Navigating a new marriage and new family members can be very difficult.
Especially when bringing in children from a previous marriage, the role of the new spouse and that spouse’s family can be really unclear to the in-laws, who may not always respond in the best ways.
Reddit user Aita9190773 found herself in an uncomfortable situation with her in-laws after being repeatedly excluded from “family” things.
Unsure if her reaction was appropriate, she went to the popular subReddit “Am I The A**hole?” or “AITA” for perspective on her choices.
“AITA For walking out with my girls when my MIL excluded them from family photo album?”
Our original poster, or OP, introduced us to the situation.
“I’m 36-mother of two girls (9/5) I met my now fiance (38) 2.5 years ago. He’s a good man, Treats my girls well and loves them.”
“Future mother in law is a generous lady truth be told. His family are respectful and helpful. We visit them a lot. After we got engaged I pretty much considered this my extended family.”
“However my mother in law tends to do things that either intentionally or unintentionally hurt my feelings, for example: when there’s a family dinner at a restaurant we’re not invited.”
“On Christmas my girls didn’t receive anything from her while other kids in the family got gifts and cards. Also all the kids in the family get a trip once a month but my girls never participate. Mother in law’s excuses were ‘I forgot.'”
This neglect recently came to a head when a holiday present was rife with it.
“This week, my future mother in law was doing family photo album and was gathering family pictures from everyone. Sister-In-Law and her kids/brother in law and his kids and so on.”
“She called and asked if I could send her some pictures. I thought that was nice of her. I sent them pretty much after my call with her ended.”
“We were invited to her house. The entire family was there to look at the photo album bc it was complete. We took turns to look at it. And when it was mine and my girls turn I was stunned.”
OP’s daughters were completely excluded from the album.
“Turned out she picked the pictures that had just me and her son, not my girls, although We took a ton of pictures.”
“My girls were excited, wanting to see the album then asked why their pictures weren’t there. I didn’t even wanna think about how they’d feel.”
“I was caught off guard otherwise I wouldn’t have let them look at the album. I asked MIL why she excluded my girls and she didn’t even reply, she just ignored me. My fiance stared at me.”
“I felt awful. I got up, took my girls and walked out immediately. Everyone was confused. My fiance followed us, then we left.”
Afterwards, OP and her fiance were in disagreement about how the situation should have been handled.
“At home he told me that I really shouldn’t have walked out before dinner and should’ve just ignored this whole thing because ‘Who cares about a stupid photo album?'”
“I told him It’s a symbol of family. The girls felt left out when all the kids pictures were there except for the girls although I sent her pics of 4 of us as a family.”
“He said his mom didn’t mean it and promised that this will change once we get married, and said he’ll ‘get everyone in line’ so I shouldn’t even consider this a problem.”
“And that my girls are the light of his life and that’s the only thing that matters. And that I was overreacting over a photo album.”
In a conversation with OP’s mother-in-law, the truth came out.
“Mother in law called and was upset, saying me walking out like that was disrespectful to the entire family.”
“When i told her about what she did, she bluntly said ‘I don’t wanna lie to people, those girls don’t relate to me in any way.'”
“She said she loves them and treats them well, will host their birthdays ‘if I want’ but she won’t call them family.”
“I argued with her over this and I hung up on her since she didn’t think she did anything wrong.”
“Was I in the wrong? Did I overreact?”
Redditors offered their perspective on the situation by declaring:
- NTA – Not The A**hole
- YTA – You’re The A**hole
- ESH – Everyone Sucks Here
- NAH – No A**holes Here
Reddit, no holds barred, said OP was not to blame.
“If the girls are ‘the light of his life’ he wouldn’t let his family treat them this way and would have nipped it in the bud the first time they were excluded with gifts.”
“Everyone can spend their money as they see fit, but for someone that should be treating them as grandchildren should be more fair.”
“Or else she doesn’t get to be in their lives. If they get married guaranteed she regrets it, unless he has an epiphany before the wedding.”~BugDue8789
“OP, I was your daughters. I had step-grandparents and 8 step aunts/uncles plus their families who treated my mother and I like this for over a decade.”
“It was made clear time and time again that we weren’t real family, and I wasn’t a real grandchild because I wasn’t my ex-stepfather’s biological child.”
“This behavior won’t change. Marriage won’t change a thing. Your fiancé will not ‘whip his family into shape.'”
“In fact he has shown you already that he will take his mother’s side and continually excuse her behavior. Your future MIL’s behavior is deliberate and will continue to get worse.”
