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Dad Shuts Down Wife’s Suggestion That They Charge His College-Aged Son Rent To Make Money

couple arguing
RainStar/Getty Images

Parents are faced with some important decisions as their children grow up. Some are centered on money.

How long should a parent provide financial support to their child?

Does it depend on whether they’re attending college?

When should a child be asked to provide financial support to their parent?

A couple is wrestling with those questions, so the husband turned to the “Am I The A**hole” (AITA) subReddit for feedback.

Prestigious-Swim4924 asked:

“AITA for telling my wife that my son will always come before her?”

The original poster (OP) explained:

“My (32, male) wife (30, female) is concerned over our financial situation. I’m not really sure why she’s worried in the first place. We have enough to pay bills and live comfortably.”

“I think her concern is misplaced but I told her my income isn’t going to change anytime soon, so I asked her what we wanted to do about it.”

“She doesn’t work. She suggested that when my son (she is his stepmother) turns 18 we should start charging him rent.”

“I immediately shut down that idea and told her we would have to think of something else because there’s no way I’m charging my son to live in our house.”

“She said it was reasonable since I was paying most of his college tuition, but I told her there are alternatives. I suggested we stopped eating out so much because it’s $50-$100 per meal but she didn’t like that idea.”

“I suggested other things which she rejected, so I told her I’m open to suggestions, but my son isn’t going to be our source of income.”

“She told me I should think more of her than my son. That made me a little mad, so I told her my son will always come before her.”

“She called me an a**hole after that and hasn’t talked to me since.”

“Did I overstep?”

The OP summed up their situation.

“I told my wife my son will always come before her. I might be the a**hole because I shouldn’t have been so upfront.”

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 the OP was not the a**hole.

“NTA. But I sort of think you are missing the point.”

“She doesn’t want your son there.”

“‘We need more money, let’s charge your son. No we can’t cut expenses from A, B, C, or D. We need to charge son rent’.”

“She has no alternative. She has no compromise. She has no suggestions. She wants to make it hard for your kid to live in your home. It might be time for a talk about more than money.”

“You might also want to ensure you’ve provided for your son in your will if you haven’t already. Don’t assume she will help him with what’s left to her.” ~ angel2hi

“I mean, my parents charged me nominal rent when I was working during college (summer breaks and co-ops, not during semester break and not when I wasn’t working), and after I graduated and was still living at home.”

“I think it was $300/month.”

“Although they also brought it up, and we discussed it and settled on a number that we all felt was fair and reasonable based on the cost of groceries and utility bills when I was home vs. when I wasn’t.”

“What they didn’t tell me was they were saving all of it in a savings account, and when I moved out, they handed me a big fat check.”

“That’s what my wife and I plan to do with our kids. If they’re working a full-time job while living at home after the age of 18, they can contribute (to their secret savings account).”

“Very different situation than OP, though.” ~ beer_engineer_42

“NTA. So your unemployed wife is raising hackles at your barely legal son who is somehow supposed to hold down a job and study full time so she can continue to afford to eat out.”

“Really? If you’re short on money there are two options: cut down on expenses or the unemployed partner finds a job. Your son has a job—he’s studying.” ~ sanguinepsychologist

“NTA. I’d be suspicious of any parent who thought of others before they thought of their children. Even a spouse.”

“It’s great that you are able and willing to support your son. Contrary, your wife sucks for rather having an 18-year-old student pay rent than skipping some restaurant visits.” ~ backyardchick

Many felt the money wasn’t really an issue.

The wife just wanted the son out of the house.

“NTA she’s trying to force out your son.”

“You should talk to your son about what ELSE she’s said or done to him that you don’t know about.”

“He could be keeping silent just so you could be happy.” ~ Clarion_Rose

“Yeah OP, you really need to read this and other comments pointing out this is likely more to do with getting your son to leave the house than anything to do with money.”

