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Teenage boy strikes up bargain with parents over caring for special needs cousin. AITA? UPDATED 3X

Teenage boy strikes up bargain with parents over caring for special needs cousin. AITA? UPDATED 3X


When this young man is annoyed with his parents and his family, he asks Reddit:

"AITA for making a bargain with parents about taking care of my special needs bargain?"

My parents have four kids. I'm (16m) the oldest and next is my brother Harry (13m) then my sister Jaz (11f) and then my youngest sister is Aimee (8f). Harry and Jaz have autism.

Neither can talk clearly but mumbling is the best they have learned, and they were delayed developmentally so walking came later for them as well. Harry and Jaz are in a special needs school, a private one, because my parents wanted the best chance for them and this place was highly recommended.

Both my parents work longer hours for this. And because of the longer hours they work and the after care they're paying for Harry and Jaz, it has meant I needed to take on some more responsibility and especially with Aimee. I take care of her every day after school until our parents come home.

That includes cooking and deep cleaning the kitchen after I finish making food for us so my parents can cook for Jaz and Harry and not risk any issues with the food, because both have highly sensitive taste buds and they have limited diets.

When Harry and Jaz go for respite or all day therapies, my parents make time for Aimee and just Aimee. They don't want her to feel left behind or like she doesn't matter. I do not get the same attention. I never did, even when I was younger and things were bad.

Aimee was always the kid they prioritized time with when they had it. And I had expectations put on me that I would do my best to give her a great childhood. They put a lot of that responsibility for that on my shoulders by the time I was just 11.

I'm also more responsible for keeping the house clean, because of my parents working hours. Sometimes I'm the only one who cleans in a week and I used to try and get Aimee to help out with some light stuff and my parents told me to let her enjoy her childhood.

Recently my uncle and aunt died and my cousin, who also has autism, ended up in foster care. My parents wanted to take him but they told me they would need me to step up and do more for us to make it work. They even told me how bad my cousin has it in foster care right now.

Dad told me he has not found stability since his parents died several weeks ago. So what do they want? Me to take over all the cooking, for me to do the grocery shopping, but not with Aimee of course, and they want me to start adjusting to having three kids, two with special needs, at times.

So they can take one kid at a time to their therapies and appointments. It pissed me off because they also asked me to babysit all three special needs kids so they can make a bit more time for Aimee, because it will be hardest on her.

I was pissed off so I said sure, I'll do it, but only until I'm 18 and then I'll be done and they will never see me again. My parents told me my anger was unwarranted and everyone has to make sacrifices when a family is dealing with this many special needs kids. AITA?

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

gaidanshen writes:

I don't empathize with the parents. Here's why.

Yes, I feel sorry for the child. They are in foster care and no one will really care enough to learn how to provide a child with special needs with the appropriate level of attention.

But the parents are already beyond their limit, just with their own children. They are so beyond their limits that they have resorted to parentifying their firstborn. Why take in another child? It doesn't make sense.

Some will say "They're family. You have to take the child in." I call bullshit. There is a limit. It might not be the same limit for everyone. But there is a limit. And judging by OP's post, these parents already reached their limit when OP was 11.

remember1959 writes:

NTA. If you haven’t read up on being parentified, do: you’re a classic victim. Is there someone at school, or a friend’s parent, that can advocate for you and explain the injustice to your parents?

if not, you might have to take the nuclear option: when the social worker comes round to check on your home situation (which I assume will happen before any adoption) explain exactly what they’re asking of you. Don’t lose your temper, frame it in terms of your concern that you can’t manage all that AND your schoolwork.

Say how relieved you are that they aren’t placing any of the burden on Aimee, because it means that at least she‘s had a childhood. If the adoption goes ahead after that, I’ll be very surprised, and it might change a few other things. Best of luck.

relevantposition7 writes:

NTA. But you better have an actual working plan how to get out at 18 or you're doomed until you figure it out. Neither your current days nor the ones your parents are planning for you leave you with the time to earn money for independence.

You have no responsibility for their choices but that won't,t matter if you can't get out edited to add: and your parents better develop a plan as well.

saltedfish writes:

NTA. Tell them you're sacrificing a huge amount of your young life to help them out, so they don't get to lecture you about sacrifices. Tell them they should have stopped with you so you could have had a normal upbringing.

Tell them they are the parents, not you, and if they give you any more shit, you'll just stop helping around the house altogether. Tell them they're putting more on you than you ever asked for or deserved, and that this is entirely their own doing for having more children than they could afford.

Tell them you don't have a relationship with them because they turned you into a babysitter from age 8.

I wouldn't eve agree to the cousin thing. Tell them you're done, that you're not going to help around the house anymore, and they're going to have to find someone else to pick up their slack. What are they gonna do? Kick you out at 18?

significatnrap writes:

NTA. OP you need to start putting yourself first NOW. Prioritize schooling. Figure out your plans for when you turn 18. Speak to counselors. If at all possible get into therapy!!!! Make detailed plans and backup contingencies. Focus on you. No one else will.

You have 2y & you need to leave regardless of what happens with your cousin. Bc if you keep going as you are you’ll be trapped as your parents slave forever. Your life will be wasted & you’ll grow bitter & resentful (rightfully so, but it’s not healthy).

It is 100% wrong that you’ve been parentified & you need to start putting yourself first. If that means things around the house start to slide? So be it. If it’s important your parents will pick up the slack.

When you have to do things include your sister. When your parents complain make them explain why your sister isn’t expected to contribute but you were at her age. Make them explain why she’s the only one who deserves a childhood.

Make them explain why you need to act as the family maid & nanny & special needs caretaker while she shouldn’t be expected to do even normal chores.

Your parents abandoned their responsibilities to you, so you need to make yourself the priority. Don’t throw fits, just quietly quit. When your parents complain explain why. Explain how they’ve stolen your childhood & parentified you as a preteen.

Then when they push back just use that frustration as fuel to support you when they use guilt. You deserve to be first in your own life. That’s ok. If your parents won’t give you that, then you need to take it.

It is unfair. I’m sorry. Your parents wronged you. And they will most likely never apologize. Focus on what you can control and on doing the next right thing.

Then, OP offers this update:

Yes, I feel really bad for my cousin too because his needs are a lot different to my siblings but it's still incredibly difficult for him and I know in the wrong foster homes he won't be treated well.

I agree. But the issue is they no longer see me as a kid. I'm not sure if they have for a very long time. I feel like when I started kindergarten they saw me as an 18 year old college student who didn't really need parents and from that, could take on the world.

OP provides this second update, with more information about his parents:

My parents will not care if a friends parent speaks to them. My best friends parents are aware of the situation and they have always been kind to me. Not that I really get to see them often anymore.

But my parents have put me at the bottom of the priority list. They considered me 18 when I was only starting school. They saw me as someone capable of being an adult before I was even old enough to spell my name.

The nuclear option would likely make my life even worse than before. So I won't speak up most likely. I would just say whatever to give my parents what they want and try to keep my focus on turning 18 and moving out.

I know it's maybe not the healthiest solution. I just don't see one where my life improves until it's entirely in my own hands.

Seems like OP is NTA here. Any advice for him? What do YOU think?

Sources: Reddit
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