The saying “blood is thicker than water” is actually inaccurate: the real phrase is, “the blood of the covenant is thicker than the water of the womb.” The former is usually meant to convey that family should come first, but the full phrase denotes the opposite: chosen friends and family are stronger bonds than simple relations.
Nowhere was this more true than in Redditor LardenBold’s life, where she is estranged from a difficult family who used her for a good part of her life. After a decade of no contact, she was approached by her toxic brother again, who demanded she help out his struggling family.
After refusing, she needed affirmation from objective strangers that she’d made the right choice. She went to the popular subReddit “Am I The A**hole?” or “AITA” for feedback from objective strangers:
“AITA for telling my brother I’m not his mom when he asked me for financial help?”
Our original poster, or OP, told us about the relationship with her toxic family.
“I (30f[emale]) have a brother (24m[ale]). Our parents were not good parents.”
“They had kids they couldn’t afford, couldn’t parent, and because I was the girl and the first born I was put in charge of my brother more times than I could count.”
“I was also made to bear financial responsibilities once I started doing odd jobs for money or working part time after school.”
“Literally once my parents found out they sent my brother to me for food, clothes, activities and my dad even quit his job so I was the breadwinner on a very small amount of money.”
“I ended up cutting all three of them off a decade ago. I couldn’t with my brother.”
“He told me it was my job to look after him, that I was the oldest and he deserved to have someone look after him, and I was being selfish not wanting to do it.”
“I told him it should never have been my job. He was clear he did not care.”
Recently her brother reached out.
“I have not had any contact with him since then. Until recently he reached out. Told me he had a kid, and his girlfriend was pregnant and they were struggling and wanted money for a termination and wanted money to help feed their kid.”
“There was no hi, or asking how I was, saying anything that showed he was doing anything but trying to get money. I told him no.”
“He said it was my responsibility and I should think of his kid(s) and prevent them from having the same life we did. I snapped.”
“Told him to leave me alone that I am not his mom and I will not support him for the rest of my life. That if he wants better for his kids he can do what I had to.”
“Only I was alone because nobody supported me. Nobody gave a sh*t about what I needed. That he’s a grown man now and needs to take responsibility.”
“He called me a f**king a**hole b*tch.”
Her husband’s family, whom she was around, reacted to the message as well.
“I was around my husbands family when he sent the message, they asked, and they all thought I was very harsh and that he was kind of right about being an a**hole when there are kids involved and it’s how he was raised.”
“It makes me mad because why don’t I just use that excuse to leech off people then? Why am I doing the best for my family, my kids, but it’s okay for him not to. But they planted seeds of doubt.”
Anonymous strangers weighed in by declaring:
- NTA – Not The A**hole
- YTA – You’re The A**hole
- ESH – Everyone Sucks Here
- NAH – No A**holes Here
Redditors overwhelmingly sided with OP on this issue.
“If you give in to his demands, then he’ll just ask for more. The fact that he reacted by calling you names just shows that he doesn’t respect you.”
“Giving in and giving him money this time will just mean he becomes even worse and expects even more from you in the future and will retaliate if you try and say no.”
“Think about how much you’ve already done for him. That shouldn’t have been your responsibility and this certainly isn’t either. NTA OP.”-start_the_rev
“NTA. Your brother has not made any effort whatsoever to improve his life & be better than his parents.”
“Your in-laws should mind their own business. Most people who grow up in good families have no idea how hard it is to break away from the abuse and create a stable life.”
“They should be congratulating you, not second guessing you.”-R4catstoomany
“OP – what your parents did to you was parentification and is a form of abuse.”
“Well done for escaping from it. I know it hurts and after a lifetime of having all the weight put on your shoulders it seems normal, but it isn’t.”
“What they are asking from you is utterly unreasonable and it’s time for your parents and your brother to all walk on their own two feet without your help. NTA.”-Fraerie
“Your brother is a leech. Don’t feel bad for even a second for cutting him off and being harsh about it. You are 100% correct.”
“Your brother doesn’t give AF about you. You’re just a bank to him and no matter what you do for him, it’ll never be enough.”
“Screw your husband’s family. If they have so much sympathy for your brother, they can bankroll him. NTA”-slothsandunicorns
And people were advising her not to take the advice of people who don’t operate in toxic families too seriously.
