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Bride Asks If It’s Wrong To Exclude Groom’s Stepsister’s Autistic Son From Wedding But Not Other Kids

A young boy wanders around in a white tux

The wedding guest list is meant to be a fun part of the planning process.

But it often devolves into an anxiety-fueled mess.

There is nothing worse than having to tell someone they’re banned from a special occasion.

Talk about hurt feelings.

Especially when it’s family that is involved.

Case in point…

Redditor curlystephi wanted to discuss her experience and get some feedback. So naturally, she came to visit the “Am I The A**hole” (AITA) subReddit.

She asked:

“WIBTA if I asked one specific person not to bring their kids to my wedding?”

The Original Poster (OP) explained:

“My (26 F[emale]) fiancé (28 M[ale]) and I are still in the early stages of wedding planning, so this hasn’t been something we need to address yet directly, but I know it’s been in the back of both our minds.”

“My fiancé has a stepsister (late 20s F) who is married with three young children, all under ten.”

“My fiancé did not grow up with this stepsister as their parents married after they were both out of the house, and they are not close.”

“His stepsister’s oldest is on the spectrum; he is mostly non-verbal and communicates physically and through grunts and very few words.”

“He is very physically active, stimulating himself by running around his environment (home, restaurant, etc.) and making loud noises.”

“His younger sister wants to play with him, so she follows his lead and runs around making loud noises.”

“Significantly, my fiancé’s stepsister does nothing to try to reign them in or help them behave more appropriately.”

“She makes sure they don’t wander too far, but they are otherwise free to do what they want.”

“This occurs even in crowded restaurants, with the children regularly getting up from the table to walk around the room.”

“The third child is an infant.

“Neither I nor my fiancé have anything against kids in general.”

“We both want kids in the future, and there will be a few other toddlers and young children at the wedding, all of whom we know personally and are much better behaved in public settings.”

“Our wedding ceremony will be outdoors, but the reception will be mostly inside, with some limited outdoor space.”

“My fiancé’s stepsister’s children will have room outside to run around but will likely still disturb the guests and will not have the space to run around inside the reception area.”

“I am also worried that the two of them playing and being rambunctious will encourage the other children to join in and cause distraction and potential chaos to both the ceremony and reception.”

“WIBTA if I requested that she find other arrangements for her children for the night and risk her declining the invitation to attend the wedding at all?”

Redditors shared their thoughts on this matter and weighed some options to the question AITA:

  • NTA – Not The A**hole
  • YTA – You’re The A**hole
  • NAH – No A**holes Here
  • ESH – Everyone Sucks Here

Many Redditors declared OP would NOT be the A**hole.

“I’m autistic, and although YWNBTA, you should just make it child-free.”

“People are making this into an ableism issue, and it’s not. It’s a parenting issue – they are not prevented from behaving inappropriately in formal settings.”

“I’m engaged, and we are having autistic kids at the wedding because they are used to this kind of stimulation, and their parents are the sort to take them out if they are distressed/disruptive.”

“You aren’t being mean (I am not bigoted against those with vertigo, but I wouldn’t invite them to go bungee jumping!); it’s about the behavior.”

“Stop any kids from coming because otherwise, you’ll get a lot of backlash.”  ~ AccidentZestyclose62

“We didn’t specifically exclude my cousin with autism at our wedding because we knew his parents would make the right decisions for him and everyone else.”

“They would never allow any of their children to disrupt a wedding.”

“OP’s situation is different.”

“The mom allows the kids to do whatever they want as long as they’re not ‘too far away.'”

“That’s a parenting problem.”

“I’d address the invitation to Mr and Mrs so and So and leave it at that.”

“Don’t add plus family or anything.”  ~ Piaffe_zip16

“This! I have an autistic cousin who yells out and gets overstimulated.”

“At first, they declined the invite because they didn’t want to disturb my wedding.”

“Then we came up with a compromise. Because my wedding is on a farm, he’s going to go for a walk to hang out with the farm animals during the ceremony and return for the reception.”

“Then if he gets overwhelmed, he can always go for a walk and pet the cows or something.”

“I didn’t ask them to do this, but family compromise for one another.”  ~ MoneyResult6010

“I wondered about the boy’s comfort level as well.”

