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Stepmom Livid After Stepdaughter’s Mother Steals Her ‘Backstage Mom’ Role At Dance Recital

Ballet dancers warming up at dance studio
FG Trade Latin/GettyImages

Our Redditor is a woman who has been specifically involved in her stepdaughter’s interest in dance by taking her to classes and paying for lessons.

But when it was time for the dance recital, she found that her role as a support system was about to be compromised.

She wondered about a hypothetical and visited the Am I the A**hole? (AITA) subReddit to seek judgment from strangers online.

Redditor stepdrama asked:

“AITA for wanting to be ‘backstage mom’ at my stepdaughter’s dance recital during her mom’s custodial time?”

The original poster (OP) explained:

“I have been taking my 9yo stepdaughter to dance classes for four years. I drive her every week. My husband (her dad) and I pay for every single fee associated with her dance school.”

“This year, her end-of-year recital lands on her mother’s custodial time. Her mom has committed to taking her to the show.”

“I volunteered to be the backstage parent (managing the class backstage when they’re not performing, helping with hair and makeup, etc). I did this for the last two recitals and my stepdaughter loves having me there to hang out and support her.”

“The dance school reached out yesterday to tell me that my stepdaughter‘s mother asked them to remove me as backstage parent and put her in. They agreed to do it without discussing it with me first because she basically told them it was her custodial right.”

The OP clarified:

“(To be clear, nothing in their court order says anything that would prevent me from being able to be around her even though she’s not in dad’s custody.)”

“Mom and I have a history of high conflict. I believe she is trying to remove me because she doesn’t want me spending any extra quality time with her daughter. She simply hates me and my husband.”

“(If you are wondering, I have nothing to do with why she and my husband never worked out).
I could bow out and accept this because I’m not the biological parent, but it breaks my heart because I love being there and dance is ‘my thing’ with my stepdaughter.”

The OP continued:

“WIBTA [would I be the a**hole] if I reminded the school who their paying customer is and ask them to go back on the decision and advocate for me? I want to fight back and give them all the context so they can understand why I have the right to be there.”

“But I also don’t want more conflict with mom, who would be upset if the school has my back. (If you are wondering, I don’t think she would go to the lengths of not taking her to the recital over this, because she has to know that would be devastating to her daughter who’s worked hard to prepare for her performance.)”

“I’m not sure what the best way for all of this to play out would be. Thank you so much for your judgments! I’m all ears!”

Anonymous strangers weighed in by declaring:

  • NTA – Not The A**hole
  • YTA – You’re The A**hole
  • ESH – Everyone Sucks Here
  • NAH – No A**holes Here

Many Redditors thought You’re the A**hole (YTA) here.

“Info: you don’t mention what your stepdaughter wants, what is her opinion?” – Anonymians

“Good question. Stepdaughter has a wonderful relationship with me and did ask me if I will be her backstage parent again, because she had so much fun with me for the past two recitals when I did it.”

“However, I think she would not mind her mom being there either even though she’s never been involved with her dance life.”

“Despite our drama, I think we do a good job of shielding the child from the conflict, so she would be happy either way. If she did have an opinion one way or the other, I would not even consider anything else but what she requested.” – OP

“If the kid is happy either way, then let bio mom have this one. not worth the conflict IMO.” – andromache97

“Yes! I’d let her have this one but still talk to the school about how disappointed you are that you are the lying parent and they went over yours and dads heads to make a decision for your child without discussing it with you ahead of time.”

“They should have called you once mom reached out to them, or at the very least said she was welcome to join but you’d both be there and let you decide if you would work with her.” – Banditsmisfits

“It doesn’t matter who pays the bills. They didn’t overstep by letting the parent who has physical custody of he child at the time of tthe recital be with that child.”

“And really it should be dad having the coversation since he is the only one that has rights in relation to the child, unless step parent has some kind of legal custody.” – coloradohikingadvice

“Nothing in a custody agreement says who gets to be backstage at a recital. Having custody for the weekend does not automatically mean you can be the only parent volunteer at an activity.”

