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So, for the question at hand, involving Helen, NTA. You’re right, your daughter shouldn’t have to look after someone if she doesn’t want to. But, on that note: >Maria does have to step up when I and my husband fail. Do better. Because I guarantee the biggest reason she’s disappointed she couldn’t do the art program is that she needed a break from parenting her brother, and didn’t get one. I get that you compensate her, but time is a finite resource she isn’t going to get back.


YTA: This reason alone is why I think OP is the AH. Your 14 year old child is not there to pick up the slack for your failed parenting. I highly doubt they’re paying her as much as a trained caregiver would make to compensate for the 14 y/o time. A “reward” is not hourly pay for caring for someone. I’m glad op stuck up for their child but they’re still an AH. Stop being cheap and hire a daycare service or caregiver to let your child have a childhood again.


> This reason alone is why I think OP is the AH. Your 14 year old child is not there to pick up the slack for your failed parenting. This is just so rose tinted. Real life doesn't work in absolutes. "a child should never be responsible for care of younger siblings" just doesn't work. The correct approach is "a child should not regularly be voluntold to take responsibility for younger siblings". It is absolutely OK to pay your children for babysitting their own siblings, and it is absolutely OK to have them do it sometimes anyways. >Stop being cheap and hire a daycare service or caregiver to let your child have a childhood again. Nobody said that ops daughter is caring for her brother all day or every day. This is not a job for a daycare or full time caregiver.


This. People are being rude and entitled. Daycare isn't cheap especially for special needs. And its not child abuse to ask one of your kids to keep an eye out that their special needs sibling doesn't do something like idk take a hammer to the windows, or mess with the stove. Shit my cousins and I did that and its the simplest thing ever.


I don't think etremely privileged or extremely abused people understand that not everything is abuse. Like if I were to write out my life people on here would probably be praising me, pitying me, telling me to go no contact, take legal action, and go to therapy lol. I know that because when ever I mentioned that at 10 I would help change my baby brothers diapers (typically) white people will give me "that" look and be ever so slightly nicer to me while telling me I've overcome so much. I vaguely remember a post on reddit about a mom talking about how she leaves her 16 and 14 year olds alone at home for at most 3 hours on weekends to run errands but doesn't pay the 16 year old because they're not really babysitting and rather both kids are essentially home alone since they do their own things and can take care of themselves. 16 year old proceeded to demand babysitting money and instead the mom just started alternating between taking either one of them on errands with her so neither were home alone at the same time. She was voted TA for "parentification". I commented that saying no, that was perfectly reasonable and even mention that in a similar situation my brother and I started being left alone when we were 12 and 10 (I had a phone to call for emergencies and all doors and windows were locked. Had multiple close by family members numbers in my phone too). I was then *told* that I was obviously also a victim of bad parenting (excuse me?) And how I needed to soon confront my parents and "demand back pay" lol. Like maybe if I actually had to care for my brother but all we did was stay in our respective rooms the entire time and made food independently. We have *no idea* by what Op means when she says the daughter has to help out sometimes. Maybe all they mean is that if both of them are working late then she has to walk him home from school. Maybe op isn't telling the full truth and she's basically raising her own brother. But we don't actually know any of that. And from Ops post I feel like she does a very good job at letting her daughter live her own life and have her own experiences. Maybe she even likes occasionally helping out if it's her choice to do so (again I've been told "woe is you" by people when I mention how I actually liked helping with my baby brother. I loved making the bottles, feeding, and burping him when my mom and dad needed naps. Diapers weren't my favorite but putting baby powder was lol) . . Edit: while I still have loads of people interacting, does anyone remember that post where the Op was a female who would always help out family and when she was down on her luck the family came together to help her, then a few months later the brother also got sick or lost his job or something and was super mad because no one was bothering to help him when they all went out of their way to help the Op? Then we find out the brother is basically a living redditor with the mentality of he should be forced to help anyone he doesn't want to, that no one is entitled to his help, that he's child free and thus shouldn't be forced to help with kids, and if asked for help he should be paid for everything he does. Which basically ment he *never* helped anyone in the family ever even when there were emergencies. Where as the sister apperantly bends over backwards to help all their family members (often tutoring cousins for free, babysitting, helping with chores, etc). So obviously even one wanted to help her out but no one wanted to help the brother and he was upset about that. . . Edit 2: guys I know I'm the one who technically brought up race first but please read the word "typically" that's placed infront of white people 😅. No where do I say it's a white thing only. *In my specific experience* I said white people because I went from living in a 96% Hispanic town to an 80% white college town and so far every time I've mentioned this to white people I get various looks (which isn't often. I don't go around shouting "I helped take care of my youngest brother when I was 10 now give me attention 🥺🥺🥺"). But when I mention it to POC they just gloss over it like it's not big deal. *But* I acknowledge that it could also be just a class thing. However seeing as I don't ask people I've met for the first time "what's your tax bracket" then the world will never no. Please don't invalidate my experience by saying "well I'm white and you're wrong". But if it really bothers you that much then just replace the word "white" with "rich"


I think the crux of the issue is that people on the internet love to deal in absolutes and jump to conclusions without considering nuance


Especially this sub. There's very little nuance or acceptance that they don't know the whole story. Increasingly, I'm more convinced that at least half of the most judgey people here are in fact the AHs, resulting in decent people getting called AHs and clear AHs getting let off the hook.


Young AHs. I'm convinced that the vast majority of people who have knee-jerk reactions like this are young people who don't have kids or had parents who handheld them through their entire young life without any real responsibility. I value the fact that I had to watch my siblings and I had to wash the dishes every night, and had to fold the laundry and had to change my little brother's diapers. They taught me life skills, a sense of personal responsibility, and that I was capable of doing complex tasks as a child. It made me self-reliant and independent. Studies have shown that kids are highly capable of taking on responsibilities and that it benefits them. Obviously they should be age appropriate, and kids should not be expected to take on long term Parental roles. But if done right, giving responsibility to kids is empowering, builds self-esteem, teaches life skills and is all around a great thing for them. I'll also point out that only in the west would expecting your child to help take care of the house and their siblings be considered child abuse. Everywhere else, children are expected to be part of maintaining their home and their family. We just have the luxury of affluence not to do that and I'd argue it's to our detriment.


Just to throw in an *absolute* for humor, you're absolutely right. I also feel like this sub is overrun with people with zero life experience. I like reading the questions, so I keep coming back. I've said this in a few other places, but the job of parents is to prepare their children to be functioning adults on their own. This includes the kids learning how to be alone, how to make food, how to clean house, how to do laundry, how to manage money, and yes - how to watch over someone who's more vulnerable than they are. These are Basic Life Skills, and if not taught by the parents as the child grows up, then when ARE they supposed to learn that stuff? OP said that Daughter watches over Son once or twice a month. That's not remotely unusual, much less abuse. I swear I'm about to make a Bingo card for this sub. Spaces would include Abuse, Parentification, DTMFA, The Bar Is Low, Gaslighting, That's Not What Gaslighting Means, and Red/Marinara Flags.


If you do, I'll join in. There can be a lot of great advice on this sub but sometimes people just come off as affluent, entitled and completely out of touch with reality.


One of my daughters (the one who introduced me to this crazy rabbit hole) and I will occasionally realize we’re on at the same time and then treat it like bingo, shouting “narcissist” or “gaslighting” when we see them used. The other day I told her if she could work 6 into one sentence she could choose dinner, later when I asked her to hand her brother a napkin she proudly said, while counting on her fingers to show me, “that was parentification (1) that’s a red flag (2) and it’s not my circus and not my monkey (3) so don’t try to gaslight me (4) or I’ll go no contact (5)…she couldn’t think of another to work in…struggles…I said you won our stupid game now choose your stupid prize!


Don't forget the famous- Divorce Him!


Thank you so much for every single comment in this thread, you're all restoring my sanity. Caring for younger siblings is the number 1 responsibility for children throughout the world, and they are often much better at it than the adults.


So happy to see some resonable people on the sub today! I was parentified. It sucked. That being said, I now have a teenager and 2 smaller children. The teen helps sometimes with watching the kids, picking up from the bus stop, washing dishes, and even getting the kids snacks when us parents are just really tired. The teen also spends hours a day playing his video games, hangs with friends during the week and on weekends, and participating in after-school events. We pay him when we ask a lot of him and listen when he's not "feeling it" with his siblings and let him have personal time. This is just what families do. Sometimes, this sub makes me feel insecure for not paying him for every little thing he does.


