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Redditor Called ‘Selfish’ For Refusing To Take Care Of Disabled Cousin At Every Family Gathering

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Family gatherings can be a joyous celebration of the bonds that we’ve forged over the course of our lives.

We come together and talk and share and reconnect with people we haven’t seen in too long.

What happens, though, when you find yourself excluded from the gathering entirely?

That was the issue facing Redditor and Original Poster (OP) NoCombination4581 when they came to the “Am I the A**hole” (AITA) subReddit for some outside opinions.

OP asked:

“AITA for not wanting to always take care of my disabled cousin at family gatherings?”

They began with a little background.

“I am in my late 20ies.”

“My cousin(22) John has multiple intellectual and physical disabilities. He is generally a really sweet person, but needs constant supervision and attention.”

“When I was younger and presented as female (I’n nonbinary trans), I always took care of him on family gatherings.”

“I was okay, my other cousins were all boys and I didn’t have much in common with them as a kid/teenager.”

“John loves doing things repeatedly, so we would play the same game for hours, listen to the same stories for hours etc.”

“Now that we are older, my other cousins are all married.”

“I would love to talk more to them and their wives. And of course to the other family members.”

OP then explained the problem at hand.

“But I’m usually occupied with John all day long. he is used that I take care of him at family gatherings, so he would come directly to me.”

“On our last family gathering, when John suggested a game, I just loudly said ‘I think I’ll now have coffee with Jen and Julia’.”

” ‘I think, my dad Peter and uncle Fred would love to learn how to play this game’.”

“John was first unsure, but then he was happy to explain the game to them for hours.”

“Now we will have another family gathering, my mom and my dad basically called me TA on this move.”

“They said it’s ‘tradition’ that I take care of John, they want to talk to the other family members during the gatherings.”

“I said I want to talk too to everyone, and that I think it would be fair if we would split the care for John between family members.”

“I enjoy spending 2-3 hours with him, but not the whole time.”

“They said that I’m being selfish.”

Unsure of whether they were in the right or not, OP turned to Reddit for some outside thoughts.

Redditors weighed in by declaring:

  • NTA – Not The A**hole
  • YTA – You’re The A**hole
  • NAH – No A**holes Here
  • ESH – Everyone Sucks Here

Redditors decided: NTA

Some pointed out the need to prioritize oneself. 

“NTA – but your parents are.”

“John isn’t your responsibility and of COURSE you want to get to know your family as an adult. It is entirely unfair of everyone to just assume you’ll take care of him.”

“Also, F*** tradition.”

“That isn’t tradition, that’s selfishly taking advantage of a nice kid who didn’t want to hang around with adults. Now you’re an adult and situations have changed.”

“They are being selfish, not you.”

“Ps: um.. yes you are prioritizing your needs over his, as you should. You are his cousin, not his parent” ~ SpaceCrazyArtist

Others suggested direct communication.

“I could see two mass emails that could get the point across:”

” ‘Dear family,’ “

” ‘As you know, I have spent every family gathering since (age) taking care of John. He’s a delightful person! The problem is I never get to spend any time getting to know all of you.’ “

” ‘I look back over the years and my heart breaks at the time I have lost getting to know you all as much as I have gotten to know John, and I realized you have all missed time getting to know me and John as well.’ “

” ‘I want to make this right!’ “

” ‘Due to this, I won’t be able to be Johns caretaker at events any longer so that we can all get to know each other.’ “

” ‘If I’m incorrect that you’d prefer not to get to know me, I understand and will no longer attend these events.’ “

” ‘Much love, OP.’ ”


“ ‘Dear family,’ “

” ‘I am writing today to let you know that I will not be Johns caretaker at family events any longer.’ “

” ‘He’s a lovely person, but I have been doing this task for (x years) and am retiring from this position effective immediately.’ “

” ‘Pay was not at market rate, bosses are unappreciative of work provided.’ “

” ‘No breaks, understaffed, 0 employee appreciation shown. I hope adjustments are made for my replacement.’ “

” ‘Respectfully, OP’ ”

“ETA: NTA” ~ DuckInMyHeart



“Providing free care, and missing the quality time that comes with family gatherings as a result, is not ‘a tradition’.”

