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Dad Called ‘Heartless’ For Refusing To Let Terminally-Ill FIL Take Kids To Disney Without Him

child at theme park
praetorianphoto / getty Images

We tend to think that plans are infallible.

Once we’ve decided on a course of action we are locked in and if we don’t get there, we’ve somehow failed.

Life just doesn’t work that way.

Plans change, unfortunate events occur, and we’re left scrambling to make the best out of the situation that we’re given.

So, what happens when someone tries to cling to the way they want something to be, rather than adjusting to the situation that is?

That was the issue facing Redditor and Original Poster (OP) TipProfessional880 when he came to the “Am I the A**hole” (AITA) subReddit for judgment.

He asked:

“AITA for saying no to my In Laws taking our kids to Disney?”

OP began with the plan.

“My (M28) wife (F28) and I have two daughters, 6 & 5 years old, which is prime Disney age.”

“They’re both super into princesses and all that.”

“We’ve talked about taking them to Disney over the next few years as we know they’d love it.”

“My wife has never been before, and I’ve only been once when I was 10 years old.”

“It was definitely a memorable trip for me as my family had to save up a while for it. We’ve always known that Disney would be our big trip with our girls.”

Then he shared awful news.

“In July, my FIL got diagnosed with prostate cancer.”

“After a few rounds of chemo and some rather intense stays at the hospital, it’s only gotten worse.”

“It’s spread across to other organs in his body, and rather than trying to suffer to fight it, he’s opted to just not do chemo and try to live with what time he has left.”

“As a result, he and my MIL have decided to make more memories with family.”

“One of these memories is taking our daughters to Disney & surprised them with the trip yesterday during Christmas.”

“At first, I thought my wife would be against it as well–we’ve always said we’ve wanted to get to experience taking them and seeing their faces.”

“However, I found out that my MIL cleared it with my wife last month.”

“My wife didn’t tell me because she thought I would be surprised and excited for our daughters.”

“I sat through all of the rest of the night, but when we got home we had a serious discussion about it.”

He explained his point of view.

“I told my wife that I didn’t want our daughters’ first trip to Disney to be without us.”

“She suggested we go along, but the trip is in February, and booking flights+hotel+tickets for just my wife and me for the time they’re all going is still going to be almost $5,000.”

“I told my wife that we have to talk to her parents & decline the trip.”

“But my wife is saying that I’m being selfish and heartless by robbing our daughters of this experience & robbing them of a core memory with my FIL before he passes.”

OP was left to wonder,

“Am I being out of line here?”

Having explained the situation, OP turned to Reddit for judgment.

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: YTA

Some pointed out the bigger picture.


“Your wife is right.”

“I understand your disappointment in not being the first to take your kids to Disney, but these are special circumstances.”

“Their grandfather/your wife’s father is dying and wants to create memories with his grandchildren that will last once he is gone.”

“It’s small-minded and selfish to take that opportunity away from him and your children just so you can be the first to have the experience with them.”

“Do you think if you do this your wife and daughters won’t resent you for what you are taking away from them to satisfy your own selfish need?”

“If you do this, remember someday your daughters will be adults and think about how they will look back on this and what they will think about you.” ~Such-Awareness-2960

“It’s Disney.”

“They will light up every time regardless of being the first trip.” ~ EstablishmentFun289

“As they grow older, those kids will struggle to remember a lot from the years grandpa was around.”

“Disneyland with grandpa has the best chance at creating a wonderful long-term memory though.”

“Remembering the love of a past family member during this formative time in their lives is the kind of thing that has a lifelong impact.”

“You have a lifetime of ‘firsts’ to look forward to, OP.”

“Give your children the gift of remembering their grandfather’s love.” ~ DragonCelica

Commenters listed off the positives.

“I also think it would be really special for the kids to be almost like your guides the next time they go.”

“So they can show their parents their favorite rides and best ice cream spots and reminisce about time with grandpa.” ~ madagony

I agree with this. Also, think of it as sending your family at a 50% discount! FIL and MIL are paying for your daughters. How can you pass up that kind of discount on Disneyland? ~ 3InaRow

Of course, there were personal stories too.

“Hell, my sister casually asked to take my son and I practically threw him at her.”

“It’d be FOREVER for me to afford that, and I wasn’t about to let my kid miss out on what could be a once in a lifetime experience.”

“He had a blast.” ~ boredasballsyo

“OP, this.”

“My grandfather died a few years ago after developing sepsis, so it was kind of sudden.”

“This Christmas my grandma handed me a stack of photos she had of me and my family from when I was growing up.”

“I looked at pictures from day trips he took me on, and all the memories came back like a warm hug.”

“My grandpa was the best man, and I miss him every day.”

“Memories are all I have now, and they mean everything to me.”

“God I only wish iPhones were more accessible before my grandfather died–I would do anything for videos to hear his voice and his laugh any time I wanted.”

“YWBTA if you deprive your kids of this. Please don’t.” ~ giraffe-spotted

Not everyone saw a good guy here.

“Playing devil’s advocate here, but I get what he’s saying.”

“If anything I think the wife is the real AH here, only because she blindsided him rather than have an adult discussion about it.”

“Imagine you have been talking about taking your kids on a trip for years, and then they go take the trip while you’re out of town.”

“It sucks to be in that position because 1) you were out of town 2) they knew that was something special you wanted to do.”

“I understand the grandpa has cancer, and that’s very unfortunate, but for no one to have an adult discussion with the father of said children is wild to me.”

“The wife knew what he would think, and I bet you big money if they had a discussion about it they could’ve come up with a way to do it all together.”

“Rather than letting two elderly grandparents take their children to a huge amusement park by themselves.”

“What if something happens to the grandpa during this trip? Do they have that all planned out?”

“I go to Disney once a year and even as an adult it’s hard to keep up with everything going on, and I’ve lost my husband in crowds before.”

“All I’m saying is this all could’ve been avoided and better handled if they all had a simple conversation.”

“ESH in my opinion.” ~ Vegetable_Brush7263

“Why did I have to scroll so far to find this? Instead of blindsiding someone and putting them in the position of being the AH, all these people could have just used their words.” ~ Simple-Caterpillar14

Some named the real enemy – Logistics.

“I worked for years at group homes for disabled adults. I’ve done amusement parks helping people who are disabled and needed wheelchairs.”

“It is a huge amount of work. We always made sure to have 1:1 staff: resident ratios for such trips. And it was still overwhelming.”

“There is no practical way the grandmother can help both a frail/dying husband and two fairly young children, on her own.”

“If the husband has a crisis and needs to go to a doctor or hospital, who will watch the kids? If a child wanders off or has a meltdown, who will tend to the grandfather and other child?”

“Five and six are pretty young for children to be going on a multi-day trip without a parent, even with grandparents.”

“The trip is a bad idea, but not for the reasons that OP gives – the selfish desire to be there for the ‘first trip to Disney.'”

“It will be a logistical nightmare if the grandmother has to push a wheelchair AND keep track of a five and six-year-old.” ~ Jazzlike_Humor3340

Adaptability is one skill we could all use a little more practice with.

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.