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Mom Called Out For Returning Son’s Birthday Gift From Estranged Half-Sister Who’s Dating Her BIL

one-year-old boy with a birthday gift
James Woodson/Getty Images

Blended families due to divorce and remarriage can be complicated.

Blended families due to infidelity make the usual complications seem mundane.

A woman with a complicated history with her half-sister turned to the “Am I The A**hole” (AITA) subReddit for feedback.

Elegant-Solute asked:

“AITA for not accepting and returning the birthday present my half-sister gave my son?”

The original poster (OP) explained:

“My (27, female) parents got divorced when my brother and I were around six because he had a mistress and another child, our half-sister (25, female).”

“On the day my parents finalized their divorce, and my dad received full custody, both she and her mom came to live with us. Suffice to say, we didn’t like either of them.”

“When she was a child, she didn’t understand why we didn’t want to spend time together. She would complain to our dad about us, and then he would punish us.”

“This added to our hatred.”

“Growing up, she was his precious child, and he would celebrate her birthdays and her milestones while ignoring ours. He always catered to her wants and desires, but never bothered to learn about ours.”

“Any of her wrongdoings would be easily forgiven, but if my brother and I made any mistakes, like dropping the TV remote, he’d severely berate us. Despite belonging to a wealthy family, my brother and I struggled financially and we couldn’t even apply for scholarships.”

“After all these things and more, when we became mature enough, we moved away and had no contact with any of them. I thought that we’d never meet again.”

“Unfortunately, the universe played me a fool and I met her at my in-laws’ family dinner. She was currently dating my husband’s brother and he brought her over to introduce her to his family for the first time.”

“I was in disbelief, and I wanted to ignore her, but she saw me and happily had a reunion with me. She told them that we were friends.”

“Fast-forward to the present day—they’re now engaged.”

“I have a one-year-old son, and except for my husband and his brother, no one from their family knows that we are half-sisters. I suppose I have to accept that our lives will remain intertwined.”

“Recently, we celebrated our son’s birthday, and we held a small party with just our friends and family. Brother-in-law came to the party, she didn’t.”

“But when we were going through the presents my son received, I saw a gift with her name on it. It was addressed as ‘from Aunt (her name) to (my son’s name)’ and it made me feel uncomfortable.”

“I told my husband that I’d return it, and I don’t want anything from her in my son’s life. He was reluctant but supported me. So I did it.”

“Later, when she received the returned package, she called me and asked me why. I told her my reasons.”

“She said that I was being immature by denying a gift meant for someone else. And she gave it to him as his uncle’s fiancée.”

“While my husband agrees that I shouldn’t have returned a gift given in goodwill, I haven’t done anything wrong. But according to my brother, I’m being an a-hole to someone who has respected my wishes and remained distant.”

“AITA for returning her present?”

The OP summed up their situation.

“Maybe the AH for rejecting someone’s heartfelt gift given to someone else because I couldn’t move on from our past or forgive her for actions that weren’t hers.”

Redditors weighed in by declaring:

  • NTA – Not The A**hole
  • YTA – You’re The A**hole
  • NAH – No A**holes Here
  • ESH – Everyone Sucks Here

A handful of Redditors thought the OP was not the a**hole (NTA).

“NTA, but you really should sit down with her and work out how things are going to go. Like it or not she’s part of your family now.” ~ NovaStar92

But the overwhelming majority thought the OP was the a**hole (YTA).

“YTA. She was a child. She didn’t choose to be born or the circumstances of her birth. She was just as much a victim of your father’s bad behavior as you were.”

“While you had another sibling, you two isolated her, a small child. I don’t know if your father’s favoritism was in response to this or not, but either way that was also his poor behavior.”

“You are continuing to punish someone for something another person did that hurt you. Other than your anger at your father’s actions, do you really have any reason to be cruel to her like this?”

“At this point, you are also punishing your own child by denying them a family member who didn’t do anything wrong and seems to want to be a loving Aunt.”

“If you continue to let your anger at your father dictate your actions, you are going to remain miserable and continue to hurt innocent people. Please find a therapist and work on this.” ~

“She is your sister and soon-to-be sister-in-law. The only thing she did here was treat your child with kindness, and you threw it in her face, which is what makes YTA.”

