Content Warning: grief, affairs
As terrible as it sounds, we all know that not all relationships are destined to last forever. But when a child is faced with their parents breaking up, that change can feel impossible to move beyond.
Being able to move beyond the breakup is all the more difficult if the relationship ends due to something traumatic like an affair or one of the parents passing away, empathized the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit.
Redditor ExcitingDistrict14 had never been able to look at their father the same way again after it came out that his infidelity led to their mother’s death.
But when their father’s new wife insisted she was too special to be cheated on, the Original Poster (OP) had no sympathy for her when she turned out to be wrong.
They asked the sub:
“AITA for calling my stepmother delusional and telling her she wasn’t so special after all?”
The OP’s father was directly responsible for his mother’s and younger brother’s death.
“The background could go on forever but the simplified version is that my mom and dad had me (16 Male), and when I was six, my mom was expecting another baby, my little brother.”
“She was seven months into her pregnancy when she started to feel sick and went to the hospital.”
“Some tests were carried out and it turned out my dad had been cheating on her and he passed along some STDs to her during her pregnancy, which made her and my little brother very sick.”
“I remember my mom losing her s**t on my dad when she got home and I remember how devastated and scared she was. My mom kicked my dad out the day she found out.”
“My brother was stillborn not long after, and my mom never left the hospital. She bled really badly after the delivery, the doctors couldn’t stop it, and she died.”
What happened to the OP’s mother altered his relationship with his father forever.
“My dad’s family (his parents, three siblings, and two SILs) were disgusted with him.”
“My relationship with my father has since been basically non-existent. I do everything within my power to have as little to do with him as possible.”
“I blame him, just like his family does. We know what he’s done and he will never be able to get away from that. I will never forget it. I’ll be so glad when I never have to see his face again.”
The OP’s stepmother believed, unlike his late mother, that she was too special to cheat on.
“When I was 10, my dad met and married his now-wife, Kate.”
“From the time I met Kate, she had this attitude of, ‘I don’t know why everyone is mad at your dad, he treats me well and shows me so much respect.'”
“She would literally say that she was special in a way that my mother wasn’t.”
“She told me I should forgive my dad and not carry a grudge for my mom. She also told me she would get his family to stop treating him like a criminal.”
“She never let the thing go. Over and over she told me to let it go. We clashed over that so often and my dad’s family told her to go f**k herself with that attitude.”
“She was like, ‘Your dad has grown, he treats me like I deserve to be treated, he learned his lesson, he’s a good man with me, he has someone he loves now and wants to have a happy marriage with.'”
“This was an ongoing thing. I already don’t want a relationship with my dad, and to then have Kate try to act like we were being unfair after what he did, it’s what made me feel this way about her.”
But it later turned out that Kate wasn’t so “special” after all.
“Three years ago, I realized my dad was cheating on Kate. He was saying he was working through the pandemic, but I didn’t buy that and neither did my family.”
“He and Kate have three kids together (my half-siblings, I know, but I don’t care about them or see them as my family; my family includes my grandparents, aunts, uncle, and cousins; they are my people).”
“Kate found out about the cheating two months ago. She fell apart. Then last month she found out we all knew or suspected he was cheating.”
Kate tried to gain a closer relationship with the OP, which disgusted him.
“For a while, she was trying to confide in me. and I would just walk away from her or do something else and wouldn’t listen.”
“Then on Thanksgiving, we were all together with my family (dad’s family), and she broke down even harder because nobody comforted her or stood up for her.”
“That night she told me she thought I cared about and loved her and would be there and support her through this because she’s family, she’s my stepmom, she’s the mom of my siblings.”
“I called her delusional and told her if she ever felt like I cared, it was because it was what she wanted to think and not because I ever gave a sh*t about her.”
“I told her she now knew what my mom went through, only much less severely.”
“And that I guess she wasn’t as special as she thought she was since he cheated on her too.”
The OP didn’t care when Kate lashed out at him.
“She started yelling and called me a monster and told me I wouldn’t ever see her kids again if I didn’t be nicer.”
“I shrugged at her yelling because it wouldn’t upset me at all.”
“She said I should have more loyalty to her and I had to hold myself back because I really wanted to call her delusional again.”
“I am 100% unsympathetic to her. I don’t believe she deserves my sympathy at all. She can get that from her own family.”
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 it was not his job to comfort his stepmother.
“NTA. You’re not obligated to be her emotional support human and, given your age and the family history, it’s actually really inappropriate of her to try confiding in you like this.” – ArbitraryHigh
“Your father’s disgusting, selfish behavior led to the deaths of your mother and brother. He is directly responsible for that. The fact that your stepmother minimized and berated you for not ‘letting it go’ is very indicative of her character. She didn’t give a damn what had happened to you because she was fine. And now she’s not fine, she expects you to comfort her?”
