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'AITA for refusing to let my sister's kids stay with me after she passed away?'

'AITA for refusing to let my sister's kids stay with me after she passed away?'


"AITA for refusing to let my sister's kids stay with me after she passed away?"


I (34F) recently lost my sister (41F) to cancer. It was devastating, and I'm still processing the grief. My sister was a single mom to three kids: Jake (14M), Emma (12F), and Lily (8F). In her will, she named me as the guardian for her children.

Here's where things get complicated. I've never wanted kids of my own. I love my nieces and nephew, but I've always been the "fun aunt" who takes them out for ice cream or to the movies. I've never had to be responsible for major decisions about their lives.

I have a demanding career as a corporate lawyer, often working 60+ hours a week. I live in a small one-bedroom apartment in the city, which is perfect for me but definitely not suitable for three growing kids.

My lifestyle involves a lot of travel and late nights at the office. I'm also in a relatively new relationship (10 months) with my loving boyfriend, who's childfree by choice like me.

When my sister first told me about her decision to name me as guardian, I expressed my concerns. I told her that I didn’t feel comfortable with that role because I didn’t think my boyfriend, job, and lifestyle wouldn’t survive it.

She assured me that it was just a precaution and that she was sure she'd beat the cancer. I didn’t press the issue because I thought/hoped she would beat the cancer, and also because I wanted her to remain optimistic. We never really had another serious conversation about it.

Now that she's gone, I've told my family that I don't think I can take the kids. I've suggested that our parents (mid-60s, retired) take them instead, or possibly our older brother (40M) who has two kids of his own and lives in a large house in the suburbs.

My family is furious with me. They say I'm selfish and that I'm abandoning the kids when they need someone the most. They argue that it was my sister's dying wish for me to raise her children and that I'm “pi$$ing all over” her memory by refusing. My parents say they're too old to raise young kids again, and my brother claims he can't afford three more children.

The kids themselves are understandably upset and confused. Jake, the oldest, overheard a conversation among family members and then Skyped me, visibly upset, saying that I'm abandoning them just like their dad did (he left when Lily was a baby).

I feel absolutely terrible about the whole situation. I love my nieces and nephew, and I want what's best for them. But I honestly don't think I'm equipped to raise three kids. I’m also dealing with my own grief, and I'm worried that if I take them in I'll end up resenting them or not giving them the care and attention they deserve.

I've offered to contribute significantly, financially, to their care, whoever ends up taking them in. I've also said I'd still be involved in their lives as their aunt, but I just don't think I can be their full-time guardian. My brother told me my life has changed and that I need to embrace it. I feel trapped with no way out, and most of my days are spent crying.

Here were the top rated comments from readers in response to the OP's post:


NTA - but your brother and parents are also abandoning them too, this isn’t solely on you! They ain’t even trying to come up with a compromise. You have offered to help with finances, so your brother’s reasons have now been met, also your parents could take them every other weekend.

You’re a lawyer!! Make the argument! Your brother is the best candidate! You won’t pass a social services inspection and checks! (Play on that!).


NTA - truthfully throwing 3 kids who lost their mother, and whose father abandoned them at someone who wanted to be childfree is a recipe for disaster. They are going to have emotional issues that are more than just making sure they live in a safe environment with their needs met.

You are going to give up your job, bf, home and perceived future for them, so now there are 4 people living together in emotional hardship. This will be harder for you to manage than it would be for someone who just gave birth to 3 kids.

This is the reason your brother and parents don’t want the responsibility. They’ve had kids and know how hard it is going to be in this situation, and they don’t want to deal with it. They’re banking on you being ignorant to that, and hope you can be guilted into being the sacrifice.

I’m not going to tell you what to do, but as a parent , I want you to know what you’re stepping into before you decide. Your experience as a parent won’t be like your parents or your brother. It Is going to be exceedingly tough, so think carefully for all four of your sakes before you choose.


You should, of course, have kept pressing the issue until it was clearly agreed when you had the chance. I don't know how "binding" the (un)agreement is on you, but of course the children's welfare is paramount and a foster parent who doesn't want the kids (for very sound reasons, I agree) is not the best solution. The sibling with the big house and existing family seems best. NTA at all.


"They argue that it was my sister's dying wish for me to raise her children and that I'm “pi$$ing all over” her memory by refusing."

Yes. Own it.

You refuse to dedicate your life to a dying person’s selfish “last wish” - if your sister cared as much about her kids as you’re supposed to, she would have found a different guardian when you told her you’re uncomfortable with it. See, I’m not involved, so I can be the AH and state the obvious here.


How do people think you will be able to afford the care of three children if you sacrifice your career? NTA. I kind of think your sister was a bit TA because you tried to tell her and she just…ignored you? And your brother’s comment…wow.

So, what do you think about this one? If you could give the OP any advice here, what would you tell them?

Sources: Reddit
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