As a parent, you try to do everything you can to help your child and prepare them for the difficulties of the real world, but there are some things you can’t account for. Your best bet is to do the best you can and be compassionate.
Redditor DesperateObjective76 encountered a pitfall in raising her daughters when she thought she was doing something kind for them. But she’s unsure if her daughters are overreacting or if she truly did something wrong.
To remedy this, the original poster (OP) is asking the “Am I the A**hole” (AITA) subReddit about her situation.
Her question is:
“AITA for not telling my kids I planned to pay off their student loans?”
The story goes:
“So first of all I believe that people don’t spend others money the way they would their own. I think paying for your own things helps to understand their worth and cost.”
“I have 2 adult children, Susan (26F) and Emily (25F) with my husband. We do ok for ourselves but don’t have a ton of disposable income.”
“We told our kids in high school that we do not have the money to pay for their collage, we can help with signing loans and they can live with us rent free as long as they are in some type of school, but we wouldn’t be able to give them money directly.”
“We talked about how whatever they do they need to make sure it’s worth the cost to them, either because they will make good money when they graduate or because it’s their passion.”
“Susan tried to keep her student loans as low as possible by going to a community college and living at home for two years before transferring to the school she really wanted, saying that it wasn’t worth going into more debt when she can accomplish the same thing for less money.”
“Emily was less concerned and went to the school she wanted to from the start, and claimed it was worth it for the ‘full college experience’.”
“Susan graduated with 20k in student debt and Emily graduated with 60k.”
“Now that both kids are done with school and are living on their own, me and my husband decided to sell our current house and get a smaller one. There was enough profit to fully pay off both girls student loans, and have some left over for renovations/retirement savings.”
“I had always planned to do this, but because I wanted the kids to at least plan to pay for their own school, and because you never know what can happen in life, I did not tell my kid’s about the plan.”
“Now Susan is incredibly mad. She said if she had known I was going to pay off their loans she would have just gone to the school she wanted from the beginning.”
“I feel like if it wasn’t worth 60k of her money, why is it suddenly worth 60k of mine? Susan thinks I should split the money and they each get 40k instead, but I wanted them to be able to live without this debt hanging over them, not leave one daughter with debt and the other with 20k in disposable income.”
“Susan has complained to my family and they are split, some saying I am punishing Susan for being smart with her money, while others feel that Susan is being unreasonable and should be happy I’m paying off the loans.”
On the AITA subreddit, people are judged using the following acronyms:
- NTA – Not the A**hole
- YTA – You’re the A**hole
- NAH – No A**holes Here
- ESH – Everybody Sucks Here
The judgement rendered upon OP was that she was the one wrong here.
“YTA. Give both the same amount please. One received better education and lived a joyful life and you’re trying to punish the other for being responsible.”
“Pay 40 of for one, the 20 for the other and then give her 20 additionally. It would be really unfair not to and your kid might be mad forever.” – Melight_
“Yeah what a sh**ty message to send your kids. In addition to punishing one for being responsible, OP is also (hopefully inadvertently) playing favorites by giving one kid 40k more than the other.”
“That is a HUGE difference and might be viewed as them loving one daughter more than the other. Also a great way to cause resentment between the sisters too.” – OrdinaryOrder8
“YTA. You planned to pay off their debt and never told them. Susan didn’t choose the cheaper option because her education wasn’t worth 60k she chose it because she didn’t want a life of debt.”
“Her being angry is justified she missed alot of the average college experience in order to avoid the debt. To make the statement that Susan pretty much didn’t value her education has much is bs.”
“The fact that Emily spent more money for a more traditional college has nothing to do with her valuation of her education. This is also a large sum difference being that you are giving Emily 40k more of value when she already got an education without the sacrifices Susan had to make.” – hontzie
“YTA I’m with Susan the fair thing to do would be to give them the same out of the house regardless of the size of their debt. You are giving one daughter three times more than the other because she chose to run up more debt.”
“Of course Susan doesn’t see that as fair because it’s NOT! To be clear here what you are doing is very generous but you should treat your kids equally (obviously).”
“The fact you don’t seem to think anything is wrong with giving one daughter three times more than the other makes me suspect they have not grown up in a fair and equal household so I suspect her hurt probably runs deeper than just this money.” – pearshaped34
“You’re about to completely undermine the lesson you’ve been trying to teach them for 25 years, but ok. And keep in mind one is so huge and life-affecting that this lesson will actually last their entire life. Any lectures or intentions you had in their earlier life will be made moot by this decision.”
“You’re literally going to show your youngest that it’s fine for them to make irresponsible choices because they will get lucky and be bailed out, while also showing your oldest that it’s pointless to be patient through responsible decisions because you just end up missing out while those who were irresponsible get the best of both worlds anyway.” – bluestocking220
However, not everyone was convinced. Many felt that OP was doing plenty by paying off the debts and her daughter should be grateful for that.
It led to discussion about how to judge OP.
“NTA. They aren’t entitled to a free college. They made choices regardless of why and they both got educations.”
“Now they will both have no college debt. You are right. One made choices based on debt she would have and that’s her choice.”
“She didn’t miss out on anything and she’s acting very entitled to YOUR money. Pay off their debts. Say you’re welcome and be fine.”
“What an ungrateful person to be upset about a free college. She can be upset she didn’t get 4 years of partying and only 2 but grow up. Majority would be so grateful. She should be too.” – Ihateyou1975
“I don’t even know what to give this one….leaning towards YTA or ESH. I can completely understand why the child who chose the more affordable option is upset, most people would be. But then again it is not their money and they are not entitled to it.”
“If I were you to make it more even. Pay off both loans, but set up a payment plan with the child who took 60k to pay you back 40k over 10-15 years with no interest.”
“The other child will probably find that more acceptable.” – lochnessrunner
“I don’t understand all these Y-T-A she’s not giving the kids money, she’s paying off their loans for one which makes them even.”
“And to say that the daughter who did 2 years at a community college before transferring to university got less of an education is so wrong. The basic classes are the same whether you do them as online classes, community college, or university.”
“She just paid less for the same classes. Just because she didn’t get the drunken underage keggers doesn’t mean she didn’t get the college experience.”
“Honestly if my child was going to act that entitled about me paying off her student loan, I wouldn’t do it anymore.” – Jadedwriter
Whether or not OP did the right thing is going to depend on how you view money and children. Some will say she was wrong to treat the two differently in their student loan payments, and some will see paying off the debt as more than enough.
Sometimes there isn’t an easy answer and someone is going to be upset in the end. That’s an important lesson as well.