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Dad Livid After Girlfriend Refuses To ‘Step Up’ And Help Parent His Kids After His Ex Passes Away

A dad with his two children
Rebecca Nelson/Getty Images

While it may not be immediately obvious, parents who treat their kids like adults too early can severely impact their psychological and emotional growth.

Those who wind up having to parent their younger siblings often find themselves not wanting to have their own children when they’re all grown up, pointed out the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITAH) subReddit.

Redditor No_Decision_913 loved her boyfriend and clearly communicated with him what her relationship with his two children from a previous relationship would be.

But when he dramatically crossed that line, the Original Poster (OP) realized their relationship wasn’t meant to be.

She asked the sub:

“AITAH for leaving my boyfriend when his ex died, leaving him to take care of his kids full-time?”

The OP and her boyfriend agreed about her role in his kids’ lives.

“I (26 Female) have been with my boyfriend (30 Male) for two years now.”

“He has two kids (6 Male and 4 Female) with his ex-girlfriend. She moved to another state with the kids to be near her family when they broke up three years ago. He got them on vacations only.”

“I knew all this when I started dating him. I had no issue with this but told him up front that I couldn’t be a parent.”

“I was parentified by my mom and raised my five younger siblings. The oldest of them is six years younger than me, and I had to change his diapers and feed him formula when I was just six. I went low contact with my family went I left home at 18.”

“I can’t imagine doing that again.”

“He was also snipped (had a vasectomy) after his last kid and didn’t want more kids.”

“He was fine with me not wanting to be a parent and just be a bonus adult. We were taking it slow and I didn’t even meet his kids until a few months back. We took a trip together and got along great.”

But their lives changed dramatically when the OP’s boyfriend’s ex-girlfriend passed away.

“Things changed two months ago when his ex died. His kids were really crushed as they moved into his house.”

“We were not living together but he asked if I could move in to help him out, just for a while.”

“I couldn’t refuse and stayed. But I started hating it again. I hated how clingy the kids became and how much responsibility I had.”

“I did my best, but my mental health started getting worse every day. I didn’t even get help from my boyfriend because he was struggling too.”

“Last week was especially bad since the younger kid had a cold and wanted me to nurse her back to health exactly as her mom would have. The soup wasn’t the same, the song and story weren’t told in the same way, and I didn’t hug her the way her mom did, etc., were some of the long list of complaints.”

“I know she is grieving but I was already working from home and stressed too.”

The OP realized that exactly what she had feared was coming true.

“When I told my boyfriend he should take over, he said they need me more since I am a mom.”

“It triggered me. I didn’t want to be held to a mom’s responsibilities again. I told him I can’t do this.”

“He said I needed to stop acting like a child and step up.”

“I understood if I stayed, my whole life would be like this. Never measuring up. Never being enough. And all the responsibilities of a mom.”

“I left yesterday and moved in with a friend.”

“My boyfriend (ex-boyfriend?) is blasting my phone, calling me an AH.”


Fellow Redditors weighed in:

  • NTA: Not the A**hole
  • YTA: You’re the A**hole
  • ESH: Everybody Sucks Here
  • NAH: No A**holes Here

Some reassured the OP that her boyfriend never should have told her to “step up.”

“I was on the fence until he told her to step up. She isn’t their mom. She isn’t even his wife. She isn’t even a particularly long-term girlfriend. He was already asking a lot of her.”

“Everyone in this story is struggling, but OP made clear she didn’t want to be a parent. She knew her limits and expressed them clearly. She already went well beyond them to help.”

“Definitely NTA.” – samanime

“OP, you did more than enough, and him telling you they needed you because you were ‘mom’ instead of stepping up… that’s an AH move.”

“When paired with your history (which he knew), it’s just a massive AH move, AND a stupid one at that, because it’s a no brainer he needed to take care of you or lose you.”


“Just block him, and if anyone asks, tell them you had to step away because the kids needed their father, and with you there, he was using you as a crutch to avoid stepping up.” – tinaciv

“They aren’t even married! They were not living together! She had barely even met the kids!”

“OP’s relationship had an expiration date the moment the kid’s mom died. But she was kind and pitched in to help out temporarily anyway. Living together was only supposed to be temporary.”

“Dating is an audition for a more serious commitment. Even if they had been living together when mom died, these kids aren’t her responsibility. Your ex-boyfriend just failed his audition.” – AnnaBanana3468

“That sentence in OP’s post when he told her to step up, Jes*s F**king Ch***t… I get that he’s under a lot of stress, but what a way to ask someone who doesn’t even live with you yet to essentially become your wife.”

“If this is his idea of a good sales speech, just imagine how much worse things are when OP cannot just immediately ghost him if necessary.” – Retrohanska94

Others said the kids needed their dad right now, not for the OP to be forced into a mom role.

“Sounds like OP’s ex-bf is projecting onto OP instead of ‘stepping up’ himself.”

“OP, NTA, you sound like a very empathetic person. You recognized the kids are grieving and you are right. They need their dad right now, not a substitute mother.”

“Good for you for setting your boundaries. It sucks for the kids because it sounds like their dad is seriously dropping the ball, but that’s not on you nor is it your responsibility. And you’re not married! You didn’t sign up for this.” – oOoBeckaoOo

“It’s not as obvious as one would hope, but I would argue the having two kids of whom he did not have any custody is something of a warning sign. Asking his traumatized girlfriend to move in to ‘help out’ with parenting even though they had not hit the ‘move in together’ stage of their relationship organically was another.”

