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Dad Considers Revoking Daughter’s College Tuition After Catching Her Mocking Disabled Stepson

Teenage girl crying in a hallway.
fizkes/Getty Images

Content warning: suicide.

Contrary to what many might think, parents usually take no joy in punishing their children.

Not only because it makes them feel bad to raise their voices but because it is an acknowledgment that their children were misbehaving.

Even so, sometimes children behave (or misbehave) in such a way that there is no choice but to punish them.

However, finding the most effective punishment is a whole other problem itself.

Redditor WIBTAsurgery was horrified when he overheard his daughter making insensitive, even cruel, remarks about her stepbrother.

Indeed, the original poster (OP) was so furious that he felt there was only one suitable punishment.

A punishment his wife thought would be going way too far.

Wondering if this was the case, the OP took to the subReddit “Would I Be The A**hole” (AITA), where he asked fellow Redditors:

“WIBTA if I refused to pay for my daughter’s college for making fun of my step son’s injury and condition?”

The OP explained why he felt there was only one suitable punishment befitting his daughter’s recent bad behavior.

“I (44 M[ale]) am a widow of a previous marriage, and so is my wife (42 F[emale]).”

“She has a son (19 M) from her previous marriage and I have a daughter (17 F) as well.”

“We dated for roughly 5 years before being married for 3 years now, and our kids have known each other since the beginning, no major fights or weirdness besides getting to know someone else as a parent/guardian.”

“My son was a tremendous athlete in basketball, and I used to play in college at a school I’m sure none of you heard of.”

“Regardless, I know the ins and outs of basketball, and when he asked me to coach him, I was more than happy to.”

“Turns out that he was good, really good.”

“Division 1 good.”

“My wife is a controller and I’m a pharmacist; together, we make a very, very comfortable living but are not rich.”

“So when my son was getting scholarship offers for basketball, I realized we could pay for my daughter’s college in full, and neither of them would have any student loan debt when they graduate.”

“A plan that I shared with my daughter, which I think was a mistake to begin with.”

“These plans changed when my son tried riding on someone else’s motorcycle, with their permission, but with zero training, and got badly injured on an ensuing crash.”

“He lost part of his hand and foot, not life-threatening, but basketball ending.”

“This happened last year, and my son has been in a deep depression that we’re desperately trying to bring him out of, but he feels like his entire identity got ripped away in the blink of an eye.”

“He’s been in counseling and prescribed medication, but it has not helped thus far.”

“Recently he confided in me that the pills he’s on have unfortunate side effects with his libido to virtually zero interest and wants to stop them.”

“I told him the important thing is that he’s with us, but he can bring that up with his doctor next visit.”

“Fast forward about two weeks.”

“I’m upstairs looking for something in my room, and I heard my daughter talking to her friends on her phone about college.”

“The conversation turned towards her brother and she said she ‘can’t wait to be gone, I’m tired hearing (her brother) cry every day’ and saying his hand is gross.”

“I knew ‘spirits’ in the house had shifted since he became injured, but I didn’t think she felt this type of way.”

“I was gonna talk to her later about this, but then I heard her say ‘I heard him say that he can’t even get it up’ while laughing.”

“At that, I was furious.”

“I stormed in her room, took her phone, laptop, car keys, and TV out of her room.”

“I told her she should be ashamed of how she’s talking about her brother and he might do something permanent if he heard you talking about him like that.”

“When my wife got home, we talked about what happened and while she’s proud of the way I stood up for my son, she thinks it’s too far to also not pay for her college, since we could easily do so.”

“WIBTA if I don’t pay for my daughter’s college?”

Fellow Redditors weighed in on where they believed the OP fell in this particular situation by declaring:

  • NTA – Not The A**hole
  • YTA – You’re The A**hole
  • NAH – No A**holes Here
  • ESH – Everyone Sucks Here

The Reddit community overwhelmingly agreed that the OP would, indeed, be the a**hole if he refused to pay for his daughter’s college tuition after her unkind remarks.