“Is he overwhelmed in those environments with so many people and so many sights/sounds/smells.”

“Especially restaurants which may have to flicker (to him) lights.”

“Stimming is a self-regulatory need.”

“The child may need those actions because he is overwhelmed… and the restaurant and wedding aren’t places for him.”

“It’s like the leg bouncer/foot bouncer, you know.”

“They sit down, and their leg starts bouncing.”

“You ask them to stop, and they can for a bit, but then they get distracted and start bouncing their leg again.”

“You likely know what stimming and overstimulation are like for someone with autism since you have a cousin and family who communicates, adapts, and works WITH the person with autism.”

“But I just wanted to put that out there for those who might not know.”

“The boy’s stimulation might be a deep need, and once again, it would be the parent’s fault for taking him to an unnecessary situation in which he is not comfortable.” ~ UCgirl

“Exactly to all of this!”

“I have a lot of experience with people on the spectrum.”

“My sister is also autistic (albeit she does not require much extra support like my cousin). I also used to teach some autistic children tap dancing.”

“I wonder if the parents have ever tried fidget toys.”

“I know it doesn’t help all people on the spectrum, but it’s something that definitely helps my cousin.”

“Just giving them something quiet and small to distract themselves with often works a treat, at least temporarily.”  ~ MoneyResult6010

“I am autistic, but was only diagnosed in high school because my mom didn’t believe there was anything ‘wrong’ with me.”

“However, when I was young, I attended my aunt’s wedding with my parents and sister.”

“I displayed my symptoms more heavily then, easily getting overwhelmed and overstimulated.”

“My mom knew this and would quietly and non-disruptively take me out into the hall or another quiet place if I was starting to get too ‘wound up.'”

“This isn’t an ableism issue. This is a parenting issue.”

“YWNBTA, though I do agree that making the wedding fully childfree is the best way to go to avoid backlash and hurt feelings.”  ~ AnonymousCorax

“I kinda disagree with the child-free wedding, just because of one child.”

“Now all parents and their children are punished, not to mention some won’t be able to make it at all without their kids.”

“All because of 1 parent that won’t parent?”

“Maybe OP actually wants the other children to be there!”

“I’d say NTA.”

“And honesty is the best policy.”

“She’ll find out anyway, so it’s best not to have her make a scene at the wedding.”

“‘While I think the way you parent is your own decision, and I would not think to ask you to change it, for our wedding, this sadly does not work.'”

“‘We really can’t have him being this disruptive.'”

“And I understand an event like this will only trigger him more, so he may even be more disruptive.”

“‘That is why I need to insist not bring him.'” ~ alyom

“Making it child-free isn’t the answer here as there’s a chance OP’s family/friends with kids won’t be able to make it to the wedding.”

“It’s complicating things for everyone just because of one person.”

“I personally think it’s better to sit down with the sister and explain that you don’t want to invite her kids because of their behavior or just not invite her at all.”

“It’s going to be a stink for a while but this isn’t a one-time occurrence.”

“If she doesn’t improve her parenting, this behavior will only get worse as the child ages, and it will most likely result in OP’s family distancing themselves anyway.”

“If her son becomes a rowdy uncontrollable teenager, I really doubt OP would want her own kids around him, for example.” ~ Zealousideal_Air2347

“YWNBTA – is there any reason you don’t want to make it Child Free?”

“You can give a cut-off of around 15/16 or a convenient number for behaving. Good luck.” ~ tango421

OP came back with some info…

“My fiancé’s stepsister has very loud and active children, whom she allows to run free in their environments.”

“I am worried about the impact that this will have on my wedding and the other children at the wedding, and I do not trust that she would be able to control her children at the event.”

“Some people have (reasonably) pointed out that I would be discriminating against a child with autism.”

“While not my intention, I fully understand how that is the conclusion of my actions.”

“My perspective was more on the mother’s ability to provide an alternate form of care instead of allowing her children to ‘run wild.'”

“But I understand that I do not have a very full understanding of the nuances of his autism and that I may be asking something that is not possible at this point in his development.”

“I appreciate the commenters for pointing this out!”

This is a tough one.

You don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings.

But it is your day.

Whatever you chose, OP, Reddit seems like it will be with you as long as you have an open and honest conversation about it.