“It seems like you’ve held on to a lot of hurt and anger that was almost entirely caused by your father. Unless you want to spend the rest of your life angry and avoiding family functions, it may be time to start addressing issues from your past.” ~ PomegranateNo4660

“I’m sorry for the horrid way your dad treated you. But YTA here.”

“Half-sis tried to respect your wishes by not showing up. She’s also trying to be a part of this family she’s marrying into and be kind to her fiancee’s nephew.”

“A kid who doesn’t need to carry your past around as part of his baggage with family. He just needs to feel the love of his family.”

“You need to accept that you and your half-sister will have your lives intertwined. She may not have been a great half-sister to you, but the bulk of that responsibility lies with your dad.”

“She may turn out to be a decent SIL to you.”

“I get that it won’t be easy and that old hurts can easily raise their head whenever her mom and your dad enter the picture.”

“If she can respect how hard that is for you, then I think all of your lives will be better if you can let her try to build a fresh, less directly connected relationship with you… and a loving relationship with your child.” ~ swillshop

“OP, YTA for lying to your family about how you are related and continuing to hold a grudge against your half-sister over what your father did raising you. It is unfair to her.”

“You could still have a beautiful relationship with your sister in spite of your father if you can choose or learn to focus that anger where it needs to go.” ~ Zarboned

“Everything you mentioned was things your dad did to you, and you didn’t mention anything your half-sister actually did to make your life a problem. Did she actually do anything besides being born?”

“If your half-sister gets married to your BIL, she will be in your life in some way no matter what. She’s going to be part of your extended family.”

“Your actions are going to create problems for your husband and his family. You are going to create rifts between you and your husband’s family and this isn’t smart. YTA.” ~ HarveySnake

“YTA. Your anger seems misplaced. Your father was the a**hole.”

“Also, how (and why) the hell are you keeping the fact that you’re half-sisters a secret? That’s going to come out, and people will be pretty cross they’ve been lied to.” ~ TopAd7154

“YTA—It wasn’t her fault that she was born or the circumstances of her birth. I get that there was favoritism, and that wasn’t right, but that wasn’t really her fault either.”

“That being said, if you don’t want to have a sisterly relationship with her that’s fine. But here’s why I think you are the a**hole:”

“‘But according to my brother, I’m being an a**hole to someone who has respected my wishes and remained distant’.”

“Your brother is absolutely right. This woman came to the conclusion that you wanted nothing to do with her, that you weren’t going to have a familial relationship, and it sounds like she moved on with her life and wasn’t pushy about trying to have a relationship.”

“Then, by some crazy fate, she ended up in your in-law’s family. When she first met instead of telling everybody you’re sisters, she followed your lead and said you were ‘friends’ instead of family because I assume they knew nothing about her.”

“But as far as I can tell, she didn’t really push a relationship then either. Then she was gracious enough not to show up at the party.”

“You could have done the polite thing and accepted the gift.”

So when are you coming clean to all the in-laws? It’s not like you can give back gifts and not want to be around her at family events and all the in-laws not start talking about why.”

“They are going to want to know why you don’t care for her when she seemingly has done nothing to you.” ~ judgingA-holes

The OP added:

“I don’t hate her. I mean, I don’t think I do. But I’m uncomfortable with her.”

“I’ve gone through therapy for my childhood issues and it’s a never-ending battle. But perhaps I also need family therapy with my half-sister.”

“I have no other reason except for a dad and a past.”

“This doesn’t make me look any better, but I can only blame her for the ignorance in the past and now for being a reminder.”

As the parent, the OP always has the right to decide who is or isn’t in her child’s life.

But it sounds like the OP realizes she needs to come to a peaceful resolution with her half-sister unless she wants to damage her relationship with her in-laws.

Written by Amelia Mavis Christnot

Amelia Christnot is an Oglala Lakota, Kanien'kehá:ka Haudenosaunee and Metís Navy brat who settled in the wilds of Northern Maine. A member of the Indigenous Journalists Association, she considers herself another proud Maineiac.