Do not feel guilty. There is absolutely no reason why you shouldn't expect your children to contribute to your household. Be that with chores or various tasks that you ask them to do. It's good for them. And it teaches them to Value the things that you do for them. When someone works and learns how difficult a task is or how much work the task is, they'll appreciate it when other people do that work a bit more than if they never had to do any of it. I know a man who's in his thirties who before he got married never cleaned a house, dusted, washed the toilet or done laundry. He didn't even know how to make a bed. His wife was beside herself at how useless he was. She literally had to teach him how to do those things so he could help out in their home. They had two kids with both parent employed and she was going crazy. Thankfully he was willing to learn. But it took a lot of arguing to get to that point where his wife was finally able to get him to understand how entitled he was because his parents always did everything for him. They laugh about it now. But his mother and father did him no favor by not teaching him those skills or requiring him to help out in their home to learn them. He entered the adult world crippled in some ways because he didn't know how to take care of himself or his home without someone doing all the work for him.


>Sometimes, this sub makes me feel insecure for not paying him for every little thing he does. Just know that some of us are uncomfortable too, we're just quieter, less confrontational voices. You sound totally reasonable to me. I think paying him for every contribution to the family is inappropriate. Learning how to be a part of and contribute to a community (even when you receive no immediate personal reward) is a tremendously important skill to acquire.


> But if done right, giving responsibility to kids is empowering, builds self-esteem, teaches life skills and is all around a great thing for them. This is why there's such a huge gap between the US and various places in Europe. In the US, in some states you can get pinned for neglect if a kid under age 12-14 is left home alone, or if they're alone in a playground. In the Netherlands, depending on the car safety and amount of playgrounds in a neighborhood, you see unattended kids zipping by on their bikes, or at playgrounds. Kids who grow up that way, learn to fend for themselves. They learn their neighborhood, all the nooks and crannies. If the school is close enough and the roads to school are safe enough, you will see kids of age 9-10+ walking themselves to school. I did that as a child and I had to cross a busy af road. Later I learned that the first week I was allowed to do it alone, my dad trailed me on foot to see if I was doing it right. I was. :-P Kids aren't stupid, most of the time. That said, the amount of deadly violence is lower here, as is the amount of kidnappings.


Only the Sith deal in absolutes!!


*Sith and Redditors. FTFY.


Holy motherfucking shit, a goddamn sane post on this sub. It never ceases to amaze me how often the people here cry "abuse" at things that are completely innocuous family normalcies. Parentification is a real thing, but damn do the armchair psychologists on this sub abuse the term to no end.


They probably live in a fantasy world where everyone can afford childcare. As someone who has a younger sister with a big age gap and a single mom who couldn’t afford childcare back then, I was always the baby-sitter for my sister when my mom was busy trying to make ends meet. Did my mom pay me? No, because she couldn’t afford it. Did I see it as abuse? No, because these are things you do for family. You help family. Edit: typo


>No, because these are things you do for family. You help family. Exactly. There are definitely limits, but siblings helping out with other siblings or doing other household duties is just something that happens sometimes as part of keeping a household running. This is something that has occurred all throughout human history in pretty much every society because it's the norm for our species.


Especially when kids are at the age where they are capable of helping out. Even stuff like cleaning up their own toys is a big help. And it’s teaching them to be responsible - stuff that will be helpful when they grow up. I swear, teens these days.. If you asked them to clean their own room, they’d already call it “aBuSe” 🤦🏻‍♀️


I just made my 16 month old helped clean up her toys before we left the house so that our Roomba can vacuum. I guess it's abuse that I'm making her helpe to teach her life skills.


>Especially when kids are at the age where they are capable of helping out. Even stuff like cleaning up their own toys is a big help. Not gonna be long before I get told I'm abusing my 2 year old by having her help me clean up her toys and feed the cats, even though she loves doing both activities so much that she begs to help if I start doing those things without her lol.


I totally agree and I actually did experience parentification that was extremely detrimental and had huge impact on my life. Watching my sister after school because my mom was a single parent and had no other options, not parentification. Being left alone overnight several times a week so she could go out with friends, absolutely parentification.


I am 11 years older than my closest sibling. 13 years older than my second sibling. 22 years older than my last sibling. I babysat ALL THE TIME growing up. There would be days where I'd have one or both of my middle sibs for over 12 hours. Was it parentification? God no. Was I paid? Absolutely not. But what I got in return is siblings who, despite the age difference, love me and want to spend time with me, and parents who were trying their best to give us good lives.


Help your family? Pfft, no, you should just watch them struggle and suffer because nobody is entitled to your time. At least, according to this sub.


You don’t owe anything to anyone! Stop being a doormat. /ₛ


Every kid gets (or should get) chores. It could be mowing the lawn. It could be watching a sibling. It’s a big step from doing an age appropriate chore to being abused.


Even beyond affording childcare - are parents supposed to never cook, never shower, never get the mail, never go down to the basement, never take a basket of laundry upstairs unless there’s a second adult in the house?!? How TF do people think households run if the only adult who is home isn’t able to do anything unless there’s a second adult home? These are probably the same people who see teaching and expecting children and teenagers to clean or help prepare food as parentification and also rip into 21-22 year olds who don’t know how to run a household.


I am the second oldest in a family of 12 kids. Oldest is my brother. I am a girls so was expected to be the more mature one lol. We babysat every single Friday for 2 hours from the time we were 12 and 13. We lived out in the country so no neighbours close by to see we were alone. We watched over 6 kids when we started. I never saw it as abuse. We wanted food in the house, they had to go shopping and mom has never driven so they went together. I would wait until my parents were gone and then make homemade fudge for all of us because mom didn't allow us to do it other times. Turns out she didn't actually care but she knew it made it a special bonding thing when we did it together and cleaned up together so she wouldn't notice (yeah like she never noticed we used a boatload of sugar and butter every Friday night lol. We weren't the brightest kids lol)


I agree with you. A lot of these comments are very binary in how they view family dynamics. Parentification is a real issue and can be very abusive, but not all 'asks' by parents for a child to take some responsibility for another child is parentification, and that's how it's treated here. I was also responsible a little for my baby brother when I was a kid. My mother was awful to me in many ways, but not in that way; I did, for example, change my brother's diapers many times, but it was never an expectation. But if I described that, and other things I did for my baby brother, I also get that 'look' that you describe. That view also treats kids as creatures with no volition, no agency. I did a lot of stuff I did because I absolutely loved my brother.


I find it interesting how parentification is discussed on reddit because ... how else are humans supposed to learn to build families, manage a household, and look after their own young, unless they've learned these skills via the training wheels of practicing in their childhood homes? This is a common behavior across the animal kingdom. Adolescents learn how to adult and care for the young from their parents and other adults in their community. I was reading this fascinating book on elephants, I forget what it was called, and it was talking about how there had been a herd culling program some decades ago to reduce "overpopulation" threatening human settlements. They culled the herds by killing the matriarch and adult elephants, but left the calves alive, which they thought would both preserve the elephants and prevent overpopulation growth. Well the way elephant society apparently works is that young adolescent female elephants start taking care of younger elephants under the watchful eye of the adults females and matriarch, who teach them how to properly protect and care for the young. Also, male elephants are kicked out when they get to adolescence because they get sexually aggressive. So after the elephant culling, the calves were left without adults to show them how to be. As they reached adolescence, there was no one to kick the males out, so they went around r*ping any female elephant in the herd they wanted. This meant the females got pregnant and were giving birth younger than is common for elephants. The young, terrified mothers didn't know what was happening or how to take care of the infants. Anthropologists were shocked and horrified to see elephant mother's abandoning their infants, stomping on their heads, and other maladaptive behaviors. I agree that there's a point when it goes too far and parents have essentially abdicated their parenting duties, but the way people wholesale react on reddit like parentification in and of itself is innately abusive when it is usually an instinctive instructional pattern just blows my mind.


Side note: I read something similar about elephants, but it was the young males. Without adult males around as role models, the young bulls were going around needlessly goring other animals. The way the gamekeepers put an end to it was moving the wild young ones to a herd with mature adult males.


You, I like your honest and *real* comment. In my country too kids are often allowed to stay alone at home for some hours from 7yo ->. Of course, not all kids are up to it that young and then parents need to make other arrangements, but 16 yo demanding money bc they are alone at the house with a 14 yo who *doesn't need a babysitter*. Give me a break. 🙄 Older siblings can help without being victims of parentification. Some help is no different from doing your share of chores.


