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Stepdad Refuses To Co-Parent After Wife Won’t Let Him Punish Stepdaughter For Damaging Car

Man and teen girl looking at damage on car
Guido Mieth/Getty Images

When two people decide to get together, there are important conversations they need to have, including whether or not they want to have kids.

But people who state they both want to have kids often forget to have another important question, which is what they both believe in about discipline, pointed out in the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit.

Redditor RealisticPirate5563 was infuriated when he discovered that his teen stepdaughter had damaged his car, and his wife was resistant to disciplining her.

When she told him that he was not the father and did not get to make disciplinary decisions, the Original Poster (OP) decided to not act like the kids’ father anymore.

He asked the sub:

“AITA for checking out of parental duties after my wife said I’m not the father?”

The OP was happily married to his wife with three kids.

“My wife and I have been married for about four years. She brought three kids from previous relationships into the marriage while I have none.”

“They moved into my house after the marriage because I live in a better school district.”

But then the OP made an unfortunate discovery about his teen stepdaughter.

“Obviously, we’ve had our ups and downs, but overall it’s been good until a couple of weeks ago when I woke up and found a large dent running down the entire passenger side of my car. The dent is about a hand wide, starts at the front fender, and runs down all the way to the rear tire.”

“I was furious and thought someone side-swiped my car as it was parked on the street.”

“I checked our doorbell camera to see if it recorded anything and was surprised to see our 16-year-old daughter sneaking out of the house in the middle of the night and driving off in my car. She later returned hours later, stumbling into the house.”

“Outside of those two events, the doorbell camera didn’t record anything else but a couple of passing cars that didn’t come close to mine.”

The OP attempted to talk to his wife about the incident.

“I angrily showed my wife the recording and told her our daughter needs to be punished, but she said that she’ll talk to her. I argued that talk isn’t enough, which led us into an argument.”

“My wife argued that the new family dynamic has been hard on the kids, while I argued that it doesn’t excuse the damage done to my car.”

“I wanted her to agree to ground our daughter from social media and make her get a job to pay for the damage.”

“My wife wants me to report it to my insurance as a hit-and-run. She said that way, no one has to pay for it.”

“I argued that I’ll have to pay for it in the long run because they’ll jack up my rates.”

“We argued for hours until she said I don’t get a say in any punishment because I’m not her father.”

“That ended the argument, and I walked off.”

The OP pushed back against his wife’s final comment.

“Since then, I’ve checked out of any parental duties. I’ve been an adult and still make sure the kids are safe and fed, but I haven’t done anything a father would do.”

“I’m not ignoring the kids, and I still talk to them daily. I just don’t do or make any parental decisions. Like the other day, our son asked me if he should play basketball or football, and I told him to go ask his mother.”

“They had doctor’s appointments last week for their checkups because they play sports in school, and I refused to drive them, causing my wife to have to take off work.”

“They start school next week, and I’ve dropped them off ever since they moved in, but I told my wife she’ll have to do it this year. She argued she can’t because of her work schedule, and I answered a mother would figure it out.”

“She called me a child and told me to grow up.”

“I think since I’m not the father, I don’t have to take on the responsibilities of one, but obviously, she disagrees.”


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 argued the OP deserved more respect than he was getting, as well as legal coverage.

“Normally, I’m against the immediate divorce advice, but this is actually good advice here. I can’t imagine staying with someone that respects me as a person as little as OP’s wife respects him.”

“YTA if you stay in this relationship.”

“Take a copy of the video and go to the police station. Just let them know your 16-year-old stepdaughter took your car without asking, came back potentially under the influence, and she hit something. You don’t know what, and stepdaughter doesn’t know what it was, either, but you want to CYA (cover your a**).”

“Then, find a good divorce attorney and drive there next.” – FSUFan35

“I would say YTA for how you handled it. Personally, I would make them move out until they can respect your property, and if they don’t want to move, they need to learn to be respectful and pay for their crimes.”

“I get how you are making a dig towards your wife for saying you are not the father, but it will resonate more with the kids in the long term. They will just look at you as some petty guy who makes everything inconvenient for them, rather than a father figure.” – Sweet_Potatooie

“NTA. Your wife doesn’t get to pick and choose when you get to act like a parental authority.”

“She’s also wrong about the hit-and-run scenario. If you get it repaired, you’ll have to pay your deductible. And it will jack up your rates.”

