Most of us feel a special inclination to take care of people who are also our family.
But boundaries still have to be set, even with family.
One couple struggled with this recently on the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit when their nephew and his girlfriend approached, needing their help.
Redditor ThrowMeAwayForGood23 was aghast when they discovered the in-laws had actually volunteered the couple to help the teens.
When the couple was criticized for setting boundaries, the Original Poster (OP) wondered if they were too hard on the teens.
They asked the sub:
“AITA (are we) for not letting our nephew and his pregnant girlfriend live in our pool house?”
The OP’s family recently experienced a terrible tragedy.
“Six-ish months ago, my SIL (sister-in-law) and her hubs were killed in a car accident.”
“It was obviously super tragic and they were survived by my 17-year-old (16 at the time) nephew (N).”
“After my SIL and BIL (brother-in-law) passed away, N came to live with my husband, me, and our 8-year-old son.”
“Obviously, this has been an extremely hard time on N. He’s been going to therapy weekly and attends group grief therapy once a month at the same place (but not the same group/leader) as my husband.”
The OP’s nephew, “N,” started dating his girlfriend shortly before the accident.
“N has been dating his girlfriend, R, for about 10 months, since a little bit before his parents died.”
“They don’t cause issues, they pretty much follow the rules, we’ve talked to both of them about safe sex, and honestly, R helped him a lot after his parents’ accident.”
“N is a generally very good kid, even in his grief.”
“R isn’t a bad kid either. She has decent grades, plays sports, & volunteers, and is generally well-mannered. Her family life hasn’t been the best though, so she spends a LOT of her time at our house. She’s stayed the night a few times but we’ve put her up in the extra bedroom because we didn’t think 16yo should be sharing.”
N and R shared some news with the OP and their husband recently.
“N & R came to us last week and let us know that R is pregnant.”
“They’re adamant they used condoms but she’s not on BC because her parents wouldn’t let her be.”
“They told R’s parents and they kicked her out of their house. Of course, we told her she could stay with us and semi-figured things out in the short term.”
“Hubs and I talked it all out and looked at finances and while comfortable, we can’t really take on an extra person (we already took on N) plus a newborn without major sacrifices on our and our son’s part, which doesn’t feel fair to him.”
The in-laws’ influence led to even more news.
“We sat down with N & R again to ask about their plans.”
“Apparently one of my in-laws made them believe they were going to be moving into our pool house rent and utility-free, which was previously set up as an apartment but is now my art studio and has been since before N came to live with us.”
“And that I would take care of the baby while they went to school. (Um, I am a teacher, I work the same hours as they go to school.)”
The OP and their husband carefully set some boundaries.
“We corrected them, let them know they were still welcome to stay here but in their own rooms.”
“Once they graduated HS or had gotten a GED, we’d revisit sleeping arrangements for them and the baby.”
“We said we wouldn’t charge rent but they would need to find a way to provide whatever they needed for their child.”
“We’d help by getting their car seat system and that was all. Formula, wipes, childcare, etc. were all on them to figure out.”
The family did not appreciate these boundaries.
“Now N, R, and all of my husband’s family are in an uproar about it, saying they’re kids and can’t possibly go to high school AND raise a child. We said they should’ve thought about that sooner then if they couldn’t afford a baby.”
“So are we the a**holes?”
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 were adamantly against the in-laws’ involvement in the conversation.
“Those in-laws are pretty free about spending your money. I think a subtle and nuanced reply – I’m thinking ‘f**k off until you’re ready to help’ – is appropriate.”
“This is a very common situation that arises on this sub. Your in-laws do not care about your nephew or his baby and gf (girlfriend). All they care about is that they don’t have to support them themselves. That’s why they are pressuring you. Stop taking their calls.” – Jeremy_Crowhurst
“NTA, both abortion and adoption(open or closed) should be discussed. The in-laws are the a**holes, they’re incredibly generous with other people’s money.” – Mera1506
“NTA. From what you said, you are still providing shelter and love and support, just under your own rules and within your ability. I think your parameters are reasonable and generous.”
“Whether or not they used condoms or BC or anything, pregnancy is a possibility for them no matter what, so I don’t think it’s unfair that they’re asked to provide in part for the life that they created.” – rinatric
Others questioned the reality of the teen couple raising the baby.
“I really don’t understand how abortion/adoption is not the first thing a 16yo thinks when getting (herself or someone else) pregnant.”
“Really, even setting aside fear for the mother’s health during the pregnancy, how entitled do you need to be to even think that someone else will pay and care for your child until you are fine and comfortable to step up as a parent?!” – Casiell89
“Why is no one in this story talking about abortion?”
“This is a SIXTEEN-YEAR-OLD, FFS (for f**k’s sake).”
