently say something to the in-law that is the most reasonable. ‘Hey, I heard something on the baby monitor and wanted to mention it, because it’s really been on my mind. You probably don’t know this, but [she] is feeling insecure about her weight, and I know neither of us want her to feel that way after just having a baby.’ And see if they take the hint.
“If you don’t think that will work, and you’re never around when they say these things, just take every opportunity to build her up right in front of them, all the time,” chrisbwritin continued. “‘You look amazing today.’ Or for anything she does…say in front of your in-laws, ‘Have I told you how much I appreciate you going the extra mile and X all the time?’ Alternately, call for a scale-back on visits by everyone on the whole. Just conjure reasons that you are busy or can’t see visitors until once every few weeks becomes the new norm? Whatever the case, I’m sorry for your wife having to deal with this. It sucks.”
That it certainly does.
Need to hear more positive parenting stories? Here are some of our favorite celebrity dads being great.