Dad Complains Wife Is "Babying" Daughter with IEP⁠—and Reddit Isn't Having It

A dad took to social media to complain that his wife was "coddling" their child, who has different needs. As usual, Redditors had some strong thoughts on the matter.

What's the difference between nurturing a child and coddling them? In 2021, a fed-up father asked Reddit readers to weigh in on this topic when he claimed his wife was "spoiling" their daughter, who has unique learning needs. In true Reddit fashion, the commenters let him know exactly what they thought, and things quickly got heated online.

The dad had kicked off the whole thing by posting in the AITA (Am I The Asshole) subreddit under the name u/aitaspoileddaughter, describing the situation at home. "My wife and I have a daughter, Ava (13)," he wrote. "My wife is a great mom and takes good care of Ava, but lately, I feel like she's spoiling Ava and not letting her be as independent as she should be."

Fair enough, but then he gave a few examples of his spouse's "spoiled" parenting style.

"Ava struggles in school, so my wife emails all of Ava's teachers to ask for modified assignments (she has an [Individualized Education Program], which I feel is unneeded)," he said, noting that his wife "sits down with her every day after school to do homework with her or do projects or study for tests."

Huh? He went on.

That very day, the original poster (OP) continued, Ava had dressed for 50-degree weather, and it wound up being 80 degrees outside. She was (understandably) warm. His wife, who taught at Ava's school, sent over water bottles and had her daughter spend lunch and recess indoors. Later, Dad mentioned that Ava had two autoimmune diseases, anxiety, ADHD, and a history of dizziness and fainting.

So basically his wife was being a good parent. (Unless you define spoiling a child as making sure they feel comfortable all day.)

"It was only 80 degrees, and the lunch tables are all in the shade, so Ava would've been fine outside," Dad moaned. "Even an hour ago, Ava came to us and said that her head hurt and she was nauseous, so my wife is in Ava's room rubbing her back to 'comfort her.' Over a damn headache."

The father decided to tell his wife "to stop babying Ava and to let her take care of herself."

Naturally, the wife wasn't having any of it. She went to bat for their daughter, like a good parent should. "Now, my wife is refusing to talk to me and is planning on sleeping in the guest room tonight, so I wanted to see if I was the asshole," the OP wrote.

Possibly recalling a host of other fathers who'd taken to Reddit to air their strange parenting grievances, readers of the post really let fly in the comments section.

"OP is really asking, 'My qualified wife is providing reasonable support to my daughter, who has several special needs, and it makes me feel sad.' It's baffling," one said. "The moment OP said he thought she didn't need an IEP, I didn't even have to read the rest of his post. He's an ass," another wrote.

"I don't see anything wrong with a parent sitting down with their child and offering assistance with homework," marveled a commenter. "It's the behavior of an engaged parent. Specifically, the parent of a child who may have a learning disability."

A fellow Redditor said, "She's 13, you ask her to be independent, but you're ALWAYS there to back her up if she needs it. Maybe you can figure out some opportunities for Ava to try things herself for a bit before your wife jumps in but your wife should be free to jump in whenever she thinks it's needed."

Most experts would probably agree with the last person. It is possible to be kind to your child while also empowering them and showing them how to be independent. Depending on their specific needs and stage of development, there are a host of ways to foster their growth. You might:

  • Ask them to walk ahead of you to find an item in the grocery store
  • Allow them to go to the mall or a movie with friends
  • Let them walk a couple of blocks by themselves or with a pet

Hopefully after sleeping on it that evening (away from his wife), this father realized the potential trauma he might be inflicting on his child if he continued this way. Gaining some empathy is never a bad thing.

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