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Man ruins family dinner by 'keeping score' of parents' favoritism. 'To them, it's equal.' AITA? UPDATED

Man ruins family dinner by 'keeping score' of parents' favoritism. 'To them, it's equal.' AITA? UPDATED

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"AITA for 'keeping score' with my family and ruining dinner?"

I (27m) am the 3rd of 4 siblings and have always felt like an afterthought. Laurie (33f), Chuck (29m), and Jade (25f) have always gotten the first and best from my parents and each other. I get the leftovers if I'm lucky. I haven't gotten a birthday present from any of my siblings in about 10 years, but I still get asked to pitch in for group gifts for each of them every year.

On Friday night we were having a family dinner and it honestly felt like every other sentence was a dig at me or a less than subtle brag by my siblings about something they have been given by my parents that I was denied. They talked about how nice almost all of our weddings were, but made sure to mention it was "ok" that my wife and I had a small low-key wedding. And it was Ok, we loved it. But they brushed over the fact that my parents paid for all of my siblings weddings... but not mine. Because somehow they couldn't afford it... because they were saving up for Jade's wedding.

​They brought up how little student loans they have… because my parents helped them. All of them lived on campus at expensive 4 year schools. I lived at home and went first to a (very prestigious, very hard to get into) watchmaking school. I got paid to attend this school…so I paid rent at home. My parents paid for my tools. And I appreciate the help.

I really do. But they paid 120-150k each for my siblings...they gave me 7k for tools. But to them it’s equal. When I went back to school on my own I didn’t ask for money and wasn’t offered it. When my brother went back to school they covered EVERYTHING without him even having to ask.

There were many other small moments (comments about cars and other lifestyle choices) but what made me snap was my brother and his wife mentioning their marriage being so great because they do things like spontaneous dates, like the one they had the prior Friday night.

The Friday night where my parents called my wife and I last minute to cancel plans they had to eat dinner at our house because they had to watch Chuck's kids because of an "emergency." Turns out that "emergency" was a dinner for Chuck and my SIL at Texas Roadhouse. I had spent HOURS making my grandpa's ziti and meatballs with homemade marinara because its my mom's favorite.

I wanted more than anything to scream at them but instead I got up and left without saying a word and my wife followed me. When my mom called me later to ask why I lef, I just explained exactly why. I explained the favoritism, the unfairness, and the fact that it doesn't feel like they care about me.

She didn't say much and I wasn't really looking for an explanation or an apology in the moment, I just felt like it was self evident but if she really didn't see it I'd spell it out. Evidently at least parts of what I said have been shared with my siblings because now Chuck and Laurie are furious at me and saying I ruined dinner and my mom is upset that I am hurt. They say I'm immature for "keeping score." AITA?

Here's what top commenters had to say about this one:

[deleted] said:

NTA. Your siblings are keeping score as well. They use that score to belittle you every time they see you. Your parents, including your mom who is all of a sudden upset that you are hurt, have allowed that to happen. Your mom is only upset because you finally stood up for yourself and called them all out. Keep on keeping score, they certainly will.

YouthNAsia63 said:

Oh, JFC, you “ruined dinner." Boo hoo. It is astounding you have any sort of relationship with these people after a lifetime of being lesser than. You are a better person than I am. NTA.

Comfortable-Focus123 said:

NTA - Time to go Low Contact with your family, as spending time with them sounds as if it's a major chore that ends up hurting your valid feelings. Enjoy your wife and your life. Chuck and Laurie are just pissed that they were finally called out. I would go no contact with them.

noccie said:

NTA. Stop contributing to group gifts. It seems like your siblings don't like you so limit your contact as much as possible. Too bad your mom got sad when you spelled out how mistreated you've been. Hopefully, you've given your mom a wakeup call and she'll remember she has four kids.

astrocanyounaut said:

NTA - Of course it seems immature to keep score when you're the one that's winning *eyeroll.* Just tell them you're sorry they feel that way and don't engage. If you mom and dad want to work things out with you, they're free to do so (if that's what you want) but I'd give yourself permission to just disengage from family functions and obligations moving forward. Let your siblings be mad. Who cares how they feel? They've never cared about your feelings when they cut you down or brag about how you've been overlooked.

