Intentions are important.
Whether we’re talking about the words you say, the acts you do or the places you go, the intention behind those efforts can make all the difference.
So, what do you do when someone does something wrong, but they had the best intention in the world?
That was the issue facing Redditor and Original Poster (OP) caterpillerwings when he came to the “Am I the A**hole” (AITA) subReddit for judgment.
“AITA for putting a debt on my daughter?”
OP began with some important background.
“My wife and I are in the fortunate position of being wealthy.”
“We had to work our a*ses off to get where we are and we never forget where we came from.”
“Our kids grew up ‘rich kids’ but we never spoiled them even when we could have.”
“They went to nice schools, had nice things, but they also had summer jobs and after-school jobs to pay for their own extras.”
“We also push philanthropy in our family so our kids recognize they are privileged and that our life isn’t even remotely how regular people live.”
“I’d say for the most part our kids have grown up to be respectful and good people.”
“Our oldest children are twin boys and their sister, who is 18 months younger than them.”
“All 3 are in college now. Our youngest 2 are in 8th grade.”
Everything was fine, until…
“I got a call from our bank a couple days ago saying that someone had cashed a check that was charged to our bank account in the amount of $61, 347.93, and that the check had been made out to the tuition office of the university my oldest three kids attend.”
“Naturally I investigated the matter myself with the university and got some answers.”
“I pieced together that one of my kids snagged my checkbook and wrote a tuition check for a friend of theirs (there’s a much bigger story behind why this kid couldn’t pay but that’s private, and my wife and I agreed to fund this young person’s education because of their private struggles).”
“I grilled my kids and figured out that it was our daughter, ‘Joanna’. Joanna was apologetic but she was also quite insistent that she stood behind her actions.”
“I respect my daughter for her convictions and she really did have good reasons for why she did it but the fact remains that she stole and then she hid it.”
OP explained the punishment,
“Joanna asked what her punishment is and I told her to get a job because she now owes her mother and I $62,000.”
“Here’s the thing: I don’t expect Joanna to pay us back and if she came to me tomorrow with the money I wouldn’t take it.”
And the purpose behind it.
“What I want is to see an effort made.”
“An acknowledgement of her actions and the consequences.”
“If I see that she’s actively trying I’ll tell her that she doesn’t have to pay me back. She’s my kid and I love her so all I want is for her to learn a lesson.”
“But, Joanna doesn’t know all this, all she thinks is that she owes me $62,000. So, naturally I’m a horrible father and a very mean person.”
He was left to wonder,
Having explained the situation, OP turned to Reddit for judgment.
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
Commenters approved of the reason for this parenting style.
“I think you’re spot on for how you’re addressing the sneaking, stealing and lies.”
“I’m sure you made it clear had she come to you and made a case for helping this person out, there would have been no consequence but that the disciplinary action is a result of the dishonesty and theft.”
“NTA.” ~ Trasht79
“I think you’re handling it correctly and with wisdom.”
“The one thing I would change is actually making your daughter earn and pay back a certain proportion of what she stole.”
“When she gives you the money, say $15k, agree between you what worthy cause to donate to.”
“I’d make the sum you require back from her enough so it gives her pause to think about how hard it is to earn that amount, but not so much it discourages her.” ~ Nicky_Sixpence
“While your daughter had commendable intentions, she undeniably stole money from you, and there should most definitely be consequences for it.”
“You don’t want to enable a mentality of ‘the end justifies the means,’ because that’s never a good outlook to have.”
“You’re right in punishing her.”
“And you’re right in not expecting full payback but considerable effort, your promises and positions considered.”
“That being said, I just want to say: Good on you two for raising such conscientious children with the privilege they inherently had.”
“Sometimes people (especially us have-nots who look towards you haves with inherent contempt now and then) underestimate how difficult it can be to teach the value of money to children for whom it seems infinite.”
“I grew up on the breadline, and even now, at 28, despite a pretty successful life, am a long ways from even ‘breaking even’ on my assets vs liabilities, and it took me many, many years to truly gain and exhibit empathy and generosity despite first-hand experience with having nothing.”
“The fact you instilled those values in your kids despite having no needs, to the point that when your daughter steals from you, it is literally to help someone in need …”
“Just wow. You are amazing parents.”
“That being said, consequences are due and good on you for following through on them.” ~ SaltRevolutionary917
Many were concerned about Joanna’s reasoning.
“I’d be more concerned about the stealing.”
“She could go to prison for this kind of thing.”
“You don’t want her to suffer those consequences, but her just glossing over theft and fraud doesn’t bode well for her future.”
“If she did this to anyone else or anywhere else, her future could be over.”
“If she knew you’d foot the bill, what was the impetus behind her actions?”
“Other than to see if she could get away with it” ~ Neither-Entrance-208
“OP, you ask really good questions here.”
“I’d try and get to the bottom of why she didn’t come to you.”
“That seems to be the biggest outstanding question here.”
“You are NTA for the punishment.”
“I agree with those who say put it aside to gift to her later or to her friend after college to help with their next steps.”
“If you too quickly say she won’t have to pay it back, you may send a bad message. Especially without understanding why she didn’t ask you before this happened.” ~ Separate-Option
Some had there own ideas for how they’d have punished Joanna.
“Since you are big about giving back how about volunteer work.”
“Either let her work with underprivileged kids or at a nursing home.”
“You and your wife sit down and decide how many hours you believe is fair and what amount of time it needs to be done in.”
“Plus I am sure you have an attorney.”
“Have them sit down with her and explain the severity of what she did in terms of jail time.”
“And maybe make her do research on the legal system in the US such as the overcrowding of jails or the treatment of prisoners.”
“Turn it into a learning lesson.” ~ evillittleperson
“My husband saw this post as well and thought of a good idea – OP lets the kid get a job and lets her pay him back for a year.”
“Don’t tell her it’s just for a year, but at the end of the year, forgive the rest of the money.”
“So she gets to spend a whole year learning the value of a dollar as she clearly doesn’t now…and see how little a minimum wage job will even make a dent in that kind of money.”
“And he can either keep the money or put it in savings for her for a later event.” ~ NoApollonia
“This and yes I agree she should pay back the whole thing over time/years.”
“He could save what she pays him and then use that money for her wedding or huge down payment on a house later or keep it for her own kids college fund.”
“NTA and OP should remind DD who hates him at the moment that what he’s doing is much gentler than what ‘the system’ would do to her since what she did was a felony (stealing). She is not Robin Hood.” ~ GardenSafe8519
OP did return to touch on a common question.
“I’ve had some private messages suggest that I have criminal charges brought against my daughter.”
“My family is Black.”
“America’s criminal and legal system does not treat Black men and woman with any respect and I will not subject my daughter to criminal charges because everyday we see what happens to Black humans in the American criminal system.”
“I will not allow myself to allow my daughter to become another beautiful Black child that loses her rights or life to this system.”
The intention behind an act can be as vital as the act itself.
In this case the act was theft – but what was stolen was intended to help someone else.
Though a little forethought probably would have avoided the situation all together.