Family is what you make of it. It should not be determined by blood, or by a marriage certificate.
That is why it’s so important to invest time and effort into your relationships. Especially, if a parent is getting a divorce or finds a new partner.
It can take time for kids to get used to new people, but if you show them love and support they’ll come around.
Redditor throwawayskdek just encountered this very issue with his brother’s new wife. So they turned to the “Am I The A**hole” (AITA) subReddit for moral judgment.
“AITA for punishing my kids for refusing to call their uncle’s new wife ‘Aunt?'”
The Original Poster (OP) explained.
“So my brother recently got married to his second wife. Let’s just call her Jennifer.”
“My brother (45) and his ex wife ‘Allison’ (47) have four daughters and him and Jennifer (24) just found out that they are having a son.”
His family did not welcome her with open arms.
“With the exception of me, nobody in my entire extended family, with the exception of my parents, attended the wedding. My ex wife had my daughter (16) and son (12) that weekend and all three of them refused to attend.”
“My daughter and son would constantly visit their former aunt. They would come back talking about how they feel bad because she would sit in her new apartment and cry her eyes out.”
“My daughter said it’s sad that someone who was a Emory University graduate has to work two part time jobs now because she gave up a career in the field she loved to care for her kids.”
“While I understand my kids’ sympathy, I’m also getting tired of so many people sharpening their pitchforks over this family situation. And the really mean comments I’d hear my kids either make or repeat.”
“Like my son saying he was surprised when he saw Jennifer for the first time because his uncle described her as a beautiful woman and he actually thought Jennifer was the beautiful woman standing nearby and went to introduce himself to that one.”
“My daughter and a bunch of other family friends have also in many varying words called Jennifer ‘interesting looking’ or ‘Ok looking I guess.'”
Her education was also an issue to them.
“They have made fun of my brother for marrying someone who never graduated college when he said his ex wife wasn’t capable of deep intellectual conversations with him anymore.”
“I took the kids to visit their uncle and new aunt this weekend. I told them Jennifer told them many times to call her ‘Aunt Jennifer’ but they have always not done so, and to please start doing so.”
“We get there and throughout the dinner my daughter calls her Jennifer and my son calls her ‘Mrs. ( last name).’ Jennifer looked disheartened by the end of dinner.”
But, enough was enough.
“When we got home, I told them I was tired of them taking part in the bullying of someone who will be the mother of their new cousin and grounded them for the rest of the weekend. I also reminded them the definition of aunt and the fact that legally speaking, the woman they call aunt isn’t even their aunt.”
“AITA for sticking up for a poor woman who’s probably had enough of being treated like a trade down?”
“My brother said he loves this woman more than anything. I don’t need my kids to stop calling my brother’s ex ‘Aunt’ but I feel Jennifer deserves the respect.”
Redditors gave their opinions on the situation by declaring:
- NTA – Not The A**hole
- YTA – You’re The A**hole
- NAH – No A**holes Here
- ESH – Everyone Sucks Here
Most Redditors argued OP was the a**hole.
“YTA. You don’t get to force a relationship between your kids and a relative stranger. They’re grieving the changes in their family, which is totally understandable.”
“And let’s be clear— your brother’s ex wife isn’t their former aunt. She’s their aunt. They’ve lived their whole lives with her as their aunt, and you don’t get to end that relationship because of your brother’s decisions.”
“All you’re doing is pushing them further away from the relationship you want them to have with his new wife. If an aunt and nephew dynamic emerges between them, it will happen naturally and over time. Forcing them into it now will guarantee that it won’t be successful.” ~ swingmadacrossthesun
“Yeah. I have two ‘ex-uncles’ aka… uncles. They were uncles my whole life! They were still my cousins’ dads! I still did sleep overs at their houses. (Edited to add: I arranged food for one ‘ex-uncle’s’ funeral, these relationships did not even end when I was an adult)”
“As the saying goes, you divorce a spouse, not children.”
“And… yeah, your 16yo is unlikely to accept a 24yo new aunt. 16yo probably thinks it’s gross her uncle left his wife and is now with someone closer in age to her than him. I would if I was 16.”
“OP can tell his kids they need to be polite to Jennifer, but calling her ‘Jennifer’ or ‘Mrs. Lastname’ is entirely polite.” ~ PurpleMP12
Family is earned not just granted.
“I have two dear friends who my child calls ‘Auntie’, because thats their relationship. What he wants to call them isn’t my business, and if I forced him not to call them that for whatever reason, it would cause way more issues than it solves.”
“Your kids had one aunt their whole lives. If they don’t view Jennifer as their aunt, forcing them to call her ‘Aunt Jennifer’ is just going to create resentment, especially since she’s old enough to be their cousin.”
“Between them, my parents had three brothers. My only uncle died two years ago.”
“The other two never bothered to form any kind of relationship with me, so even though one of them is still alive, he’s not my uncle. He’s my parent’s brother. I’m nobody’s niece now, despite DNA.” ~ Whiteroses7252012
“OP, some family we do get to choose! Your brother divorced his wife but to your children, she is their aunt.”
“They know her and love her. You can’t and shouldn’t force them to call the new wife, aunt. Apologize for forcing them but also explain to them it’s not ok to put someone down for education, looks, sexuality, etc.” ~ Mysterious-Winter616
Trying to force relationships never works out.