Boundaries are important in any relationship.
It is crucial to define what you are comfortable with and to set clear expectations on the relationship.
What happens, though, when someone you thought was a colleague clearly thinks that the relationship is much deeper.
This was the issue which brought Reddittor and Original Poster (OP) attentioncluster to the “Am I the A**hole” (AITA) subReddit looking for guidance.
“AITA for confronting a coworker for asking me to take guardianship of her kids?”
They began with the backstory.
“I have a coworker who I’m friendly with at the office.”
“We don’t socialize outside of work, we don’t exchange chatty text messages or get drinks or anything, but we have plenty of nice conversations throughout the workday about small to medium topics.”
Then got to the problem at hand.
“I was taken aback last week when child protective services contacted me and informed me her children had been removed and she listed me as a potential placement for them.”
“I do not know her kids, I don’t even know how to spell this woman’s last name, and it made me think she viewed our relationship entirely differently from how I do or that she lacks a critical social barometer that required I draw a clear line about where things stand.”
“When I next saw her at work I very clearly told her I thought what she’d done was entirely inappropriate and made me super uncomfortable.”
“In response, she was offended and said I was the only stable person she could think to name and that it would’ve only been temporary and that since I had every chance to say no and it was just naming me as someone to inquire with, she did not see what the big deal was.”
“I was not ready to accept any answer at that point other than ‘You’re right, sorry,’ so was pretty blunt in saying it should’ve been obvious that I was not an appropriate choice and it was a major overstep.”
“By the end of the conversation, we were both quite upset.”
“Having your kids removed must be unfathomably stressful and now looking back I feel like an a**hole for addressing this issue with her in the immediate aftermath of it, and of course, not doing it more calmly.”
“But it was a really bizarre thing for her to do and did make me deeply uncomfortable in a way I think needed to be explicitly addressed.”
“I’ve never dealt with something like this.”
They were left wondering,
“Was I an a**hole?”
Having explained the situation, OP was left asking for advice.
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: NTA
Some pointed out how odd the situation is.
“NTA. It’s weird (and concerning) that you were the only stable person in her life she could think of despite barely knowing you. I recommend you keep notes of this incident in case you need to inform HR.”~0biterdicta
Others pointed out that sometimes a firm response is necessary.
“Brutal honesty is usually used as an excuse to be pointlessly nasty, but sometimes it is necessary.”
“She absolutely DID overstep by putting your name without getting your consent first.”
“Even if you two go on sleepover camping trips every weekend, she would still be out of line to use your name without your consent.”
“I’m surprised CPS even allowed your name on there without your knowledge?”
There were some responses that tried to see both sides.
“In some cases a stranger from work is the better choice than a licensed foster home.”
“Her response was odd.”
“I will say I was on some of those calls when I worked as a CASA and some social workers are literally standing there telling the parent or parents ‘just pick someone stable from your contacts. Do it now or they could be split up into different homes’ or my personal favorite ‘If you don’t pick someone they will spend the night or nights in a police station’.”
“Although I appreciate the work most social workers do incidents like that (and others) turned me off the whole process.”
“The pressure to pick someone ‘stable’ was often bordering on cruelty in an already desperate situation.~sheramom4
“NAH but hear me out before downvoting.”
“You’re not ta for saying no.”
“Not in the slightest, not one bit.”
“But I can’t imagine the desperation she must feel if you’re the only stable person she can think of to name.”
“That doesn’t mean you should do it.”
“I’m just saying it’s an awful situation all the way around.”~jokeyhaha
But in the end, the consensus was clear.
“Maybe she was in a state of panic and desperation, and you were the only person she could think of.”
“Which is incredibly sad that she doesn’t have anyone else.”
“But she definitely should have asked or let you know that she was listing you.”
“Maybe she sees you as a good friend and trusts you.”
“But listing you as someone who could potentially take in her kids without letting you know or asking you is crossing several lines.”
“I don’t think you handled it badly.”
“If you want to be her friend, maybe offer to give her a shoulder to cry on.”
“It seems like she’s in a tough situation and doesn’t have anyone to lean on.”
“I mean, only if you feel comfortable being her friend of course!”
“Totally reasonable that you wouldn’t want to after this cps situation…”~nathashanails
“NTA, you’re not friends, your coworkers, and acquaintances.”
“You’ve never met these children, you don’t know the circumstances as to why they were removed, you don’t know what types of needs they have and what trauma they may have suffered.”
“The fact that she put somebody down she barely knows makes me really terrified to find out what those children went through.“~Stace34
Boundaries are necessary when defining what is appropriate in any relationship.
Communication is vital in the creation and maintenance of these boundaries.
Don’t forget to be clear about your expectations with any relationships you have, and be vocal when someone breaks those rules.