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Dad Balks After Estranged Stepson Calls Him ‘Petty’ For Refusing To Pay For His Kids’ College

Older man arguing with younger man

The death of a spouse is not only emotionally difficult, but it also brings out a lot of complicated family dynamics.

Redditor Useful_Menu_5811 recently became a widower, and when his wife passed, his stepson had a controversial request.

The request drove the original poster (OP) to the subReddit “am I the a**hole?” (AITA) to ask,

“AITA for telling my stepson that his kids weren’t my responsibility?”

Useful_Menu_5811 provided some backstory:

“My wife was a lot younger than me, and she had a ten-year-old son when we met. Her ex had shared custody.”

“I had a couple of grown children from my first wife.”

“My stepson Charlie and I never really bonded. He had a father, and he made it clear I wasn’t his parent, just his mom’s husband.”

“I respected this, he was always polite and respectful, just distant.”

“I helped pay for his university when he went, and we attended his graduation.”

“When he got married, our invitation was made out to his mother plus one.”

“That was kind of a slap in the face, but we still attended and gave them a substantial cash gift to start their life. The thank you card didn’t have my name on it.”

This was only the beginning.

“My first wife had passed away from cancer, and it broke me. I didn’t want to go through that again.”

“Her youth was one thing that attracted me to my second wife. I know it was selfish.”

“But I liked having a beautiful young wife to take care of, and she liked me well enough. I didn’t realize how much I loved her until she died.”

“She passed away from a stroke. She was 49.”

“Charlie came to the funeral with his family. His wife whom I had only met at the wedding and his kids.”

“We had known he had kids, but he had never made the effort to bring them for a visit. My wife loved the kids but Charlie wouldn’t make the effort to come see us.”

“My wife only had a very small estate, and she left it all to Charlie. He also took almost everything of sentimental value that she owned before we got married.”

“I didn’t begrudge him any of it.”

Then grandchildren got involved.

“My first grandchild just graduated cum laude last year, and I went to his graduation. My son and his wife have worked hard to get their kids into college and I am proud of them.”

“My son mentioned that my grandson had a job waiting and would be debt free pretty quick.”

“I asked how much he owed. Then I wrote him a check to pay it off. I plan to do this for all my grandchildren.”

“I guess my daughter-in-law and my stepson’s wife are Facebook friends or something. He found out what I did.”

“And he came around to ask if I planned to do the same for his children.”

“I don’t really have any connections to his kids. I don’t see them. They don’t consider me their grandfather.”

“I’ve personally only ever seen them at the funeral. I was really put off by him coming by to ask about money after ignoring me for years.”

“I know that if my wife were alive, she would want me to help out her son. It just felt dirty.”

“I said that I had money for them in my will, and if they needed it for university, I would give it to them early.”

“He said I’m a petty little man and that his mom would be ashamed of me for treating his kids like this.”

“I don’t really think I owe them anything. They have a ‘real’ grandfather. I’m only including them in my will for my wife’s sake.”

“So AITA?”

Redditors joined the conversation by voting:

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

Redditors decided the OP should be free of any guilt.

“[NTA.] They have already inherited under your wife’s estate. IMO, you don’t have an obligation to include them in your estate.”

“I feel you have been more than generous in your treatment of the stepson. For the stepson to try to shame you and call you “petty” is shameful.”

“Your decision – but I would cut this parasite out of my life and never look back. They have a biological grandfather that could meet their needs.”

“Are your biological grandchildren going to have three grandfathers leaving them money?”

“I suspect not, so why should your step-grandchildren get what would be a “bonus” inheritance in addition to the inheritance they will receive from their father and mother’s parents and in addition to the inheritance they have already received from your wife?”

“Basically, you are not treating your own grandchildren fairly.” – briomio

“OP is definitely NTA.”

“It’s ok for Charlie to not really want a relationship, but to then suddenly expect the same treatment as OPs children who are actively in his life is not ok, he can’t have it both ways.”

“Also the fact that the only time he initiates contact is to demand money does not make Charlie look good.” – Sea-Ad3724

“NTA, and I’d consider crossing them out of your will as well.”

“He had his right to keep distance, but he can’t expect to gain [something]. Your kids were in your life, so you help their families that’s how it works.”

“He stated you are just his mother’s husband, so he shouldn’t expect anything” – Ok_Yesterday_6214


“I would tell Charlie that he has defined the relationship you have with him and his family. That relationship is one of acquaintances.”

“Basically, strangers who just happened to have loved the same person in different ways.”

“And that you would not wish ill on him or his family but will only be offering help to the grandchildren you have a relationship with.”

“Then block him.” – Intoxikate05

“NTA but why are you including them in your Will???”

“He got his mother’s estate, you didn’t.”

“I could understand if you got your wife’s estate to pass it along, but you didn’t… and they’re not acting like family… And he’s acting like an entitled a-hole.”

“You’re not being petty. He’s the one that obviously [has] unresolved issues.” – justhadtocomment22

“NTA. I’m very sorry for your loss.”

“I lost my fiancée when she was 27, and it still hurts almost 20 years later.”

“It sucks that you never developed a better relationship with your stepson. It is kind of you to include his children in your will.”

“It is also kind of you to offer this money early if they need it for school.”

“Your wife would be proud of you for not being taken advantage of by someone who only wants to use you.” – SecretJealous4342

“Sir, with all due respect, you would be nuts to give them anything.”

“Unappreciative a**hole, her son is.”

“I barely got past the part where your name was left off the thank you card without blowing a gasket. NTA.” – nonamenancy2

“NTA. And to add, I would redistribute my remaining assets as well.”

“It’s normal for a child to be sh*tty to a stepparent, but as an adult, he can’t expect to give nothing and receive anything…it’s ludicrous.”

“He can’t expect to not have anything to do with you, not let you see his kids and expect a check.”

“It’s ludicrous. I am sorry for your loss.” – LawyerBelle07

“NTA. He didn’t want you in his life, which I fully support, but he’s also pretty petty for coming to you for money.”

“He just wants to hurt you and get what he can out of you, don’t worry too much about it.” – taketheredleaf

“You were never his stepfather, just his mother’s husband.”

“To address you as his mother’s +1 is just nasty. He received an inheritance from his mother and will receive one from his father.”

“He is the petty little man, not you. You owe him and his children nothing.”

“NTA.” – Historical-Goal-3786


“I will never understand why some people think it is appropriate to treat their stepparents as if they do not exist but expect them to act as ATMs or personal bank accounts when it is convenient.”

“He has no right to ask for the money in the first place.” – throwaway3377662’

“‘I don’t really think I owe them anything. They have a ‘real’ grandfather. I’m only including them in my will for my wife’s sake.’”

“OP, you have it right. And not for nothing, after this comment:”

“‘He said I’m a petty little man and that his mom would be ashamed of me for treating his kids like this.’”

“He doesn’t reciprocate your feelings to being anything close to resembling a familial relationship, and as soon as you fund anything for this ungrateful child, you will never see him or his family again… unless they need another monetary contribution.”

“You know this because that’s how it has been or worked before.”

“NTA. Your vows were to till death due us part.”

“Sorry for loss(es) btw.” – A1askaKnight

It is shameful to take advantage of someone’s death for personal gain.

Written by B. Miller

B. is a creative multihyphenate who enjoys the power and versatility of the written word. She enjoys hiking, great food and drinks, traveling, and vulnerable conversation. Raised below the Mason Dixon, thriving above it. (she/her)