Kids have a really hard time accepting new relationships sometimes, especially when the relationship involves a new mother or father figure.
But surely, mistreating a new family member can’t be the way to go, right?
A father questioned this on the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit, when his son mistreated his stepmother at Christmas dinner.
Redditor AITA____60775609 found himself reacting by taking his son’s very special present back as a punishment.
Since the Original Poster (OP) has asked the sub if he went too far:
“AITA for taking my son’s gift back after he made his stepmom cry in front of her family?”
The OP got his son a very unique Christmas gift.
“My son [Male 20] is in college. He currently lives with me and his stepmom. He doesn’t work and so he can’t move out.”
“I [have] been doing well financially and I was able to purchase an apartment (I work in construction) and I got lucky because I didn’t spend a lot of money on it.”
“I kept it a secret until Christmas so that I could surprise my son and tell him that the apartment is his and he can move out soon as his name is on the title.”
“He got excited and was very happy. He already started packing getting ready to move in January.”
The OP just had one request for Christmas dinner.
“He doesn’t usually sit with his stepmom at the same table but I requested that On Christmas dinner he should act like a civil adult and be respectful towards his stepmom.”
“He mumbled that he can’t promise me when I asked him to let us all gather at the dinner table and be civil adults. Since both my family and his stepmom’s family were coming.”
The OP’s son didn’t hold up his end of the deal.
“He came downstairs 10 minutes late for dinner.”
“Didn’t greet my wife’s mom and sister.”
“Casually criticized the food and said that he should’ve ordered pizza and asked if he could still do that because he said my wife’s food ‘sucks’ in front of the whole family. I let it go and asked him to please sit down and eat his dinner.”
“He didn’t stop staring rudely at his stepmom and her family. My wife’s plate was still full it was obvious she wasn’t comfortable enough to eat.”
“He then started telling her to go get him an empty glass and reheat the sauce and bring more tissues. Basically treated her like a maid in her house.”
“I had to tell him to stop it. Then he lashed out at me telling me to give him a break and that he was glad this will be the last Christmas he’ll spend with this ‘witch’.”
The family didn’t react well to the son’s behavior.
“He called his stepmom a witch in front of her family. The room went quiet.”
“I was livid. My wife left the table crying and her family left our home shortly after.”
“I got into an argument with him. My mother started defending him and he said he thought ‘he wasn’t loud enough for her to hear the word ‘witch’.”
The OP decided to punish his son for the behavior.
“I yelled at him and told him he was an a**hole. All I asked was for him to be civil and respectful but he offended my wife and her family and ruined the entire dinner.”
“I told him since he couldn’t even bother to do that, then I will be taking back his gift and will not be letting him move into the new apartment nor put his name on the title.”
“He lost it and started crying saying that I can’t do that over something stupid like that.”
“I refused to discuss It especially since my family kept telling me to drop it and that I can’t be serious.”
The son hasn’t made many appearances since then.
“He’s in his room most of the time and has no intentions to apologize to his stepmom. Who worked hard and prepared him meals and even bought him a watch as a gift.”
The OP also edited to add info about their relationship.
“We got married when he was 15. He wanted me to marry my ex-fiancee instead of his stepmom. He always favored and compared my ex-fiancee to my wife. My ex left the country and we couldn’t go with her because of my job.”
Fellow Redditors responded anonymously, rating the punishment on the following scale:
- NTA: Not the A**hole
- YTA: You’re the A**hole
- ESH: Everybody Sucks Here
- NAH: No A**holes Here
Some sided with the OP, claiming he hadn’t asked for much in exchange for an apartment.
“the free apartment is an out forever, he doesn’t really have to deal with the stepmom once he’s out if he really doesn’t want to. A meal is like a few hours max. The kid sucks at balancing effort vs reward.” – vicki_chicki
“the kid also hasn’t been out in the real world. He knows an apartment is a big gift but unless he’s dug quarters out of the couch to pay rent he won’t know just how big and absolutely life-changing it is to own a place at that age.”
“I support OP throwing him out with nothing so he can find out.” – suckerforpez
“Son didn’t think that how he treated step-mother would impact him getting the apartment. Clearly he’s treated her like crap for years and Dad just bought him an apartment. Why would he suspect that treating her like crap for one more meal and Dad would take it away?”
“He may be perfectly capable of pretending to be civil for thousands of free dollars. But he didn’t know those were on the line and with no greed to motivate him he decided to be a giant a**hole to his step-mom and his dad (who asked for one polite meal for Christmas) in front of all their family.” – TheHatOnTheCat
Others disagreed and said ESH, seeing the OP as setting his son up for failure and allowing him to mistreat his stepmom.
“NTA – but why on earth did you think it was a good idea to buy him an apartment when it was clear that your son has zero respect for your wife. He’s 20 years old he’s not a little kid, he should be able to be civil during a meal, he’s probably going to blame your wife for this now and not his behaviour.”
“Is there some backstory here? Was wife ow? Did you cheat on his mum? Why does he live with you if he’s not civil to your wife as it’s her home too” – kezzarla
“Just want to add something here: how is he supposed to financially support this new apartment you bought him if he doesn’t work? Looks like you are basically rewarding his s**tty behavior by giving him a place to live and paying for everything.”
“No wonder he is an a**hole to your wife when he basically still gets rewarded despite the way he treats her. If he doesn’t like her, he’s old enough to get a job and move out on his own.” – scaldieraro07
“In truth, setting the son up for the future would likely be not buying him an apartment. It would be helping him find a job, get an apartment, maybe partially subsidize the rent (while the son is in college) if his grades stay above a C, but teaching him what real life responsibility is about.”
“When I see another person treat someone this badly, this immaturely, the first thought that goes through my mind is asking myself whether they were raised to take responsibility for their actions. If not, you end up with someone who acts however they want and doesn’t look to the consequences -much like the son seems to be doing now.”
“Handing the son something he hasn’t earned, like this apartment, makes me ask if he’s been handed a number of things his whole life without having to work for them, and whether he’s been allowed to treat other people than just stepmom poorly with little repercussion.” – CharcoalGreyWolf
“There’s no way on Earth he just started acting like this. Even in your own post, you knew him making a scene was easily within the realm of possibility.”
“So knowing he’s got these serious behavioral issues, why did you offer the apartment to him in the first place???”
“I feel conflicted because continuing to give him this gift would be enabling (knowing he was moving out soon probably gave him the courage to act so badly). Yet, being that this didn’t come out of nowhere, it was setting him up for failure by offering it in the first place.”
“Should you continue to give him the apartment, his behavior will only get worse. Rewarding bad behavior and expecting positive outcomes is magical thinking. However, not giving it to him now can have catastrophic consequences of resentment, and make the tension in the home even worse.” – InTheory_
A few also wondered if the son needed therapy for the previously broken relationship.
“Call me crazy, but I’m really wondering about the vagueness of it all, and if maybe the ex is actually the kid’s mom, or if maybe the ex had raised the kid from a young age as her own, at the very least.”
“Either way, the kid probably needs some therapy, but just the info about the ex there would definitely change who sucks here.” – Sageypie
“OP’s son is 20 and in college. He was 15 when OP married the stepmom. OP’s son is an adult and is acting like a spoiled child. He also sounds like he needs therapy.” – Thisisnotalibrary97
It’s clear something is going on in the family that the son isn’t coping with well.
That being said, mistreating someone surely isn’t going to solve anything.