As unpleasant as divorce can be for the couple going through it, it might be even harder on children.
Fully accepting the change in the family dynamic can be extremely difficult, and some children of divorce have trouble accepting it even going into adulthood.
Things can get even more complicated when step-parents are involved.
Redditor IGaveTheBook struggled with forgiving his mother for leaving his family, and didn’t make much effort in hiding his resentment towards his step-father.
But after being called out for going too far at a recent family gathering, the original poster (OP), took to the subReddit “Am I The A**hole” (AITA), where he asked fellow Redditors:
“AITA for gifting my mom and her husband a book on cheating for their anniversary?”
The OP first explained how much his mother’s infidelity and his parents divorce affected him as a child, and how he continues to struggle with it.
“I’m (16 M[ale]) and I love my mom (35).”
“But when I was 10, she had an affair and left us.”
“I visited her as often as I could and she always seemed so happy when I was there.
“But I hated her new family so I stopped visiting.”
“Honestly we rarely ever saw each other after, just for my birthday and events really.”
“She wants us to be close but I want nothing to do with her new husband so I’ve kept my distance.”
But a recent turn of events made it impossible for the OP to keep his distance.
“Except on Feb 20th, my dad announced he’d be out on business till the 12th and my grandparents are stuck visiting relatives in Italy.”
“So I really had nowhere to go and my mom jumped at the chance to have me stay with her.”
“And just my luck that my mom’s anniversary with her husband was on Sunday.”
“I haven’t had a good time here at all so all I do is stay in my room doing homework or go out with friends to avoid family activities, cause it sucks seeing how lovey dovey she is with her husband and how they seem like the perfect family with their daughters.”
“The morning before her anniversary day she came to my bed and tried to cuddle with me like before she left us.”
“But it made me angry, like we can’t go back in time and pretend it’s how it was.”
“So I just pretended to be asleep and stayed curled up and frozen till she left.:
“I started crying cause of that, and I felt angry and snarky.”
This led the OP to get his mother and step-father a present for their anniversary, one which had something of a double meaning.
“My mom majored in literature so I got her a copy of Anna Karenina for her anniversary.”
“That book’s about a lady who leaves her husband and son for her lover.”
“I’ve never read it but I watched the movie with my girlfriend and I hated it.”
“The anniversary party was on Sunday.”
“Everyone was having fun but me and then people gave their gifts.”
“I gave mine and when my mom saw what it was she seemed shocked but just said thanks.”
“The party ended like an hour after.”
“But at night when she was in her room I heard her crying really loudly.”
“So I kinda eavesdropped a little and heard her saying stuff about that book and me and her husband trying to calm her.”
“The next day at breakfast she left for work early before I woke up and her husband straight up called me an asshole and other stuff for gifting them that.”
“It’s been a few days now and my mom has barely talked to me.”
“Honestly I feel so wrong I made my mom cry but at the same time I don’t want to be here and she knows that so am I really the a**hole?”
The OP also clarified a few things on why he specifically gave his mother and stepfather that specific book, as well as some more information on his family dynamic.
“I gave my mom the book to try and get it across to her that I hate being at her house and being around her family and that it hurts me to be there because I sympathized with the son from the movie not because I want a train to run her over – I do not want that to happen to my mom.”
“I do not want my dad to get back together with my mom, he’s happy with his fiancée.”
“My dad has his reasons for not wanting me to go to therapy and is just being protective.”
“Yes I stopped visiting my mom cause I hate her husband but she had custody of me on weekends or breaks she could’ve forced me to be with her but since being with him or making him be with us whenever I did go to her was more important she never tried anything beyond the bare minimum of going to big events.”
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
While the Reddit community was fairly divided, it was generally agreed that the OP was not the a**hole for the way he treated his mother.
Some felt that the OP giving his mother Anna Karenina was not an effective way to send her a message.
“Anna Karenina is about a woman who, at 19, married a guy nearly twice her age whom she didn’t love but who refused to give her a divorce.”
“She eventually ran off with the guy she loved but without the blessing of their community or the right to see her child.”
