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Dad Sparks Drama After Taking ‘Pessimism Tax’ On Kids’ Allowance Every Time They’re Negative

Brother and sister putting money into a piggy bank
triloks/Getty Images

Redditor ZealousidealCut3417 just wants his family to be happy.

But is that toxic?

The Original Poster (OP) took to subReddit “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) to find out if his optimistic tendencies were problematic.

He asked,

“AITA for implementing a pessimism tax?”

Yes, a pessimism tax. He explained.

“I [35-year-old Male] am a very cheerful person by nature. I went through a lot of sh*t in life, and I struggled a lot, but throughout it all, I managed to keep an even temperament.”

“I am an optimist by nature, and I always try to maintain a cheerful and bright outlook on life.”

“My wife [34-year-old Female] is the opposite. She tends to get angry easily and is more cynical and jaded than me.“

We get along well for the most part, but she tends always to predict the worst. She always thinks about things that could go wrong and never really appreciates what we have.”

“The problem is, as my kids are growing up, they are getting imbibed with her energy.”

“They are starting to become incredibly cynical, with dour pronouncements on employment and the economy, constantly trying to bring up incredibly depressing news.”

“They seem to enjoy talking about corruption, and downfall, and the bad things about our life, and society in general.”

“I read about some scientist who discovered that if you move your face into a smile, like hold that expression, that muscle movement actually has an impact on your mood, and you become happier.”

“Last month, I decided to put this into practice. For every single negative or depressing thing they say, I take away a dollar from my kids’ allowances.”

“They begrudgingly went along with it at first, but now they are getting really annoyed at me, and everyone is calling me an AH for this.”

“I don’t understand what’s so wrong about trying to keep my family from devolving into miserable people who see negativity and evil all around them, but my family says that I am being controlling.”


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 ‘the beatings will continue until morale improves.’”

“Come on.”

“Edited to add: The people commenting that OP isn’t beating his kids should take a hint from the quotation marks.” – loverlyone


“What you’re doing is incredibly unhealthy. You are punishing your kids for expressing human emotion in completely nonharmful ways.”

“You are preventing them from expressing opinions and forcing them to pretend to have emotions and opinions they don’t have.”

“That is incredibly unhealthy. It is incredibly harmful. That is incredibly wrong. YTA.” – JetItTogether

“YTA that sounds like something my dad would do because only his feelings mattered.”

“3/3 of his adult children don’t talk to him, and he doesn’t know his two grandchildren. Maybe you should consider what future you want with your kids” – archaic_revenge

“YTA: It sounds like your kids and wife aren’t the problems, I’d say you are naive and too optimistic.”

“Maybe they should take away your dessert until you see the world more realistically. Get some f*cking perspective, dude.” – real_don_quixote

“Agreed, YTA OP. Look into toxic positivity. The way you reference getting through hard times suggests to me that you learned to suppress your emotions as a survival strategy.”

“It’s a legitimate and common survival strategy, but it’s unhealthy and maladaptive as an adult.”

“The ability to maintain an awareness of the brutal things going on around you and to feel and process your grief is critical to being an emotionally mature and healthy adult.”

“When you can’t do this bc your survival strategy has been to turn away from reality and your emotions, it can feel threatening when others do this around you.”

“This is your baggage OP. Please get a therapist and do some work around this instead of projecting onto and controlling them.” – nonbinaryn00dle

“OMG, are you serious? YTA for your toxic positivity. I like to be cheerful too, but you can’t force happiness upon people by literally taxing them for being negative.” – ExistenceRaisin


“In about ten years, your kids will be in therapy trying to understand their failure to be able to express emotions healthily.” – Cha_r_ley

“YTA. You’re punishing your children for experiencing emotions. They’re children. Jfc.” – piefanart

“YTA: so you are Millennial raising Gen Z in THIS current world, at the 3rd year “anniversary” of a global pandemic and subsequent upheaval of the entire world as we knew it, and are surprised that they have negative emotions?”