While everyone understood where the OP’s anger was coming from, everyone agreed that revoking her tuition was going way too far. It wouldn’t teach her the lesson she needed to learn. Others pointed out that her behavior may stem from her feeling ignored or neglected after her step-brother’s accident, and maybe a more serious conversation with her was needed.

“YWBTA if you didn’t at least help pay for schooling.”

“It’s very likely that your daughter is feeling jealous / left out / forgotten bc of all the attention your son is getting.”

“I’m NOT saying you should stop paying attention to him, because what he went through is terrible and I really hope he feels better.”

“I have been in similar spots myself, and I can say that depression is not fun to deal with for anyone.”

“I’m really glad that you’re being so supportive of him.”

“I’m not a therapist lol but I do have a similar experience it seems to your daughter.”

“I think that since you and your stepson were able to bond SO WELL over basketball and because it became so important, it maybe created some distance between you and your daughter.”

“I could 100% be wrong, but I think what started as small issues snowballed.”

“Teenagers are notoriously bad at dealing with emotions, and she probably doesn’t know what to do.”

“So yeah, YWBTA if you suddenly announced you wouldn’t pay for her schooling.”

“Instead, I may suggest spending more time with her and talking in a non-judgmental space.”

“I wish the best for you and the whole fam.”- RealTaySmith

“I agree with your wife.”

“Your daughter needs to have empathy, but I don’t think making this unilateral decision out of anger is the way to go about it.”

“Seems like she needs some therapy as well.”- Shitsuri

“Your initial punishment was fine.”

“Taking away her college fund is too far.”

“Sometimes, teenagers do not think before they speak.”-Comfortable-Focus123


“This is not a proportionate response.”

“Your son did something very dumb, and unfortunately he’s dealing with lifelong consequences from that.”

“But his actions are also having immediate and lifelong consequences for your daughter.”

“She’s lost a lot of your attention during an important transitional point in her life (preparing for college, completing high school), and she may now start her life with a lot more debt because college funds are now likely to be split.”

“Your daughter needs to work on empathy, but so do you – you seem to have no clue the extent to which your son’s actions are impacting your daughter.”- thirdtryisthecharm


“Your son had a life-changing event a year ago, and you’ve understandably been focused on him and helping him get through it.”

“Siblings of a child with a serious injury or illness often feel left out or marginalized while the parents spend more time with that child.”

“Your daughter is only 17, and what happened to your son will have had a huge impact on her as well, if only due to the change in the family dynamic.”

“You punished her already.”

“Now try talking to her about how she’s feeling about things.”

“You might be surprised at what she says if she’s willing to open up (she may not be).”

“But taking away a college education is a step WAY too far.”- HRProf2020

The OP later returned with an update, acknowledging that he may have been a bit too severe with his daughter’s punishment while also clearing some things up about their relationship:

“Fairly unanimous that this would be too far, and I think I knew that, but I just can’t calm down.”

“Maybe I’m stunned that it was my own daughter saying it, but it’s rare that I harbor something like this.”

“Also, many comments hinting that I’m alienating or neglecting my daughter are completely unfounded.”

“The post was about my son’s condition, so I talked about my son.”

“Maybe my daughter feels less important or neglected. I can understand that, but it certainly not because of a lack of attention or love.”

“I accept it, though, IWBTA.”

When someone goes through a traumatic experience, it has a way of affecting everyone around them.

Needless to say, the OP’s daughter’s remarks were shockingly insensitive and shouldn’t be tolerated.

Even so, perhaps she’s still figuring out how to process what her stepbrother went through.

Something revoking her college tuition definitely won’t help.

We wish this family well as they sort this out.

If you or someone you know is struggling, you can contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988.

To find help outside the United States, the International Association for Suicide Prevention has resources available at

Written by John Curtis

A novelist, picture book writer and native New Yorker, John is a graduate of Syracuse University and the children's media graduate program at Centennial College. When not staring at his computer monitor, you'll most likely find John sipping tea watching British comedies, or in the kitchen, taking a stab at the technical challenge on the most recent episode of 'The Great British Baking Show'.