“She is just as selfish as your father, so oddly they made a good pair. A woman who treats a grieving child in such a despicable way and then u-turns and demands that you be her emotional support animal is completely incapable of empathy and compassion.”
“Do not give her a second thought. You’ve been through enough. She reaped what she sowed, and just because what you said was a bit harsh, doesn’t mean it wasn’t true and well-deserved.” – Cursd818
“Your stepmother is delusional, and an AH.”
“Your dad cheated on your mom, your stepmother knew what she was getting into.”
“Her attitude towards your mother was atrocious.”
“And her acting like everyone should be ‘happy for your dad because he has me now!!’ is like shoving salt in the wounds of what happened because of your dad’s actions.”
“Disgusting on her part. She doesn’t deserve your sympathy and care.” – zeeelfprince
“Ha! This is hilarious. Your father’s cheating appears to have caused your sibling and your mother’s death. Then this industrial-grade f**kwit wades in and says, ‘You all need to forgive him the utterly unforgivable because he buys me stuff.'”
“And THEN she finds out he’s still a faithless cheater, and now wants COMFORTING? Buh-bye, Felicia!”
“Even if you were thirty years old, this would be inappropriate, but at 16? No. Tell her to f**k off. She’s never going to be a positive force in your life anyway. Absolute, rock hard, monumental NTA.” – HRHArgyll
“NTA. If she hadn’t kept digging at you about how your mom’s and your experiences were not valid all these years, I could have sympathy for her.”
“What do you want to bet these kids wind up on his doorstep in ten years looking for a handout because they’re ‘family.'” – BlueInFlorida
“NTA. Your description was factually correct. She lived in her own fantasy world. She thought she was special, rather than simply a waypoint in his cheating life. She believed she was your mother rather than simply your dad’s wife.”
“When life told her otherwise in a way she couldn’t ignore, she still clung to the pieces of her fantasy world that hadn’t yet shattered. You simply reminded her of something she always glossed over: the fantasy role she cast you in was never based on actual fact.” – extinct_diplodocus
But others challenged the OP to show empathy to a fellow human being, even without being close to her.
“YTA, in a sea of AHs. Everyone except your Mom sucks. Yes, let’s be deliberately cruel as often as possible to not only your annoying (but not evil) stepmom, and be as awful a sibling as you can be to kids who have no idea why you are putting them in your crosshairs.”
“You don’t love them or consider them family? AH. They probably adore you and have no idea why you suck so bad. Poor kids.” – PariahOnTheRiver
“YTA. You were cruel and you enjoyed it. It sounds like you’re punishing Kate by proxy because your dad is a d*ck and she loved him. And your half sibs? You’re totally the AH. What did they do other than exist?” – mountainmacha
“YTA. Your dad is an obvious AH (seriously awful), but you knew or suspected for three years that this woman was being cheated on.”
“Yeah, sure, she may have been narcissistic or delusional for ages before that, but she just had her partner who she clearly thought had changed and was a good man prove that he wasn’t. Then she finds that the other people who knew or suspected did nothing for years?”
“I’d be p**sed and hurt. I mean, I can’t say how bad she was to you during those years and I’m sorry because it sounds bad, but you could have prevented or softened the blow of being betrayed by a partner and you didn’t.”
“You may not have been factually wrong for saying she was delusional, but it sounds like you were very unsympathetic to another victim of a horrible man, who would have done everything in his power to stop her from believing you and his family.” – PixelFan237
“YTA. You’re the kid, and it’s not up to you to hold a grudge on behalf of your mom.”
“Also, the woman is going through some s**t that ultimately has nothing to do with you. Showing some sympathy, even if faking it, was appropriate and the mature response.”
“You did the verbal equivalent of kicking her while she was down. Punching down is never something to be proud of. You acted your age so congrats on being the typical self-absorbed teenager.” – AngelicShockwave
“YTA. It costs nothing to sympathise with a person who has been betrayed just like your mother was. The bigger better person would have risen above your crass bitterness an supported a hurt human being.” – Apperley70
“YTA. You don’t have to speak to people so meanly. There are nicer ways of saying the same message and when people are hurting an AH will make them hurt more.”
“You are young and hurting and asking if you are the AH shows that you know that you may have done something wrong.”
“You are not a bad person but you spoke like an AH would. You can do better.” – Earptastic
The subReddit was disgusted across the board with the father’s unfaithfulness to his partners, especially to the OP’s late mother and little brother.
But because we’re all human here and need each other’s support, some felt that the OP could extend a comforting hand to his stepmother, even if it wasn’t genuine, while the initial shock of being cheated on settled in.