When two single parents meet and start to date, the possibility of them forming a new family is exciting and romantic.
But there are many variables that can get in the way of all the members of the family being happy, pointed out the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit.
While looking forward to her wedding, Redditor M2Yb23 had reservations about her future stepson and how he would impact her sons.
When he wanted to live with them instead of his biological mother, the Original Poster (OP) wasn’t sure it was a good idea.
She asked the sub:
“AITA for not allowing my stepson to live with us?”
The OP’s future stepson wanted to live with them instead of his biological mother.
“I have two boys (10 Male and 5 Male), and I’m getting married in the next few weeks to my boyfriend, who has a 12-year-old son from a previous relationship.”
“My future husband’s son asked his dad if he could come live with us after we get married because he wants to experience a genuine family dynamic with parents and siblings, given that his biological parents never married anyone else.”
“My husband is on board with this idea, believing it would contribute positively to the boy’s personal growth.”
The OP had concerns about her future stepson moving in, however.
“I expressed to my husband that I have reservations about having him live with us, based on observations during the weekends he spends at our place:”
“Firstly, he appears to have a strained relationship with my younger son. He rarely includes him in activities unless I specifically prompt him to do so. When I ask him to assist the younger boy, such as accompanying him to the bathroom, he does so with obvious reluctance.”
“For example, Let’s say we’re at a park. I can’t let my five-year-old go to the bathroom alone. So, I might have my stepson accompany him for safety reasons. It’s the kind of thing an older child should do for a younger one.”
“Secondly, he displays an excessive competitive streak toward my older son. He consistently aims to outperform him and even taunts him when he succeeds. I find this overly competitive atmosphere uncomfortable. I desire my children to grow up in a nurturing and supportive environment.”
“The third and most significant concern is his academic and behavioral performance. My boyfriend has informed me that his son has been struggling academically and has faced minor behavioral challenges. I am concerned about his potential negative influence on my children, particularly my older son.”
The OP’s future husband and mother didn’t agree with her reservations.
“My husband dismisses these concerns as typical for his age, believing that with our guidance, he could improve.”
“I sought advice from my mother, and she disagrees with me, asserting that providing a united family environment could greatly benefit my stepson.”
“Both of them label my reasons as unreasonable.”
Fellow Redditors weighed in:
- NTA: Not the A**hole
- YTA: You’re the A**hole
- ESH: Everybody Sucks Here
- NAH: No A**holes Here
Whether they gave an NTA or not, some understood the OP’s reservations about moving in.
“I’m concerned you don’t think those behaviors are completely normal. I also have three boys, and they have definitely done those exact same things to one another.”
“NTA for having reservations. However, considering what your reservations are, YTA.”
“You’ve known this kid since he was less than two years old and now have given some pretty bulls**t reasons for your concerns, in my opinion.” – CaveJohnson82
“NTA, exactly. I get that you’re concerned for your children. But let me give you some food for thought.”
“First, the stepson will also be one of your children. You need to accept him like you want your husband-to-be to accept your two. If you aren’t willing to do that, you probably need to break things off. Just being honest.”
“Second, the twelve-year-old is reluctant to take his much younger sibling to the bathroom and is competitive with the one near his own age…? Haha, ma’am, I’m a dad of five wonderful children, and this sounds like very normal sibling behavior to me. I wouldn’t worry about it.”
“Now, struggling academically? Here’s where I come closest to saying YTA. What are you gonna do if you have a biological child who struggles academically? Throw him/her out of the house so they’re not maybe a bad influence on your other children? Of course not! You love them and realize they need a little extra help with school stuff.”
“Who knows, maybe the confusion and instability of a single-parent home is part of what’s causing that. I don’t know what minor behavior challenges mean, exactly, but he’s a 12-year-old boy. Boys are often a bit ornery. It comes with the territory.”
“A good role model plus discipline that is firm, fair, and consistent will take care of pretty much all of that if you keep at it and give it time to work.”
