Words have power.
Sure, they are used to describe our world and to express our emotions but words can also be used to control our world, to manipulate our feelings, or to destroy families.
Sometimes, in the heat of a moment, we use that power in the wrong way and it destroys in moments what took years to build.
That was the issue facing Redditor and Original Poster (OP) throwaway786680 when he came to the “Am I the A**hole” (AITA) subReddit for judgment.
“AITA for asking my niece to babysit my daughter for an emergency?”
OP got right to the situation at hand.
“I got a call telling me my wife had an accident and is in the hospital.”
“I have a 4 years old daughter and I adopted my 12 years old niece a few years ago after her parents died.”
“I called every single one of our babysitters and none of them could come.”
“I was in a hurry so I asked my niece to look after my daughter until I come back.”
“She refused and we argued for a while.”
“She yelled at me and said I’m not your personal babysitter.”
Everything was okay, until…
“I was so desparate and angry at the moment so I yelled at her and told her yes you are that’s why I adopted you.”
“I truly regret what I said and I know it was wrong and I’m an a**hole for saying this but I was worried about my wife and I had no other option”
“After that she agreed to do this and I left.”
“In my way back I knew she would be upset so I bought her several gifts and snacks to apologize.”
“She took them and we seemed fine but later I got a call from my sister telling me I’m an a**hole.”
OP was left to wonder,
“I know what I said was very wrong but I don’t think I’m an a**hole for expecting her to help in an emergency”
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 were very clear on their opinion.
“So you want to be judged on whether or not you are an AH for asking your niece (she’s actually your daughter too, you know) to babysit.”
“No, you are not.”
“But then you told her that the only reason you adopted her, is to use her as free labour. And that sort of overshadow things, because nothing you say after that will make you not the AH.”
“YTA.” ~ According_Version_67
OP, YTA. Permanently. Absolutely vile. ~ Tranqup
Some saw that OP had alternatives.
“‘Look, if you aren’t willing to help out to babysit, I need you and < 4 year old > to get in the car to come with me. <Wife> is in the hospital and I need to get down there.”‘
“What you said was inexcusable. YTA.” ~ seregil42
“And it’s so creepy that OP said that.”
“OP, the *reasonable* thought, and what you must now say to your older daughter, is that you love and trust her just as a daughter, and *that’s* why you asked her to do this.”
“You were scared and needed someone close and trustworthy–someone who could do the job of your wife, no less–and you turned to her not because she is a servant but because she is family.” ~ redkibbitzing
“Right? All he needed to say was, ‘Of course you’re not, but this is an emergency and I just need you to watch her this one time while I go to the hospital. ‘” ~ Bloodrayna
Others pointed out the hypocrisy involved.
“I wanted to start with an N T A but”
“‘I was so desparate and angry at the moment so I yelled at her and told her yes you are thats why I adopted you'”
“Wtf is wrong with you?”
“Not even in biggest fear and stress you can say that to your child! Never ever!”
“But if you’re honest with yourself, this thought lives in your head and is the truth.. otherwise you wouldn’t have said this in anger.”
“Of course you can ask her to be a babysitter in emergency or else (which she is allowed to decline!), but it’s not her job to babysit your biological child, just because she’s older and you want this.”
“You adopted her, she’s your child too, not your slave!”
“YTA big time for screaming and what you said.”
“And you f*cked up the relationship with your niece, as you call her.”
“Maybe don’t call her ‘your niece’.. it’s your daughter?!? So your daughter is more important than your ‘niece”‘?
“Did you really think gifts will repair this? She won’t ever forget or forgive this.”
“Poor girl.. lost her parents, got adopted but is still just ‘the niece’ and is always 2nd place and obviously your free babysitter for the future.” ~ Potential_Speech_703
Commenters pointed out that there might have been more going on here.
“I already wonder why when she knows of the emergency she said no as most people would say yes.”
“What is it like in that household?”
“Is she treated as some kind of guest they put up with?”
“The OP was a major AH and maybe this isn’t the first time…” ~ fountainofMB
“Exactly what I was wondering…”
“Did her parents die in a similar manner and she was kept away from them/their passing because the family ‘didn’t want to traumatize her by making her see that’, ironically making her traumatized of not being able to be there when bad things happen to people she cares about instead?” ~ calliatom
Mostly, people pointed out how this might effect the child.
“This is not just a core memory, he built a whole ass new land of the brain now (same movie I’m working with here) she’s going to have to use therapy to try to get rid of. ‘Abandonment Land”‘ ~ splithoofiewoofies
“All the presents and pretty things and ‘you matter too’ days OP can bring himself to throw at her are never going to undo what he said.”
“That new, foreign landscape was fully formed in an instant and the 12 year old has to navigate it for the rest of her life– all over again from losing her parents and being tossed into another foreign land.” ~ Askew-glasses
Commenters shared examples from personal experience.
“My mother was bipolar & manic depressive.”
“Un medicated ( this was in the 50’s) She would yell & scream unprovoked & say she was going to put me in an orphanage/ or Thorn Hill ( a girl’s reformatory) & have the little orphan girl come live with her & SHE ( orphan) would appreciate her more than me.”
“( I was a good kid, got good grades, didn’t run with a bad crowd, did chores. I am 72 & I still think about the stuff she said. We were never able to reconcile bec she died when I was 18.” ~ CompleteTell6795
“When one of my friends was a little kid, there was a day when she was acting up.”
“Her mum scooped her up, put her into the car and drove her to a children’s home.”
“Her mum said ‘Right, get out of the car. I’m leaving you here now, because I’m sick of your behaviour.’ She drove away.”
“I’m not sure how long my friend had to stand there and cry before her mum came back and picked her up. She got told ‘Behave better, or we’re coming back here.”‘
“You better believe this was the most powerful, defining and traumatic memory of her childhood.”
“My friend says that, other than that, her mum was a pretty decent mum.”
“But one day can absolutely define your feelings about another person forever.” ~ neddythestylish
OP did return to give a final update.
“I found the gifts that I bought her in my daughters room.”
“I asked her why she put them there and she started carying and told me you should give them to your real daughter.”
“I apologized and hugged her and after she calmed down a little I told her that she is my real daughter and I explained to her that I was just worried about my wife and I didn’t mean what I said and should have never said it.”
“I adopted her because I love her and she knows it, I wasn’t her only option, she wanted me to adopt her because she knows how much I love her.”
“She still didn’t want to take those gifts because it made her feel bad so we returned them and went shopping.”
“I bought her another gift for being helpful to family in an emergency.”
“My wife is ok now and she is back home but she still can’t be alone all day with a toddler so I promised her as soon as my wife is completely ok to look after my daughter alone.”
“Me and her will have an entire day just the two of us doing whatever she wants.”
Words are powerful.
A misused word can damage a friendship, ruin a career or end a marriage.
Be cautious with the words you use, they will have repercussions.