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Aunt tells 'sheltered' niece the truth behind sister's back. 'I wasn't going to coddle her.' AITA?

Aunt tells 'sheltered' niece the truth behind sister's back. 'I wasn't going to coddle her.' AITA?


"AITA for telling my overly sheltered niece that Santa isn't real?"

My sister Rae F42 was trying to have a kid for a long time but struggled with infertility. After years of trying and money spent on fertility clinics, she finally had a “miracle baby," Sue F12. Since Rae and her husband view Sue’s existence as a miracle, they treat her as one.

From the time she could vocalize her wants, she got everything she wanted. As a result, Sue is kind of a nightmare. Whenever our family gets together, we have to do whatever she wants.

We have to eat whatever she wants to eat, watch whatever movies she wants to watch, and we can’t do anything outside even though the rest of the family loves the outdoors, because Sue hates nature and will literally scream if she gets so much as a speck of dirt on her shoe. We had to stop doing Christmas together because she would throw tantrums if my kids got something she wanted.

I keep telling Rae that she is only setting Sue up for failure by spoiling her. Sue has no friends at her school because she doesn’t understand that other kids aren’t going to give her whatever she wants because they don’t see her as a miracle the way her parents do.

She also has a bunch of mannerisms that other kids that age grew out of years ago. She still picks her nose in public, still whines and whimpers when things don’t go her way, still shops at Justice, and still believes in Santa and the Easter Bunny.

Rae won’t listen to me, and says I should let kids be kids, ignoring the fact that Sue will be a teenager soon.

Last weekend we were all gathered at my parents’ house and Sue was writing a letter to Santa like she did every year. Of course, it was pages and pages long with a list of the most outrageous things a 12 year old could think of. I wasn’t planning on saying anything–I never do–but one day, while Rae was away, Sue and my son Finn M9 came running to me.

Sue clearly had been crying and Finn looked rather smug. They both asked me if Santa was real. Normally Sue would never ask me to resolve issues, but her parents weren’t there, and I wasn’t going to coddle her the way her parents did. I said Santa wasn’t real.

The minute Rae got home, Sue ran to her crying and screaming that I told her Santa wasn’t real. Rae tried to calm her down and told her of course Santa was real and I was lying.

When Rae put Sue down for a nap (yes, you read that right), she scolded me. She said I had no business trying to parent her child. I then told her that she wasn’t parenting her child so someone had to. Maybe the first step to self awareness for her is learning Santa isn’t real.

I was hoping Rae would wake up and see the reality of the situation, but now she’s just ignoring my texts and calls. When I told my husband about everything, he wasn’t as supportive as I thought he would be.

He agrees Sue is unbearable, but it’s not my place to fix that, and what I did probably did more harm than good. Should I have just said Santa was real and not gotten involved in this situation?

Here's what the top commenters had to say:

PracticalPrimrose said:

NTA, surprisingly. You are not obligated to lie to your child, in order to protect someone else’s lie. It’s different if you had gone out of your way to tell this child Santa not real, but that’s not how this all played out. Interestingly, my 10 year old still believes, but I refuse to say that Santa is real. I just let him talk about it.

When my four year old asks about it, I say that Santa has a budget because the parents have to pay for the toys and the elves so she can’t choose everything she wants.

(in our house Santa brings a stocking and one gift. Parents provide the rest. I’m not going to make some child feel bad that Santa brought our kids something very expensive. And Mrs. Claus brings them a bag of books.)

femininal said:

No nta. She’s 12. There’s nothing inherently wrong with telling your child Santa exists but at a certain age they are bound to find out.

SkylerRoseGrey said:

NTA - imagine starting Middle/High school (depending on which country you're in) believing n Santa Claus? That is "how to get bullied 101."

EllaEllaEm said:

NTA because you were not lying to Sue. Sue asked you a question directly and you told her the truth. Her parents didn't like that you told her the truth, but that's on them because they want to/need to lie to her (about Santa and about how the world works). Sue is a person independent to her parents.

Seems like people in your family dislike Sue because of how her parents treat her, her parents have this whole crazy idea about her because of things that happen to them before she was even born...Sue is gonna need a lot of therapy in the future to figure out what who she is.

Distinct-Practice131 said:

Esh. Tbh I think you decided to say Santa's not real instead of ask your mom because to make a reaction. That's the only reason you do. Your sister sucks all around for her parenting choices but I think you chose the wrong battle here.

Realistically you don't have the same authority to parent your neice, and if they won't I would think some distance might be what's needed for you and your immediate family.

Happyweekend69 said:

NTA, sooner than later she has to learn the world doesn’t spin around her but the sun. She’s gonna get in for one hell of a awakening when she becomes a adult if they don’t nip it now.

Alarming_Reply_6286 said:

YTA. Appears both you & your son are proud of yourselves for your unkind behavior. None of what you describe about Sue’s behavior gives you the right to be purposely nasty to a 12 yo. You knew exactly what you were doing & knew damn well you were not helping in anyway.

eta — Adults should not be answering questions like this ever if it’s not your own child. It’s no one job to answer questions about Santa, God, where babies come from, where people go when they die, etc. Leaves those things to parents. Sue clearly has some delays in her development.

Perhaps due to your sister’s parenting, perhaps due to other reasons but at no point did you have Sue’s best interest in mind here. Your husband is right.

Opinions were clearly divided for this Santa debate. What's your advice for OP?

Sources: Reddit
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