“I’m gonna hold with NTA, but skating on thin ice in some areas.” – drfreemlizard
“I think you’re somewhere in-between YTA and NTA. You have legitimate concerns about your stepson. He wasn’t living with his father before, and living with that stepson wasn’t something you really signed up for. Saying ‘no’ because of the concerns you raised I think is reasonable, but I think you could be handling the situation better.”
“The father and son want to live together, and it is no different than your feelings for having your kids live with you. You’re protective of your kids, and that’s prudent. That said, I think you should be working towards some way to allow him to live with you.”
“You should probably communicate some conditions if this kid wants to live with you. Something like getting his school grades up, modifying his behavior, etc… spell out what you think will prove this can work. And if he can, then you’ll let him move in. And you can be just as clear about rules and what might make him have to move back in with his other parent.” – aka_mythos
“I’m leaning towards NTA because I picture in six months you posting that your stepson lives with you, and your now husband does nothing to parent him or raise him, and everything falls on you. Which then everyone will say, that’s not fair, and dad needs to step up.”
“But I do think it would be good for your stepson to live with you prior to that happening. You and your fiancé need to step up and discuss boundaries and living arrangements, including things that all the children are treated equally (it’s not your boys and his), that you both are viewed as authority figures and can talk with any of the children and it’s respected (no ‘you’re not my mom’ issues), and highly considered not only therapy for each of the kids but also family and couples therapy.”
“Regardless, this is going to be a huge adjustment, and being proactive will be the best course.” – punknprncss
“NTA. However, you might not be able to marry this guy.”
“Here’s why: There is a well-known social issue with adoption in which you NEVER disrupt the birth order. Kids develop as a part of a family unit and hold a specific place in that order: parent, firstborn, middle, youngest, etc.”
“What you are doing by letting this boy live there is moving the oldest into the middle spot and doing so at very formative years in his life. It WILL MESS UP YOUR TEN-YEAR-OLD, no question. Just Google ‘adoption birth order,’ and read up on it.”
“Also, there is nothing wrong with the 12-year-old who wants to join the family. His parents have put him in a less-than-perfect spot, and his desire to join your family is natural and good even. It’s a heartbreaking situation; I feel for the 12-year-old, truly.”
“But it’s not as simple as ‘he doesn’t want to help out. It’s a psychological crucible that you will submit your boys to, and that’s if the 12-year-old boy is just normal. If he is selfish or has behavioral issues, it will be worse.” – EpicMarcus
But others thought the OP was intentionally excluding her future stepson and was the AH.
“YTA. You’re marrying his father, so you should start considering him as your son, as well.”
“If your eldest son (10 Male) started displaying all these behaviors, then surely you wouldn’t just kick him out and give up on him.”
“I would get your boyfriend on board with ways to deal with the behaviors that you’re not happy with.” – PandaFrankOpinions
“Your future stepson sounds like a typical 12-year-old. You seem to think he is a free mother’s helper for you with your younger child and that he should treat your older child like he is made of glass. He doesn’t need to take your five-year-old to the bathroom and invite him to play. They have different interests given their seven-year age gap.”
“Your ten-year-old son won’t melt or break from competition. And lastly, a lot of kids that age go through some academic and minor behavioral struggles. Your own kids will, as well.”
“I will say that if you continue this, your partner should refuse to marry you and should end the relationship. Your kids are not the only kids in your blended family, and they should not be your boyfriend’s priority.” – sheramom4
“At five years old, it is acceptable to bring your son into the ladies’ room with you. You shouldn’t be putting this responsibility on another child.”
“The competitive streak you’re describing is to gain your approval. He can tell you don’t like him, and he’s trying to prove himself to you.”
“Of course, he’s acting out at school. His father is about to marry an a**hole who treats him like s**t. How do you expect him to act?”
“You need a major attitude adjustment. Pro-tip from a teacher: find something you like about your stepson, and focus on it. You’ll soon find other things you like about him, and then maybe all the negativity you feel towards him won’t be quite so palpable. YTA.” – HelenaBirkinBag
“YTA sounds like you fully expect fiance to be a father figure to your children but have no interest in being a mother to his.”
