Two female friends—who knew each other since primary school—don't see each other often as adults.
Now both 24, they recently clashed over unsolicited advice offered and not well received.
One of the women always made her friend think she strongly disliked children. But when Redditor "JustARedBrick" told this friend that she should never have kids of her own, the advice backfired.
The Original Poster (OP) JustARedBrick asked the subReddit AITA (Am I the A**hole) if she was wrong for offering the unsolicited advice.
The OP recalled her friend's attitude about children.
"As far as as I remember, she always wanted kids, she was the kind of gal who liked talking about future names, whether she wanted girls or boys, etc, etc."
"Except that as we grew up...She started disliking kids. She is an only child so she is rarely exposed to children, while I have three younger siblings."
Maybe the OP's younger siblings influenced her friend's negative attitude.
"She disliked my younger siblings a lot. Never let them know of course, but she'd rather if we hung out at her house than mine because of how 'noisy' they were, which was, well, normal kid noises."
"To be fair, I preferred to hang out at her house too, because it was nice to get away from my siblings from time to time."
However, the friend expressed interest in a career that involved dealing with kids.
"At the end of middle school, in my country, we have to do some three days long shadowing at a job we are interested in."
"She picked a kindergarten because she wanted to work with kids at the time (I think she thought my siblings were just exceptionally bratty for...Making noise, asking questions, occasionally making messes?)."
But her antipathy towards kids was cemented in the mind of the OP by a lack of patience during this exercise.
"She hated it so much. She vented constantly about it the entire three days. Even sweet stuff? One that stuck with me is how she complained about that one little girl who took a liking in her, so she was constantly trying to talk to her, but she had a stutter, and that stutter annoyed her. She has never been a patient person."
"Since then, she has come to the conclusion that the majority of children are spoiled brats because their parents raised them badly."
"As adults we don't see each other much anymore, as we live far away, but whenever she talks about kids she saw, it's always to complain and comment on how badly behaved they are."
"Now as I said, I have three little siblings, I also currently work with troubled teenagers so I see quite a lot of smaller kids too. What she complains about is normal kid behaviour."
"Occasionally there'll be one or two that, alright, sounded super bratty, but no kid will go all his life without having a really sh**ty day once."
Recently, the friend announced she and her boyfriend decided to have children.
The declaration raised a red flag for the OP though.
"Everyone congratulated them, she got all the obligatory 'You'll be the best mom!.' I congratulated her too at first but then I thought about it and...I see too many kids already who have never been allowed to be kids because their parents couldn't stand the slightest noise."
"So I called her and I told her about my concerns. I was honest, but not insulting, I said that as long as she had that mindset, she shouldn't have kids."
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Telling her "the truth" did not go over so well.
"She should wait to see if she tolerated them more later, because no matter how incredibly good she'd be or not at parenting, no kid is never annoying, never too noisy, never messy."
"She took it really really the wrong way and told everyone about it so now I'm apparently the worse person in the world because 'it's not the same when it's your own' so her attitude towards other kids is irrelevant and I hurt her for no reason."
Then it was time for Reddit to weigh in.
AITA is where anonymous strangers on the internet get to decide if the OP is:
- NTA - Not The A**hole
- YTA - You're The A**hole
- ESH - Everyone Sucks Here
- NAH - No A**holes Here
"NTA. I hate how taboo this is. People care more about adults fulfilling their desire for parenthood than for the care those kids would actually receive."
"Some people would be shit at being parents. Yesss there is the odd chance of the power of only loving your own genes fixing their attitude, but that s literally gambling with a kid's life." – Llama79
The OP remained doubtful the two would ever make amends.
"It does feel like a gamble."
"I doubt she'll talk to me anymore anyway, and I don't think I really want to talk to her either, I'm not a fan of the 'airing out dirty laundry and attempting public shaming' method of dealing with things you don't like."
While advocating for children is admirable, the OP's candid approach with her friend may have crossed a line.
"I understand the consideration and conviction that led you to take such a gamble - the world already has so many damaged children and end-result adults of bad parenting that you felt you needed to say something."
"I'm inclined to say it was both brave and foolish to say it to her - the response from her was predictable but someone has to try and advocate for those future children."
