'Selfish' Woman Refuses to Babysit Nieces for Sister-in-Law

Gillian Sisley

Are family members required to provide free childcare services?

The pandemic caused a lot of issues in the economy, and one of the bigger ones was limiting the amount of access to affordable childcare. Many parents reported that childcare prices became too expensive during the pandemic, or finding a place to put their child was next to impossible.

For that reason, a lot of parents depended on their family members to fill the childcare gap. While family can be a wonderful resource in helping to care for children now and again, excessive dependency on family members to provide free childcare services can be a slippery slope, and lead to feelings of resentment or being taken for granted.

These realities were highlighted in a recent online post in which a woman refuses to look after her brother's children, and is threatened when she refuses.

Are family members required to provide free childcare services?

A Reddit post published on June 15th, reported on by Amanda Spence from Newsweek, has gone viral with 12,300 upvotes and 2,600 comments.

The author begins her post by explaining that she is married and has no children. She and her husband are unable to have children due to infertility, and so they have pets instead. With that said, they have also ‘helped out’ the author's brother and sister-in-law with their two children, who are 4 years old and 1 year old. That help has included free childcare, helping with dental and health costs, as well as buying food and clothing for the children now and again.

She adds the context that she is a web developer, and so she has flexible hours which make her more capable of caring for her nieces from time to time. The author explains that her brother and sister-in-law make enough just to cover bills, and so they can't afford rising childcare costs.

Though the author has been looking after her nieces from the time they were both born, she, unfortunately, reveals that recently one of her closest friends passed away. Due to this, she's been in a really bad place and has taken off two weeks of work so that she can grieve.

Losing a loved one is beyond heartbreaking.

With over 3 million deaths every year in the US, unfortunately, many people are familiar with the grieving process after the loss of a loved one. It takes time and patience to recover, and certainly doesn’t happen overnight.

Though her brother in the beginning feigned sympathy, the author reveals that not long after the death, her brother dropped off her nieces at her home, when she still needed time to recover for herself. When she objected to the couple leaving their children with her, they told her that looking after her nieces would help take her mind off things.

The author further explained that at the moment she barely has enough energy to take care of herself and her own needs, and certainly doesn't have it in her to be looking after two children. When she tried to communicate this to her brother and sister-in-law, they threatened her by saying that if she's not willing to babysit for the next two weeks she would need to 'refund them monetarily so that they can find childcare elsewhere' because of the short notice.

What do you think? Do the brother and sister-in-law have reason to be upset that they've suddenly lost their free childcare, and does it make sense that the author should now compensate them to send their children to daycare? Or has the author been generous enough in offering free childcare for the last 4 years, and she needs to tell her brother and sister-in-law to take a hike and just care for herself as she grieves?

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