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Dad Irate After New Wife’s Parents Criticize Him For Letting Kids Display Photos Of Their Late Mom

Little girl looking at a picture in a frame and holding tissues.
Mike Kemp/Getty Images

Those who marry a widowed parent find themselves faced with certain challenges.

Specifically, being accepted by their new stepchildren.

It can be fairly quickly learned, however, that the key to maintaining a healthy relationship with their new stepchildren is making no effort to replace their stepchildren’s deceased parent.

Those who go a step further and make a point of honoring and remembering their stepchildren’s deceased parent often find themselves having even better relationships.

When Redditor Mysterious-Cod3255 met his new wife, he made it clear that he wanted to honor the memory of his children’s deceased mother.

Thankfully for the original poster (OP), his new wife seemed completely fine with this.

Unfortunately, the OP’s new in-laws (ILs) were less comfortable, even going so far as to accuse the OP of disrespecting his new wife, their daughter.

Wondering if this was the case, the OP took to the subReddit “Am I The A**hole” (AITA), where he asked fellow Redditors:

“AITA for shutting my ILs down when they brought up issues with photos of my children’s mom in our home?”

The OP explained why they made a point of maintaining and honoring their late wife’s memory, and why their ILs were unhappy with this decision:

“I (46 M[ale]) have two children; Fia (13 F[emale) and Cael (10 M[ale]).”

“Their mom died five years ago in a car crash.”

“We had been married at the time but only legally.”

“For the last three years of her life we were pretending to still be together and we stayed married, but it was all pretending for the kids.”

“We did not want to divorce for our kids’ sake.”

“Both of us came from divorced families and what I consider broken homes because of how badly our parents handled the divorces.”

“We didn’t want that for the kids.”

“We feared we couldn’t do better.”

“The end result was us hating each other.”

“It ran deep too.”

“I regret that now.”

“The last words we exchanged were not kind.”

“Our kids deserved better than that.”

“Better than having parents who hated each other because we were so afraid to divorce.”

“So after she died I was determined to let go of all that hate and I was determined to make sure the kids knew they were loved by both parents and were not burdened by the issues we’d had.”

“Their mom and dad both love them.”

“I truly believe their mom’s love still exists for them in them.”

“And they deserve to know that love.”

“That was what I focused on.”

“So I saved everything of hers for them.”

“It’s all stored safely for them one day.”

“And a couple of years after she died, I did remove most of the photos of our married life.”

“But I let the kids keep two photos of their choice out in the open in common areas of the house. The rest are either in their room or stored for them with the rest of her stuff.”

“My kids love and miss their mom so much and it brings them comfort to have her photos out.”

“I make sure they can always talk about her or ask questions.”

“They also have a very close relationship with the three siblings she spoke to.”

“This is my children’s home above all and I make sure it always feels that way.”

“When I met my wife (I remarried last year) I told her about the photos and said a partner of mine needed to accept this.”

“She did.”

“We got married.”

“Nobody has taken the photos of my kids and their mom down.”

“But my ILs do have a problem (and maybe they’re speaking on behalf of my wife and she’s not open I’m still figuring that out).”

“They were staying with us at the weekend and during a dinner they questioned my kids about keeping the photos out when my wife now lives with us.”

“My kids said they like having photos of their mom they can see in the house.”

“My ILs began to say that it was inconsiderate of my wife and they should not be in common areas when I stepped in and shut them down and I told them that this is still my children’s home too and part of that is displaying photos of their mom in their home where they can be seen.”

“I told them it did not need to be discussed more.”

“The following day my ILs said I had no reason to be so rude and I had an unhealthy attachment to keeping their mom present in their lives when she’s dead.”

“They told me they should be allowed to question things about their daughter’s home and I overreacted.”


Fellow Redditors weighed in on where they believed the OP fell in this particular situation, by declaring:

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

The Reddit community unanimously agreed that the OP was not the a**Hole for calling out his ILs, and keeping pictures of his children’s late mother in his house.

Everyone agreed that the OP was correct in feeling that his ILs were trying to erase the memory of his late wife and deserved to be called out for it, with many also agreeing that his wife probably did express her discomfort about the pictures to her parents, behind his back.


“Your current wife knew that they would stay up.”

“It kind of seems like your IL are trying to erase your late wife from existence.”

“Which is not okay.”

“You were completely right to shut it down.”

“If you were nicer about it, they might have just kept pushing.”

“I would make sure that they know, if they are uncomfortable with it, they don’t have to come back to your house but the pictures are not coming down.”

“And IF it is coming from your wife through them, she should have decided it wasn’t okay with her and she should have moved on, not get upset later down the road and drag her family into it.”- Far-Athlete9560


“’Don’t worry’.”

“‘We’ll make sure to forget all about you and erase your existence as soon as you’re dead, if that is your preference’.”- Born_Ad_8370


“I think there is a big chance the IL are voicing your wife dislike because if your wife would be on your side she would have told her own parents they are being rude and need to back off.”

“Me and my wife lived for a few years with my parents and when anything regarding my parents I was the one telling them to back off and dealt with my parents ( because they are my parents ) and my wife also deals with her parents when they overstep our boundaries.”

“You definitely need to talk to your wife because if she has a problem with the photos, in time, will create resentment and if you going to have a child she will definitely treat the kids differently if there will be resentment between her and you or kids.”- MattIdea8482


“I think you are doing a brilliant job of respecting the love that your former wife had for your children and of doing your best to give them what they need.”

“You were right to be clear about the boundaries.”

“Being curious I would love to know why they think these photographs shouldn’t be on display.”

“It sounds as though they are threatened by their presence.”

“If so, IMO this is their problem and they should examine their attitudes.”

“It is perverse to wish to hide away the children’s mother.”- Time-Tie-231


“But where is your wife in a this?”

“Shouldn’t it have been her to tell her parents to back off?”

“If she didn’t get involved, you have your answer regarding the photos.”- agnesperditanitt


“I’m married to a former widower.”

“I can speak from experience.”

“There is a huge difference between a wife and a mom.”

“The pictures up aren’t there because she was your wife.”

“It’s because she was your kids mom.”

“If people can’t separate that, it’s their problem.”- FinanciallySecure9


“Support your children.”

“My sister died from cancer and my BIL erased my sister from the kids lives.”

“Introduced his new girlfriend 3 weeks after she died.”- hurling-day

“‘They told me they should be allowed to question things about their daughter’s home’.”

“By all means…but that doesn’t change the fact they were asking CHILDREN and not the two people in charge of the household.”

“They were rude and inconsiderate first, which negates any rudeness on your part.”

“I’d be interested to know your wife’s opinion.”

“How did she react to this interaction?”

“You may not have discussed yet, but I’m guessing you know your wife well enough to read her body language.”

“NTA.”- Two_Eighty_Six

It’s hard enough to understand why the OP’s ILs would be surprised by the fact that his children would want pictures of their mother in their home.

What’s even harder to fathom is that they actually felt comfortable in encouraging them to take them away.

One can only hope this wasn’t the OP’s wife plotting something behind his back, otherwise, things are only going to get more and more uncomfortable in that household.

Written by John Curtis

A novelist, picture book writer and native New Yorker, John is a graduate of Syracuse University and the children's media graduate program at Centennial College. When not staring at his computer monitor, you'll most likely find John sipping tea watching British comedies, or in the kitchen, taking a stab at the technical challenge on the most recent episode of 'The Great British Baking Show'.