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“My Parents Gave Us a Family Cruise for Christmas, and It’s the Worst Gift Ever!”

One poor woman and mother of 4 has been tying herself in knots trying to figure out what to do after her parents generously gifted her family a cruise ship holiday. The problem is, although the intention was no doubt good, due to the ages of her children and the fact that two of them have additional needs, it wouldn’t be a very relaxing holiday for her. In fact, it would be more akin to a nightmare!

But would she be an assehole for refusing to accept the gift?

We did an early gift exchange with my folks who were in town. We were very surprised they got myself and our 4 kids prepaid tickets to an international cruise without discussion it with us first. We have an autistic/ADHD 8 year old, a 5 year old, a hyper toddler, and an infant.

I want to love the gift because my folks were so excited to give it to us and they spent thousands of dollars on this, but taking a cruise was not something we would have ever planned on doing. Now the kids are expecting to go.

But they valued the WOW factor over whether we as parents thought it was a good idea. My oldest has a problem with eloping especially when he gets overstimulated, I just had to run him down after he disappeared on a hiking trail and he nearly had a total meltdown at a Christmas lights show because it was too much. I will be worried about one of my kids going overboard for the whole trip.

The cruise is in the middle of the week in May, meaning my two oldest will have to miss a week of school. In my state you can get in serious trouble for missing that much time, you can actually get fines, mandatory parenting classes, and your kids could be failed.

We also would need to get 6 passports to do the cruise which would run about $900.

The last thing is they asked us for gift ideas and we gave them a good variety of ideas from little to big and they just did their own one without consulting us. So now we have to either 1. Take the cruise as is and risk the school fallout 2. Move the cruise to a non school time, but they would lose their $1k deposit, 3. Just cancel the cruise altogether. All bad options.

Am I the asshole? An I looking a gift horse in the mouth? I didn’t ask for a horse. Have you seen how much they eat?EDIT: grandparents are not going on the trip it’s just us

Many people agreed that the way the parents had gone about choosing this gift without consulting their daughter was thoughtless and had put her in an uncomfortable position. Especially since the children now know about the trip and will be expecting to go!

NTA. WT Absolute F? Who on earth chooses an entire vacation, dates included, for someone else’s family, without consulting them???

That’s an OBLIGATION, not a present.

I would very politely turn it down. The repercussions are completely on them for not so much as running this by you first. There’s zero reason for you to tie yourself in knots trying to make this work. (CampfiresInConifers)


NTA. Gift horse? Or a white elephant? Transfer the booking to their names, see if they want to take your four children on a ship for a week… This is a daft present, lots of love but little thought. I can’t imagine a worse holiday for 4 small children, what are they going to gain from it? Talk to them, see if they can change it for older family, or go themselves. Sorry, but they need to lose the money on this, not you. They didn’t think, and didn’t listen to your suggestions. (boredathome1962)


I’m autistic (39m) and my wife and I have a 2 year old. This is my nightmare.

The gesture is lovely, but it’s a poisoned chalice. (United_Evening_2629)

Some people thought that she shouldn’t make any rash decisions, but should possibly look into what the cruise ship offers before making a decision.

I think you should first take a breath & find out more about the cruise. Cruise ships have just about everything one could possibly need/want. They understand kids & how to manage them. Find out what the possibilities are first…. Then make your decision based on facts. I truly understand your stress. Information will help.

Personally, I really appreciate your parents thoughtfulness but as a Mom of 4 … I would absolutely hate this gift. I would thank my parents profusely & then explain there are too many problems with the trip that won’t be possible to solve so how would they like me to proceed. Perhaps ask them to use tixs for themselves & invite their friends, gift it to another sibling, or just cancel it. (I would offer to reimburse my parents)

Your parents did not do this with any intent to hurt you. They thought it would be a nice gift for your family. For many families it would be a great gift. Just might not work for yours.

NTA (Alarming_Reply_6286)

Others agreed that it indeed did sound like hell on Earth, and counselled the mum to politely but firmly tell the grandparents that she cannot accept the gift.

I can’t imagine a more hellish trip—and my three sons had no additional needs, except that one was medically fragile. That’s too young. That’s too far. That conflicts with school.

Undoubtedly your parents meant well, and are being very generous. But it’s not the right trip at the right time. My suggestion is to thank them profusely, for an extended period. And try to get as much of a refund for them as possible. That trip would be an undiluted nightmare for both parents. (AffectionatePoet4586)



A cruise, where for a week, your basically out and about in public, eating, or crammed into a cabin, with an infant, toddler, and 5-year-old, sounds absolutely exhausting. (And that’s not counting your 8-year-old who might need some extra attention or quiet time to themselves, which might be hard to come by on a cruise.)

You won’t really enjoy it, your 8-year-old doesn’t sound like they would enjoy it, and your youngest two won’t remember it. Don’t go.

It’s not that you don’t want to go, but there are issues you can’t resolve about going on the cruise. (Graflex01867)

Commenters agreed that if the parents were going to be mad at anyone, it should be at themselves for not checking if the gift worked for the family before booking it. And a gift that requires people to spend a considerable amount of money just to use it, is not really a gift at all!

NTA, as someone who likes cruises, that is a WILD gift to give someone without even testing the waters about it first. And they aren’t even planning on going to help you with the kids? Good gravy.

You would not be even close to asshole territory to reschedule or cancel. They didn’t ask if this was a viable vacation or even a good time. This is on them. This is an expensive lesson to ask before gifting WOW gifts.

Let them be mad about it and don’t feel bad at all. Even without having to work around your eldest kid’s neurodivergent challenges, this is galling. (SpatchcockZucchini)


NTA at all. I hate gifts like this, on the surface they appear thoughtful and generous but scratch the surface and they’re really very thoughtless and usually end up costing the giftee ££££.

Your parents have been very thoughtless, not checking so many things (whether you like cruises, the school term dates, passports, suitability for your family – I mean taking 4 kids 8 and under on any holiday is a challenge neuroatypical or not). It’s a gift for them really, “look how generous we are”.

If your gut reaction is no then go with that. You can decline the gift gracefully with something like “Thank you for the (kind) thought but (for a variety of reasons) we won’t be able to use this gift”. You may well feel you have to give them reasons but you don’t have to be detailed and could just say “That type of holiday unfortunately won’t work at all for our family (at this stage in the childrens lives as they’re too small and behave unpredictably)” (FancyCustard5)

What do you think? What would you do in this woman’s position?

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Jolene enjoys writing, sharing and connecting with other like-minded women online – it also gives her the perfect excuse to ignore Mount-Washmore until it threatens to bury her family in an avalanche of Skylander T-shirts and Frozen Pyjama pants. (No one ever knows where the matching top is!) Likes: Reading, cooking, sketching, dancing (preferably with a Sav Blanc in one hand), social media, and sitting down on a toilet seat that one of her children hasn’t dripped, splashed or sprayed on. Dislikes: Writing pretentious crap about herself in online bio’s and refereeing arguments amongst her offspring.

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