Where I live, at 14 you can BE a babysitter, a 16 year old demanding pay to spend time home alone with a 14 year old sibling is ridiculous. When my brother and I were those ages, my parents started leaving us home "alone" for the occasional weekend-- grandma would spend the night but we spent the days they were gone unsupervised. Obviously if my brother needed something I was expected to step up, and we had another relative in town whose number was stuck by the phone for emergencies, but that never exactly happened, we just took care of ourselves.


Just a few days ago with the aita where the father and sons had a group text where they could tell each other if mom was having a bad day, I was sitting here thinking that’s real clever, as a lot of my family can have bad days and we may try to not let our bad days impact others, but there’s sometimes the chance of that emotion getting to others anyway. Then I read the comments and everyone was saying how that is horrible and how moms emotions were abusive and I was just. I guess confused? And I get it that my family isn’t exactly normal, but to me everyone having a conversation to know that “hey it’s a bad day and we should be soft on mom and know her harshness is not meant to be harsh” is just such a good idea to accommodate those big emotions! Some of the very black and white opinions I see here are why I just hover and don’t normally interact.


You're not wrong. Most people who come to places like this have 0 idea what real abuse is. Having an older sibling help out and watch their younger sibling for a few hours is *not* abuse, nor is it "parentification" lol One of the reasons why the Internet is a curse is because it introduces concepts to people without actually forcing them to learn about them / understand them.


Absolutely THIS. I come from considerable privilege but my mum did not. For her, it was very normal to help out by watching her younger siblings because family helps family. She raised me the same way - ashamed to say I was a tad bratty and always asked to be gifted CDs when babysitting my two younger siblings. But my parents would leave me to mind them from age 11/12 onwards for a single evening, and for several days from age 18. They used to get my grandparents to watch us but we actually preferred to be without them. Lol. No abuse here, just family helping out family.


I upvote you and completely agree. To add on to you, I grew up going to my grandparents farm and helping out. Spending vacations with my cousins and working in my uncles shops from the time i was a kid. Because of that, I know livestock, i know how to build a shed, I know how to paint , basic plumbing, skills i wouldn't have learnt otherwise. It's clear that OP and the daughter have some balance as when you read above, OP didn't need her daughter when she was available. so NTA


Right: please watch your brother while I shower/cook/whatever isn’t child abuse. I basically raised my sisters for half their life. That is child abuse.


Sometimes daycare isn't even available at all for special needs. My wife and I haven't had a day without our son in almost 2 years due to COVID and issues with anxiety and meltdowns. Calling someone a failed parent because they have a handicapped child and can't make everything perfect all the time is beyond disgusting. >Unfortunately, this does not always work out as intended and sometimes Maria does have to step up when I and my husband fail. I literally choked up for a second seeing this because I know exactly how that feels. It's just so easy for those who aren't in this situation to shit on people who are.


The fact that they pay her when shit hits the fan makes OP a billion times better than what these comments paint her out to be.


It's absolutely absurd how self centered the entire world (and definitly reddit) has become. My 7 year old *likes* to help out. One of her younger siblings will ask me for a drink and if I'm doing the dishes and say "okay one second" then my 7yo says "I'll get it!" Because she likes to help out and she's also excited that I let her pour her own juice now lol. She also gets upset that I won't let her change the 2yos diaper even though she really wants to. Sometimes I ask my 7yo "will you go get that toy down for 4yo? She can't reach it." Because I'm in the middle of starting a movie for 5yo. I'm not parentifying her. She's being helpful. It's part of being a sibling. It's being part of a family/household. I can 100% understand that OP probably asked her 14yo "can you watch (brother) while I run to the store real quick?" Or maybe 14yo takes over to calm him down during a meltdown because OP is cooking dinner. As long as 14yo isn't out right complaining or feeling put out about it, there is nothing wrong with that set up. However I can see OP also downplaying her 14yos involvement by a lot, which if that's the case it's wrong, but we can only go off of what OP said.


Part of being in a family with more than one kid means sometimes helping, sometimes getting help, and sometimes getting the short end of the stick. Whether they are special needs kids or not.


This is Reddit, where everybody has enough money to afford therapy and caretakers and has all the free time in the world and never makes mistakes. Cmon you should know this.


This comment is a red flag. I recommend intensive therapy and I hope every person in your life cuts ties with you. Do better. ;)


>a child should not regularly be voluntold to take responsibility for younger siblings Thank you! Very well said. I knew as soon as OP started talking about her 14 yo helping out, the other children of Reddit and the toxically "child free" Redditors were going to jump on her. It always strikes me as weird how so many Redditors will jump on parents for being too permissive and not teaching their children responsibility, but when any part of that responsibility involves a sibling they lose their shit, even if the parents are paying them fairly to help. A lot of people on here have woefully little knowledge of the real world or family dynamics.


As someone who was themselves occasionally placed in charge of helping raise a younger sibling with learning disabilities, OP is NTA. I helped with my younger brother's homework while my parents either worked or did chores, and my mother ensured I was rewarded a nice gift of my choosing every now and then. No one forced me into doing this. It was always an agreement made with my mother in advance of each school term. Me helping him was simple one out of many things which made up my day. OP is also NTA for the Helen situation.


I don’t think this is fair. It feels like OPs daughter steps in possibly no more that any older sibling with a non-special needs younger sibling. People often ask their older children to help out without it being abuse.


Oh dear. You just stepped on the landmine. For some reason this sub feels that making a child help out with sibling care at all is always parentification and abuse. No use even arguing as they hold to that view with near religious fervor.


I suspect this sub is full of teenagers. Many of which have step-families judging from many of the responses.


I have noticed that at certain times of day, the threads here do tend to take on heavy teenaged confidently-wrong vibes. Most of the time, it involves binary thinking and tons of assumptions made or imaginary details being supplied by commenters. As someone who *was* parentified (non-consensually made to be an unpaid primary caretaker for my infant nephew when I was 15)…this ain’t it.


No kidding. You occasionally see stories on here about step-children doing *horrendous* things, but it's always somehow the step-mother's (I'd say parent, but it's always the Evil Stepmother) fault, and the poor (teenage) baby is simply acting out because they are so abused and 'struggling to adjust'.


Yep. I think people misunderstand what parentification is. An occasional babysitting job is NOT parentification. Occasionally helping with homework is NOT parentification. Having to miss out on an event because your sibling is in the hospital with a deadly disease like cancer is NOT parentification. What is actually parentification: Being made to pay the bills or purchase necessities like groceries Being made to constantly have adult responsibilities: the child is always the person who needs to make meals for the whole family, the child is always the person who needs to feed, bathe, clothe their siblings. This goes beyond chores or occasional babysitting. In parentification, the child is essentially the constant parental figure, dealing with discipline, round the clock care, etc Being an emotional crutch for parents - the child is almost acting like a therapist for the parent, serving as a confidant or intervening during crisis situation. This is called emotional parentification.




They’re reaming her for admitting she has faults that end up with her kiddo having to step up. This is true of all parents to some extent, the only difference here is she’s ADMITTING IT and trying to rectify the issue/make it up to her daughter when she realizes she slipped. NTA for this or her reaction to Helen’s mom using her daughter as an unpaid aid.


Yeah but this is Reddit so anything that can be even remotely construed as beyond the ordinary is automatically considered abuse.


>no more that any older sibling with a non-special needs younger sibling But dont you know that any help rendered by the older siblings is parentification? Even having to interact with a younger sibling is technically abuse! If you are now an adult and once had to interact with a younger sibling, you should demand back pay and go no contact. /s I knew OP was fucked as soon as she even mentioned her older daughter helps out. These people on here are either children or nuts.


I had 3 kids very close in age. They have helped each other’s plenty, are not abused and have their own lives. It’s ridiculous to think that a teen who has absolutely nothing better to do can’t make sure their sibling is safe while the adults run errands. It’s what normal families do. Being expected to take care of your sibling so much that your personal/academic life is taking a toll is parentification.


Wow. Cleary you know nothing about autism. Every day is a lot of failures when you have a child with autism, and most are not the result of “failed parenting.” The 14-year old may might be the only person who can get the autistic child “unstuck” in some meltdown situations, after the parents have tried and failed. Unless you’ve experienced a situation like this, you cannot even imagine it. So the 14-year old helping out is not “picking up the slack” or even doing child care. It’s called “getting through the another day.” The 14-year old is just a preferred loved one for the autistic child, who can come in and break the kid out of a loop.


The way OP talks about "failures" and understanding the need to recognize that this help is extra curricular actually gives me the impression that they are much more careful than many here are crediting.


Exactly. I think where the element of abuse/parentification most clearly enters the situation when the parent expects the sibling's time/labor and considers it the sibling's obligation, while also discounting the emotional/physical cost for the sibling. This mom sounds as if she accepts and encourages Maria's autonomy, and in situations where she can't respect Maria's autonomy, tries to make it up to her.


