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Dad accused of 'ruining' teen daughter's life after she destroys a dress. AITA? CONFLICTING UPDATES

Dad accused of 'ruining' teen daughter's life after she destroys a dress. AITA? CONFLICTING UPDATES

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When this dad punishes his daughter after she ruins a dress, he asks the internet:

"AITA For "ruining" my kid's life after she ruined a dress?"

Ex(31) and I(m32) had Claire, (F16) way too young. We're friendly co-parents. One big rule we share is if our daughter breaks something, she pays for it. Now, sis (27) and I are the only grandkids. Aunt never married. Instead, she worked with Gma and Gpa at their seamstry store, and took it over when they retired.

Sis's girlfriend (29) proposed last year. Gpa offered to make FSIL a custom suit, which she was over the moon about. Gma had me ask Sis what her dream dress was and record the convo.

Sis, thinking it was just between us, told me in great detail what her dream dress was, though said it was way too expensive, so she would get something much cheaper.

Well, a few months later Gma surprised Sis with her dream wedding dress. It fit perfectly and everyone cried.

Sadly, Gma recently passed away, which hit us all hard. Sis was devistated, but decided that the dress meant Gma would still be there with us at the wedding.

The issue comes in with Claire. She's very large, much larger then Sis. Three days ago, we decided to go visit Sis and see how she was doing. It was great, but then Claire asked if she could try on the dress. Sis politely said no. Claire made a face, but dropped it.

Later, we decided to go grab dinner. Sis and I went to pick up our orders, but Claire decided to stay and play with Sis's dog.

We got back, and the dress was destroyed. Claire had apparently tried to get it on, popping some seams, and got stuck. Instead of waiting for help, she cut her way out. The dress was hacked to bits.

Sis was devistated and asked us to leave. I grounded Claire, and called Aunt with some pictures, asking if it could be saved. She said there was no. She said she'd make a new one, but it wasnt the same.

Then she dropped the bomb on me - Gma had hand sewed most of the dress, used super expensive fabric, and put almost 500 hours in making that dress, since it was the only family wedding we'd have. In total, the dress cost 12,000 dollars, give or take.

Claire has about 15,000 saved from various jobs, as well as winning writing competitions. This was supposed to help her in college.

I took her to the bank and set in motion transferring all the funds, since as her parent I still have control over it. $12k to Aunt to pay for the new dress. $3k to my sister's wedding, as an emotional distress tax.

I explained exactly why this was happening to Claire, but she sobbed the entire time, asking what was she supposed to do for college and saying it wasnt her fault. I told her she could get a job if she didnt get a scholarship, and it was her fault for trying on the dress after she'd been told no, and for not waiting until we got back.

A few popped seams could have been fixed. Hacking the dress to pieces couldnt.

Claire told my ex, and while she agreed Claire was in the wrong after the full story, said I shouldnt have "ruined her future" for a "free" dress. I reminded her of our rule, and she still thinks I'm wrong. So, am I the asshole here?

Before we give you OP's updates, let's take a look at some of the top comments (and responses):

conch writes:

Honestly, I wouldn't pay for the college at this point. She should've been arrested and charged for the $12,000 in damages. It's not a tiny crime. That's a big crime. I get that your their parent and wanna support them.... but look at the type of person you're supporting.

$12,000 because of jealousy, and the excuse of not being aggressive enough in lockdown made her do it???

OP responds:

She was a child. A mentally ill child. A mentally ill child living in the middle of a major global crisis after just losing a family member who loved her. She didn't kill someone, of course we were going to try and make her better.

The idea that I could just easily abandon my minor child so easily is just awful. She paid for it, and does continue to pay for it in her own way.

hiddendestiny writes:

Honestly kind of unhappy that your daughter gets to just… live her life after what she did. Destroying your sister’s last gift from her beloved grandma on purpose. Monstrous.

She deserves to never have a single nice thing ever again. I would have taken the money, not had her at the wedding, refused even to be in the same room ever again, and told all her colleges what she did. But you and your sister are better people than me or your daughter. Your sister is a saint and you and your ex sound excellent parents.

OP responds:

My sister and I were raised by our parents before they passed that love was unconditional. And while this tested that, it proved true. She was a child. A mentally ill child. A mentally ill child living through a major global crisis. We're not going to punish her for the rest of her life for giving in to her illness.

We supported her, got her the help she needed, and while she does still have a lot to make up for to my sister, she's being given the chance. To do the kind of punishment you suggested is just cruel and vindictive, helping no one.

littlegoldifhs writes:

Helpful college student tip! At my university they have groups for specific issues at the counseling center. It might be helpful for her to have peers also navigating anger, in a very frustrating time (i went to one for a different issue and there was even a day we went to a yoga class together: it was great to have familiar faces).

Delighted that your sister was still able to take a little bit of grandma down the aisle with her. It must have been so special.

OP responds:

Thank you for the tip! She does still do virtual sessions with her therapist, but I'll mention this to her as well. See if perhaps she's open to having peers too.

