Family dynamics can be complicated, and this Reddit dad’s conundrum is proving that things aren’t always so black and white. Taking to the platform’s “Am I The A—hole” forum, the man explains some vacation-related drama going on between him and his daughters, and we — and Reddit — are scratching our heads a bit about who’s the true a—hole in the scenario.
The father of two starts by sharing that his eldest daughter, Kate, is 23 years old and lives with him rent- and bill-free after being kicked out of her mother’s home, explaining she “was absolutely terrible in her teenage years. She was rude, disrespectful, and would steal, smoke, skip class, etc.” He shares that Kate “barely finished high school” and didn’t want to go to college, and she’s now working at a fast food restaurant to save for her own apartment, noting that overall she’s “doing a lot better.”
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He goes on to share that his youngest daughter, Alexa, is 16 and “is the opposite [of Kate]; she’s amazing in school, works, volunteers, and still has time to do sports and clubs.” He continues, “I’m extremely proud of her and feel as if she puts too much pressure on herself. Me and my girlfriend decided to surprise her on a vacation… We planned this in early October.”
That dad explains that he told Kate about the vacation and invited her to join them as long as she could pay for her own plane ticket. He says that she agreed to come along and give him money for her ticket by Halloween, which she never did “even after being reminded.” He goes on to explain that he booked the trip on November 1 for the 18th through the 20th of the month for just himself, his girlfriend, and Alexa.
So far, it sounds reasonable that he invited Kate along with the caveat that she has to pay for her own ticket. She’s a working adult without any major bills, and most notably, she agreed to the condition of footing her own travel expense. The dad says he reminded her about the stipulation before booking the trip, and it seems like he assumed that she had changed her mind since she never gave him money to book her seat on the flight. We’re nodding along with understanding so far, but the situation gets more complicated.
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The dad shares, “I told my daughter [Alexa] this Sunday at dinner and she was very excited; Kate then said ‘You’ll have to cancel and hope they refund. I work those days.’ I told her she wasn’t coming since she didn’t pay. She was confused and thought I was paying for her. I told her that she was an adult who worked and lived free, [so] why would I pay.”
He relays that Kate was upset that he paid for Alexa but not her, as they’re both his daughters. He writes, “An argument then happened which resulted in Alexa and Kate crying and Kate saying she hated me. Kate has been ignoring us until we apologize and pay her ticket, which I won’t.”
Two red flags for our dad, here: first of all, he refers to Alexa as “my daughter,” but simply refers to his older daughter by her name. It’s giving a bit of a favoritism / golden child vibe, which feels icky. Secondly, even though the dad has valid reasons for why he wants Kate to pay for her own ticket, his “so why would I pay” is a needlessly callous comment that likely upset Kate further.
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But let’s not let Kate off the hook either — unless the dad is lying in his description of events, she very well knew and was reminded that she needed to pay for her own ticket. Why she’s now confused and thinking her dad was going to pay when explicitly told that wasn’t the case is puzzling on her end.
The situation develops further with the dad writing, “Yesterday Alexa sent me a link to a video on TikTok where it shows Kate crying and explaining the situation, but she lied about a lot of things in the videos and made Alexa and I look like bad guys. The video got a lot of attention and support. She even opened up a GoFundMe where she received close to $500.”
It’s definitely very not cool for Kate to have aired their family drama on social media and embellished the situation to paint herself in a favorable position — and elicit money from people on possible false pretenses — but the dad again comes in with more of the “us versus Kate” jargon, which feels grimy.
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He continues, “I showed my girlfriend and we were both livid; Alexa was also very upset about the comments, which fueled my anger. When [Kate] came home a huge argument broke out and I basically kicked her out for the week. She’s been posting on social media platforms talking about me, my daughter, and my girlfriend. My daughter even got some nasty messages on her social media. My girlfriend told me I’m right on this but my daughter told me to just pay for her ticket.”
He concludes, “I want to know if I’m doing the right decision, so help.”
Many Redditors took to the comments to tell the dad they do not believe he’s the a—hole in the situation, with one user writing, “NTA. One daughter is over 18 and has a job, the other is under 18 and in school. It is entirely reasonable to expect one to be able to pay her own way while paying for the one who hasn’t had any opportunity to make money for herself. The fact that Kate is willing to lie about you and her sister on the internet for sympathy and money should tell you something about her character. You could even report the GoFundMe as being fraudulent.”
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Another user agreed, commenting, “Not going on the trip after agreeing to pay for her own ticket is a natural consequence for Kate. OP should just become a broken record on the subject: ‘Kate, you agreed to pay by Halloween. You didn’t follow through with that, and that’s why you’re not going.'”
Others disagreed, with one Redditor pointing out, “I also think we have a golden child scenario. He keeps referring to the younger one as my daughter throughout the post but not the older.”
Another user expounded on the “golden child” musings, writing, “Kinda think this is ESH. Her reaction is pretty bad, but it kinda seems like you’re stacking the deck against her for past behavior a bit when they’re both your daughters. Mentioning about how Kate was ‘absolutely terrible’ as a child even though you admit she’s doing way better now, while you’re ‘extremely proud’ of Alexa when that’s not really relevant to the story is a pretty big tell. I’d be pretty upset too if I felt like my parents were totally favoring my younger sibling.”
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They continued, “While sure, 23 is an adult, it’s hardly some unusual event for a 23-year-old to still be living at home while they save up for their own place. It’s nice that you’re letting her live there rent-free, but she’s not some random tenant, she’s a part of your family, and probably (and I would say rightfully) feels incredibly hurt that you’re all going on vacation without her.”
They concluded, “You’re obviously within your rights to say she has to pay her own way, and her reaction is immature, but you might want to look in the mirror a little bit as to why her reaction is what it is.”
While the situation is definitely complex and we can see both sides, it’s important to note that kids — even adult ones — who desire attention will resort to getting it in less-than-desirable ways, which Kate is doing by venting on social media. It’s not the right way to handle the situation, and yes, she is an adult, but as the dad is many, many years his daughter’s senior, he should do some self-reflecting and realize that he’s clearly favoring one child over the other not only in this situation but in life overall.
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Kate’s already been written off by her mom, and even though she’s shown growth and improvement in the five years since her period of “bad behavior,” she’s still being thought of as a “bad kid” by her dad in comparison to her sister, who’s an unfortunate bystander in this situation. Her dad continuing to demonize her and compare her to Alexa will only show Kate that her efforts to positively develop as a person are fruitless, and it will strain the sisters’ relationship that much more.
While being held responsible for a portion of the trip expenses is reasonable because she doesn’t have any major bills, the dad probably should have discussed the travel plans with Kate in more detail so she could properly prepare and request time off. He should also definitely reflect on his relationship with both his daughters and the very different way he thinks of and talks about them both. We hope he’s able to take the feedback from Reddit and apply it to his family dynamic for the better of them all.
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