“She ended up feeling so isolated, shunned, and trapped that she killed herself.”
“I’m not sure Anna Karenina is the indictment of cheating that your mom and people here are acting like it is.”-Happiercalif.
“Ok so, I get you are mad- but you do recall that Anna loses absolutely everything because she leaves her family and is torn away from her children because her legal husband refuses to let her see them, which is contrasted against her brother getting away with multiple affairs and not losing his status or children?”
“And then she begins to lose her mind because she thinks her lover no longer wants her, so she kills herself?”
“That’s an extremely loaded ‘gift’.”
“Did you really mean to imply with it that you hope her life falls apart like that?”
“Now, I don’t blame you for being angry, but I think you should ask your dad about therapy.”
“It’s clear that you’ve been holding six years worth of pain inside, and that is not good for you.”
“You’re poisoning yourself with anger and sadness over what has happened, and if you don’t learn how to gently work it out of your system, you will keep hurting yourself and people you do love.”
“I suspect there’s still love for your mom in there, it’s just that you are sad and hurt that she did this and it feels like she left you.”
“She did a sh*tty thing, but I think really wishes she could make it up to you.”
“She’s not gone about it the right way, but if you can talk it out with her you may be able to slowly mend/rebuild a relationship with her.”
“OP, I get your anger and hurt, I really do- but it does sound like mom wants to make it up to you.”
“She’s not a psychic, so maybe if you can talk to her one-to-one about how you feel, you guys can start over.”-DrCatPhd.
Others didn’t approve of the OP’s behavior, but remained sympathetic, believing he was just dealing with his own anger and sadness.
“I don’t think it was kind, but I don’t want to call you an a**hole for it.”
“You knew what you were doing, you did it anyway, but so did she, and she did it anyway.”
However, I’m curious, so….
“Your parents relationship existed completely outside of and beyond you, and her leaving had nothing to do with you.”
“It’s a sh*tty situation that you can’t control, and that hurts.”
“And of course she’s crying.”
“There’s no winning for her – because you’ve shown her that her happiness is invalid, that she doesn’t deserve it, and you don’t want to be around it.”
“So she may just try to stay out of your life as you wish, but I would recommend therapy instead.”
“For you alone, and for you as a family.”-Impressive-Hunt-2803.
Others stood firmly on the side of the OP, believing that his mother had to face consequences for her actions, and the effect they had on the OP.
“Your mom had to face her past horrible behavior and your gift caused her to have to confront the fact that her affair affects you negatively to this day.”
“Her husband needs to stay TF out of it.”
“If he says ANYTHING else to you, perhaps you should challenge him on it.”
“‘Oh so you’d be okay with my mom cheating on you and walking away from you and your kids for a new man?'”
“‘Because that’s what your behavior is telling me.'”
“‘And from the POV of the kid who was left, I can tell you it has affected me in a negative way ever since it happened.'”
“‘And your crappy attitude is the largest reason why I don’t like to visit with my mom.'”
“‘I don’t like you, never have.'”
“‘So keep your opinions about me to yourself.'”
“Don’t let your mom’s tears guilt you.”
“Did any of your tears after she left your family ever move her to action?”
“Follow her lead on that.”-jammy913.
“My Dad cheated on my mom when I was in high school and went on to marry the woman he had an affair with.”
“It has changed my relationship with my Dad forever, especially because he tried to force the ‘one big happy family’ thing with her and her kids as soon as he sold our family home and moved in with her.”
“Your Mom does not get to force herself back into your life on her terms (the cuddles) to make herself feel better and in the process making you feel worse.”
“My Dad did the same and it’s awful.”
“You are not a teddy bear.”
“She needs to recognize the lasting damage she’s done and stop expecting you to fit the role she’s assigned to you in her head.”- cloverthewonderkitty.
The OP does appear to be in a highly unenviable position.
He seems aware that his mother does, indeed still love him and want a relationship with him, but he seems unable, if not unwilling, to let her back into her life.
It’s going to take a lot of talking and forgiving, but here’s hoping they will be able to come to a place where they can sustain a happy relationship.