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Dad Shamed For Sending Teen Stepkids To Live With Their Dad’s Family After Wife Passes Away

Man putting luggage into the back of his car
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It’s nice to think of family members always having each other’s backs, especially in the face of a terrible tragedy.

But some families aren’t built that way, pointed out the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit, and will only become more separated during difficult times.

Redditor Pitiful_Shopping_818 knew that his teenage stepkids had never accepted him as their favorite when their mom married him, but he never knew how deep their negative feelings ran until their mother passed away.

When his parents-in-law began scrutinizing him, too, the Original Poster (OP) came up with a solution many people would judge him for.

He asked the sub:

“AITA for dropping off my stepkids with my in-laws and saying that they are not my problem anymore?”

The OP was grieving the loss of his wife.

“My wife passed away just before last Thanksgiving. It came out of nowhere and I am somewhat broken.”

“We had her two children, now teens, plus two biological children together.”

“To make it worse, my stepkids have decided that since I’m not their father, they don’t have to obey me anymore.”

The OP’s two teenage stepkids made it more clear than ever how they felt about him.

“They are teens and they have never been my biggest fans. They love their dad, and I was only ever their mom’s husband.”

“However, when Deena was alive, they treated our home well and me with respect.”

“After she died, they became a**holes. Yes, I know their mom died. It sucks. But that was my wife and the mother of my children. I am also having a tough time dealing.”

“Their paternal grandparents are also s**tting on me for not being more understanding of all they are going through.”

“I have tried. I have offered them counseling. I have given them space. I have been there for them. I am at my wit’s end.”

The OP eventually decided to call his in-laws’ bluff.

“The last straw was when we were over there for supper last week.”

“I said it was time to go so I could get the littles to bed. My stepkids said that they didn’t want to go and that I should leave them and come back for them. It is a two-hour drive. I said no.”

“Their grandparents said I was being too hard on them and that I should let them stay.”

“I am having a hard time with two small children, the loss of my wife, and two teen a**holes without having my in-laws pile on to make my life more difficult.”

“So I did. I also packed up their stuff. Instead of coming back for them, I dropped off their stuff at their grandparents’ house.”

The OP’s life immediately improved.

“I have two kids under five to take care of. I don’t really have time to baby two teens that are just making my life harder.”

“My house is clean for the first time in weeks. My kids are sleeping through the night.”

“My stepkids are living with their uncle in the same city as me so they can finish high school with their friends.”

But the rest of the family was against what the OP had done.

“Everyone on their dad’s side is against me.”

“I really don’t care. I was told by both of my in-laws and by their biological father that I am not to try and parent them.”

“So I’m not. I actually do not have any parental rights over them. Their dad was not even okay with me being a contact for them at school. So his parents bear the contact.”

“My wife left behind a small life insurance policy, which I will divide between the four kids. But I was the breadwinner in my house. I bought pretty much everything there for the last eight years. So now it’s all mine.”

“My in-laws are calling me an a**hole for abandoning the kids, but I have two kids that need me more. The older two have a dad as well as grandparents to help them. My kids do, too, I guess but they also have me, and I want them to have a peaceful home.”


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 were critical of the OP and felt he had abandoned the teens in their grief.

“Yes, YTA. Not for the arrangement you’ve arrived at but how you got there. You don’t just decide on a whim to drop some kids off at a relative’s house and drive off. That’s f**king cruel to the kids and the relatives.”

“The kids are already feeling abandoned and now their stepdad abandoned them without talking to them. And you say it’s not your responsibility, but you took it on for months after your wife died. That makes it your responsibility until you find someone else willing to take it on.”

“You should have talked to your in-laws and explained that it wasn’t working and that you thought the kids would be more successful living with a blood relative. If they then said yes, then you talk to the kids and see what they want. Then everyone is on the same page and it’s a positive change instead of the s**t you pulled.”

“I’m sorry for your loss, but you could have handled this better. Those kids are hurting just as much if not more than you.” – ryjack3232

“Let me get this straight… Your wife died and your step-children, kids you voluntarily took on responsibility for when you decided to marry your wife, of course act out, so you take them and all of their belongings and drop them off at their grandparents’ house (who, for all we know, aren’t in a position to care for these children either) because their father stopped paying child support once your wife passed away and doesn’t have permanent housing to be able to take them in?”

“And you have YOUR biological children to worry about, so screw the ones who are old enough to really process what’s going on because they are really struggling with it, right?”

“Do you realize how teenagers are, especially teenagers who have been through trauma and are grieving, ESPECIALLY teenagers who just lost their mother and don’t know how their living situation and life are about to change and are anxious about it?”

“They will test you. They probably know/assume you’re going to abandon them because you aren’t their ‘real’ dad. They want to see how far they can push and you still be there for them, loving them, to prove that you really aren’t just going to disappear from their life now that their mother died. You have failed them. You have shown them exactly what they expected, that they can’t rely on you.”

“Congratulations… YTA.” – itszalexx

“By just before Thanksgiving, do you mean in November of 2023? Like… Three months ago??”