“It’s interesting that she thinks the way to deal with her daughter’s behavior is to commit insurance fraud.”

“But most importantly, this is a hugely significant problem. Her 16-year-old daughter snuck out at night and came home apparently drunk. I’m an insurance adjuster handling serious injury/fatality claims.”

“I’ve had to speak to the heartbroken parents of dead teenagers a sickening number of times. I’ve also had to look at scene photos of dead teenagers far too often. If your wife doesn’t address this immediately and strongly, she’s putting her daughter’s life at risk.” – anonymoosehead123

“NTA. Her daughter is a budding car thief, and she is not concerned enough to punish her. The new dynamic is hard?”

“Tell mom and daughter next time you are calling the cops, and they can tell them about the new dynamic. A ‘stumbling’ 16-year-old could have hurt herself and other people quite severely.”

“She may be telling the wrong person to grow up. She needs to look in the mirror.” – Sea_Firefighter4598

“NTA, but you are about to get divorced. Obviously, this is untenable.”

“You MUST have parental authority if they are going to be in your house, AND your wife wants you to do all the parent’s work with none of the authority.”

“She must change, not you. Her daughter must repay you, or you should let your wife know you will report the car as having been stolen by her daughter and let the police know that she committed a hit-and-run while likely intoxicated.”

“If your marriage is to survive, the daughter and wife must respect you and your property. There are some massive problems here, OP. You need therapy as a couple, and your wife needs solo therapy.” – Suspicious_Truth647

Others pointed out the kids were innocent bystanders in the relationship.

“YTA. The kids should not have to suffer from parental neglect because of your problems with your wife. Kids deserve love and attention from both parents.”

“You’re more concerned about your car than your stepdaughter’s safety, and that says that you don’t really care about her, which is not a conducive environment for her to grow in.” – mclovin_r

“YTA, for, in effect, abandoning your teenager. After four years (ages 12 to 16), you ARE her father or at least a stepfather, no matter what your wife says. You have your own direct relationship with the kid.”

“I understand that it’s tempting to bail now when the rubber meets the road (or worse). Many parents of teenagers are similarly tempted, especially when kids do something this criminal. But the kid is messed up, probably in no small part because her parents are immature a**holes. Getting her sorted out is your responsibility too.”

“If you get divorced, you have to request part-time custody at least. Sorry, it sucks to be you, but hopefully, you’ll come out of it a better person.” – Live_Hair_3229

“Wait a minute. A SIXTEEN-year-old apparently drove home drunk… and rather than show concern for her well-being and making sure she doesn’t drive drunk again for the sake of all around… your sole focus is being p**sed that your car is damaged cosmetically?”

“DUDE! There are seriously bigger issues here! The lack of perspective and priorities here makes YTA.” – ImKiliW

“YTA. Grown-ups talk it out rather than letting crap drag on like this, especially when you start involving kids that have nothing to do with it (whether they are genetically yours or not is irrelevant).”

“If this is an indication of your standard regular behavior, she may decide that being a single mom of three is a better option than being a ‘married’ parent of four.” – alessaria

“I wanna say NTA because, you know, you technically didn’t do anything wrong.”

“HOWEVER. Your wife said you should commit insurance fraud. Illegal.”

“Your daughter drove drunk, stole your car, and damaged it. ILLEGAL ILLEGAL ILLEGAL.”

“Report both of them to the police unless you want those types of people living with you.”

“As for your son, now you’re just being petty and stupid. I don’t know how old he is, but he’s trying to have a good relationship with his dad, whether or not that dad is actually his father. Your son has done absolutely nothing wrong, and neither has the other kid.”

“Maybe it was fine to step back from parental duties because of what your wife said, but refusing to play basketball or football or whatever with your son who has done nothing wrong is only going to ensure that you turn into the stepfather that all your kids hate on behind your back. Just saying. YTA, especially towards your son.” – little-bored-lady

The subReddit was wildly concerned about the teen daughter’s behavior, but they were much more divided about the aftermath.

Some thought the OP deserved more respect than he was getting, not to mention being with someone who followed the same legal steps and advised him to exit the relationship.

Others pointed out that this was a marriage, however, which required commitment and working through difficult situations, as well as staying committed to the kids, who were technically innocent bystanders to the relationship.

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.