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Man 'undermines' uncle and lets 'problem cousin' move in; divides family. UPDATED 4X.

Man 'undermines' uncle and lets 'problem cousin' move in; divides family. UPDATED 4X.


We all know the trope of the 'black sheep' in the family. It's a loaded term that denotes a unanimous exclusion of one family member, sometimes for actual 'bad behavior.' But more often than not because they have different ideals or dare to speak up about their feelings in direct ways.

Needless to say, when one family member breaks rank to support the 'black sheep,' it can cause emotional mayhem.

In a popular internet post, a man asked if he was wrong for taking in his teen 'problem' cousin, and thus, stirring up drama around family events. He wrote:

AITA for taking in my 'problem cousin' and cancelling family events?

Me (M 30) and wife (F 27) own a sizable farm that is usually the nexus of family events. Five bedrooms, three bathrooms, 300 acres, and electrical hookups for 4 campers so the whole clan can come stay for extended visits in the summer. We built it that way deliberately.

My cousin Bill (M early 50s) has a daughter Alice (F18) from his first marriage. His first wife was an immigrant with no family in our country and no contact with any family in her home country. She passed away when Alice was 2 and Bill remarried Tanya (F early 50s) 6 months later. They have since had 3 kids (M14, M12, F8). Alice is a brat.

Everything in their house revolves around either 'The Boys' (their two oldest together) or 'Their Princess' (their daughter together) and Alice is left behind. She doesn't get to go on family trips, they wouldn't pay for extra-curricular stuff, she couldn't take elective classes that had extra fees etc. I'm not a smart man but I can recognize a kid that's hurting inside and being neglected.

She's like Mr. Hyde with them and Dr. Jekyll elsewhere. For the last four summers she's been coming to 'work' on my farm because her parents don't want her around over summer break. She turned 18 recently and leading up to her birthday her Dad was very adamant that she was being kicked out of the house when she turned 18 because 'It will teach her responsibility.'

We (wife, Alice and I) discussed it and early on her birthday we pulled up with my truck and packed her stuff up. We only packed things she purchased herself or things that were given to her by another person.

My boss got creative with our benefits provider so we can get Alice on my medical benefits until she finishes university (she starts in a few weeks) so she's able to go to therapy and she's able to get back into sports while still saving her money. This is where it all comes apart: Bill and Tanya are pissed that we took her in and refuse to come to family events.

Part of the family refuses to attend as well because I'm 'undermining Bill and Tanya, I'll understand when I have kids.' After they refused to attend events, a few others said that with gas being so expensive and not everyone attending they'd skip as well.

My answer of 'Okie dokie come if you want and don't if you don't' further upset people who thought I should have tried harder to get people to come so now we're down to about 1/4 of the family in attendance for events. My aunt suggested that we have Alice over on weekends and that she stays in a dorm during the week to smooth things over. I think that's dumb, but I'm dumb and stubborn.

My wife thinks it's dumb and she's really smart but also very much attached to the situation. Alice said she'd rather stay with us but would try the dorms to help make peace. AITA for not going with the dorm suggestion to keep the peace?

EDIT FOR INFO: I called Alice a 'Brat' and my original post was waaaaay past the character limit but in some of the stuff that got pared down I explained it more. Typical teenage acting out but cranked up. Slamming doors, screaming matches with her stepmom, swearing. Probably 3 or 4 big blowouts a week and sometimes over some pretty disproportionately small stuff.

I've watched her grow and the acting out definitely came after the exclusion from family stuff.

OP got a lot of responses from invested commenters.

dwotw wrote:

NTA. They mistreated her for years, kicked her out of the house and now they want to demand that you kick her out too. Horrible people and you shouldn't think twice about the dorm unless Alice actually wants that.

big_bob_c wrote:

NTA. You know for sure that Bill won't kick the younger ones out to 'teach them some responsibility.' I would tell your family members that they looked the other way while Bill neglected her for 16 years, they can damn well look the other way when you're NOT neglecting her. And for s#$ts and giggles, tell them Alice will inherit your place if you don't have kids.

AaeJay83 wrote:

NTA. Alice needs stability and to feel loved.

Blue-Being22 wrote:

Would it be weird to say that I love you and your wife?

