Reddit Is Giving the Middle Finger to a Woman Who Refuses to Learn Sign Language For Her Boyfriend's Daughter
… Although we have to wonder if she understands the significance of that sign.
One man on the AITA subreddit is speaking up for his daughter — who quite literally cannot do the same. The Original Poster (OP)’s daughter Ruby was born “mute.” It’s not exactly clear what he means by that, but the point is that she doesn’t speak. She understands English, he said, and while she can use her phone to write, she “obviously” prefers to use American Sign Language to communicate.
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And that is a legitimate preference. It would be exhausting to write your thoughts all the time. Think about how long it probably takes you to write an email. And how many times you reread and edit and reread and edit. Now think about having to do that again and again and again as a child and with your loved ones. Think about how much more you say when you communicate in a language that is natural to you and that doesn’t require self-editing and the process of thinking “Hmm, do I really need to say or ask that?” I know I’m guilty of wanting to ask something but deciding not to after seeing it written out in an email or text. And all of that doesn’t even account for the fact that ASL and English have different grammar, which means writing in English is extra strenuous.
“The issue is my girlfriend [of 9 months], Amanda,” the man wrote in his post. “[Amanda and her daughter Mia] don’t know sign language, so communication with Ruby was awkward at first. [Ruby] hates having to write or use her phone at home. So I taught Amanda some basic signs beforehand, and I’ve continued teaching her and Mia more.”
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Though her daughter, Mia, seems to be making a clear effort (“Mia is getting a lot better actually,” says OP), Amanda has supposedly decided ASL is “too hard” and “refuses” to learn any more. In her mind, learning the language is “unnecessary” because Ruby can understand English and communicate in other ways.
This was not going to fly for OP, who called Amanda “selfish and lazy” and said it’s not fair to put the onus of communication solely on Ruby.
“We got into a fight over it and she basically called me an a—hole and said it’s not her fault she struggles with it,” the man wrote. “But that doesn’t mean just give up. If she wants to be in our life it’s the bare minimum effort to put in.”
As a lot of people pointed out, learning a new language, especially as an adult, requires a lot of time and effort — but we agree that being open to trying is the bare minimum. No one is asking her to become fluent in three months. But she can show a willingness to learn at least basic phrases. She could show sympathy for the situation. She could agree to write back and forth with Amanda to get an understanding of her burden instead of simply talking at her.
Amanda can take a local class (hey OP, you should probably foot that bill) or learn some things on YouTube. One commenter had a really good point, saying that however Amanda learns, it should be from someone besides OP.
“She is probably getting frustrated that she isn’t picking up on it, and it kind of sucks when your partner is always criticizing or correcting you,” they said. “No one wants to fail in front of the person they are trying to impress.”
Her unwillingness to try may sound outrageous to you — as it did to many Reddit users! — but the sad truth is that Amanda is far from alone. If we were to speak solely about d/Deaf children (“deaf” refers to people who only see deafness as a medical condition, while “Deaf” refers to people who consider it their identity, community, and culture), more than 90% are born to hearing parents. A majority of those parents don’t learn sign language and won’t let their children learn it either due to the hearing world’s overwhelming insistence on oralism (I’m looking at you, Alexander Graham Bell!)
That’s just some more context, but as the saying goes, more people acting like Amanda doesn’t make a right.
“I vented to my brother and he agreed with Amanda. That I can’t force her to learn and not everyone is good with language. And that Ruby doesn’t ‘need’ it and I’m ‘coddling her.'”
Oof! You better believe that comment got Reddit users riled up.
“It’s like saying you’re ‘coddling’ someone by giving them a wheelchair because they can still crawl,” one commenter said. “There’s nothing wrong with accommodating people with disabilities.”
“I’m honestly still pissed off but I do love Amanda,” OP continued. “I guess it’s possible it’s just me being overprotective of Ruby. I think it’s a reasonable expectation, but I’m starting to doubt myself.”
More than 23 thousand people agreed with the comment, “NTA. This should be a dealbreaker for you.”
After all, what message is Amanda sending to him by saying she won’t learn sign? And what message would he be sending to Ruby by accepting that?
“How is she feeling right now knowing that you’re choosing to be with someone that will never prioritize her?” one commenter asked. “That won’t put in the work to learn sign? That doesn’t think she’s worth the difficulty of learning sign? That you put that relationship over the comfort and family she deserves?
“I’m serious when I say this, break up with your girlfriend,” said one commenter who knows just how awful this situation can be. “I don’t care how much love you think is there, there’s a lack of love and care for your daughter and that should never be okay. My sister is deaf and it was hell growing up with one parent who refused to learn sign for her. Don’t let your daughter go through that. Don’t let her sit with those feelings all by herself. She’s going to resent you one day for staying in a relationship with someone that doesn’t truly care about her.”
Before you go, check out these wild stories about Reddit’s most horrific mother-in-laws.
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