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Mom Moves Family Out After Teen Stepdaughter Continually Torments Her Middle Child With ADHD

Stressed mom with moving boxes
RuslanDashinsky/Getty Images

We’ve all experienced feelings of being replaced, maybe because of shifting family dynamics, a change in a friend group, or even new roles at work, and we can all agree that it sucks.

But feeling like we’re not the most important person in the room doesn’t give us the green light to ruin the relationships of everyone else in that room, argued the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITAH) subReddit.

Redditor Popular_Flower_9287 wasn’t sure what to think when her youngest son started acting out after his baby sister was born.

But when she discovered that his older sister, her stepdaughter, had been filling his head with concerns about now being a middle, “less important” child, the Original Poster (OP) knew she had to act fast.

She asked the sub:

“AITAH for moving out with my three kids, including my infant, because I am starting to hate my stepdaughter?”

The OP used to be incredibly happy with her family life.

“I’ve been with my husband for eight years. He has a thirteen-year-old girl, my stepdaughter (nicknamed ‘SD’ here). I have a 14-year-old son and a nine-year-old son from a previous relationship. My husband and I have a five-month-old daughter we had together.”

“Prior to my giving birth, life was pretty smooth sailing. We did family trips often, had Sunday family night, and we designated one-on-one time with each of the kids (except my oldest, who has determined he’s too cool for us (laughing out loud), but if he wanted, it was always available).”

“There were a few fights between the kids, but nothing major, and they were usually resolved within minutes.”

But the family dynamic had recently shifted for the worse.

“Since I had the baby, everything has gone downhill. My home has become a warzone between my youngest son and my stepdaughter. They are physically fighting each other constantly, 90% of the time with my stepdaughter instigating.”

“She knows my son has ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) and ADHD (Attention-Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder) and doesn’t like being touched, so she will go up to him and poke him continuously even after being told to stop and then calls him psycho when he flips out (he can sometimes have a bit of a violent rage, which doctors say is common with ADHD).”

“But she does this literally on purpose. She purposely provokes him to a point where my husband and I have told her at least eight times (I lost count after that) that she is to stay away from him entirely for the rest of the day.”

The OP was alarmed by her son’s recent shift in behavior.

“Well, I’ve noticed lately that my youngest son has been getting incredibly emotional.”

“When I try to get him to talk about it, he screams at me. It’s been a huge thing and I’ve been over the top stressed out about it.”

“He is in therapy (behavioral, occupational, and regular therapy; my SD is also in therapy).”

“Well… his behavioral therapist opened up to me about two weeks back, saying that she was concerned about my son and asked specifically about how much influence my SD has over my son. She said a lot of stuff had been said in therapy.”

“I won’t go into extreme detail, but it was enough to warrant a conversation with my husband and him cracking down on what his daughter was saying to my son. He eventually ended up grounding her for that and something else she did (unrelated), and it just made it worse.”

The OP finally figured out what was happening to her son.

“Then this morning around 6:00 AM (the kids are on school vacation), my son just started flipping out over nothing. I tried talking to him, and he told me, ‘Shut up, you never even loved me anyway!'”

“I asked him what he was talking about, and he just screamed at me to shut up again.”

“My SD, who was at the table eating cereal, said, ‘Get used to it. Like I told you, nobody loves middle kids. You should just move out now.'”

“He stormed off to his room. I asked her if she was the reason why he was acting like that this morning.”

“She said, ‘No, you are. I didn’t make him a middle kid. All I did was explain to him that he will never be loved again, but I didn’t make that happen. You did.'”

That was the final straw for the OP.

“My husband walked in and told his daughter to go to her room and took her phone, yet again.”

“He went to talk to me and apologize, but I just kinda cut him off and said, ‘I actually can’t do this anymore. Your daughter is destroying my son’s life and making him think that I hate him, and I am starting to hate that kid to the point where I can’t be near her.'”

“I said, ‘So I’m going to leave. I would like you and your kid out of my home within two months.’ (I own the property and have for 15 years.)”

The OP’s husband was certain she was making something out of nothing.

“My husband’s now trying to argue that this can be fixed, but it’s come to a point where I hate his child and don’t want her near me or my son at all (she’s great with the baby).”

“He says he can’t believe I’m throwing us away over something that ‘can be fixed,’ but I don’t think it can.”