I’m very glad you’re in the world to counteract the damage those numskulls have done to their child. I hope everything good comes to you, your wife, and Alice!

TrainingDearest wrote:

NTA. I would keep her with you for a few years so that she can experience a normal family and (hopefully) let go of some of the negative acting out behaviors - those won't be tolerated in dorm life and might make college hard for her.

At some point, she could transition to the dorms so that she can get those 'living on my own terms' experiences on her way to full independence. There is no need to 'keep the peace' with your relatives - their opinions don't matter one ounce compared with giving this child a decent home life.

After receiving lots of support, OP jumped on with two updates:

EDIT 2: Thank you everyone. Gonna keep on keeping on. Bit of a mini-update: I ripped the band-aid off with the ol' fam jam and told them that fewer mouths to feed isn't the punishment they thought it was, anyone else who was coming is still welcome and I'd have the extra cash from not feeding so many people to help the folks concerned about gas prices make it out if they so chose.

I'm in like, 4 different family group chats and they're all lighting up. I'm going to turn my phone on silent for a while and let the sparks fly. I'll check in on the post in a while and if anything noteworthy comes up and it's interesting I'll give you all an update in the future.

EDIT 3: Alrighty, here's the update on the situation and a little background info for some consistent topics in the comments. So, my family likes to gossip and they're damn efficient at it. If your truck breaks down with only you in it 5 miles from home word has reached every aunt and cousin before you're in your door. When I put the word out, it travelled fast.

This morning I've been called all the names in the book and some new ones so there may be a revised and updated edition of said book coming out. I've been told I'm a good guy, a bad guy, I'm stupid, I'm smart, I'm short-sighted, I'm thinking ahead. It's been neat.

Long story short, I've got about a dozen relatives telling me thanks and they'll buy me a pint next time they're out, and about triple that who never want to speak to me again so those are both significant victories. Now, nobody here really cares about me: We're all about Team Alice here. She's a redditor apparently and came across the post independently of me showing her.

There were tears (born of stress and relief I think) and she's going to be staying here with us until she's ready to start the next chapter of her life, whatever and whenever that might be. She's got classes picked (her college picks first-year classes for you for the most part so it was a couple electives) and is looking into the women's rec league for a hockey team when the season starts so she's all set on that front.

Regarding feeding everyone and paying for gas: Without going into details, I was very fortunate as a young man to be working very very hard at a job I was woefully underqualified for while a very wealthy person was on site. Basically, right place, right time and The Chief took me in and mentored me.

We have made a lot of money on a business venture together in addition to me working for him and since then I haven't exactly had F U money but enough that I was able to buy the property I live on outright and build my home here with my wife who also makes good money.

Family is important to both of us and neither of our sides of the family tree have much for money so we've done our best to make sure money isn't a barrier to getting together and seeing one another. Now, the big news: Tanya drove down to my house this morning.

Bill and I had some very loud, very angry words when he drove down last night after I chose the nuclear option in the family group chats so she actually waved a white flag from her car when she pulled up. I shooed the dogs and alpaca away and went out to talk to her, brought her out a muffin and we had a bit of a chat.

Allegedly, Bill was threatening to kick Alice out to 'scare her straight' and that they weren't actually going to kick her out and they were caught off guard when we showed up on the morning of her birthday. I told her that she was missing the point and that I'm not sure I could use small enough words or short enough sentences to explain it to her if she thought that was the only problem.

She cried, she peeled out of my driveway at mach 7 and it's been radio silent since which I'm currently enjoying. Thanks everyone for the support. I'm not really a reddit guy so I don't imagine I'll be back but for my brief stay here, you definitely don't live up to the negative reputation the rest of the internet has given your site. You're a good bunch, keep your sticks on the ice.

People were happy to hear more about how the situation played out. And now, a year later, OP has jumped on with an update of how the past year has been.

So, about a year ago my (31M) cousin Alice (F19) moved in with my wife (F28) on her 18th birthday after being told she needed to move out on said birthday from her parents (Early/mid50s idc enough to do the math) house by said parents. I'm here with an update at her suggestion.

The Good: A year later she's a year into an Engineering degree, she's been playing lots of hockey, raised a couple of steers all on her own, and at her therapist's recommendation she's down to monthly sessions after a brief stop at bi-weekly after starting with weekly.

