We all want our families to love and spend time with our children. After all, the more people they have supporting them, the better. When one doting aunt’s way of showing her love isn’t welcome, she turns to a popular online forum to help her decide; is she the a**hole for calling her nephew “my lil’ dude?”
The Lil’ Dude
The OP (original poster) begins by laying out some background to the scenario. She explains that her sister-in-law (SIL) had a baby sometime around December 2022.
The OP recalls how excited she was before her nephew was born, and mentions a conversation with her SIL, where they discussed nicknames for the baby. She says, “Before my SIL gave birth, she and I sat down and talked about the silly nicknames we picked.”
The excitement was somewhat dampened for the OP when she discovers that there is a waiting list to meet the newest addition to the family. The OP states, “My SIL said that essentially all of us had to make an appointment in order to meet the baby. She told all of us that she wanted the immediate family to meet him first.”
The OP adds, “I’ve always known that in-laws are considered “immediate family,” but apparently, we weren’t. I didn’t get to meet my nephew until he was three weeks old.”
Eventually, though, the OP does get to meet her nephew. She remarks how she found her sister-in-law’s behavior off putting during the visit, saying “When I finally got to meet him she made me wear a mask, wash my hands and use hand sanitizer before I could hold him, which I had absolutely no issue doing, but it was enforced so aggressively by her it felt like she was scolding me like a child.”
When the OP returns home from visiting her nephew, she posts some photos she and her husband took with him. Later, the OP finds her SIL has commented on the pictures.
The OP says, “While I was there, my husband and I took pictures of us holding our nephew. When we got home, I posted the pictures to FB and captioned it, “Got to meet my favorite little man today” 20 minutes later, my SIL commented, saying, “You mean MY little man?”
“Since then, any pictures I’ve taken of him or even with him and captioning it with things like My lil’ dude, My little man, etc. Whenever this happens, she will comment on them, saying: “You mean MY little man (dude, etc.),” the OP states.
Eventually, the OP’s sister-in-law asks that she drop the word ‘my’ from any nicknames she uses for her nephew. “She and I have had multiple conversations about this and how I can’t call him anything that starts with “My.” This has been happening since the day he was born,” says the OP.
The next time they discuss what nicknames are and are not allowed, things come to a head. The OP asks again why she can’t use terms like “my little man” to refer to her nephew.
“My SIL responded with “Because you haven’t gone through sleepless nights, two days of labor, constant pain NOTHING,” shares the OP.
Eventually, the OP has enough of listening to her SIL. The OP says, “She continued to explode on me, and I simply responded with “Look, he’s your child, but he’s also my nephew, and if I’m loving your son “too much” then count me out of his childhood.”
This remark only serves to upset the sister-in-law further. The OP adds, “But of course, she spun around and started crying, saying how the family is so important to her, and she wants me to be part of his life.”
So the OP asks the internet, is she the a**hole in this situation?
Lack of Support
The responses from commenters varied, but most leaned towards the OP being the one at fault and voted YTA (you’re the a**hole). One user says, “YTA. He’s not your kid. When SIL corrected you about calling him “My little ___,” you doubled down on social media. Of course you pissed her off.”
“YTA for continuing to do it when you know it bothers her. There are so many ways to show affection without using the word “my,” comments another.
A third person remarks, “You are projecting some clingy vibes here. If every single one of your captions includes “My …” then I could see where you are being kind of weird, and your SIL probably needs to set some boundaries.”
Lots of people felt that everyone involved was being unreasonable and chose to vote ESH (everyone sucks here).
One person says, “ESH, you more so than her. She had every right to dictate when people meet the baby. I don’t think you were the AH for your initial statement of “my favorite little man.” She overreacted to that.”
The comment continues, “However, since then, it sounds like you have been purposely antagonizing her. And to say she might as well cut you out of his childhood if she doesn’t allow you to cross her boundaries is definitely an a**hole move.”
“I agree with all of this. Mum is being a bit overprotective, and OP’s initial statement was innocuous. However, since then, OP has doubled down and is just being antagonizing,” another person adds.
There were also a collection of defenders for the OP who felt that the restrictions on nicknames were ridiculous. One comment reads, “NTA. Calling your nephew your favorite little man isn’t clingy. Anyone who tries to set boundaries about something like that needs mental help.”
“NTA! It’s wild to me that a mother would get mad at the baby’s aunt just because she said, “My little man.” The aunt just shows affection, love, and excitement about the little baby boy,” another supporter adds.
What do you think? Is the OP being antagonistic with the nicknames she is using? Or is her sister-in-law overreacting? How would you handle being in a similar situation?
This article was inspired by this thread and does not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Cents + Purpose.