Helping family is important, but sometimes our gestures of good will aren’t received as we hope. One man had a similar experience and asks on a popular online forum, is he the a**hole for helping to pay his niece and nephew’s orthodontic bill?
An Unwanted Gift
The OP (original poster) begins by explaining that he has just gotten a new promotion at his job and a sizable pay increase along with it.
“I recently got a pretty substantial raise, and I was able to dramatically increase the limits on my credit cards,” the OP says.
The OP recalls a recent conversation he had with his sister, in which she revealed a stressful situation she and her husband faced. The OP shares, “I was talking to my sister in late November, and she said unless her husband got a raise, they were going to have trouble making the next payment for my niece and nephew’s orthodontic treatment.”
Wanting to do something nice for his sister and her family, the OP decides to put his new salary to good use. He says, “I figured making the payment would be a great way to ease some pressure on them.”
So the OP calls the orthodontist’s office to set his plan into motion. When he calls, the OP finds he can give an even bigger gift than he planned. The OP says, “I called the office, and they asked if I was calling to pay the monthly balance ($300) or the balance in full ($5700).”
The OP continues, “I figured, what the heck? With my raise, I would barely notice the additional payment and that way my sister’s family would be covered even if my brother-in-law didn’t get the raise.” With that, the OP pays the bill in full and waits to share what he has done.
When the OP does tell his sister and her husband what he did for them, his brother-in-law doesn’t appreciate the gesture as he hoped. The OP explains, “I presented them my gift and my brother-in-law freaked out. I guess he did get a raise, and he’s pissed that I insulted his manliness and his ability to provide for his family.”
Even the OP’s sister is unhappy, as he adds, “My sister says I overstepped, and she wasn’t even asking me to do anything. It’s been so weird since.”
Surprised by the reactions from his sister and brother-in-law, the OP asks the internet to help him understand if he’s the a**hole in this case?
The public’s reaction was mixed. In one camp, some fully supported the OP. One user commented, “NTA (not the a**hole) because what you did was objectively nice.”
Similarly, another user says, “NTA. This was a wonderful gift, and your brother-in-law is an a**hole for making it about his ego. Now they can put some money away to take the kids on a nice vacation this year, pay off some other bills, etc.”
“NTA. Your BIL can always give you the $5700 back,” responded one user.
Others in the forum discussed the practicality of the OP’s decision. As one commenter added, “It gets complicated, though. OP can’t write off the $5700 because the niece and nephew aren’t dependents. It was a bad financial decision.”
One user bluntly states, “YTA (you’re the a**hole). You don’t understand how money works, and the minute you got a raise, you made a stupid financial decision.”
“We all seem to be focusing on just the financial part, but there’s still the issue of contacting their dentist and discussing their financial situation without their consent,” another commenter reasons. “Even if it’s a “gift,” it’s inappropriate.”
“I agree so much – YTA. Someone’s bills are their own private business, even if they’re venting about them,” one user responds.
The overall vote tipped more towards NTA (not the a**hole) for the OP. Hopefully, things smooth over with his sister and brother-in-law. How would you have reacted if you were in this situation? Did the OP cross a line by paying the bill?
This article was inspired by this thread and does not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Cents + Purpose.