Even if you don't have children, sometimes you can't escape the role of 'fun aunt.' So, when a shocked aunt decided to consult the moral compass of the internet otherwise known as Reddit's 'Am I the As*hole' about teaching her spoiled niece a lesson, people were ready for the details.
My (38F) niece (15F) is very spoiled by my brother and SIL. She's an only child and also the first and only grandchild to my parents. Ever since she was younger my brother, SIL and parents gave her every and anything she wanted, never said no to her, you get the gist.
Due to this now at 15 she is NIGHTMARE to deal with. Everyone just basically gives her whatever she wants because you know, 'she's the baby.' My husband (42M) and I are child free by choice. We both have good careers and do very well for ourselves. I've always had an expensive taste when it came to clothing, jewelry, bags etc. (Important for later).
A few weeks ago my husband and I went over to my parents house for a family lunch. My brother, SIL and niece were there too. The conversations were mainly catered around my niece because her birthday was approaching. My parents asked her what she wanted for her birthday this year?
She told them that she wanted this specific designer bag worth around $2,200 usd. My parents were completely taken aback and kind of started laughing telling my niece that's a bit excessive and there's no way they're spending that kind of money on a bag.
My niece then turned to my husband and I and said 'well you guys can get it for me then, you're rich but yet you always get me cheap gifts.' My husband and I were both taken aback (the gifts we get her aren't 'cheap' at all) at how ungrateful and rude she was acting. And also the sheer audacity of a 15 year old demanding I get her a thousand dollar bag.
My SIL jumped in the conversation saying how I have all these bags, and 'flaunting' then around my niece is only going to make her want them. So pretty much saying, I made my bed lie in it and get her the bag.
I think they left the conversation think they guilt tripped me into getting her the bag, well they were wrong. I hopped on one of those designer dupe wholesale websites, ordered the bag for like $60 usd. The bag came in like 2 weeks later, I wrapped the gift and brought it to my niece's birthday party.
Fast forward she saw mine and my husband gift and got super excited, she opened her gift and immediately her face dropped. She turned red in the face (you could tell the bag was a dupe).
She asked us 'what is this, is this a joke?' I said 'no, this is your gift. Maybe in the future you should be grateful for the gifts we get you. It's not the price that matter, it's the thought.'
My niece started crying calling us 'cheap' and 'embarrassing,' my SIL had some not so nice words either. My brother, SIL and parents are upset because I 'let down' my niece, and think I should apologize.
I think she needed to be humbled, and that her parents should encourage her to apologize for my husband and I for demanding us to buy her the bag in the first place. AITA?
ESH (Everyone Sucks Here). The proper way to 'humble' this child was to tell her she was spoiled and entitled and that you would not be getting her a $2000 bag and if a 'cheap' gift wasn't good enough for her, you wouldn't get her a gift at all. You could have chosen that road, the road filled with truth and integrity. Instead, you played games with her and 'Haha' you won.
Now she just thinks you're as*holes and hasn't learned a darn thing. She's probably right, even if she is a spoiled brat. Your brother and SIL are terrible parents for raising her to be an entitled brat.
You don't have to defend yourself for buying yourself nice things, you've earned it. You know how they say two wrongs do not make a right? Two assholes just equals two as*holes.
I think ESH. Your niece and her family are much more TA than you are. But the way you handled it seemed like you were at her maturity level rather than acting like an adult.
As an adult, you should be able to set boundaries, clearly tell her no, and get her something that you consider reasonable (or don't get her anything and tell her politely sorry that you couldn't meet her expectations). Or, you know, politely decline the birthday party.
ESH. Does that humble her? How? They spoiled her, so they are AHs for sure. But, your gift helped nothing. Humbling her would be taking her to volunteer at a women's shelter or to feed the homeless. Your gift did nothing to teach her anything, especially since it was a thoughtless gift. So, you can't even say the thought is what matters.
ESH, its not your place to 'teach her a lesson' you embarrassed her and had to get one over on a child to make yourself feel better.
ESH. That child has obviously been failed by her parents and grandparents, but you aren't doing her any favors either by playing a prank on her at her birthday party. Telling her 'it's not the price, it's the thought' after deliberately giving her a prank gift is not the flex you think it is.
Everyone agreed unanimously here that this teenager is definitely a brat, but the 'lesson' probably wasn't very effective. Considering she could tell it was a fake bag immediately, it'll probably just never get worn and nobody experienced any growth at this birthday party. Good luck at future holidays, everyone!