“It was something you were willing to do up to now, that you’re no longer willing to do as an adult.”

“What’s more, you were willing to compromise. Your parents are being ridiculous, at this point tell them you’re not taking care of John at gatherings, the end.” ~ IDKareyou77

Commenters wondered where John’s parents were.


“It isn’t wrong for them to be social and allow him to play with cousins, (especially when younger), but now it is time to let everyone interact together.”

People can take turns enjoying his company or he can play or do something solo (safely) and then the family can play a game including everyone like charades/Pictionary or something.”

“It is definitely exhausting being a parent at a family gathering where no one cares to interact/take responsibility for your kids.”

“I gladly will and do take care of my kids all day and night.”

“But going to my in-laws is stressful because I have to be constantly on them because they want the kids to only play with things a certain way.”

“And if they choose to interact with them at all they don’t actually take responsibility for them as I have watched them walk away only for my kids to (minorly) get hurt because their cousins were more important than my kids.”

“It’s like okay, but I could be having a more enjoyable evening playing with the kids at home and they don’t have any extra fun over there either.”

“People on here like to say not your kids, not your problem, and that is so true, but if you want to visit family with kids anywhere that isn’t their own home you should be willing to pitch in.”

“Obviously, this situation OP did not invite them over, and everyone, (maybe inadvertently) took advantage of OP being a wonderful cousin (and most certainly his favorite).”

“The only AHs here are OPs parents who are selfish themselves.”

“(The cousin’s parents and rest of family would be if they expect her to entertain cousin after knowing OP doesn’t want to though).” ~ DeathInParadise2007

There were also concerns about OP’s future. 

“OP is being groomed to be John’s permanent caretaker.”

“I guarantee that at some point the parents are going to be looking for someone else to take him and the first person they’ll come to is OP.”

“NTA OP. Put the kibosh on this right quick or it’s going to be a real battle later.” ~ genxeratl

Responses also broke down the idea of tradition.


“A ‘tradition’ is something special shared amongst people, it’s not the dismission of one or two people from a family event, cause that’s really what it is at this point.”

“Honestly, in your shoes, I’d reconsider going to family events if I was forced to be a babysitter.”

“It’s like this other post I saw with the person that got stuck taking care of the bride and groom’s (sister’s) baby and missed the entire reception because they didn’t want the baby interrupting things.”

“Just like that one, I’d say you’re not an asshole for not wanting to be the family’s door mat.” ~ AlwaysFranticKitten

Of course, some made examples of their own stories.


“Father of a child with physical and intellectual disabilities here:”

“Taking care of someone is not a tradition. There’s not really a nice way to say it, but it is a chore.”

“It can be enjoyable and rewarding, but it is something that takes one away from other things.”

“No matter how it felt earlier, there comes a time when we want to do something and at that point, someone else should be more than happy to jump in.”

“Now the only thing close to an AH move I see is basically dropping him into someone else’s lap, but I didn’t see anything in your story that would have given a better way of handling it.”

“I would have expected his (core) family to have stepped in once in a while to not treat him like a burden to drop off onto someone else, but based on your story, they invited your reaction upon themselves.”

“If you choose to address your situation with the people calling you an AH, consider this is probably the thing you have against you.”

“Normal people would have gotten the clue and not forced that out of you though.” ~ Cfx99

Family gatherings can be a joyous celebration of the bonds that we’ve forged over the course of our lives.

It’s always important to reconnect with people we knew when we were young.

Remember, though to never let your desire for connection supersede your need for boundaries.


Written by Frank Geier

Frank Geier (pronouns he/him) is a nerd and father of three who recently moved to Alabama. He is an avid roleplayer and storyteller occasionally masquerading as a rational human.