We’ve all heard those sayings about family, like: “We take care of each other because that is what family does.”
But one question was recently raised on the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit—is that a reciprocated practice, or is it simply a way for one family member to manipulate the rest of their family?
Redditor throwawayjob49, for instance, was furious when she found out her son had gotten a job without discussing it with her first because it meant he would be working instead of babysitting for free.
When her son didn’t think he needed to apologize, the Original Poster (OP) was full of mixed feelings.
She asked the sub:
“AITA for being upset with my son for finding a job without telling me?”
The OP was not happy to hear about her son’s new job.
“My son is 18. He is going to be attending community college and is living with me, my husband, and his 2 younger half-sisters.”
“The other day I found out that he found and accepted a job without telling me.”
“I was upset with him about it and the reason for that is that first of all, he should’ve told me, since we live in the same house.”
“Second of all, and more importantly, I’m left without someone to stay with the girls from 3 to 8 where my shift start and ends.”
“My son is usually the one to stay home with the girls, and his new job is during those hours, so one way or another, we are impacted.”
The OP and her son got into an argument over this.
“He told me his friend found him this job and it just happened – but I don’t think it did because he knew he had to give up staying with his sisters while I work.”
“My husband travels most of the time (he’s a pilot) and paid childcare is a no for me.”
“My son said I shouldn’t be surprised by him trying to work to save money to be able to pay for himself, but that is just absurd since he literally lives with us without having to pay for anything except for his own entertainment.”
“He said he needed the job and he wasn’t realistically going to stay and watch his sisters for days on end, especially he doesn’t get paid for it.”
The OP and her husband both sided against their son.
“We kept arguing and my husband got involved, and he too was upset, saying that my son had no respect for us.”
“My son basically had a ‘like it or not’ attitude with us and kept refusing to discuss this with us, saying we have no right to be upset with him and should just accept it.”
“But I’m just… I think that he’s being inconsiderate of my husband’s and my struggle to provide for the family as a whole. I think this should mean something to him but he acted selfishly.”
The OP clarified why babysitting was problematic.
“It seems that I did not mention the reason why the babysitter option isn’t ideal. It is because my daughters don’t want a babysitter.”
“They’re both dealing with some issues and are uncomfortable being with a stranger at home.”
“Besides that, my son decided to stay with them, and we didn’t ask him or anything.”
The OP also did not agree with some of the earliest YTA ratings.
“Some of you here are implying or suggesting that I’m making my son be the girls’ babysitter, but that is in fact not true.”
“He doesn’t do much for them, just stays home with them while he studies or plays video games. He adores his sisters and only stays with them when he wants to. Otherwise, we wouldn’t force him.”
“Also, my husband said the girls are too young for therapy, and I agree with him on that.”
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 said the son wasn’t a free babysitting service.
“YTA, he isn’t free child care. He has his own life he needs to live and what he is doing is bettering himself for the future.”
“You need a better plan than forcing your kid to babysit for no money.” – Solid_Quote9133
“OP says she doesn’t force him to babysit, while actively trying to stop him from working so he can watch them. What is your definition of forced?”
“Either pay him what a job would be paying him or let him get the d*mn job.”
“Your daughter’s inability to deal with a babysitter is not his problem and you shouldn’t make it his problem. Quit your job if it’s that big of a deal. Idk what is up with parents anymore.”
“You are an AH for not getting your daughters therapy because they are ‘too young.’ People put their toddlers in therapy and it sounds like your daughters definitely need it.”
“And you are an AH for the way you are treating your son. You should be encouraging him and not doing whatever it is that you actually are.” – crooney35
“He’s telling you he doesn’t want to watch them, so according to OP’s own edit, that should be the end of it.”
“Another option you should consider is offering to PAY HIM.”
“Just based on your post, I’m guessing that the job is as much about wanting to get the f**k out of your house as it is about money, so it’s quite possible he’d still tell you to shove it, but if you really can’t bring yourself to hire a professional, it might be worth asking.” – Zipzifical
“At best, this is poor planning on OP. They really had no plan for the future and I’m not sure how long she expected this to go on.”
“Could OP’s son have given her more of a heads-up? Sure.”
“Is it weird that OP had no backup plan or thoughts on what to do in the future? Very.” – letstrythisagain30
“None of this stuff in her story – the husband being a pilot, the kids being too emotionally disturbed to have babysitters but too young for therapy – explains why OP can’t pay her son for babysitting.”
“She’s been using him for free daycare. Because it’s not an occasional thing but a regular schedule for her work.” – rhetorical_twix
Others were interested in why the girls couldn’t have a babysitter or therapy.
“She said that the younger kids are too young for therapy… These aren’t rational people. SMH (shaking my head). OP, YTA.” – Palindromer101
“Too young for therapy but somehow can’t get a babysitter because they need therapy.” – MadmansScalpel
“I’m thinking OP and husband leave the girls with the brother a lot more than mentioned and the girls probably have attachment/abandonment issues, so anyone but the brother watching them might make them uneasy.”
“Then the reason OP and husband don’t want to send them to therapy is so they don’t get called out on their own neglect.”
“He’s your son, not a babysitter. Babysitter is a job and one he’s being unpaid for. YTA.” – PinkFrostingxxx
“No kids want to go be watched by other people or have a new person watch them at home, especially if it is the first time they have been.”
“Ever seen a kid throw a sh*t fit getting dropped off at daycare? I’ve seen it sooooooo many times. That’s totally normal anxiety.”
“Mom could be just asking these girls if it would be OK if someone else watches them and they say no or freak out, so mom thinks it isn’t an option, which is just weak parenting.” – CO420Tech
“Somehow, they’re too young for therapy, but when older brother is watching them for 5 hours a day, he doesn’t have to take care of them at all – just sit around studying and playing video games.”
“Either they are leaving exceptionally young children with an irresponsible babysitter because it’s free and free > safe. Or they are old enough for therapy.” – thefeathisper
Some also said the son had every right to be able to work and be more independent.
“I’d like to know why the ‘too young’ girls are given the choice of whether they want a babysitter or not but the 18-year-old adult son is not allowed to choose to work.” – Mybeautifulballoon
“This is lazy parenting and parentification at its finest. Poor boy. Good for him for getting a job, and good for his friend for helping him out.”
“By the sounds of it, OP intended to use him as free childcare for the foreseeable future so they don’t have to deal with raising their own children.” – Palindromer101
“My mom did this with me but with my sister’s kids. I didn’t get paid, wasn’t allowed to have a job, and she actively prevented me from getting my driver’s license.”
“I found a job behind her back and my then boyfriend’s stepmom helped us get a place so I could move out.”
“Based on the edits, he originally offered to watch the girls but I bet that was when he was in HS and didn’t have a whole lot going on.”
“It sounds like he’s brought up getting a job before and was guilted out of it, why else would he sneak getting a job?”
“OP, don’t be surprised if he finds someone else to live with too. YTA.” – tinypurplepiggy
While the OP was certain that she and her husband had done nothing wrong in regards to her son’s life at home and at work, the subReddit was ready to disagree.
The son was at the perfect age to find his first job: to earn his own money, to develop his independence, and to get that much-needed job experience.
But perhaps more importantly, it shouldn’t fall on the son, who was barely an adult, to figure out who would care for his younger sisters next. That was one of his parents’ responsibilities and something they should have started discussing months before his graduation.