“Dude, I support optimism, but there’s a difference between trying to see the positives and needing a total reality check.”

“Since you mentioned that your kids are old enough to discuss the economy but still need an allowance, I’m guessing early to mid-teens, and yeah- they have the right to be pessimistic about what their lives and opportunities could look like in a few years…”

“Instead of punishing them for their negativity (which is clearly only breeding more negativity, so not helpful?), try incentivizing or even just engaging in more positivity yourself.”

“Find good news to share with them in their topics (they bring up the rollback of child labor laws in US, mention the neighboring state introduced free lunches for all school-age children for example to contrast) or ask them how they would solve the problem to challenge them to think about what they can do to have a positive impact.” – bluewildcat12

Yes, thank you.”

“YTA. A whole barrel of crappy things has happened in the last few years that will absolutely impact people who are in their teens/the early 20s.”

“Not acknowledging that things are different for your kids than they were for you is only going to drive them away.”

“I get that it sucks to focus on all the negatives, but it also sucks for young people to see a world where they can’t afford to buy a house, have children, live in peace without being shamed for who they are, etc.”

“People who think everyone should just “be positive” are ignoring the evidence in front of them.”

“Try offering some empathy and acknowledgment that things are different and more difficult for your kids than they were for you, and lay off the judgment.” – Pitiful_Ad_7147

YTA. Look up toxic positivity and report back.”

“Edit: Thanks for the award!” – Boss_Bitch_Werk

“YTA. You’re teaching your kids that they have to mask their emotions to make you happy.”

“Do you want to foster a healthy relationship where they feel like they can come to you with their problems, thoughts, and feelings? You are doing the exact opposite of that.” – myshellly


“There has to be a balance, and although it’s not great to constantly be down, forcing your family to smother any and all feelings they have that aren’t cheery and bright is unrealistic and unhealthy.”

“Toxic positivity is just as damaging as continuous pessimism.” – prairiemountainzen

“YTA this is how you have your kids go no contact with you one day” – ImpossibleAd7376


“While I am not saying your wife is in the right, toxic positivity is a thing and is insufferable.”

“At the very least, seeing wrong around you is a starting point to understand what needs fixing.”

“What you are doing with the pessimistic tax is only teaching the children that their views are not heard or welcomed, which only reinforces the cynicism.”

“If you cared, you would a) try to understand where your wife and kids are coming from (and there are plenty of wrong things in this world) and b) show them that it’s not all wrong all the time.” – napoleonthegreatest


“If you want them to be happy, why are you actively making their lives worse? God forbid they get depressed and have to hide it from you instead of getting the help they need.” – veganbutterflies

“YTA. you cannot control healthy emotion. try and spend time with them and make their lives better.” – WalterFMondale

“YTA whatever genius idea you thought would help with your kids’ positivity is actually making them more pessimistic.”

“I’m so confused as to how you wouldn’t see how taking their allowances makes them resentful. If anything, they just talk about that stuff without you in earshot. Wow, great job.” – scr33nplaythrowaway

Are you kidding? YTA. You’re trying to control their emotions and how they’re feeling.”

“Instead of punishing them for expressing normal emotions, why not try to add your positive spin on the conversation?”

“Taking money away anytime they say something you deem too depressing or negative just adds MORE negativity to the whole situation.”

“Also, why are you the one who gets to decide what’s too depressing or negative? Everyone has a different outlook on life and a different definition or threshold for these things.”

“Maybe your wife and kids think you’re positive and upbeat to the point of it being obnoxiously annoying – are they allowed to implement an ‘annoyingly happy tax’?”

“You do sound incredibly controlling. If I were your wife, I would stop this before it even started. It sounds absolutely ridiculous and controlling.” – sally-m-99

What is it called when positivity ends up begetting negativity?

Oh, right… irony.

Written by B. Miller

B. is a creative multihyphenate who enjoys the power and versatility of the written word. She enjoys hiking, great food and drinks, traveling, and vulnerable conversation. Raised below the Mason Dixon, thriving above it. (she/her)