And now, OP's updates:

Update 1:

since people are mentioning they dont understand the 3k, that was to make up to my sister that Claire destroyed the last gift our dead grandma ever gave her. I consider that part of the price of destroying the dress, since even if Aunt remakes it, its lost a great deal of its sentinent value.

I pointed out how young we has her because I wanted to explain how a 31 year old has a 16 year old kid. I do not resent having her, she's the best thing Ive ever done. I also brought up Claire's size because Sis has crohn's disease, and thus is very tiny.

The dress was made her for size, and Claire is much larger then Sis. I love Claire as she is, but just holding the dress up, it was clear it wouldnt fit.

Update 2:

To clarify, the money was Claire's "have fun at college" money, not her college fund. My ex and I are paying for whatever scholarships dont. When she was asking what she would do for college, she was asking what'd she do for fun and to buy things we didnt pay for. Again, the character count is very limiting, so i had to cut details to post.

Update 3:

Her punishment hasnt stopped there. Ive decided that she will help Aunt in the shop make the new dress. She's also grounded, something her mother agreed with, for the next 6 months.

Parental controls on the computer so she cant use it except for homework, no friends after covid ends, no take out, no car, no phone, no video games, no tv, nothing.

She's also lost the right to be alone, since she clearly destroys things when left to her own devices, so she has to be in the living room unless she's sleeping at night. I'm also not getting her the dog I promised.

None of this was mentioned because it doesnt apply to the specific situation. But believe me, she is being punished.

If my sister had decided to take her court, as would be her right, my daughter would have lost a hell of a lot more, since I wouldnt be paying her legal fees, and would be on my sister's side. And if she didnt have the money, then Id still make her make it up by getting a job and forcing her to pay every penny to my sister.

She still has other savings, has an investment account and such. This was a light punishment for what she did, and it will continue.

And now OP's 4th update (longer):

So, I got off the phone with my ex about 20 minutes ago. At some of your suggestions, I sent her the pictures, and she freaked. She apparently didnt believe me when I said it had be hacked apart, and believed it was just a few torn seams. She was pretty much on my side after.

She told me that she's spent the day badgering our daughter, asking her why she did what she did, and finally Claire cracked and said she was mad that Grandma wasnt alive to make her a dress, and that it was "unfair" my sister got a free beautiful dress as a reminder when my daughter got "nothing,"

despite the many things she was given after the funeral. She tried it on, took it off when the seams popped, and then in anger hacked it apart. If she couldnt have a dress from Grandma, no one could. Her own words.

Honestly, knowing she did it on purpose has just made things worse. The fact that she could be so cruel, thats not the daughter we tried to raise. She will be going to therapy, whether that's in person when local therapists start taking new clients again or on one of those apps people have mentioned.

We need to talk about it more. Her punishment stands as is, though we're going to see how therapy goes.

As for all the seamsters who have reached out, please know I'm touched by your kindness. I really am.

My aunt is going to see if she can incorporate at least some of the fabric from the old dress into the new one, maybe at least try to save the beading, but if there's anything usable I'll reach out. I so so appreciate all of your offers, youre incredibly kind people.

I have yet to talk to my sister, but I have talked to her fiance. Sis isnt doing well. The stress has caused a crohns flare up, so she's stuck in bed sick. Which, honestly, I'm not surprised. Crohns is often triggered by stressful events, so I was expecting it.

I told fiance about Aunt making a new dress, and she promised to take the remains over to Aunt on Monday. She's thankful for us addressing the issue, but has asked for some space from Sis so she can recover and heal, and hopefully not end up in the hospital.

As for the 3k, we'll see what my sister's state is in a few days. If she has to go to the hospital, then the money is forfeit for her medical bills, since it was Claire's selfishness that put her there, so she can pay for it.

If Sis does not end up in the hospital, then I'll consider giving it back after she's gone to therapy for a few months, if she's accepted what she did was wrong and worked to make amends. We'll see what the next few months bring.

OP's 5th major update:

Hey everyone. It's been a long time, and a lot of things have happened. I think it's finally gotten to the point where I can post an update that many of you asked for. I'll do shortest update to longest update.

The dress: many of you reached out and offered to try and help, and I'm so thankful to you. I couldn't respond to everyone, but thank you so much. As some of you suggested, Gpa used pieces of the original dress to make accessories for my sister to wear, and she loved them.

She'll still wear some of the hair ties for special occasions. My aunt was able to make an almost perfect replica of the dress for the wedding, so while it wasn't the same, it was close.

My sister: she did have to go to the hospital to treat her crohns flare up. It was terrifying, and since she was immuno-compromised she did catch C19. I was so scared I was going to lose my baby sister, but thankfully she pulled through. She is now finally married to her wonderful wife.

My ex and I tried to have Claire pay for the hospital bills, but my sister refused to take the money. They do have good insurance, luckily. SIL was still pissed and torn about having Claire at the wedding, but my sister insisted.

