Every parent needs a little break from their responsibilities from time to time. It’s perfectly reasonable to need some rest or to do something they enjoyed before having kids.
But as one woman pointed out on the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit, there’s a time and a place for arranging childcare.
Redditor throw46775away repeatedly tried to establish boundaries with her sister regarding the care of her children.
But when she received serious pushback from her sister, the Original Poster (OP) wondered if she was being selfish.
She asked the sub:
“AITA for refusing to take my nephews out for ice cream?”
The OP had previous negative experiences having to babysit her sister’s children.
“My ([female] 24) sister ([female] 32) has two kids. She and I used to live in the same house while I was obtaining my college degree.”
“She used me for free babysitting while I was studying and had no time. She tried everything like convincing, guilt-tripping, sometimes lying.”
“As a result, it affected how I did in college because the kids were a major distraction and prevented me to prepare for my exams.”
“The most serious incident was when she tricked me into babysitting her kids the day right before my exam by asking me to take the kids out to the store to buy candy.”
“Then I got home and she texted me, saying she and her husband were going to a friend’s house and I needed to watch the kids.”
“This wasn’t agreed upon and it cost me to fail my exam because one of my nephews hurt his hand and I had to deal with his injury.”
The OP decided to distance herself from her sister as a result.
“I moved out after that and went low-contact with her.”
“Things have eased between us as time went by but I’ve gotten more careful about her ways of trying to get me to indirectly babysit her kids.”
Her latest visit reaffirmed her low-contact relationship.
“So yesterday I was visiting her and she talked about needing a break and a dinner out with her husband but didn’t have anyone to watch the kids.”
“Then she sat next to me and started asking, ‘Don’t you miss the kids?’ and ‘Why don’t you take them out for ice cream or the park for an hour?'”
“I told her, ‘Nope, I’m good.'”
“The kids were upstairs playing when she continued about how I’m being an absent aunt and needed to loosen up a little and show that I care about them by spending time and doing bonding activities with them. She claimed it’d hurt my relationship with them in the long run.”
“I flat-out told her it’s not really about the kids and that it’s probably an attempt to trick me into babysitting, so she and her husband sneak out and force me to babysit for them just like they did that day and cost me my exam.”
“She looked stunned and said she couldn’t believe this is my reason or excuse to not be involved in her children’s lives and that I needed therapy to deal with my personal issues, because sooner or later this’ll affect my relationship with the kids.”
“She firmly told me that I was being mean towards the kids and punishing them over a problem with communication that we had that day. The day before my exam.”
“I got up and grabbed my bag to leave. Her husband came downstairs asking why I was leaving so soon. I kept it short and left.”
“We haven’t talked since then.”
Fellow Redditors weighed in by declaring:
- NTA: Not the A**hole
- YTA: You’re the A**hole
- ESH: Everybody Sucks Here
- NAH: No A**holes Here
Some pointed out the mother should be responsible for her children.
“NTA. OP’s sister can deal with her own children.” – knittedjedi
“NTA you need to make it clear to your sister that her children are her responsibility always. She’s not entitled to a break from her kids without paying for it.” – Headup31
Others said the sister was incredibly manipulative.
“NTA. Your sister is highly manipulative. She obviously has no shame, using her own children as leverage to get what she wants.”
“You were right when you said it is not about the kids, she doesn’t give a s**t about your relationship with them, she just wants free babysitting.”
“When she said that you need therapy to deal with your ‘personal issues’, that was a disgusting attempt to make you the bad guy for catching on to her head games. Your sister is a huge AH, and maintaining low contact with her is the best thing you can do.”
“It’s a shame, that means you won’t see your nephews so often, but that is her fault, not yours.” – Bookish4269
“NTA, what she’s doing is called gaslighting, and is 100% not ok. Stand your ground.”
“You can have a relationship with your sister’s kids without taking them places (and technically without spending money, which I feel she was pushing too but isn’t the point).”
“If she doesn’t like you setting a boundary, it’s her affecting the relationship, not you” – ShurtugalLover
“NTA. Her only problem is that you’ve shut her BS down and she can no longer trick or guilt you into taking on her responsibilities.”
“Why would anyone want to help out someone who clearly has no respect for you and your life/responsibilities? Keep shining that pretty spine of yours. I’m proud you got out of that cycle.” – lorienne22
Others suggested the OP report her sister to child protective services.
“Pretty sure it’s also child abandonment to leave kids in the care of someone else without their consent” – Ciryl_Lynyard
“‘Sure, sis! I’ll happily take the kids out for ice cream. We’ll be back in an hour. If no one is home when I get back, I’ll just drop the kids at the police station and say you’ve abandoned them. Sound good?'”
“NTA.” – fishwithsticks
A few suggested ways to meet in the middle.
“Tell ger you would join the kids AND her for icecream. And while there, make sure she does not drop them on you.” – ParticularTie2257
“A decent person would have thought about what you said and then made a heartfelt apology instead of trying to guilt you for having appropriate feelings for what happened in the past. NTA and I think it is good that you avoid time alone with her kids.” – CMSkye
Though it’s a reasonable, human thing for the OP’s sister to need the occasional evening out from her kids, how she’s approaching it, the subReddit agreed, was not the way to go about it.