It can be challenging to watch a child go through something difficult. Cancer treatments are difficult as it is, sometimes you think nothing else should compound the issue.
PeaWaste6667 has a sister whose daughter is undergoing treatment for bone cancer. The original poster (OP) is trying to help how she can, but takes issue with one of her sister’s choices in parenting.
OP isn’t sure if she was wrong to lash out at her sister, and took her story to the “Am I the A**hole” (AITA) board on Reddit.
She asked internet strangers:
“AITA for losing it with my sister when she found out she was punishing my niece?”
This is what’s going on in this family:
“I (40f) have a sister (42f) who has a daughter (14f). She was recently diagnosed with cancer (It is some kind of bone cancer not entirely sure which), and thankfully they were able to catch it early and with treatment she will most likely live.”
“She had a chemo day today and my sister/her mother had me pick her up, as she was busy I believe. I don’t mind and even consented to being able to pick her up almost any time if my sister informs the hospital before hand, as my job is flexible”
“So I arrived and then picked her up. She was ‘fine’ just looked like she was a little of most likely from pain, and looked incredibly tired. We made small talk and then she started checking something on her phone.”
“She started tearing up so I asked her what was wrong. She said she got a B in math and a C+ in english and mid terms were being sent home, I said that with what she’s going through that’s pretty good, and asked her how her other subjects were going.”
“She said they were all A’s and I said see your doing great, she said that her mom would be mad at her. I said that she would probably understand and she said that she would still be mad. I said that I would try to talk to her”
“I drop her off and the moment we step in she starts screaming about the grades. Saying things like, ‘Do you want to be a failure?’ ‘Are you even trying’, ‘stop being. lazy and start studying more’.”
“I was pissed and told her she was being ridiculous. She said that she wanted her daughter to do better. I said that she has f***ing cancer and that she should be happy that her daughter is doing so well with that.”
“She told me to get out of her house and I realized I had no power or leverage here and left. I tried calling her but she told me to shut up and mind my own business and told me I was being horrible for being so rude to her.”
“I am starting to think she is right because I could have been calm and spoke to her about why I disagree with her, AITA?”
OP isn’t sure if she overstepped her bounds. Is her sister entitled to parent how she sees fit, or was OP right to yell at her sister?
To find out, Reddit commenters judge OP by including one of the following in their response:
- NTA – Not the A**hole
- YTA – You’re the A**hole
- NAH – No A**holes Here
- ESH – Everybody Sucks Here
Whatever rights as a parent OP’s sister has, that doesn’t protect her from other repercussions.
Her reaction to less than perfect grades from her daughter, who’s already going through a tough time with the cancer treatments, is beyond unacceptable.
OP was right to defend her niece.
“Wow, OP. NTA. Your sister, now…”
“Maybe don’t piss if your sister so much that she might block your contact with your niece. The little girl could probably use a fun and supportive aunt in her life.” – LuvMeLongThyme
“NTA, but your sister sure is.”
“When I first read the title I was unsure, because usually I side against people trying to butt into other people’s parenting. BUT HOLY SH** WTF.”
“When I fell egregiously ill as a freshman in highschool I was so thankful to have all my teachers and both my parents supporting me on balancing school and health. It helped me to succeed.”
“I cannot imagine the stress your poor niece is going through. Your sister was clearly in the wrong for being so degrading.” – bunnyelizabeth
“NTA. Your sister has lost her ability to be compassionate or feel empathy in this situation, and that’s so sad.”
“It’s also worrying that your niece began crying when she saw the grades. It makes me wonder just how severe your sister’s punishments are.”
“It might’ve been best to approach her more calmly but in that moment your outrage was clearly justified. Definitely NTA. You keep fighting for your niece, she’s lucky to have you around.” – GreatAmericanMan
“NTA. You’re right you could have been more calm, and 9 times out of 10 I would expect someone to be, and certainly not try to undercut parenting.”
“But this is that 10th time. What seals it for me is the first quote, her calling her daughter A ‘failure’. That goes beyond discipline – that is horribly degrading and completely out of bounds for a parent.”
“It deserves the kind of response you gave it. And more importantly, your niece deserves that immediate reassurance that mom is dead wrong.”
“You probably mean the world to her. Do what it takes to make nice with your sister so you can keep being your nieces champion” – Docthrowaway2020
Other commenters speculated on what is going on in OP’s sister head.
“I have the feeling that the mom’s obsession with grades might be her (awful) way to cope, because that’s something she can somewhat control, unlike cancer.”
“She should address this in therapy, because terrorizing a child, let alone a child with cancer, is horrible.” – SneakyRaid
“I was wondering exactly the same thing. In such an uncontrollable situation it wouldn’t be beyond the realms of possibility she’d search for something she could control.”
“If it is I hope she seeks help before she destroys her relationship with her daughter” – Kilpatc01
“NTA even before I got to the part about your nice being punished for her grades, I was horrified that it seems like your sister is leaving her 14 year old daughter to go through chemo alone. WTF. your sister is awful.”
“Your poor niece. She will remember you being there for her. Make sure she knows she can talk to you and rely on you because clearly her monster, I mean mother, is not giving her the support she needs.”
“Having a child with cancer must be heartbreaking and terrifying but that is no excuse for the way your sister is acting.” – moonlitnights
OP should do what she can to protect and support her niece. The girl is going through a difficult time and needs all the help she can get.
There may not be a good way to approach the subject, but OP’s sister could use some therapy. She might have unresolved issues related to her daughter’s difficulties.