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Stepmom Files For Divorce After Husband Refuses To Punish His Verbally-Abusive Teenagers

Woman signing divorce papers
bymuratdeniz/Getty Images

It’s wonderful to imagine love conquering all, but sometimes, it’s not enough.

Sometimes, loving yourself and walking away is more important, pointed out the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITAH) subReddit.

Redditor External_Ad8238 had been happily married and loved her stepchildren, but that was only until the biological mother reappeared.

When the family effectively turned their back on her, the Original Poster (OP) wasn’t sure what place she held in the family anymore.

She asked the sub:

“AITAH for not doing anything for my stepchildren anymore after being called names and filing for a divorce from my husband after he didn’t back me up?”

The OP had a good relationship with her stepchildren.

“I (30 Female) have been married to my (34 Male) husband for six years, and he has twins from a previous relationship, a boy and a girl. They’re 16 now.”

“When we started dating and got married, we went to family therapy, and I made it clear that I was not trying to be their mother or replace their mother. Their mother hasn’t been in their life since they were about eight, and I met their dad about a year and a half after that.”

“Things have been great with us these past six years since they were ten. They even started calling me ‘mom’ when they were around 12 or 13.”

But everything changed when the kids’ biological mother reappeared.

“Recently, their bio mother came back into their lives and they were really excited.”

“Things were great for about six months, and then they started to call me by my real name. That hurt, but it’s what they chose to do, and I never questioned it.”

“But recently, they’ve been getting very disrespectful. They don’t follow the curfew rules, they’re not cleaning up after themselves, they’re talking back to me, telling me I’m not their real mom, that I’m the reason she left, and that now that she’s back, they don’t need me anymore.”

“Three weeks ago, there was a big blow-up where my (step) son called me a b***h. I took his phone and told him to his room until his dad came back, but instead, he ran out and went to his mom’s.”

“She came over and it was a big argument. She tried to hit me, and I pushed her out of my house.”

“My (step) daughter told me if I ever put my hands on her mom again, then she’d kick my a**. They both went to their mom’s place.”

The OP stepped back from her role in the family.

“After that, I haven’t been very active. I usually take them to sports and activities, but I stopped. I don’t wake them up for school, so they’ve been late a few times.”

“I tell them to have their mom wake them up and take them.”

“We were supposed to go to Disney World for their spring break this week, too, but I canceled everything. I told them and my husband, and I guess they thought I was bluffing.”

“We were supposed to leave Thursday night, and when I didn’t start the usual vacation round-up, they were shocked.”

“They started saying I was jealous that their mom came back into their lives, that I’m a horrible person, I’m selfish, there was some name calling and my husband was silent.”

“I asked him if he was going to step in and he said I was wrong for canceling.”

The OP needed time to think through what was happening.

“I left and went to stay in a hotel. He has been blowing my phone up, asking me to come back.”

“Yesterday, he told me that their mother disappeared again, and they’ve been calling me, crying and apologizing.”

“I don’t want to do this anymore… I don’t feel like I’m part of their family and they can’t just cry and come back now that she disappeared.”

“I told my husband that I want a divorce, and I’ll be back over this week to get my things, but we have nothing to talk about.”


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 that the only person doing any parenting in this situation was the OP.

“NTA. If your husband stepped up and actually parented his children, then he wouldn’t be looking forward to his second divorce and being a single parent.” – No-Personality5421

“It was clear what the biomom was doing, but to disappear after she convinced her kids to blow up their home life just seems so messed up.”

“I can see doing that if the biomom had plans to get her family back, but to leave when they need her… I hope these kids realize what kind of person their mom really is and that their dad gets them the help they need to deal with this.”

“OP, you’re not wrong to leave, the moment the disrespect started your husband should have stepped up.” – Vegetable-Cod-2340

“It’s because the OP stopped doing the heavy lifting. They started asking their mom to pick up the slack and then all of a sudden being a mom again wasn’t fun and she bounced. Classic.” – TheFishermansWife22

“Now that the biomom ditched again, the dad has to do it all himself and wants OP back because he doesn’t want to do it, either. OP has been abused by all four of them and finallly said enough is enough and left.”

“OP, you are NTA and you are right to finally take care of yourself. Divorce is hard and sad, but they seem to want what you can do for them, not want you for who you are and the love and care you provided for six years.” – Malibucat48

“They used and abused OP, and now they’ll pay the price for their arrogance, entitlement, and lack of respect for all OP offered willingly. They f**ked around, found out, and it’s too late now.” – Grouchy-Advantage619

“That biomom realized how much responsibility she would need to take on and ran like the coward she is! Of course, she left her kids hanging.”

“It was never really about the kids. It was about her ego. She couldn’t stand seeing her kids love someone else as a mother. She wanted that for herself. Just not the responsibility that comes along with it.”

“She’ll be back when the kids are independent adults and she won’t have any responsibility for them.” – Competitive-Bio-7097


“Leave these people behind; you were never family to them. Give yourself some time to heal, and then go find people who really love you.”

“You’re young and can have your own family, who will cherish and value you like you deserve. I’m wishing you the best.” – Nanandia

Others encouraged the OP to understand that her husband was the problem, not the kids.

