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Mom Balks After Niece Asks To Be Paid To Watch Her Kid During An Emergency

Teen girl babysitting toddler boy
Juanmonino/Getty Images

It’s tough when we think we know who our closest loved ones are, only for them to prove us wrong.

Going through an emergency is a prime way to reveal who the “fake” ones are, agreed the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit.

Redditor babysittingta83 was rushing to get to the hospital to see her husband and needed to leave her son with someone, preferably in her family.

When her niece wanted to know how much she would be paid to babysit during this emergency, the Original Poster (OP) was shocked by her priorities.

She asked the sub:

“AITA for being upset that my niece requested payment when I asked her to babysit for a few hours?”

The OP was in a rush to reach her husband after an accident. 

“My husband (30s Male) and I (30s Female) have a 3-year-old son together, ‘Max.’ Max is a sweet kid but has a difficult time in unfamiliar situations and can get overstimulated easily.”

“A little while ago, my husband was across the country on a work trip, while I was home with Max.”

“I got a call one morning from his manager, informing me that my husband had been in a car accident and was in the hospital. He couldn’t tell me much but said that although he was stable, it didn’t look good and that I should come as soon as I can.”

“I obviously freaked out. I booked a ticket just for myself because it would be almost impossible to travel with Max, and I could barely afford the last-minute ticket for myself.”

The OP hurried to make arrangements for her son.

“I called my mom, who lives a few hours away, and asked her to come to watch Max while I’m away.”

“At this point, I needed someone to watch Max for the time it would take for my mom to arrive so I could make my flight. Looking back, I probably could’ve handled the logistics better than this, but I was hysterical and was just doing things as I thought of them.”

“I called three friends. One didn’t answer, and two were unable to help.”

“Luckily, we live close to my brother and Sister-in-Law (SIL) who have a daughter (17 Female), ‘Sarah.’ We are very close with them.”

“Sarah answered the door and said her parents were out. I explained the situation and asked if she’d watch Max for a couple of hours until my mom came.”

“I should note that Sarah babysits for a few local families and obviously charges them for her services. We have never asked Sarah to babysit before.”

The OP was shocked by Sarah’s response.

“She showed some concern for my husband and when I asked her again, she said something along the lines of, ‘Well, you’ll pay me, right? I usually charge X…'”

“I stared at her for a moment, not really expecting that response, and then my friend who didn’t answer the first time called me back and said of course she’d watch Max.”

“So, I took Max and left without saying anything more to my niece. I coordinated with my friend and my mom, then flew to see my husband.”

“He ended up needing extensive surgery but is making a full recovery.”

This later led to an argument between the OP and her family.

“A few days after he was able to fly home, we had dinner with my brother and SIL.”

“We were talking about the accident, and I mentioned that I had asked Sarah to watch Max. I also noted that I was a little upset that she brought up payment in that moment.”

“My brother was surprised and said he would talk to her as that’s not an appropriate reaction.”

“My SIL interjected and said she was proud of Sarah for advocating for herself.”

“She and I argued, and she said that I was entitled for being surprised that Sarah asked for money.”

The OP felt conflicted.

“To be clear, if I asked Sarah to babysit under normal circumstances, I would absolutely expect to pay her.”

“It was unsettling that Sarah would bring up payment while, for all I knew, my husband was dying in a hospital on the other side of the country.”

“I think it would’ve been more empathetic to bring up the topic of payment after I returned and confirmed my husband was okay.”

“My SIL is still being cold with me, and so is my niece.”

“AITA for getting upset?”

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 disagreed with the SIL, saying sometimes you have to be there for loved ones.

“You advocate for yourself when someone mistreats you. Being asked to help family in an emergency is NOT being mistreated; it’s part of being in a functioning family unit.” – sigfriedjk

“I’ve seen comments talking about ‘services rendered.’ That’s not what that is. In an emergency, we help our loved ones. It’s not a job. It’s about being empathetic to your loved one’s situation and stepping up.”

“My mom is in the hospital right now and my dad is in poor health. Their friends (who are also in their 70s) showed up at his house with meals and shoveled all the snow off his driveway and porch.”

“He didn’t ask. They just thought, ‘This is a bad situation. How can we help?’ They didn’t ask for payment.” – Winstonisapuppy

“NTA. My aunt refused to babysit my brother and I when our dad was possibly dying. This was 20 years ago. My mom’s relationship with her never recovered.”

