Discover more from AITApod Newsletter
AITA for bringing a rabbit to a funeral?
Happy Valentine’s Day!
Welcome back to another week of AITA Newsletter. This week, we’ve got….
Guess The Verdict
OP and ex-wife divorced when daughter was 13.
OP met current wife 4 years later. Daughter has never liked new wife.
Daughter (now 27) is getting married in August.
OP’s wife and children are not invited even though ex-wife’s new boyfriend is.
OP explained that it was hurtful and they will not be attending the wedding.
Daughter is upset at this, calling OP an asshole and asking who will walk her down the aisle.
It sounds like ESH to me. It’s understandable for both sides to be upset with the other, but it’s been about ten years since OP met his new wife and that’s a lot of time for them to work out their differences. It’s also a lot of time for OP to get used to the idea that his daughter doesn’t like his new wife, and that she probably doesn’t consider her to be family. OP sucks for expecting his daughter to invite his new wife and kids knowing full-well that she doesn’t consider them family. Daughter sucks for making no effort to form a relationship and expecting OP to attend her wedding and walk her down the aisle, perfectly fine with the fact that his family isn’t invited.
Reddit Verdict: NAH
“My verdict is NAH but please hear me out. I feel OP’s ex told his daughter her side of the story but it was very sugar coated. In a way that the daughter wouldn’t feel resentment towards her. Does OP’s daughter know the truth of how the divorce started or does she only know what her mother has fed her all these years? If this reasoning is true, I can see why OP’s daughter feels resentment or conflicted. As for OP, you’re NTA either. It seems you have tried with your daughter but she hasn’t been able to move past what happened when she was 13. This is a very difficult situation and I don’t see how you’ve done anything wrong. You tried to protect your daughter when she was younger but your ex seems to have done otherwise.” - Yikesonseveral_bikes
My Final Word:
The Reddit user has made some assumptions that I can’t fully get on board with simply because OP didn’t provide the details of his divorce until this comment appeared. OP explained that they divorced initially because the ex told him she wasn’t in love with him anymore, later expressing that she wanted him back, but OP didn’t go for it. Subsequently, the daughter blamed OP and his new wife. However, I agree with OP and honestly don’t think that it’s super relevant to this particular instance. The story isn’t about the divorce, it’s about the aftermath and attempts, or lack thereof, to heal relationships. I’m sticking with ESH here. There’s got to be some understanding of where the other person is at and trying to meet them there, or somewhere in between. No more calling each other the AH for inviting this person or that, for attending or not attending.
OP (38M) has a daughter, Isa (17F) and step daughter Ava (9F).
Ava is in therapy for social anxiety and has an emotional support rabbit.
Isa’s stepfather died recently. OP and family were invited to the funeral.
OP decided to let Ava bring the rabbit to the funeral due to the large number of people. Isa did not think that this was a good idea, explaining that pets were not allowed in the cemetery.
OP told Isa they would bring the rabbit, and if any problems came up they would leave.
Isa begged OP to reconsider, saying that her stepfather’s death had been difficult enough and there shouldn’t be any extra drama.
After thinking about the situation, OP decided to bring the rabbit. When they arrived at the funeral Isa became quite upset and yelled at OP and Ava.
OP took his family home and Isa has been “giving [OP] the cold shoulder ever since.”
Reddit Verdict: YTA
“YTA. Since when did this funeral become about you and a rabbit? You were told explicitly not to bring animals but you went ahead and decided to disrespect a grieving family’s wishes on probably one of the hardest days of their lives and did it anyway.” - kittensandchains
Expanding on this topic…
Let’s use this story as a pathway to talking about emotional support animals (ESAs) - something we have talked about before. Here are some facts and statistics about ESAs:
ESAs are not service animals. An ESA provides comfort to individuals who suffer from mental illnesses (anxiety, depression, etc.). A service animal is specifically trained to perform tasks that help physically or mentally disabled people (ADA).
ESAs can be a much wider range of animals, as evidenced by the many stories we have heard. Peacocks, squirrels, pigs, marmosets (Washington Post) and any kind of rodent you can think of.
