A twenty-nine-year-old woman recently posted to the subreddit thread, AITA, after Easter asking the internet whether or not her actions and attitude towards her mother-in-law were justified. The Redditor, who goes by the username Thin_Crab_664, explained how she brought her six-year-old daughter who “was born deaf and communicates via BSL [British Sign Language]” to dinner with extended family and in-laws.
OP continued, explaining how they “went to [her husband’s] parents for an Easter Dinner” where “his siblings and nieces/nephews” were all in attendance. The couple “of course brought [their] daughter.” In the beginning, the evening appeared to be going off well. OP relayed how, “all the kids were very happy to get plenty of chocolate and play together.” However, she explained how then an “issue [a]rose” when the child began talking at the dinner table.
OP wrote that the conflict sparked during the meal when “[her] daughter kept putting her fork and knife down to sign with [her] and [her] husband [in order] to talk.” The hand motions were “causing her to eat slower than everyone else” given she had to shuffle her cutlery every time. Given she’s a six-year-old, this took a little bit of time and effort. The delay angered OP’s mother-in-law, who “asked [OP] to tell her to not sign at the dinner table.”
OP explained that her mother-in-law’s reasoning was that the daughter’s “food was going to get cold.” Additionally, the mother-in-law felt that the daughter “was setting a bad example and distracting” her cousins. OP immediately “got angry.”
The OP was aghast at the suggestion that her daughter, “not sign.” She wrote, “that pisse[d] [her] off.” She viewed the request as an attempt to silence her child. She “told [her mother-in-law] that this is how [her] daughter communicates.” OP asserted that she was “not going to make her not sign.” Moreover, she reminded her mother-in-law that she “did encourage [her] daughter to continue eating before her dinner got cold.”
She continued, saying her mother-in-law’s request reminded OP “of people who have tried to make [her] daughter play the ‘Quiet hands’ game,” which is a roundabout way of telling her not to sign, not to communicate, to stay quiet. The mother-in-law’s suggestion would similarly force the daughter to sit silently without communicating for the duration of the meal– something OP feels her mother-in-law would not ask of the other guests. OP then “told [her mother-in-law] the only way she could ask that of [her] daughter is if she told everyone else not to talk at all.”
After the incident, the couple “ended up leaving a little early.” OP explained how her “husband while supportive of [her actions had] tried to tell [her] that his mother didn’t mean any real harm.” He suggested that she doesn’t understand “why this would be a sensitive topic.”
In response, OP relayed that she had “refused to speak to [her mother-in-law] since [Easter] dinner and won’t until she apologizes.” OP’s husband had said she’s “being a bit too harsh.” He felt that she needed to extend “an olive branch.”
While OP’s husband disagreed her at dinner, overall he is incredibly supportive of their daughter. The child is “from a previous relationship” and “her [biological] father has no contact.” OP’s husband stepped up and “is the [closest] to a father she has ever known.” However, OP’s husband isn’t as experienced with BSL as OP, which perhaps speaks to his lack of sensitivity on the topic.
OP explained how, since her daughter was born deaf, she has had longer to learn the language. She became fluent in BSL “having learned [the language] alongside her [daughter.]” Her husband, on the other hand, is not fluent. But, OP wrote, he “is getting there.” He “wants to be able to communicate with [his daughter] fully.” Moreover, he wants to “also help teach any children [the couple has] together to communicate with their older sister.”
Given she’s had a few more years dealing with people’s reactions to her daughter’s deafness, OP read into the whole situation more critically. Moreover, she also wondered whether the fact that she’s his step-daughter effected things. OP wrote that she “can’t help but feel if this had been [her mother-in-law’s] biological grandchild who was deaf she wouldn’t have said something so insensitive.” In closing, OP conceded, “I don’t know, maybe I’m too defensive as it’s my child and I’m protective, what do you all think?”
One commentor offered what the up-voters felt was hands down the perfect solution. They suggested the husband “reach out and explain to [his mother] why she was wrong and why SHE needs to apologize to [his] daughter – in sign language.”
Who do you think should apologize in the situation– the mother or the mother-in-law? Let us know — and be sure to pass this article on to friends, family, and fellow Redditors!