“NTA. Make sure your husband understands that the divorce is not his kids’ fault but his and his alone.”

“All kids act like a jack@ss when an absent parent comes back. Seriously that all gets a case of the stupid. But it is the parents’ job to settle their a**es down, appropriately, but still. He did not do that. He f**ked up.”

“It sounds like he has expected you to be the parent on his behalf since yall got together because you are a woman and he, being a man, is just there because somehow or another his penis gets in the way of him doing parent stuff. To which… f**k that.”

“He needs to get his kids a therapist. He needs to take care of his kids by himself. And he needs to accept full responsibility solely for the divorce.” – throwawtphone

“Your husband and stepkids are jerks, but I think the husband is a bigger jerk than the kids. The kids are confused because their bio mom dropped into their lives again, plus they’re 16 years old so they are natural teenaged jerks anyway (I’m not excusing their behavior, just explaining it a little).”

“I think it’s fine that the kids wanted to reconnect with their mother, I’m guessing she was acting like the hero swooping in and ‘saving’ them from the evil stepmother. But that’s not how it is.”

“Your husband should have been the one to steer things with his ex-wife and kids. He, more than anyone, knows how she is, dropping in and out of everyone’s lives. To me the second the ex showed up, he should get his kids in therapy.”

“To you OP, I would stay away from your husband and stepkids for a while, let cooler heads prevail. Then make a decision on what you want to do with your future to see if this blended family is fixable. If you do decide to reconcile, I would do it after some therapy for everyone.” – PNL-Maine

“Of course, what the kids did was wrong, but they are following a fairly common pattern of behavior for kids with on-again-off-again parents, especially with the first on-again. The fact that they are teens almost makes it worse, as their brattiness can be especially hurtful, and they really understand what buttons are there to press.”

“OP may or may not want to expose herself to that possibility of hurt again, but for her sake, know that you were collateral damage arising out of their trauma.”

“Dad needs to get those kids to therapy as soon as possible. They need help processing this. It’s a lot, especially when you’re already dealing with the complexity of becoming an adult.”

“OP, your husband failed you, and he failed his children. I’m so sorry.” – MeanestGoose

“NTA. Your husband should have taken your side. I would take a few days off to calm down, re-evaluate, and then do whatever feels the best. Teenagers can be dumb, but your husband should have taken your side and scolded the kids for treating you poorly.” – Simple-Plankton4436

“NTA. In my opinion, the issue is your husband’s behavior, not the kids’ behavior. With time, I can see the rift between you and the kids healing, there may be hope there.”

“However, your husband should have defended and supported you. He has a lot of work to do to make up for how he emotionally abandoned you and it is your right if you feel that it won’t be enough.” – grosselisse

“So you also were the only one funding the vacation? Your husband is a massive a**hole. He’s been using you to raise his ungrateful kids and using you for money! Divorce this whole family and find your happy place!” – Cdavert

“NTA. OP, you don’t have a stepchildren problem. You have a husband problem. What the f**k is wrong with him? These are his kids and he’s allowing them to treat you like this?”

“GET OUT. For all that you pointed to here. Dignity. Self-respect. How can you move forward when he’s unwilling to be a parent to his own children?”

“What the f**k is wrong with him? And his kids are a reflection of him, so guess what? The disrespect isn’t coming JUST from his kids.” – Bhimtu

After receiving feedback, the OP argued against a few Redditors’ critiques. 

“Yes, I know their mother was manipulating them. I never said otherwise.”

“Yes, they are 16… That doesn’t give them the right to treat me this way. Being 16 doesn’t mean you get to be disrespectful and threaten me. I have always been in their corner. I know their feelings matter in this, but I am also a person with feelings.”

“I am not only considering or moving forward with this divorce based on how the children acted. It is also that my husband did not back me up in this… If I can’t count on him to help me navigate this tough situation that we were all going through… then why should I stay?”

“That does not mean that I should be treated the way I was being treated… that is not normal 16-year-old behavior… to threaten me? Call me vile names?”

“I just need time for myself. And I don’t want an apology just because their bio mother ran out on them again… I want an apology because they really mean it. I don’t believe anyone can be truly sorry two days after their mother vanished again.”

“I would never just abandon them… but I do need time for myself because my feelings were disregarded. Yes, I am an adult, but I still have feelings that were hurt and need time for myself.”

“I never asked or expected them to be perfect. I never expected them to be the most mature people but I am allowed to be hurt and take time for myself during all of this. They have feelings and so do I.”

“I love them very much, they are my children, but this is a very complicated situation. This is not because ‘they called me a b***h,’ I’ve been called worse, I’m a woman after all.”

“This is ultimately about my husband not backing me up during this situation, and yes, I am hurt that they called me that I’m allowed to be… it hurts even worse coming from two people who I love dearly and would never hurt or want any harm to come to them.”

Though there may have been a few Redditors messaging and criticizing the OP for “walking out” on her stepchildren, most argued that there’s no such thing as walking out on a family you didn’t really get to be a part of, to begin with.

Since the family seemed only concerned about going to Disney, the OP seemed better off going her own way and finding people who valued her more than what was in her checkbook.

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.