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Dad Berated By Fiancée’s Parents For Refusing To Force A Relationship Between Her And His Kids

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Having a partner you love is an incredible gift, and a gift potentially that can keep on giving with marriage and a growing family.

But when one of the partners dies, the other partner has the tremendous responsibility of processing grief and maintaining the life that’s left behind.

Others can be overly opinionated about how the partner should do that, according to the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit.

Redditor SmellerBeeew found himself reacting after being criticized by future family for how he was raising his kids.

Because of their feedback, the Original Poster (OP) wondered if he had overreacted.

He asked the sub:

“AITA for losing it with my fiancée’s parents?”

The OP raised his children mostly alone. 

“My fiancée’s parents were visiting Saturday and I ended up losing it with them Saturday night after they brought up a subject that’s kind of sore within my relationship.”

“Relevant background: My late wife passed away when our daughter was 2 and our son was 4 (they are now 13 and 15).”

“It was just me and them for 7 years and then I met my fiancée.”

This influenced the OP’s kids’ relationship with his fiancée.

“Four years later my fiancée lives with us and we’re (obviously) engaged.”

“My kids have no issues with her but they’re not… all that invested in building a closer relationship with her.”

“I see it as they treat her like they’re adults who have a recently remarried parent. Civil, friendly, but not overly close or parental. And maybe not even close in the family sense.”

“I have asked my kids about it and they say they’re good with how things are between them and it doesn’t feel right to act like she’s their mom or anything.”

“It bothers my fiancée a bit but she knows not to push.”

“I have told my kids it’s okay to be close to her, they don’t need to see her as a mom to be close and love her, but even if they did, it wouldn’t be bad. That their mom would want the best for them, no matter what that is.”

“They said they know but they don’t feel it and don’t want a mom-like relationship with her or anyone else really, except their grandma’s, who kinda fill the maternal role for them (and they do an awesome job).”

“My fiancée’s family has expressed that it bothers them that the kids don’t treat her more like a mom.”

The feelings came out during a recent visit.

“But Saturday her parents really went hard on me not teaching them right and bringing them up to show no respect to parental figures.”

“They also said they should see that blood doesn’t make a family or a parent, love does, and I obviously didn’t teach them.”

“My fiancée told them to stop but I was getting tired of it and made some more lemonade in an attempt to cool off.”

“Then they said I was going to crush their daughter and make her miserable if I couldn’t give her a family who love and want her around.”

“I ended up losing it and telling them they have no right to judge me or my parenting.”

“That I’m a good dad and my kids are good kids and nobody can force anything, but it’s not like I wouldn’t love things to be perfect but real life rarely is.”

“They said if I feel that way, I obviously never got over my late wife.”

“My fiancée kicked them out.”

“They said I had been rude and told her I would not make a good husband to her.”

“AITA?”

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 advised distancing from the parents-in-law or setting up new boundaries.

“NTA – your in-laws are correct, blood doesn’t make family, but you also can’t force someone to be family if they don’t want to be.”

“Your kids are respectful to your fiancée and your relationship with her. Trying to force them into seeing/treating your fiancée as their mum will probably do more harm to their (and your) relationship than it will good.”

“They need to stop sticking their noses where they don’t belong and mind their own. It’s good to see that your fiancée is on your side with this issue.”TooTall2Function

“Sounds like you’ve got things handled in a rational and thoughtful manner. The future in-laws have no idea what they’re talking about, demanding that the kids suddenly ‘feel’ differently (the heck?!?).”

“Here’s a thought: if the future in-laws are so convinced that others’ ‘feelings’ are that easily persuaded, why not tell them to prove it by quickly changing their minds on how your kids related to their daughter?”VLdemon3

“NTA, but it’s time for your fiancee to lay down the law with them: they’re the only ones causing tension and unhappiness in the relationship right now.”

