A Mom on Reddit Is Fed Up With Her Neighbor’s Parenting Choices — & Their Text Exchange Is Raising Eyebrows


Relationships with mom friends can be tricky, and a recent squabble on the “Am I The A—hole? (AITA?)” subreddit had us cringing. I’ll try not to be long-winded here, since the mom who originally posted (the “OP” in Reddit lingo) did plenty of that when confronting her [former?] friend.

OP explained that sometimes she helps her neighbor “Jessica” by “caring for” her 5-year-old, “Jack.” OP has a 3-year-old, “Joe,” and the two kids have become friends. Since becoming neighbors in 2018, these moms have had “zero history” of problems.

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“We aren’t having game night together but we did celebrate each other’s pregnancies, survived the pandemic, we do attend kids birthday parties, and as I mentioned, I watch Jack occasionally,” OP said.

She went on to really drive home the fact that she watches Jack for free, paying for any activities the kids do, and feeding him. “I’ve never asked for money and she’s never offered,” OP said. Which initially seemed like a strange point to make because … aren’t playdates normally “free?” But OP really just wanted to make it clear that this is not paid child care. These are playdates, or her helping Jessica in a pinch.

The Problem

A close up photo of a child's red stuffy nose with a kleenex.
(Adobe Stock)

All sounds fine, right? Maybe OP is annoyed about the finances but … again, that’s kind of how playdates tend to work out. The problem is that Jack is sick “every time” he comes over.

“Coughing, dripping nose … like no possible way Jessica didn’t know?” OP said. “Previously her baby had a diagnosis of hand, foot, mouth the day after Jack had been here. There’s no way her baby showed zero signs prior to diagnosis.”

As such, there have been multiple times when OP’s whole family got sick after watching Jack. “We’ve had to spend money on doctors and medications and we missed Thanksgiving with my husband’s family,” OP said.

Up until today, OP hadn’t said anything — “I know, I know – but she’s my neighbor and it felt awkward” — and it didn’t go well.

See for yourself:

OP: Hey girlie, I have to have a conversation with you, and it feels a bit awkward … Four out of the past five times that we have watched Jack, our entire home has gotten sick. A couple of times Joe has even asked Jack if he was sick again? I totally get how hard it is with the kids in school and everything else but this is now the second or third time that one or both of us has missed work, had to pay for doctors appointments, and we’ve been generally miserably ill. I know that that is not your intent, but on more than one occasion, Jack has been over when he is obviously ill … And I just have to ask that if we are to watch him again, that he is either healthy or you are upfront about anything that may be going on. When he came over last and we went to the gym, he was coughing, and he had mucus dried to his face … I did ask him, and he told me he’d been sick for several days. Prior to that it was the exposure to hand foot and mouth, it’s just so frustrating to want to hang out with Jack and want to help you but end up in a bad position nearly every single time. We adore you guys and don’t want our relationship to be damaged in any way, but we can’t keep getting sick. 😞

Jessica: I honestly find this very offensive and I believe our friendship has ended.

OP: What?

Jessica: There’s nothing to question end of story.

Now OP wants to know, is she the a—hole for asking Jessica not to send Jack over if he’s sick?

Reddit’s Reaction

HUAI'AN, CHINA - MARCH 3, 2024 - Illustration Reddit valued at $6.5 billion, Suqian, Jiangsu province, China, March 3, 2024. (Photo credit should read CFOTO/Future Publishing via Getty Images)
(CFOTO/Future Publishing via Getty Images)

Not. At. All. OP is not the a—hole and Redditors have an inkling that Jessica sent Jack over because he was sick and she didn’t want to deal with it.

“It appears that the problem is resolved because she won’t be sending Jack over at all anymore,” the top comment said. “Don’t worry about it; she’s acting offended because she can’t defend her sh*tty treatment of you.”

“Let her take advantage of someone else. Good riddance to bad rubbish.”

It’s not cool to knowingly send a sick kid to school, so why would she send him to OP’s house? There’s no question that that’s a—hole behavior on Jessica’s part.

That said.

What was up with OP’s text?!

“I find ‘awkward communications’ are often better shorter.  She likely would have freaked out anyway, but it’s possible it could have gone over better if the note had more like ‘Hey, heads up, we’ve been getting sick a lot lately, can you not send Jack to ours when he’s got a runny nose and etc?  Thanks!’  Your version, while true, has a lot of details that make her look bad, allude to you helping her out, and might generally provoke defensiveness in a defensiveness-prone person.”

Others agreed, saying OP “wayyyy over-explained” and should have just sent Jack home next time saying, “Oh no, looks like Jack is sick. Better he stays home in case he’s contagious. Hope he feels better!” (And hoped Jessica would get the hint!)

Or she should have kept her message to “3-4 gentle sentences.”

“This. Shorter is better.”

And with that in mind, all that’s left to say is: OP, you’re not the a—hole, but sometimes the outcome of a situation depends on the delivery.

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