Praise as Woman Refuses to Pay for Estranged Mom's Surgery

A wealthy tech worker has been applauded for refusing to pay for her estranged mom's heart surgery after years of minimal contact.

In a Reddit post shared under the handle u/Throwawayaita827, a 35-year-old woman wrote how her absent mother branded her a "terrible daughter" after she opted against funding her lifesaving treatment.

But, while her mom was left furious at the decision, many online felt her daughter was well within her rights to say no. According to the post, when she was just 5 years old, her father died, with her mom marrying a man named John just "a few months after."

John "didn't want to raise" her, so she was shipped off to live at her aunt's, with her mom visiting sporadically in the years that followed.

A woman rowing with her mother.
Stock image of two women arguing in a restaurant. A woman has refused to provide financial support to her estranged mother. Vlad Dmytrenko/Getty

That kind of separation can have a significant impact on child development. Stanford University psychology Professor Ian H. Gotlib has conducted extensive research on the psychological effects of early-life stress and parental separation.

"Early-life stress is consistently associated with behavioral problems in children, with symptoms of psychopathology, and with psychological and physical disorders," he told Stanford News.

Gotlib said children often secrete high levels of the stress hormone cortisol in response to traumas of this kind, and this can have an impact on brain development.

"This elevated cortisol has negative effects on brain structure and connectivity, slowing neuronal growth and reducing volumes of critical brain structures like the hippocampus and affecting brain regions involved in effective emotion regulation," Gotlib added.

Nona Kelly is a licensed marriage and family therapist at in-person and online therapy company, Thriveworks. She told Newsweek: "As adults, we all have decisions that we get to make. Many of our decisions are based on our past experiences.

"In this situation, the woman reports feeling uncomfortable financing a surgery for her mother. That feeling of discomfort is something that is important for her to pay attention to. Self-awareness is vital in all decision-making."

Kelly added that, while there are clearly "unresolved issues," the daughter could use the situation to resolve them. "It sounds like there is room for healing between mother and daughter," Kelly said. "If the daughter wanted to open up communication with her mother regarding their history, this could provide that opportunity."

She added that mother and daughter consider the prospect of therapy: "I encourage everyone to look at their wounds, especially the ones suffered in childhood, and get healing for those wounds so they do not continue to be carried into their future relationships."

The woman writing in the Reddit post was certainly left feeling like her mom "abandoned" her to live with her new husband, John. "My mother didn't do anything for me," she wrote. "She came to visit me once a month and didn't even call me at Christmas or New Year."

The impact on her mental health might have been more significant, had it not been for the intervention of her aunt and uncle. They raised her as if she was "their daughter" and made sure that she never wanted for anything.

That foundation helped her get through school and college. The woman went on to earn a computer-science degree before landing a series of tech jobs that have helped her make "a lot of money."

Cut to the present day and with life going well, the woman wrote that she was surprised to receive a message from her estranged mom on Instagram.

"She asked if we could meet to talk and reevaluate our relationship to forget the past and move forward as mother and daughter," the woman explained. "I have a soft heart so I took it. I thought it would be an opportunity for us to talk and finally create the bond I always wanted."

While things initially went well when they met up, her mom quickly moved the conversation on to explain how "bad" things had gotten for her. She was divorced, broke and suffering with "serious heart problems."

"After a while she asked if I could pay for the surgery she needed," the woman wrote. "The surgery was quite expensive, quite a lot. I told her I wouldn't pay as I wouldn't feel good doing that."

Her mom was furious at this response and "yelled" at her in the restaurant before leaving. But, despite having the money to pay for the operation, her daughter remained reluctant to do so, noting that "she never has been a mom to me."

Many on social media felt the woman would be better served by closing the door on any potential relationship with her mother. PJfanRI felt the woman had done little wrong in rejecting her mom's request, commenting: "She abandoned you; you don't owe her a thing."

Kooky_football_6452 agreed, writing: "the purpose of this reconciliation was financial," while Far-Cup9063 added: "Your mom didn't want a relationship with you. She wanted your money. And she would have expected you to support her for the rest of her life."

Newsweek reached out to u/Throwawayaita827 for comment. We could not verify the details of the case.

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