Most parents when they think about their kids like to imagine being able to provide anything that their specific child wants or needs.
But most wouldn’t go so far as to build a whole house catered to them, agreed the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit.
Redditor Total-Ad-5352 wanted to build an accessible house for his son after their rental experiences had proven to feel less than welcoming.
But when his girlfriend began to gripe about the accommodations, the Original Poster (OP) wasn’t sure how to make both of them happy.
He asked the sub:
“AITA for putting my son’s comfortability over my girlfriend’s?”
The OP and his son were not living in the most accessibility-friendly rental.
“I (34 Male) have a 16-year-old son. My son is paralyzed from the waist down and has been since he was eight.”
“A year ago, I got with my girlfriend (34). I live in an apartment right now but it’s not the most accessible.”
“For example, the sink in the kitchen and bathroom have cabinets underneath, so he can’t really use them without being in an awkward position. And the stove is too high for him to use safely. He can’t reach most of the dishes if they were in the higher cabinets.”
“The showers are also really small and his shower bench barely fits. I’ve tried to rearrange this to make them easier for him but it’s still hard.”
The OP wanted to create something special for his son.
“Two years ago, I started getting a house built for us. For most of his childhood, I’ve struggled financially, but I was finally able to afford to build a house accessible to him.”
“I showed my girlfriend a plan of the house when we first started dating and she said it looked fine.”
“We went to go see the progress a few days ago since it’s almost done and we’re almost ready to move in.”
But the OP’s girlfriend wasn’t excited during the walk-through.
“When we got there, she mentioned how the stove and sink were too low.”
“My son can’t do much in the kitchen because of his paralysis but he loves to help. Having the stove accessible will help him have more independence and he can start learning himself which he’s really happy about.”
“Our stove and sink have a little space under it so he can slide his wheelchair in to cook, and it is low enough so it’s like a table if that makes sense. The oven and microwave are also low enough for him.”
“My girlfriend says it’ll be uncomfortable for her to cook at.”
“I told her that she can pull up a chair and sit if that’s better, but she refuses.”
It turned into an argument about future plans.
“She says she doesn’t want to live with me if she’s going to be uncomfortable forever.”
“She also says that my son will move out in a few years, so we don’t even need to spend all this money on a house.”
“I told her that we could renovate some things after he moves out but she doesn’t want to wait that long.”
“I said if it was a problem she could figure something else out to make her comfortable or leave.”
“Some people are telling me I was too harsh but I’m tired of people complaining about accessibility to disabled people because it inconveniences them a little.”
“But I want to know if y’all think I was actually wrong and should’ve handled it differently.”
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 were pleased the OP was so willing to accommodate his son’s needs.
“NTA, as someone who’s disabled, I could cry with joy reading this. Keep looking out for your son.” – Alternative-Wait3533
“I’m so glad OP designed an entire home to meet his son’s needs. The girlfriend is slightly inconvenienced. But it will make such a difference in his son’s life.”
“Personally, I have a small disability that makes standing for long periods increasingly painful. I also love to cook. Just hearing about that kitchen makes me want an adjustable office swivel chair to cook in. It sounds awesome!”
“NTA.” – Shibaspots
“I am not disabled but I also find it great that OP is so thoughtful of his child. NTA, and good riddance to the girlfriend.”
“While your child has no other choice, the girlfriend has options, so again, kudos, OP.” – Organic_Start_420
“I had low blood pressure, and my dad was adamant about cooking without salt, everything in the house had to be without salt. He knew very well that the reason I kept passing out and tumbling downstairs was that I needed salt.”
“But it was too much of a hassle for him to just throw some salt on my food. I shouldn’t expect the world to cater to me and just live like a normal person. Also, ‘you can eat as much salt as you want when you get your own house.'”
“OP is building a whole f**king house to accommodate his kid! I love OP so much! I hope the son realizes how awesome his dad is.” – 19niki86
“You are SO SO SO much NTA, OP. I think it’s amazing that you have designed this home for you and your son that maximizes his ability to be independent. That’s what a father should do!”
“If your girlfriend is complaining about having this be accessible to your son after a YEAR, I’d be very skeptical about continuing that relationship. Our children always come first, period, full stop.”
“You’re helping your son learn to be independent and take care of himself by building a custom, accessible home. You’ve offered solutions to your girlfriend and she’s not willing to accept your very reasonable suggestions.”