She's the same sweet kid but without the extra unneeded stress of being treated like an 'also ran' alongside her younger siblings.

The Bad: Her dad showed up about a month after my original post. There was a confrontation of sorts that ended with a peace bond being issued with restrictions on how Bill and Tanya could contact Alice, myself, my missus, or a couple other family members that got involved.

After the 6 months required by the peace bond, Tanya started getting back up to her old tricks but Bill seems to have smartened up a bit. The peace bond meant she has had limited contact with her siblings which has been tough.

The oldest (15M) started out pretty hostile but some of the other cousins filled him in on what was going on (I got blamed for his sudden shift in attitude because we've established that I am just the worst with jazz hands and everything).

The Silly: Gossipy family mellowed out when they realized that the literal gravy train wasn't going to stop at the station for them. Thanksgiving last year was 26 people compared to the 60+ that came the last year I threw it prior to COVID restrictions. Easter this year was back up to an even 40 so we're probably going to plateau a little short of the old numbers.

As for resolution, to the problem, Bill has been texting Alice every couple of days to check in. They've gone for coffee a few times after the peace bond expired. 'I'd go to his funeral but not his birthday party' were Alice's words when I asked her about where they're at. I'm hoping time can heal that wound but she's been really good at setting boundaries.

To quote one of the great warrior poets of our time, John Cougar Mellencamp, life goes on. I'll answer questions if it's allowed, otherwise, here's some closure guys.

People were so happy to hear about how things have progressed for OP, his wife, and Alice.

BryanZero wrote:

Well done sir, Alice needed someone to stick up for her and glad you haven't backed down!

DistributionDue511 wrote:

These are the stories that restore my faith in humanity! You are your wife are seriously good people, and should not have had to endure the criticism from the extended family.

As someone else pointed out on the other post, Bill & Tanya just didn't want their mistreatment of Alice to be exposed by her 'behaving' after being treated like an actual human being. Alice is going to triumph over this because of you. The world is a better place with you in it!

wcs4696 wrote:

'Brat' children like this need someone to believe in them and to give them a soft place to land until they can find their self-worth and self-love again. You have given Alice everything important, mainly love, stability, and support. You and your wife are good eggs.

paprikashi wrote:

I did not read this the first time around, but NTA in case the filters get me. She may have hit the garbage childhood reverse-lottery with her situation in so many ways, but I’m so f#$king happy that girl has you and your wife. And that you have the chief. I wish I were invited to the cookout too - best wishes, and thanks for making me feel this warm and fuzzy! I’m turning off the internet before it’s too late lmao.

Eight months later, OP jumped on with another update.

Because I'm a bit scatterbrained, I'm going to do this update in 3 parts: What's happened, what's happening, and miscellaneous comment/question answering.

First up: What's happened.

It's been a greasy horror show in a lot of ways but everyone I care about is ok. That's a win, and we take those. So, Bill. He's been trying his best, I'll give him that. The guy's as sharp as a sack of wet mice on his best day so him doing his best isn't particularly impressive but he's trying and that's really all you can ask of a person.

He was texting Alice every day/every other day and seemed to genuinely want to fix their relationship. They started to communicate less after a month or so, still texting weekly. I admit, I got my hackles up over that but Alice told me "We didn't have enough to talk about when I lived there to talk every day, once a week is plenty." They've gone for coffee a few times.

They've gone to the restaurant in town or sometimes the gas station with all the old farts on coffee row as Bill's been advised to stay away from me, my missus, our property and our respective places of work (foreshadowing, more on this later) but we've been cordial when we've crossed paths by accident a few times.

There's no actual court order, the peace bond has long since expired but it's a small community and one of the constables at the local detachment told him that it wouldn't reflect well on him if he went looking for trouble and a judge had to deal with it again. He and Tanya are separated.

That was the first night he came down to the house since the day he showed up and I beat the brakes off him and got the peace bond. They've been fighting nonstop about Alice since we took her. Their oldest son has refused to talk to him since they separated back in October. Their younger son has been weathering the storm as well as a kid can.

Their daughter is a total daddy's girl and is devastated that she's only seeing her dad on the weekend. I'm not privy as to what the specifics are. Bill came over devastated and upset. He was three sheets to the wind and we were the only place within staggering distance.

