No two families are exactly the same when it comes to their parenting styles.
They’ll likely have their similarities, but there’s bound to be at least one difference between them that could lead to a heated discussion, agreed the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit.
Redditor puddlespuddled, for example, was sick of their sister and her children coming over to their house, unannounced and debating drinks that would not be provided.
When the sister insisted they go out to buy some to cater to her children, the Original Poster (OP) had finally had enough.
They asked the sub:
“AITA for not having any kid-friendly beverages at my house?”
The OP and their husband preferred more natural drink options.
“This situation involves me (28 non-binary), my husband (40 male), our 2-year-old, my SIL (Sister-in-Law)/my husband’s sister, Wendy (27 Female), and her 4 kids (ages 3 to 11).”
“My husband and I don’t drink anything besides water, tea, and coffee. We also have whole milk for our toddler.”
“We don’t stock soda or juice but allow our kid to have juice or soda on special occasions, like birthday parties or holidays.”
The OP’s sister and children could hardly be more of the opposite.
“This is where the issue arises. Wendy and her kids LOVE juice and soda.”
“She started giving her kids juice before she started them on solid food.”
“Her pantry and fridge are constantly stocked with Costco packs of various sodas, juices, and sports drinks that the kids are allowed to grab as they please.”
“I’ve seen her kids go through two 12-packs of Coca-Cola in one afternoon, and I don’t know if I’ve ever seen Wendy without a bottle of Diet Coke in her hand.”
This difference in taste led to frequent problems.
“We don’t tend to visit Wendy since she lives in a 2-bedroom apartment with her kids. Our place has more room so they visit us, but Wendy rarely tells us if she’s stopping by.”
“We constantly get into arguments over us ‘denying’ her kids things to drink when they’re over. To be clear, we always offer them water, milk, or decaf tea, and they refuse to drink them.”
But no argument was worse than what happened during their most recent visit.
“It came to a head last week when she dropped by unexpectedly.”
“Her kids tore through my living room to the fridge, and the 11-year-old threw himself on the ground and started screaming, ‘YOU PROMISED AUNTIE HAD RAINBOW JUICE FOR ME!!’ (Does anyone know what the f**k rainbow juice is?)”
“When I asked Wendy why she told her kids we had juice when she knows we don’t, she said she figured I couldn’t say no to a crying child and that I’d go out and get some.”
The OP had had enough.
“At that point, I had enough, and I admit I was an a**hole in how I spoke to her.”
“After years of having to put up with 2-3 tantrums per week from her kids getting upset at not getting sugary drinks, I said, ‘Wendy, it’s not my fault you got your kids addicted to sugar. It’s not my fault your 11-year-old still throws tantrums because you refuse to parent your kids.'”
“I continued, ‘You’re on time out. If you drop by, I won’t let you in. In the future, if you want your kids to drink liquid sugar at my house, bring it yourself. I’m tired of you using your kids to manipulate me and the rest of our family. Now get the f**k out of my house.'”
“She looked at me like I had 6 heads, grabbed her s**t, and dragged her kids out, kicking and screaming about rainbow juice.”
The family lashed out at the OP.
“She went on a social media rant about how hubby and I are giving our kid an ED (eating disorder) by denying her sweets and that we’d rather see her kids suffer from dehydration than give them something to drink.”
“Her friends started dogpiling on hubby and me, and we started getting angry calls and texts because SIL ended up leaking our info on social media.”
“I didn’t doubt myself before, but now I kind of am, especially because one of SIL’s baby daddies, who never agrees with her, is saying we’re a**holes for not providing anything other than milk or water at our home, knowing her kids won’t drink either.”
“So, are we a**holes?”
The OP shared in a comment how difficult the relationship was.
“I think part of why I blew up is because they come over 2-3 times per week, most of the time unannounced, and destroy my home. I’ve had to kid-proof my house more for her kids than I’ve had to for my 2-year-old.”
“We had to replace a toilet and have major plumbing work done earlier this year because her 11-year-old decided to squirt a bunch of silly string in it to ‘see what would happen.'”
“We would’ve banned her a long time ago, but my husband has a soft spot for her because she’s the baby of the family and struggles financially since 2 out of 4 of her baby daddies refuse to pay child support, and she refuses to take them to court.”
“I feel like I’m responsible for 5 kids instead of 1.”
“We pay for her 3 school-age kids’ school lunches during the school year since she can’t afford it. We’ve also been paying childcare costs for her 3-year-old for the past 4 months while she’s allegedly searching for a job.”
