Redditor aitathrowaway is a homeowner who made a decision to help out her neighbors’ teenage son—who had become a huge help in maintaining her property.
But when the parents found out about her plan, their reaction had her second guessing herself.
So she went to the “Am I the A**hole” (AITA) subReddit and asked:
“AITA for not telling my neighbor I had started a college fund for his kid?”
The Original Poster (OP) began by talking about her good intentions.
“Full disclosure: I 100% do not think I am an a**hole for this. But they are harping on it, and I am just looking for an independent opinion.”
“I (36 F[emale]) bought a rural property in 2016. This property has a very large yard and a long driveway. I also travel a fair bit for work.”
“I was looking for a service to handle shoveling my driveway in the winter, and handle mowing my lawn in the spring, summer, and fall. (mostly because I’m gone a lot, but also because I just don’t want to deal with it)”
“I was talking to my neighbor (‘R’) who said his son ‘A’ (14 M[ale]) was a hard worker and wanted to make some extra cash, as he was saving for college. So A and I came to an agreement.”
“Every weekend he would mow my front and back long and I would pay him $40. In the winter, whenever it snowed, he would come by and plow my driveway. (Firm $40 a week whether or not it snowed.)”
“He would just drive on over with his tractor and handle it. It worked very well for four years.”
They proved to be quite an asset.
“This kid was a godsend. I foster dogs and if I have to go out of town unexpectedly, he would come over and feed them and play with them and love on them and just have a grand old time. (And he would be compensated accordingly for the extra work.)”
“All in all, I probably paid him 3-4,000 dollars a year for the work. I made good friends with his folks. I get invited to all the family parties. His older sister had a baby and I went to the shower.”
“So it is obvious I have a soft spot for this kid. Knowing that he was working so hard to try to afford to go to school, every time I paid him I would also set aside the same amount and I put it into an envelope.”
“I was invited to a socially distant graduation party earlier this month. He graduated from high school, and he is going away to a state school about 2 hours from us next month. I took that envelope full of cash to the bank and I got a check which totaled out a little more than $12,000.”
“I included this check in the card I got him for graduation and I thanked him very much for helping me all these years and wished him well has he moved on with his life.”
The secret fund would prove to be especially beneficial due to unforeseen circumstances.
“He was extremely thankful because his mom has been laid off and they were worried about how they were going to pay for school and they were trying not to let him go into debt.”
“Now, the issue. I was worried that his parents would think of this as charity because his mom had been laid off. This plan had been years in the making and I hadn’t mentioned it to them because I didn’t want them to count on it if for whatever reason I wasn’t in the financial position to offer it when the time came.”
“R called me extremely upset that I hadn’t told them about the fund prior for two reasons. 1) It overshadowed their gift to him and 2) they had spent so long worrying about how they were going to pay this, and if they had known about what I was doing it would have saved them a lot of stress and problems.”
Anonymous strangers on the internet weighed in by declaring:
- NTA – Not The A**hole
- YTA – You’re The A**hole
- ESH – Everyone Sucks Here
- NAH – No A**holes Here
Many of the Redditors responded positively to the OP’s gesture.
“This is where it goes from N A H to NTA.”
“Its still their kid, if for whatever reason you fell on hard times and needed it, you did good by not telling them in case it never came.”
“Turns out you were right, if you would have told them, they would have depended on it and mentally got attached to the money.”
“No good deed goes unpunished.” – Aristotle_El
“Yep. NTA. The appropriate response from the parents should have been ‘oh wow that is so generous of you, we didn’t expect anything like this. We have been so stressed about this and it has taken a load off our minds. Thank you so much.'”
“Who the heck berates someone after receiving a windfall from them. Choosing beggars.” – OGrouchNZ
“Honestly, with that response from R I would seriously worry that the cash will go to something other than schooling. It’s the kids decision I suppose, but I can’t help but think there will be some pressure on him to provide support for the family as well.” wookiesandcream1
Redditors concurred that the OP informing the parents would have been unwise.
“NTA. How could you ever be considered an a**hole for something so generous. They shouldnt be upset because you ‘overshadowed their gift’ they should be happy for their son.”
“As for saving them the stress, it would have been more cruel to promise what you could not guarantee.” – thatbookishbitch
“At the same time a lot could happen if OP told the parents early, what happen if there was a falling out and the parent still want the money?”
“what would happen if they were expecting a bigger sum then what OP was going to give? I could see why OP didn’t want to tell them because in the end they can’t count on it until they receive it so the worry would still be there regardless.” – ctrlcutcopy
“NTA. Perfect example of making a promise you can’t keep and, if you did tell them it sounds like they would blow that out of proportion as well.”
“I am sorry that you are out of good worker though, he sounds like a good kid you will be a good adult.”
“I would be cautious if the neighbours try and foist another of their kids (if they have any) to takeover. They might have unvoiced expectation that you will present another large cheque in the future.” – DogsWatchr
“I’m in this parent’s shoes. My parents are both better off than I am. Their presents to my 18 month old daughter are worth more than the presents I give to her.”
“I thank them very nicely, and be grateful that my daughter gets to have nice things that I otherwise may not be able to afford for her.”
“In addition, I worried for years about finances for my house (long story), and when it came time to need to fork out that money, my mother generously said she would make up the balance. I thanked her very much for making something that I hadn’t been looking forward to very easy.”
“NTA You made a generous contribution, which A was very grateful for. This is about A having the finances for his education. Don’t let his parents make it about them.” – pennie79
The parents were not free from scrutiny.
“OP is seriously NTA here. The boy’s parents, however, are BOTH equally in the wrong here. Like, seriously, as someone who doesn’t understand certain things in social situations (due to having Asperger’s) or how to deal with people (partially due to my anxiety issues), I can’t even BEGIN to understand the ‘logic’ of the boy’s parents.”
“And, quite frankly, I don’t even want to entertain the idea of trying.”
“Aside from that, I pray that OP and the boy are still friends despite that incident.” – TeaholicxWriter
Praise for the OP continued pouring in, with many Redditors hoping the future of her friendship with the grateful teen would not be impaired by the conflict with his parents.