As parents, it can be easy to fall into the trap of believing we have more power over our children than we actually have.
But especially as our children become adults of their own, we need to remember that if we offer our kids an ultimatum, they may choose an option we don’t like.
A mother learned that lesson, according to her husband on the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit, after her daughter not only called her bluff about disowning her but also moved on in her life without her mother.
Worst of all, Redditor Throwaway91155791 found himself stuck in the middle, supporting his stepdaughter in making her own decisions and being punished for not backing his wife’s ultimatum up.
The Original Poster (OP) asked the subReddit:
“AITA for telling my wife she’s the reason she’s not invited to her daughter’s wedding?”
The OP came into a struggling relationship between his new wife and stepdaughter.
“I ([Male]43) been with my wife for 4 years. I have a 19-year-old stepdaughter. She suffered a lot during her parents’ divorce and she hasn’t gotten therapy till I came into the picture.”
“That’s] when I noticed how depressed she was.”
“She used to yell and argue all the time. She was harsh and hostile towards me. But that changed when I started fixing her problems one by one and it turned out she needed healing and being heard and understood.”
“We now have one of the few best relationships I have in my life. I appreciate the efforts she’s made to be who she is today.”
Then the OP’s stepdaughter surprised them with some news.
“She told me and her mom that she was going to get married to her boyfriend who she knew from high school. Her mom got mad at her for wanting to get married at this age and while in college. Even though my wife got married for the first time at a young age and had rough times trying to make a living and raising a kid.”
“She lashed out at her daughter telling her to drop it, but my stepdaughter called her selfish and controlling and that she shouldn’t try to enforce her opinions on her and decide when she should get married.”
The OP’s wife gave his stepdaughter a choice.
“Her mom gave her an ultimatum and said she’d disown her if she went through with her decision. My stepdaughter stopped talking to her ever since and my wife said that from now on she doesn’t have a daughter.”
“I thought that was too much for my stepdaughter. I stayed in contact with her and after a few weeks, my stepdaughter sent me a wedding invitation.”
“I gotta say I felt a little hesitant thinking about my wife’s reaction but my stepdaughter told me she felt hurt and alone as her wedding approaches when she is supposed to be happy and excited. She even cried when she spoke with me on the phone last week.”
The OP’s wife was very upset when she found out.
“My wife found out and lashed out at me because the invitation had my name only and berated me for wanting to go support my stepdaughter and was upset that her daughter ignored her and didn’t even call her to invite her to the wedding.”
“I flatout told my wife she should’ve handled the situation better instead of driving her daughter away like that, but my wife got upset and accused me of supporting my stepdaughter’s callousness and selfishness and told me not to go long as she isn’t going.”
“I called her unreasonable and clearly she’s mad at me for not calling my stepdaughter and berating her for not inviting her mother after she disowned her.”
Fellow Redditors wrote in anonymously, rating the situation on the following scale:
- NTA: Not the A**hole
- YTA: You’re the A**hole
- ESH: Everybody Sucks Here
- NAH: No A**holes Here
Some wondered why the OP continued to stay with his wife.
“NTA – I’m having a hard time understanding why you’re with your wife, she sounds awful. She needs to understand that her daughter is an adult and this is her decision to make, whether it’s a mistake or not. Crushing her daughter like that was cruel.”
“I really hope you go to the wedding and support her. Sounds like you’re the only supportive parent figure she has in her life.” – SammyLoops1
“NTA – why are you with her? She sounds awful. If she treats her daughter this way, I can only imagine how she is to everyone every day.” – MadeInHB
“Yeah, sounds like your wife might be the reason why your stepdaughter was so depressed. That’s kind of horrible that she’d ask you to essentially disown her too. NTA” – loveofallsheep
“I think mom is also hurting and really needs therapy.”
“I’m going to trust OP’s judgment and assume that she’s a good woman on the whole, and that this pretty vulgar behavior we’re seeing is a sign of distress, not a reflection of who she is on the whole.” – grendus
Others tried to help the relationship, pointing out that the wife may simply be trying to protect her daughter, though through questionable methods.
“I really get the feeling that OP’s wife is in pain. OP didn’t go into detail as to why the divorce hurt his stepdaughter so much, but if she wasn’t hurt by her parents splitting up then my next guess would be that ex-husband was a bad person, or else the divorce was messy and caused a lot of fallout.”
“We always think of children as being hurt the worst by this because they often don’t have the emotional coping tools, but… I wouldn’t be surprised if OP’s wife was also traumatized and is just better at hiding it.”
“OP might consider asking his wife to do couples therapy after this. I kind of think that her rejection of her daughter is really her trying to reject her past self, or what she sees as a reflection of it.” – grendus
“You’re right, it’s in a terrible way. Her daughter is not her and her daughter’s fiance isn’t her ex. Talking to her about waiting until all this plague stuff is over so she can graduate and then have plenty of time to plan a nice wedding would have been fine, but that’s not what happened.” – CallidoraBlack
“To be fair I think her original lash out was just trying to save her daughter from her own mistakes. There’s probably a part of her that thinks if maybe she hadn’t gotten married so young she could have avoided a lot of pain.”
“The way she is going about it is NOT good at all. She’s is being horrible and pushing away and upsetting her daughter, but I don’t think she is coming from an evil place. That said still NTA because she’s being so awful to her own daughter, when the best path would have been a heart to heart about her past and her mistakes.”
“*Edit: people keep getting stuck on ‘mistakes’ so I guess change that to her past and how her choices affected her and her marriage.” – gayflirtthrowaway
“I agree, she’s just doing exactly the opposite of what could be effective. One of the quickest ways to get your kid to dig in their heels and do something is to try to forbid it, especially if they’re an adult and you weren’t the best parent.”
“That said, it baffles me that the wife is surprised she’s not invited to a wedding she attempted to forbid! As big of a deal as she made about not approving, any sane person would think she wouldn’t want to go and not want her there to cause a scene.” – Ikmia
A few agreed and hoped the wife would change her tune someday.
“NTA. I think you did the right thing. I hope your wife reconsiders. You think she is hurt now, wait until grandchildren show up and she is not included.”
“PS. Hope your couch is comfortable because I have a feeling you will be there a while.” – DrKrash38
“Yeah agreed. After all that she really could have just called and apologized. ‘Hey I was a real douche canoe, and I’m sorry. I was worried about the decision you made, here’s why I don’t think it’s not the right decision, if you want to continue with it I’ll still love and support you.’ End of the story.” – TreeTrunk2765
Some Redditors made a good point in suggesting the mother might have the best at heart, simply not wanting her daughter to make the same mistakes she made. That being said, there’s a way to handle such a conversation, and giving this ultimatum clearly wasn’t it.
Hopefully with time, the OP will be able to figure out a way to support his stepdaughter in her life on her own, as well as his wife’s growth in viewing her daughter as her own person.