Claire wasn't part of the wedding party, but she was still invited and joined their special day. While it's not forgotten or really forgiven, my sister is willing to move on, at least.

Finally, Claire. I think seeing her aunt so sick did help kickstart Claire realizing how wrong she'd been, since it was a domino effect of her actions in the first place that started all of this.

She herself admitted in therapy it was her jealousy over having to buy a wedding dress in the future instead of having one made for her like it was done for my sister.

She does still struggle with her anger at times, but it is getting better. It turns out she used to get all her anger and aggression in sports at school with her friends, which is why she seemed so calm all other times, but being in lockdown just forced everything to build up in an unhealthy way. Still not an excuse for what happened, but at least an explanation.

As I said in an update last time, my ex and I are paying for college for whatever scholarships Claire doesn't get, so at the time taking the 12k for the dress seemed right. I do still stand by that.

But after seeing how much she's worked on herself and on trying to repair things with my sister, I have given her back the 3k that my sister didn't take for hospital bills. She's also been working with my aunt and Gpa one day a week as well as editing other's essays to build back up her fun money.

I matched 50%, and gave it to her when she graduated. She started college in the fall with a few scholarships, and is continuing therapy. Things are still tedious with her and my sister, but they're working on it.

Claire has been trying hard, shown she really is sorry, and is trying to fix things. I still think we have a while to go, but we'll get there.

Readers continued to weigh in on OP's updates:

CONFHr5 writes:

You think not allowing a teenager to have any privacy is “perfectly reasonable”? Privacy is a fundamental human right. It’s literally mentioned in the UN Declaration of Human Rights (Article 12). You can’t just take that away. Well, you can, but it makes you an abusive piece of shit.

Not allowing someone to have any contact with their friends for six months is also wrong. Total social isolation is cruel (no, your parents don’t count). I really don’t think I should need to expand on that.

Taking that right away is also a human rights violation. It sounds like she’s really wasn’t even allowed to leave the house at all, since she couldn’t even get take out. Again, cruel.

This would be unpopular, even among those who think the other parts were abusive, but I think taking away video games and T.V. is wrong, too. Not because it’s abusive to take away the T.V., but because of the implications. Ask yourself, why would those specifically be taken away?

The only answer to that is that they want to take away her entertainment. “But she can just do other things, they didn’t take away all her options”— then what’s the point in taking those away specifically?

That’s like grounding your kid by banning them from seeing one arbitrarily chosen friend— it just doesn’t make sense; it doesn’t do anything meaningful. Since there’s no reason to take those away if she could just entertain herself in other ways, the intent must be to take away her sources of entertainment.

I’m sure she’d find other ways to entertain herself, but that’s not OOP’s goals Arguably, in terms of intent (and not necessarily in terms of the outcome) that’s also a human rights violation (Article 24 describes the “right to leisure”).

And don’t try to say she was only grounded for six months; that’s just being disingenuous. Even if you think it’s a reasonable punishment, being grounded doesn’t normally entail the removal of all privacy rights.

laforaaa writes:

Yeah, somethings really 'off' with that kid, I don't think virtual therapy sessions are going to cure her, her behavior was malicious and borderline sociopathic.

A 16 year old that destroyed an irreplaceable dress because she wouldn't get one like it , and if she didn't get it no one else would get it has a lot more wrong then not being able to get anger and aggression out because of the pandemic.

I wouldn't be surprised if she ends up in the news a couple of years from now. I hope the therapy 'takes', otherwise heaven help her family the next time she's denied something she wants. I'm imagining a scenario where for example she wants to have a baby, and can't, and she has a pregnant friend and a pair of sharp scissors ....

glasowenz writes:

Without considering OOP's clarifications/responses, I would have been on the fence. With the clarification, assuming honesty, OOP did the right thing.

Can you hand-wave paying off $12,000 in damages an just limp it off? I sure fucking can't. That debt would haunt my bank account for over a year if I got billed for it today. Fewer and fewer people can afford it these days too. That's a lot for a kid, sure. But whose kid is it? I would probably try not to put that bill on a kid if I knew they were born stuck in "the poverty trap."

But somebody middle-to-upper-class's kid? A kid who's born on 3rd base, with no worries about going to college? yeah I'd bill that kid.

I've been an adult almost as long as that kid's been alive, but because I was placed firmly in "the poverty trap" when I was still a minor, Claire was born with more opportunity than I have to show for myself from an entire adult life lived in an 'Austerity' lifestyle.

Claire loses a large savings. But Claire still gets to go to college. She can afford the lesson on morals and good choices just fine. Punishing her is acceptable. It's a huge move, but it's carefully chosen, the ramifications aren't news to her. I'd hate to think how she'd become somebody else's problem later if she wasn't corrected.

And she's going to college. She MIGHT become a professional something some day. What happens to somebody else if she becomes a doctor and thinks a $10k+ mistake can just be brushed off as long as somebody else is the bag-holder? Cheers to the parent for being a parent.

What do YOU make of OP's story? Is he TA or was he justified in his actions?

Sources: Reddit
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