“My son will be three in a few weeks and if he ever had a disability of any kind, I’d want to do the same things you’re doing. You’re building a home where he can be comfortable, safe, and take care of himself. Your girlfriend is being the AH here and she needs a reality check.” – Fun-Office-2954
Others agreed and were collectively side-eyeing the OP’s girlfriend.
“Imagine being so unkind that your comfort is more important than someone who is disabled.”
“Absolutely NTA and you maybe need to think about your relationship. Is this someone you want to be with when they are so unkind?” – ifelife
“The comment about how he’ll move out in a couple of years was telling.”
“She doesn’t know what he’ll want to do when he’s 18 or how much he’ll want OP to be involved in his life, but it sounds like she’s just waiting out the time until he’s gone.”
“Education is expensive. Rental prices are high. Bills are high. Decent-paying jobs can be hard to find even for able-bodied people with no barriers to employment. Lots of young people come home after college.”
“Parenting doesn’t end at 18.” – alienabductionfan
“The house wasn’t built for her it was as built for his disabled son. No one is forcing her to move in and OP doesn’t seem to mind the inconvenience.”
“She also gave him a sly ultimatum that if he wouldn’t ‘fix’ it, she wouldn’t move in. That is demanding it and it backfired on her because he is putting his son first.” – Odd-Consideration754
“I’ve worked with a lot of people who had a wide range of disabilities and it’s unreal to see how insensitive people can be when reacting to folks with differences in public or who are put in positions where they are even somewhat inconvenienced for a few moments when the person they are being rude about has to be ‘inconvenienced’ for their entire lifetime!”
“But it’s one thing to have a stranger behave poorly in public and another thing to have your dad’s girlfriend behave that way in your own home.”
“Keep the modifications… Ditch the evil step-mother in the making.” – formidable-opponent
“NTA. There is no way you could possibly be an AH for making a home where your son can feel comfortable and have as much independence as possible. The house was not planned for your girlfriend. It was planned for you and your son long before she came into the picture.”
“Besides, it makes no sense to use the money you saved for building a wheelchair-accessible home to build a house like any other you could find on the market to appease a girlfriend who may or may not be in a long-lasting relationship.”
“Also, she is not the right person to be with if she can’t see why it is important for your son to have a comfortable, accessible home to live in. You told her exactly what needed to be said.” – cstarh408
But a few had some concerns about the design plans.
“GF could be quite a bit more than ‘slightly inconvenienced.’ I’m tall, and when I do dishes I have to bend over. After not very long, my back gets extremely sore and I can hardly stand up straight again. GF could easily end up screwing up her back if she does a lot of the cooking.”
“OP, it’s great you’re supporting your son, so I hope you can find a solution that works for everyone. Like is there any chance of two sinks at different heights? Or a stove that can be raised/lowered?”
“Then you wouldn’t have to remodel after your son moves out, and everyone could still be comfortable when he comes back to visit. Which I hope he does often since you’re so supportive!” – PerturbedHamster
“I’d be concerned about having to bend If they didn’t explicitly include the legroom, but since they DID, I think she really just needs to try it. If they got wood or woodlike floors, they could even get a chair with those squishy rollerblade wheels and zoom around the kitchen for days.” – Snakesquares
“NTA at all. It is so important to cater to disabilities, especially when someone in your own family is disabled. They spend their lives being uncomfortable and having to adjust.”
“Having said that, you might want to look into height-adjustable counters/sinks/stoves. They are actually pretty good nowadays and will ensure everyone is able to use the kitchen in comfort, yourself included.” – potatoes4chipies
After receiving feedback, the OP shared an update.
“I just wanted to say after reading all of your comments, I’m gonna try a few things. First is talking to my son and seeing how he feels about the situation and how he’s being treated when I’m not around.”
“I also saw people talking about back problems and I’m a pretty tall guy (6’1), so I’m gonna try to maybe add a taller stove at the least even if it doesn’t work out with my girlfriend because it’ll be easier for me. If we stay together, I’ll see if she wants to help me pay for it.”
“I might make one side of the sink tall and one side short, that way we can both use it. He’ll get out of washing dishes, but I don’t think he’ll be too mad. Thank you everyone for your opinions.”
The subReddit was left applauding the OP and actively judging his girlfriend for the home he was building that was uniquely designed for his son’s needs.
Even if his son went off to college and started a life of his own somewhere, he would always know that he could come back home, and that accommodations would be available to him when he got there.