Yeah OP does seem very aware of the onus this puts on Maria and does all she can to minimize this. Ultimately the villain is the unnatural society we have build that leaves parents of disabled children without adequate adult support network to handle their disabled child so they have to seek help inside the nuclear family (ie, their other kids). OP (and her husband?) sound like they're doing what they can within the realm of the possible for both their kids.


Heck I fail multiple times a day with neurotypical children. I can only imagine if one was autistic.


Autism is a recipe for making me feel like a shitty mom. My son is in his 20s and only now do I have the hang of it.


​ Unfortunately, real life tends to be very messy and it's pretty much impossible to completely concentrate the burden of caring for a special needs child from the parent. What determines if you are a bad parent is if you let it get to the extent where it stops letting your other children live their lives. Based on what OP writes, she gives off the impression that she really is doing her best to make sure that Maria does not end up as her sister's keeper, but is also acknowledging that bits and pieces will fall through the cracks. The rewards are an attempt to try to compensate Maria to make up for those shortcomings. I feel like she really is trying her best.


I was thinking along the same lines. She was trying to give Maria a chance to get away from it all and be a kid. Helen is the jerk here who assumed that Maria should just take charge of her kid. The people at the camp probably should have tried better to clarify if the situation really was as Helen presented it. Hopefully Maria is getting her art camp time and enjoying it.


The people who run the camp FAILED miserably here. They should NOT have taken Helen's word for it, but checked with OP. I have a 12 y.o. with autism and I know many families with older, neurotypical siblings and younger kids with autism. Never in a million years would I foist my kid onto another family's child, just because "they are used to autism". I would certainly give out to Helen AND the people who run the camp. OP is NTA


That doesn’t seem like a fair judgement, because the OP makes it clear that they try to let their daughter live her life, only having to help out a little, and on the rare occasion where the parents fuck up and she has to do more (everybody fucks up, get off your high horse) she is fairly compensated. Saying things like “let your child have a childhood” or “they’re not paying her as much as a trained caregiver” is an unfair assumption when we are specifically told the opposite in the post, our only source of information on the subject. Could they be lying? Maybe. You don’t know that, though. ETA that the OP posted a comment saying that the kid is in a 9-5 daycare program, and on the 1-2 times a month where something goes wrong, Maria is paid the exact same rate as said professional caretakers. Point made.


I grew up with my special needs (low functioning autism) brother. My parents worked, we had a nanny/helper but as an older sibling your life is impacted anyway. Once I hit 13/14 I was able to start helping in ways that my parents couldn't (e.g. easing my bro out of tantrums etc) and I was happy to do it as a part of the family and as his older sister. A 14-yr old is old enough to pick up some slack especially when parents are burnt out and tired from dealing and focusing on a special needs kid. In my view and experience, it's not a "childhood ruiner" to help out your family. My view would change if the majority of the 14 year olds time was taken babysitting her sibling but that doesn't seem to be the case here.


People here act like it's abuse to step up once in a while and be part of a family. Now I knew kids who were kept from extracurriculars and from having any kind of fun or social life due to helping out at home, whether that was cooking and cleaning while the parents worked or taking care of younger siblings. That sucked and it wasn't fair. But just like having to spend under ten minutes a day emptying the dishwasher or cooking the occasional meal isn't abuse and will teach you how to be a functional human being, watching your younger sibling a couple of times a month as a stopgap is hardly the drama people make it out to be. Do some parents take it too far? Absolutely. But it doesn't seem like this family does.


> Your 14 year old child is not there to pick up the slack for your failed parenting I'm an adult with a disabled younger sibling. My parents never forced me to take on a parental role, but they also raised me with values of kindness and helping others. I have a distinct memory. I had made plans with some friends to go over to their place and play a video game. Dad was working an overnight double shift. My brother was up at some ungodly hour throwing a fit. So at about 10 AM Saturday I walked downstairs after hearing a large crash. I found my own mother, sitting on the floor crying, just totally overwhelmed. My brother (12 at the time) had a tantrum and threw an entire bowl of pudding on the floor, smashing the bowl and sending broken glass and pudding everywhere. He was in full on meltdown mode strapped into a high chair but screaming to be let out (can't do that with broken glass around), mom was totally overwhelmed. I could have told her "I'm heading to a friends house, see you later" and walked out. She would have let me, hell she likely would have encouraged me to do it. But I don't know anyone who can see their own mother broken down and crying on the floor and not jump in to help. That's what it's like being the sibling of a disabled person. There's always to much parenting that needs to happen, you can see it even when your parents are trying their best. If the parents are raising a self centered asshole, it's easy to just ignore them struggling and go off to do your own thing. But if parents are raising a compassionate and kind person, how do you see your own family struggling like that and not want to jump in to help. It's this scenario in a million different ways. In my case, mom worked a full time job and 100% of her wage was turned over to caregivers for my brother. Dad made the money to keep the family afloat, mom paid for brother's daycare. But it still sucked for me, to have my mom never around but also not the financial benefit of 2 incomes.




The people who think parents have no right to ever ask anyone else for help with their children definitely have zero intention of ever reproducing. If a few hours here and there to help a struggling parent is too much of a burden there is no way these people would choose to raise their own child.


That's what's always so annoying about some of these judgments. People with 0 parenting experience who have absurd standards regarding any sort of responsibility being assigned to children make these judgments. It's an interesting insight into the twisted mindset of some people when they insist things like inter-sibling familial responsibilities to be abuse if one sibling isn't being financially compensated.


>Stop being cheap and hire a daycare service or caregiver to let your child have a childhood again. People like her son tend not to get along very well when strangers take care of them.


Yeah, I really only voted NTA because, you know, that’s what was asked about and what the whole story is about. But unless she’s super underselling how little she has her daughter help (babysitting once in a while, if she’s being compensated isn’t the end of the world), it feels like Maria needs someone to advocate for her more than just this once.


This is the second post this week where I've seen Y T A judgements for something that is not relevant to the question being asked. Not that I think problems shouldn't be addressed, I just wish people would actually critically read the post and answer the question before addressing other concerns. I appreciate your thoughtfulness.


I can’t stand posts where someone asks “AITA for defending my kid when their other parent was being an asshole” and half the comments are “YTA for not leaving them sooner!” Like, yeah, technically. But the situation is probably more complicated


You think they're the asshole because of something that isn't part of the question they asked?! Wow.




This is completely normal, special needs child or no. Reddit tends to have a very unrealistic viewpoint when it comes to responsibility and childhood. I'll never forget one post where people were telling parents they should sleep on the couch in the living room of a two bedroom apartment so their two daughters could each have their own room and not have to share.


Agreed. This is a normal sibling scenario - my older kids are sometimes in this position with our NT younger kids. You are not asking her to give up her life or life experiences regularly. You are asking her to pitch in sometimes and you compensate appropriately. That is part of being a family. As for the summer program - I'd be livid. Absolutely livid. NTA. You were 100% right to chew out the mother of the other girl. If the other girl can not participate without a special care taker then it is the mother's responsibility and the program's responsibility to find one. NOT burden a 14 year old child with the care of her daughter. That mother owes your daughter a MASSIVE apology and THAT Is a hill I would die on.


I totally agree with you. Just assuming that my child is going to watch out and take care of your child without talking to me about it? I think the other thing to point out here is that the other mother outright lied to the school program about Maria's role, implying that it had been arranged when it had not been. If it were me I'd be ripping that mother a new one as well. Mom is NTA and Dad is and idiot for thinking they should let it slide. This parent literally saddled someone else's daughter with their child with no consultation and no concern for anyone else but her own needs. That's not how life is supposed to work. And she needs to be called out on it so she never does it again. I'd also be hard core confronting the summer program directors for not checking with me to ensure that it was okay. There is no situation where a fourteen-year-old child should be automatically assumed as responsible for someone else's child in a program like that without the express permission of their parents. Taking the say so of some other parent without checking is malfeasance. There's a huge liability there for that summer program, and perhaps they need to be made aware of that.


>I'd also be hard core confronting the summer program directors for not checking with me to ensure that it was okay. There is no situation where a fourteen-year-old child should be automatically assumed as responsible for someone else's child in a program like that without the express permission of their parents. Taking the say so of some other parent without checking is malfeasance. There's a huge liability there for that summer program, and perhaps they need to be made aware of that. 100% agreed and I believe you should go over the head of the program director because they absolutely need safeguards in place to ensure nothing like this ever happens again.


