When a working mom felt undermined by her affluent sister in law, she tried to make the decision that was best for her daughter, and asked SIL to have her back. But auntie wants nothing to do with it...
I (F29) have a brother, Hugo (M31). When Hugo was 19 he got his then-girlfriend Amy pregnant. They had their daughter Ashley (now 11) and later got married and had a baby boy (4). Over the years, I've become close to Ashley. When I'm home (I live abroad) I take her out to shows, shopping, horse riding etc. We also keep in contact via text. She’s bright and thoughtful, just a pleasure to have around.
Amy has never liked me but has mostly put this aside for Ashley. Me and my bf are visiting my family for Christmas and then leaving to go skiing. We arranged for Ashley to come skiing and stay with us for New Years. Amy wasn't keen on this idea but relented because Ashley was excited to learn how to ski, as all her school friends do.
I took my bf's hire car to pick Ashley up from school on Friday, and she was excited because it's a sports car and I let her friends sit in it and take pictures. At dinner, she asked if I would drive her to and chaperone her and her friends going ice skating on Tuesday in town. Hugo said I probably didn't want to look after a bunch of kids, and Amy had already planned to chaperone.
Ashley ignored him and begged me to chaperone. I didn't really mind but Amy looked annoyed so I said I wouldn't want to mess with the established plan. Ashley kept pushing, and said she didn't want Amy to come because Amy dressed badly and was never fun and embarrassed her. Hugo told her to apologise, which she did, but she also kept insisting it was true.
Amy got teary and Hugo kept telling Ashley she’d upset her mother but this just made Ashley angrier and she dug her heels in. Because of this, she was told she was not allowed to go ice skating and is now not speaking to Amy.
Yesterday, Amy and Hugo came to me and said they didn’t want Ashley to come skiing anymore. Amy feels like Ashley needs to spend more time with her family and Hugo is supporting her. They asked if I would tell Ashley that me and bf had changed our plans and wouldn’t be going on the trip anymore.
I asked why and they said if they told Ashley the truth that she would blame Amy and that would defeat the point of her trying to build a bridge with Ashley.
I said I understand that but I didn’t feel right lying to Ashley and if her parents had made the decision, they need to deal with the consequences not push it onto me. Amy said if I cared about Ashley I would realise it’s best for me to fall on my sword rather than alienate her further from her mother. I said no again, but Hugo said we should all take until Wednesday to think about it.
Ashley is still being very standoffish to her mother, and I know if she finds out her mother cancelled the ski trip it will get worse, so now I’m wondering if I should go along with Amy’s plan. I just want what’s best for Ashley. AITA (Am I the A-hole)?
Later, OP edited to clarify a few things:
A lot of it comes from Amy trying very hard to be Ashley’s friend. Amy was young when she had Ashley and she was quite isolated caring for her while Hugo worked and went to uni (he was cut off by our parents at that time). She threw all her efforts into being a mum and being as close to Ashley as humanly possible.
Ashley has explained to me that this has become very suffocating to her. She is trying to forge her own circle and she feels like Amy insists on being part of it, while also refusing to engage with her on her level.
The second part is that my parents pay for Ashley to attend a very prestigious private school. Hugo and Amy are nowhere near as affluent as the other families and Ashley feels a bit left out. It’s part of the reason I have chipped in for some of her extra curricular activities. But the fact is, she doesn’t always feel like she fits in, which is hard for her.
Her school is full of non-working “Range Rover/birkin” mothers who are either “cool” or absent, and Amy is neither. She’s involved, but Ashley finds her stifling, and doesn’t want her involved in her social life. It’s also my opinion that Ashley is trying to get some emotional space from her mother only way she knows how - by making her not want to spend time with her.
Amy doesn’t respond to her requests so I think she’s just resorting to being mean to her. Which obviously isn’t okay.
Since this is being asked a lot: Ashley and I have talked since the dinner and she knows I think she shouldn’t have said what she said, we’ve talked about it. Even she said she shouldn’t have said what she said. Did I go ham and tell her she’s entitled/spoilt/throw the kitchen sink at her? No. But she knows I think she was wrong and she agree.
Reddit ruled mostly NTA (not the A-hole) but some expressed serious concerns.
NTA and not only will Ashley prefer knowing the truth, but she will also feel as though she can trust you because you are refusing to lie to her. Also, Amy trying to guilt you into lying by pulling the “if you ACTUALLY care about Ashley” rhetoric is such an AH move.
Yes Ashley has valid feelings but Ashley is also being a real brat, and her parents are correct that she wouldn't take it well BUT the ski trip should have been canceled for her behavior, not to force her to bond. That's not going to go anywhere. Amy and Ashley both need a wake up call.
Not entirely sure where to tell OP to go with this. 'Cool' is perfect for an aunt until it undermines the parenting. The parents need to figure out how to deal with this properly based on what OP has shared. NAH (No a-holes here).
But Forreal19 isn't impressed with OP.
I feel like something's missing, too. OP and her family live an affluent lifestyle and seem to look down on Amy, and now her daughter is doing it, too, and OP doesn't seem bothered by that. That's not being a 'cool' aunt in my book.
It's perfectly normal for kids to be embarrassed by their parents and look up to their cool rich aunt, but that does not excuse such a horrible comment to her mum. She sounds like a spoilt brat who doesn't deserve a fancy skiing trip.
NTA. Ashley sounds like a little tick, to be honest; Amy and Hugo are not wrong to cancel the trip, if only to teach her a lesson about how to function in a family. But dishonesty is no way to coerce a child into mother-love.
Hugo and Amy need to own up to their own decisions. They should tell her, 'You're not going because you're being a total a**hole to your mother,' and not put you in the position of pointlessly alienating her.
