Giving in to your phobia is one thing. Being irresponsible and inconsiderate is another!

A netizen recently asked, “Am I a jerk for not allowing my niece and nephew to swim in a lake with their cousins because of how afraid I am of open water?”. Let us know what you think in the comments section!


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The Original Poster (OP) has two sisters. OP is 23, they are 28 (Bec) and 29 (Ada). Both have kids, but OP doesn’t. 

“So before I get into this, I know I was wrong, I know I acted irrationally, and I know I probably need some intense counseling. I guess I’m asking, do I deserve all the anger my sisters are directing at me?” asks the OP.


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They all planned to do a family day at a local lake yesterday. OP’s 29-year-old sister Ada’s Father-In-Law (FIL) got sepsis, so she had to fly out and asked OP to take her two kids to the lake. OP said sure. 

“I’m also staying at her house until she gets home. I was not just taking them to the lake”, says OP. 


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She (OP) thought it would be okay, even though OP has a massive fear of open water (or sharks specifically). It came from when they went to California as kids, and OP loved the ocean.

“I had massive nightmares about being grabbed by sharks, and I’ve never swam again. I can go in pools as long as I can touch and see the bottom, but a lane, pond, pool at night, etc., will leave me with a pure panic attack”, says OP. 


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They got to the lake yesterday, and OP started freaking out in her head. 

“I was okay on the outside, but on the inside, all I could envision was some shark grabbing my niece and nephew, and I wouldn’t be able to do anything about it. So I did not let them swim”, says OP. 


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OP’s niblings cried, of course, and Bec said OP was being ridiculous. 

“I said I know, but I can’t help it. Bec called Ada, and she told me to let them go in the water and that Bec would be responsible for them. I agreed”, says OP. 


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But as soon as the kids even dipped their toes in, OP freaked out and told them no, they had to stay on the beach. Bec screamed at OP that she’s just as related to the kids as OP is, and she’s overruling OP. 

“I grabbed both kids and loaded them in the car, and we left. We went to see the Taylor Swift movie and had a great time, and the kids were happy”, says OP. 


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She (OP) came out of the movie to about 200 missed angry calls and texts for Ada and Bec about not knowing where OP was, OP not telling them where she was going while acting irrationally, etc. 


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“I guess about an hour in, Ada tracked my location, saw we were at a movie, and calmed down with the calls. But when I called her back, Ada shouted at me and made me feel like a jerk. I tried to defend myself, but she said, ‘There’s no defense for what you did today. You will never watch my kids again’. Am I a jerk?” asks OP. 


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“It’s not about the swimming thing, and it’s about you taking your niblings somewhere else for hours without notifying their parents. There was another adult there that you could have left the kids with, but instead, you ran off with them without a word. Of course, you’re not going to be allowed to babysit again. You’re the jerk.” 


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“You’re the jerk. Lakes don’t have sharks. You don’t mention how old the kids are, but both of their mothers said it was okay for them to swim in the lake. You left and didn’t tell the mother where you were going, hence the missed calls and texts.”


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“Yes, you’re the jerk. You know what you did was wrong. You took your trauma and paranoia out on children, then took them without telling their parents where they were instead of leaving them with the aunt who wasn’t freaking out per their parents’ instructions.

You kidnapped your niece and nephew for two hours, creating a huge panic for the parents because you acted irrationally.

You should feel like a jerk about it, and you shouldn’t be trying to defend yourself. You should be apologizing profusely and getting help.” 


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“You’re the jerk. Your niblings may not fear the water but surely fear you after that. You violated the trust of their parents and the kids. You messed up badly. Go to therapy.”

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