Nailed it. Dont forget them holding 18 yr olds to less of a standard then an 8 yr old.


I remember that one and it has certainly stuck with me in a weird way. It seems pretty ethnocentric and classist in a lot of ways and yet so many people seemed to agree with the opinion


I think this was a pretty normal reaction. OP made it seem a lot worse than it was because they were vague. This is just regular older sibling stuff but OP talked about them failing and the daughter having to step up for the care of the special needs child. Most of the time when people mention something like this it's a lot worse than just some after school babysitting for an hour or two. So I understand why all of the commenters are jumping down OP's back. OP should have put this example in the main post.


https://www.reddit.com/r/AmItheAsshole/comments/opjs1h/comment/h65t0j3/ The post in question for anyone looking. Big fan of all the “YTA for not going back in time and buying a larger house before prices started skyrocketing.”


I don't get why so many are coming down on you so hard for this. I'm an older sister to two siblings and consider it fairly normal to watch them every now and then. As long as it's not daily, does not interfere with her hobbies and friendships (of course, she might have to oush things back, but I mean things like missing training and getting excluded from a game or missing a birthday party or something like that) there is nothing wrong in expecting a teenager to help when needed. Watching a sibling for an hour because parents can't get out of work on time does not make it parentifiction.


Babysitting once or twice a month for money isn’t parentification. It’s a normal part of being an older sibling. I made bank off of babysitting my younger siblings and their friends at 14!


Don’t let anyone shame you here. Most have zero clue what having special needs siblings/children is really like. I was the older sister (she just died in February) of a sibling who was so disabled finding baby sitters was virtually impossible. I watched her a lot more than 1-2 times a month. If that’s all Maria is doing (and you’re paying her) you are doing great! You are 100% NTA for pulling her from the program. It’s one thing to ask her to help Helen now and then, but if she can’t do most of the program independently she either needs a program provided aide or to not be there. Your daughter deserves the art camp experience you are paying for. Helen’s mom, on the other hand is 100% an AH for lying to the program. The program is the AH for not asking Maria if she minded helping, or asking you. Good for you for sticking up for your daughter. I also don’t think you were wrong for calling Helen’s mom. Her sense of entitlement is over the top. Maria know how to help Helen so she loses her entire experience m? Absolutely not. She needs to know she was wrong.


Yeah you should edit this in. Babysitting once or twice a month is so normal it isn't really even "she has to step in when we fail". You don't need to be that hard on yourself.


At 14 it is completely normal to have a not job job, aka babysitter, lawncare, I started cleaning rentals for family at that age. Provided you are paying her and making sure she isn't missing anything important for it you are fine.


Ok you have no context for the phrase you highlighted. Parents are humans and all humans fail or need help at times. I don’t know why Reddit has such a hard one for no one helping any one ever in almost any circumstance. My eldest is autistic and do you know what? He helps with his younger sibling. He’s not forced and he actually enjoys spending some time being responsible and playing with his little brother or helping him with something he can’t do yet. The context for OP “failing” might be not noticing brother is upset or uncomfortable in which case his attentive sister steps in and helps. Families help each other, it’s not abuse or parentification - it’s normal family life. I can’t imagine what sort of family redditors hope to establish when they bang on and on about how no one owes anyone else anything. A fucking toxic selfish stew of maladjusted adults and kids who will go off into the world primed to be asking the new gang AITA and being shocked when they are. *editing to add - thank you for the awards! Restoring my faith in Reddit that there are some of us who care and support friends and family after all!


I genuinely get kinda shocked reading this sub sometimes because the way people speak about helping others/relational duties is really… just alien to me. Obviously nobody *technically* owes anyone anything, but people on here can act like asking a loved one for a single favor is akin to being a manipulator/narcissist/entitled brat.


That attitude is all over Reddit. I mentioned having my brother in law come to our house daily to empty dehumidifiers and check everything while we were on a two week trip. One person thought that was an excessive over the top request that should’ve never been asked in the first place. I feel bad for these people that apparently have such an awful relationship with their friends and family.


That last bit is huge to me. I just spent a weekend helping my friend organize her closet. And when both my partner and I were sick at the same time she walked the dog. She needed a last minute sitter for her kids. I went over to her house for a supportive shoulder when I found out my cat needed surgery. I feel so sad for people who don’t have those kinds relationships in their lives.


It's hard to tell from this post whether OP is an AH for the way her daughter sometimes has to help or not. She could be downplaying something that happens regularly, or being honest about her limitations, and feeling really guilty about something that only happens very occasionally. The fact that she sent her daughter to this art program (which seems to be several weeks long) suggests she is serious about making sure she doesn't miss out on her childhood.


I said this elsewhere, but where I have a problem is the ‘step up’ phrasing. It feels more like something OP expects of her daughter. But, you could be right and she could just be overstating it out of guilt. Occasionally asking Maria to babysit (if being paid in cash or other reimbursement) is not a failing on OP’s part. As long as Maria is allowed to say no.


Simple: don't put words said in colloquial speech on a gold scale. People rarely mean exactly what they say, because words are discrete and reality is continuous.


From a comment, the 'step up' refers to babysitting 1-2 times a month and paid at the same rate their usual caretaker gets. It really depends on how the daughter feels like it, and how much she does outside of this as to whether it's a problem, but I'm hesitant to judge OP based on information we don't have when she's clearly advocating for her daughter in this post.


I don't see why this gets up voted so much. It's so judgmental its beyond belief. Strong statements like "i guarantee". Guarantee how? It's not a crime for a sibling to step up sometimes. Had the same as early teen doing little things like making sure my mother could take a shower during the day because my brother was quite a difficult baby.


Reddit is full of teenagers who have read one article on parentification in Psychology Today and now think they are experts.


I don’t know. She’s only human; she’s not perfect. I don’t have a child with special needs. In fact, I don’t have kids. But I imagine that taking care of a child with a disability is taxing to say the least. And sometimes when inevitable lapses are made…a family is a unit. OP seems to be avoiding parentification & caretaker syndrome for her oldest as best she can. But this is her family’s reality. I’m not sure “do better” is appropriate here.


Yeah you can’t guarantee that. I grew up next door to a large family with a child who was mentally handicapped. Not autism but a genius with music and lagging on everything else. I started babysitting her and her younger brothers when I was ten. I was paid, sometimes in popsicles sometimes in cash sometimes it was just part of hanging out with my best friend (her older sister) none of us in the older crew resented her, or her mom for asking for help or needing help. I’m in the healthcare field now and I draw on what I learned interacting with her fairly regularly. OP’s daughter is allowed to be upset solely because she wanted to do her own art and not get shanghaied into taking care of someone else without getting paid. OP reimburses her daughter when she takes care of her brother, Helen’s mom was not.


NTA. Why is your husband prioritising the feelings of Helen's mother above the needs of his own daughter?




Why? Why is he ok with Helen’s mom choosing to ruin the class for your daughter? Why are Helen’s mom’s feelings so important?


I don't think he's okay with hurting Helen's Mom's feeling. My guess is that it's not OP's take to talk to anyone other than the authorities who mucked up here. If anything she should have gone off on the camp full force and let them deal with it. It's on the camp on why they didn't contact op before assigning Maria as a caretaker.


It was 100% ok for OP to go off on the woman who chose to contact the camp and lie to get free labor from OP’s daughter.


Yeah, that's where I'm at. If Helen's mom doesn't step in, Maria has a great experience at Art Camp where she's treated like any of the other children there. Helen's mom steps in, and Maria's experience is coopted into Helen's. The camp directors only did what they did because they were asked to, by a woman who clearly knew enough about Maria to pose as a close family friend making this request. Helen's mom is the most at fault for the immediate situation, and if she isn't confronted about it she'll probably go on thinking that what she did is fine. Edit: I'm not trying to absolve the camp from blame. Obviously, they should have done their due diligence and checked with OP before acceding to Helen's Mom's request. I'm saying that the situation is not resolved until OP has addressed it with both the camp ***and*** Helen's mom.


I think the camp directors screwed up big time as well. Sure, they did that because they were asked to, but they should have checked with the Maria’s parents. I bet they were happy to hand off a special needs kid to another kid and thought they could get away with it.


Agreed, the camp directors messed up, but the situation isn't fully corrected after they've been dealt with. They were part of the problem, not the genesis of it. Gotta confront the one who started the whole thing before you put the issue to bed, and that's Helen's mom.


I absolutely agree.