Tanya told him to leave and that if he didn't, she'd call the cops. Nobody's told me what happened that night and to be honest, I don't give enough of a s**t to ask. Reaping is never as fun as sowing and Bill's learning that. This has thankfully not impacted Alice too much.

Her oldest brother has been a bit of a shita*s about things but she's thankfully seeing the parallels between their situations and taking it in stride. A quick aside on that subject - I'm very proud of her. She's become able to navigate some incredibly nuanced situations with a level of emotional intelligence that I know she didn't pick up from me, so we're gonna chalk that up to my missus going full mama bear.

Speaking of, that's some more foreshadowing. On to Tanya: She and Bill are separated. I didn't talk to her when we were talking so I haven't received updates since. She's told the kids that it's all Alice's fault to varying degrees of success. It sucks, but in helping Alice how we have, we've positioned ourselves to be unable to help her siblings.

My genuine hope is that the rest of the family is able to pull off the necessary mental gymnastics to see that those kids are hurting because of how their parents are handling things while still being deadset on Tanya and Bill not being the problem.

An epiphany as to what's been going on for the last 15 years would be nice but that's a big ask and I worry that a shift in worldviews of that magnitude could cause serious lasting harm to the tectonic plate beneath them when it happens. On to Alice: She's doing really well. Her life is her own, so I don't want to dive into specifics.

I asked her before I decided to post this and she said that it was helpful for healing but now she's at the point where she doesn't want to dwell which is fair. The long and short is: School is good, she's working part time in an engineering-adjacent role at a company that's on her list of places to apply when she convocates.

She sold off her steers and hasn't raised anymore because there's only so many hours in a day. She's been playing hockey still but in a less competitive league. We're looking at subdividing some of the property in a few years so she can own her own space, build her own place and have independence.

That lets us put the title in her name, where she's not beholden to us or attached to us in any way and can have her own flight plan moving forward. She did ask me to say that she's very appreciative for the support that so many strangers have shown. She still goes back and reads comments on the post every now and again. On that subject, I appreciate it as well.

On to the rest of the family: With Bill and Tanya separating, I've had a bunch of people who used to be firmly in the camp of me being the source of discord reach out and tell me they'd changed their minds. Not that they apologized or were wrong, just that their opinions had changed on the subject. I told them to piss up a rope and suck the wet end.

We're done hosting the large gatherings at every holiday. I know the posts didn't really touch upon my Missus's family or how they felt on the subject. What it comes down to is they were supportive from the sidelines but are wise enough not to do the dance with the devil that is engaging with my side of the family.

If her family were a small farm town full of honest, hard working people mine is the meth riddled trailer park across the tracks. They've been coming out in force for family events, even cousins that live quite a drive away and we're not close with. She told them that I've made being the host for family stuff a big part of who I am and what makes me happy and they responded in kind.

A lot of my side of the family is still coming but it's a much smaller number of people. Still a lot to cook for, but I enjoy it and it's all people that respect us and care coming instead of showing up for a free meal and booze. As for my missus, that's some exciting news that was alluded to previously: We've officially begun creating an army of clones.

Granted, real clones are expensive and require a lab, so we've opted to make an artificial clone. We've got a little boy on the way, due end of July. She didn't want too much about her put into the post but she signed off on that part. It's exciting, but also intimidating and that leads to the next part: This definitely impacted me in a bigger way than I imagined.

The original post was really about Alice and there's a reason for that. I'm all figured out, I'm a grown man and I've got my life in order. She was a scared, neglected kid that needed help. After we got through everything and she was safe, sound and on track, I read through the comments on the posts and a few of them really stood out. They bothered me in a weird way that I couldn't explain.

People were consistently pointing out that it's a lot easier to step in and make waves to do the right thing when you were already the black sheep. That really cut deep (in a good way, it made me do a lot of thinking and introspection which I think has led me to a better place overall).

I haven't talked much about myself but I wanted to do so a little bit now that everyone else is taken care of. I grew up being beaten like a powwow drum and was a vicious little bastard through most of my childhood and teen years. I grew out of that lashing out behavior eventually and got a job in the oil patch with one of my uncles.

