With the price of childcare rising in the cost-of-living crisis, it is no surprise that some people ask family members for help. However, one aunt has fallen out with her sister after refusing to look after her stepchildren.

The 27-year-old woman who goes by the name u/Kind-Ant1806 on Reddit wrote that she is a stay-at-home mom of two. She looks after her sister’s children after school and during the summer break. The sister provides snacks for all of the kids and pays a small fee to the aunt, who doesn’t mind as she enjoys spending quality time with the children.

“But now things have changed. My sister is engaged and her future husband lives out of state with his two children. My sister already told me they were hoping I would take care of them,” the aunt wrote.

A Care.com survey said that more than half of American parents estimated they will spend more than $18,000 per child on childcare in 2023. So it is no surprise that the engaged couple expected the aunt to start looking after the children right away.

An unhappy woman having problems with her noisy little daughter. An aunt has been backed by Reddit users for refusing to look after children she has never met.
fizkes/iStock/Getty Images Plus

However, the original poster wanted to get to know the kids prior to looking after them. “I told her I understood but I would not be comfortable taking care of the kids for extended periods of time when I do not know them and will have met them one or two times before they would be placed in my care and I would not be comfortable,” she wrote.

Explaining the end result, the aunt added: “I told her if she was willing to give me some time to get to know the kids… she said no. So I told her firmly that she would need to find someone else to take care of the kids.

“My sister told me I was really showing that I only consider family those who are related by blood.”

Florence Ann Romano, a personal growth strategist and former nanny with more than 15 years’ experience, told Newsweek about the viral post.

Romano said: “The sister is completely reasonable in asking for a ‘trial period.’ I always suggest that nannies and families test out the relationship and dynamics before agreeing to a contract.

“It is vital that all parties are invested; comfortable; and that the chemistry is right. The sister, who is getting married and blending her family, cannot expect that everyone opens their heart and home without time: time to adjust; time to get to know the new spouse; time to gain the trust and friendship of the stepchildren,” Romano added. “The sister, who watches the children, is not saying no. She is just asking for time, which is entirely appropriate and respectful.”

Tips for Blended Families

Romano has shared the following three tips for blended families.

  • Respect: for the former spouse; for one another; for the children going through an enormous transition.
  • Patience: blending families, even in the best of circumstances, takes time and a whole lot of grace. There will be speed bumps and a lot of feelings to work through.
  • Communication: for there to be any of the above, open lines of dialogue and honesty are imperative.

So far, the post has racked up more than 16,000 upvotes since it was shared on August 30.

One user wrote: “I smell forced relationships turned resentful kids on both sides. It’s fine to treat everyone equally from the start but that’s on the topic of buying things like necessities and luxuries. Emotionally everyone is different and that NEEDS to be treated differently. Everyone including OP [the original poster] need to have consideration given while they settle into this new life.”

“There is a 2000% chance these new kids will have behavioral problems if they don’t already. What kind of dad moves his kids into a strange home with strange kids without first testing the situation? Only one who’s massively overwhelmed with taking care of the kids himself,” commented another.

Newsweek reached out to u/Kind-Ant1806 via Reddit for comment. We could not verify the details of the case.

If you have a family dilemma, let us know via life@newsweek.com. We can ask experts for advice, and your story could be featured on Newsweek.