“The niece needs to learn the time and place to advocate for herself. Reddit likes to say we don’t owe others anything, but you do. You owe them empathy if you expect to be part of a family unit.” – poppgoestheweasel

“NTA. I was a teen when my grandfather unexpectedly passed. It was chaos at my grandma’s house as all the family had to travel in, and while everyone got hotel rooms, it was constant traffic coming in and out of her house, using the laundry, needing food to be out for people as they needed as things were being planned.”

“I also got an allowance for doing chores at home, many of them similar to what I did there. I just stepped up and took responsibility for cleaning up, making sure people’s laundry was getting switched over, and making sure food was easy to get as people were coming and going constantly.”

“NOT ONCE did I even think of asking for any sort of payment because it was family and everyone was doing what they needed to to help my Grandma and get through it.” – jenguinaf

“This isn’t a confusing situation, it’s a medical emergency where someone may be dying. That someone was her own uncle. I’m not sure what social circles involve forgetting/not having empathy in emergencies, but that isn’t usual from my experience.”

“The relationship being close or not doesn’t/shouldn’t even matter. If my neighbors came up saying their spouse was in an accident and needed someone to look after their child, I wouldn’t even think to expect payment, at the time or later.”

“There are things you do to help a fellow human in emergencies, and to not even do it for family is appalling.”

“I don’t respect what the SIL said at all. Advocating for yourself is very different from this situation where the SIL was promoting taking advantage of someone, a close family member, in a desperate situation.” – Always_Cookies

Others pointed out that the niece could have asked about compensation at another time. 

“In my opinion, you are NTA because, ‘if I asked Sarah to babysit under normal circumstances, I would absolutely expect to pay her.'”

“I would normally be on her side, however, this was clearly a serious family emergency, and the right thing for her to do would be to help, or to ask you, later on, to compensate her in some more casual manner.” – BusinessCow5266

“NTA. I babysat for many family members, friends, and for all kinds of animals growing up (getting paid for it) and my parents would’ve been MORTIFIED and disappointed if they heard that I had reacted in any sort of way similar to Sarah in a parallel situation.”

“If I REALLY did a favor and handled an emergency well, I probably would’ve been looking for some sort of monetary pat on the back WAY after the fact as an annoying and angsty teenager (even from my own parents). I just can’t even imagine having the nerve at that age to ‘advocate’ for myself like Sarah did. I would’ve been babysitting all the family members for free for a year if my dad heard about that. Oh boy.”

“I’m sure someone else has mentioned this already but It comes to mind the ONLY way I could see the expectation of compensation up front in this situation would be if like… an adult who really needed the money for life and sustenance called out of a shift to help out and it was actually putting them in a bind, but yeah the kid is more important.”

“Even then I can’t imagine OP would’ve overlooked that situation and failed to compensate. This 17-year-old doesn’t need $30 from her aunt in an emergency.” – feministjunebug22

“This is the biggest faux pas for me. Some form of payment could have been worked out, whether it’s money or even a small gift, but should have been hashed out after OP was able to check on her husband and make sure he was okay.”

“OP was probably worried out of her mind and having to think about paying a family member to watch her child in an emergency was the last thing that needed to be added to her plate.” – kokoromelody

“It especially bothers me that she could barely afford her plane ticket, and she had another person who was kinder for free! If you are stressed about money and your husband, you’re taking a free babysitter that’s ready to help.” – mps435

“If she’s going to ‘advocate’ for herself, a key thing is to know the time and place for it to be appropriate.”

“If you want to bring up the subject of payment, at least wait until AFTER the medical emergency, and be ready to accept being told no.” – em578

While a person should absolutely be compensated for services they provide, the subReddit pointed out that there is a time and place to discuss those financial arrangements.

The OP may have been willing to pay her niece for taking care of her son during this emergency, but the subReddit was concerned that the niece was worried about that before the OP could even get on a plane to see her husband.

Written by McKenzie Lynn Tozan

McKenzie Lynn Tozan has been a part of the George Takei family since 2019 when she wrote some of her favorite early pieces: Sesame Street introducing its first character who lived in foster care and Bruce Willis delivering a not-so-Die-Hard opening pitch at a Phillies game. She's gone on to write nearly 3,000 viral and trending stories for George Takei, Comic Sands, Percolately, and ÜberFacts. With an unstoppable love for the written word, she's also an avid reader, poet, and indie novelist.