Blended families are often a delicate situation. But a guy on Reddit’s situation is downright awkward: The child his ex-wife had with the man she cheated on him with wants him to be her father figure, and he isn’t having it.
When the child recently gave him a Father’s Day gift, he decided that was the last straw. He wasn’t sure about how he handled the situation, however, so he went to the AITA (Am I The A**hole) subReddit for perspective.
The Original Poster (OP), who goes by IncomeNo6383 on the site, asked:
“AITA For Tossing A Father’s Day Gift From My Ex’s Child?”
“I (45m[ale]) have a daughter ‘Cassie’ (19f[emale]) with my ex-wife ‘Mary’ (47f) who cheated and left me for another man. When she showed up to the divorce hearing fully pregnant I knew that there was no going back. She gave birth to her daughter ‘Jane’ (14f) with plans to marry the father but he died in an accident when Jane was just a weeks few old.”
“Jane’s paternal side was extremely religious and ashamed that her father was an adulterer so they wanted nothing to do with her or her mother, and even went as far as to deny a blood relation because Mary was a woman of ill repute.”
“Mary doesn’t have any brothers and no father so Jane grew up without ever really having a Father Figure. It was never explicitly stated but Mary was hoping that I’d be in Jane’s life but blocked every turn. She doesn’t get to betray and discard me and then try to come back when things didn’t work out.”
“I’ve remarried and have my own family but since Jane is Cassie’s sister I still make the effort to be nice. I don’t take Jane with me on family trips but I let her come to the house when Cassie has special events there.”
“I only started becoming more distant towards Jane when she tried calling me ‘Dad’ a few times and Mary wouldn’t intervene. Once Mary got a boyfriend I was relieved to be left alone and aggravated when things didn’t work out between them because Jane started trying to start a father/daughter relationship with me again.”
“This past Father’s Day my family surprised me with a special lunch and Jane managed to slide her way in there. I would preferred she leave but I didn’t want to make another awkward situation for Cassie and didn’t raise a fuss. When it came time to cards and gifts Jane gave me a present and quick speech about how great of a dad I’ve been and shown her what it means to be a good parent.”
“It was a touching speech but I wasn’t particularly moved by it. Because I felt put on the spot I accepted the gift and let Jane give me a hug. Then when the day was over and everyone was gone I tossed it in a Goodwill Box we have in the basement. My wife thinks that I should keep it even if I don’t like it, but I don’t want to send a message that there’s hope for Jane that I’ll be the father she’s always wanted. AITA?”
Redditors were then asked to judge who is in the wrong in this situation based on the following categories:
- NTA – Not The A**hole
- YTA – You’re The A**hole
- ESH – Everyone Sucks Here
- NAH – No A**holes Here
And they found this one to be a really tough call.
“This mighy be one of the saddest AITA I’ve ever read. I completely understand where you are coming from. But honestly I feel like w/o you that kid is going to end up in a real tough spot in life. Im not qualified in anyway to say whose an A-hole in this story, except your ex-wife. From my perspective I would always try to help out a fatherless kid. This is real tough, goid luck to all of you.” —bdubs737
“Every bit of this points to NTA, but she’s a kid. She’s not asking for money, she’s just asking for someone to take an interest in her. I get you’re in no way obligated to Jane, but is being a good, safe adult in her life such a horrific burden that it’s a hard no? It might be, I don’t know. But it certainly seems like she could use someone to care a little.” —MGS314MGS314
“I agree that Jane isn’t to blame and she is the main victim in this situation. But, I think it’s unfair to ask OP to take interest in a child conceived by his ex-wife’s adultery. It is obviously not Janes fault, but it has to be hard for OP to be reminded of what happened every time he sees her.”
“If Jane was not calling him dad and giving him Father’s Day presents (and other behaviors that indicate she views him as a father figure) maybe it would be easier for OP, but as it stands-I really don’t blame OP for stepping back (especially since he is not overtly nasty to her-didn’t throw away/reject the present in front of her, scream/make a fuss in front of her that he isn’t her dad etc.)”
“The real AH is the ex-wife on so many levels. Really feel bad for Jane, but OP is NTA.” —wearealreadyhere
“The only a**hole in the whole situation is your ex. She should take responsibility for her actions and parent her daughter, not throw responsibility and expectations on you. Jane definitely doesn’t deserve any of what happening to her” —San3ae
After reading his fellow Redditors’ comments, OP came back to provide some updates.
“ETA: Again because I keep seeing this in the comments”
- “I’ve told Jane not to call me ‘Dad’ or think that just because I do things with Cassie that I’ll do them for her.”
- “I’ve talked to Mary about this more than once but she’s of no help.”
- “I don’t blame Jane for what her mom did but I don’t understand why I need to be a Father Figure in her life to prove it.”
- “I don’t even want to be a Paternal Figure for her because that would require a certain amount of time and labor that I’d rather give to my own children.”
- “Mary and I weren’t intimate for months during Jane conception and there was a DNA test. There’s no chance that Jane is mine.”
- “Yes, I’ve only ever talked to Jane about this once. How many times do I need to tell her to make it clear?”
- “I didn’t even life the gift that she got me.”
Hopefully this family can find a way to get past this awkward situation.