“And with the ‘assuming free place to live’ business, these KIDS clearly don’t have their expectations firmly in the real world. Will one of the adults in their lives PLEASE point them towards some harsh truths?” – StAlvis
“Please make sure they’re fully aware of what having a child means. No free time, up every few hours to feed, no spending money, etc.”
“Be adamant that you and your husband will not assist them with their adult responsibilities because choosing to have a child is an adult choice.”
“You didn’t assist in making the child so you will not assist in raising it. It’s harsh but needed truths that they need to hear.”
“And if your in-laws don’t shut up inform them they’re free to take the two future parents and infant in; otherwise, they need to zip it.” – TheSiresMaiden
“NTA The situation is a difficult one and you are already being extremely generous, thoughtful and supportive. R needs to explore becoming legally emancipated- she’s still chained to her parents in many ways (medical consent, school issues, applying for medicaid or other assistance, and so on).”
“Your in-laws can fuck all the way off unless they have a more viable solution than making (more) enormous changes to your home & your finances.” ~ rapt2righ
“NTA. You’re already providing them with tons of support. And if they are adult enough to make a child, they are adult enough to deal with the consequences.”
“I would personally sit them down and fully go through their 3 options (adoption, abortion, and keeping the child). Give the good, the bad, and the ugly.”
“Allow them to make a proper decision considering all the facts.”
“You seem to be very clear with how you will (and won’t) help. Make sure they fully understand this.”
“And the end of the day, they will do what they want. And they need to understand the consequences of their decisions.” ~ StayAtHomeWorkingMom
After receiving many comments from the sub, the OP shared an update.
“I hope this is okay to add a little thing. I am reading all of your comments and replying as much as I can. I will say this: I’ve already told my husband and both N and R that they all have 24 hours to cool off and think about everything, and then we’re sitting down again as adults to discuss it.”
“My (adult) daughter is actually in town – as a coincidence, the trip was planned back in January – and will be taking our 8-year-old out for dinner, movies, and ice cream tomorrow evening to help facilitate this.”
“The 8-year-old doesn’t have much of an idea of what’s going on. He’s been doing a summer camp during the days at the aquarium, so he’s thankfully been out of the house for these convos.”
“I’ve nixed the topic around him and he doesn’t have his own phone or social media so my in-laws only contact with him is through my husband and me or our landline. I’m trying my best to handle this situation with as much love and grace as I can.”
The OP also wanted to clarify some frequently asked questions.
“I’m adding this because some people are still commenting but obviously, the situation wasn’t magically resolved in the last twelve hours. I’m just going to bullet point a few things here that keep getting brought up.”
“The issue is not giving up my art studio. The issue is making the pool house livable again. It hasn’t been a livable apartment in quite some time. It would likely require a loan which isn’t really feasible.”
“My husband and I will not, under any circumstances, pressure R to choose one way or another of handling this. While I believe that abortion is the best option, in this case, I can’t in good conscience pressure her/them to make a specific decision. It HAS to be her or them.”
“I have already started gathering information on resources, aid, etc. that both can apply for including trade school/work programs that someone mentioned in a comment.”
“Yes, we are getting SSi for N. It’s not a huge amount but it helps. The money he was left from his parents’ deaths isn’t readily accessible but my husband is reaching out to one of N’s father’s estate attorney colleagues to see whether we can do anything about that. The arrangements were specific but not specific enough to include a ‘just in case he’s a teen parent and we die’ clause.”
“A long, blunt conversation about all of the realities of every single one of their options is happening tonight when my son is out of the house and my hubs is off work. We are holding a united front.”
“I will be taking R aside just the two of us to make sure that N isn’t pressuring her to keep the baby. I also need a lot more info on her parents because social services didn’t seem too a**ed to do anything about it when I called them.”
“They are no longer 16. They’re both 17 and going to be seniors in the fall. Minimum wage $7.25/hr jobs are not the only jobs available to them here. There are plenty of opportunities for both to make $13+ an hour even with their inexperience as well as short training programs that would also qualify them for better-paying jobs. This will all be discussed as well.”
“Both will be taken to PP (Planned Parenthood) to be given a much more in-depth conversation than the ones my husband and I can offer.”
“The separate bedroom thing wasn’t about the sex, it’s about them having their own space and the bedrooms aren’t huge. They wouldn’t fit in one bedroom with everything they’d need.”
“They aren’t married, they’re still kids, and if they fight or break up or disagree or anything like that, they will each need their own space for that. If one or the other ends up in the other’s room for any reason, we won’t b***h about it. We just want them to have their own spaces for their mental health purposes.”
Though this was certainly a passionate and thorough conversation, it was clear the sub only wanted the best for the young couple, as well the OP and their husband.
This will be a major, life-changing decision, no matter what N and R ultimately choose, and being as prepared for it as possible is surely the best.