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'AITA for withholding my daughter's birthday gift because of the way she treated her cousin?'

'AITA for withholding my daughter's birthday gift because of the way she treated her cousin?'

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Birthdays can bring up some big feelings especially if you've already been going through a hard time. How you handle those feelings, however, is on you.

In a popular post on the AITA subreddit, a dad asked if he was wrong for withholding one of his daughter's birthday gifts after she yelled at her toddler cousin. He wrote:

"AITA for not caring that my daughter is going through a difficult time with a friend and returning her birthday gift after the way she treated her cousin?"

What jappened: My daughter Brooke’s birthday was on Friday, so we had a celebration at home. Everything was going well until it was time for singing. Brooke blew out the candles and her cousin Aria blew on the cake too. My SIL and BIL said oops and apologized. Aria obviously didn’t understand. It was just an accident. But then Brooke turned it into a scene.

She snapped at Aria, raising her voice and calling Aria a “F***ing brat.” I immediately got firm and told Brooke to apologize. Brooke tried to argue that Aria ruined her birthday candles. I told Brooke that I don’t care who you are or what day it is. It is never okay to treat a 3-year-old that way as a 20-year-old adult. Brooke refused to apologize and stormed off.

After everyone had left, I informed Brooke that because she refused to apologize for the way she acted towards her cousin, I was returning her purse which was the main gift I had bought her. She also got a Stanley Cup but I let her to keep it since it’s something practical for school. Brooke tried arguing that she’s too old for me to be confiscating her things and returning the purse was going too far.

But I just told Brooke that I bought the purse with my own money and was free to do what I pleased with it. And if she wanted to act like a child, then she’s going to get treated like one. Why I’m writing: My wife Kimberly said she is not going to re-buy the purse for Brooke and she agreed Brooke was out-of-line for how she treated Aria during the birthday celebration.

But Kim said that I should have more understanding for Brooke because of what’s going on with Jessy. Jessy has been Brooke’s best friend since they were in 4th grade. The problem is that Jessy recently got engaged and her fiance is not a good guy. Brooke and Jessy’s family staged an intervention to talk to Jessy, but Jessy is insistent on the marriage and has been talking to Brooke less and less.

Of course, I understand that it is a heartbreaking situation and am sorry Brooke has to experience that with her friend. But what is happening with Jessy has nothing to do with the way Brooke treated Aria. If Brooke had snapped at Aria but immediately apologized after, then I could see how returning her purse could be seen as unfair.

But I think Kimberly is being too lenient with our daughter, and Brooke needs to understand that going through a difficult situation is not an excuse to behave poorly towards others. AITA?

Edited to answer a common question: My SIL was holding Aria and keeping an eye on her during the birthday celebration. My BIL was explaining to Aria why she can't blow on the candles on someone else's birthday. We were in the middle of correcting Aria when Brooke snapped at her.

The internet jumped on with all of the thoughts.

tsweetsie wrote:

NTA. A 20 year old cursing out a 3 year old is TOO. FAR. Also the irony of this from your daughter: "Brooke tried arguing that she’s too old for me to be confiscating her things and returning the purse was going too far."

Uhhh. She's too old to be behaving like a spoiled brat at 20 years old. She needs to be able to regulate her emotions when a toddler makes a small mistake and not apologizing is ridiculous.

You can have empathy for her going through a s**t time with her friend, but she does not get to take it out on others around her, esp little ones without a concept of their mistakes! Absolutely not okay. This wouldn't be acceptable as a social norm in college or at the workplace. Don't let it slide now.

My_Poor_Nerves wrote:

I assumed we were dealing with like an eight year old (who ought to have known better than to blow on someone else's cake hence the disproportionate anger) and like a twelve year old (older but young enough to be upset by this and be out of control with emotions hence the disproportionate anger). The fact that this is between a three year old and a twenty year old has blown my mind.

Familiar_Practice906 wrote:

ESH in a classic Dark Knight reference, I’m gonna say taking her gift back is what she deserved but not what she needed right now. She’s obviously an AH for what she did but hear me out.

Assuming this was out of character for daughter, I’m surprised the SECOND reaction you had wasn’t trying to dig deeper with “hey what’s going on? You just yelled at a three year old out there.” If she’s a repeat offender then maybe that’s the right move exclusively but that doesn’t seem to be the case here.

camembert23 wrote:

NTA. I was thinking 'okay so this kid is maybe 10 or something' - SHE'S 20?????? And she swore at a 3 year old? You handled this completely appropriately. She is old enough to treat a child with love, of course a 3 year old might misunderstand and blow out candles!

thirdtryisthecharm wrote:

INFO: Did Aria apologize? How did Aria's parents handle that? A 3yo blowing out candles is a deliberate action not an accident. Aria may not have understood, but that was a teaching moment if she didn't understand. Was Brooke upset because of Aria's inappropriate behavior or because the adults in the room were excusing inappropriate behavior rather than correcting it?

OP responded:

"INFO: Did Aria apologize? How did Aria's parents handle that? A 3yo blowing out candles is a deliberate action not an accident. Aria may not have understood, but that was a teaching moment if she didn't understand. Was Brooke upset because of Aria's inappropriate behavior or because the adults in the room were excusing inappropriate behavior rather than correcting it?"

My SIL and BIL both apologized for Aria. Aria is 3. She did not understand why blowing the candles was wrong. My BIL was explaining to Aria why she can't blow on the candles on someone else's birthday. We were in the middle of correcting Aria when Brooke snapped at Aria. There is no excuse for how she treated her 3-year-old cousin as a 20-year-old adult.

ResponsibleSpite1332 wrote:

ESH. Your daughter may have been out of line, but it’s no longer your job to punish her. She’s a full adult, responsible for her own actions. She can apologize or not apologize at her discretion. You don’t owe her a gift per se, but your behavior and attempt at controlling her is equally inappropriate.

OP responded:

"ESH. Your daughter may have been out of line, but it’s no longer your job to punish her. She’s a full adult, responsible for her own actions. She can apologize or not apologize at her discretion."

Brooke is indeed an adult who is responsible for her own actions. It is also true that Brooke lives under my roof. When Brooke starts paying for her own housing and expenses, then she can act however she wants. However, I will not allow any adult living under my roof to verbally attack a toddler.

"Your behavior and attempt at controlling her is equally inappropriate." I allowed Brooke to keep the other gift I had gotten her since a Stanley Cup is practical and can be used for school. But I am not going to reward her with a purse when she behaved so poorly towards Aria and refused to apologize.

If Brooke had immediately apologized for snapping, then I wouldn't have taken away any gifts. But that isn't what happened here.

Scandalicing wrote:

YTA. Brooke was having her “dropping the milk moment” - it was a “for the love of God, can ANYTHING be rational and simple?!” She should say sorry, sure, but ruining her birthday and removing her main gift because she swore at a kid is overkill. Tbh the actual AH is whoever let the kid do it. That is just so easily avoided!!

While people can't agree on a verdict, one thing is for sure: the 3-year-old is NTA.

Sources: Reddit
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