What if Helen's mom does the exact same thing again? Yes the organizers are ultimately responsible for letting this through but Helen's mom is still a major AH for even asking without consulting Maria or OP. She absolutely did need a talking at so that she knows she can't do this again. And she did deserve her "feelings hurt" because what she did was major AH move. Wanting Maria to help is fine but orchastrating it and not even asking her first is really fucking messed up. She likely knew Maria wouldn't do it and intentionally went around her hoping the circumstances and teacher authority would be enough to make her cave in. This is really toxic and manipulative. And most likely something she will keep doing if she is willing to stoop this low. Husband is an idiot for trying to cover for her.


> Wanting Maria to help is fine I'm actually going to say no, and that this want is *not* fine. It's not fine to want someone else's child to look after your child, when both children are supposed to be enjoying a summer camp. That's a selfish want, and not a want that is OK. This isn't like "I want a new car," this is more like "I want you to give me your car for free, distant acquaintance that I barely know." When your wants come at someone else's sole expense, and you don't even have a friendship to fall back on for why that other person should sacrifice for you, it's not OK for you to want that.


I think that makes sense. Wanting help for Helen is fine, wanting Maria to sacrifice herself to be that help is not (mostly because she is a minor and seemingly not really close with Helen's mom).


I think it’s important for OPs daughter that she knows her mom is on her side and she isn’t going to let injustice happen to her out of social niceties. Girls so often get forced into the caretaker role, the polite role, and it’s expected that even if they aren’t happy, it’s better to not make waves and just take it. It was incredibly out of line for Helens mom to make these requests (and insane the camp allowed them) and OP was absolutely in her right to call her out. Daughter is a person and not a hired caregiver for Helen, and isn’t some bargaining chip or prop to be applied into situations.


This. Thank you!! I will never forget when my mom, a poor younger single mom with two daughters that expected us to handle most of our own fights (and to be fair to her I was a kid that constantly got into pissing matches with teachers on principle lmao), lost her shit on the school. It was glorious. My sister, age 13, had this notorious woman as a teacher that hated pretty girls with a passion. I mean it was something everyone knew. She picked on us constantly, and treated boys like gold. Once day my sister’s friend passed her a note that one of the boys liked her, and my sister wrote back that she had kissed him the night before. The teacher took the note- then proceeded to read the entire thing to the class, THEN made my sister get up in front of everyone and asked her if she was still a virgin. My sister said yes and the teacher laughed and said “well not for long with this behavior. I refuse to allow girls like you to ruin these boys futures” and sent her to the Vice Principle. Who then tried to suspend my sister for a few days. My. Mom. Lost. Her. Shit. She went to the school and said she refused to allow her daughter to be sexually harassed and humiliated by a teacher, that she refused to allow her daughter to be punished, and she wanted that woman fired. They scoffed at her, said that it was all my sisters fault that sexual behavior got brought into it, that she shouldn’t have passed notes, that a female teacher can’t sexually harass girls, they tried everything and my mom refused to budge that this teacher was a sexual predator and needed to be gone. They then brought my idiot father in who was blustering like a fool about “his daughter shouldn’t think it’s ok to kiss a boy at 13” and completely ignored the real issue. My mom pointed out that she divorced him while pregnant with my sister for a reason and since she had full custody it didn’t really matter what he said, and then continued to request a disciplinary hearing for the teacher. She refused to let it go. She didn’t have the money for a lawyer, so she basically begged a regular customer at her job(bartender) that was a lawyer to get his advice and he was livid on my sisters behalf, so he took the case. With him, the superintendent actually started to give a damn, and while the horrid woman wasn’t fired, she was not allowed to ever speak to or be near my sister again, my sister was pulled from her class, and the teacher was warned that sexual harassment of students was not going to be tolerated so she was on thin ice. I’m now 40, my sister is 37 (and ended up with her masters in teaching) and both of us look back on this incident as one of the times we (because she would have done the exact same for me) felt so unbelievably supported and loved. Truly knowing that someone is always in your corner, that they are willing to fight tooth and nail for you means so much. So much more than telling them you love them all the time (which is still important), but showing that love by getting angry on their behalf when they are wronged has such a powerful impact.


This is the comment that everyone who is whining about eMpAtHy for Helen’s mom should read.


It baffles me that the camp would allow a minor to be a caretaker for another minor (with special needs no less) who is NOT a sibling! Suppose something went wrong and Helen got hurt? Also, it looks like Maria was unable to take part in the class itself and enjoy her own work. Why would a camp permit caretaking to that extent from another student in the camp? Asking Maria to sit beside Helen and give minimal help is one thing. Giving Maria full responsibility for Helen is another. Maria should be able to participate. Maria's parents paid for Maria to participate and did not agree to this arrangement at all before it started. The camp is definitely at fault and also put itself in a huge liability situation. I cannot believe a camp would take that risk!!!!!!!


Most of these kinds of camps are run by students fresh out of college and the counselors are high school or college students on summer break. I’m not surprised this was seen as “fine” from their perspective. And then giving OP a refund tells me that someone higher up on the chain told them they fucked up massively and to refund the money to prevent a potential lawsuit/social services investigation.


NTA. You had every right to personally phone helens mother as she categorically should not have lied to the school and assigned your daughter to be helens caretaker. She knew she was doing an AH thing otherwise she would have rang you and asked if your daughter minded being assigned to help with Helen. She knew the answer was no so didnt even bother. You’re a mother to two children and just because you know what it is like to have a child with needs, does not mean the other mother gets a free pass to use your other daughter without her permission or consent


Absolutely; she needed to hear directly from OP that her underhanded actions will not be tolerated. OP wasn't even unnecessarily awful, just doing what a parent should do for their own kids.


If you and he aren’t going to advocate for your daughter, who will? Put another way, this Helen lied so that she could use your already (perhaps unavoidably) partially parentified child to parent her kid. But unlike the two of you who try to go the extra mile to let your child have a childhood despite her additional and perhaps unavoidable burdens and duties, she felt entitled to get it for free and ruin your kid’s summer. I say this in the nicest, most compassionate way: fuck that woman. Does she have a tough life and is she likely exhausted as a full time caregiver? Yes. Is it shitty that she lives in a place that doesn’t provide free support so that she can strike balance in her life? Absolutely. Do you understand exactly how she feels? Very likely. But would you ever use someone else’s kid as slave labor to mind your child just because that kid already has the full time role of sibling of a special needs child? Heck no! You have already demonstrated your moral compass on that point. And she needs a recalibration of hers. Which will only happen if you call her out on her selfish shit. Your husband needs to step up for your daughter. Because his example to her will shape her ability to stand up for herself. If he teaches her to turn the other cheek and be a doormat, she is going to have a rough life.


On top of expecting to ruin Maria's summer for free, including running support for the staff who *were* actually paid for their work there, Helen's mom also expected *OP* to pay for the privilege in the form of Maria's wasted tuition. That's a hell of a lot of audacity.


Yea she sucks. Her life may be difficult but OP had to set boundaries and sure she coulda been nice about it, but she doesnt have to be. And honestly idk if being nice would have gotten then message across. The organizers are even worse than helens mom tho. "Yea so i swear OP and I are besties so make her kid my childs unpaid aide pls" "AIGHT COOL THIS MEANS WE DONT HAVE TO PAY FOR SOMEONE THAT CAN ACTUALLY PROVIDE SAFE CARE FOR YOUR CHILD" and then not even calling OP to verify if its okay because it meant they didnt have to pay for safe care for a student


What Helen did was duplicitous, and she deserved the reaming out. She knew she was being sneaky, which is why she went to the camp organizers and lied to them instead of coming to you.


He is still a fool for not standing up for his own child. He is willing to fix the situation quietly and not tell the perpetrators they were at fault? Yeah your husband is still big wrong NTA, but your husband needs a spine.


But doesn't he realize that this woman essentially drafted your daughter against her will? Without so much as a conversation with the two of you? Without speaking to Maria herself and asking her if she minded looking out for Helen? No one has the right unilaterally decide that someone else's 14 year old will be the mandatory friend to their child. She was dead wrong for that and needed to be held accountable. His take on the situation makes me worried for how much Maria is actually expected to take on when it comes to her brother, honestly.


Okay, but does your husband get that Helen made a decision about *your* daughter's camp experience without talking to either of you about it*?* She didn't even ask. She didn't even tell you.


That mom needed to be told that what she did was wrong! She should have talked with you before telling the camp your daughter has to be Helen’s care taker for the summer. It never ok! You stood up for your daughter, NTA! Getting mad at the right person at the right time is difficult but you did it this time. You let your daughter know you are on her side


I am going NTA. Could you have been kinder? Probably. Did you have to be? No. It would be a different story if sh had called and ask... but just supposing and then contacting the organizers was a huge asshole move. If she thought it wouldn't have been an issue... she would have asked you. She knew what she was doing was wrong.