In the comments, the OP detailed her stepdaughter’s preoccupation with being a middle child.

“She is a middle child in both households, so she talks about ‘middle child syndrome’ OFTEN.”

“Her mom had a baby two years ago, and that’s when this stuff started happening. Originally, I was all Team SD, so when she came to us and said that her mom was neglecting her and pushing her away, I wanted to help her.”

“But then her mom told a different story. She said that my SD started claiming middle child syndrome because her mom wouldn’t get her a desk and a new laptop. I thought there was more to the story at that time and welcomed my SD with open arms, zero questions asked.”

“But her behavior revolving around middle child syndrome, her poking at my son and putting her hands on him, and her telling him that I don’t love him anymore now that he’s a middle child started immediately following me giving birth to the baby.”

“Like… when they came to visit me and the baby in the hospital, he was already asking me if I didn’t love him anymore because that’s what SD told him. I still tried including her and him both in absolutely everything. We still had one-on-one time. We did our best to continue our original schedules, just with an extra person in the house.”

“My son was receptive to it. She was not. Like, 30 minutes after we returned home from me bringing her out to eat and to get her hair and nails done, she told me that I never do anything for her and that I simply don’t like her because she’s a middle kid. It’s become an obsession with her.”

The OP was concerned about her stepdaughter’s fixation.

“She’s been in therapy since maybe two months after we got custody of her, and more recently, she was put in behavioral therapy, but nothing is working. I’m not allowed at the sessions, so I’m not entirely sure what’s going on, but it doesn’t seem to be helping.”

“I’m not trying to play doctor here but like, she has a lot of the same symptoms my son does. She gets fixated on things and repeats them constantly. For example, my son (up until last year) was completely obsessed with Spiderman and had been for about four years. Everything was Spiderman.”

“With my SD, her obsession is her being a middle child. Every other sentence out of her mouth is about her being a middle child. I’ve been trying to convince my husband to have an evaluation done for ADHD or possibly ASD (because I don’t know which disability comes with fixation or repetitive behavior), but he won’t because SD’s biological mom thinks that nothing is wrong.”

“It’s not just this, either… she also destroys everything (she rips up paper, which she then hoards in bags, she rips up her bed because she ‘can’t help it,’ she has severe intrusive thoughts, etc). But he won’t push it and I have no say.”

The OP couldn’t see a way to continue the relationship.

“And she won’t move back in with her mom. SD moved in with us two years ago, shortly after her mother gave birth to her baby. There are two sides to the story, of course. SD claims that her mom started treating her differently and doesn’t love her anymore. Her mom claims that SD started claiming middle child syndrome because she wouldn’t buy her a new laptop and desk (I had just bought her a laptop nine months prior for her birthday).”

“Based on what I’ve seen and witnessed, I think I believe her mom. Just because I told her a few days back that she couldn’t ride her bike to her friend’s house (it was pouring rain) and she said, ‘This right here is the reason why I have middle child syndrome.’ So she uses that excuse for everything.”

“She doesn’t want to go back to her mom’s house, and my husband won’t force her. But if he won’t ‘force’ her, then I don’t see a way to make this work.”


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 empathized with the OP and felt it was time for a change, even if that meant moving.

“NTA. Maybe it can be fixed. But it sure as h**l cannot be fixed while that kid is in your home. 13 is old enough to understand bullying.” – hideme21

“You’re not the a**hole.”

“The toxic dynamic between your stepdaughter and your son is deeply concerning, and your efforts to address it have been met with resistance. Your decision to prioritize the well-being of your son and create a healthier environment for him is both understandable and necessary.” – NoCardiologist5100

“NTA. It has gotten worse in the five months since you’ve had a child. Unfortunately, it can’t be ‘fixed’ in time to protect your son or to undo the damage your stepdaughter has done.”

“It’s a really sad situation, but you do need to protect your children, and it seems that the daughter’s therapy isn’t helping her in meaningful ways.” – BefuddledPolydactyls

“OP’s son needs his mother. My nephew has ADHD and requires twice as much time, and also my nephew was teased in kindergarten. I can understand how she feels, my family has isolated themselves from some people why they tease my nephew, and it’s horrible.”