“You’re mad that your step kids are having difficulty adjusting to the loss of their mother in THREE MONTHS??”

“YTA. You’re a grown-a** man. Their father isn’t present, their mother is gone, and you got mad that they wanted to spend more time with their grandparents, to the point that you unexpectedly ditched them.”

“I get it. Your wife is dead. But you still made your boo-boo baby feelings the Most Important Thing instead of supporting two children who needed you to stand firm and show them that you aren’t leaving them as well. That’s just vile.” – lollyxbeans

“Gonna say YTA with the way you handled the situation. The way you describe it going down is ridiculously immature. You’re a father and were a father figure to them. It’s natural for them to act out after the death of their mother and you should have handled this situation with more tact.”

“The right thing to do would have been to sit down and talk to them. Tell them that if they are unhappy, then they do not have to live with you anymore. (This likely would have resulted in the same outcome. If they somehow decide they want to stay, then tell them the conditions; they show you respect or they are out.)”

“But that is something an adult would do for kids they care about, and your post makes it clear that you don’t care about them.”

“They may be acting like brats, but I’m sure this abandonment will stick with them for years.” – macroderivatives

“In my worldview, after living with these kids for eight years, since early elementary school, he would love them as if they were his own. I know I would.”

“What would he do if his own biological kids were acting up after their mom died?”

“I read the post to mean the bio dad had objected to his having legal rights BEFORE his wife died. Now that she is gone, they are objecting to him kicking the kids out of their home. Possibly they are willing to give him rights now. The OP does not answer that question.”

“Do you really think it is okay to just get angry that day and dump all their stuff on the porch?”

“This post is not a question about whether the kids should ultimately go to live with paternal family members. Probably they should, since it is clear OP does not love them or care about their feelings.”

“The REAL question in the OP is ‘AITA for responding to my stepkids’ request to visit their grandparents longer by dumping all their stuff on grandparents’ porch and kicking them out of the home they have been living in for eight years?'”

“How anybody would not say YTA to that question is stunning to me.” – LadOfSunnyBrook

Others felt the OP was doing his best when he had been placed in an impossible situation.

“You know, I came in being very prepared to say YTA. But I mean, if you don’t even have parental rights it would be impossible to do much of anything for them, much less the fact that they’re not listening.”

“Like, try taking them to a doctor’s office and suddenly you can’t get them treated because you don’t have parental rights.”

“Looks like the biological dad’s side of the family has to step up since they insist you can’t parent them.” – GeekyRedhead85

“I was fully prepared to say YTA until I read the post and honestly, I think you deserve a lot of credit for even trying to make it work.”

“Their Dad said not to parent them, you were never officially or formally named a parent or legal guardian, you tried to help them out in so many ways while juggling your own loss and that of your children that you had with your wife, and no one from their side of the family stepped up to help you police their ungrateful a**es.”

“As a dad with a girlfriend who will become my kids’ stepmom (soon enough), you did your level best and that’s all they deserve.”

“Sucks to be them, and the biological dad sucks to suck.” – CylintStep

“He’s gotten zero support from their bio family since the death of their mother. In fact, he’s gotten negative support. At WORST, it should be ESH, not YTA.”

“But regardless, instead of dragging it out anymore, and continuing to put his bio kids through the stress of having two AH kids living with them and disrupting their sleep, he decided to rip the bandage off all at once.”

“Was it sudden? Maybe. Maybe he had been considering it for a while. But his responsibility wasn’t to them, and they and their bio family made it very clear he had no authority over them. So, bandage, rip.” – HearingConscious2505


“The have lost their mum, absolutely right, so you would expect trouble and playing up, etc, but what I don’t understand is why their Dad has not swooped in… If you were such a hindrance, where is he?”

“As long as everyone is happy, including all kids and yourself, I wouldn’t fret about anything as I cannot see what you have done wrong here. You haven’t left them on the streets, you have left them with Family and they are happy. If Daddy is so worried, he can step in, can’t he!” – girlwithagreenstare


“Why are you looking after children who you have no parental rights over and who hate you?”

“What the h**l happens if you need to give medical consent for something?”

“They’re acting out, but they have a living parent and grandparents who can step up and look after them (though as they’re now living with their uncle, it looks like the conflict was about them not wanting to do this but also not supporting you in doing this).” – Chemical-Row-2921


“If what you say is true and you’ve done everything within your power to help them grieve and transition going forward without their mom, then what else can you do?”

“It sucks that the other two kids losing that day-to-day contact with their siblings, but it may be better for all involved, especially if the teens hold contempt for the little ones.”

“If their father wasn’t willing to step up right away, then that says a lot about the dad and the in-laws, in my opinion. Wash your hands of that family as they will only try to harm you going forward.” – OGbiggoob

The subReddit was really torn, as this whole situation was deeply complicated with grief. Some felt that the OP had only shown his teenage stepkids proof of their suspicions that he would not stick around for them forever, while others questioned what else he could possibly do with so little support.

Hopefully given enough time, the family would be able to reconcile and find common ground, even with the OP’s late wife and the kids’ mother no longer physically in the picture.

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.