After two parents separate, their future life of romance becomes a bit more complex.
For as long as they have custody of their children, each new partner will in some way become involved in that kid’s life.
One Redditor is one of those new partners. She recently posted on the “Am I the A**hole (AITA) subReddit about some struggles she’s encountered in that regard.
The Original Poster (OP), known as Prestigious-Loan1016 on the site, shared the inciting incident in the post’s title:
“AITA for letting a 6 year old boy sleep in my bed?”
OP began by describing the ins and outs of the family situation.
“I (28-year-old female) have been dating my fiancé Ryan (36-year-old female) for 3 years, we have been living together for 1 year and are engaged for 8 months. I am currently 6 months pregnant.”
“Ryan has a 6 year old son James from his previous marriage and he and his ex share custody for James.”
“So James stays with his father (and now me since I moved in) for 1 week, then spends a week with his mother and her husband and so on.”
Although she came on the scene late, OP has had a good time of it.
“James is a sweet little boy and we have a wonderful relationship.”
“He knows that I’m not his mother and I will never try to take her place but so far living together has worked quite well.”
“So last Saturday I was home with James while Ryan was at work and James was taking a nap in his room while I was watching a movie in our bedroom.”
“James came to me and asked if he could climb to bed with me as he had had a nightmare and was afraid to stay alone in his room.”
For OP, that was a no-brainer.
“I said sure, he climbed on his fathers side of the bed and fell asleep 5 minutes later.”
“Ryan came home 1 hour later and found us both asleep on the bed with the two dogs and thought it was adorable so he took a picture.”
But that photo made the rounds.
“Fast forward a couple of days, James’s mom comes to pick him up from our house and asks him to go to the car so she can speak with us.”
“She proceeds to tell us how inappropriate it was for me to let a young boy in the bed and cuddle with him while he was sleeping (which we didn’t!) when none of his parents were home.”
“Apparently Ryan’s sister showed her the photo thinking she would be happy that her son and I had a nice relationship.”
That led to a recent confrontation.
“She also said that she and her husband find how touchy I am with James very inappropriate and that they’ll even consider applying for full custody.”
“I don’t know if they will but I’m literally shaking as I’m writing these. James is obsessed with my baby bump, he’s generally a very cuddly child but lately he wants to put his little head on my belly for hours and listen to his baby sister.”
“I love kids and I would never refuse to hug my soon-to-be stepson.”
OP was stunned by how it all played out.
“It never crossed my mind that this could be considered inappropriate. I used to teach and my students would hug me all the time and none of their parents seemed to mind.”
The rest of the family is on our side but I wanted an unbiased opinion. So AITA for letting my stepson into our bed and occasionally hugging him and being affectionate with him?
In case people were a bit confused by how the photo made its way to Ryan’s ex, OP reiterate how it went down with an edit.
“My fiancé didn’t post the photo, we don’t even use social media. He sent it to a group chat with his mother and sister, who is an old friend of his ex-wife’s and showed it to her when they met.”
Anonymous strangers weighed in by declaring:
- NTA – Not The A**hole
- YTA – You’re The A**hole
- ESH – Everyone Sucks Here
- NAH – No A**holes Here
Most Redditors took OP’s side completely.
“NTA. I think that woman might be a little jealous or something- that’s the only explanation I can come up with as to why she’s acting so crazy. But even then, her jealousy is neither your fault nor your problem.”
“Keep having a good relationship with James. I know he really appreciates your kindness.” — goose_of_reddit
“NTA – The only one here being an AH is the boy’s mother, who should be thankful that her son had someone he trusts enough to go to after a nightmare, rather than her ex dating a woman who would rather ignore a child’s suffering.”
“You did NOTHING wrong. You gave a distressed child who was in your care, comfort. There is nothing wrong with a child seeking solace after a nightmare from time to time.” — EvocativeEngima
“NTA who the hell would think it inappropriate to give a child a hug. You’re not a stranger in the street for goodness sake. I would find it very hard to believe that a judge would grant full custody to the mum because his step mum loves him and treats as her own.”
“You haven’t done anything wrong at all. You’re doing an amazing job with your stepson which is clear because he comes to you. Stay strong” — Mamaknowsbest45
Others spoke from experience.
“As a fellow pregnant bonus mom, I’d say NTA. My stepson is 5 and he does the same thing. He’s always hugging my belly and talking to his little brother and his mom encourages it. I think James mom might be insecure in the fact that your in his life and giving him a sibling.”
“That was my problem for a while, but I sat down with her and told her ‘I’m not trying to take your spot in his life. Your his mom and we all know that. I’m just trying to build a different relationship with him. I have a stepdad and he’s become my best friend. That’s all I want with him.’ “
“Basically reassuring her that I’m not trying to steal her son.”
“But for sure NTA. He’s 6, would she expect Ryan to flip out of the roles were reversed and James went to his moms husband and did the same? ‘I’m scared to sleep alone, but I trust you enough to keep me safe. Can I lay with you?’ ” — tater_tot_23
“This is one of those things where every parent has different boundaries.”
“From my perspective, NTA. He fell asleep next you. I don’t see the harm in that. My girls have fallen asleep next to stepmom countless times and are physically affectionate (cuddles, hugs, kisses). I’m thankful they have a loving mother at dad’s house.”
“I can’t imagine being upset by this. But, I’m not every mom. As for how to navigate it going forward, I just don’t know. Good luck and I hope dad has a lawyer just in case.” — dazedkatwoman
“NTA, the ex-wife is a jealous nutjob. I wish my stepmother had given two sh**s about me and my brothers, your stepson is very lucky his father cared enough to choose a partner who accepts and loves him.” — froot_loop_dingus
“NTA. My stepmom has been in my life since I was 5 and never showed me any affection and it really messed with me.”
“You don’t know why, as a child, you’re being told no or not being shown affection. You just assume there’s something wrong with you.”
“Please don’t withhold affection from this sweet boy. ❤” — snc1234
“NTA my boyfriends thirteen year old daughter climbs into bed with me when I’m there and just lays there while I play with her hair or does my nails.”
“There is nothing wrong with what you did. He is a child and you are a motherly figure in his life even though you aren’t his mother you have been there.”
“His mother can try to take full custody but I don’t see that working out since you did nothing wrong. I’m sorry she is acting this way.” — xPrincess_Jellyfishx
Others felt the motivation was obvious.
“NTA. This sounds like the typical mix of insecurity with her own relationship with her son and an ‘I’m looking for any slight thing I can to go back to court.’ “
“Quite honestly, she doesn’t have a leg to stand on legally and while I’m sure there’s a lawyer out there willing to take her money, no judge is buying that.” — Socolimes
“NTA. Sounds like they are trying to use this for their own gains which seems totally disgusting. I would suffer your partner takes no more photos which can be seen by these people in order to avoid anything like this.”
“And to start on a pregnant woman, if I was your partner I’d apply for full custody!” — saberdanger91
“NTA. She is jealous in my opinion and is using her custody rights to control the situation. Your fiancé needs to get ahead of this and it’s important that you know you aren’t doing anything wrong if your actions are pure. There is nothing wrong with showing affection.” — Candid-Ad-3694
With plenty of support coming in all different forms, OP can likely rest easy from here on out, whether she’s alone or James is around.