There are many platitudes about the importance of family connections.
But those cheery sayings ring hollow if the relationship is destructive or there is a lack of respect.
Family members are usually the first social connections for mammals. Humans are no exception.
But while instinct may drive caregiving in most other animals, things can get complicated with humans who rely less and less on instinct. Cruelty, jealousy, revenge, pettiness, and other less savory feelings can factor into how humans treat each other—family or not.
A young man found himself treated poorly by a family member. But when he asked for restitution for property damage, he was shot down.
So he turned to the “Am I The A**hole” (AITA) subReddit for feedback.
“AITA for demanding my cousin reimburse me for her kids?”
The original poster (OP) explained:
“So I (24, male) am a Dragon Ball fan. It’s something I’ve loved since I was a child, and I bought some merchandise over the years.”
“Basically I had a shelf in my room with some figures, some sets of dragon balls, and a Goku drawing I worked really hard on.”
“My cousin (33, female) comes over unannounced yesterday with her three kids, (15, male), (16, female) and (14, female). Now I love my cousin and her kids. I don’t mind them stopping by even when I’m not there.”
“They helped pull me from a deep depression. My cousin practically raised me my whole life, she helped me beat my drug addiction, and helped me beat my drinking problem.”
“My cousin’s been like an older sister/mother to me all of my life.”
“She told me they stopped by my place because the kids wanted to see me. I let her know I’ll be back in a few minutes. I had just left to go buy some groceries.”
“I return home put my groceries up and speak with her and the kids. All is going well until the 14 year old asks me for some money.”
“Her mother was not there, she never asks for money in front of her mom. She asked me for $150.”
“She just wanted some spending money, plus if I gave her money I’d have to give the other two money and honestly I don’t have the money for that. This is the third time she’s done this, she usually asks around holidays so I’ll be nice and give them all some.”
“I deny her request as I don’t get paid for another week and nothing special is happening so I’m not just out here giving money away.”
“She gets infuriated and says I let her down. And yada yada. It’s whatever to me and we chill for a few hours and they leave.”
“That was yesterday. I come home from work today and get a text from the sixteen year old saying ‘I’m sorry Unc, she just said she left something there’.”
“I’m mainly relaxed since she has a habit of leaving things and I go to my room.”
“My shelf is annihilated, everything is thrown down and broken, all the figures are missing body parts, my dragon balls are broken and that drawing I spent 3 months on finishing is cut to shreds. And some of my hoodies and shirts are gone, my Capsule Corp hat is gone.”
“I broke down crying and called their mom. I tell her I need her key back and tell her what her daughter did, I then let her know she owes me about $1,500 dollars over this and this is me being generous.”
“I’ve spent well over 3K on this whole thing but I needed something back for this. She tells me she’ll give me the key but I’ll be seeing no money from this.”
“I tell her it’s her responsibility since they are her kids and she also just leaves the key open and in the world when I said it’s meant for her. Not her whole family.”
“She said she didn’t care, and I’m not getting any money that’s it.”
“I’ve banned her from my house until she pays me and she says so be it and refuses to pay me saying it’s my fault for not locking my game room door. That door doesn’t even have a lock.”
“She used to be in quite the horrible relationship so I gave her a key to my place and let her use it whenever. Originally she only came when things were bad between her and her partner and sometimes I just wouldn’t be there so it was normalized over the years.”
“And I do love all of them very much and don’t want this to completely rip us apart hence why it’s until she pays me back.”
“AITA for demanding she pay me back?”
The OP summed up their situation.
“I demanded my cousin pay me back for something her kids did. I might be the a**hole for demanding she pay me back when she specifically did nothing wrong.”
Redditors weighed in by declaring:
- NTA – Not the A**hole
- YTA – You’re the A**hole
- NAH – No A**holes Here
- ESH – Everybody Sucks Here
Redditors decided the OP was not the a**hole (NTA) with many suggesting he file a police report.
“NTA – To be fair I think this is already going to rip you guys apart. It’s either you accept that all your items are gone, they won’t pay, pretend to forgive them and let this grudge build or file a police report and take them to small claims and get the money (or atleast something as you stated) back but have your cousin and 14yo hold a grudge on you for it.”
“Or there is also the chance of you being an angelic soul, where you can just completely forgive her and let it go without any grudges – this is the only way that won’t rip you guys apart.”
“But I think filing a report and small claims would be the best option because you should really teach them that these types of actions have consequences. They did this to a family member and are taking advantage of that; you might not do anything.”
“But later on, what if the 14 yo does this to someone else? Does something even WORSE than destroying a few items or breaking something MORE expensive? What has your cousin done to reprimand and punish the 14 yo?”
“If your cousin has done nothing, then she is teaching the 14 yo that she can just get away with it and mommy can bail her out. But what if the 14 yo does something later that is worse where mommy can’t bail her out of it?”
“You need to show your cousin that this is something serious. Right now, banning her from your home is nothing and doesn’t affect them in any way.”
“Please go and file a report before the 14 yo grows up thinking she can get away with things like this and show your cousin that she is doing wrong by allowing this destructive behaviour slide.”
“The right thing to do was your cousin should have paid you back and have her 14 yo pay her back in chores or getting a PT job when she’s old enough, until the debt is paid off as punishment and not allow her daughter to go to your house until she’s apologized and gained your trust back.” ~ What_the_Question
When the OP responded regarding the 14-year-old:
“She’s never done anything like this.”
“That you know of. I’m sure enabling mom does.”
“Call the cops and don’t listen to any family members saying that the willful destruction and theft of your property is just something that you should get over.”
“Kid will be in juvenile court soon with worse crimes. They burned the bridge. NOT you. You’re the victim of a crime and NTA.” ~ myrdraal2001
“Yes, she has, otherwise, the mother’s reaction would have been one of shock and dismay, not just ‘okay, I will give you the key back but no money’.”
“A good mother and a caring cousin would have been gutted, extremely upset that one of her children had done something so heinous to you!”
“And would WANT to try to ‘make it better’ somehow. But that was not the mother’s reaction because she has seen behavior like this before from her child.” ~ Proverbs21-3
“She will again if met with no consequences.”
“You can continue to choose to teach her this is okay.” ~ Jackisntasquirrel
Many were shocked by the violent, destructive retaliation to being told no.
“NTA. Cousin’s child has a SERIOUS problem, and if the mom doesn’t want to face it today, I’m sure she’ll have another opportunity again soon, possibly with the police. This level of destructiveness is a mental/emotional problem.”
“Not sure you’ll get any help from the police right now because you have allowed the family free entry to your home. Now change the locks, and don’t be foolish enough to think getting a key back will keep you safe.” ~ Becalmandkind
“NTA file a police report as soon as you can! You can most likely use that to get money back in small claims court.”
“Also get cameras if you can, and do not let these people into your home. Don’t even bother with the key. Get new locks all together.”
“That child is vindictive and dangerous.” ~ Chantalle22
“NTA. Your cousin’s kid is a delinquent—she broke into your house and destroyed your property.”
“It’s appalling parenting that there were no consequences for this, and your cousin or her daughter absolutely need to reimburse you.”
“Never let them have access to your house again.” ~ Maximum-Ear1745
The OP has some serious decisions to make about his relationship with his cousin and her children.
His cousin has made her stance clear. The next move is his to make.