“What would your reaction be if your fiance didn’t want your boys living with y’all after marriage? Would it be a deal breaker? Would you consider it? Remember, it’s what you’re asking from him.”
“You sound like you’re digging up reasons, and even what you’re scraping up isn’t alarming behavior. Most 12-year-old boys aren’t interested in playing with five-year-olds, even biological brothers. But his living there would give them all the opportunity to grow as siblings. And, of course, he isn’t excited to be asked to chaperone a child to the bathroom, is your 10-year-old?”
“Overall, it seems very selfish and like you want your idea of the perfect family, which doesn’t include your stepson. You should look for a partner without children.” – ProofReplacement3278
“You said your future husband and your mom both called you unreasonable. That’s because you are.”
“Why should your sons be the only ones to benefit from having an intact family unit? Why can’t you’re sons be kicked to the curb in favor of your stepson? Because as much as you try to deny it, that’s what you’re doing.”
“He’s 12 years old. He’s not a babysitter. You asking him to take your youngest to the bathroom is not his job. That’s your job.”
“The reason why he isn’t gung ho to hang out with him is because he’s seven freaking years older than him. Tell us, when you were 12, how enthused would you be to take a five-year-old to the bathroom and wipe their a**?”
“You are that stepmom. I hope to God your fiancé takes a good long look at the person you are and puts your wedding on hold.” – BadBandit1970
After receiving feedback, the OP shared an update.
“I know that I am not the best person, but I never mistreated or ignored my future stepson. I care for him, and I would never think of hurting him.”
“I realize now that I was being overly protective of my own children and not considering things from my future stepson’s perspective. I was afraid that my future stepson might bully my kids (for example, excluding the younger one from activities he enjoys, like building with Legos, or teasing the older one when he wins), but now I can see that if he wants to live with us, it’s because he cares about his future siblings.”
“Moreover, as a responsible adult, I understand that I have an obligation to help him with his behavior and school grades.”
“I talked to my boyfriend, and I accept that he can come live with us.”
“Now, we’ll need to move to a new house so that each child can have their own room, and we’ll have to work on getting custody.”
The OP later shared a longer update in a separate post.
“I initially want to thank the comments that helped me understand that I was in the wrong. I learned that I was being extremely selfish, only looking out for my own children and my fear that they might somehow face bullying at home, but I wasn’t considering the feelings of my stepson.”
“I’ve also learned that the dynamics between siblings, something I never experienced, inevitably involve a bit of competition and rivalry.”
“I was so focused on myself and my kids that I couldn’t see that if he wants to live with us, then obviously he cares about us, especially the idea of having siblings. So, I hope we will work together to build a great dynamic in our house.”
“I talked to my fiancé, even showed him this Reddit post, and told him that I agree our stepson should live with us and that I was wrong about my reservations concerning the boy.”
“He talked to the mother of my stepson, who has legal custody of him.”
“I didn’t participate in the conversation, as I understand it was a moment for the biological parents.”
“Despite being reluctant, after hearing from her own child that he wanted to live with us, she agreed to work out an arrangement where he will spend a significant amount of time with us.”
“My fiancé and boy’s mother will still have to discuss the details.”
The OP’s future stepson was super excited about the development.
“After that, my fiancé and I took my stepson out to eat his favorite burger and talked. I told him that we’re happy to have him as a new member of our household, that we’re going to look for a new house to accommodate the family better now that we’ll be five, and that he can have his own room. He was very happy.”
“We didn’t address some concerns that I still have, like the issue of discipline and following rules. I avoided that topic so it doesn’t seem like I’m threatening him to go back to living with his mom. I want him to feel accepted unconditionally in our home.”
“But of course, we’ll have that conversation about discipline with the older two soon to prevent any issues and also emphasize the importance of maintaining good grades in school.”
The subReddit could understand that concerns would come with any shift in the family dynamic, but the concerns the OP had shouldn’t necessarily be something to keep the family apart.
With some patience and grace for each family member, they surely could figure something out.
We applaud the OP for listening to the advice from the subreddit and using it to reevaluate things!