Dad Puts His Sleep Above Baby’s and Partner’s for Video Game Hobby, Sparking Reddit Outcry

NEWS AITA New Father Thread

The popular subreddit “Am I The A—Hole?” (AITA) is never short of interpersonal drama, especially between couples. This was illustrated in a recent AITA post from a new father who has drawn the ire of Redditors and the internet at large. While becoming parents and caring for a newborn is stressful for any couple, when one partner feels entitled to more sleep — arguably the most precious commodity of early parenthood — it stirs controversy.

Research shows insomnia, fatigue, and depression are interconnected for mothers during the postpartum period. Women expend more energy performing daily tasks postpartum due to caring for the baby and household, and this can lead to insomnia and depressive symptoms. Mothers, in particular, need more support to manage insomnia and protect against depression — and it starts with sleep.

The Backstory

The man who posted on the ever-popular AITA thread — a freshly minted dad — shared his thoughts on Reddit concerning his fiancée, “Jen,” who is exhausted from caring for their 2-month-old daughter, whom Jen exclusively breastfeeds. She handles all feedings while he assists with other aspects of care.

The poster explains that he works a 9-5 job while he’s also what he calls an “independent start-up video game developer” in the evenings, often staying up until 2 or 3 a.m. He admits that his efforts in game development so far have not been lucrative, seemingly placing this venture more in the realm of a hobby than a job.

Following their baby’s 2-month shots, the baby was fussy, and according to the poster, “It was super hard” for his fiancée to get her to sleep. After the baby finally drifted off, Jen asked the father to sleep on the couch due to his incessantly loud snoring — which he admits sounds like a “Mack truck” — to avoid waking their baby. But he refused, citing that he was “so tired” after working and staying up late, and that the couch is “not comfortable at all.” Seemingly trying to justify himself, he added that he “had to work early” and “wanted to sleep.” 

In a huff, the mother left the room with the baby, leaving the snoring dad to sleep in the comfort of his bed. In the morning, he finds his partner sleeping on the floor beside their baby’s crib without a blanket or pillow. Needless to say, this has created tension and silence between them. So, the new dad wants to know — is he the a-hole?

Reddit’s Reaction

Redditors’ reactions overwhelmingly sided with the mother, heavily criticizing the father’s actions and labeling him selfish and inconsiderate for prioritizing his comfort over the needs of his fiancée and baby. “Your wife has no choice to be up with the baby, feed the baby, etc.… You had a choice to go to bed early and you chose not to,” one responder said.

Several Redditors pointed out the pitfalls of sleep deprivation for new mothers, reacting in disbelief to the father’s lack of empathy and responsibility for his own family. Many outraged responders stressed the significance of supporting his sleep-deprived partner for her health and the safety of their baby, who’d be at risk if left in the care of someone completely exhausted. One Redditor provided a grim perspective: “Can confirm just how easy it is to drop the baby when sleep deprived. By the third night of no more than 2 hours sleep I did accidentally drop our baby,” they said, explaining that it was just a few centimeters, but could have been worse.

What the Experts Have to Say

Professional Women’s Counsellor Georgina Sturmer says that in the early months of a new baby’s life, sleep is precious for everyone involved, whether breastfeeding, working, or managing the household. “When sleep is so precious, it’s important for everyone involved to really look at their priorities and what the whole family needs; when we are exhausted, it’s easy to get tunnel vision and focus on our own sleep needs,” she says.

While new dads have every right to consider their own needs, Sturmer suggests this new father needs to reflect on the most important things that his family needs right now, which is to look after the baby and to keep the household afloat with the income he brings in from his 9-5, not his video game pursuit.

Bayu Prihandito, certified psychology consultant and life coach, believes it’s essential to find the right balance between the father’s needs and those of his partner and child. “While his need for rest is totally understandable due to his demanding and packed schedule, it’s equally important to consider the physical and emotional stress it’s causing his partner, who is also adjusting to her new role and recovering from childbirth,” he says. That’s why sleep — for both parents — is essential for maintaining physical health, emotional well-being, and relationship harmony.

How to Be Better as A Supporting Partner

“It sounds like they need a communication reset,” says Sturmer. “If sleep has become a battleground, then nighttime is the worst possible time to be negotiating what’s happening,” she adds. Essentially, if you are already tired and vulnerable, it will be tough to take a step back and understand your partner’s point of view.  

Prihandito recommends the father, and any others in his position, should take a more empathetic approach, acknowledging the discomfort of the couch but still choosing it for a night to support his partner and child. As for his partner, Prhandito believes being open and honest in expressing her frustration is vital. “Finding a more constructive way to discuss their sleep arrangements and shared responsibilities would be more beneficial; it’s about finding a middle ground where both parents feel supported and understood,” he says.

Redditors suggested more loving support would go a long way in the relationship. “[Give] her more of a break than just some time after dinner (while she’s probably washing the dishes and cleaning up),” one responder said. “She probably would love time for a long bath or maybe a foot rub or something.”

The Takeaway

In any relationship, Prihandito stresses that the key always lies in effective communication and empathy with both parents, having the opportunity to express their needs and concerns. Prihandito and Sturmer offer these tips:

  • Support each other: It’s not about who takes priority but how both can support each other — for example, alternating nights on the couch or using earplugs to help with the snoring.
  • Prioritize the baby: When overextended and exhausted, hone in on what’s essential right now — looking after the baby and supporting the household. Other aspects of life may need to go on the back burner while there’s a new baby in the house — including hobbies and side hustles.
  • Talk things through rationally: Choose a calm moment during the day to remind each other of needs and difficulties and how to support each other.  

“Remember that you’re investing in the long-term future of your relationship and figuring out what kind of team you want to be,” says Sturmer. While it’s established that lack of sleep can lead to feeling less romantic and optimistic about your partner, the consensus seems to be that some lines should not be crossed as a parent — namely, not thinking of your baby’s needs, or those of their primary caregiver.

Rachel MacPherson

Rachel MacPherson

Rachel MacPherson, BA, is a CPT, Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, Certified Exercise Nutrition Specialist, Certified Pre/Post-Partum Fitness Trainer, and Pain-Free Performance Specialist. She's passionate about providing readers with straightforward, actionable tips to make living an active, vibrant, fulfilling life easier. When she's not writing, you can find her lifting heavy things, reading, exploring outdoors, or watching the newest iteration of the Star Wars Universe. She lives with her family and pets in beautiful Nova Scotia, Canada.

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