Blood is thicker than water, as the saying goes.
But is blood thicker than anxiety?
A Redditor and Original Poster (OP) brought such a family issue to the “Am I the A**hole”(AITA) subReddit for their judgment.
“AITA for refusing to babysit my sister’s kids”
“However, because of her need to work to provide for all of them, she cannot watch them 24/7, and often asks family members and friends to watch them for her while she is away.”
“Now, I don’t hate kids or have a phobia of them or anything like that, but I do have severe anxiety around them. It’s hard to tend to kids under 10 and often makes me panic when I am hounded by them.”
Previous attempts have been made.
I have watched all 6 of her kids in the past at once despite my issues (and I knew she had a lot on her plate), but because of everything they needed and the pressure, I ended up having a panic attack that ended with me passing out.”
Her anxiety is a known issue.
“My sister and other family members are aware of my anxiety around kids and because of this, don’t ask me to babysit.”
“My sister is going to a wedding next weekend and is taking a few days off of work to do so. She has everything in order, however, it is a ‘no child’ wedding.
Her Sister needed help.
“She has asked many people to watch her children, but no one can or will watch her kids. My sister visited me today and asked me if I was willing to watch them for the weekend.”
OP had to make a decision.
“I told her that I was sorry, but that I couldn’t.”
“She started to get agitated with me and asked me why not. I reminded her about what happened last time I watched her children and about my anxiety towards them.”
Perhaps time has healed all wounds?
“She began to get upset and told me ‘that happened a year ago! I don’t even think you’re scared of them, you just don’t want to do it.’
I told her that one, I’m not scared of them, I feel overwhelmed and anxious due to their needs and behavior (I should also mention that her kids are not the most well behaved which makes them harder to control.)
Unconsciousness is rarely a good quality in a babysitter.
I also reminded her that I passed out the last time I watched them from the anxiety and suggested that she maybe just get a babysitter for the weekend.”
“This is where she started getting really upset and raised her voice at me, and told me ‘does it look like I have money for a babysitter?! that’s why I’m coming to you!!’
OP stuck firm to her original decision but offered to help in another way.
I told her I’m sorry, but the answer was no. I also told her if money was an issue, I could help her pay for the sitter. She scoffed and told me to just forget it.
She left my home without saying a word, despite me still trying to talk to her.”
Sister’s frustration led to a social media call-out.
“Later that night, she wrote a lengthy Facebook post about how ‘family should always be there for one another’ and how ‘we should help each other despite our issues.’
OP’s family seems to agree with Sister, but will Redditt?
My mom agrees with my sister and says I should have helped her. I didn’t say no because I didn’t want to help her, I said no because I know I can’t handle it.”
The Original Poster was left wondering:
She even made a brief closing argument.
“I have really bad anxiety around young children and refused to watch them for my sister for that reason”
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 offered alternatives.
“It would be nice if you could help out, but you have valid boundaries and your sister is TA (The A**hole) for trying to push them.”
‘My mom agrees with my sister and says I should have helped her.’
“Well, what a great opportunity for your mom then, to step up and babysit your sister’s kids herself!” ~anchovie_macncheese
Some saw the concern with the OP passing out the first time.
“Just to add on here, if you as my sister passed out while caring for my children, I would personally not allow you to watch my children again.”
“That could be a potentially really dangerous situation, not only for you who passed out (what if you hit your head while going down) but also for the children who wouldn’t have a caregiver (especially if any of the kids are under the age of 2).”
“You are definitely not the AH (A**hole), you are simply being a responsible adult, which your sister is not being, I mean is free childcare really more important than the safety of her sister and her children????” ~Financial_Hunt_7261
While others commisserated with how difficult watching that many children can be.
“I watched 5 well-behaved kids for a weekend all under 10 and it nearly broke me.” ~Minionoperation
Some suggestions made lots of sense.
“Send them to their dads”~GreenArcherNeedsFood
While others were just pragmatic.
“Sister’s failure to exercise effective birth control options does not constitute a childcare obligation on OP”~diamonddoll81
Still more tried to find the middle ground.
“Then why not split them between family members?”
“My aunt has four kids and would split them up if asking people to babysit, because one kid was a lot of work.” ~PizzaBoundaries
OP did return to state why she felt she was being unfair.
“I feel like I may be the a**hole because I know my sister already works hard and has a lot on her plate, and she couldn’t find someone to watch her kids for the weekend while she goes out to enjoy herself.
“I said no because I know that I can’t handle the task due to an event in the past, but I still feel like I may be TA for saying no.”
In the end, the resounding decree was that she was totally in the right to care for her own mental health, rather than risk putting herself and her sister’s children in danger.
Perhaps we could all remember to focus on our needs from time to time.