To which Disastrous_Will822 responds:
NTA, Ashley DOESNT sound like a little Tick she sounds like a regular 11 year old. A child. Why are the parents trying to manipulate their child? This will only cause delays in her growth instead of them being honest.
And EfficientTitle9779 goes in for the kill:
ESH (Everyone sucks here). I’ve had to read it a few times but I get the feeling you really don’t like Amy and don’t care about the relationship she has with Ashley to the point you’re happy to watch this situation play out in a way they don’t talk to each other. I had to read it a few times because Amy is somehow simultaneously suffocating & not engaging at the same time. Maybe you and Amy need a chat?
Amy & Hugo are well within their rights to withhold Ashley from going skiing but need to be honest and say the reason is she was very horrible and mean to Amy. Is it a bit harsh? Maybe but they’re her parents. THEY need to be honest with her that it is a punishment.
You suck because you didnt really do much to dissuade the poor behaviour at the time, did you just sit there silent whilst she ripped into her mum? Again you seem happy to allow that situation to play out rather than get involved - you know she looks up to you.
And OP defends herself:
I don’t have any feelings about Amy one or the other, and I have never and would never express ANY opinion about Amy to Ashley. It’s inappropriate. What I mean about Amy being suffocating and not engaging is that she inserts herself into Ashley’s social life and then tries to parent her from inside a situation she wasn’t invited to in the first place.
If you are in the confidence of a child, you have to look at it from their perspective, minimising their feelings and saying “this is irrelevant, it won’t matter when you’re my age” isn’t helpful. So she needles her way into Ashley’s confidence and then refuses to meaningfully engage. I am not happy that this is happening, I would never enjoy anything that hurt Ashley, and this ongoing thing is hurting her.
And whether or not OP agrees with the parent's decision, she should probably try her best to not poison the mother/daughter relationship further.
First of all, thank you to everyone who responded. I received some really great advice and some amazingly kind messages, so thank you again! I am getting a lot of update requests, so here it is.
To get this out of the way for everyone who wants a quick update, Ashley did end up coming on the ski trip. We had a great time, me especially as my engagement ring arrived and me and my bf are now officially engaged.
A lot of people suggested we all sit down to discuss what's been going on, and we did. Ashley managed to say a lot of what she'd been saying to me to Amy. The conversation boiled down to, Ashley doesn't want an absent mother, but she wants a mother, not a friend.
She wants a mum who drives her to ice skating with her friends, and sits in the stands to supervise, not one who comes onto the ice with them and tries to hang out. She says she does sometimes feel awkward at school, but she manages it most of the time, until her mum is around and then she is reminded that she's different. A lot more was said, but this was the main gist.
As for Amy, it turns out she has a lot of resentment towards our family, and even towards Ashley. She feels it's not fair that me and my parents focused so much on supporting Ashley rather than supporting Amy.
She said instead of funding Ashley's education, my parents should have offered to pay for her to attend university after Ashley was born, or they should have done this instead of clearing Hugo's student loan debt. She said us caring about Ashley should have made us like her more but we all ignored her in favour of her baby, and now even her kid was abandoning her.
I won't comment on this other than to say we were all shocked by what she said.
The outcome of the conversation was that Hugo and Amy decided never to tell Ashley that they almost didn't let her go on the ski trip. Ashley will start seeing a therapist to talk about what's been going on with her at home and at school, and bring her mother into some sessions if necessary. My parents have offered to fund it if it's not feasible for her parents to pay, but they're looking into it.
Ashley said Amy has been giving her a lot more space since she got home, and Hugo has been spending more time with her, and might start taking riding lessons with her (he played polo as a teen) for them to bond more doing something Ashley loves.
Overall she seems a lot happier. Unfortunately, the things Amy said about our family have caused some issues between her and Hugo. Everyone is hoping they can work through it.
So, sort of an open ended update, but I'm really glad Ashley finally got to have the conversation she needed, and that she seems to be doing so well, because really that is all I've ever been hoping for. Thank you again to everyone who took the time to comment!
And her husband.. why would she rather them pay for her school than his debts? If those debts they would have had to pay are cleared, they logically can take out more loans for her to go to school now.
throwaway_neiceski OP responded:
Actually, I’m our country the government loans your the money for your fees and you pay them back over decades, it’s taken directly out of your salary like a tax. You don’t need bank loans for tuition.
My parents paid back the government loan, but Amy could have taken the same loan if she wanted.
Look at it from Amy's POV: rich kid Hugo (polo-playing!) knocked her up, derailed her education/job/life plans, got cut off by his AH parents (bc he didn't ditch not-so-rich Amy?), so she ended up isolated and short of money while he got his education keeping his future job opps open.
Here she is 11 years later, Hugo's doing ok and reconciled with his parents, her daughter is at a swanky school paid for by said grandparents, but she (Amy) doesn't have the clothes/money/job/education to fit in with the other mothers.
Amy also needs to go to therapy. Because wow. The sense of entitlement here is overpowering wow. To expect your family to fund HER education and being jealous of her own daughter is verrrrryyyy, for the lack of a better word, disturbing. Yikes.
Really sad if you think about it. Amy clearly was only an adult by law. She was not emotionally an adult and one could question if she was ready to be a mom. It is clear she never worked through those emotions and they turned into some very dark and ugly resentment.
She needs help. And for Ashley's sake, I hope they all figure that out. Ashley does deserve a healthy relationship with her own mom after all.
It's kinda sad that Amy spills her guts about how she feels less than compared to Ashley and that side of the family and she identifies the parents funding things for Ashley as a source of hurt and then the response is for the parents to fund therapy only for Ashley when Amy is clearly in desperate need of therapy too.
I get that Amy isn't their blood and she isn't entitled to their money for uni or anything else, but man that has to sting.