Tbh I find the organizers and the program to be more of an asshole than Helens mom. She didn't stop to think. She wanted to give her daughter an opportunity. The organizers just accepted what she said without confirming with OP or her daughter.


I disagree; Helen lied and didn't ask permission. That's deliberately underhanded. She knew what she was doing, and she knew OP would refuse.


Yes, it was the lies that sold it for me. This wasn’t just a panicked mom who asked the organizers to do something they shouldn’t do, without totally thinking. The lies sold it at deliberate.


I can definitely see your point. Which is why I also believe that the art program should have contacted OP. Some people genuinely just don't think. They don't do things with malicious intentions. Helens mom clearly knew what she was doing. I just don't think it was malicious. I think it was because she wanted to give Helen an opportunity and felt like OP would refuse. Should she have talked about it to OP and Maria? Absolutely.


If she did it that way *because* she knew OP would refuse, then yes it was malicious to go behind OP and Maria's back, even if she didn't realise that about her own motivation. Helen's opportunity came at Maria's expense, and Helen's mum knew that and didn't care.


Also disagree - "please make sure my child has a caretaker because " is a lot different than "please assign this particular girl to caretake for my child, oh we're family friends it'll be OK" - VERY different requests. Camp administration are AH, Helen's mother is the biggest kind of AH, and OP is NTA for confronting someone doing something underhanded that impacted their family and OP's daughter's experience. This won't be the first time Helen's mother tried to manipulate someone else into helping their daughter with things when she cannot, and while I'm not blaming the mom for wanting Helen's camp experience to be a good one - the *idea* is sound - the way she did it was horrendously awful and selfish and did not take into account the other child's experience at camp would potentially be negatively impacted. Which she'd have known if she was really a close family friend, but I think we now know why she isn't, and isn't going to be.


Did Helen’s mom deserve for OP to be kinder after choosing to go behind her back and ruin the camp for Maria? NO.


NTA Helen's mother - AH - ruined the art program for your daughter. She essentially demanded that Maria work as an unpaid caregiver instead of an arts program participant. Maria needed a break from helping with her brother. Instead, she ended up dealing with yet another special needs child. The people running the art program are also AH for allowing this situation. I think you had every right to tell Helen's mother off. What she did was outrageous.


THIS. Helen's mother is absolutely an AH for exploiting Maria. She told the organizers that she and OP were good friends, but *conveniently* doesn't discuss this arrangement with OP. She knew exactly what she was doing. OP was in the right to tell her off and set boundaries.


Honestly, if that camp actually valued children, they wouldn’t have allowed for the arrangement (aka child labor/exploitation) even with permission and would have made sure both kiddos got a full experience.


Not even just an unpaid caretaker - Maria (through her parents) actually *paid* to be a caretaker! At least up until the refund...


This. She should be paid for her *LABOR*!


I would honestly consider demanding additional payment from Helen's mom or the school for Maria's labor.


The fact that Helen didnt even call and ask is what pisses me off. She just assumed every autistic kid is the same. Not to mention completely taking away the class for OPs child. It's selfish, it's lazy and a oure AH mindset. Also shame on the school for not even asking you if it's okay. They just took this woman on her word that you were friends. For all they know, Helen was trying to spite you for some last transgressions.


>She essentially demanded that Maria work as an unpaid caregiver instead of an arts program participant. I disagree with this. She wanted OP to pay for her daughter to be a caretaker and not pay for a class. The daughter was there to do art and did not get to do art. They were paying for her to take care of the other child. I would be livid too.


Not to mention that they were paying for the art program. They essentially paid for their daughter to take care of another kid.


Absolutely NTA. Tell your husband that he ought to volunteer to go supervise Helen at the art camp. Not his job? Funny he should say that. It's not your daughter's job either. He needs to check reality if he's not willing to step up himself. You can be compassionate and understanding of the shared struggles. Empathize. But it's entitled of that mother to volunteer his child to supervise. DO BETTER, OP husband! Get your priorities straight!


>Tell your husband that he ought to volunteer to go supervise Helen at the art camp. ... and pay for the privilege, like you paid for your daughter.


I don't get why he was so upset on behalf of Helen's mom. What, is he banging her or something?


Nta. Let me count the ways: 1. Maria is a minor and it should be up to the staff to help Helen not her. 2. This decision was done without your knowledge or approval 3. Helen's mother overstated her relationship (lied) to get her child better treatment. 4. Helen's mother took away an exciting experience for your daughter Yes the care of a child should fall on the parents but being an older sibling means you end up being a stop gap caretaker especially with special needs kids. No.matter how on top of things you could be there will still be missed moments or times where you need help or at least one more sets of hands and eyes. Its emotionally draining as you know and even more so for a teenager. .No offense to you or your situation, but there is a good chance Maria was looking forward to a break from taking care of her brother. Sadly that was taken away from her by Helen's mom and the camp staff. Good on you for sticking up for your daughter. Edit per ops update: she can still be sympathetic to Helen's moms plight and still call the woman out for ruining OPs daughter's experience for her own. Still NTA.


This is very well put. OP seems very aware of any burden to her daughter, but even if she isn't contributing much to his care, she is still in a household with a high needs child and needs a break.


NTA - While accommodations should be made for Helen, that should be done by the adults running the camp. It was incredibly irresponsible of the camp to use a 14yo camper as a classroom aid for another student. Your daughter is not employed by the camp or Helen's mother - she is a child herself. Your daughter has every right to be a child and enjoy her art program. You can be understanding of the position Helen's mother was in without sacrificing your own daughter's happiness to fix it. Not to mention Helen's mother went behind your back and lied to the camp at your daughter's expense. And the camp went along with it without checking with you. I find it pretty concerning that your husband was so solidly sided with Helen's mom. You might want to have a one on one conversation with your daughter to make sure your husband isn't having her provide more care for your son than you realize.




If you didn't confront her, she would have tried it again. If not with your daughter, then with someone else's child. NTA The staff of the camp and Helen certainly are. I hope your daughter finds something she can thoroughly enjoy this summer


Wait, how is Helen an AH? Her mom clearly is, but the only things Helen was described as doing are going to an art program and having an anxiety attack.


I think some people are forgetting that Helen is the name being used for the kid and not the mom. I’ve had a catch myself a couple times on that.


My bad, I thought that was the mom's name.


>My husband agreed with me about the class and Maria not being responsible for Helen. He got mad about the fact I confronted Helen's mom like that. While I understand he may be non-confrontational, and can relate to wanting to give an autistic child a good camp experience - I blame Helen's Mother more than I blame the camp. Frankly - Helen's \*MOM\* should be paying some sort of compensation to Maria for ruining her camp experience! If no-one communicates her horrible behavior to her - **Helen's MOM** is, in effect, being told that her abusive behavior was OK - which it isn't. (Edit... Correcting a typo where I blamed Helen for her unnamed MOM's abusive behavior)


Still NTA. What Helen's mom did was 100% intentional. If she actually thought her ask was appropriate (and if you two were good friends like she told the camp), she would have called and asked you if your daughter was okay with this arrangement. I know that parents of special needs children have to fight for their children - but that does not give her the right to use another child in this way.


That’s pretty shitty. Assuming he knows she went behind y’all’s back to get your daughter to basically babysit, he should really have your back. You yelled at some random mom taking advantage of your daughter? Good. He should go do the same thing to make the point stick.


Helen's mom knew what she was doing. She chose to lie to the organizers, she chose to not discuss it with you beforehand and she chose to take the experience of being a kid in an art class away form your daughter. You really needed to ream her.


This was extremely unprofessional of the art school, I am glad you got your money back. Perhaps you didn't need to yell at Helen's mother but she was extraordinarily presumptuous thinking Maria would have no problems being an unpaid caretaker whilst she should have been learning art. To help out now and then because she has first hand experience is kind. This was not what was being asked of her. This is a horrible situation and I don't agree with your husband. Your priority is Maria, Helen's mother can make arrangements for her. NTA


I feel like the art school jumped on the chance to have someone else help with this child and didn’t want to look too far into it.


Yes. They didn’t want to have to provide appropriate support for Helen, but also didn’t want to turn that child away and have negative repercussions for doing so. Helen’s mother presented them with a problem together with a solution, so they grabbed at this solution without asking the questions they should have.