“We can easily afford it and I want her kids to be taken care of, but I think I just got to the end of my rope and feel a bit taken advantage of.”
They also shared in another comment how they were helping the sister out.
“We’ve encouraged her to do that [to take one or more of the ‘baby daddies’ to court] for literal years.”
“I used to work in social services in our local government and have offered countless times to help her work through the process of applying for food stamps, free/subsidized lunches, free/subsidized childcare, and resources for child support… She refuses all of it.”
“I worry that if we cut support for her kids, they’d go hungry and be neglected. I recognize we’re enabling her, but I don’t want her kids to suffer because their mom is making poor choices.”
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 agreed with the OP that quality parenting was not in the picture.
“NTA. Ignore the juice and sugar details and you still have kids demanding items out of your fridge and throwing tantrums when you don’t have them. That does not reflect good parenting, and such parents deserve to be told it like it is.” – DarmokTheNinja
“This kinda explains the ‘dropping by unannounced’ and the tantrums and the plumbing experiments. You have set yourself up for abuse with your generosity and enabling.”
“I hope you are both prepared to gently but firmly back off from all of this. To just verify, your SIL has 4 kids from 4 different men and refuses to seek the basic assistance she requires in order to provide for them.”
“The more you do for her, the more sugar-crazed addicts she will bring into your world. Just stop.” – Harmlessoldlady
“My little one doesn’t really drink much else. He will sip at a fruit shoot but he’s never drank more than half of one over the course of a few days! It’s about what you offer them.”
“He will drink peppermint tea and very milky tea. Juices not so much. He’s not keen on carbonated water and we don’t offer soda.”
“I like my children to have teeth long-term. Apparently, that makes me a bad parent; life according to Wendy…” – Sudden-Requirement40
“You are enabling her.”
“You are basically treating her the same way she is treating her kids. By not allowing her to experience the consequences of her poor behavior, or the consequences of her unwillingness to grow up and be an adult, you are allowing her to keep relying on you rather than get social services, baby daddy support, etc.”
“Her kids are throwing tantrums and are poorly behaved because she won’t parent them and hold them accountable for their actions, just like you and your family are doing with her.” – SaltEven
Others agreed and said the sister was acting incredibly entitled and irresponsible.
“She won’t do anything so long as you guys foot her bills. So tell her that you have a deadline as to when the money will be cut off because she is not even doing the bare minimum.”
“Her kids won’t go hungry. There are so many resources out there.”
“If you keep this up, soon she will have baby #5, 6, and so forth. Why not? It’s free to her since everyone else enables her as the baby of the family. If she’s old enough to have sex with a number of men and have their babies, she’s old enough to pay for them or apply for the programs.”
“You and your husband are not a program. You need to also be sure you have enough for your child (and any more you may have). It’s not getting any cheaper!”
“Also, what happens if something bad happens to either one of you/both of you and you need to save money? (Knock on wood that doesn’t happen, but you need to plan and save for the worst!).” – Canning-mama-1998
“You’re NTA. After years of knowing you don’t stock the drinks she allows her kids to drink, she still turns up without her own supplies and tried to guilt you into running out and getting some?”
“She’s as much a brat as her kids are.”
“Oh also, are you and your husband also going to fork out for all these poor kids’ dental care when they inevitably need it?? She needs to get her s**t together and stop relying on you to do everything for her.”
“If you absolutely feel the need to give her financial assistance, why not put that money into college funds for those kids instead?” – SheDidWhaaaat
“Firstly, if she has all that sugary crap available so that they have access to a crate in one afternoon, she’s not that poor and can feed her kids.”
“Secondly, if she has to cut back on these unnecessary ‘luxuries’ to feed them, shame.”
“You are enabling her, but I appreciate it comes from a good place. But please stop.” – ShadowWood78
“She definitely expects it. I would give her a deadline, like, ‘Husband and I will continue to provide support for the kids for another 2 (x whatever you guys decide on together) months, and after that you are on your own.'”
“Otherwise, you will be doing this forever. She will be expecting you to pay for college for her kids, expensive gifts, treat them like your own kids and buy them whatever you buy for your own children, etc.”
“This will only get worse; I mean, her children already are terrors with her entitled attitude, do you think this situation is going to get better? My money is on it continuing to worsen but in new and not so fun ways, as her children get older.” – agarrabrant
While the subReddit could appreciate the OP wanting to help their sister, they were concerned that the help had slipped into enabling territory.
Instead of making sure the sister and her children were cared for, the family was essentially raising a group of entitled individuals who needed to learn how to be grateful and care for themselves.