“NTA at all, but you shouldn’t have let that seed of doubt creep in.”
“And the husband’s family needs to watch their words with you, because you can easily tell them that you’ll happily tell your deadbeat brother that they are cash cows ready for the milking and give him their phone numbers.”
“I somehow doubt they will be as ready to take on the role of parenting and providing for a child (your brother) that isn’t theirs.”
“When they say, ‘not my child’, you say ‘same’, if they say ‘not my family’, you remind them that yes, he is their family, technically, and you have as much an obligation to provide for an adult man as they do.”
“Or just tell your brother you’ll help and send him a box of condoms and a pamphlet on vasectomies.”-shucksx
“NTA – People throw the kids card out a lot thinking just because they have kids they are entitled to people helping them anytime they ask for it.”
“Their kids are NOT your responsibility. Is it sad that they are having issues? Sure maybe?”
“But it it also a situation they put themselves into and I doubt they are doing anything to get out of it besides asking people for money.”-grog189
“NTA I actually just started therapy for something similar.”
“It hurts and feels like some weird obligation to stay with your family. But all of them are toxic!! All of them! You don’t deserve this. Why is it always ‘there’s kids involved!!!'”
“What about when you where a kid??? I’m angry for you.”-ItsYourLocalRock
“NTA. I am really genuinely sad for you, reading this. Your family sounds like they were so abusive in such insidious ways, and now your brother explodes up out of nowhere and rubs your nose right back in the old mess.”
“The fact that your husband’s family is being so unsupportive is awful. I’m not sure what advice I’d give you there, except maybe to tell them about just how bad it got (if you feel up to that).”
“Definitely, uproot those seeds of doubt. There is no reason at all that you should have let him revictimize you in the name of ‘being nice’.”-alimck476
Toxic families want to use your emotional connections to manipulate you, and it’s hard for healthy families to understand why.
“NTA. Your husband’s family doesn’t know the whole story. They weren’t there and can’t understand the whole stress it out on you.”
“Your brother has been conditioned to go to you for things, not to learn by your example. That’s on your parents and on him for not picking up on your hard work and leaning unfairly on you.”
“You don’t owe him anything. Especially if he can’t even be polite or family like to you before telling you to give him money.”-xeyexofxautumnx
“NTA- and don’t feel guilt. Control and responsibility. Did you have any say in his birth? You are not responsible for him.”
“It’s okay if people don’t agree with your boundaries. They don’t have to. You don’t have to change them just because they don’t like or agree with them.”
“Stick to your guns.. It’s not your responsibility to financially supplement their income, especially the ones that feels entitled to your money.”-LassyWearsAMask
“NTA – It’s not your job to take care of your brother or his kid, and that he didn’t reach out to you until he needed money is incredibly manipulative.”
“BUT I do think you should understand that he probably also feels the sense of loss, grief, and neglect that you feel from your parents and lacks the emotional intelligence to grasp that it’s wrong to try to get this from you instead.”
“On some level he probably literally looks at you like a mother figure and felt emotionally rejected in a powerful way that informed his response to you. That doesn’t excuse his response though it’s just an explanation for it.”
“Don’t give him any money, but if he’s open to a real conversation about how your relationship dynamic is harmful (ideally in the presence of a family therapist because that always helps) you might consider doing so.”
“If he relentlessly tries to get you to take responsibility for his actions and attempts to mooch off of you further then at least you can say you tried one last time before cutting him off.”
“Sorry your parents let you both down. Don’t let your husband’s family weigh in on something they know so little about. You have a right to have boundaries with your brother.”-little_mermarx
“NTA. It is his responsibility to give his kids a better life than either of you had.”
“He is the parent and he is absolutely just repeating the same nonsense his own parents did – so, even if you did step in and help, they’d still have the same problems.”
“You’re about as responsible for what’s going on there as your in-laws (or any random stranger since you’re NC) are, so they can help him out with money if they feel so bad. After all, they’re his family too now.”-Massive-Emergency-42
OP made the right choice cutting her brother fully off. She owes her family nothing, and objective strangers can see that just by reading this passage.
Hopefully she can find some peace in her decision.