Scientists have performed studies which have proven that pets can positively impact people with mental health problems, though the responsibilities of pet ownership and pet deaths can be added stressors to some (BMC Psychiatry).
The most legitimate way to get your ESA letter is by talking to a mental health professional and being evaluated. There are, however, multiple websites that provide online evaluations and ESA letters. Some of them are scams. (Gambit).
I have an ESA letter for my dog, Bindi. Here’s my story. I myself have struggled with clinical depression and social anxiety since I was 9 years old. In March of 2020, when I was 18 years old, I decided that having a dog would be beneficial. I was going to move back to school in August, and would be living by myself. I trained Bindi during the pandemic shut down and got my letter before moving to school so that I could have her at my apartment with me. Having her at school helped a lot. I knew that if I didn’t take care of myself, I couldn’t take care of Bindi. I had to walk her, which got me out of the apartment when all my classes were online. She woke me up in the morning and always wanted to go to bed by 10, which kept my sleep schedule on track. When in-person classes resumed, I left Bindi at the apartment. She has never gone into a store, or anywhere that I don’t need her. Now that I am out of school and living with my parents again, I don’t consider her to be my emotional support animal anymore. She is an 11 pound miniature aussiedoodle that is afraid of flies and any kind of box. If anything, I’m her emotional support human.
I recognize the legitimate purposes of ESAs. However, I think that people are really pushing it and that a lot of ESAs have started to become security blankets. Like Linus, from Charlie Brown, who always carries his blanket with him, some people have begun to take their ESAs everywhere they go as if they were a working service animal. Pets can have separation anxiety from their owners, and owners can have separation anxiety from their pets. It goes both ways. A few weeks ago we talked about a woman who wouldn’t help plan her daughter’s wedding because of her parrot’s separation anxiety. But really, is the parrot the only one that has separation anxiety in that story?
After seeing my own therapists and going through the process of obtaining my ESA letter (which wasn’t hard, since I have been in therapy for years), I learned that there are unfortunately people who only attend one therapy session to get their ESA letter, and then never go back. There are people who buy their letters online and don’t seek any other help. That, to me, is the problem with obtaining ESA letters at this time. One of my therapists explained to me that she requires patients seeking ESA letters to be in therapy for three months before signing the letter and at least three more after, to ensure that they would legitimately benefit from having an ESA and aren’t just trying to get out of paying rent. I think that systems such as hers are important. If a person claims that they need an ESA to help them, they probably need human help and support just as much.
Going back to the original post, OP is absolutely TA for going directly against his daughter’s wishes at one of the hardest moments in her life. By bringing the rabbit along he was almost saying that Ava’s emotional comfort was more important than Isa’s. Ultimately, bringing the rabbit ended up hurting both daughters and causing more anxiety for Ava than it alleviated. If Ava can’t handle being at a funeral, she should not have attended. Generally speaking, though, I think exposure therapy is extremely effective. People can get past social anxiety by socializing, little by little, until they are more comfortable. In any case, the rabbit should have stayed home for this.
Juice of the Week
OP is a first-year college student living in a dorm building.
The boys, caucasian, who live in the room below play video games, shouting often. Despite the constant noise, OP has left them alone.
OP just heard one of the boys say something that sounded a lot like the n-word.
OP wonders whether to report the boys to the RA or the dorm community director, but doesn’t want to upset the RA is black and has no jurisdiction over the floor below. OP also considers leaving them alone, since it was a private conversation.
Slate writer advises OP to keep listening, and if it happens again and OP is more sure of what they heard, to slip them a note that says the walls are thin and they heard a racial slur. If it persists after that, report them to the community director, including the fact that OP could be wrong.
I agree with the Slate writer here. If OP hasn’t heard it before, and doesn’t hear it again, it’s a good idea to just let it go. If it happens again, or multiple times, directly confronting the boys and advising they lower their voices is the right move. Whether that’s with a note or face-to-face, going directly to the source and trying to resolve the conflict without the involvement of authority is worth trying. The boys would likely deny anything, regardless of who confronts them, but it would at least put them on alert and hopefully get them to shut up.