“And if they can’t back off and let her manage things with you and the kids like the adult and head of her own household that she is, they shouldn’t expect to see her for a while – because they’ve clearly confused ‘love’ with ‘unquestioning obedience,’ and that’s not the example she wants to set as a parent or stepparent.”mm172

Others said it was refreshing to see the OP’s fiancée siding with him.

“NTA And your fiancee is awesome for sticking up for you and your kids. Maybe they don’t love her like a mother, but they definitely see her treating them with empathy and respect. She’s built a strong foundation for a relationship that might not look exactly like motherhood, but will grow into something unique and beautiful on its own.”apatheticsahm

“NTA! Most of the time the fiancée/new spouse in these situations side with their family and believe they have ‘earned’ the right to be treated like a parent.”

“It seems like his fiancée knows the score. The kids aren’t interested in having a second/bonus mom. And although I’m sure that does hurt and she is allowed to feel disappointed, she knows she can’t push the kids to treat/view her as a mom figure to them. These things can’t be forced, and she has accepted that.”

“If the ILs are going to push this topic, then his fiancée really needs to set boundaries with them. Especially if they start making comments to the kids directly about calling their daughter mom, or saying she is their mom. Only the kids can decide that.” – p3ttyb3ttie

“It is so refreshing to read one of these types of problems where the fiancée is siding with their partner from the horrible parents, instead of trying to get them to see it from their side. This is a sign that you’ve found someone really amazing.”

“NTA – Speak to your fiancée about limiting contact, or even no contact with them to protect your family from them.”ElectricMoccoson

A few recommended the OP be mindful of his fiancée’s feelings. 

“NTA – they were completely out of line. It’s a tough road. It’s awesome you are having open conversations with the kids, letting them set the pace, as forcing issues will never help.”

“At the same time, please don’t take her feelings for granted as I am sure it will be a difficult road, in the long run, to be doing all the things a mom would do without much beyond polite in return/reward.”

“Yes, hopefully, they will come around, but they might never, and while that is totally ok for them, it will be very rough on her…”

“Maybe consider you two going to some counseling or mediation to ensure that you have a good plan for her (and you) to navigate having to be a parent in this situation as neither of you want the next 10 years to be ‘nope, sorry, won’t do that, you’re not my mom’ and them then running to you. Nor would you want her ‘disconnecting’ from them, especially if you are considering having more kids.”

“Even bringing them in on some sessions to have some agreed-upon baselines. Keep in mind (or ask parents of older kids), things/attitudes can drastically change when kids hit those teen years, and/or with new kids in the mix, so being proactive now is probably best.”Babsgarcia

“NTA. In any way, shape, or form. You are absolutely right to make sure that any relationship between your children and partner is based on what works for them.”

“This idea that if you marry someone with a child then you automatically fill a parental role is outdated and unrealistic. As long as your partner and your children are both happy with the way things are then her parents can poke their noses out.”

“That being said, make sure your partner isn’t relegated to an observer position in the household.”

“If she is marrying you, then the home will be as much hers as it yours and your children. The glue that binds a blended family is the birth parent, and it will be on you to ensure that everyone’s needs are met.”walnutwithteeth

The subReddit was supportive of the OP and his fiancée and how they were navigating the situation as a couple.

The parents-in-law did not receive so much support, however, as they seemed to invite more complications and ill feelings into the family, rather than acceptance, love, and patience.

Written by McKenzie Lynn Tozan

McKenzie Lynn Tozan lives in North Chicago, where she works as a poet, freelance writer, and editor. She received her MFA in Creative Writing from Western Michigan University, and her BA in English from Indiana University South Bend. Her poems have appeared in Rogue Agent, Whale Road Review, the James Franco Review, Thank You for Swallowing, and elsewhere; and her essays and book reviews have appeared with Memoir Mixtapes, The Rumpus, BookPage, and Motherly, among others. When she's not reading and writing, she's in her garden or spending time with her family. For more, visit www.mckenzielynntozan.com.