A mom furious with her son for missing her daughter’s wedding—despite receiving emergency neurosurgery—is being blasted online.
Sharing his story with Reddit’s Am I the A******? (AITA) forum, user u/mrenville said his sister decided to throw herself a “surprise birthday party.” Despite the “surprise” part, his sister spent months talking about the event.
“I had never been invited to her house before and honestly, I was a little sour about it given how close we’ve always been,” the poster wrote.
“My mom asked if I’d taken some pictures since I was a photographer. My mom nagged me for a couple of months because everyone was going to be there.”
Unfortunately, on the morning of the party, Mrenville was rushed to the hospital.
“The ER doctor ran a bunch of tests and an MRI and ended up admitting me and called in the neurosurgeon and booked an operating room for emergency surgery,” they said.
He messaged his mom to say he’d be missing the event, and despite the poster being seriously ill, she was “p*****.”
“Later that evening she texted me a picture of my sister in a wedding dress getting married to her boyfriend,” they continued.
“I asked who all knew and she said everyone except you, we wanted it to be a surprise.”
Mrenville realized the birthday party was a rush to force him into taking the wedding photographs for free. As a result, his mom and sister were furious that he’d missed the event, as they had no backup plan.
“AITA for getting upset that I was basically being tricked into a full on wedding photography, without knowing I was supposed to do it, and everyone else knew it was a wedding and not her surprise birthday party?” he asked.
Reddit users were horrified by the mom and sister’s behavior, with the post receiving almost 8,000 upvotes and over 800 comments.
Why Do Some Parents Favor One Child Over Others?
Jill Suitor, a sociology professor at Purdue University, has been leading an ongoing study on family dynamics for more than 20 years.
Called the Within-Family Differences Study, the Suitor’s team has discovered that parental favoritism is common in families, even if moms and dads won’t always admit to it.
Unsurprisingly, parental favoritism—whether real or perceived—often leads to significant rifts in family relationships.
Kate Robinson, co-founder and chief clinical officer at My Therapy Assistant, said significantly favoring one child over another can be a sign of narcissism. This dynamic is known as the “golden child” and the “scapegoat.”
“Parents might favor a particular child because they possess qualities or skills that parents value or can use to make them feel good about themselves,” Robinson told Newsweek.
“They see the ‘golden child’ as an extension of themselves, rather than a separate individual with their own emotions and dreams.”
While the golden child receives positive attention, and sometimes worship, from their parents, the scapegoated child is the focus of their negative energy, including verbal, emotional or physical abuse.
“Sometimes the parents see something of themselves in the unfavored child,” said Robinson. “Something that they can’t accept and evokes a feeling of shame for them.”
Despite different approaches from their parents, both the golden child and scapegoat were negatively impacted in the long term.
Golden children can become enmeshed with a parent, or learn that love is conditional as long as they keep making their parents happy. They can also lack resilience, due to being praised excessively throughout their childhood.
On the other hand, scapegoated children often grow up believing they are not valued or worthy of love, and can lack self-esteem due to constant criticism and neglect.
If you’re a scapegoated child, Robinson recommends setting boundaries with your parents, as well as recognizing and reframing the harmful messages learned in childhood—although this is not an easy task, and it can take time and effort to really sink in.
“Critiquing them with adult eyes can challenge their validity and make space for a more accurate alternative,” she said.
“For example, ‘I’m not good enough’ might become ‘I’m fine as I am, my parents unfortunately have some difficulties tolerating certain emotions.’
“This can help create an exit from the trap of trying to prove oneself and/or seek their approval.”
‘Your Family is Hella Messed Up’
Redditors were shocked by the story, with solo_throwaway254247 asking: “What did I just read?”
“Where is the concern for your health? And rushing to your bedside? Your mom sucks. I wish you a quick and full recovery. Your family is hella messed up.”
To which another_awkward_brit replied: “The wedding needed to be a surprise so they could strongarm OP onto doing the photography for free.”
Needfulsalda added: “While wrapping and selling it as a huge favor they are doing for OP.”
Effective-Dog-6201 asked: “Is your family always this manipulative?
“You show up with your camera set up for a few candid shots and ‘SURPRISE!!! Put your professional photographer hat on and shoot an entire wedding…wait…WHAT?'”
Imagine SnapDragons agreed, writing: “OP would be the unpaid help, and work the entire time. Meanwhile the rest of the family would be enjoying the wedding and party.”
LOC_damn commented: “If you are the photographer you aren’t in the pictures. I think it’s important that OP didn’t even know where their sister lives. That family is a mess.”
Winesis wrote: “You need to tell them you are furious that they didn’t rush to the hospital to be there for your surgery.
“A wedding they did not even have the courtesy to tell you about isn’t as important as your life.”
While both sides softhemoon said: “They only care about their wedding photos, and are mad that their manipulation tactics failed.
“They haven’t asked about your wellbeing after the surgery, not even your own mother? You are absolutely NTA (not the a******).”
Newsweek reached out to u/mrenville for comment via Reddit. We could not verify the details of the case.
If you have a family dilemma, let us know via [email protected]. We can ask experts for advice, and your story could be featured on Newsweek.