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Parents Called Out For Explaining To Young Son Why He Won’t Be Getting A Birthday Present This Year

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There are some harsh realities in life.

Most of the time parents try to shield their children from them. But when is it appropriate to tell children the truth?

And who should get to judge?

Parents who decided to tell the son the truth found themselves subject to harsh criticism, so they turned to the “Am I The A**hole” (AITA) subReddit for feedback.

Redditor HappyDance103 asked:

“AITA for explaining to my son why we cant get him a birthday present this year?”

The Original Poster (OP) explained:

“I have a 10, almost 11 year old son. His birthday is in 3 weeks time and me and my husband can’t afford to get him a birthday present this year.”

“We explained to him that we’ve taken a financial hit and that instead of a birthday present we’ll get his favourite takeaway and watch a movie of his choice on his birthday and per his request, he can have the day off school.”

“Yesterday we were at his grandparents’, my husband’s parents, and they asked what mom and dad are getting him for his birthday and he blurted out ‘nothing, they’re poor’.”

“We weren’t embarrassed by it or anything because he just generally doesn’t have a filter and it’s nothing to be embarrassed about.”

“The grandparents didn’t think so, they pulled us into the next room and said we were in the wrong for telling him about this and that he’s too young to know about what’s going on.”

“We tried to defend ourselves, then they called us a pair of a**holes for not trying harder to provide the best for our son and being lazy instead of finding a way.”

“Are we the a**holes?”

Redditors weighed in by declaring:

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

Redditors decided OP was not the a**hole.

“NTA. Also, you didn’t get him nothing. Take out, a movie, making it his day and letting him have a day off of school is a present.”

“Presents don’t have to be expensive electronics. This present may end up being far more memorable.”

“The grandparents should mind their own business.” ~ Ok_Professional_4499

“If you ask any kid what they got for their birthday 3 years ago, chances are they won’t remember. What they remember is the funny things and the silly family moments.”

“One of the things my kids remember most is the day I got chocolate donuts and handed them out but left my partner’s on his chair on a plate.”

“He didn’t see it and sat on it and squashed it flat. My girls still mention it now.” ~ No_Elephant3224

“I remember when I was really little, for a birthday, mom took me and my brother to a children’s museum, a walk on the beach and chocolate ice cream. I might have gotten a present but I don’t remember that.”

“I remember dragging mom to every science exhibit we could participate in, learning hands on. I remember strolling on the beach with my family, our faces messy from ice cream.”

“I remember it suddenly raining and us laughing as we ran to the car, drenched by the time we got back.”

“I appreciate the memories and experiences. Even when my mom struggled to raise two kids as a single parent with limited funds, she could spin a day of fun for our family that we would always remember.” ~ SkysEevee

“My grandfather used to give me ‘coupons’ for activities instead of physical gifts.”

“The only ones I remember him getting me was a camera (so I could take pictures of our adventures), and little albums of our adventures together.”

“I value these experiences so much I want to take this into my future with my own children, grandchildren and niblings. It’s so much better to do things with people than get stuff.” ~ forgotmyinfo

“One year I was super broke at Christmas (and super broke is a step or 2 past the usual always broke of being a single mom with 3 sons).”

“I made my boys coupon books with about 100 coupons each, ranging from things like a new hotwheel or an extra book at bedtime, to a movie rental or their choice for dinner.”

“Most of the coupons were for activities or experiences, and the ones for material things were all for pretty inexpensive items.”

“My boys absolutely LOVED their coupon books and still talk about them a decade later.” ~ M2LEAR

“From age 5 to about 11, my parents couldn’t afford buying my brothers & I, one older brother & my twin brother, presents on our birthday.”

“What they did instead was something I still to this day cherish. On said birthday, my dad would take the birthday kid/kids to the movie of his/our choice.”

“This was the mid 90s so tickets were a lot cheaper & our town’s theater had a nice feature where you got a discount if it was your birthday. This was then followed by favorite dinner & a special cake made by our mom, who is a fantastic baker.”

“To this day I still look back at those being some of my best birthdays. Actual presents can wear out, get lost, or break but memories will always be there.” ~ CelticFire28

“I will never forget one Christmas when I was 13ish. My parents were stressed about Christmas spending because it always ended up out of control.”

“Our family is big and it always meant overspending to make sure each person got something and no one felt left out, plus my sister and I always got a TON of gifts. So my parents decided this Christmas we were going to take a week vacation to a condo (they had a deal on) and just spend time as a family.”

“My aunt and uncle came with us. And it was a blast!”

“My mom, sister, and I had been learning to knit. So my mom made us each a bag for our knitting supplies and bought some odds and ends for our knitting (like some craft scissors).”

“It was definitely still a gift, but one that my mom made for us so it was 100% more special. That was 20 years ago now, and still one of my all-time favorite Christmases.”

“NTA, op! Memories are also gifts!”

“Having a special day with your kid is worth so much more than anything you could buy in a store.” ~ Runkysaurus

“Just to add on, 11 isn’t too young to ‘discuss such things’ if done in an appropriate way, in my opinion. I’m single & have to make money stretch, but at that age my kid started asking for name brand shoes.”

“Since it’s literally the only pricey thing she requested, I would tell her something like ‘Not this check, but next on X date’.”

“When she asked why, I sat down & showed her where all our money went each month, so sometimes I had to save up or delay luxury type stuff. She understood better & never complained about waiting again.”

“Now she’s almost 17, knows how to budget, prioritize stuff around her budget, & has like 3k in savings from working over the last 10 months or so.”

“She told me she appreciates that I showed her that so early & included her in monthly budgeting by sitting down, asking what she needed that month, & planning it all out.”

“She said that she sees the difference between how she approaches her finances & the way her friends do. Memories are gifts, too. NTA.” ~ OpossumJesusHasRisen

“I have 7 year old twins, took them to our state capital when they were 5 to visit my best friend and have some experiences we don’t usually see. I spent almost a year saving up for it and researching the most cost effective way I could do what I wanted.”

“They have been begging to go back, but understand that I need to save up for it.”

“They asked if we could get a new car when mine was totalled: were told cars are expensive and it will take a while to save up for the car I want, but having a car that works and fits us is fine for now even if their younger cousin can’t come for drives with us (big Kia Carnival to a small, old Toyota RAV4 was a bit of a shock for them).”

“I have had to have this discussion so many times as to why I can’t afford XYZ right now and how it can take a few days, weeks, months, years to afford to buy some things.”

“It’s not damaging, it’s a learning experience that maybe more kids need to have.”

“My parents tried to shield me from money issues, buying things when they could but just refusing without explaining when they couldn’t (no allowance). My first real understanding of money was in my teens when I had my first job and had to save up for things I wanted.” ~ Aesient

These parents may not have the grandparents’ support, but Reddit had their backs.

Redditors agreed the parents did the right thing being honest with their son. They also approved of the parents’ choice for a birthday celebration.

Memories are also gifts.

Written by Amelia Mavis Christnot

Amelia Christnot is an Oglala Lakota, Kanien'kehá:ka and Metis Navy brat who settled in the wilds of Northern Maine. She considers herself another proud Maineiac. Her picture is from 1984 for purely Orwellian reasons.