"I don't buy into the idea that people can just become good parents because they intend to be and it's because of their genes."
"Fittingly, AITA cases are full of situations involving bad parents who don't think that they are. Also, children know when they're not loved even if parents never say it out loud. It makes for some of the saddest situations I've ever seen."
"Sorry that this is the mess you're in. It's something of NAH or ESH in this situation I think." – Tootwoto22
"Agree. I think OPs experiences and what she has witnessed in her friend are good reason to have some concerns."
"Not sure OP needed to initiate that conversation, maybe waiting to discuss if her friend asked would have been better, but who knows."
"Her friend may be a sh*t parent. Or because they're her kids, she might do it right. Only time will tell. Regardless, I think OPs concerns are valid." – whita309
Based on the friend's history regarding kids, this Redditor believed the OP's approach was justifiable.
"I feel like she shared the middle school anecdote solely to show that her friends reaction towards kids has always been the way it is now, not necessarily that that single experience would make her a bad mom."
"While it's completely understandable that kids and teenagers are gonna get annoyed with other kids I feel OP is justified in her hesitations."
"Her friend never liked to be around her kid siblings, calling them loud an annoying for making normal kid noises. She complained for the entirety of her shadowing about the kids. (I am curious what profession she ended up in if her initial teaching kindergarten plan didn't seem to be the one)"
"And even now when they talk as adults, OP's friend only seems to share bad experiences with children."
"Given their history, I would feel that could hopefully share her concerns. She didn't tell her 'hey I think you'd be a trash mother, never bring a child into this world' but rather told her maybe it would be better to wait to see if her general feeling towards kids changed, rather than having one and gambling with the kids life." – alarxez_12898
Parental expectations are unpredictable.
"I think as well part of the problem is that everyone is the perfect parent until they have kids."
"Oh my kids will never watch TV, oh my kids will never shout and scream, oh those kids must be so badly behaved."
"Then you have kids and you realise that it is a lot harder than you thought, especially when your toddler is kicking off because he's a toddler and you're trying to get him out the restaurant before people judge you the way you did to others before you were a parent."
"Yes some people do a sh*t job but the majority of people do the best they can and a lot of people do step up when they have their own." – thenewfirm
But this Redditor thinks the OP overstepped her bounds by not giving the future mother some slack.
"Agreed. I wanted kids from an early age (granted, I basically raised my siblings from birth until early childhood, so I had some concept of the good and bad) but I have always had issues with other people's kids - primarily due to parenting styles I didn't agree with."
"It sounds like you and your friend have very different opinions on parenting styles, which is natural and fair. It doesn't make her TA for having different standards."
"However, it does make you TA for trying to impose your opinion on something that's not your business."
"OP, there is a difference between having high standards for your own children and being oppressive and abusive."
"Your friend is perfectly capable of being a good parent and simultaneously not being a fan of some child like behaviors. Part of being a good parent is accepting that kids aren't perfect and loving them 100% anyways."
"Don't forget though... your friend ISN'T obligated to accept and love anyone else's kids despite their 'imperfections,' and you have only ever seen her responses to children that weren't her own." – LifeIsPoetic
"ESH. Her insistence on berating children is at odds with her desire to have her own kids."
"It doesn't inspire confidence in the future parent for them to consistently complain about what they're signing up to deal with. I can sympathize with the fear that her own children may suffer as a result."
"That all being said, it is very much an overstepping of boundaries to tell her to not have children. It is not your place to decide who gets to have kids. It would have been best to keep your concerns to yourself." – MtGMagicBawks
The friend could have benefited from a little encouragement, but the OP thought a strong dose of "reality" would avert a possible crisis down the line.
However loving all children isn't a requirement for loving a child. And the behavior of a middle school child or teen is hardly an indication of how the person will react as an adult.
The OP admitted they rarely see each other since they finished school. She's judged her friend's fitness to be a parent on childhood memories.
The OP would have benefited from observing her friend as she is now, not passing judgment based on her own memories from years ago.
And if she didn't have the time or capacity to observe her friend for an extended period as a 24 year old, then the OP could have benefited from minding her own business.