CarusGator said:

NTA. You are the scape goat child. So am I. I finally came to the full realization I was the scape goat when I saw my parents put my golden child brother over the needs of my toddler - their only grandchild whom they supposedly adored. There were several months of me going over my entire life realizing what you just listed out - all of the money and opportunities lavished upon my brother while I got pretty much nothing.

The final straw came 2 years later at a family reunion and my brother finally had his own kid and wife. My family was made to suffer so his could have what they wanted. That was it. I told my mom that I was tired of being the scape goat. I was collecting my husband and kids and leaving. Forever. She asked what I meant. I listed out a few small and many major instances throughout my life up until that breaking moment.

She started crying, was quiet for a moment, and then agreed with me. She and my father went to counseling together to address the dynamic. I will warn you that almost zero parents will do this. It took about a year to 18 months of counseling for them and distancing my family from them before I felt we could really test the waters. My dad was great right away and has not slipped up. My mom has slipped up a few times, but my dad will even beat me to reminding her she needs to stop. This took place 8 years ago.

If my parents had not gone to counseling and worked to change their behaviors (and sought forgiveness), I really would have cut them off from my family. I could not allow them to show favoritism between the grandkids and hurt my children. It is my job to protect my kids since they cannot protect themselves - especially when their parents are the ones continually subjecting them to the hurt.

If you have children, your parents and siblings WILL mistreat your kids exactly how they mistreat you. It is 100% guaranteed. Confront your parents now. Let them decide if they will do the work to correct their behavior and defend you when needed with your siblings. If they choose not to, walk away. For your wellbeing, the wellbeing of your wife (she hurts seeing you hurt), and especially the wellbeing of any kids you may have. Big hugs. I know this hurts and sucks.

tomjedrz said:

No, YNTA. Here is the thing. You are not entitled to your parent's money, and they don't owe you any of it. If you have not needed it and the others have, your parents might have made a reasonable choice. That does not mean that the choice will not rankle, particularly when not explained. And that is very different than the dinner fiasco. You are justifiably angry, and handled it pretty well - you left rather than stay and make a scene.

They treat you like Cinderella and then judge you when you notice it. I would tell Chuck to keep his judgments to himself. All that said, you probably ought to figure out how to let it go and forgive, for your own sake. Good luck.

UPDATE:

So, update time. About a week after that post my wife and I sat down with my parents and cleared the air. As several people suggested I wrote down my thoughts and compiled (to the best of my knowledge) a listing and full accounting of the disparity in what my siblings were given over the years and what I was given.

I did actually sit down and do the math and it turns out that while I was at the Technicum I actually paid my parents more in rent than they ever paid for my tools. But the final reckoning came to between ~$370k on the high end (Jade) to ~$190k on the "low" end (Chuck) for how much my parents directly gave to my siblings that they never gave me. Sitting down and seeing the full amount all spelled out like that is probably the angriest I got during this whole mess.

My parents had been aware there were discrepancies but really pushed back on the actual amounts until we sat down and went through each major gift/incident case by case, by which point my dad admitted my reckoning was likely conservative. That was more or less the end of any productive talk that night, my dad just claimed they didn't think it had gotten that bad but wouldn't give any details about how they could have possibly not noticed.

In the interim Chuck and Laurie continued to escalate their anger, continued to call and text me, my parents, and extended family. I have not spoken to either of them directly since and don't expect to any time soon.

Roughly a week after that first sit down my mom and dad asked to meet again. Lots was said but the gist is this: they felt I was doing well and didn't need their help. Basically they thought I would be fine without them. They admitted they probably live outside their means and gave more to my older siblings than they should have and could never have given me that much.

They claim the timing of my wedding lined up with probably the most dire of their overspending/lack of saving and that they literally did not have the funds to live up to their promise, especially as they were paying for Jade's tuition, car, and apartment at that time. They have offered money, they have offered to pay for vacations, a car, all kinds of stuff but I think they don't really get it yet.