NTA. Why does Helen's mother think she has the right to basically usurp your daughter's summer? And why would the teachers agree to this without contacting you first? Helen's mom was not entitled to your daughter's time, and the teachers dropped the ball big time. As for your husband, maybe you should have understood Helen's mother's position, but SHE DIDN'T ASK YOU IF THIS WAS OKAY! Don't second guess yourself because you did the right thing! And you directed your anger to the two parties that were totally wrong here, Helen's mom and the teachers. OMG, I am appalled at the behavior of both!


You, OP, are NTA in a story with many AH. The school knew they screwed up. Take a minute and make sure your husband is on the same page with guarding Maria's time as much as you are. That balancing act is hard, and this should probably be a good yellow flag to make sure you are aligned behind your sensible ideals. As for Helen (edit: Helen's Mom!), she clearly acted awfully in an awful situation. You can decide if the specifics of what you said were overboard, but Maria needs protecting and you clearly know that. Good luck on moving forward ​ Edit: I mean Helen's mom! Sorry to anyone who thought I was that much of a tool!


NTA if Helen's mother wanted your daughter to babysit her she should have asked her and offered her payment. She was there to participate, not to work.


NTA for wanting your daughter to have a good experience and not being a caretaker to this special needs girl. The organization should have special need specialized teachers/helping adults in this situation. If they can't see how wrong this is, they shouldn't be working with children. Your husband is T A H because he is enabling/justifing the other girl's mother. >Since his birth, Maria has had to take on a partial caring role for David for a variety of reasons. I make sure that this is not to an extent where she is taking care of him, however. Just enough so that she can help out while not losing out on her own life and experiences as a child. Unfortunately, this does not always work out as intended and sometimes Maria does have to step up when I and my husband fail. However, this is still concerning to me. Your daughter should have ZERO CARETAKER ROLE. Yes, she should know how to behave with her brother (especially during moments like meltdowns, panic attacks, etc), but **nothing more beside this.** This is still parentification (even tough partial). Is not your barely teen daughter responsibility to take care of her brother either way; it is even worse because he is special needs and she is just a 14yo taking care of a responsibility bigger than her. Y T A for allowing this situation. >When my husband learned what happened, he lost it. Said that I should be understanding of Helen's mother considering our own situation. Info: how does your husband sees your daughter in relation to your son? Does he see her as his future caretaker? ETA: **AFTER READING OP'S CLARIFICATION, I CHANGED MY MIND AND I DON'T THINK THIS IS PARENTIFICATION. This doesn't exclude that, in my opinion, daughter is doing an hard task watching over her autistic brother alone. I don't think a 14yo should do it, even if it's NORMAL to watch over your siblings from time to time. And I think it is good that OP pays her.** This said, please stop harassing me for an opinion different from yours due to a different cultural and familiar background. Thank you.


Helping with a sibling and babysitting a couple of times a month is not automatically parentification if it's within reason, you don't have enough information to make this judgement.


Please figure out what parentification is before you attach that label to a 14 year old watching her kid brother a couple of times a month and getting compensated for her time. Parentification is abuse. Babysitting your brother on the odd afternoon so mom and dad can work is not abuse, it's a regular part of being a family.


NTA - Your daughter shouldn't be looking after another child. The organizers of the art program should have asked if this was ok after Helen's mom gave this the go ahead. Helen's mom should have asked you if this situation was ok.


Your neighbor and husband are a match made in heaven. You are looking out for your daughter. IMAGINE, signing your daughter up for a fun summer program only to learn that she is saddled with the WORK of taking care of another student. Somebody should be paying your daughter! You were right to go off on the camp staff, the mother and your husband deserves an ass chewing too. You are responsible for only yoru daughter not a neighbor's daughter. Your daughter should not have her own experience ruined because she has to watch over somebody else. NTA


NTA. You are protecting your child - the other mother was way overstepping by putting Maria in a situation where she has to be responsible for someone else. If she is worried about her child then she can hire a caretaker or go with her.


NTA. Why didn't the art program contact you in the first place? When your daughter showed that she wasn't comfortable with the situation why didn't the art program contact you and Helens mom? I can see Helens mom's view because she wanted to give her child an opportunity and probably didn't stop to think about how it would affect your daughter and her experience with the program.


NTA at all, I think you did the right thing. If your child was interested in helping and enjoyed working with the special needs child in the class that'd be one thing, but what they did was vile and why did the other child's parent not run it by you first? That's incredibly rude.


NTA. I have a level 3 ASD child myself. I would never ask another kid to be responsible for her. Helen's mother is very wrong.


NTA it is not your daughters job to take care of any child let alone one she barely knows in an art program where she should be learning and doing art not doing the job of the adults running the program. You are protecting your daughter and not letting other adults parentify her. Keep it up.


NTA, Maria was not put on this earth to be an indentured servant. How dare she be placed in this position, that was no friend.


NTA. Helen's mom is way out of line.


NTA, your child is not supposed to used like that. The art class is in the wrong, the other mother is in the wrong, your husband is in the wrong. Just because your daughter is experienced with helping those of this nature does not mean she is condemned to be doing that her entire life and most certainly not when she was doing something recreational for herself.


NTA, you're a wonderful mother for sticking up for Maria. Maria deserved a chance to fully enjoy the art program without having to attend to the needs of another student.


NTA - this is honestly disgusting and I don't know why the school went along with this without speaking to you. I'm glad you're able to get the money back and that you're also think of putting your daughter in private classes. She needs to see that you respect her as an individual considering you do need her help with her brother. As long as you're letting her have her own life and not making it all about your son it's fine.


NTA - your kid deserves to have a break and to have free time enjoying a hobby she loves. Just bc she has experience doesn't make her the neighborhood special needs assistant. The other mother should understand THAT.


ABSOLUTELY NTA. You were looking out for your child when you enrolled her in the program. For anyone to take away her opportunity to get the full experience is just plain wrong. Never apologize for advocating for your kid. If Helen needed support, her mom or someone in the program should have provided it. Take is not the job of a 14 year old student.


NTA if Helen's mother thought it was OK she would have called you, not gone behind your back. I would have flipped out on her too


NTA. As you already pointed out, it’s easy for a sibling of a special needs child to get lost. She needs and deserves her own time and it’s certainly not okay for anyone to take that away without talking to both you and her first. Your husband needs to slow his roll.


NTA. You were completely justified in reacting the way you did. Your “friend” had no right to put that responsibility on your child, especially without running it by you first. The school was irresponsible not making you aware of the request and getting your permission for this.


NTA...This is so sad to read. I hope your daughter is able to have a great summer despite this setback.


NTA. Helen's mom should've asked YOU first if that was OK. Instead, she pushed Helen on Maria and ruined Maria's experience. And shame on the organizers as well for not speaking to you. Your husband is wrong as well. Maria is YOUR child, not hers, and she did this WITHOUT your/your husband's permission.


NTA. You did absolutely the right thing for absolutely the right reasons. Your husband on the other hand is not thinking it through properly. I’m certain you do understand and sympathise with Helen’s mother’s situation. In fact that informs part of your reaction. You want both your children to have new and fun experiences. You also understand how taxing a special needs child can be and how wrong it is to burden another child with that care. If Helen’s mother wanted her to experience an art program she should have found a program with proper support for her child, or arrange a suitable adult caregiver to accompany her child. Instead she lied. She knew how wrong what she was asking to have done otherwise she would have approached you directly. She counted on the fact, wrongly, that you parentify your daughter to the extent that she’d take the burden on without complaint.


NTA. You need to stick up for your daughter and stop others from exploiting her NOW. Nip that in the bud before it gets worse as she gets older. Your husband, on the other hand, is a total AH. He should be putting his daughter first. This makes me somewhat wonder if his response would’ve been different if Maria were male.


NTA at all. You were trying to compensate your child for the caregiver role she sometimes needs to take towards her brother. It was the opportunity for her to be free of the responsibility of caring for others. That was ruined by the actions of a third person. That mother was a big AH. If she considered your daughter as a possible help, she needed to run that by you first as her mother, not bypass you and going directly to the course organizers. The course organizers should have also confirmed with you if it was OK. Your daughter is a minor and no one but the parents should have a word about her activities. As a mother I think you were well whitin your rights to talk to the organizers and also the other mother. She had no business to bypass you, she had no business to make assumptions and take advantage of your daughter. She needed a reality check. Her children needs do not override other children. It's because you understand what she goes through, that you made sure to give your daughter a rest. She ruined that. People need to be called out on their entitlement. You didn't yell at her child but directly at her. Please support your daughter. I'm sure this was all a very bad experience for her.


NTA. You did exactly what you should have to protect your daughter. Well done. I don’t get where your husband is coming from at all.