In-Law Slammed for Trying to Ban Deaf Girl From Using Sign Language at Meal

A woman's mother-in-law has been blasted online after she apparently tried to keep a 6-year-old girl, who is deaf, from using sign language to communicate during Easter dinner.

The viral Reddit post—titled "AITA for not talking to my MIL [mother-in-law] after she insisted my daughter not sign at the dinner table"—has been upvoted 13,200 times since it was shared to the subreddit "Am I the A**hole" on Wednesday.

Redditor @Thin_Crab_664 shared the post, revealing she's a 29-year-old female who has a daughter from a previous relationship. Her current husband, 30, is the closest to a dad the girl has known.

@Thin_Crab_664 wrote: "My daughter was born deaf and communicates via BSL [British Sign Language]. I am fluent having learned alongside her, and my husband, while not fluent, is getting there as he wants to be able to communicate with her fully and also help teach any children we have together to communicate with their older sister."

The family went to the house of @Thin_Crab_664's in-laws for Easter dinner. The problem occurred over dinner when @Thin_Crab_664's daughter was putting her fork and knife down to sign with her mother and stepfather to speak, which was causing the child to "eat slower" when compared to everyone else.

@Thin_Crab_664's mother-in-law asked her to tell her daughter to not sign at the table "as the food was going to get cold, plus it was setting a bad example and distracting for the other kids."

@Thin_Crab_664 revealed she became angry and told her mother-in-law that this is how the child communicates and that she wasn't going to have her not sign. However, she did "encourage" the girl to continue eating before dinner became cold.

mother-in-law prohibiting deaf child from signing
Stock image. A woman's mother-in-law has been blasted online after she apparently tried to keep a 6-year-old girl, who is deaf, from using sign language to communicate during a dinner. Getty/istock/fizkes

The Redditor further added: "But to not sign? No... That p***es me off and makes me think of people who have tried to make my daughter play the 'Quiet hands' game... AKA not sign. I told my MIL [mother-in-law] the only way she could ask that of my daughter is if she told everyone else not to talk at all."

@Thin_Crab_664's family left slightly early. Her husband, although supportive, tried to explain to her that his mother "didn't mean any real harm, and she doesn't get why this would be a sensitive topic."

The Redditor has "refused" to talk to her mother-in-law after what happened, and she doesn't plan to until the mother-in-law apologizes. @Thin_Crab_664's husband, however, thinks she's being "too harsh," and that she needs to be the person to extend the olive branch.

However, @Thin_Crab_664 "can't help but feel if this had been her [MIL's] biological grandchild who was deaf she wouldn't have said something so insensitive or implied it was a distraction and bad example."

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), around 2.5 billion people are expected to have a degree of hearing loss by 2050, with 700 million people at least requiring subsequent hearing rehabilitation.

The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders reported that around 2 to 3 out of every 1,000 children in the country are born with detectable levels of hearing loss in one or even both ears.

Meanwhile, over 1,700 comments poured in about the viral Reddit post, with people criticizing the mother-in-law. One comment had 7,900 upvotes on its own.

"NTA [not the a**hole]," a commenter said. "If the other children are allowed to talk at the table, but [the] MIL expects your daughter to sit without communicating, your MIL is a massive a**hole."

Another person, who reasoned @Thin_Crab_664 wasn't the one in the wrong, said if the mother-in-law had only mentioned that she didn't want the girl to eat cold food then they would "understand where she was coming from, but to say signing is distracting and a bad example to the other kids is completely wrong and blatant discrimination. You are right to be angry."

A user wrote that it wasn't about the "food being cold," adding: "Saying that a deaf child trying to communicate is bad manners and 'distracting' is disgusting. Your husband should be asking his mom to apologize."

Another person agreed @Thin_Crab_664 wasn't the a**hole, unless the mother-in-law was okay with asking everyone seated at the table not to speak.

"Husband should explain to his mother why it's a big deal to basically tell one child that she's a distraction and to be quiet and eat her dinner while the rest of the kids are allowed to talk and interact during dinner with everyone else," they concluded.

People didn't mince words with their harsh thoughts toward the mother-in-law. "I cannot fathom asking a deaf person not to sign," a person said. "How incredibly insulting. NTA [not the a**hole], OP [original poster], and good for you standing up for your kid!"

Newsweek reached out to @Thin_Crab_664 for comment.