“You need to speak to your son and see if she has been saying/doing anything else to make him feel unwelcome.” ~ PiemanMk2

“This was my first thought, too. If she can treat him like this in front of the husband…what’s she doing behind him?” ~ 1004WithaFilthySeoul

“NTA. You don’t charge your kids rent. You just don’t.”

“If she’s that concerned about finances, then she can cut spending or find a job for herself.”

“It’s hypocritical that she’s living rent free, but wants to charge your son rent.” ~ LongWolverine7992

“It’s an excuse to start pressuring him to move out.”

“If he’s going to have to pay rent to live at yours, she thinks it’s more likely he’ll want to pay rent to live somewhere ‘fun’.” ~ lejosdecasa

“She is trying to push OP’s son out of the picture.”

“Her ‘I should be more important than your son’ line is telling too—that line points into that direction.” ~ Cute-Shine-1701

“She doesn’t like your son. That’s probably the whole reason why. She doesn’t want to share and play stepmommy anymore.” ~ ooolalaluv

“This is exactly it. If there’s no other reason for concern, this is just to get at OP’s son.”

“Seems like she’s tolerated him while he was a child, and now he’s 18, she feels she can finally wash her hands of him passive-aggressively.”

“The whole her genuinely being butthurt that OP said his son comes first says A LOT about what kind of person she is.” ~ Western_Fuzzy

“She doesn’t want your kid there. That’s it.”

“She wants to get rid of him, and she figured he would leave voluntarily if you start charging rent.” ~ onlytexts

“That’s what happened to me. I turned 18, and on my birthday, my mom’s redneck boyfriend at the time said I could pay $600 a month for rent now.”

“I said I could move out for that and he had this smug look as he said ‘ya sure could’. So I did.” ~ schoolisuncool

“Your wife is not really worried. She was just biding her time until your son turned 18 to slowly push your son out of the house to make her power play.”

“This is all about her ego. The silent treatment proves it. I would talk to your son and see if she’s said anything to him or how she treats him when alone.”

“Also using the silent treatment to punish someone is emotional abuse.”

“Tell your wife to grow up; she married a parent, and kids come first. Your wife should have known what she was getting into when marrying a parent.” ~ XochiBlossom

“Based on the info given, your wife having a real concern over finances seems fairly unlikely. Allow me to play devil’s advocate here and give you the worst interpretation of events as described.”

“She has no concerns over finances. I expect she wants the 18-year-old out of the house and this is a good way to apply pressure in an indirect way.”

“She wants you to bring it up with the kid because if she does it, it will be obvious she just wants rid of him. Better for the idea to seem to come from you.”

“With any luck, that will help drive a wedge between you two, and your kid will hopefully be gone that much quicker.”

“My instinct here is that you’re being manipulated in a dishonest way. If it were me, that would be my main concern.”

“Her wanting your grown kid to move out at some point isn’t unreasonable. Hell, that’s often true with blood-related parents and their kids as well.”

“But, this money angle and talk of charging rent really rubs me the wrong way.” ~ Vascoe

“NTA—this is her trying to push your son out of your life.”

“I would start paying attention to how she treats your son when you’re not around. Picking fights or making his home life miserable so he will WANT to leave.” ~ _A-Q

“Honestly, it’s likely that she’s feeling some kinda way about your son, whether it’s that she wants him to contribute or wants him to leave.”

“It’s telling that she’s being vague. Write down your budget so that it’s on paper, and ask her to show you where she’s concerned.”

“To be specific. And if/when she can’t, you ask her why she’s so focused on son paying rent and if there’s something more there.” ~ Goda6511

The OP made it clear they won’t be using their son as a revenue stream while he’s in college.

While his wife might not like coming after his son in the OP’s priorities, Reddit agreed that’s how parents should look at their children and spouses.

Written by Amelia Mavis Christnot

Amelia Christnot is an Oglala Lakota, Kanien'kehá:ka Haudenosaunee and Metís Navy brat who settled in the wilds of Northern Maine. A member of the Indigenous Journalists Association, she considers herself another proud Maineiac.