“It would be reasonable to ask her for help, but accelerating the relationship in that way is a push to make her a “replacement mommy.'” – GoGoB***h

“It was the ‘you’re a mom’ part that did it for me. I can understand him asking her to help out. It’s a big and sudden change. It’s okay to need help. It’s okay to not have it figured out.”

“But if it were me, the moment OP expressed to me that I needed to take over, I would have gone, ‘Oh my god! I’m so sorry If I put too much on you!’ Have you ever asked someone to help out and realized you were abusing their generosity? It’s a horrifying feeling for a normal person.”

“But instead, OP’s boyfriend goes, ‘Sike! You are their mom now!’ What in the actual f**k. Nah, embarrassing and kind of creepy for a grown man to do this.” – theredditbandid_

“I feel terrible for these kids, but NTA. As heartbreaking as this all is, this isn’t what you signed up for, and you were upfront with him from the beginning about not wanting to be a parent.”

“Had you stayed, your mental health would have continued to decline and sooner or later the kids would have picked up on the resentment you would undoubtedly feel. Kids don’t deserve that and neither do you.” – Glittering_Sunshine117

After receiving feedback, the OP shared a lengthy update.

“The last few days were chaotic and full of confusion, to say the least. I didn’t answer a lot of questions and I am sorry to all of you for that. I was not in the right state of mind and was overwhelmed by all the replies. As is human nature, all the reasons I was an AH and cold-hearted b***h messed with my mind a lot.”

“To answer a few questions:”

“I didn’t leave without a goodbye. I had told the kids goodbye. I didn’t want to cause too much strain and said I was leaving for a while for work. I did just tell my ex I was leaving; I couldn’t take another round of ‘stop acting like a child’ and ‘grow up.'”

“I also don’t normally work from home. He asked me to stay home with his daughter, stating he doesn’t know how to take care of a sick kid. She really was sick at first and I went along with it. But he refused to even help in the evenings.”

“Most of your assumptions about him were true in the sense I almost always ended up looking after the kids alone. He rarely did his part. It was either because he was exhausted, he couldn’t face them, he didn’t know how to deal with their grief, or I did it better. It was not what we agreed upon when I moved in to help. I was supposed to help him, show him the ropes, but I ended up feeling like a single mom.”

“As the biological parent, he got custody. His ex’s parents said that was for the best since they were already retired. They did not want to raise the kids.”

“Anyway, I was able to move back into my earlier apartment. Thankfully, the landlord hadn’t rented it to anyone else. I did have a lease, but I did not want to keep paying rent and had come to an agreement with the landlord to sublet the apartment from month to month until I came back. Being back in my space, I feel much more calmer.”

The OP also had an important follow-up conversation with her ex-boyfriend.

“I also met with my ex. After the initial blasting, he called me yesterday asking if we could meet. I wanted to get more clarity too and agreed. He came over (finally got a babysitter) and we had a good talk.”

“He apologized for everything he said and demanded I do. He said it was a big unexpected change for him too. He was scared and didn’t know how to raise them, being a vacation dad. Having children home every day and thinking this was how it will be for the rest of his life (his words) terrified him.”

“I said I understood. But I cannot be a mom to those kids. I cannot take up his responsibilities. I want to help, but not in that capacity. I needed boundaries.”

“He said he expected as much. He agrees he should never have asked so much of me. He asked if I could help him, still, and said that the kids missed me and asked when I would be back. He needed me.”

“I refused. I told him I would help him. I would come around from time to time, when I can. As a friend of a dad’s would. But I won’t move back in. I won’t be a stepmom.”

The OP felt incredibly conflicted.

“He asked if I was breaking up with him. The truth is I don’t know. I do love him, but it won’t work out in the long term. And everything he did and said is still raw in my mind. I said as much to him.”

“I can’t be in a committed relationship with him. I won’t go anywhere, I will help and support as much as I can, but as a friend. I guess we are ending that relationship.”

“I met with the kids this morning. I went over there with some pancakes. They asked when I was coming back to live with them. I told them I have my own home to take care of but I will visit them when I can.”

“While surprised, they seemed to accept the situation. They had questions of course, but accepted I would just be their Daddy’s friend.”

“His daughter asked if I could still be her best friend. I agreed. I guess that won’t be too hard. She gave me a hug before he took them to school and daycare. I actually feel so much better too. This was a role I could deal with.”

“I don’t know if it’s the right way. I hope it works. Thank you for all your replies and guidance.”

The subReddit was in full support of the OP leaving the relationship behind after her boyfriend disregarded her needs and boundaries, and they would likely be relieved to see the OP’s update about continuing to live in the relationship in its current capacity.

While it’s perfectly okay to help a friend, helping someone shouldn’t come at the expense of your own health, mental health, and happiness.

Written by McKenzie Lynn Tozan

McKenzie Lynn Tozan has been a part of the George Takei family since 2019 when she wrote some of her favorite early pieces: Sesame Street introducing its first character who lived in foster care and Bruce Willis delivering a not-so-Die-Hard opening pitch at a Phillies game. She's gone on to write nearly 3,000 viral and trending stories for George Takei, Comic Sands, Percolately, and ÜberFacts. With an unstoppable love for the written word, she's also an avid reader, poet, and indie novelist.