Plans don’t always go as, well, planned.
People change, struggles arise, and sometimes the path you thought so pristine is just not the one you end up following.
What happens though, when the plan you’ve made isn’t for yourself but for someone else, and they don’t choose to walk it?
This was the problem facing Redditor and Original Poster (OP) gapyearaita when he came to the “Am I the A**hole” subReddit for advice.
“AITA For refusing to fully fund my daughter’s desired gap-year with money I saved for her education”
He began with the background.
“My wife and I divorced 8 years ago and have a 17-year old daughter who is entering her senior year of high school.”
“Since we live about an hour apart, my daughter stays with my ex during the week and comes to stay with me every other weekend.”
“I often make the drive at least once a week to attend a sporting event, or concert, or other special event my daughter has going on, so it’s not like I only see her when she comes to me and I think it’s important that she knows I will be there for her.”
Then he laid out the issue.
“On one of her visits a month or so ago she mentioned to me that she has been thinking of taking a gap year after graduating instead of going to college.”
“She knows that I have saved up a substantial amount of money for her to continue her education and asked if she could use that money to travel and see the world while she still has the freedom to do so.”
“She also knows that this money is not in a 529 plan (my big mistake) and can be used for any purpose, hence why she asked.”
“I was very hesitant to sign off on the idea and suggested that she take some time to think about it.”
“I suggested still applying to some schools and doing some campus tours just so that she is exploring all her options.”
“She rolled her eyes at me, but agreed.”
“A couple days later, her mom calls me and basically tells me that I’m being a jerk for forcing our daughter to go to college.”
“I told her I wasn’t forcing her to do anything, I just want her to be 100% sure about wanting to take a year off because that sort of thing doesn’t always work out as people think it will.”
“My ex went off on me about how travel is something our daughter wants to do and we shouldn’t be standing in her way.”
“She said she 100% supports our daughter’s decision and thinks I should too.”
“I thought about it and came up with a compromise.”
“I told my daughter and ex that if daughter really wants to take a gap year, then I have some conditions on giving her any money for it.”
“She has to get a part-time job during the school year to help fund her travel, she still has to apply to at least 3 colleges and take campus tours, and she will get a set amount of money from me each month.”
“I refused to give her the lump sum of money I saved for her education if she’s not going to use it as I intended.”
“Both my ex and daughter got upset and told me I was being unreasonable by putting any conditions on this because it’s our daughter’s decision and I shouldn’t be dictating anything about it.”
OP stood his ground.
“I told them both that if she wants a single cent from me for this idea, then I damn well get to put conditions on it.”
“I told them that these were my terms and if they don’t like them, they can both find ways to pay for daughter’s gap year on their own and I’ll use the money I saved for something else.”
There were consequences.
“My daughter has since stopped speaking to me and has decided not to come visit me the last few weeks.”
“My ex thinks I am being an a**hole and trying to force our daughter into adhering into some kind of pre-determined vision I had for her life.”
Having explained the problem, OP turned to Reddit for guidance.
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 had advice on how to handle a gap year.
“I had lots of friends take gap years. It’s a great idea. But my friends who took gap years:”
“1. Applied as seniors in high school then deferred for a year.”
“It is much easier to apply when you’re at the school and have the attention of teachers who write letters and the counselors who send transcripts.”
“2. Largely self-funded any adventures.”
“Several friends worked for 6 months then traveled for 6 months.”
“Several did WWOOF or similar programs.”
“A couple went to countries that have ‘working holiday’ visas and worked in bars or restaurants while doing fun stuff in their time off.”~PurpleMP12
Others encouraged compromise.
“OP, there’s such a thing as ‘deferral’ and ‘absence’ and study abroad.”
“It is completely reasonable to insist that the money you saved for her education be reserved for her education (college, trade school, whatever).”
“That does not necessarily mean your daughter can’t travel.”
“Here are three reasonable proposals:”
“1. Your daughter gains admittance to a four-year school, and an approved deferral for either one semester or one academic year.”
“Many colleges are happy to agree to a deferral, as it helps them manage incoming students as well as the waitlist.”
“Your daughter can take a limited budget abroad, while you have a higher degree of confidence that she will/can ultimately matriculate.”
“2. Leave of absence = travel time.”
“You may strike an agreement that once daughter is admitted and achieves certain grades during the first academic year, she is granted a certain budget for travel during a semester-long (or semester+summer, or even full academic year) approved leave of absence, which includes the institution’s guarantee that your daughter will continue attending after the appointed time.”
“3. Study abroad!”
“After the first academic year, daughter can base herself wherever her university will approve reciprocal credits.”
“She can use this time to study and travel.”
“If daughter rejects all three, it would indicate that she has no intention of pursuing higher education.”~kagzig
“You are NTA, money for education and money to fund a travel year are not the same.”
“If she wants a gap year, suggest she look into Americorps, that will provide food, lodging, a small stipend, and then money towards her education.”
“You could offer to fund a 2-3 week travel vacation before or after, using funds the earned scholarship would replace.“~Sooozn85
There was even suspicion around ex’s involvement.
“Sounds to me like ex has pressured daughter into giving the cash to her” ~tofarr
“sounds to me like the ex is planning on going vacation with the daughter on his dime.”~ShowMeSean
Even the best-laid plans do not survive first contact with the enemy – or in this case, a teenager.
While it’s important not to rely too heavily on any plan, it’s also crucial to remember that the plan is there for a reason.
Don’t be afraid to change the plan, but never lose sight of the goal that plan is building the foundation for.