Some people have this uncanny ability to assume that if the person next to them doesn’t lead the same kind of life that they do, then they must have loads of free time.
A full-time employee might assume this about a stay-at-home parent. Or a married parent might assume a single, childless sibling might have nothing important to do all day.
But we simply don’t know all the details of someone else’s life, stressed the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit.
Redditor Piklas_Rixardos was frustrated with his sister, who was a mom of twins, and who regularly assumed that he had no life outside of work because he was single and didn’t have kids of his own.
But when she decided that she could drop her kids off with him to babysit for free anytime she wanted, the Original Poster (OP) knew it was time to set some new boundaries.
He asked the sub:
“AITA for telling my sister I don’t want to look after her twins?”
The OP was fed up with trying to entertain his twin nephews.
“I (35 Male) told my sister (28 Female) that I can’t take care of her twins for the day and she flipped out on me.”
“Basically, I have a career and my own (very busy) life, and from time to time, my sister comes to visit me and live in my house.”
“She has twins (both 10 Male), and they are an UNBEARABLE MENACE.”
“They have literally zero attention span, and they have no interests.”
“I have tried everything, from trying to find something that interests them (e.g. programming in Scratch, watching movies, playing video games, etc.). I’ve tried to get them to exercise but in a fun playful way.”
“Nothing, all they do for hours is jump around and endlessly watch Tik Tok videos and Youtube shorts.”
The OP and his sister disagreed about parenting the kids.
“Obviously, I’ve told all this to my sister before, and I’ve recommended that the kids see a specialist because I believe this is somewhat concerning behavior.”
“And I’m not the only one saying this, by the way. Their grades are massively suffering and teachers have also recommended that they visit a specialist.”
“My sister obviously does not help at all. She hasn’t taken her children to visit the specialist.”
“Whenever she visits me, she always dumps her children on me and then goes out for hours partying (she has broken up with her ex [34 Male] because he was abusive, and I was there for her and commended her for standing up to him).”
The OP finally decided enough was enough.
“Yesterday, I couldn’t take it anymore, and when she came to dump her children again, I told her that I’m simply too tired to watch after the children.”
“She looked very angrily at me and said, ‘You’re single and basically have no responsibilities other than your job. You CAN’T be as tired as I am, so obviously, you have to watch after your nephews.'”
“This angered me and I basically told her to shut the f**k up (I regret it now) and that she can’t dictate whether I’m not tired or not.”
“I stated that I have a full-time job only to come home most of the time when she’s around and watch after her children while she is out partying.”
“She left after that and hasn’t spoken to me since yesterday.”
The OP felt somewhat conflicted.
“I’ve spoken with my mother (59 Female) and she thinks that AITA and that I should apologize to my sister.”
“And before anyone says anything, my mom can’t take care of the children because she is sick (she has breast cancer) and because she is still grieving (my dad passed away in a car accident in June).”
“While I want to apologize for my choice of words, I don’t think that I should be saddled every day with my sister’s children.”
“Am I the a**hole?”
Fellow Redditors weighed in:
- NTA: Not the A**hole
- YTA: You’re the A**hole
- ESH: Everybody Sucks Here
- NAH: No A**holes Here
Some insisted the OP was under no obligation to babysit.
“I’m sorry for this. But you’re still NTA. If she wants your help, she should call and ask if you’re free. And be, you know, appreciative, that you’re willing to help her.”
“Family does not mean servant. Or doormat. Keep setting boundaries or she’ll walk all over you.” – ughneedausername
“NTA. Don’t let your sister guilt-trip you into babysitting her kids, especially if you’ve already set a boundary and don’t feel comfortable looking after them because they are not cooperative. That’s your sister’s responsibility and she can find a babysitter.” – Far-Arm-3512
“I can’t stress enough, OP, how much you are NTA. Honestly, i feel like you’ve been manipulated quite a bit for even questioning yourself this much. Don’t let your family treat you like this!” – TheTreeOfLyfe
“NTA. This is an attitude I am tired of, that because someone doesn’t have children that their time has no value. That only people with children are allowed to be busy or tired or whatever. And this happens both in personal and business spaces. Your time is just as valuable as hers is, whether you have kids or not.”
“Also, you are not obligated to be her eternal, unpaid babysitter service just because you are related to her. You were never asked if you wanted the kids, but you are expected to drop everything and take care of them at the drop of a hat.”
“Basically, these are her kids, they are her responsibility. There will be times when she will have to either pay for a babysitter or just not go partying like every other parent. And, if this is a problem for your mother, your mother can volunteer to babysit herself.”
“Yes, your choice of words was unfortunate, but your sister hasn’t listened to you when you were being polite, so you were left with no choice but to be rude.” – bamf1701
“While not explicitly said, I am assuming you work from home (WFH). I’m always amazed how many people think that WFH means you have the day free.”