“Please think long and hard about whether or not this is what you want to subject your daughters to. NTA.”~Glitter_Voldemort
“How about fiance gets everyone in line before you get married rather than passing the conflict down to some arbitrary time when you have less ability to walk away.”
“No she’s not related to your girls but her son is marrying you and you come with a family.”
“Reminds me of the scene in Hidden Figures when Katherine Johnson’s husband proposed and he talked about how he was also marrying her girls.”
“I’m not related to my nephew by blood, that literally means nothing to me. That’s my nephew. She’s deliberately excluding them and that is purposely hurtful.”
“She doesn’t want to lie to people? Bonkers, she’s being passive aggressive. Not cool. NTA, NTA, NTA.”~wildeflowers
“NTA but your fiance will NOT have your back, and the treatment your daughters are getting now will only continue.”
“I was in your daughters’ shoes when I was a kid and my dad was getting remarried and thankfully we were accepted into the family events, photos, etc. by the time my dad was engaged to my stepmom.”~Key-Tensio
In fact, the Redditors commenting are urging OP to reconsider entering this family altogether.
“NTA! The real issue here is your fiancé’s lack of a spine to stand up to his mother.”
“That will probably never change, so you’re walking into this coming marriage with your eyes wide open: If you marry this man, this will be your constant reality.”
“Your daughters will continue to get ignored, and you will be pushed out of events.”
“Cut your losses and flee this toxic relationship.”~towering_velveteen
“NTA. Your priority is your daughters and it is your obligation as their mother to stand by and up for them and protect them from anybody who is hurting them, physically or emotionally.”
“It’s exceptionally cruel to exclude children so young from gifts, trips, etc.”
“Your fiance needs to speak to his mother because it’s unfair to subject you and your children to that treatment the rest of your lives. You’re either family or not.”~shorething99
“NTA and I strongly suggest going no-contact with your in-laws until there is a promise of better behavior and an apology.”
“What a cruel and entirely unnecessary thing to do to you and your young children. This woman has not been ‘forgetting’ your girls, she’s been deliberately excluding them. It’s completely enraging.”
“Your fiancé needs to step up and draw some really hard lines with his mother, and it needs to happen BEFORE the wedding.”~Trick_Doughnut_6295
“NTA. Do not marry into that family.”
“He needs to get his mother straight before the wedding, and if he can’t then he needs to stay in solidarity with you and stop going to their events.”
“Or don’t marry him. Your daughters should never feel less than.”~eyespy_01
After all, if the family continues to deliberately exclude the children, will that behavior ever really change?
“Look, I am a single mom of three. I’m dating a man who has kids as well. His family, even on the first day of meeting my boys and I, included them as if they were their own.”
“My mom (and this surprised me honestly) did the same and spent an entire day playing with one of his kids.”
“They got Christmas presents when this was THE FIRST TIME THEY’VE EVER MET THEM. Your MIL…that woman’s behavior is disgusting.”
“Our parents love us and therefore love who we love. Your MIL doesn’t love her son that way, she sure doesn’t respect you at all and she is being awful to CHILDREN.”
“DO NOT MARRY THIS MAN. If he’s not willing to stick up for you after 2.5 years of this behavior, he never will.”
“He doesn’t love your girls as much as he says he does if he can watch them get treated this way and do nothing.”~analystnerd
“NTA. Are you sure you want to bring them into a group of people who has already said will make them feel like they do not in any way belong?”
“She did what she did intentionally, and if your boyfriend is not standing up to her now, he will not in the future. The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior, and your girls deserve better.”~MalsPrettyBonnet
“NTA- she’s intentionally excluding your girls and doesn’t care that it hurts them. Screw her. Good on your for standing up to her.”
“If your fiancé can’t see that and won’t back you and the girls up, I would leave him, if I were you. You are subjecting your girls to a life time of pain and feeling like they aren’t good enough.”
“This is one of my fears dating as a single mom. If it was my son, my partner backing up his mother in a situation like this would be my hill to die on.”~00HiddenIdentity00
“NTA. This is not going to get better after you get married. This is how your mother in law is going to behave toward your daughters. And this is how your fiance is going to handle it.”
Y”ou have a very tough choice in front of you. If you marry this man your daughters will spend the rest of their childhood being treated like 2nd class citizens. And your husband won’t care.”
“Please, please rethink this relationship.”~kindlefan12
OP unfortunately has a tough choice in front of her: now that her mother-in-law has revealed that she doesn’t intend to treat her children as family, is that acceptable for her?
Whatever her decision, we wish her the best.