“Sure, mom would be the one to bring her kid, and absolutely can attend or even volunteer herself, but she has no say over who else does. It should have been a conversation between mom and step-mom, but sounds like mom isn’t capable of that, which is telling.” – yarghmatey

“Agree let mom have it this time. It never hurts to be the bigger person. Although, I understand why you would (and should) be royally pissed to make all of the financial and time commitments required for the last 3 years just to have her mother swoop in when it’s convenient to show ‘how supportive she is.'”

“However, as you and dad are the paying customers of the school, I would be very upset with the school’s handling of this.”

“The school should have contacted their actual customers before changing up the backstage position. To not first contact the people signing the checks, about making a change that affects them directly, is extremely unprofessional.”

“If bio-mom has never been involved with the kids dancing, does the studio even know her?”

“This could potentially open up a whole box of liability issues for the school. I doubt they have the custody schedule, so how do they know who really gets what days?”

“Also, they most likely wouldn’t know about any visitation restrictions such as two days a month supervised (not the case here, but how would they know that). Anything involving custody arrangement schedules should be fact checked first as due diligence.”

“Personally, if there are equivalent quality options, I would seriously consider pulling her from this studio and enrolling her in a different one next year.” – Ryllan1313

“ESH – You should attend the recital and kindly explain to your step-daughter that you will be there, but her mom wants to be the backstage mom. Don’t drive a wedge between them, and make sure your step-daughter knows you still love and support her. DON’T ALIENATE HER FROM MOM.” – guardlamamama

The OP replied to the above poster with:

“I would never in a million years alienate her from a parent. I only want what’s best for my stepdaughter. I love that she has a good relationship with her mom.”

“This is a completely inaccurate example of parental alienation. How is me volunteering at the dance school that I pay for creating a wedge between her and her mom?”

“Since you love your stepdaughter, why can’t you see that having her mom be so involved in her recital is a good thing? You’re making it about yourself. Dance shouldn’t just be your thing with her. All of the parents should be involved and helping out. Why is it so hard for you to let her mom have a turn being backstage mom? It takes nothing away from you.”
– Mother_Tradition_774

In an update, the OP said:

“I called the dance school, but not to have them change their decision. I gave them all the context. (I should’ve clarified in my OP that she lied to them and implied I wasn’t legally allowed to be there on her time which is not true).”

“The owner of the school says he feels completely manipulated by her mom. He apologized. He offered to make it right and said he and his wife (co-owner) were comfortable with reaching out to mom and telling her that I am the backstage mom.”

“They also said it would never happen again. I told them that I really appreciated that they are owning up to how it went down.”

“But I told them that I would rather take the high road and leave it at that. I told them not to reach out to mom. Let her have it.”

“I also apologized to them for having to deal with drama that should’ve been handled by our family privately.”

“The only thing that matters to me is that my stepdaughter has a wonderful experience. I could’ve ‘won’ this, but if that would’ve created even an inkling of stress for my SD on her big day, it wouldn’t be worth it.”

“My plan is to tell my SD ‘hey I know I said I’d be backstage this year but great news, your mom wants to do it! You guys will have so much fun together. I’m glad she will be there for you.’”

“Then I’ll be in the audience with a bouquet of flowers and a huge smile on my face. Thanks to everyone here, even the a**holes lol”

Most Redditors agreed that while the school didn’t handle the situation smoothly, they advised the OP to acquiesce and try not to force a further wedge between herself and her stepdaughter’s mother.

Written by Koh Mochizuki

Koh Mochizuki is a Los Angeles based actor whose work has been spotted anywhere from Broadway stages to Saturday Night Live.
He received his B.A. in English literature and is fluent in Japanese.
In addition to being a neophyte photographer, he is a huge Disney aficionado and is determined to conquer all Disney parks in the world to publish a photographic chronicle one day. Mickey goals.
Instagram: kohster Twitter: @kohster1 Flickr: nyckmo