I actually met my wife through work as she was one of our payroll admins and my messy writing made a lot of extra work for her. It's a super cute story but not one for the internet. I met The Chief working in the patch and he really instilled in me the importance of being part of a community. He got me into coaching hockey, volunteering at community events.

I'm still a volunteer firefighter 10 years later because of his guidance. My entire adult life, I've always been the stable, stoic rock for everyone else. I'm a very tall, robust man with a booming voice and a big laugh. I can fix anything with a screwdriver and a set of vice grips. If you have a problem, I know everyone in town and can get you to the right person and probably get you a discount.

I've volunteered in my community everywhere I've been able to. I've mentored with the Big Brothers program, built a playground and facilities for the Boys and Girls Club of Canada, hosted pancake breakfasts and steaknights, ran bingos. I've helped fundraise to cover medical expenses for people I've never heard of or met before the fundraiser. I'm a damn good person, and I'm proud of it.

I thought my family saw that and was proud of me too. Realizing that no they weren't proud of me, I just went from being a liability to an asset in their eyes was rough. I didn't have a breakdown per-se, but it definitely affected me in a big way. Thankfully, I'm married to the most amazing person to grace this earth and she helped me through it and supported me every step of the way.

Along the way, the family that is genuinely proud of me and that care about me and love me came through too. We had stopped trying for kids since the start of all this mess and I wasn't sure I wanted to start back up again because if I could do all that and my family didn't love me, what more could I do? And worse, what if whatever was wrong with me and my family meant I wouldn't love my kids.

All is well, life is good and I'm back to being the BFG which is how I'm happiest. To answer/address a few consistent comments/questions I've seen across the posts: I have no clue to this day what Bill and Tanya's problem with Alice is. Bill does seem to genuinely want to do right by Alice. I spoke with him a bit when I first had concerns but to quote Gandalf the White: I looked into his eyes and saw no deception.

He's a fool, but an honest one. As long as Alice is comfortable and he's going to be a source of positive energy moving forward I think she's better off with him in her life in some capacity than without him. The Chief is a good man and he had a similar upbringing to me but worse because it was socially acceptable and often encouraged to beat the tar out of your kids at that point in time.

He's the kindest, gentlest soul I've ever met. I've never considered writing and it's not something that interests me. I've been told I have the gift of the gab and I've essentially just written down a stream of consciousness as I would speak it. Sorry for the silly turns of phrase. I'm from the tree line in the prairies, we talk funny here.

My Alpaca's name is Olivia Cromwell and she's a cantankerous b#$ch. She bits, spits and stomps when provoked, threatened, insulted, awake or because she feels like it. My wife compares my ability to work with her to Chris Pratt's character in Jurrasic World and the Raptors. I tell her I just have a way with aggressive women. She sticks her tongue out at me.

I use a lot of aviation terminology in my day-to-day speech because I worked in an aviation-adjacent industry, usually shoulder-to-shoulder with The Chief who was a pilot in the airforce. I've picked up a lot of the terms and slang.

One last thing: A lot of comments were along the lines of "I wish I had a relative like that" and other people said "Be that relative." Just do your best. That's all you can do. Sometimes your best won't be good enough and that's ok. Sometimes you won't win no matter how hard you try and that's just life. Nobody can reasonable expect or ask more of you than that.

People were so happy to hear another update from OP.

RealisticBusiness109 wrote:

Thanks for the update but more importantly thank you for being there for Alice. It good to see that Bill is trying to be there for his oldest child. Hopefully, there will be peace with the rest of his children as well. Congrats on your clone!

Tripping_on_sunshine wrote:

You are such an inspiration! I’m so glad you came out of the dark side as anyone who does not appreciate you and all you bring to the party is not worth knowing or keeping in your life.

You already are the best father figure to your cousin, your wife is awesome too, and I hope you all have many years of happiness as you very much deserve it ❤️ PS: you should write a book of sayings, your writing is hugely entertaining 😁

Efficient_Onion9434 wrote:

Thank you for being you.

Your kid will have the best dad one can ask for. Best of luck to you and your loved ones.

ExhaustedDivinity wrote:

Thank you for this voyage. You are doing great, jazz hands and everything.

This is a surprisingly wholesome arc for the internet.

Sources: Reddit
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