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A Woman Told Her Estranged Parents They Have To Give Her The College Tuition They Never Saved Up If They Wanted To Reconnect

Photo: Карина Каржавина / Pexels
Woman alone on a chair

A woman wrote into the Reddit subreddit r/AmITheA–hole, wondering if she was wrong for not accepting her estranged parents’ apology when they tried to reconnect with her.

As she explained, she has three brothers and is the only girl in her family. Her parents believed “religiously and just culturally in rigid gender roles.” Her parents paid for all three of her brothers’ college educations; they told her she wasn’t allowed to apply to college, yet she did so anyway.

The woman told her estranged parents that they should give her the college tuition they never provided if they wanted to reconnect.

“Because of their expectation I’d stay home with kids, they never valued my education, educational achievements or emphasized things beyond domestic skills,” she said. Her parents sent all three of her brothers to college, “fully covering tuition, books, an off-campus apartment, and other living expenses.”

She applied for college secretly and was accepted with a partial scholarship. She was an engineering major, and “had to work, take on debt and struggle” in order to complete her education.

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 Photo: This Is Engineering / Pexels

“My parents and I have barely spoken for years,” she stated. “I’m married now and expecting our first child, and they asked to meet up.” Upon meeting, her parents offered a half-hearted apology, saying “Sorry if they caused me pain,” and asked to maintain a relationship with her. “I asked them specifically what they were sorry for,” she said. “They wouldn’t elaborate and just said they wanted to move forward. I said that wasn’t sufficient.”

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She asked her parents to reimburse her college tuition, as they did for her brothers, yet they refused.

The woman told her parents that “they could prove they were sorry by forwarding me the $100k my degree and college expenses were, just like they did for my brothers.” Her request for fair treatment wasn’t well-received— “My mom burst into tears, my dad said I wasn’t being serious and I just left. I’ve been getting calls from my brothers telling me I’m being immature and hurtful. I don’t think so at all.”

The people commenting on the Reddit thread voted her Not The A–hole, and many of them explained why she was correct in asking her parents for tuition money. 

One woman, who also studied engineering against her family’s wishes, said, “Your answer to them was perfect. It was very fair, and if they have fixed their appalling bigotry issues, they would be falling all over themselves begging you to take the money. Since they clearly have not fixed their bigotry, you don't want them around your child.”

“A fair treatment between siblings is the bare minimum,” explained another person. “And I don't mean giving each sibling the exact same, but giving all siblings the same opportunities.”

Someone else had harsh words for her brothers, stating, “Tell your brothers, ‘You know what else is immature and hurtful? Sexism, parental neglect, and forcing your child into debt.’"

A different commenter praised the woman not only for the hard work of earning a college degree on her own but also for setting clear boundaries and sticking to them. “You have accomplished a lot and had to make some tough decisions in order to do so,” they said. “It takes an incredibly strong person to not only get a degree like you did but also set and enforce reasonable boundaries for family.”

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Alexandra Blogier is a writer on YourTango's news and entertainment team. She covers parenting issues, pop culture analysis and all things to do with the entertainment industry.