“I am so sorry for OP but the family dynamic is not working. Her husband needs to talk to his daughter about breaking the ‘middle child’ issue.” – Rude_lovely

“I’d tell my husband, ‘You want to stay married? Okay, then she goes to boarding school, you visit her there, or you can visit her at her mom’s, or you can visit her at your parents’ house, but not here. She doesn’t ever come near my kids again, and that includes the baby.'”

“This is the only possible alternative. Either the family separates or the daughter is moved out and excluded from living in this home. It’s, unfortunately, that simple. She’s caused too much pain already, and it doesn’t sound like she has any remorse or desire to stop.” – Danivelle

Others agreed and challenged the OP’s husband to step up his game.

“With what the stepdaughter has said and how OP mentioned she’s a middle child in both her homes, this is super hard-core projection. Her dad and bio-mom really need to see about making sure she feels loved and wanted.” – OujiaBard

“It makes no sense to permit a toxic environment to continue while they try to ‘fix’ this.”

“OP is understandably at her wit’s end, between a newborn, an upset and hurting child, and another child who may also be hurting in her own way but who is very much causing hurt to others.”

“Husband needs to pull his head out of his rear. What he’s tried so far hasn’t worked, so another tactic is needed. There’s no reason he should have permitted things to go this far and get this bad.” – majesticgoatsparkles

“The things the stepdaughter has been saying to her younger brother, if this was an adult saying it to the child, people would scream emotional abuse.”

“Just because she’s 13 doesn’t make it any less abusive nor impactful on him. Maybe more so as she’s one of his ‘siblings’. She’s telling him no one, including her, loves him. Again, if she were over 18…”

“The dad needs it framed for him that way. This isn’t silly sibling s**t anymore, this has escalated to the point the poor boy isn’t emotionally safe or comforted in his own home environment. His daughter is knowingly and happily making this child’s home an unstable and volatile space, and she knows she’s triggering his mental health and other diagnoses and is taking joy from it.” – HyenaStraight8737


“Your husband needs to take his daughter and go, at once. She is torturing your son, physically, mentally, and emotionally. Don’t cause more trauma by uprooting all of your children, even temporarily.”

“He can get a hotel until he finds a place, but he needs to get her OUT of your house. Now. The fact that he is trying to blame you for what his daughter has done to your son is heinous. She is very clearly in need of therapy herself. But he can organize that for her, from a safe place where she isn’t using your son as a metaphorical punching bag to relieve herself of her own pain.”

“And, when your son is calm, sit down and talk to him. Maybe have a session with his therapist, as well. Explain that your stepdaughter was wrong, that you love him, and that you will always be there for him. I know you’re going to be stretched thin as a single mother, but please try to find time once a month for one-on-one time with each of your children. Your son needs that reassurance, to feel that he is still loved.” – Cursd818

“She needs to protect her son from her stepdaughter first and foremost and she’s doing that perfectly. I don’t know about divorce; maybe this can be sorted out but extreme steps might have to be taken. And it’s clear as day that her son shouldn’t be anywhere near the girl for a long time, at least until his therapy has had some effect and he learns to adapt and cope with his emotions and triggers better.”

“In the meantime, I think OP’s idea about moving away from her husband and his daughter is actually a good one. Some space is absolutely needed here and can do wonders for their family dynamics; however, if they are to keep this marriage intact, they’d have to figure out a way to either keep the kids apart most of the time (if not all of the time) or invest in intense therapy for both the kids together.”

“Hope they’re able to figure this out for themselves and of course, OP is NTA for choosing to protect her son.” – Illustrious_Fix2933

The subReddit was appalled by how the OP’s youngest son was being treated, and it was clear to them that he needed immediate separation and peace away from his stepsister.

Because of her own concerns about not being an only child and feeling the need for attention, the stepdaughter was effectively ruining her family unit, which would likely get her much more negative attention than what she’d been hoping for.

Written by McKenzie Lynn Tozan

McKenzie Lynn Tozan has been a part of the George Takei family since 2019 when she wrote some of her favorite early pieces: Sesame Street introducing its first character who lived in foster care and Bruce Willis delivering a not-so-Die-Hard opening pitch at a Phillies game. She's gone on to write nearly 3,000 viral and trending stories for George Takei, Comic Sands, Percolately, and ÜberFacts. With an unstoppable love for the written word, she's also an avid reader, poet, and indie novelist.