You know what? Sometimes friends are better than family. That’s the takeaway from a sad story on Reddit’s AITA forum in which a father grieving the death of his son made the decision to give his son’s college fund to his son’s friend, who helped support and cheer him up during his illness. You know who didn’t do anything to help his son? The OP’s own family. Now they’re guilt-tripping him about his choice to give the money to the young man who made a difference in his son’s life.
“I M39 lost my son in 2019 due to a chronic heart condition. He was 15 years old. It was devastating and I just couldn’t take it especially when my family did little to nothing to support me during these difficult times. They didn’t bring my son meals when he was at the hospital. They didn’t let me go home and rest even for a few hours. They didn’t take care of other things while I had a lot to deal with I wasn’t offered any help just words. They’d just talk but do nothing,” the OP writes.
Despite everything, the OP and his son created a college fund. The OP says he started saving money to keep his son motivated.
“He had a very close friend that’s about the same age as him. They were friends for 5 years, and I can’t express how his presence in my son’s life helped him through the worst days, sometimes his friend would spend the night with us and try to get my son to do activities and lighten up his mood all the time. To be frank, his friend was closer to him than his own family.”
“Last week. While I was with my family my sister asked me what I was going to do with my son’s college money. I didn’t wanna mention this but since she asked I told her that I will be giving the money to my son’s friend. She barely even recognized his friend and was confused and said that my nephew deserves this money since he’s family. My mom agreed that I wasn’t thinking straight and that I should help the people close to me-family and that my nephew has a right to go to college and I was wrong for giving this ‘opportunity’ away to someone else.”
The OP wrote that his nephew and son were not particularly close, and he doesn’t know why the nephew would even care. The OP’s sister went on about not being able to afford his college and started lashing out and guilt-tripping the OP. He said this was his decision to make.
Redditors were pretty firm in their belief that the OP has every right to give the college fund to his son’s friend.
“Ask her what her plan was for her son’s college if yours hadn’t died, and then tell her to do that. You aren’t obligated to do anything whatsoever with that money that you don’t want to do,” said WhoFearsDeath.
“Whether this is a proper 529 Plan or just some checking account that you tossed money into, after the intended beneficiary passed away, there’s nothing obligating you to pick a contingent beneficiary due to perceived familial obligation…Your nephew would be better served resenting his parents for not having the discipline nor the charisma to have thought ahead far enough to save money for his education,” noted OrangeJuliusPage.
“I teared up reading that. I’m sure that friend meant SO much to OP’s son. OP, It’s very clear from the post that your son’s friend is an extremely empathetic and caring person. It’s not about how close you are to the person, or whether you’re family or not. That money was for your son, and should be spent in a way that honors your son’s memory. Funding the education of a person who clearly loved your son is a beautiful way to honor your son’s memory,” said RealisticVoice8.
“I’ve never cried from reading a post on AITA. Well I did today. NTA Op! Your sister sounds like a selfish AH did these people even grieve with you about their nephew!? So sorry for your loss! Just remember family isn’t always about being blood related and this friend of your son seems so sweet and genuine he deserves the money if that’s what you want to do. Don’t let them guilt trip you when they were never there for you to begin with. Sending virtual hugs,” said spiritedaway92.
“I’m struggling to see why your sister thought it was any of her business to ask what you were doing with the college money. It’s your money and you can do whatever you want with it. And yes, your reasons for giving it to your son’s friend are sound – he genuinely sounds like he deserves it,” said mandytjie.
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