“You have given your sister a verbal warning and she basically ignored it and told you that you were wrong. Escalate it with a sign on the door, something about working, like, ‘Working, Do NOT disturb.’ Photograph for proof of existence.”
“You have now provided her 2 forms of warning. At this point, you can call the police to enforce knowing you really tried. Too bad your family won’t help deal with the situation.” – ch3no2-dec
Others were critical of the sister’s actions.
“Your sister doesn’t get to use you so she can have do-over adolescence. That ship has sailed. Even if she didn’t get a choice in having the children, she has them now, and she has to put on her mom jeans and deal.”
“She can take parenting classes and sign the kids up for after-school activities and clubs. Close ‘Club Uncle.'” – jennyislander
“Isn’t that why people pay babysitters? Oh, yeah, she just wants FREE childcare. That’s definitely not YOUR problem.” – stinstin555
“Tell your sister the next time she leaves her kids with you without clearing it with you first, you will call the police for abandoned children.”
“They aren’t your kids. You’re not responsible for them. She is.”
“NTA.” – mdthomas
“NTA. Honey, she’s not dumping her kids on you in order to attend school, or work, or get chores done. She’s literally dumping them on you to go party, and your mother is enabling her. Stop this immediately.” – b_86
“Just because she had kids, doesn’t mean you have to look after them.”
“If someone said what your sister said to me, I would be furious too. I think what you said needed to be said. Maybe not so aggressively but someone needed to tell her.”
“While yes, mums should be able to go out and have fun, they shouldn’t (in most cases wouldn’t) be dumping their kids on unwilling family members.”
“Suggest your mum look after them if she wants to scold you for it.” – Ok-Writer-74
Some tried to suggest ways to help improve the situation the family was in.
“I don’t know your whole situation and I’m sure there are various factors that I’m missing, but from what it sounds like, you love them and are incredibly concerned about their development.”
“It doesn’t sound like your sister or her ex are serviceable parents in any way, shape, or form.”
“I can only speak from my limited knowledge and experience, but I think you should talk to your mother and try to convince her that the kids need help (from a specialist or any other method), and then convince your sister together.”
“I would also recommend looking into some kind of family therapy session (specifically for your sister and her kids, but it sounds like you have a small family, and so it wouldn’t hurt to have yourself and/or mother there).”
“NTA.” – LinusIsKingAlways
“Experts say people of abuse many times regress to the age the trauma occurred, which may explain why your sister is acting like a 17-year-old.”
“However, that doesn’t excuse her behavior. She’s having such a vicious reaction because you haven’t erected boundaries prior to this, and people who don’t typically have to abide by boundaries backlash harshly. Particularly being a victim of abuse, she’s probably picked up some of those behaviors.”
“NTA. You’ve done nothing wrong. These are not your children. You have been caring and supportive. You have nothing to apologize for. You are owed an apology. And had your sister followed your advice, she wouldn’t find herself in this predicament.”
“While I also empathize with your mom, she is dead a** wrong and enabling her daughter‘s bad behavior and decisions. And remember, it’s not a single, childfree person’s responsibility to be an on-demand babysitter and bank for people who choose to have children.” – NonaOrganic
“NTA. Tell your sister the next time she leaves the kids with you, you’re going to be taking them to the doctor to get evaluated for autism or ADHD.”
“Or make that a condition of the OP ever watching them again: get them evaluated and into treatment, and as their behavior improves, sure, I’ll watch them again on occasion when my time permits!” – Bibliovoria
“OP is NTA for declining to watch his nephews. Not his monkeys, not his circus. However, a more productive approach might be to explain to his sister that he cannot handle these particular monkeys.”
“If they were his boys, he would take them to a specialist to get them help, but as the uncle, he has no right to do so. His hands are tied, and his only right is the right to walk away, so that is what he is doing.”
“This is the point where OP emphasizes that she is the mom and she knows what is best for her kids. And if she thinks the specialist isn’t necessary, he respects her right to make that decision. Also maybe the kids are worse-behaved with their uncle, so she doesn’t see what he sees.”
“But he will no longer be babysitting until their behavior improves.” – ditchdiggergirl
“She was 18 and had kids with an abusive 24-year-old. Who knows how long they’d been together before she got pregnant? I’m not sure how many choices she would have had.”
“Not OP’s problem, of course, but her having a bit of a mental checkout is understandable even if she needs to handle it better for her kids. I feel she’s probably avoiding handling the trauma from the abuse.”
“Perhaps an intervention could help in getting her to take the boys to a specialist, get therapy, and find a better coping mechanism.”
“Maybe OP could offer one set night a week of babysitting for her to let off steam, and perhaps a couple of hours when there’s a group on for survivors, and she goes to therapy.”
“If sister abuses those two hours and leaves them all night to party, then she loses all babysitting.” – PhDOH
While everyone could understand that it’s nice to be able to go out and have some fun, those plans should not be at the expense of a loved one. Clearly, the sister needed to learn that she could not use her brother as free babysitting, no matter how much free time she felt he must have.