My wife and I don't want their money, but we aren't really sure yet what an ideal resolution to this looks like. At least they have admitted they were unfair and are open to working things out. My wife and I spent Easter with Jade and her husband and my grandparents, my mom and dad came over in the evening. This seems to be more or less the new normal for now.

Here's what top commenters had to say about the update:

chuckinhoutex said:

So isn't about money, but it is. The further issue is how this morphed into the other 3 siblings doing birthdays for each other but ignoring yours. I think the first thing I would ask is that THEY explain to each of the other siblings how unfairly you've been treated, not only by the parents but also by the siblings and ask that going forward, there be a far greater understanding of how things in the past were hurtful and that while no particular remedy is outlined, things will likely have to be tilted your way going forward to make amends.

Jade should answer why it is that she ignores your birthday but expects and solicits help for everyone else's. She doesn't get a pass. On some level, affirmation across the board as to what occurred and the overall unfairness of it is a place to start. Zero tolerance going forward for shenanigans like Chuck and Laurie's emergency dinner.

I have a feeling that Chuck and Laurie are feeling pretty entitled in their core, so likely this isn't going to go down easy with them. Good luck. and I hope that your parents are sincere in their remorse and desire to make amends.

cheekmo_52 said:

A resolution must involve your parents making amends. However that doesn’t necessarily mean monetary compensation. But I don’t think you want things to be monetarily even so much as you want them to be emotionally even. You want to not be the afterthought. You want their love for you to be demonstrated as a priority just as they do for your siblings. (Instead of them cancelling a dinner you slaved over, so they could babysit for your brother…prioritizing his emotional needs over yours, for example.)

I think you need to consider that what you want is for their behavior toward you to change to set things right. In many larger families the squeaky wheels are the only ones to get the grease, so to speak…so the children with fewer “needy” behaviors are often left to their own devices and don’t get the same kind of emotional support their needier siblings get.

I believe what you want is for your parents to focus on you more. Figure out a way they can be more consistent in making you a priority. All the little slights because they think they don’t need to worry about you can have a cumulative effect. Something to think about. As for your siblings…it’s easy to overlook a disparity in treatment when they are the ones benefiting from it. So you’re still NTA.

SpaceJesusIsHere said:

OP, I honestly can't tell if you're an actual, literal Saint or just suffering from so much neglect and trauma that you don't love yourself. Personally, if my family had spent six figure sums on my siblings, but not me, I'd tell them they can see me when the check clears. If my siblings spent a decade asking me for money for for each others' gifts but I got nothing, I'd see them again when 10 gifts showed up at my door.

Sorry doesn't make up for all this. A noticeable, continuous, and lasting change in behavior, starting with addressing the inequalities up to this point is the only path back to family relationships in my view. BTW, the reason your 2 older siblings are mad is that you probably got them cut off with your math and messed up their favoritism. They were both probably asking for money on a regular basis. I hope you get some therapy. I think you're still letting your parents off too easy for your own mental health. Good luck.

2badstaphMRSA said:

NTA. I would go low to no contact with all of them. They sound unkind. Try a period (like three - six months) where you and your wife cut your family off. See how you feel. Also no money to your family in that three - six months. Tough love.

ContributionOrnery29 said:

NTA. No resolution necessary. They half-a$sed their responsibilities to you compared to your siblings so you'll be putting in an equivalent amount of effort for them from now on. Let Jade and Chuck help them in their old age and let your parents come to you if and when you want to see them.

Get them gas-station presents at $5 a time for birthdays and Christmas along with a note saying $200,000.00 -$5 = $199,995.00. Don't let them pay it off for as long as you're pissed off. The important thing isn't the money, it's to remind them that you're disappointed in them for as long as they disappointed you.

United-Substance-821 said:

Why are you even in contact with your useless parents? You don’t need their money. They don’t know how to be good to you even now, besides trying to buy it back. What do you want from them? Stop being a doormat.

You don’t need them. Move on. One day when they realize how they lost a son, maybe they will figure out how to earn back your love. If you really feel like keeping score, then do a will test. Ask that they write a will that bequeaths majority to you. 70% of everything to you, the 30% to your 3 siblings. See how they react.

Everyone was on OP's side for this one, before and after the update. What's your advice for this family drama?

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